Reflections on Peru (12/12)

NOTE: This article is part of a series of 12 articles on Peru and the many beautiful aspects of this country. There is a post for each day I spent there, although some may not be relative to that particular day. I intend to post two articles a week for this series, on Thursdays and Mondays.

I am crying while typing this post.

Why?

Because this is the final article. I have been back from Peru for two months as of yesterday. Even though I returned to my small mountain town, I have channeled all my love for this country every week into tiny snippets of publications, but alas, they are over. I have to move on from this trip, it is finally over and the real world (aka school), begins yet again.

When I arrived in Albuquerque airport after flying from Lima, the first thing my dad asked me was if this trip was better than my trip to Tanzania. In short, this is not a simple answer. Tanzania turned my world upside down, throwing me into a mindset of wanderlust and ambition. I saw sickness, starvation, dehydration. I saw the world outside of the little bubble of North Idaho. It changed me entirely. But was Peru able to meet the standard Tanzania set?

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Trekking in the Andes

Let’s examine.

Peru was easily the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Many spots quite literally took my breath away, although altitude already did that to begin with. More often than not, I was setting down my camera to take in the view rather than snapping shots from different angles. Even though Peru is home to many people, it felt open and untouched; there was some sort of a free feeling associated with it. I’m not sure how many places there are like this, but I’m positive they are few and far between.

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Machu Picchu

Additionally, the group of people I went with was just plain incredible. This was my second Education First (EF) tour, and I will never have such a good crew ever again. Our guide, Tin Tin, was outstanding. Not only was he super smart and an excellent resource for information, but was also so personable, kind, and flat out funny.

Also, Stephanie, our EF supervisor (not sure what the actual term is, she basically comes along and makes sure the trip is running smoothly) was awesome too. She is super spunky and down for adventure, but also loves helping people out too. I loved getting to know her.

Last but not least, my group was incredible. I loved everyone on the trip and there was absolutely no drama (a miracle for 17 high school students). I will never forget the nights of playing card games and determining places based on who got out first (1st: President, 2nd: Stormy Daniels, 3rd: Vice President, 4th: Secretary, 5th: Intern, 6th: Depressed Stay at Home Dad…. and so on), adventuring in the mountains, helping the school children, swimming in underwear in the Pacific, and all the other adventures we had. These people are family and I will never travel with a better group. I will never have better advisors; thank you Erica and Tyler!

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All of us at Plaza de Armas in Lima

Then of course, there are the little things, like the scenery. Gorgeous plants galore, as well as lots of new animals. Of course there’s the llamas and guinea pigs, but also the macaws, the vicuñas, and flamingoes. Many of these I have never seen in the wild, which I loved to do. Also part of me always believed birds can’t speak. That part of me was proven wrong on this trip.

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This bird told us ‘hola‘ many times

The adventures we had were superb and full of excitement. We had many exciting hikes up and around the mountains, times spent on the beach, late night campfires, and history lessons. I loved every moment, even when I felt awful from the low oxygen, and never wanted to go back home. I loved how we got to expand our creativity and seek facts and information at the same time.

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Being creative in a Pablo Seminario workshop

So was it better?

I still don’t know because I won’t ever be able to compare the two. My EF experience with Tanzania was much different than the one in Peru. Tanzania traumatized me at first and then built me into a better and more worldly person, but Peru did something else entirely, but at the same time, of a similar nature.

During our last few moments before the airport, we went to the Pacific one more time. The red sun settled into the horizon and my friends chased the waves as they rolled back and forth on the shore. As I sat there on the beach, with the salty air in my face, all the thoughts in my mind slowed to one:

This is me.

Peru gave me a self realization that no other place had. As I gazed into the distance, in one split second, I realized that this freedom that traveling brings is what I want to chase after until I am old and grey. This is what I want to do.

I don’t know when I’ll get this feeling again, but as for now, as poet Francois Rabelais once said:

“I go to seek a great perhaps.”

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Thank you to all those who gave me so much love and support after this trip! You all are the reason and drive behind this blog. Special thanks to Annette Orton for her continued support as well!

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