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I Left My Heart in Peru, Part IV-Cuzco and Lima

When I returned to Cuzco after visiting Machu Picchu it was in the middle of Holy Week.

While walking back to Greens Organic for another delicious meal, I stumbled upon processions that reminded me of medieval Europe. Men marched through the streets bearing ornate altars honoring Jesus and what I assumed was The Virgin Mary (head to my Instagram page to see a short video clip of the parade).

As the band played and the men in suits bore the heavy altars on their shoulders, I had to stop and honor the moment. Though I’m no longer Catholic, I respected and understood a community’s devotion to the point of physical pain. 

Shoulders must be bruised, backs aching, and limbs stiff after carrying such weight in the name of the Lord. One thing is for sure, religion has driven people to deeds of immense beauty and immense cruelty.

I decided that this parade was a moment of beauty.

I Left My Heart in Peru, Part II

DSC04371I told myself I wasn’t going to do it, yet there I was getting harnessed into a contraption that would send me whirring Lord knows how many meters above canyons, gorges, rocks, and everything I said I wouldn’t be flying over.

I’ve gone skydiving in North Carolina (and turned down a second opportunity to do so in New Zealand), scuba diving in Australia, and rappelling in Venezuela. At this point, I figured I’ve tested my luck enough. I didn’t need to go zip lining in Peru.

But, of course, my girls wanted to go zip lining in Peru.

And, of course, I wanted to just hike and hang out with them one last time before they headed back to the States and I continued traveling alone.

My adamant “no,” to “I’ll hike while y’all zip line,” to “yes, I’ll zip line since I paid for it anyways,” to just “yes” has made me realize that some of the best experiences in my life have been from saying yes when I originally wanted to say no.

Zip lining an hour outside of Cuzco fits into this category.

Though my eyes watered as the cool air whipped my face and the whirring of the safety clip against metal cables had me praying every time I swung out on the line, I got to see magnificent views like this:

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Sheep trundled beneath me as I literally flew through the air Superman style (ok, ok…I only did Superman style once and it was in tandem with an instructor), the air smelled fresh–almost sweet–, and I felt at peace within the mountains. Peace, for me, is in the mountains and beaches.

20150330_145203Leaving nature’s embrace for a city lunch, the girls and I  ate on Marcelo Batata’s terrace until the rain ushered us inside. The view of baked orange rooftops  and church domes was breathtaking and made the laid-back lunch all the more special.

After the ladies left for the airport, I went to dinner at Limo. With a stunning view of La Plaza de Armas, I ate to my heart’s contentment. Limo was just one more reminder of Peru’s huge food culture, which was something I was not aware of before visiting the country.

The walk back to my hotel was stressful because La Plaza de Armas was packed with people for a Holy Week celebration. One could barely move.

Eventually, I managed to be back in my hotel room snuggled under the covers as…club music pulsed all night. My hotel was across the street from two night clubs, but no matter.

Tomorrow I would be boarding a train to visit one of the Wonders of the World.

Tomorrow I would be going to Machu Picchu.

I Left My Heart in Peru, Part I

The pig head dangling from the meat hook could easily have been a turn off for some Americans. DSC04307 This was my first full day in Peru, Cuzco to be exact, and I found myself in a large market where not only did animal heads hang from stalls, but cow tongues too. As my heart stopped for a second and the smells of life, death, and blood filled my nostrils, I realized I had come to a completely different culture, a completely different country. And I loved every second of it. Continue reading