World Wednesday: The Andes, Machu Picchu, and Guinea Pigs

November 30, 2011 / by Rachel Reardon

A couple of years ago I got the opportunity to visit a friend in Peru. This is the ideal situation for me. I get to visit friends and get the "local" tours, not just the very touristy sites. They know all the secrets of where to go and when and the places that are super special. I also got to practice my Spanish!

On this visit I got to fly into Lima, Peru, and spend some time seeing the sights and sounds. We drove around to see all the famous government buildings and palaces. I loved the architecture that is clearly influenced by the Spanish. We also checked out a few ruins and even a church with catacombs. My favorite part of Lima is the beach. We went to Mira Flores a few times and just relaxed. We did get to go to a few dance clubs where I practiced my best salsa moves.

After a few days we took a 21 hour bus ride through the gorgeous Andes mountains to Cusco. A city that has so many Incan ruins and historical treasures. This bus ride was truly unique. Here I am thinking that this will be a great way to see the actual country and go off the beaten path. First, I will say I am so glad that I did this, but it is not for the faint at heart. This huge bus travels some very interesting terrain. We drove through the Andes mountains and encountered many a switchback and some of the tiniest roads I have ever seen. Driving in Peru on a normal day is a white knuckle experience, but on a huge bus with small roads, it becomes even scarier! There are no guard rails and I truly believe that no one would have known something happened to us for days if we got into an accident or the bus died. What I did get to see was some of the clearest blue skies and the night sky bejeweled with so many stars it didn't even look real. I did get to meet some locals and made a couple of friends along the way. There was even a guy on the bus playing the guitar and everyone was singing together.

I was so glad to arrive in Cusco in one piece. It is definitely a touristy town with lots of shopping and restaurants. Overall the food was so good. However, I was shocked to see an odd food choice on the menus...Something called "Cuy chactado." I was very curious as I had never heard of this before. Well is guinea pig. Yep, the same kind of animal I had as a pet when I was five. There was no way I could bring myself to eat it. But...guess what? They say it tastes like chicken. ;-) Of course!

We finally made it to Machu Picchu, and I was awestruck by the scenery, the view, the amazing condition of the Incan ruins with functioning aqua ducts, and the just general peacefulness there. Truly a wonder of the world! I don't think I have ever breathed cleaner air! It is pretty high up in altitude so you do have to take it easy!

I have to admit we took the two hour plane back to one 21 hour bus ride was enough for this gringa! If you ever get a chance to travel to Peru and take in the sights, I highly recommend it! And if you have you been to Peru...How was your experience?

Topics: Language Learning and Culture

Rachel Reardon

Written by Rachel Reardon

Rachel works with some of the coolest marketers, designers, and writers around to help Mango look and sound its best. She loves bold colors, old books, the Montréal metro, and Star Trek. She has conflicting feelings about the Oxford comma.

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