Hola, amigos! I just got back from traveling in Peru for two weeks. I went in a group of 6 nursing students, 6 spanish students and two instructors to The Sacred Valley in Peru. The ultimate goal of the trip was to travel to remote mountain communities with Sacred Valley Health and deliver basic health care to the children of these villages.
Pictured above: us nurses and our instructor, a nurse practitioner.
When we got to the schools of the communities, we would break into stations where we would perform physicals on the children and educate them on basic health measures. It was so rewarding to give physicals to children who may not have ever had one before. They especially loved listening to their own hearts with our stethoscopes.
Other than the physicals, the children learned about how to brush their teeth (where they received their own tooth brushes and a fluoride treatment), how and when to wash their hands, basic body hygiene, good nutrition and the teenagers learned about the changes in their body as they mature as well as other sexual education topics.
All of the kids were eager to learn and didn't mind that I hardly spoke Spanish! I traveled to Peru with a few years of high school Spanish classes behind me and have learned an immense amount after working with the Spanish students, our homestay families and other volunteers. It was also really exciting to be looked at as and treated as a "real" nurse. I actually am starting to feel more and more like a "real" nurse, too.
My favorite part about traveling to Peru was not the health campaigns, though. My favorite part was the fact that I was traveling. Traveling always seemed like something that other people did. I made the switch and now I am one of those "other people" who can get to see the world. Now that I have signed up, bought my ticket and flew on over to another continent I feel like I'm part of a whole other world of opportunity. Anyone can travel. Everyone should travel. You get to see and explore parts of the world outside of your own incredibly small chunk of the globe. You get to experience other cultures, eat new foods and breathe different air. I can't wait to see where my future takes me.
One thing I know for sure now is that traveling is the only thing that money can buy that makes you richer.
My other favorite part was the mountains. Do you remember this post where my heart was yearning to be on the top of a mountain? Well, it has been. I don't think I'm meant to be in the flat-lands. I love being surrounded by mountains. Waking up to the view of mountains in every direction, the constant possibility of a hike up a mountain at any given moment. The mountains were almost like a good friend, agreeing to stay there while you go out and have fun, promising to still be there when you need to hike off some stress and relax in the fresh air. The mountains were incredible. I climbed to the top of the mountain above twice, both times were equally rewarding. I even got in a few moments of yoga and meditation at the top.
There were lots of llamas and alpacas in Peru. It seemed almost daily that someone would ask what the difference between the two were. We heard lots of responses, too, from the locals and from the travelers. We ended up deciding that one of them had a longer neck, one a longer tail, one fluffier hair, one tasted better, one spit at you more often and one had a different nose, one liked higher altitude than the other and one lived at Machu Picchu. So, there you have it.
Did I mention that I got to see one of the New 7 Wonders of The World? We rode 1.5 hours by train to Aguas Calientes and then rode 30 minutes in a bus up a series of switchbacks to Machu Picchu. From here we walked past the ruins, and started up Machu Picchu Montana. It took us an hour and 45 minutes to climb up this beautiful mountain. It was probably the hardest thing I've physically done before. It was incredibly difficult to breath with the high altitude and I am grateful for the yogic breathing that got me to the top of the mountain. I did get dizzy a few times and had to sit down, but standing on the top of the mountain was so worth it. I could only take celebratory photos for a few minutes before I had to sit down and enjoy the view while my body caught up with me. There were mountains as far as you could see in every direction and Machu Picchu at the bottom looking as miraculous as one would expect from such a height. I don't think I would have made it to the top without the continuous support of all of my fellow hikers, either.
The peak at the top left of this photo is the one we climbed up to.
Here is a group of us sitting down at Machu Picchu. We were all so exhausted that our kind-hearted tour guide had to half beg us to climb the stairs to finish our tour.
The top photo here is me with Veronica, the snow-capped mountain. The bottom photo is me at the Inca Pool which is a hidden paradise only a 30 minute walk from Ollantaytambo, where we stayed.
And finally here is a photo of our host family and the other students I stayed with.
I can't wait to travel again.
Next on my list: Portugal, Ireland and all 50 states!
Where have you traveled? Where do you still want to travel to?