Our Oct 2014 trip to Peru had moments of deep meaning, great experiences and one-of-a-kind memories. Traveller Kay Manley paints a picture.
— Donna Lefkovitz Neshek
By Kay Manley
Is it possible to distill an unforgettable and possibly life-changing trip into one sentence? No, but here is an attempt: The 2014 DFW Peru adventure was a deeply meaningful journey of the heart and mind, full of contrasts, beauty and challenges.
In mid October we were 15 DFW members (including our intrepid leader Taryn Walker) converging in Lima, ready to embark on a jam-packed, memory-making adventure. Our first evening in Lima began auspiciously enough with the Lima chapter dinner meeting of Dining for Women. What a treat to meet these women in the home of the hostess for the meeting, Eli Bagnarol.
Peru itself is a land of mystery and history, archaeological treasures, a great diversity of terrain and ecosystems and certainly a rich variety of current and past cultures. Did the high altitude in the Andes take our breath away? As a matter of fact, yes! It is a real physical challenge to adjust to the elevation, especially after coming from sea level. Even the healthiest of visitors can have difficulties and should take precautions.
But, here is what took our breath away on a different level: a stunningly beautiful natural world, INMED’s compassionate staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to create better lives for people often forgotten and experiences with the “kindness of strangers” everywhere we traveledWe were honored to have intimate glimpses into people’s homes and daily lives, whether visiting local residents with health care volunteers in the first week or staying with families on Lake Titicaca in the second week. The homestays had their own magical effect of crossing boundaries of language and culture. With simple graciousness and hospitality, the homestay “mamas” had warm welcomes for each of us.
Just a few word pictures of priceless memories:
- A little boy playing earnestly in the dirt with his plastic toy alligators at a roadside business serving freshly grilled lamb.
- Another little boy proudly demonstrating how he fed the family’s guinea pigs (a food source).
- Dancing and playing games with the young mothers-to-be at the baby showers.
- Being welcomed very enthusiastically after a bone-jarring two-hour truck ride to a remote jungle village.
- Getting up close and personal with alpacas.
- Eating delicious and lovingly prepared quinoa soup.
- The juxtaposition of hot and humid jungle climates with the dry and cool altiplano.
- An abundance of smiles and laughter even as our hearts were sometimes breaking.
We were fortunate to have talented and knowledgeable local guides. It is obvious how much Juancarlos Machicado (our guide in the Cusco area) loves his culture and ancestry; he shared his knowledge graciously. We had the great pleasure of visiting his father’s art studio in a neighborhood of Cusco. Juan de la cruz Machicado is a world-class artist who paints vibrant scenes of regional people and landscapes.
It might be true that most people ask this question after travelers return from Peru: “Did you go to Machu Picchu?” And, of course, we did. Is it a wondrous and amazing sight? Most definitely. Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an iconic location in Inca history and archaeology. But, there is so much more to the country of Peru.
I might speak for our group when I say we certainly left with an impression of believing INMED is accomplishing so much with limited resources and making excellent use of DFW dollars.
Regarding the overall journey, a final thought is this: What makes people different across the globe is less important than what brings us together as human beings.