The intro to this post (along with two backstories), is in the last post back HERE.
We all fell in love with Peru.
That “Sacred Valley” filled up with all it’s beauty.
But let’s go back to the beginning.
Because even that was an experience.
We flew into Lima late at night and flew with our group (explained in the last post) to Cusco first thing the next morning.
Cusco is 11,152 feet above sea level perched in the middle of the Peruvian Andes mountains.
And it is gorgeous.
There is definitely something with that high altitude I tell you! We all felt a little rocky when we landed in Cusco in that thin air, but luckily it didn’t affect us too much.
We took some buses directly to a school where we got to do vision screenings with the kids.
As I mentioned in the last post, we went to Peru with this organization called CharityVision and we got to be fully immersed in what they do to help give the gift of vision to those who are in need.
This school was one where they were doing some outreach to find out which kids may need glasses.
(CharityVision also took care of us the whole time we were there, which was SO NICE not to have to worry about the schedule…and they did such a great job mixing in sight-seeing and some great opportunities to interact with those they serve there.)
I loved watching my kids jump into action to help, Grace and Carson practicing their Spanish, surrounded by happy kids all dressed neatly in their red school uniforms glistening in the slanted morning sun.
This girl was determined to share her whole report with us, that was exceptionally well done, and taught us more about Peru.
Lingering discussing it all…
QORICHANCHA TEMPLE TOUR
We went to a museum built around Inca temple ruins and it was pretty fascinating even in my post-travel stupor.
How did the Incas build like they did? Such precision in how they cut the stones they used for building…no grout, not sure which kind of tools they had, but before steel and they were able to perfectly align these massive stones.
It’s really quite incredible.
Our tour guides, Jimmy and Luis, were so awesome and told us all kinds of history.
(I don’t have enough time to write down all the history but google it!)
Looking out over Cusco from the museum:
It was devastating to think about how the Spanish conquistadors came in and wrecked everything bringing the Spanish flu as well as just taking over.
So interesting to see the Christian influence on art and culture as the Spaniards elbowed their way in.
We checked into this beautiful hotel with windows as a roof…
…and the girls and I walked around the main town square to explore (Dave and Max had altitude headaches they wanted to sleep off).
We sat at a long table, all 24 of us, and Anadine from CharityVision showed us a little slideshow all about the work they do. It is pretty impressive.
Went on a late-night search for good Peruvian chocolate.
Let’s just say it wasn’t the most impressive late-night treat, but loved sitting with these kids of ours and discussing the world together before bed.
HUMBERTO HERRERA SCHOOL
The next morning we went to a school to help distribute glasses to the kids who had already been screened and tested for prescriptions previously.
Some of them were so taken by those glasses and others just kept them protected in their little boxes we gave them.
The teenagers all played soccer with the school kids in between handing out the glasses…
This was my favorite interaction:
This girl led her friend (maybe brother?) over to our little station with so much animation, SO excited to show him where she got her new red glasses.
Loved watching them walk away, hand in hand.
We also worked on a project to replace a makeshift little playground fence with a fence made out of old tires that we had to dig down deep in the rocky, tangly root-filled soil to situate and then paint.
It was quite a project I tell you, but everyone worked together so happily.
I loved these teenagers.
One of them gave me my favorite experience at the end of the trip when we were talking about what we learned. He was in full, unable-to-talk-tears because of what he experienced and felt while on this trip.
It was the sweetest and made me cry too.
Our awesome guides: Javier and Anadine, the best!
After we situated those tires, we painted.
…and also played a few games trying to bring the kids in too…they didn’t quite fall in love with this one:
But let’s check out that masterpiece of a fence!
Love all these people who make things happen:
We covered a LOT of ground in the six days we were in Perul. And much of it was in these vans (some on trains as well). Here’s our tour guide Jimmy en route to our next stop showing us the coca leaves that are supposed to help with altitude sickness and are also considered sacred in Peru (used in sacred rites and rituals):
They were so awesome filling us in on all the facts and history along the way.
We stopped in this little mountain village…
…where we got a little tutorial on how they make yarn with alpaca wool:
How they dye it:
And how they weave all their colorful fabrics.
Then we headed up the mountain to start our hike of a portion of…
THE INCA TRAIL
The Inca trail is a pretty famous hiking trail that leads to Machu Picchu.
It passes through parts of the famous Sacred Valley, ancient steep little paths high up through Incan ruins in the Andes Mountains, and you can hire porters to help you set up camp and bring along food in all kinds of varieties. (There’s a four-day route, a seven-day route and I think even possibly an eleven-day option.)
But our group did the 7km variety:)
Which was perfect for the amount of time we had there.
Our group at the beginning:
Our favorite couples:
…and our favorite girl who was so pleasant to have around as what she claimed to be a “7th wheel.” Ha!
Abby had my camera and caught this funny picture of Max:
We passed through picturesque fields spotted with picturesque sheep and alpaca watched over by picturesque people in their colorful Peruvian gear.
And then miles of just dry beauty all around, all the while my ankles got gnawed on by aggressive bugs.
(Boy howdy, Peruvian bugs sure have some strong kind of poisons!)
See our little trail down there?
…and then further away here?
We hiked that little crevice through the mountains all the way down to the little village at the bottom called URQUILLO,
Gotta have a tunnel at the end…
And this cilantro someone had just harvested filled up the whole air around us with such a beautiful fragrance!
We drove back to Urubamba for dinner, and had such an interesting discussion about service missionary work overlooking the down square.
And en route home and in the lobby of our little hotel in Yanahaura we stayed up with our kids discussing what we want to have accomplished by our 80th birthdays.
Those kids make me laugh and also tear up with their goodness. There is nothing in the whole wide world like having your adult kids discuss the world with you, and also be able to contribute to intelligent conversations so beautifully with others they just met. (Oh they definitely have their problems too, adult kids are the trickiest part of parenting I’ve ever come across, but this part? Golden.)
Oh there is SO much more to say, but for now I have to be done.
Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get to a tiny village of people who dressed us up in all their traditional dress, showed us how they live, and MACHU PICCHU as well as some eye surgeries.
Hooray if you made it through this “part 1”!
Part 2 is HERE.