Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

El Último Viaje

I spent the last 10 days of my time abroad in the beautiful country of Peru. It was very weird to be leaving Argentina, but I think I was finally ready for it. Mendoza had become my home for the past 5 months, and I had completely adapted to living everyday life there- by the end of my stay there, it felt perfectly normal to me. I’d made some great friends there, and it was very hard to say goodbye to them. During my time as an intercambio in Mendoza, I was able to meet people not only from all over the US, but all over the world! It’s definitely not something you do every day, and I feel very lucky to have had this amazing opportunity. I know a few of these people will be lifelong friends, and it will be very fun to see where the road of life takes each one of us. At the very least, I now have an excuse to visit a few more foreign countries 😉

Anyway, I got into Cuzco after a 24 hour travel day, so with the combination of the high altitude and lack of sleep, I was pretty exhausted when I arrived. I went to bed early that night and the next day I took a tour of the city with a “tours for tips” group, in which I got walk around the city and hear about its history by a local tour guide. I ended the day by going to the Inka Museum and getting a private tour. It was super interesting and a great way to learn about the Inka before visiting their “lost city” in Machu Picchu. The next day, I began my four-day trek to arrive to Machu Picchu- I didn’t do the Inca Trail, but instead I signed up for an alternate excursion called the Salkantay trail that was supposed to be just as scenic and a bit more difficult. We started the trek by getting picked up from our various hostels at 4 in the morning- how fun, right? The first day of hiking was supposed to be an easy warm-up day (as I was told by the agency), but it ended up being more than 9 hours of trekking! It wasn’t terrible, but we were definitely beat by the end of the day and wanted to get to bed. We camped in tents that night and got to know the people in our group a bit better. There were people from Israel, Norway, Germany, and a few from the states, too, and it was really cool to hear about each of their travels and how they had ended up trekking to Machu Picchu in the first place. I really liked our group, and I feel that we meshed really well together. On the second day, we climbed up the famous Salkantay pass, reaching an elevation of almost 5,000 meters and hiking more than 14 kilometers during the day. Needless to say, it was pretty tough, and I found myself gasping for air with the high elevation and struggling more than I thought I would. But, we all made it up, and we were pretty proud of ourselves when we finally arrived at the second campsite. On the third day, we hiked to a lunch spot, ate lunch, and then got the option to pay 25 bucks to take a train to our final destination or walk along the train tracks for 3 hours to get there. Being a group of all travelers, none of us had extra money to spare, so we opted for the cheap and more adventurous option :) When we finally arrived that day, we crashed at the hostel and eagerly awaited our next day at the park. On day four we finally arrived to Machu Picchu, but the day started out a little different than we expected. We got up at 4am to wait in line for the bus- the park opened at 6, and we were told it was worth it to get there super early to beat the crowds and see the ruins before the mobs of tourists arrived. When we stepped outside, however, we realized it was raining, and after waiting for almost 2 hours in the cold wet rain, we arrived to the park only to learn that there was fog covering everything and that you could barely make out the ancient buildings. But, after a few hours, the fog started to clear and the rain stopped, and you could actually begin to appreciate the beautiful city of Machu Picchu. I had booked my tour a few months in advance, so I was able to get a ticket to Wyanapicchu, a small mountain within then park from which you can see the ancient city from a distance. After trekking to the top and appreciating the incredible view, I trekked back down and reunited with part of the group. We decided to take an official guided tour in Spanish by one of the workers there, and it was soooo worth it. Not only did we learn a ton more about the interesting history of the park, but we got to meet four really cool Peruvians who were about our age, and we ended up going out for dinner with them afterwards! After that I flew to Lima to spend my last two days before flying back to the states. Although I didn’t feel like I got quite enough time in Cusco, I enjoyed the time I had in Lima. When I got there on Monday, there were all kinds of celebrations in the city center for their Independence Day (July 28th). I watched some street performers (including a very convincing Michael Jackson impersonator) and ate some traditional Peruvian food- one of the dishes I tried was Cuy, or cooked guinea pig. I had a slight internal struggle when deciding whether or not to eat it, but in the end I decided that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to try this rare food again- when in Peru, right? On my last day I explored the coast of Lima and the districts of Miraflores and Barranco, two very pretty parts of Lima. Then, at 11pm, I arrived at the airport to head back to the states. It was a beautiful trip, and a great way to end my experience abroad. This next week I’ll head to Luther to work for a week (and try to make myself feel better about all the money I spent this semester…) and to see a few of my best friends. It’ll be great to visit with them and tell them about my incredible semester as well as hear what I missed while I was gone. I think during the next week I’ll have a lot more time to reflect on my experience and deal with being back home, so I’m going to give myself a bit of time before ending my blog with a post about being home. Hope you all can wait a little- don’t worry, it’ll be worth it :)





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