Tuesday, 7 October 2014

#Blogtober14: Best Vacation

My title is a bit misleading here because I'm not sure this was my best vacation ever but it was pretty amazing. In 1991 I hiked the Inca Trail with my parents to Machu Picchu.  It was incredible.
Helene in Between Blogtober

A brief back story for you: in 1989 my family moved to Peru. My dad was a mining engineer and had always wanted to move us abroad so when he got the opportunity to work at copper mine he couldn't be happier. Me and my two sisters? We were devastated. Horrified. Inconsolable. Until they promised us a shopping spree and then miraculously we were... less devastated.

Looking back it could not have been a more amazing place to live.

Seriously... Facebook is essentially a support group where the now grown expats share memories and blurry scans of old photos. We would all return in a heartbeat.

Back to the Inca Trail. In June of 1991 my parents took me on an amazing adventure.  There were twelve of us in the group (plus 1 dog, a great dane)  and we met in Cuzco, my all-time favorite city in Peru (we lived in mining camps so a trip to any city was exciting but Cuzco is especially beautiful), and the closest city to Machu Picchu. We were in Cuzco for a couple days and then we jumped on a packed train full of people and headed to the beginning of the trail.
The Inca Trail, Peru

Side note: at the train station I was left in charge of our bags, including my dad's daypack with his beloved Kodak camera. I have no idea how or when it happened but the pack disappeared. And wow was my dad pissed (I'm still sorry about that Dad). He got over it but as you can see we don't have the best photos.  And the he had an excuse to buy a fancy new camera that summer.

I also have to mention that we had two bodyguards, complete with guns and other weapons, hiking with us.  As a group of white foreigners that included the vice-president of the company and his wife during the height of the terrorist group Shining Path's existence, heightened protection was apparently a necessity.  But I never once felt like I was in any danger and actually got along really well with the guards (it probably helped that one of them carried my daypack so it was quite an enjoyable trek).

We hired locals to carry our packs and these tiny men would throw a pack on their back and set off, with a bag of coca leaves in their pockets to chew on for energy. I got altitude sickness one night so the packers boiled some of their leaves in water and gave it to me like a tea and it did the trick, I felt great for the rest of the trip.
A very young me hiking with my Dad behind me

Taking a break... love my outfit, especially the bandana around my neck...

MACHU PICCHU (and my Mom)

We hiked for four days, camped three nights, and on the fourth day I remember reaching The Doorway of the Sun and after stepping through, Machu Picchu in all its glory was in front of us.  For a kid it was pretty amazing.
I have so many memories from this trip (and other things I think are memories but need to check details with my mom) and it was honestly one of the coolest things I have ever done.  I am also glad that I made the trip back in 1991 because from what I hear know, the area has changed completely due to tourism.  I stood on train platform with a couple shacks and people selling glass bottles of pop (that you had to drink right there because they kept the bottle) and children selling crafts.  I think it has grown exponentially since I was there and while the change is good for the area and hopefully providing more income, I will always cherish what is was like when I was there first.  And yes, I do plan to go back one day and I'm sure I will love it, just in a different way.
Have you ever been an expat?  I love comparing stories!



  1. I can't believe you hiked Machu Picchu, that is fabulous!!!!!!! So jealous!

  2. I love that this wa their way of spending some one on one time with us before sending us out into the world of boarding school. I did my trek in 1990.

  3. Umm, yes, that would be an epic trip. I've always thought Machu Picchu sounded amazing, but I doubt i'll ever go. I was an expat kid and I'm an expat again as an adult--although I cried for a long time when my parents first told me we were moving, it seems that the lifestyle agrees with me.


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