August 26th, 7:35 am, my flight from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Lima, Peru sets sail. Of course I have to fly north to Toronto to connect to El Salvador then Peru. Hours on a flight is plenty of time to think. I ponder what the experiences will be like when I set foot at each of the main places that are on my list. My main list includes Machu Picchu, Salar de Uyuni, Torres del Paine & the Iguassu Falls. I also think of who I am going to meet on my trip and how I’m finally one real step closer to checking off my top bucket list item: Salar de Uyuni.
“I have an awesome energy right now that feels if I can’t be pulled to my destination soon enough.”
After 3 plus years of graduate school, 2 jobs, and all the extra stuff life threw my way I’m ready to leave. In fact, I could care less about when I ever come back. I’ve worked hard for a long time and need a well deserved hiatus.
“I’m doing this to be free & to grow as a person. Something I realized long ago staying at home couldn’t help me do.”
I have my 40 pound backpack, camera equipment, super awesome headphones, 3 pairs of clothes, toiletries & journal. I’m set. The only thing I have planned and set in stone is my reservation into the park of Machu Picchu a week from when I arrive. Plenty of time to sight see and travel… or so I thought.
“On the flight from Toronto to El Salvador. That moment when everyone else looks different & is speaking a different language. I am now an outsider.”
On my final flight to Lima, I get bumped up to 1st class. Liquor on a plane is free!? Yes, I’ll have some Baileys with my chicken & rice… Finally, after a day of flights, I arrive in Lima at 2:05 a.m…
What a dump! For all the great things I heard about Lima as a city, I feel as if I entered a city that looks more like a war zone out of out Iraq. Rubble & trash everywhere. Car horns honking 24/7. Stray dogs everywhere! That’s cool. I’m reminded of the fact that personally, I hate cities. Too much going on. Even my cab driver cuts off a motobike cop and honks at him. All good. This I could agree with. Nevertheless cities appeal to me little. I’m here for the nature. I book my buses to get to Cuzco a couple days before my Machu Picchu hike and set out.
My first bus stop, Paracas! I meet a sweet Auzi gal named Bec who I talk to for hours. We share names, information, stories, etc. What is to become the common backpacker questionnaire. What’s your name? Where are you from? Where have you traveled? Where are you going? How long have you been traveling for? All those sorts of things.
Coincidentally enough we are staying at the same hostel that I booked the night before on my Hostelworld app. Oh, and my phone data is turned off so I can only use it when I get wifi. Great for planning next day hostel stays as I’m on the move at an unknown pace.
The next day I bike the dunes of Paracas on one of the most unstable bikes I’ve ever ridden. The views of the ocean front are incredible. Desert and ocean. Nothing else. I have no idea where I’m going at all. When I realize I have to get back for my next bus later in the day I head back. Along the way 2 tiny stray dogs chase me on my bike. This is common in south america. Something I can’t get enough of. I meet Bec on my return and we do our goodbyes. Making new friends would be one of the greatest rewards on this trip and I already realized that before I even left.
Onto Ica, after a 2 hour late bus. South America time, right? As I arrive at my hostel in Ica I get set up to visit the Huacachina dunes. I realize that in south america finding ways to do anything is super easy. Everyone knows somebody that can get you information or hook you up with an idea or plan of what to do. Of course they probably share money and information to help each other out, and it’s evident that tourism, especially from westerners, is a big business not worth ignoring.
The next day I arrive at the dunes. This place reminds me of Tatooine in Star Wars. High desert mounds bigger than the city below. I meet a new friend from China named Chow. We help each other with pictures, dune buggy it at crazy speeds, and surf the sand around us. We see an Oasis, remarkable sun set and eventually part ways. Unknowingly, I lose my super awesome head phones during this fun experience and don’t realize it for a week. This would develop into a pattern on this trip.
My trip is going amazingly well. I feel happier and lighter than ever! I can’t wait to see what’s in store next as I head to Nasca.