I arrived in Peru on February 7th, a little over a month ago today, and it´s already been one crazy adventure.
What exactly it was that brought me here, how long I´ll stay, what I´m hoping to discover – these are all questions I can´t quite answer at the moment, though I´m excited for the thrill of endless possibility (as unsettling as it can be).
In just over a month I´ve spent time in Lima, Iquitos, and Cusco/the Sacred Valley, three strikingly diverse regions of Peru.
Lima, located along the Western coast and situated high on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean is modern, international, hip, expensive, fast-paced. It´s hot and dry, green, romantic. Though often loud and intense, it´s simultaneously tranquil, down to Earth, and refreshingly clean. Parks, flowers, and tropical trees beckon from every inch of the city and the climate is nearly perfect.
Traveling by air to the largest remote city in the world, Iquitos is located in the Amazon rainforest, bordered by Columbia to the North and Brazil to the East. The city of Iquitos is dirty, dingy, rundown, loud, fast, cheap, spontaneous. Surrounded by tributaries of the Amazon River and a backdrop of the jungle it can be quite panoramic and beautiful from the right perspective. Most of my time in Iquitos, however, was actually spent an hour from the city on 100 acres of remote Amazonian jungle. In comparison, the jungle is hot, humid, wild, alive, intense, boisterous. It exists in the hyper-present moment, demanding attention and instinct. It´s beautiful, sensual, vibrant, flamboyant and emotional. It´s a difficult place to live, yet even more difficult to leave.
High up in the mountains situated at a breathless 3,400m (11,200ft.) above sea level, Cusco is one of the most important tourist destinations in Peru as the historic capital of the Inca Empire and close by to major tourist attraction Machu Picchu. Cusco is slow-paced, romantic, charming, breathtaking (literally). It has maintained its old school aesthetic appeal, apparent in the beautiful churches, central squares, narrow cobbled streets and traditional Andean dress. From a s/4 menú or set meal (around $1.50) including mate (tea), a huge bowl of soup and a traditional Peruvian meal, to $10 one-hour massages, Cusco will win your heart immediately (and not necessarily take your wallet with it)!
All in all, Peru is an extraordinarily diverse country, captivatingly beautiful and worth a few months of your time to explore. Feel free to come down and visit me!