Wandering in Peru

Remember how sad I was that we didn’t get to see all we wanted to see and do in Egypt?

This time, I’m determined not to have the same regrets.  We have made a bucket list, and have even started crossing things off.  Without further ado, here the top five things I think you should see and experience in Peru:

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1. Cusco and the Sacred Valley

Cusco is filled with lovely architecture and is picturesque in every direction.  The houses cling to the steep hillsides at impossible angles.  Above the town are the massive ruins of Sacsahuaman.  Alpaca shops abound, and are a good deal by U.S. standards.  There are also more hiking outfitters than I’ve seen in a long time.

While in Cusco, we went to the Sacred Valley for a day, and it was magnificent.  I want to go back, and again and again.  The landscape is incredible, the opportunities for hiking around is legion. Inca Ruins abound – my favorites were Pisac and Ollantaytambo.  Pisac is described in the guidebook as “some ruins above the town.”  Instead, it was terraces taller than two people spread over steep mountainsides like a quilt, over 300 burial sites, and an incredible town clinging the the mountain top like a crown.  The walls are very well preserved, and there are several styles of building at the site.  Ollantaytambo has long been on my list as it is the site of the most famous Inca victory over the Spaniards.  Seeing it in person makes the history that much more real.  We didn’t have a chance to see Moray – more reason to go back!

2. Inca Ruins

There is, of course, Machu Picchu, and we will definitely make the trip.  However, there are other sites I would love to see as much if not more.  Top on this list is Choquequirao.  The site is often called a sister city to Machu Picchu, and is only 30% excavated.  There are terraces with stone llamas that I would just love to see.  From what I’ve read, this one is a hike though, so probably a kid-free visit.  I’ve also read so much about Vilcabamba the Old or Espiritu Pampa, supposedly the last city of the Incas.

3. Amazon River Cruise

My sons are fascinated by “the jungle” and after watching this travel with kids show, I think they would enjoy it hugely.

4. Lake Titicaca

Isla Del Sol, an island in the middle of the lake, is the site of the Inca creation myth.  It seems silly not to see that given my new obsession with all things Inca.  Besides, the lake is apparently beautiful.  I would also love to experience Puno’s Festival de la Virgen de la Candelaria (Candlemas).

5. The Inca Trail

This one has been on my bucket list for a very long time.  There are a few caveats: 1.) Definitely not with the kids, 2) definitely not at my current fitness level.  The wikipedia article is fairly informative.  I would like to do the classic trail in five days.

If you are interested in Peru at all, you should probably read “Turn Right at Machu Picchu” by Mark Adams.  It is a hugely enjoyable read, and started my fascination with all things Inca.  I now have a VERY long reading list – thank goodness for electronic library collections.

I haven’t even mentioned Nazca, Paracas, or or or… Peru is certainly a fascinating place.  Now I just wonder whether the two and a half year we have left is enough!

Peru visitors, what did I miss?

This post was written in response to a Daily Post prompt 

More thoughts on motherhood

365-1563After a long walk, a friend and I were talking about motherhood yesterday.  The good, the bad, the transcendent.  I knew motherhood would change my life.  I didn’t know it would change me.

I have more irrational fears for my children than I could ever list.  I wake up in a cold sweat after dreams that we got separated at an elevator, I couldn’t find them in a grocery store, I wasn’t there for them.  It forces me to live deliberately, to choose carefully, to watch vigilantly.  I pray now.  Many times a day.

I care so much less about what other people think.  After my son was old enough to go to the pool, I wore the first bathing suit I owned in probably fifteen years.  This body should be on public display even less now – it shows evidence of pregnancy, childrearing, and too many lunches composed of the crusts off their PB&Js.  But you know what?  The body image issues I struggled with my entire life are gone.  Who needs to worry about the eternal pooch and the arm flaps when your son is squealing with delight at splashing around?  And who has time?  Life is short.  Childhood is even shorter.  “Mama, get your bathing suit,” they call.  And I answer, because this will not last.

My world view has changed.  It is not enough to tell me you care about families, Mr. Politician.  Show me.  Show me how you support families with maternity leave, and access to healthcare and decent education.  Show me how you care about those who are getting lost in the larger battles of life.  Show me why you want to send my sons to war.  Show me how we are making the world better for our children, not leaving them with cripling burdens we didn’t have the guts to fix.

Being a mom has made me much less judgmental.  The mom with the tantrum on aisle three gets grace – “You are handling this so well. Motherhood is tough isn’t it.”  The mom who shows up in wrinkled clothes with a cheerio stuck to her hair?  I know her.  I love her heart.  The man on the front page of the paper is not just an axe murderer.  Somewhere, he has a mom, who carried him under her heart for nine months.  She probably cared for him as deeply as I care for my sons.

Being a mom has made me a romantic idealist all over again.  I think of their futures, the choices they will get to make.  I wonder how they will change the world.  I do my best to raise them to be hard working, clear headed, compassionate, idealistic.  Oh, and I want them to learn all the tricks their dad knows so well – opening doors, showing little courtesies, smiling in just that way.  If I do my job well, their wives will be as lucky as I am.

Motherhood is hard work.  Motherhood fills me with awe.  Being a mom has made me grateful for every precious minute of this life.  It has brought me joy in a deep sense that no fleeting “me time” or night on the town could ever replicate.

Motherhood has humbled me.  No matter how much of a hotshot you think you are, no matter how smoothly you can talk your way into and out off anything, a two year old can have you on your knees in three minutes flat.

And this, then, is where motherhood finds me most.  On my knees.  Cleaning up the messes my kids make.  Cleaning up the messes I make.  On my knees.  Asking, yet again, for grace.

Right Now


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Right now I am

…not studying Spanish as I should be. Lessons started last week, and it would be “mas facil” if I studied more.

…watching the Mom Conference instead. It’s free. While I certainly have not been able to catch every presentation, what I have seen has been really good.

…contemplating baking bread. I was the lucky recipient of a rather large bucket of flour that has produced pancakes and “cheese muffins” galore, but really needs to be used in a more practical manner.

…listening to the sounds of the ceiling fan whirring above my head in the kitchen. It makes such a difference to this very hot and busy kitchen.

…looking at the face of a guilty dog, who raided the diaper pail for the third time in as many days. It certainly makes me grateful that we only use disposable diapers for nighttime – those little crystals are not fun to clean up.

…debating the fate of my rather horrible looking attempt at container gardening. Ouch. I think the plants are just cooked.

…enjoying a clean kitchen – I love the house so much more when it’s clean.

…hearing silence, as both boys happily went to school today – even my little guy who cried so miserably the first week.

… excited to say our beloved old jeep has arrived in Peru. Not sure about the clearance process. I’m keep my thoughts on the household goods to myself.

…feeling too overwhelmed at the thought of unpacking all those boxes anyway.

…annoyed at myself for not working harder to organize our schedule – mornings are still rushed around here, and there was yelling.  Yelling is not the way to start our days when we strive for calm, peace and joy.

…dreading the huge job of refurbishing my cloth diapers. We use bumgenius and all the elastic and Velcro needs to be replaced after 18 months of constant use.

…glad that the weather seems to be cooling down a bit.

…wishing that sunshine and the cooler weather could co-exist in Lima.

…grateful for this life.