Takeaways From My Trek Through The Andes
Wowww! I don’t mean that sort of takeaway!
Seriously I wanted to share with you a little article that really highlights how great the people of Peru are. I learnt a great deal from my trek at altitude to Machu Picchu and I want to share it with you.
The Peruvian people truly are so grateful for what they have. They have relatively little compared to us in the modern world but they really are ever ready to help each other out. This is not only evident in their manner towards us as tourists but also in their day to day relationships with their own people. The mountain farmers, who interesting can only grow potatoes above 4200m due to the cold, trade with farmers from lower grounds for Guinea pig (national dish) and other meats. We took bread and cocoa leaves, which grow at lower levels and the jungle respectively to give to the children and adults on the higher ground. On a spiritual level the locals and our tour guide will sacrifice some of their produce to the mountains as a thank you for protecting them from the elements.
Organic and locally sourced
I was in heaven here. The air was so clean and the food was fantastic! All of the food we ate on the trek was organic. Rainbow trout from the river, quinoa, sweet potato, you name it we had it! The tour guide said to me as I discussed the brilliance of the chefs at 4200m above sea level on our trip, that the reason they don’t have the levels of cancer in Peru that we do is due to the food being organic! It really does say something about the way in which we produce our food! I was fortunate enough to be shown around the home of an 87 year old lady, who still plants her own potatoes on the side of the mountain at altitude, by hand! I kid you not, this lady looked no older than 50. Her teeth and skin were incredible.
Service is an attitude, something that some establishments in the UK we seem to forget!
I am a great believer in the notion that a service is doing something that improves life beyond your own. The Peruvian people seem to live by this. The tour guides, the porters who carried some of our kit, the hotel staff, and the local people all seemed so helpful. They seemed on every occasion possible to go above and beyond the call of duty. Unlike in the USA, these people do not expect a tip or give you a ‘service charge’ on your bill, they just do it! One porter who was a member of our team, 3 weeks previous to our trek actually carried a lady who twisted her ankle for 22 miles on his back (at altitude) along the Inca trail, so that she could make it to Machu Picchu! They also took time to explain the reasons why they do the things they do in the mountains to preserve their culture and stop it becoming ruined by westernisation. Sure Peru’s capital Lima has its problems, but when you explore the ‘real Peru’ you will find a service and experience second to none.
It is probably little wonder that the Peruvian economy is growing at the rate it is with this level of service.
A week off structured training for me was well needed. However, the Peruvian people I found to be very interested in their activity levels. Taking the taxi from the airport to our hotel (which was interesting, road markings don’t mean an awful lot it has to be said!), I could see costal running paths, numerous five a side football pitches, body weight training bars and playgrounds for the children. The next morning I woke up and we headed down towards the coast and I found this place absolutely buzzing at 7am in the morning, numerous games of football occurring, surfers everywhere and mums with their children at the playgrounds! It was inspiring!
Then on a night out after our successful trek completion we headed to a local nightclub. This was no ordinary night club, there was a full-on dance lesson happening right on the dance floor. This particular club is the reason many tourists stay in Cusco city, to continue to learn the various dance styles! The Peruvians seem to do it all, our trek guide then confessed to being a professional dancer and instructor! Unreal!
There was a great sense of community running through the towns and villages of the mountain regions. They seem to be continuing in the same vain as their Inca ancestors. The Incas showed great strength in the face of adversity, to build their constructions as they did over 500 years ago, only then to be attacked by the Spanish. The locals seem to be living with this in their minds today and show great solidarity towards each other on a compassionate level. I saw shop managers greeting their staff in ways you would not see in the UK, each member of staff will greet each other before beginning work. It was great to see.
Positive Mental Attitude! When at 4600m you need this in abundance, with your brain feeling as if it may explode through your skull at any moment, there’s no giving up!
Our tour guide said to us, right at the start, you must trust me and have a PMA! He was right and even those people on the trek who found it harder, really bought into the positivity and dug deep to get to the top.
With temperatures at the highest point reaching -10 degrees Celsius, the positivity really shone through, out came the poker chips and every layer we all possessed as we gathered around the table to play poker! I am sure this was a distraction technique, but it worked!
Nothing is impossible
With the incredible trek, it would have been satisfying to finish there. But, still to come was Machu Picchu, the ancient ruin, which was the hidden Inca ruin until 100 years ago. It was discovered by an American explorer, Hiram Bingham. This man with the aid of an 11 year old Peruvian boy fought their way through dense vegetation and forests to get to Machu Picchu.
This was incredible enough but to build Machu Picchu there was incredible. The man power that was required must have been immense. They built this amongst the mountains with no motors, no horses, no tools, no sat nav and no cement!
The Inca’s showed what can be achieved with co-operation and effective planning of the buildings.
The trekking to get there was an absolute pleasure and a realisation of a dream! The challenge was the trekking, but the Inca ruin of Machu Picchu and all it stands for is incredible.
Thank you for reading.
Please don’t forget to let me know your thoughts.