So, as many of you are aware, we had the opportunity to travel to Peru on a brief-yet-action-packed holiday. The trip had been planned for months, as our intimate circle of friends/travel companions usually try and go on one trip per year as a collective. We’ve drifted all over, and of course, when traveling, we always take into consideration the chance that things might not go exactly as planned. For example, in Panama one year, we missed the direct bus from Panama City to Almirante. But we simply put our heads together, made some recalculations, and ended up catching a bus to David, where there were a few 20-passenger vans, one of which went to Almirante.
So let’s just say we’re used to making slight itinerary changes…
…But nothing compares to the amount of surprises we were handed on our Peruvian excursion.
Originally, I was meant to do the 20hr bus ride from Lima to Cusco with two friends who wanted the experience of seeing the mountains and countryside of Peru (and catch a flight back). Things went awry when, for unforeseen reasons, those two friends had to drop out of the trip at the very last second. So I would be stuck on a day-long bus trip [alone] while my friends relaxed and caught a flight the next morning. This didn’t sit well with any of us, so the morning of departure, in my delirium, I called myself booking a flight to be with my friends. Problem Solved… wrong! In my haste, I ended up purchasing the wrong flight. What’s more, the airline charged my card twice, which ate up a significant amount of money I’d reserved for the trip. Ouch. To say I was mortified would be an understatement. Lucky for me, I have an amazing network of people around me, and my guardian angel came through.
Surprises one and two.
We get to the airport. We rush (at the suggestion of the rude woman at the check-in counter who made us to believe we were late for our flight) to our gate. Flight delayed. Now we’re sweaty and aggitated. What’s more, we realize our layover is only 50 minutes. If this flight doesn’t take off soon, we’ll miss that small window of opportunity. Flight finally boards. Problem solved… wrong! The plane sits and then taxis for two hours before taking off. We miss our connection. Next flight out isn’t until 1pm the next day. We’re in Colombia. Luckily, I’d befriended the guy sat next to me on the plane. He speaks fluent Spanish. With his help, we are able to get Avianca to put us up for the night in the Crowne Plaza Bogota.
The next surprise isn’t a bad one; in fact, it’s the best surprise I’d had in a while: We finally get to Lima, and get invited to a wedding (I was told since childhood to always pack some form of dressy attire when going away, so the decision to attend the wedding was a no brainer.)! The wedding turned out to be one of the most lavish events I’ve ever attended, an experience I’ll always remember.
Machu Picchu. The most breathtaking landscape… brilliant architecture… a view to die for… Almost didn’t get to see it. Went to the Poroy train station in Cusco: it was closed for repairs. Gag. Our taxi driver was sympathetic enough to have a pow-wow with the guards at the station, who were then nice enough to make a phone call [to the bus station we should have left from] and had a van sent for us. Whew!
Surprise five. But then the van breaks down in the middle of the mountainous Peruvian countryside. Sigh. The driver, luckily, shared our sense of urgency and called for backup. Another van pulls up in back of us. The drivers switch passengers, placing us (and the three female Japanese passengers) in the good van and the locals in the broke down van. Ethically questionable, but at this point, we felt Machu Picchu slipping away so morality was thrown out the window. Surprise six. We make it to Aguas Calientes (the city at the foot of Machu Picchu). Elated that we’d made it, we hop on the first van up the mountain. The ride up is majestic, spiritually enlightening even. We’re in the clouds, both figuratively and literally. Nothing can spoil this moment. Problems solved… Wrong! We get off the van and proceed to the entrance, Soles and Passports in hand, ready to experience MP in all it’s glory. Denied. Tickets were meant to be purchased in the town of Aguas Calientes. Heart Attack. Are you serious? But that means… yes. Back down the mountain.
We got things sorted…blah blah blah…
Surprise seven… and Machu picchu was amazing! Peru, with all its surprises, was amazing!
Lesson learned from this lengthy post: don’t let twists and turns get the best of you. When you’re traveling, it’s best to roll with the punches. Follow the wind. Yes, you might get knocked around a bit, but in the end, it makes for better stories, an overall more colourful travel experience, and a higher quality travel pedigree. One can’t learn or grow without there having been a few setbacks along the way. So revel in those setbacks… they’ll only benefit you later in life. -VJ