I don't recall when my strong desire to travel and explore the world began. Possibly when I was a child living in Wisconsin, driving around the states on family camping trips. Or maybe it was the summer my parents shipped my sister and I off to Germany to stay with our relatives (it was a month and my Mom was there the whole time, but when you're 9 it feels like an eternity). More than likely it began when I started working at Sub Pop in the International Department. Within a year I was taking bands on promo tours around the world. It was as glamours as it sounds. Even though I spent most of my days inside hotel lobbies and nights at venues it wasn't bad and everything in between was spectacular. I still think about that one amazing lunch inside a small home in Florence, swimming in Australia (and I swear) seeing a shark fin which lead me to scream bloody murder - clearing the beach out, but mostly meeting so many wonderful people and sharing experiences with them.
After traveling for 24+ hours Bekah and I spent a day in Lima to rest before we headed out on our two and half week Peruvian adventure. Huacachina, the small oasis town known for their sand boarding and sledding, was first on our list.
After dune buggy-ing and sledding (both equally terrifying) all around Huacachina we spent a day in Nazca. Even though I woke up (already) sick I decided to get in a tiny plan and fly over the Nazca Lines, making a bad situation even worse. It was totally not worth it but my FOMO really kicks in when I travel. After eating handfuls of Pepto, Imodium and Dramamine I somehow survived a 10 hour overnight bus ride through the Andes and arrived in Arequipa.
We spent the next few days walking around slowly checking out markets and spending hours at the Santa Catalina Monastery.
We left Arequipa in search of hot springs and decided to go to the Colca Canyon on a small group tour. In order to get there you needed to travel over another Andean Mountain pass. This meant a minivan full of tourists shoving coca leaves in their face desperately trying to fight off the elevation sickness and ignore the natural gag reflex that happens when you have a large wad of dry, bitter leaves in your mouth.
Bekah and I chose to stay in the very small town of Yanque, away from the rest of the tour group which meant we had the town and hot springs to ourselves. It was totally surreal.
Along with my wallet that I hid it so well in my room that I forgot it there, we left Colca behind and headed closer to our final destination. Our last 12 hour, overnight bus ride brought us to Cusco. The first few days were rough. I was still sick and the elevation was getting the better of me. However, we huffed and puffed our way around town and explored every nook and cranny. The Incas were here and it was clear.
By Christmas Day I gave in and took the antibiotics that I should have taken a week earlier and finally started to feel better. We walked up to Sacsayhuaman and our excitement for what was to come started to build.
To get to Machu Picchu we took a cab to a random location in town and hopped in a minivan full of mostly local folks headed towards Ollantaytambo, where we would then take the train to Machu Picchu. We had an hour to kill in Ollantaytambo so we hiked around the ruins with one backpack on our backs and one on our fronts.
As the train departed on its two hour journey we followed the Inca Trail, spotting ruins along the way and the handful of hikers enduring the journey. I love hiking almost as much as the next person and all I could think about is how effing pissed I'd be on that trail for three days watching trains zip by. No thanks.
As we neared the town of Machu Picchu the climate drastically changed and you could tell the Amazon was around the corner. It was absolutely breathtaking.
Along with 300 other people we woke up at 4:00 AM to catch the first bus up to the ruins. And as we walked through the main gates and down the trail, the sun started to rise and we saw Machu Picchu for the first time. I'll never forget that moment.
Bekah and I had purchased tickets to hike Mount Machu Picchu months earlier so we navigated through the ruins to find the trail head. We were faced with a steep ascent along the side of the mountain.
We climbed through the clouds as we reached the top and I am so incredibly grateful for what we saw.
After we took our time at the top and carefully hiked down, we explored Machu Picchu with amazement.
By the time we got back into town we were exhausted. We spent one more night and then boarded the train back to Ollantaytambo. When we arrived we went to the bathroom and missed the mini van so we paid a local to drive us back to Cusco. We stopped at a few other ruins along the way (it was this day where I dropped and broke my brand new camera and lens) and listened to Bon Iver - it was on the drivers mix. From Cusco we flew back to Lima, then back to the states.
I had always wanted to visit Machu Picchu, one of the many wonders of the world, and all I can say is that it was truly magical.