Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Past Vacations #19: Peru 2006 - The Last Day And Epilog

Our last day in Peru started with an early rise and a bus ride to the airport to catch a flight to Lima. We arrived late morning and we had the rest of the afternoon free. The wife and I wondered through the shops and made some last minute purchases including a couple of wraps endorsed by a couple of nuns in the shop.

That evening we went to a restaurant to have our last meal together as a tour group. A few of the group had already left as their tour was continuing in other parts of Peru. The restaurant was next to an archaeological excavation. The food was good.

We had to leave early as we had to catch our flight home. We said our goodbyes and got in a van with another couple that would take us to the airport. I was concerned that we weren’t going to make our flight but we made it. After a long delay in Miami, we finally made it home by noon on Saturday.

This trip was a big eye opener for me. The closest thing to an epiphany that I can say I’ve ever had. Here are a few random things that I learned on this vacation:
  • This was the first guided tour that I’ve taken and it was wonderful. I kind of dreaded having to travel in a group on someone else’s itinerary. The actuality is that I saw things that I never would have seen if I’d planned the trip myself and the group added new perspectives and insight. I think the secret is picking a tour company that keeps the groups small. Our group was 20. Our tour guide said that this was considered a large group.
  • You get what you pay for. This vacation was expensive but it was worth every Peruvian Nuevo Sol. The hotels were top notch. The transportation was comfortable and convenient. The tour guides were locals who knew their subjects intimately.
  • Since I’ve been back I have not been able to just hang around the house. I feel like I need to do new stuff and experience more. This trip resulted in the many Mission trips, road trips, and hikes that I have posted about.
  • There is internet access almost everywhere. I thought we would not have communication with home while we were on this vacation but every hotel we stayed at had internet access. Small villages out in the middle of the Andes Mountains had internet cafes. Peddlers walked around markets selling Compact Flash and Secure Digital cards for cameras. We were able to e-mail our friends and family every night.
  • I found out that I like to take pictures. I took over 550 pictures on this vacation. I was concerned that I would fill my memory card. My new camera card will hold close to 1,100 pictures so it shouldn’t be a problem anymore. I am not the best photographer but every now and then I take a good picture. The pictures were very helpful in remembering what we did when - a good record of our vacation.
  • Peru is eco-conscious. There are recycle bins all over, even in remote villages. They are planting trees both for firewood and to replenish what has been cut. They have reason to be conscious of the environment. Cities, towns, and farming are all dependent on the 10 rivers that flow from the Andes. These rivers are glacier fed and the glaciers are shrinking. Once the glaciers are gone and the river’s dry up Peru will be a desert. Lake Titicaca is also glacier fed and it will be impacted by the loss as well.
  • Peru is adapting to the world economy by adopting new export crops. Peru came off as a modern country engaged in the global economy. This does not mean that there are no poor. The rich-poor divide is wider then ever.
  • I started eating yogurt a year before going on this vacation in the hope that the good bacteria in the yogurt would strengthen my digestive system. It may have worked as I did not get sick on this trip and I am grateful. Other tour group members were not so lucky. It also helped that the hotels we ate at prepared their food well with tourists in mind.
This was the best vacation I have ever taken. There was good and there was bad but even the bad has a healthy glow looking back. It's been a year since we went and the memories, while still vivid, are starting to fade. The bad seems to be fading faster than the good which suits me fine. I am sure that I left out a ton of detail from this nine part series of posts. I tried to hit all the high points and I think I succeeded.

On our itinerary for the next 12 months we have a week in San Francisco (including several Missions in the area). Our next international trip will probably be Thailand … we’ll see. I can't wait to venture out again.

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