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(More TravelPeru posts.)

would be a fitting title for our vacation to Peru. We traveled using all modes of transportation.

I first planned this vacation in 2002 Dec, didn’t happen for many reasons. Since then hiking the Inca trail to see Machu Pichu had always been at the back of my mind. It finally happened this Thanksgiving break, with some changes to the original plan. Hiking was thrown out of the window, skipped Puno and Lake Titicaca, two other friends and their families joined us, the end result couldn’t have been any more perfect, wouldn’t trade it for anything.

We were a group of 10 – 6 adults and 4 kids. The children in our group were the true superstars. Peru is not a place for children younger than 10 years of age. The only reason this worked for us was because the children cooperated. They sat by themselves, played by themselves, watched imaginary TV, played imaginary card games, read books, colored, fought and made up without any adult interference, walked, climbed, slept when asked to and ate what was put on their plate. The adults took turns watching the children and doing steep arduous (short)hikes.

Many package deals are available, but planning on your own is much cheaper. Having said that, though most of the hotels and transportation companies we used had a web presence, it was hard to line up things. It took us approximately 4 man hours to book round trip airline tickets from SFO to Lima through, and that is just the tip of the iceberg :) Time Vs money, you pick where you want to compromise.

Trip advisor and were our bibles.

I went to Peru fantasizing about Machu Pichu, but was completely won over by Peruvian people.  They go the extra mile to help tourists.

Peru reminded me of a less crowded, friendlier, much cleaner, rural India from 20 years back.

If you are a vegetarian, and if you are not ready to make do with pasta for lunch and dinner for all ten days or at times with plain white rice, you are screwed. People are more than willing to cook something that is not in the menu, but it is hard for a culture that eats red meat three times a day and for snack to completely understand the concept of vegetarianism.

12 packets of Parle-G, four giant packets of Marie biscuit, 4 packets of murukku, 2 packets boondhi, 2 packets of omapodi, 12 maggie packets, 18 cartons of chocolate milk, 100 chapathis, 100 theplas, corriander thokku, cranberry thokku, instant beaten rice upma, 2 packets trail mix, 1 packet of multi-grain cheerios, 36 breakfast bars, one packet mixture, peanut candy, ginger chews, juice boxes…….we carried all this to the southern hemisphere. Our snack bags were bigger than the rest of all our other stuff combined. We had enough stuff to open our own convenience store in Peru and we still starved at times.

The vegetarian food from LAN airlines is by far the worst I have E.V.E.R had in my life.

We did not stay in the same place for more than one night. We had to pack and vacate every morning and travel with all our suitcases every day. Peru is used to lot of Europeans with knapsacks, so family of ten with ten suitcases raised quite a few eyebrows. On the Vistadome train towards Machu Pichu, people were literally pointing to our suitcases heaped on the platform.

I work with kids, which means that I have been sneezed, thrown up, peed and pooed on. In the past three years I  have seriously gotten sick only two times, I am pretty resilient that way. But I was sick as a dog on my dream vacation.

Last but not the least. If you go on vacation and if you see a guy from your group pet a parrot in the resort you are staying, never follow the lead. Chances are that, it might bite you. Even if you joke that you look so delicious that even a parrot cannot resist, you will still worry if the tetanus and hepatitis booster shots that you neglected 6 months back was wise.

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