Planing, Training, and Automobiling through Peru

Getting the whole family together can be hard. After the last of my siblings flew the nest and started college within a week of Ian and I publicly committing to the not-so-minor decision to get married and move nine hours away from home, the opportunities for the founders of my family to spend meaningful time with all three kids and their significant others soon grew into a logistical nightmare.

And that’s why the past week was such an incredible opportunity for us all. After a life changing college semester in Peru, my younger sister went back to Arequipa this summer through an internship. Seeing an opportunity that couldn’t be missed, my parents sprung at the chance to get a tour around Peru with a guide that we wouldn’t have to tip. And so the ball of our grand vacation plan started rolling. A few phone calls, many frantic hours with a travel agent, and some tense moments buying flights later, it was official. We were going to have a summer family reunion…in South America.

In the past year I haven’t gotten off our mountain all that much, much less traveled below the equator. Our trip was an eye-opening experience for all of us, not the least for Ian, for whom it was his first international experience, lest you count stepping out of his canoe unto the Mexican side of the Rio Grande in high school once.

We had an exquisite, utterly exhausting time. Two weeks worth of activities were crammed into eight days, meaning there was barely a moment of pause save meal times (which were certainly worth the wait!). We traveled by taxis, buses, and many miles on foot in wickedly high elevation. Pair that with bouts of traveler’s sickness at varying levels of severity, and it’s little surprise it took us all a while to recover when we got back. So much so that I am only now getting to this post, a full week since our return.

I hope that you can enjoy these photos as a small break from my regular West Virginia homesteading content. Never fear, I will be returning to my regularly scheduled posts all about meat rabbits, cheese-making and the joys of working from home soon!

The whole clan! Ian has no excuse for lurking in the background- we dated long enough that he total knew what he was getting into when he signed up for this craziness.
cathedral of arequipa
US cities need plazas like this. The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa was a sight to behold in the early hours of the evening.
Painted fruit basket on the column of a 16th century colonial home
This cone of volcanic stone was carved hollow and used as a filtration device for water. After several hours, water would thoroughly permeate the bottom of the cone and drip into the container below. Amazing!
Water gutters along the narrow road within a sixteenth century convent.
The clothes washing station of the convent. Each of the stone bowls could be filled with water from the main water canal.
Earth oven twins! I made Ian pose next to this one because we have our very own in West Virginia. It looks like this one might get a little more use than ours though.
As much fun as the historical sites were to see, some of my favorite moments were simply spent eating meals with my family, like at this rooftop lunch café.
Good prep for our meat rabbits? Ian sampled some “cuy”, or roasted Peruvian guinea pig. His verdict? Slimy and a disappointingly small amount of meat.
A vista en route to Colca canyon where centuries-old farming terraces are still being farmed by the people that live there.
If only it was possible to buy dry goods in bulk like this in the states!
Peru is a country known for its potatoes, and from the varieties present at this woman’s market stand, I can understand why.
A painful thing for me was not knowing enough Spanish to be able to ask if this corn was for decoration only or also edible. Even more painful was knowing that customs would surely have confiscated it if I’d tried to sneak some kernels home.
Sweet potatoes or simple orange regular potatoes? I may never know.
I can’t put my finger on why, but for some reason I feel like this photo sums up our relationship in so many ways.
Wild llamas and alpacas in the Peruvian desert!
I’m gonna scour Craiglist until I find one in our area. And then I’m going to use it to keep our grass trimmed.
Incredible stone work from the Incan era.
Living in the middle of steep tree-covered mountains makes me appreciate open vistas like this even more.
Incan terraces used for growing crops like quinoa and potatoes. Incredibly, the Incan’s carted all the soil into the terraces on their backs and by llama.
Surprisingly, the Inca were quite socialist. This is an example of one of the communal food storage units that was used to keep food preserved to be redistributed during lean times.

Simply GETTING to Machu Picchu was a journey in and of itself. This wonder of the world is so immensely popular that the number of people who can visit everyday is limited to less than five thousand and tickets need to be bought months in advance during the summer months.

First, we took an all-night bus from Arequipa to Cusco. From there, it was a three-hour bus ride to a small village with a train station. A two hour train ride later, we made it to Aqua Caliente (the last village before the ruins.) Finally, we woke up well before the crack of dawn to join a line of people stretching several city blocks by 4:30 am, all in line for the Machu Picchu buses that began to run at 5:30 am. Even with our early arrival, we were still in line a good two hours before boarding our bus to the top.

Was it worth it? A hundred times yes. If possible, Machu Picchu is far more beautiful in person than any photo I have ever seen, and the crowds of people at the entrance gate quickly dissipated within the immensity of the abandoned city. The mysticism of Machu Picchu was impossible to miss, and we spent the first moments of our visit in silent awe of the misty beauty enshrouding us.

Sometimes when humans are a little too overwhelming for me to be around, I find other forms of companions that I can better relate to.
The crown jewel of any trip to Peru- visiting Machu Picchu!
Though I took this photo, Ian gets full credit for spotting the angle.


An earthquake decades ago caused this small amount of damage, but since then the well-made bricks haven’t moved at all.
Pictures don’t do it justice.

Now, after 30 hours of travel back to Michigan, a few days of rest in Michigan, and a nine-hour drive back to West Virginia, we are home safe with our two very attention-desperate puppies.

We won’t have the opportunity to travel together again for a while, but as the terrible freelancing wife that I am, I’m in the midst of planning several solo traveling trips. (The perks of only needing a laptop and WiFi to go to work!) I’m sure I’ll be finding plenty of writing inspiration during those times, so lets stay connected.

As always, thank you for reading.

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