On Thursday we returned together from Cusco to Lima for our final night, in reflective mood.
Ma, Pa and Dan returned to the Marriott, and Jim and I to another great apartment more central to Miraflores. We were straight down the shops for philly and pringles, and pot noodles. To think of the esteemed history of the pot noodle eh? Descended from Incan technology – freeze dried!
Immediately you feel a bit brighter now out of the altitude. There is nothing really discernible when you get to 3000m, just a bit out of breath up stairs. But when you come down there is definitely a change. Its the difference between thinking “Don’t really feel like it” and “Let’s get straight down the shops for some beers!”.
Oxygen’d up, we walked out to eat traditional food at Saqra, outside in the warm evening air.
“What are candied potatoes?”
“They tell you exactly what they think”
One of the owners was creeping around the tables on his crutches to mingle with his guests…..
“The owner is coming around to meet everyone”
“He’s on crutches”
“Yeah, he must be after tips explaining ‘I’ve had to cook with crutches!'”
“Have you ever tried turning your oven on with a crutch?”
Great dinner, especially puddings, and if you’re ever there check out the toilets!
The final day was spent lazily getting up for breakfast, and meeting at Larcomar for another amazing meal at Tanta. Puddings were absolutely incredible, and we got in our final pisco sours and ceviche (or if you’re Dad, a massive club sandwich!).
“What did you have Mum?”
“Grandma’s old squash soup…
Or Old Grandma’s squash soup…
Or Squashed Old Grandma’s soup!”
And of course a splodge was dropped on Mamá’s clean white top which she was flying home in….
“Its OK Marian, your splodge is covered!”
And so… to reflections.
What an amazing experience, travelling with your loved ones and filling your memory banks to brimming with the incredible, the joyful, the warm and the heart-wrenching… and your Sister’s phone with a thousand photos and messages!
What began as surreal, seeing your family after 5 months and it feeling like 5 minutes – but in extremely strange circumstances, didn’t really stop being surreal at all. The entire two weeks seems like an extremely intricate reality conjured during a lengthy stretch of coma, or a bout of insanity. I can’t believe it has happened.
Although its hard to single out moments, I forced Ma and Pa to pick a few – as follows – and then there are a few more thoughts from me about what having family with us has meant.
HIGHLIGHTS OF PERU
1. Mamá Mercedes and her Chicha bar
2. Moray with our local guide Percy
3. History: Incas are an astonishing race
4. Our epic 12 hour trek across the Andes
5. The stunning Ollantaytambo, set amongst high mountains
1. The first revealing of “The” view of Machu Picchu
2. Pudding at Tanta: choc, strawb, passionfruit, cream cup
HIGHLIGHTS OF HOLIDAY
The Hotel – El Albergue, Ollantaytambo
You could walk straight out onto the train platform to catch your train. And you could walk straight out of your room into a gorgeous garden filled with tropical plants and buzzing hummingbirds.
The Pool – JW Marriott, Lima
A “launch” after more than 10 years, on a special day for Mothers…
The Church – Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, Arequipa
A decorated ceiling that elicited an involuntary gasp of wonder.
The Wildlife – Hummingbird, Cusco
A hummingbird so close you feel their fast vibrations in your hair (or their wings hit your ear!).
The Pudding – Tanta, Lima
When you earn the nickname “Meringue Lips” and your “Playful” fruit drink makes you so happy you feel drunk.
- No British cars!
- Disparities: tidy schoolchildren with white bows in their hair being walked to school vs children being led behind their Mother begging for money
- The amount of hawkers in towns (see above, makes sense)
- The toil, by hand, of the people working the land in the countryside – pure admiration for their endeavour
- There were lots of locals at Machu Picchu
- Everyone is so helpful, even taxi drivers
- The almost complete absence of prams – babes are slung on backs with the shopping
So what has it meant to us having family travelling alongside us?
Well, at times I was concerned when we were all in a plane together! Too much special cargo in one place. At other times it made for a much more assured journey – your concern about danger dissipates when you are travelling with a ‘Clan’ and not by yourself.
Another, more obvious, observation is the joy in sharing an experience with others – particularly when they are so excited 😉
We have been absolutely spoiled rotten! So much delicious food it’s rude, pisco sours for hours and hours, tour guides and train rides, you name it. An embarrassing level of generosity. We are incredibly lucky, appreciative and are thankful for every second. We also made the most of the upmarket hotel facilities… pools, bars, sitting areas… before heading back to sleep and wash in the cheap digs. Back to our scrounging student freeloading ways!
But what strikes me most of all, for anyone who has a chance to adventure with family, is the calm. You are incredibly busy fitting adventures in every day, but there’s a serenity to being with people that there’s no pretence with. I’m not sure if this is a common family trait, but at least for me, these are the people who would do anything for one another and forgive everything of one another – forget all the judgements or petty annoyances, you can relax and focus on having fun.
And finally, Mum and Dad. They have been a reminder for us all that quest for adventure, an openness to new experiences and stamina are not the preserve of the young. With a dose of determination and confidence, alongside your measure of caution and sensibility, the World awaits!