Hi everyone!! Wow I have so much to share about the last couple weeks! I don’t have a whole lot of time so this will be a quick version, but when I get home (on Thursday!!!) I’ll have more time and better internet, so I’ll be able to write in more detail and upload some photos.
So my first trip was into the jungle! We flew into Iquitos, a city on the Amazon river pretty far into the rainforest, only accessible by boat or plane, and spent our first and last nights there. For two nights in between we stayed at a lodge about two hours up the river from Iquitos. This was quite the experience! I was with three other girls, and we had our own guide for the entire time. He took us on different excursions into the jungle and on the river as well. Our lodge was deep in the forest! We only got electricity from 6-8 pm, and all the walls were just net! Our bedroom walls were net covered with a bed sheet, and then we also had mosquito nets over our beds. We had a tiny little bathroom with no mirror or anything, it actually didn’t even have a door. So staying at the lodge was VERY different from anything I’d ever done before!
My favorite part of the jungle trip was a walk we took into the jungle one day. Anselmo, our guide, gave us each some sturdy boots and led the way with his machete. At one point, the path we were following just completely disappeared into the river! We later found out that a huge chunk of land had sunk into the water just the day before! So since our path disappeared, Anselmo just made his own path for us, which ended up being super cool! We ran into several houses of local people. Their houses were all risen pretty high because the water level changes so much, and they had leaf roofs, and usually had walls on only 2 sides of the house, and the rest was just open! It was really cool to see how people live out there. We got really lucky and ended up seeing some monkeys in the wild! They were the smallest monkey in the world, and Anselmo knew to look for them because he noticed a certain kind of tree that they eat from. We also saw a wild toucan! among other things!
One day we went to a place called “Monkey Island” where these kids showed us, and let us play with, a bunch of monkeys!! They don’t keep the monkeys in cages, but they feed them and so the monkeys just stay there and become tame. My highlight of that day was holding a baby sloth!!!
After the jungle trip, I met Hannah in Lima and we went straight to Cusco. We rode 22 hours on bus to get there! It was a looong ride, especially because most of it was through the mountains so we were CONSTANTLY going around curves. The city of Cusco is at a really high altitude, so the air is a lot thinner there. When we got there, we had to walk to our hotel and we were SO out of breath just from walking! It took a couple days to become acclimated to the altitude! Luckily neither of us experienced any other symptoms of altitude sickness besides shortness of breath. I absolutely LOVED Cusco. The people there were great, and Hannah and I both felt really welcome. It was a lot different than Lima or Iquitos because the people don’t stare at you!! It was such a relief… I could actually feel comfortable looking around while I was walking through town instead of just looking at the sidewalk.
Our second day in Cusco was definitely the highlight of my time here in Peru. We went to Machu Picchu and it just exceeded every expectation I had!! I have studied a lot about Machu Picchu and the Inca people and culture, so it just felt SO surreal to be standing in the middle of their most sacred city. The view was absolutely incredible, and the photos don’t do it any justice! I can’t even describe how amazing it was. We were there on a perfect day, too! We could see the city clearly but there were clouds in the background which made the mountains look super pretty! And it didn’t rain on us until we were about to go back down the mountain. I can’t wait to post pictures from this day!!!
The next day we took a bus tour of Sacred Valley. We stopped in a few smaller towns and saw more Inca ruins. Another really cool day!!
Anyway… I will write about some other things in more detail when I post photos once I get home. I’ll leave for the airport tomorrow night, and my flight leaves Lima at 2:30 AM on Wednesday morning, and I’ll back to La Crosse at 8:30 on Wednesday night! I have absolutely looooved my time in Peru, but I am ready to go home! I can’t wait to write more! Hope everyone is well!