Welcome to my first post about my trip to Peru — and only 2 months after our initial touchdown in the country! Two of my nearest and dearest friends, Mollie & Julie, and I were only in Peru for one week, but we packed so much adventure and exploration into those days that I absolutely muuust spread out the posts from the trip across the month of April. There was just so much that we saw, did, ate, climbed, experienced, were appalled by, loved… that I wouldn’t want to leave anything out.
Our flight to Peru left from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 3rd. As the seasoned northeasterners that we are (Pennsylvania knows how to throw one badass winter), we protected ourselves from potential flight-threatening snowstorms by booking a day early from our respective homes (Mollie & Julie from Philly, me from Denver), but thankfully didn’t need the extra time! Our flights both landed without any weather-inducing trouble, giving us one extra day to bask in the grossly appreciated sunshine. Landing in Fort Lauderdale in February was a breath of fresh air — a breath of hot, humid, heavy fresh air — that I welcomed with open arms.
Admittedly, we didn’t do much in Fort Lauderdale… as in, we literally did not leave the hotel for the entire 24 hours we were there & moving from the bar to the hotel beds to the pool was pretty much the extent of our physical activity. But why leave the hotel? We had almost 24 hours of travel ahead of us before we would land in our first Peruvian destination of Cusco — it was pretty much our duties to our health and sanity to lounge by the pool drinking margaritas in the February Floridian sunshine, ja?
So after a night slumbering on clouds (or the magical beds of the Sheraton at the Fort Lauderdale airport) and a day spent by the pool (I always forget how much I love swimming — I need to live near an ocean next!), we packed up our big old backpacks and headed back to the airport to begin our journey to South America. The hours before our flight took off were filled with expectations, excitement, some nerves, and at least on my end, a real appreciation for the damn good quality of the friends I have in my life. I have piercing recollection of a moment in the airport of quiet and internal gratitude for my two great pals — Julie and I have been friends since we were 5-year-old little Girl Scouts in the local fire hall, and through all of the awkward stages, school events, miscellaneous trips, college & post-grad life spent living hundreds of miles away, our friendship is just as strong. Mollie and I have also been friends for more than a decade, we have tons in common, and she’s one of the realest chicks I’ve ever had the obscene pleasure of knowing. We’d already traveled to seven countries together before we landed in Peru, and we plan on traveling to plenty more places together in the future. If you have two chums that are even half as swell as mine, I’d have to say you’re one pretty lucky human.
Finally, at about 6pm that night, we boarded our flight to Lima, Peru. We’d arrive in Lima that night at about midnight, then our next flight to Cusco took off at 5am. With plans to make our best attempt at sleeping in the Lima airport that night, we settled into our flight & tried to get some sleep in our little JetBlue seats too. After a few hours, I was pretty much like LOL, good one, self — sleeping in an aisle seat on a 6pm flight is so0o0o not happening. At some point, we all just accepted that we would be sleep-deprived and slightly delirious for the majority of this trip. We could sleep when we got home, but PERU AWAITED!
Landing in Lima, we stationed ourselves in the quietest, most private area of airport chairs we could spot and tried to pass out — with some success! While waiting at the gate for our next flight to Cusco a few hours later, we encountered our first taste of our experience with Peruvian culture: a little hectic, a little unorganized, a little crowded, a little sticky. For being the capital and biggest airport in the country, we found Lima’s airport to be a tad chaotic and we were confused that everyone seemed so wired and buzzing! Didn’t they know it was 4:45am? As we boarded our next flight, we were hit by suffocatingly moist, hot air and an overwhelming drowsiness. We were excited to be in Peru, but we were beat. While Julie and Mollie slept their way through the next 1.5 hours in the sky, the mountain-scape that was unraveling outside my airplane window was too much for me to ignore. I was completely captivated — I hadn’t flown over mountains of such immensity since flying over the French/Swiss/Italian Alps in summer 2008, and it was a spectacle that could be best described as majestic… and even that word doesn’t come close to doing it justice. That hour of sitting in awe, gazing at the Andes Mountains from the sky has become one of the highlights of my entire life.
The lush greenery on the surrounding mountains, the red roofs of the houses, and the dazzling sunshine rising from the east made for a beautiful scene as we descended into Cusco that morning. Our spirits were lifted as we walked out into the fresh mountain air. With smiles and uncontainable adrenaline, we were hit with the realization that after more than 6 months of planning and anticipation, our trip had really started. We were finally in the Southern Hemisphere, we were finally in South America. We were finally in Peru.
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