Margaret Benson
July 22, 2013

This past weekend I went to Peru. I went with six other people from my program for 5 days. We had a four am flight to Lima and then a connection to Cuzco. LAN offered to change our flight because they overbooked our 4am flight and compensated us 60$. Unfortunately, our connection was scheduled too close and we missed it, however it wasn’t for lack of trying. We ran through the airport security and customs to our gate. We got a new flight only an hour and a half later and finally we made it to Cuzco. The first day we met up with our Machu Picchu guide and went out to eat. Peruvian food is delicious especially in comparison to Chilean food. Chilean food is very good, yet bland. Peruvian food felt like tasting the rainbow in comparison. Unfortunately I discovered that my debit cards didn’t work. Only when I returned did I find out that my new travel card was only valid for 45 days. Great. I am so lucky the group of gringos with whom I was travelling were all willing to loan me some money until I got everything figured out.

The next day we awoke early and took the bus to Aguas Calientes which is the town closest to Machu Picchu. The 6 hour drive was glorious. The Andes in Peru are gigantic and green. We started at the top of the mountains, worked our way down and then back up so we got to admire the valleys from the top of the mountains and their overwhelming height from the valleys. We took plenty of pictures but they just don’t do the mountains justice. When we were at the top of the mountain at certain points we were in or above clouds. I felt like we were right below heaven. Our bus only took us so far on the way to the hostel. After the 6 hour bus ride we had an hour and a half hike to the rest of the village. I use the term hike loosely because we walked along railroad tracks that followed a river. It was absolutely beautiful and a very different change of pace from my city life in Santiago. The town is small and touristy but instead of exploring we turned in early due to our 4am wakeup call the next day.

The next day we woke up at 4 to make the trek up to macchu picchu. It is a big deal to watch the sunrise from macchu picchu so we had to wake up before that. There ware 3 ways to get to macchu picchu. There is the famous inca trail which takes 4 days, there is a bus, or you can climb the hill. Poor college kids choose the ultimate option. The hike was supposed to take about an hour. We sprinted up the hill in 40 minutes. The steps were huge and spread out. That coupled with the lack of O2 made breathing difficult. To combat the altitude you are supposed to chew coca leaves which we did. I didn’t do it in time and I got to experience the joy of altitude sickness before they kicked in.

Machu Picchu is absolutely breath taking. The mountains are ominous and beautiful. The ruins were a spiritual place placed high in the mountains to be as close to the gods as possible. I felt as though they achieved their goal. We were some of the first people let inside so the lack of tourists added to the magic the ruins emanated. The only down side was the mosquitoes. I have massive welts on my ankles from the bugs. It was weird to experience bugs again because there are very few if at any in Santiago. My entire trip I have seen one grasshopper.

We stayed at machu picchu until our bus tour came back at 1300. We took a train and a bus back to our hostel in Cuzco and slept all day.

The next morning we got to sleep in until 0800 and another van came and picked us up to go to the sacred valley. There we went rock climbing up the mountain and zip lined down it. It was so much fun. It was really windy at the top of the mountain and the zip lining was very fun. There was the van driver’s daughter with us and it was her first time. She didn’t zip line correctly and ended up hitting her head on the break at the end of the run. I did a concussion check and hung out with her until she felt better. The rest of the day was rather uneventful in comparison. We checked into our flights and went out for “Cue” which is guinea pig. I did not try the guinea pig but my comrades tell me it was chewy and they liked it. The next day we took a tour of the rest of the ruins and took lots of pictures. They were not as epic as machu picchu but they were still really interesting because we got to learn the history of the Inca. The driver took us to a local restaurant and I had one of the best meals of my trip which was grilled veggies and cheese. Unfortunately I found out there was an unwanted bug of some sort in my meal…

The flight home was really relaxing compared with the flight to Peru. Some people shopped, and others slept. I was so happy to come home to Santiago and see my family and friends again. I really do love this community I have built and I will be sad to see it go.

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Margaret Benson

<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);">My name is Maggie Benson. I am a native to St. Paul, Minnesota. I am studying a double major of Nursing and Spanish at a private womens college named Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul, MN. In my free time I enjoy running with my golden retriever, tennis, biking, dancing, playing hockey and reading murder mysteries. Travelling has always been a passion of mine and I am excited to combine it with my love of medicine and the Spanish language in Santiago, Chile this summer!</span></p>

2013 Summer 1, 2013 Summer 2
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