A NOTE FROM MIMI


Good morning Mimi,


“Nearly five hundred years ago, roughly one hundred and sixty-eight Spaniards and a handful of their African and Indian slaves arrived in what is now Peru. They soon collided with an Incan empire ten million strong, smashing into it like a giant meteor and leaving remnants of that collision scattered all over the continent.”

- Excerpt from The Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie


I intended for you to receive this email at its usual time this morning, but as I was finishing it in the Lima airport at 11:30p last night I was selected for secondary screening prior to boarding our 12:30a flight. Once I made it through to my seat, despite my phone saying it had 5G service, it did not work. So I’m finishing this up as I am on our plane at JFK for our flight home (see how our planned transfer time fits in with the experts' guidance below). 


Seeing Machu Picchu is the #1 reason people come to Peru. However there is so much more that is just as special in this country! I hope in the near future to find time to write up something more lengthy, but for now I'll share a few bullets (as I edit this I can see there are many more than a few).


We'll start with Machu Picchu. There are many ways up Machu Picchu. If you plan to visit, here are some of the options:

  • long way up, short way up - it can take 5 days, 4 days, 2 days, 1 day or half a day
  • hiking, trekking (with or without a porter)
  • horseback riding
  • luxury hotels, mountain lodges, camping
  • bus, train
  • and often a combination of more than one of the above
  • there's the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trail, the Lares Trek and others


Planning which is right for you, is highly dependent upon you and what you like. There's a way up for virtually everyone. 


This trip to Peru gave us so much. Most importantly Allison and I had the opportunity to spend time exploring a beautiful place together. We also took the opportunity to really learn about the people we met. To hear their stories and about their lives and their families. It was a blessing to have 12 continuous days together.


As with many trips I plan, this one was full of contrasts:

  • quiet moments of meditation by a river and strong physical exertions hiking the Inca Trail
  • eating favorite tropical fruits and tasting new foods like alpaca, ají de gallina and cherimoya
  • enjoying a meal with just the two of us and celebrating on a train dancing and singing with people we’d never met
  • staying in a small glass capsule on the side of a cliff and in a luxurious casita with every comfort
  • strolling at a easy pace seaside in Lima and struggling to catch our breath walking up a mountain at 14,000 feet 
  • relaxing by the pool and getting outside of our comfort zones scaling a via ferrata (yes I’ve done them before, but every time it takes a concerted effort!)


In the 11 days we were in Peru we saw and did a lot. Some highlights (in no particular order):

  • market visits, tasting tours
  • cooking and Pisco sour classes
  • ate at local restaurants, experienced an authentic pachamanca
  • pet fuzzy alpacas
  • had a magical picnic in the mountains with my Peruvian partners
  • went on a wellness hike, doing meditation with Brisa and sound bathing with Jorge in the forest next to a river
  • visited ancient ruins, incredible Incan sites and learned about the history of the Incas
  • learned about ancient agriculture and architecture
  • met with people still living as their families did 500+ years ago, plowing the field with them, learning to spin yarn, enjoying a meal together and hiking through the mountains listening to their beautiful music
  • enjoyed chocolate and salt tastings
  • ate so many new foods
  • zip lined, scaled a via ferrata
  • took the luxury train from Machu Picchu to Cusco, dancing, singing and playing the tambourine with a train full of celebratory travelers from all over the world
  • wandered the streets of Cusco
  • hiked the Inca Trail 7.7 miles arriving through the Sun Gate to the most beautiful view of Machu Picchu
  • the day after that hike, did another hike 2+ miles straight up Machu Picchu Mountain with a 2000+ mile elevation gain (it was steep!)
  • gazed at the full moon above Cusco

  • met warm, welcoming Peruvians
  • shopped the boutiques of Lima and Cusco
  • we stayed at and I did site visits at 17 hotels! Then I squeezed in visits at 3 "nice" hostels in Cusco, scouting them out for my daughter's gap year visit next year
  • made many new friends including the best guide we could ask for, Carlos

Writing that list feels like a lot. Does it sound exhausting? It might to some. But we loved every bit of it. 


We did fit in some moments of rest and thanks to Carlos, had some more contemplative moments on our trek, while at Machu Picchu and on a bench in the Plaza de Armas in Cusco.


Many would think "I've been to Peru. I've seen Machu Picchu. I don't need to go back." But I think the opposite is true.


There is so much more to see! So many other places that are more off the beaten path that I want to return to experience. Next week I will share those with you. 


To be honest, sometimes it might be hard to be my guide 🙂, as I ask A LOT of questions. Not just about what we are doing, but how it compares to the other 10 ways we could be doing it. How did they move those multi-ton boulders? Where is your favorite coffee shop? Favorite place to buy alpaca scarves? Remind me how do you pronounce Pachacuteq again? When my daughter is backpacking through Peru early next year (on a much smaller budget) where should she stay?


I am so fortunate that Carlos, who we were with every day in the Sacred Valley, was incredibly indulgent with my questions. We had some "small world" connections. He is an avid mountain biker, and I like to think I'm a mountain biker. :) We both love biking with our dogs. He is likely one of the few Peruvians to have biked at Kingdom Trails, the most amazing mountain biking area near where we live. 


I feel fortunate we experienced this beautiful country with such incredible people. I look forward to sharing more of Peru with you and I hope you get the chance to visit this special place. When you do, plan to add a few extra days to go deeper and you will also come away with full heart and wonderful memories. Oh - and read The Last Days of the Incas before you go.


Next week when I'm back in the office we'll be back with another Where to Next? We have clients who have been going all over the place and I look forward to sharing more places with you!



Warmly,

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A few photos from our hike on the Inca Trail










Below:

  • This week's highlight - Maras and Moray
  • Q&A Is 90 minutes enough time to transfer in Casablanca (or anywhere else)?
  • Travel Updates
  • P.S. Favorite Articles

MARAS AND MORAY

There are so many things I want to share with you about Peru.  It makes selecting one Highlight a challenge.  But I have to just pick one so I'm picking a combination of Moray and Maras. 

These are two incredible sights in the Sacred Valley of Peru. 


Maras is still a working salt mine. 

There are over 4000 salt wells built 900-1500 years ago

(and they continue to add new ones) that have been in continuous use. 

The water comes from a natural underground spring and the original builders figured out how to manipulate the water to ensure the continuous filling at the right levels for each well. 


It is believed they were originally built by the Wari civilization, which predates the Inca Empire.

Throughout this entire trip I have been fascinated by what the Inca's and others

accomplished with what limited resources they had. 


We watched some of the workers (members of the families that own the wells) walk up with 100 pound bags of salt on their backs. Nature's stair master. 


Moray is equally beautiful but looks completely different. Green and lush. 

It is an example of the impressive agricultural systems created by the Incas. 

And it just happens to have an exclusive restaurant by a famous Peruvian chef right next door. 

I will be going there on my next visit. 

Question:

Is 90 minutes enough time to transfer in Casablanca?


Answer:

I get asked a version of this question frequently. Substitute whichever airport you would like for Casablanca. 


There is no hard and fast rule, but I asked my flight experts for some general guidelines to use when planning your flights. 


First, a high level answer:

• Domestic transfers – 60 minutes

• International transfers – 2 hours


This was a timely question. We had 2 hours 2 minutes scheduled for our connection in JFK today. We made our flight by 5 minutes - just within the general rule above. 


If you are interested in more nuanced details, read through my journal post here

TRAVEL UPDATES


The Rental-Car Fees That Stump Even the Travel Pros, WSJ


Traveling in Japan Has Changed—Here's What to Expect, AFAR


Whatever Happened to Those Self-Service Passport Kiosks at Airports? NYT


Helpful links: CDC


The US State Department Country Specific Information is here.


INTERESTING ARTICLES


Help! A French Car Rental Company Charged Me Fees for Speeding Tickets I Never Received!, NYT

This happened to me when we were living in Spain. It’s very important to be aware of the driving rules where you are renting because European countries often use cameras and you don’t have any idea you’ve been caught for an infraction. There are other good tips in here about timing that are also good to know. 


The rise of sleep tourism, CNN


So You Want to Work Remotely: A Guide, NYT 


New York City has 19 new Michelin-starred restaurants, CNN


Are You a Place Collector? These Trips Will Do Wonders for That Checklist, Town & Country 


Deep In Mongolia’s Gobi Desert The Last Great Lodge for Explorers Awaits, Forbes


(If you aren't able to access an NYT, WSJ, Washington Post or Outside Magazine article, send me a note and I'll send it to you in a PDF.)

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