Postcard from Peru

Postcard from Peru

On June 1, my traveling friend Linda Krogh and I left on a Road Scholar trip to Peru, touring Lima, Cusco, Yucay and Machu Picchu. Linda traveled from Portland to LAX, and I boarded at Sea-Tac to LAX, where we met and after a couple of hours boarded a flight to Lima. A few days later, our group flew to Cusco.

The two of us spent our first day in Lima exploring, having arrived one day early to get a good night’s sleep, and the next seven days were packed full of train rides, bus trips, walks, tours, meeting new friends, and loads of information.

We listened to lectures, took field trips with experienced guides, and wandered through local fish markets and churches. We learned how the Sacred Valley was a perfect place for farming, toured a Moray archaeological site to learn about Inca agriculture, and took a bus ride to the community of Maras to visit local salt mines and watch a Pachamama shaman lead a ceremony.

We ate lunch at a local restaurant, where they demonstrated making their signature drink–pisco sour–and we all had a glass, after which we became very chatty and got to know each other a lot better.

In Cusco we took a bus, train and another bus to the Machu Picchu site.  Our train traveled the meandering path of the Urubamba River and gave us spectacular views of the snowcapped Andes.

Our guides learned the day before of a one-day train strike to take place on the day we were to travel to Machu Picchu, and made arrangements for us to board the 6 a.m. train so we wouldn’t miss our day at the site. It was an amazing day.

Linda and I had our walking sticks and were excited and ready for the long trek up. When we reached the top, we all were bathed in sweat, tired and breathless–but oh, the views. We spent the rest of the rest of the day walking, listening to lectures, oohing and aahing at the views, and taking photos. It was the highlight of the trip.

In the following days we visited a weaving community and enjoyed a demonstration by local women who shared how they dyed the yarn, and I spent 150 U.S. dollars purchasing yarn and scarves. We visited the salt mines and had lunch in the home of local folks. 

We all were careful not to drink the water or eat from food vendors, and even so, two of our travel mates experienced food poisoning. Our guide had a doctor at the hotel in a heartbeat to administer to one of the participants. The doctor gave her a shot and left some pills and said, ”You will be fine tomorrow,” and sure enough, she was. The bill? She paid it and Road Scholar (an educational travel organization) will reimburse her.

Linda and I travel well together, and this was our 13th trip as a team of two. It was a busy and fabulous 10 days, but, as always, wonderful to walk in my back door after a 23-hour travel day, drop my bags, pour a glass of wine and relax.

How lucky are we, at our age, to still be able to travel and to climb to the very top of Machu Picchu.

Joan Cronk, who wrote this article, is a frequent contributor to Senior Scene. She lives in Puyallup.