The world has about 200 countries. Each of these has its own unique special flavor and reasons for visiting. The world also has a lot of history. One of the illustrious groups of people of the past were the Incas. They occupied portions of modern-day Peru during the 1400s and were one of the largest and most organized empires in recent history. Incan heritage, combined with the beautiful Andes mountains, makes Peru a fascinating place to visit. I had the privilege of doing so during Thanksgiving last year. This article and the next will detail my trip.
If you are an international student on a US visa, you don’t need a separate visa or permission to enter Peru. In fact, this is true for several countries in Latin America. Los Angeles does not have rich options for flying to Peru directly, so our onward journey was from LA to the Peruvian capital Lima via the Colombian capital Bogota. From Lima, we took a 3rd flight to reach Cuzco – the capital of the Incas. Our return journey was from Cuzco to Lima to El Salvador to LA.
Cuzco was the base of our time in Peru. It is at an altitude of more than 11,000 feet, and altitude sickness is a real thing here. It needs some getting used to. Other than this, Cuzco is a beautiful place. It is very touristy and we found people from all around the world in Cuzco. The city, while not too large, has several restaurants and hangout places. But more than anything, it is the slightly old-worldly charm and laid back feel of Cuzco which struck me as fascinating and wonderful. After spending years in LA, it was a very welcome change to get away from the technology and fast-paced life of a major American city and relapse into the idyllic nature of Cuzco.
Things to do in Cuzco include visiting museums, Incan ruins such as gardens and temples (think Tintin’s adventure Prisoners of the Sun), and the Moray-Maras salt flats. There are guided tours that one can book in advance. These make your life easy, particularly if you don’t speak Spanish. We were fortunate to get an amiable chap who, while not being part of a formal tour group, was happy to show us around Cuzco in his own car with his wife and cute baby daughter in tow. As for not speaking Spanish, you tend to pick up words fast when forced to, such as at San Pedro market.
That’s all for part 1, check out part 2 here.