It’s hard to know where to begin with my First Descents (FD) trip to Peru. The month (or perhaps more accurately months) leading up to the trip where a whirlwind of activity that left me more than ready for a vacation.
Peru, especially Machu Picchu, had been on my “to do” list since my junior year of high school and Mr. Bourquin’s Spanish 4 class. I was excited to finally be going, but also nervous about the adventure that waited – three days of white water rafting and three days of serious hiking at altitude.
On Sunday, October 7th I spent the morning packing and then headed to JFK Airport for the red-eye. After changing planes in Lima, I arrived in Cusco slightly tired and unsure of what would happen next. When I got down to baggage claim, Jen or “Caesar” as she is known at FD yelled to me and waved an FD t-shirt. We hadn’t met before, but exchanged a lot of emails prior to the trip planning our extra day in Cusco. I grabbed my luggage and we waited for Shanda (aka Limbo) to arrive. The three of us grabbed a cab to our hostel to settle in and figure out what to do first.
None of us had ever stayed in a hostel before and after we acclimated a bit, we headed out to explore Cusco. We saw beautiful architecture, people in traditional and colorful Peruvian outfits and so much more.
While trying to follow our map to some ruins, we stumbled into a market. The front section was textiles, fruits and more. As we got into the back, we realized it was a meat market too, and saw people cutting sides of meat. It was definitely a different experience that the finished product we find in grocery stores at home. Even for me, who took Dr. Faustman’s meat cutting class at UConn, it was a bit of a surprise.
We met up with a few other FD campers for dinner at a local restaurant and then headed off to sleep. One thing we discovered about hostels – they never sleep. We went to bed to dueling radio stations and awoke at 5 AM to a busy ping-pong game. All of that despite earplugs!