My mom and I thought it would be fun to post some more details about our travels around Peru.
My parents picked me up on Monday, July 14. That night we caught up and went through my belongings. As I mentioned, I didn’t have a lot of time to pack so my huge suitcases were a bit disorganized. The first thing my mom said was, “Why does it smell like I am unpacking you from scout camp?!” All of my clothing smelled like a camp fire because Maximo often washed our clothes on the same day that he dyed the costumes he and Olinda rent out. He hand-washed our clothes in a big plastic tub and then would hang things to dry outside, and usually had a big wood fire going. So, I smelled like a camp fire for seven months! I got used to it, and actually liked it.
On Tuesday, we had chifa for lunch took a combi to Cochas and then to Chilca. My parents were amazed at the experience!
On Wednesday, we checked out of the hotel and went to Jauja. The check-out was eventful because as I got into the elevator, my placa (name tag) got bumped and fell off. It didn’t land on the floor, it slipped between the wall and the elevator shaft and was GONE. We went down to the front desk and explained to the custodian what had happened. He took us to the basement and he crawled into the shaft with a flashlight and returned with the placa, no worse for the wear. That was the FIRST and only time I ever lost one!
After that near miss, we took a 45-minute taxi back to Jauja. My parents wanted to meet Maximo and Olinda.
After lunch we went to the Jauja airport and caught a flight back to Lima. We stayed in a little bed and breakfast my parents had found really close to the airport.
Thursday morning we caught a flight to Cusco. Our tour guide’s daughter met us at the airport and got us settled at the hotel. Later that afternoon, another tour guide picked us up. We went to see Sacsayhuaman and nearby archeological sites, Qenqo and the Sun Temple Korycancha.
On Friday, our actual tour guide picked us up. My parents had heard about him from other missionary parents and he was awesome. He took us on a tour of the Sacred valley. We visited Chinchero, a local home where the women dye and weave their own handicrafts, the Moray Agricultural Terraces, and had lunch in Urubamba.
Betho and his driver dropped us off in Ollantaytambo so we could catch the train to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes). As we were getting on the train, Elder Hartvigsen and his family were getting off. Elder Hartvigsen had been on my floor in the BYU dorms, and in my MTC and CCM group, but went to Peru Lima South. His family had picked him up at the end of his misison. Betho was their guide, but they were a day ahead of us.
We spent the night in a little hotel room in Machu Picchu Pueblo, and got up the next morning for an early (6:30am!) bus ride to Machu Picchu. Betho’s brother-in-law Paul took over the tour guide duties, and we learned a lot from him, too. He told us right off the bat that he doesn’t like to tell myths or legends, but wants his clients to understand how complicated the Quechua people were at the time of the Inkas.
We took the 90-minute train back to Ollantaytambo and then a driver met us to take us the rest of the way back to Cusco (another 90-minute drive). It was a long but awesome day!
On Sunday, we went to church in Betho’s ward. That was cool. That afternoon we went to see two animal reserves and saw condors, llamas and other animals up close and personal.
On Monday, we boarded a double-decker bus and headed to Puno. It was a long day but we saw some cool sights. We went over La Raya pass which tops out at 14,700 feet. We stopped at Raqchi and saw some interesting ruins, the Wirachocha Temple and saw the beautiful Andahuaylillas church. It was a long day, and we got to Puno just as the sun was going down (about 6:30pm).
Tuesday was our last full day of touring and we were excited to see Lake Titicaca. We were surprised to find Betho waiting for us at breakfast at 6:30am. The tour guide he had hired had a family emergency come up, so Betho took the bus overnight to arrange for a replacement and let us know about the changes. We couldn’t believe his dedication! He hired a nice, young student who is studying for her guide license named Giselle. She took us to the dock and we met our captain for the day, Wenceslau and his brother Oswaldo (who is also the mayor of the island Amantaní).
They took us to the floating island of Uros, and then out to Amantaní where Betho had arranged an overnight stay with Wenceslau’s other brother Bautista and his family.
Once we got settled in, Giselle took us on a hike of the island. We hiked first to Pachamama then to Pachatata. The altitude was so high, over 13,500 feet, that my mom had a hard time. She managed both peaks, though, and the view was stupendous.
We had a beautiful and simple dinner prepared by Irma and a nice talk about life on the island and the love of our Heavenly Father. We really enjoyed our stay. After the sun went down, we spent some time out in the cold air admiring the stars and the Milky Way.
On Wednesday morning, we woke to a nice breakfast. Bautista showed us where he farms and keeps his animals. Feeding the donkey was a highlight!
We had a long day of travel ahead of us, so we skipped a tour of neighboring island Takile. Instead, we went straight back to Puno (three hours by boat!) with Wenceslau at the helm again. We headed back to our hotel and made arrangements to have a room for a few hours to rearrange our luggage and take showers. Then it was a flight from Puno to Arequipa to Lima, and then a long wait for our 2am flight. We got through immigrations without any problem, although I was so nervous there would be a problem with my expired paperwork. We paid a $3 fine and were on our way!
After a long overnight flight, customs and a delay in Dallas (where my mom’s purple maiz was confiscated!), we were on our way to Salt Lake City. We made friends with the eight other missionaries on our flight and I was anxious to get home.
My appointment with the stake president was not until 7:30pm that evening, so we had time for a late lunch at Training Table. That Thursday was Pioneer Day, and it was fun to be home to celebrate a little bit.
IT IS SO GOOD TO BE HOME! I miss Peru like crazy, but I am happy with my service and I know the Lord is pleased with me. And, now it is on to new adventures.
with many llamas,