Sunday, August 12, 2012

Meeting Cool People While Traveling

A ridiculously beautiful Argentinian at a weaving co-op in the Sacred Valley
I can talk for days about the advantages and disadvantages of traveling solo, but the best part is that you have to meet new people. When you get on tours and excursions, it's natural to make conversation with the people around you, and this is even more true when you're on your own.  So here's a list of the most interesting people I met on my recent trip to Peru:

Sue: an Australian in her late 50's, Sue has been living in various countries in the Middle East working as a school principal. She has been in Kuwait for the past year but hopes to move on when her two year contract is complete. After her visit to the Sacred Valley and Macchu Piccu, she was planning to move on to higher altitude to volunteer in a more remote area of the country. Unfortunately she was having a hard time with the altitude in Cuzco and was considering canceling this leg of her trip. She had volunteered in many parts of the world, including Cambodia, where she was warned not to touch any of the children because their parents might try to send them home with her.

Tunupa- a delicious lunch stop in the Sacred Valley. Maximiliano is the tall guy
Maximiliano: a priest from Argentina. I speak a little Spanish, he speaks even less English, but he was the most friendly and engaging person I met on the entire trip. He and his traveling companion (I didn't really meet him) were in Peru for a conference in Lima and then spent the weekend in the Sacred Valley and Machu Piccu. We talked about some of the similarities between the Inca belief system and the Catholicism brought to Peru by the Spanish- it's pretty remarkable to see where these two belief systems overlap.

Callie: an undergraduate from Mount Holyoke, who is spending the summer volunteering with Partners in Heath in Lima. She is a licensed EMT and has been training community health educators in basic first aid. She became fluent in Spanish while living in Costa Rica for a year after high school. We met on the flight from Lima to Cuzco, and she was planning to spend the weekend at Machu Piccu with a friend. She plans to attend medical school after she graduates.

Scott: a former District Manager for Abercrombie & Fitch, who left the company after becoming frustrated with hiring practices: apparently you have to be good looking to get promoted there, and he got sick of the awkward conversations with managers. He had been living in Lima for six months in a house owned by his sister-in-law's parents. He gave me some instruction on Peruvian cooking while we hiked down from Machu Piccu to the train station in Aguas Calientes.

I met lots of other interesting folks, and spoke briefly with many people from Spanish speaking countries. I have reached the point in my Spanish speaking ability that I can have a conversation, but it can be a struggle because I often get stuck on a word I don't know. I was proud to be able to speak with hotel staff, order meals, and understand the Spanish portion of the bilingual tours. I want to keep practicing and improving so that one day I can converse easily in Spanish.

I didn't bring a laptop on the trip, so I couldn't upload photos and delete them from my camera. I found out on day 4 of my 12 day trip that my camera only holds 257 photos at the quality setting I was using. Instead of reducing the quality settings on the camera, I took less photos, edited heavily, and used my iPhone as a secondary camera. The iPhone photos turned out pretty well and I loved using the Instagram finishes to change the look of the picture. Here are some examples of pictures taken with my iPhone:

The train to Machu Piccu

An Inca Kola in Lima
Attempting to eat Cuy (Guinea Pig) in Cuzco
El Barrio Chino (Chinatown), Lima
View from the terrace of my hotel room, Paracas

So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid) and stay tuned for lots more about Peru!

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