This July I got the opportunity to join my friend Joe on his family trip to Peru. We stayed in Cusco for a few days, exploring the ancient ruins and visiting Machu Picchu. From there we went to Lima and stayed with a family friend for a week.
I arrived in Lima at 11pm and my flight to meet Joe & his family in Cusco wasn't till 6am the next morning so I joined a group of fellow overnighters and got comfortable. Airports, with their bright lights and frequent loud announcements, could not be anymore unfriendly to the sleepy but after what felt like a long night, it was flight time. Thankfully the flight was a quick one and I arrived in Cusco and made my way to the hotel. The first thing I noticed when we landed was how much colder Cusco is than Lima -- because Cusco is over 5,000ft higher in altitude than Lima, the temperature is usually around 10 degrees colder.
We were only in Cusco for three days but each day was packed with full day tours. The ruins were pretty amazing and although I cannot remember most of what the tour guides told us, there were some smart reasoning behind the way they sculpted the different levels and rooms in the mountainside. One room, the refrigerator room, was carved in the mountain in such a way that cold wind whips in and chills the room where they would store meat and whatnot. I believe the levels were something about what class of society you fit into but I could be wrong and don't feel like fact checking myself.
On our last full day in Cusco we took a bus to the train station and took the train all the way to Machu Piccu. There are multiple options for getting to the top and if I had to do it again and had the time I would do the five day hike so I could further explore the awesome Peruvian geography.
Again, I can't remember much of the tour guide facts but the place was really interesting to explore. A surprising amount of walls are still standing so you can walk through the different rooms and hallways where many years ago the Incan people lived.
Our final week was spent with Joe's dad's childhood friend and his family. Living with them and having them lead us around Lima was a week I will never forget. They were so welcoming and even though they only spoke Spanish and my Spanish is muy débiles, somehow it worked. I felt like I got to live like a Peruvian for the week (albeit an absurdly tall and pale one) and really experience the culture in a way most tourists don't get the chance. Maybe the highlight of the whole trip was the house party the hosting family threw for us. In true Peruvian fashion, starting at 9pm and ending at 6am, complete with hired dancers, plenty of cervesa, and la hora loca!
I absolutely loved Peru & am forever grateful for my host family's generosity and warm welcome. Hopefully one day I can go back because there is so much more to explore!