Cusco & Machu Picchu, Peru

Every time I think about it, I can't believe I have been to Peru. I declared last year that I wanted to see South America and now I have. I knew to expect mountains and interesting people. I definitely saw those things. But I also found finer brownies than anywhere in the English-speaking world, the simple joy of quinoa soup, the soul-destroying sadness of eating soup twice a day, every day, and the wonder of falling asleep at the bases of mountains and in the depths of rainforests. I also gobbled-gobbled at turkeys and screamed with laughter as they returned my call.

 

I'm not going to lie, for the most part, I did not enjoy myself on this trip. The trip was a trek, and trekking is very difficult. Especially for someone who is unfit, and swore never again to camp or go for long walks after completing my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh. And yet, here I was! Nearly five thousand metres above sea level, with cold in my lungs and my lungs lacking oxygen, after having raised £3000 for both the trek and the Make-a-Wish Foundation with the RAG society at the University of Warwick. I burst into hysterical laughter at the size of my hand one afternoon, hopped up on coca tea and delirious from finally eating after hours of breathless walking. The memories of this trip surprise me. Returning to normality (non-stop rain the day I return to England after over fifty hours of travelling from Cusco to my home in Sutton) was unbelievably wonderful. To climb into my bed and shower in hot water as and when I pleased. To use a clean toilet free of insects! To not smell like insect spray or sun cream or sweat! Simple pleasures. 

 

Being deprived of all luxury made me appreciate everything small. I tested myself so much. I only cried twice in the eleven days I was away. I am far more resilient than I know. I have witnessed great majesty in nature. I have also turned my head away from mountains, hoping to get to my next campsite quicker. I am so thankful my camera survived the trek. I did not treat it well. I swore not to move my body again upon returning to England, but I don't think I mind so much here, where I exist at lower altitude.