In 2016 we travelled to Peru. Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail had long been on my life bucket list. What we discovered, trekking and travelling through Cusco and its surrounding area, the Sacred valley and the Andean highlands, is that Peru is far more than Machu Picchu. It is adventure. It is outstanding fusion food. It is a diverse culture that still reveres the Incas and their legacy, and yet it is a culture that has been profoundly impacted by the migration of people through its borders, from the Spanish, the Chinese, the Japanese… and now by the tourists of today.

Follow along and explore our adventures by clicking these links…

1_IMG_4968 Days One & Two: Our Airline Travel to Cusco      Excerpt: “After a lovely send-off from Em at the airport, we set out on our adventure to Peru. We’d been training long and hard on this, working on our fitness, our elevation exposures, and the distance and steepness of our hikes. Many thanks to those who have helped us with their support through our training this summer, accompanying us on mountain hikes, giving us advice and encouraging us along the way! Our spirits were high as we left, knowing we’d done all we could to be ready for this Fit at 50 Adventure we’d planned.” Read More
DSC_8413 Our First Day Spent At Altitude in Cusco     Excerpt: “Acclimatization is a tricky thing. The catch is that you fly to this super high city, Cusco, from Lima, which is essentially at sea level. It isn’t so much the height of Cusco that gets to you, but the rapid nature with which you ascend/fling yourself there. As our hotel host here says, Acclimatizing to elevation is a little like roulette. You never know who will get hit.” Read More
DSC_8433 Cusco City Tour Part One: Catedral de Cusco     Excerpt: “The overwhelming sense I got from our guide was the Peruvian pride she felt. She adamantly pointed out and repeated the ways in which Peruvian culture was, perhaps with a little guile, included in the Roman Catholicism practiced here. That might account for its popularity: Cusco and its surrounding area have 500,000 people, 91% of whom are practicing catholics. Here’s a few interesting ways in which that Peruvian culture snuck into this cross-shaped, incredibly Spanish-influenced, prominent cathedral…” Read More
DSC_8532 Exploring Cusco’s City Streets     Excerpt: “We did pass a beautiful scene on the way up, but I didn’t take a photo to respect the family’s privacy. A mother was sitting on a low stone wall outside her variety store (selling pop, water, chips, etc.) with her young (maybe 4 year old?) daughter, reading to her and getting her daughter to identify images in the book. It was clearly an alphabet book and the scene was just delightful as the two went back and forth, with the mom softly encouraging her daughter, with shy glances up at us, and the daughter learning her way through the experience. It was a beautiful moment.” Read More
Version 2Cusco City Tour Part Two: Quorikancha     Excerpt: “The message we’re receiving loud and clear, over and over again here, is that the Peruvian (Quechua) and the Incan culture was never completely obliterated, despite the best attempts of the Spaniards to do so. This site is a perfect symbol for that attempt by the “conquerors” (that’s what they are constantly referred to here, not “the Spaniards”) to subjugate the Incas.” Read More
dsc_8748 So You Think You Know Potatoes? Think Again!     Excerpt: “Our storyteller (our culinary experiences guide, the awesome Chef José Luis, pictured with Bill above) summed it up this way, with a devilish glint in his eye: this is ‘a reminder that women save men at the worst moments of their lives!'” Read More
dsc_9735An Overview of the Salkantay Trek     Excerpt: “As many of you know, Bill and I wanted to do something physically hard, something inspiring, and something seriously challenging to mark our 50th birthdays. We wanted an adventure…… There isn’t just one Inca Trail. The entire country of Peru is crisscrossed with 40,000 to 60,000 km of Inca trails (the number depends on what guide you are talking to) that were built throughout the country in the time of the Incas. These roads lead from Cusco, the centre of the Incan Empire, to the 4 corners of the realm.  The Incans were, in this respect, the Romans of South America.”
img_7316 Salkantay Trek Day One: Getting Into The high Andean Mountains     Excerpt: “The lip of the moraine was like a razor’s edge: incredibly dramatic, sharpened by the wind over time, it launched itself into the sky as a sharp, jagged, sawtoothed, peaked ridge. Whatever the colours are there, we just don’t have them in our mountains: there are combinations of black, gold, green and brown, combined with the haze of the altitude and the brightness and intensity of the light, it was like nothing we’ve seen before.” Read More
Salkantay Trek Day Two: The 4630m Pass     Excerpt: “We were going to be experiencing a landscape unlike anything we’d experienced before in our lives. It was a landscape that dominated unlike any other: with an exceptionally tall, snow-peaked mountain that positively soared over you and the trail; a harsh, rocky environment with little plant and animal life; and a walk through a boulder field where the rough rock chunks scattered about the landscape towered over us, and yet were pebbles when compared to the rocky cliff from which they’d fallen. It was going to be an incredible day.” Read More
dsc_9391 Salkantay Trek Days 2 & 3: Trekking From The High Andean Mountains to the High Jungle     Excerpt: “Our day and a half spent getting down from the lofty heigths of the Salkantay Mountain, through the cloud forest and into the high rainforest were beautiful and enlightening. Representing about 30km of our overall trek, the days were long, but we experienced some spectacular terrain came away with a new understanding of ‘farming.'” Read More
dsc_9552 Salkantay Trek: Jungle Stories     Excerpt: “But this is part of the Peruvian cultural landscape, part of the societal landscape, and part of the travelling experience. And it makes the point I was trying to explain at the beginning of this post: trekking slowly, spending long periods of time getting to know people in the country in which you are travelling, gives you insight into the true way of life of the people there. It is eye opening and enlightening. This story, equal parts lightheartedly humorous and heart wrenchingly sad, lets you see the complexity of this way of life.” Read More
dsc_9584 Salkantay Trek: From Bean to Brew     Excerpt: “But this is part of the Peruvian cultural landscape, part of the societal landscape, and part of the travelling experience. And it makes the point I was trying to explain at the beginning of this post: trekking slowly, spending long periods of time getting to know people in the country in which you are travelling, gives you insight into the true way of life of the people there. It is eye opening and enlightening. This story, equal parts lightheartedly humorous and heart wrenchingly sad, lets you see the complexity of this way of life.” Read More
dsc_9675 Salkantay Trek day 4: Hiking Through The Jungle to Machu Picchu     Excerpt: “Let me tell you, this was one inspiring group! The smaller of two groups of 29 and 17 students from Warwick University, they were in Peru, doing a version of the Salkantay Trek to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They were bright, youthful, and enthusiastic: a terrifically positive group, energized by the task they’d taken on. Animated by their cause, they were seriously motivated by what they were doing.” Read More
dsc_9856 Salkantay Trek Day 5: At Long Last Machu Picchu     Excerpt: “Machu Picchu has been on my life bucket list for as long as I can remember. I recall sitting in my grandmother’s basement, flipping through back issues of Nat Geo, dreaming of being a National Geographic photographer, trekking around the world after amazing animals and incredible people, exploring the natural wonders of this amazing world…” Read More

dsc_8667Peruvian Food and the Mercato San Pedro, Part 1 Excerpt: “I think that the biggest surprise in all of our travels in Peru was just how incredibly good the food was in Cusco. Those of you who know me well, know that I love cooking and I love experimenting with my food. I knew very little about Peruvian food, other than the fact that quinoa and potatoes were used ubiquitously, and so I assumed that the food would be quite plain. Was I ever wrong! I was simply floored by the tastes & textures, the variety and the creativity that was inherent in the dishes we tried while in Cusco. THIS was no Costa Rican rice & beans food culture!” Read More

img_3372Peruvian Food, Ceviche and the Mercato San Pedro, Part 2     Excerpt: “Chef José Luis proudly proclaimed, in a candle lit corner of his Uchu Restaurant, over an incredibly beautiful dish of ceviche, “In Peru we do not eat. We taste.” Sitting at a small table, tucked away in a corner, getting to know Chef José, I looked down into the bowl of ceviche that had just been placed before me. It was stunning. What a way to begin our evening! But it was not just that the bowl of ceviche was visually beautiful; its tastes were remarkable as well. Each bite was different. The flavours danced and played in our mouths while the ideas that he shared with us about the development of Peruvian fusion cuisine swirled in our minds. It was a tremendous way to start an evening, an evening of exploring Peruvian cuisine during a culinary tour of the city’s restaurants and street food stands.”

img_2868Peruvian Food and the Mercato San Pedro, Part 3   Excerpt: “What do the US Civil War of the 1860s, cotton picking, Chinese migrants, a Japanese insistence on six minutes, super-aggressive Californian trout and a terrible rain storm have to do with Peru, let alone the development of Peruvian cuisine? We’ve seen a bit of the hustle and bustle of the San Pedro Farmers’ Market in Cusco’s historic old town, with its incredible stalls and the wide variety of produce and products that is sells there in its quite organized chaos. And we’ve explored the historical and geographical influences that have helped make the Peruvian food of Cusco so incredibly delectable. Now let’s delve a little deeper…”

dsc_8670One Last Look at Peruvian Food and the Mercato San Pedro, Part 4     Excerpt” “Peruvian food, and especially the food of Cusco’s streets, hotels, homes and restaurants, is fantastic fare. The San Pedro Market, host to many of its fine ingredients, is the perfect place to explore. A window to the culture, it gives a unique perspective on Peru, its people and its food. Let’s take a closer look at the Mercato San Pedro, now that we have a deeper understanding of the geographic, historical and ethnic influences on Peruvian cuisine that have made it into the wonderful fusion sensation that it is today…”

img_3615Biking Through the Sacred Valley     Excerpt: “Of course, watching your guide get thrown over his handlebars and into a cactus on a steep slope is probably not what tourists usually come to see in the Sacred Valley to see either. The usual tourist thing doesn’t involve pulling spines out of the seat of your guide’s pants and the backs of his arms. Nor is averting your eyes while your guide drops his drawers to have your husband check out his cheeks a typical occurrence! THAT is what I’ll always think of when I think of the Sacred Valley. But I’m getting ahead of myself….”

dsc_0068Cultural Morays: The Strange Quirks of Peruvians    Excerpt: “Every culture, every country, every group of people has its quirks. Viewed from the outside, these common, every-day figures of speech, actions, or things considered normal seem strange, quaint, even bizarre.

I thought you might enjoy some of the amusing things that we saw or experienced when we were in Peru: things we felt were just south of normal. Keep in mind, these are only amusing to us, because of the cultural lens through which we see them. In no way do I mean to make fun of Peruvians, I just want to share some of their idiosyncrasies.”

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