Peru – a Study in Contrasts

This is Ron – Tricia and I are guest bloggers for this entry, since we traveled to Peru to meet Jayne and Willie for two weeks. We have had to live vicariously this Fall through their blog entries,but now it’s our turn!

Peru has truly been a study in contrasts – the coexistence of the ancient alongside the modern.  We stayed in the historically-Incan village of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley for two days (kudos to friends and neighbors Betsy Janke and Scott Gikling for recommending this) and it was amazing to see 600 year old channels in the narrow streets for glacier water running into the town, yet everyone has to drink bottled water because there is no infrastructure for sewage treatment.   One moment you’re gazing up at the beauty of lush green foliage at 15,000 feet with (again) 600 year old carved stone structures while sitting in a coffee shop on the wi-fi looking for more information about what is in front of your eyes.  Bizarre.

We then moved to the “village” (if you can call it that) of Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu mountain for two days.  This village of tourist shops essentially didn’t exist 50 years ago, and now it has a multitude of shops and restaurants sitting directly beneath one of the seven natural wonders of the world.  Once you get to the top of the mountain, though, you really forget about that bit of the modern world you just left behind. Machu Picchu really does look just like the photographs I remember seeing in National Geographic as a kid.

The city of Cusco has Incan and Pre-Incan features all over tucked among the impossibly narrow streets.  Giant retaining walls of stone carved so precisely there is no grout or mortar needed between them.  Feral dogs roam the streets everywhere – nobody pets them, but they don’t bother anyone either.  Somebody must feed them though.

We just finished a 3 day stint in the Colca Valley – twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.  On the way here we passed over a landscape kind of like the moon, but out of nowhere at 16000 feet elevation a lush green meadow would appear full of wild alpaca.   Ancient terraced walls from the Incan era surround the Colca Lodge (check it out : while we have all the modern amenities at our fingertips.  I read that you can traverse the length of the valley (about 100 km) and see more types of natural scenery changes than traveling through all of Europe.  There are just a few rare places that you can travel on the globe that can only be described as ‘other-worldly’, and I would say this is one of them.

It has been such a treat to travel with our own interpreters – Jayne and Willie have done a great job of making things go smoothly.  We leave in a couple of days, and it sounds like after a quick jaunt to Lake Titicaca they plan to split up and travel solo for a couple of weeks.  I was having some anxiety about that prospect, but they have become pretty savvy.

The only thing that would have made the trip more perfect would have been if Carl could join us, but Grad School took precedence.   Goodbye South America – maybe we’ll see you again sometime….

Tricia’s Critical Corner: Right, Wrong, and Switched

As Jayne and Willie were doing their final packing, I suggested that they each take a day pack. They shrugged their shoulders. They tried to stuff everything in to one small nylon sack. After much encouragement, they each took a small day pack. Since we arrived in Peru, they have both upgraded to a sturdy, real day pack. I was right.

I also suggested they take swimsuits. They adamantly shook their heads “no”. Since then, Willie has purchased some Patagonia swim trunks at a thrift store, but mostly used them as shorts. They were right.

Traveling with adult children offers many advantages:

  • They speak the language
  • They ask for directions
  • They cook delicious meals and clean up
  • They mix great drinks
  • They barter for taxi rides and other purchases
  • They know where to shop
  • They get wine bottles opened
  • They identify local plants
  • They keep me from making local faux pas
  • Encourage us to try new foods.

The parenting roles have switched.

We raised the children teaching them to be independent, caring, wise, courageous, and adventurous – but knowing they would someday need to fly! They have learned to fly but they know they always have a nest to return to.


sipping pisco sours in the hot springs at the Colca Lodge



just arriving in Aguas Calientes via PeruRail


Jenga fries and alpaca burger
Machu Picchu
Off to the natural hot springs
Sitting at over 16,000 feet with volcanoes in the background


2 thoughts on “Peru – a Study in Contrasts

  1. What a great trip and memorable experience!! Love this post! My fav part: “We raised the children teaching them to be independent, caring, wise, courageous, and adventurous – but knowing they would someday need to fly!” You done good 🙂


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