We had no idea what to expect when we drove up up to attend the Adventure Travel Expo at the Washington DC Convention Center.  First, we got lost and Vidal was trying to read the map, but I think his expertise is more with topo maps, not street maps!

I drove us around before we stopped and some guy on the street explained that the city was divided into 4 quadrants and that the same streets could be in more than one quadrant.  Well that explained why we were on the "right" street name, but could not find the convention center.  We were in the wrong quadrant!

When we finally arrived, I drove down into the guts of the convention center, assuming that was the thing to do.  Wrong!  Only if you need forklifts and union guys to carry in your stuff at $500 per hour! We parked our little car out of the way of the semi-trucks in the cave-like delivery area and unloaded our few boxes by hand, but found out that we were only allowed to carry in maybe 2 boxes, then we were required to pay the union men to carry whatever remained! Talk about a cultural experience!  I had a mind-blowing experience in my own country. 

My hiking friends, Misty and Paula showed up and helped set up the booth.  Some companies had diving tanks,  zip-lines and climbing walls to entice potential visitors to their booths.   We pinned up our photos and authentic Peruvian fabric and laid out our home-made view books and hand-outs.  Meanwhile, the forklifts zipped around us and the TV screens popped up next to brochures so glossy, I was forced to squint. 

We were a little concerned about how we would stack up next to the big boys.  We left with our fingers crossed. We followed Paula to her house and spent the night.  The next day we took the metro in to the DC convention center.  It was much better than trying to park. We were an odd looking group with our Peruvian bags and hats and Vidal and I look a bit like Boris and Natasha, or Rocky & Bullwinkle.  I'll let you figure out which one is me and which one is him.

The convention center heated up with traffic and the river of people started flowing.  They came by in a steady stream of couples and families all day long.  We talked and talked and talked to each visitor.  We showed photos of Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and we talked some more.  Vidal was engaged all day.  We took a break a couple times to wander around and check out the place.  Vendors were handing out goody bags and people were flocking to get them. 

We had chicha morada candy, but the 300 ocarinas that Vidal had custom made in a village, were broken on the bus ride from Cusco to Lima.  But we had Vidal. Vidal Jaquehua is a well-known Inca Trail guide and the people who have met him all love him.  He is almost a legend.  (Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little!)  He is very popular with his clients.  One reason is that he is genuine.  Another is that he does not discriminate.  If he agrees to provide service, everyone gets the same exquisite attention from him, whether you are on the barest backpacker's budget or having the luxury trip of your lifetime.

People want to hang around and soak up his essence.  The essence of Inca.  Vidal is not judgmental about people's choices, behaviors or habits in any way.  He is the most humble example of how the rest of us should model our own lives.  Always striving to seek the lowest impact. While staying as a guest in my home, Vidal used the barest of necessities.  He did not use any of the linens, towels or toiletries that we consider the rudiments of human comfort and hygiene.   He was  fastidious with his grooming and attire, although he carried only 1 medium-sized backpack and no other luggage.

Vidal asked to see the source of our apparent unlimited hot water supply.  I got the feeling he was absorbing all the details of our lives from the perspective of someone who might use the information at a later date.   But he never discussed it. As the Expo drew to a close, we gathered the remnants of our exhibit and happily drove back to Virginia Beach.  The next morning Vidal would fly back to Cusco and we would see what happened next.

Are you interested in exploring another country?  What about traveling to Peru?  Contact us anytime.