My biological father was a traveller and spoke five languages. Unfortunately, it appears that I did not get the languages gene. But, my desire to travel began to emerge during my years in university. Like many students, I did not have the funds to travel during university – instead, I promised myself that I would travel somewhere once I graduated.
That somewhere, ended up being Peru. Specifically, hiking the Inca Trail. I am unsure of why I picked this destination, I remember walking past a travel kiosk and noticing a G Adventures brochure. Once I picked it up, I was hooked on all the possibilities. I was drawn to the ACTIVE category hiking trips – as I consider myself to be a hiker and could never see myself enjoying a resort/ purely sight seeing trip.
South America has always been a part of the world that my soul feels drawn to. Perhaps it is because Argentina had been the only country (besides the US), that I had been exposed to. At 14, I had traveled to Argentina with my whole family as a part of my biological father’s unsuccessful plan to relocate us. Despite the relocation failing, my heart felt connected to the people and culture that seems to be universal in South America.
The night I booked my trip to Peru, I saw a psychic, who told me that I would soon be going on a trip somewhere in South America. I had never told her I was debating about where to travel, or that I was looking to travel at all. That was all the reassurance I needed. It would never be the right time financially or otherwise to travel – I just needed to book it. Within half an hour, I took the first date suggested to me by the G Adventures travel agent (November 1, 2015) and my tour and flight were booked. I was going to Peru to hike the Inca Trail.
My best friend, my partner and her father dropped me off at the airport the morning of my flight. I could not have been more excited. I had never done anything like this before. I was going to a foreign country, on my own. If I missed my connecting flight, lost my luggage or got lost on my way to the hotel in Peru, I would have to figure it out. Having struggled with anxiety since my teen years, it would be an understatement to say I was anxious about all the possible mishaps. However, my excitement far more outweighed the anxiety. This was the first step to all of my future travels.
After 24 hours of travel, which included a missed connecting flight, lost luggage, arriving in an airport where my limited Spanish proved to be more limited than I had thought, and by chance, finding a G Adventures representative who had been waiting for me to arrive (who then helped me find my luggage, and put me in a direct taxi to the hotel), I finally lay on my bed in Cusco. Surprisingly alive despite some very questionable driving (by Canadian standards) by the taxi driver. Apparently driving lanes don’t actually mean very much in Peru. My roommate had yet to arrive, so I picked a bed and attempted to rest before needing to meet up with the rest of the group I would be hiking with.
After meeting up with the group, picking up gear, and getting a detailed overview of what the next six days would entail, some group members and I went for dinner. We decided on burgers – this was the WORST DECISION EVER! Due to the altitude sickness I was experiencing for the first time, my stomach felt like it was unable to digest my selection of heavy food. In hindsight, I should have followed the direction provided to me by the G Adventures representative who warned that I should eat something light. But I was hungry dammit! The excruciating nausea and stomach pains kept me up for most of the night. In addition, I was homesick. My poor roommate, who I had met earlier in the evening, was more kind than I would have been if someone had been tossing and turning and groaning all night due to the fact that they were ill prepared for the effects of altitude sickness. Her name was Emmie.
My first impression of Emmie, was a girl around my age, with a ginormous backpack and all of the items originally in her backpack, scattered on the bed and floor around her. She appeared to be slightly flustered. She would look at all of the clothing and randomized items, and try to repack them efficiently. After some brief introductions, I had learned that Emmie had been traveling for a couple of months through South America – mostly on her own. A real live backpacker – an international backpacker at that! She also explained that this packing and unpacking was something she found herself doing in each new place she arrived. It seemed to be quite the process! However, I admired her ability to be able to live out of a backpack for months. Emmie was friendly and seemed quite kind. I thought her and I would get along just fine – I was right.
After dinner, we had some time to explore the city of Cusco on our own. Some of the group members and I met up and we wandered around Cucsco until we were tired and decided to return to the hotel to rest for the next days adventure.