Peru: life in the sky at 12,500 ft above sea level

 Can people really live that high up?  It's 12,500 ft above sea level and they're walking to school and work,  going about their business. Visiting a high altitude destination in the U.S. involves an interaction with nature.  Boots and backpacks prepare you for the elements in an outdoors environment.  That's because there are no cities (unless you…

We were high. Really high. Lake Titicaca

Not that kind of high!  This was a "real" high.  The kind that blows your mind in a different way.  The kind that makes you more connected with the planet you live on.  The kind that makes you wonder how people have survived in so many different environments for centuries.   This trip was an anthropologist's dream come true. I have a confession to…

Preparing to hike the Inca Trail

In order to plan the next trip, I had to stay in touch with Vidal.   I noticed that he would go for weeks and weeks without any time off from his job.  He  answered emails late at night.  Sometimes, he would be offline for days.  Usually because he was leading hikes or groups traveling on the islands in Lake Titicaca, where he was off the grid.  He…

Home again. Follow up to our trip to Peru (part 11)

We jumped right back in to our lives and now we dreamed of our visit to Peru.   The crazy things that happened seemed surreal.  One thing I knew in my heart was that  I would return to Peru.  It was just a question of how. In my mind, I formulated a plan to return.  This time I would go with a group of women and we would hike the Inca Trail.  I put…

Traveling Peru: we were the stars in our own documentary (part 10)

The world we thought we knew collided with a very different world.  Each of us was struggling with the dawning of the rest of our lives.  The students and I had been changed, were still changing and would continue to change, even after we left this newly discovered part of the  planet.   The change was not visible, it was deep inside each of us.   Perhaps…

Peru: my name is forever carved in their stove (part 9)

"Over the river and through the woods" (literally) were the homes of  families who had been selected to be the recipients of  3 mud-brick stoves.  More than just a fun activity for do-gooder Americans, the mud-brick stoves improve the quality and health of the lives of the Peruvian families in whose homes they are built.  Peppered over the mountains…

Peru: life in the Andean lodge (part 8)

After you've been sick for a while, you get weak and shakey.  The first thing to do was to get my son to stand, then walk, then exit the hotel without falling down the stairs.  (no elevator) We made it to a local cafe, ate a little toast and drank some tea, then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the trip up the mountain.  You have to understand…

Peru comfort food: Chota style (part 7)

Within an hour of settling in the room, my son started throwing up violently, over and over all night.  Then the diarrhea started and there were times when both happened simultaneously.   Sometimes he wouldn't make it to the bathroom.  It's the kind of mess, that only a mother can clean.  We used every scrap of towel and every trash can available.…

Peru: At Least He Could Walk in to the Village Hospital (part 6)

Everything was dark except for one lighted sign in the rear of the hospital.  The word "Emergencia" glowed in the darkness. After the bus arrived in Chota, the rest of the group hopped into waiting 4-wheel drive vehicles for the kidney-crushing 12 Km ramble up the mountain to their lodge.   My son and I stayed in Chota with "the Professor" and our…

Peru: traveling where the paved road ends (part 5)

In spite of the fever, we decided to continue with our planned itinerary. We would take the local equivalent of a Greyhound bus and travel all day over a really big mountain pass to arrive in the middle of nowhere (I mean the town of Chota).  My son's fever was the same as the day before.  Maybe 102 or 103, F, (you folks who use Celcius will have to…