While taking a break from writing about overfishing in the Galápagos for my environmental studies final paper, I figured I ought to write another blog post. The most exciting thing to happen since I last wrote was probably my trip to Cusco, Perú.
Last weekend, 5 of the other IES girls and I flew to Cusco (with a layover in Lima). Well, that’s not exactly accurate. Although I eventually met up with the other girls, I ended up having to take a separate flight due to the realization (at the airport) that my credit card had not actually been charged for the plane ticket, which I later found out was probably because the company thought the charge was fraudulent. Fortunately for me, there was another flight out that evening (granted, it had an 8 hour layover in Lima) and I was able to switch my Machu Picchu tour to a different day. Despite the trip’s stressful beginnings, I eventually made it to Cusco, and I’m happy to report it was a wonderful experience.
Machu Picchu was certainly one of the highlights, although Cusco itself is also a really fun town to explore. It seemed similar to Cuenca in Ecuador, with a bit of a European feel and cleaner than Quito. Cusco is certainly very touristy, and as much as I like discovering non touristy places, it didn’t put a dent in the experience. In fact, since I had to take a different flight and tour than the other girls and ended up only seeing them at dinner, thus spending a fair amount of my time in Perú as a solo traveler, it was kind of comforting to be surrounded by a bunch of other tourists. I may have joined a group of French tourists on their tour of a museum for a couple minutes…and was happy to discover that I could understand at least a little bit of the French (high school French, you did not fail me!).
But even though I didn’t intentionally choose to travel mostly alone, it ended up being a liberating experience and I gained more confidence traveling. Although in the future, I’d like to travel independently by choice! Besides Machu Picchu, since I had more time in Cusco because my return flight to Quito left in the late afternoon, I got to explore Qorikancha, the museum of the Incan Sun Temple. It was really cool, and even though I’m not a history buff, I was fascinated.
Other random highlights include…
•I bought a Peruvian hat. I didn’t come to Perú wanting to get one, but soon realized that it was a necessity.
•While eating lunch, I made the mistake of eating in the outside area of a restaurant. This was a mistake because every person trying to sell something will come up and harass you as you eat your lunch. If you politely refuse, they’ll ask you why. I’ve got to hand it to them, they’re certainly unafraid and assertive. Why was this a highlight? A woman ended up convincing me to buy a small piece of pottery, but I did get the price down to half of what it originally was. Kind of wished later I had just said no, but then realized I had a nice gift for a family member.
•Met a really cool guy on the train ride back from Machu Picchu. He works in special effects for movies, but is taking time off work to photograph the 7 wonders of the world.
•The other two people on my tour were an elderly couple from Los Angeles (aka where a lot of my family is from).
•This isn’t technically in Perú, but on my taxi ride back from the Quito airport, I had the nicest cab driver. His name is Miguel, and we ended up talking a lot. He used to live in NYC (my hometown), working a bunch of different jobs. He also has pet dogs, so we had that in common as well. He gave me his business card after I left, telling me to call him when I need a ride to the airport to return to the US. Perhaps I will end up doing so!
I should get back to finishing up my paper. But bottom line is, if you’re in South America and have the opportunity to visit Perú, I’d definitely recommend it. I’d love to go back sometime and explore more of the country.
On another note…I officially have less than a week left in Ecuador…where has the time gone? More on that in my next posts…
More Blogs From This Author
<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Claire Fishman is a junior at Brandeis University, majoring in Psychology. Outside of class, she enjoys singing with the university’s chorus and playing flute with a student orchestra. Her hobbies include reading, writing, cooking. Claire has traveled to Central America twice (Costa Rica and Honduras), but this will be her first time in South America. Despite having grown up in a large city, she loves spending time in nature, and looks forward to exploring the biodiversity of Ecuador. As someone who loves to travel and try new things, Claire is thrilled to be embarking on this adventure!</span></p>