In Travel Truths, we talk to travelers of all kinds – solo, group, young, old, new & experienced, and hear about their journeys, where they went, and what they learned along the way. This week, we interviewed Rosa, a mom, partner, and businesswoman who decided to take the trip of a lifetime – to Machu Picchu – on her own.
By: Caryl Longden
Ever think about hiking the Inca trail to Macchu Picchu? How about doing it alone? Rosa decided to take the leap up (way up!) on a solo adventure in Peru. As a middle-aged woman myself who seems to go nowhere without the kids and husband in tow, I was curious to know why another middle-aged woman would go all the way to Machu Picchu on her own. A place I can’t even spell, let alone know exactly where it is! Here’s the conversation we had about her eye-opening journey this past April.
C: Rosa, why did you choose to go to Machu Picchu?
R: “I read the book “The Aztec” which stuck in my mind so I wanted to go and see the Inca trail.”
The Inca trail Wikipedia tells me are three overlapping trails that end at the “Sun Gate” on Machu Picchu mountain. Rosa says that the Incas live for the sun; their ultimate goal seems to be to try to get as close as possible. Interesting tidbit – the trail is closed every February for cleaning (so make sure to plan around it!).
C: So why did you go it alone?
R: “I wanted to go alone so there were no distractions. The feeling that I could do what I wanted when I wanted. Otherwise, I would be worried about somebody else and whether they would be bored or not.”
C: I know how you feel – my kids are always bored! Were you ever scared or nervous?
R: “Yes before I got there as I didn’t know what to expect. But speaking multiple languages especially Spanish really helped.” C:(Dos cervezas is about the extent of my Spanish) “I also went on a tour so I had it all organized for me and I could see more in less time. The only downside is that you don’t always want to do what they have organized. The good thing was that they had the oxygen organized.”
C: Oxygen? That sounds a bit scary… What did you need oxygen for?
R: “Altitude sickness, which is based on the amount of oxygen you can keep in your body and not necessarily how fit you are.”
C: Ah ha – so the 20 somethings are no better off than the 40+!
R: “Being up in that altitude is not much fun. It’s all about survival really. The body is not in its optimum environment. It’s easy to get sunstroke and you can’t run. C: (Good excuse though!) R: One woman was throwing up and another was on oxygen due to the altitude sickness.”
C: What was the most interesting thing you saw?
R: “The most interesting thing was when we were asked to dance and they tried to set us on fire”
Having just completed the work bullying and harassment course that definitely sounds like harassment! Rosa showed me the pictures on Facebook and yes they have little paper-like tails and they have to dance very quickly so as not to be set alight.
C: What was the best thing about the vacation?
R: “I loved the way people dress and how tactile they were. Hugging me as soon as I got off the bus. They are very genuine, nice people. It’s interesting that they like to live up high in the mountains to be closer to the sun…however, with the glaciers melting they are rapidly running out of water, and it very rarely rains in Peru – 0.08% precipitation.” C: (that’s drier than Gandhi’s flip flop!) R: “People adapt but it’s going to be hard in the future. The food too was great. Lots of different types of potatoes and quinoa.”
C: (I am the only person who pronounces that ki-no-a?) What did you not like?
R: They wouldn’t let me hike on one of the paths as I didn’t have the right pass which was annoying. The weather in Lima was very dark and the sky resembled a horror movie. The guide called it “very sad” Apparently, it can be like that for 9 months of the year. I also didn’t want to eat guinea pigs. I had 2 as a child growing up so couldn’t bring myself to eat them. The locals seem to have them running around the house and eat them. Bunnies too.”
C: I’ve never tried one myself but I bet they taste just like chicken. What did you miss most whilst you were away?
R: “Chris [my fiance] and my kids. And really I was just happy to escape from the altitude.”
C: So what’s your next adventure? (Apart from Tough Mudder coming up soon)
R: “I’m thinking of doing the Everest base camp. I feel like I’m in good shape to tackle this. Martial arts and walking will help with the altitude sickness.”
C: Any advice for someone looking to have the same kind of adventure?
R: You make friends whether you are in a group or on your own. Do your homework and stay safe.
It was great interviewing Rosa and going a little more in-depth than “How was your trip?”. I’m not in a big hurry to follow in her footsteps just yet, but I am definitely curious about the world of solo (aka kid-free!) travel.
Have a trip or experience you would love to share with the world wide web? Let us know in the comments! We’re featuring adventurers of all types and we’d love to hear about your journeys and Travel Truths.