Adventures in Peru, South America

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It seems that Peru is a top destination for many people right now because I’ve been getting asked a lot lately about my travels throughout the country.  Since I traveled in Peru before I started Hopscotch the Globe, I haven’t really publicly wrote about my adventures there.  So having said that, I am dedicating this post to a photo story of my journey throughout the most diverse country I have explored to-date.

Flying into Arequipa, Peru

In 2007, Siya and I spent one month in Peru filming a documentary and of course exploring the incredibly diverse country.  Although we flew from Toronto to Lima, we didn’t spend much time in the capital before flying to the mountainous city that is surrounded by three impressive volcano’s – Arequipa.

It is here that Siya and I began filming our documentary together.  We had wanted to film a documentary for about a year prior to this trip, and decided on filming in Peru because of how much the country had to offer.  The documentary aims to break the stereotype of a developing country by focusing on the beauties of the place and people, and how much appreciation Peruvians have for life.  Siya and I were fortunate to connect with a Peruvian man named Paul, who introduced us to many people that would greatly contribute to our documentary.  The first people we met were the most adorable children.  The children were so thrilled to have us visit their school and even happier that we had brought some cool gadgets with us to take their pictures with.

Some of the children we met at one of the many schools we visited.

We also got to visit an old age home for abandoned elderly women.  It was heartbreaking to hear about their stories of living on the streets and struggling to survive before being brought to the old age home.  One woman told me her life story of living in poverty and how this is the life for many Peruvians.

Two adorable ladies who shared their heartbreaking, yet fascinating, life stories with us.

One of my favourite parts of traveling is trying the local cuisine.  However, what I love even more, is being invited by a local into their home for a feast.  It doesn’t really get better than that!  Paul’s parents invited Siya and I over to their house to try a popular Peruvian dish called “Cuy” also known as “Guinea Pig.” Guinea pigs were originally domesticated for their meat in the Andes.  Traditionally, the animal was reserved for ceremonial meals by indigenous people in the Andean highlands, but since the 1960s it has become more socially acceptable for consumption by all people.  Not only is it a major part of the diet of Peruvians, but also for the people of Boliva, particularly in the Andes Mountains highlands; it is also eaten in some areas of Ecuador and Colombia.  For those of you reading this that have Guinea Pigs as pets, I am sorry in advance for the following pictures:

The first step of the “prepping” process is to kill the animal, which I did not witness. The second part is to gut and marinate the Cuy.

Then you fry it up.

Then you eat it.

It tasted like a giant chicken wing. It was a very interesting cultural experience.

One of my favourite moments in Peru was when Siya and I met a Peruvian family of eight that were living in extreme poverty.  Little did we know that this family would make us evaluate the definition of happiness and what it takes to achieve such a state of mind.  Although this family had so little, they were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met.

The mother, and 3 of the 6 children in front of their home.

The tetter-totter Siya and I built for the kids was a hit!

One of the daughters was fascinated with our camera and said she wanted to make films like Siya and I when she grew up.

Before boarding a plane back to Lima where we would meet a group of international travellers and embark on a 12-day Gadventure trip, Siya and I hopped on a bus and made a trip to Chivay.  Chivay is a town located in the Arequipa region of Peru, about 12,000 ft above sea level, and lies upstream of the renowned Colca Canyon.  It is here that I spent the night eating another typical Peruvian dish called ceviche (marinated raw fish or seafood), showed my moves in a traditional folk dance, and relaxed in hot springs under the stars.

Dancing away!

The following morning was spent watching the 10-foot wingspan condors fly above the Colca Canyon.  It was a beautiful and peaceful experience.

A condor peacefully soaring above my head.

The breathtaking view of the Colca Canyon.

After spending just over a week in Arequipa, Siya and I flew back to Lima to meet our Gadventures group and embark on yet another adventure throughout Peru.   From Puno to Cusco to Juliaca, through the Andes mountains to Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo, it was a crazy adventure and the most difficult physical challenge of my life. Here are a few highlights:

We visited the Uros islands on Lake Titicaca. These are also known as floating islands made up of a mass of floating aquatic plants, mud, and peat ranging in thickness from a few inches to several feet. Yes, people live on these islands.

My heart may have melted on the floating islands. This boy was just so adorable.

Hiking through the Andes Mountains at 5000 metres above sea level. The altitude was a killer! For every minute I walked, I had to stop for 10 minutes.

However, the view made the grueling 3 day hike well worth it.

Especially when your end destination is the famous Machu Picchu!

If 3 days of hiking through the Andes wasn’t enough, Siya and I, being the crazy people we are, decided to climb another 1,180 ft to the top of Wayna Picchu (the nose of Machu Picchu).

It was kind pretty high.

After our tour ended, Siya and I were going to head back to Lima to explore the capital a little, but decided it would be much more adventurous to book a flight to the Amazon Jungle and stay a few nights.  So, that’s exactly what we did.  We didn’t have much of a plan.  We literally booked our flight and in a few hours we were standing in the largest city in the Peruvian Rainforest…Iquitos!  It wasn’t long before we were approached by a man who invited us to come to his lodge located 3 hours by boat deep in the jungle.  We felt good about the guy, so we trusted him and agreed to go with him.  We were also with another group of four who would also join us on this excursion.  ***Just a note: Always follow your instincts.  If you’re gut is telling you no, then it is usually right.  In this situation, we felt that we were making the right decision to go with this man.*** It ended up being one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had.

We went to a Monkey Sanctuary where monkeys who have been injured or their parents have been killed are taken care of by volunteers.

I made friends with a sloth.

We learned about the medicinal values of the many plants and trees in the Amazon. From a tree that cures diabetes to a plant that cures cancer (seriously makes you think, doesn’t it?!), a native shared with me all the amazing benefits of the Amazon. It is truly amazing.

This wonderful creature (a tapir to be exact), scared the crap out of me. She came out of the bush as I was coming out of my cabin, and I thought I was going to be her dinner. Little did I know, she is a plant/fruit eater, and turned out to be the sweetest thing ever.

My adventure throughout Peru was one that I continue to reflect on frequently.  It was an amazing experience that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a diverse travel experience.  I would definitely go back in a heartbeat.


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 Happy Travels!


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1 Comment

  1. February 28, 2012 / 5:10 pm

    What a wonderful experience it must have been!!!! Keep up the good work!