Machu Picchu was just as I imagined: Beautiful. Ancient. Inspiring.

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I was first introduced to Machu Picchu when I read the Celestine Prophecy nearly 20 years ago. From that point on, I wanted to visit Peru. It seemed inaccessible at the time, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming.

I imagined hiking the Inca Trail and watching the sunrise over the historic site. I imagined feeling the energy of an ancient culture long since passed. I dreamed of adventure. But I never went.

Later in life, when I had the means to travel, I chose other destinations before Peru. I traveled through Europe, Asia and Australia. North Africa. Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Central America, but never Peru.

I’m not sure why. Perhaps part of the reason was that I always wanted Peru to be the far off exotic place it was in my mind two decades ago. But over the years, more and more tourists visited Machu Picchu each year and now they are limiting access to the site. So I decided it was finally time to go.

Machu Picchu was just as I imagined. Beautiful. Ancient. Inspiring.

We didn’t hike the Inca Trail, and I’m glad for that! Instead, we stayed in the Sacred Valley for a night and took the train to Aguas Calientes–the small town at the base of the site. We hired a private guide to meet us at the bus queue at 4:45 a.m. Our guide saved us a spot in line and we hopped on to one of the first buses up the mountain with very little wait.

We entered the site as soon as it opened and our skilled guide took us around the less traveled path. He told us about the history of the site and showed us pictures taken throughout the last century. Of course we took plenty of our own pictures, too.

We wandered and wondered–absolutely mesmerized by each view.

A journey I’ve wanted to take for 20 years lasted two hours and was worth every minute of dreaming, planning and seeing.

The best part is that there’s much more of Peru still to see.

~ LiAnn

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An Experience in Colombia

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“If we get kidnapped, we’re going to feel really stupid,” Theo says to me as we get ready to go to a local Colombian’s apartment for drinks.

Two nights prior, we met our new friend, Marcos, at a bar across the street from our hotel.

We were struggling with our Spanish as we ordered drinks and spoke with the bartender.

Marcos was sitting at the bar and asked us where we were from.

He told us he’d just moved back to Colombia after many years in the states.

We had a wonderful conversation about life and travel, Colombia and America.

He lived a block from our hotel and invited us to come over for drinks the next day. We gladly accepted the invitation.

As the time approached for us to go, I asked Theo, “Is it wise to go to some guy’s house after meeting him at a bar? Especially in a country known for kidnapping?”

Marcos himself, terrifyingly, had been kidnapped and held for random in the jungle many years prior, which prompted his move to the United States.

We realized a few things. The first is that Colombia has a bad reputation that isn’t reality anymore.

Second, although you must be cautious everywhere you go, you cannot let fear isolate you from the world.

Just as we were getting ready to go, Theo jokingly says, “I just got a text from Marcos, he says his 5 p.m. kidnapping is running a little late.”

We laughed and realized how silly we were being and got on our way to what was a wonderful night with a great new friend.

Oh, want to know the best part? His sweet and lovely mother answered the door. We exhausted our Spanish skills in 20 minutes but it was a great night.

May 20, 2016 Bogotá, Colombia

~ LiAnn

It’s All Rainbows and Waterfalls!

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My new tour started in Buenos Aries. Such a great city, yet I didn’t see much of it. I think sometimes when you have a lot of time somewhere, you tend to waste more of it. I suppose I will have to visit Buenos Aries again someday!

After Buenos Aries, we spent two days exploring Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. The first day, we walked around the Brazil side, and on the second day, we hiked through the expansive Argentine side. It was the most beautiful and enjoyable nature walk I could imagine! I had no idea how expansive and majestic the falls would be. To me there is just something about natural wonders that far surpasses the awe that even the greatest human-made structure can inspire.

Now we’re on our way to Paraty, on the coast of Brazil, a few hours drive from São Paulo. I’m hoping to have nice weather tomorrow for kayaking through the mangroves.

Minor mishap #3: This morning was a seriously early start: out of the hotel by 4 am! Unfortunately, we got to the airport only to find that our direct flight had been cancelled, and we will have to fly an alternate route. It seems to be just a two hour delay. At least the hotel this morning was kind enough to set out coffee and fruit for us.

There are a few travelers here that need to learn to roll with it, but I’m glad this travel delay didn’t upset the majority of my tour-mates. You have to expect these things! The last few days have been so amazing, it doesn’t seem right to let a travel delay consume your mind. This is precisely what earbuds are for…zoning out to some tunes, feeling good.

Writing from a very small airport in Brazil

~ LiAnn