Students Travel The Globe This Winter Break

Talia Silverstein, Staff Writers

I spent the best ten days of my winter break traveling the extraordinary country of Peru.  My family and I began our amazing trip in the city of Lima, the nation’s capital.  We walked around for two days and we were able to get a taste of the city’s diversity.  My favorite parts of Lima included seeing history museums, ancient ruins, and MATE.  MATE is the world-renowned photographer Mario Testino’s museum.  I was able to view many of his famous photographs, along with a limited-time exhibit of Andy Warhol’s screen tests.

The next day we headed to the Sacred Valley, a lush and fertile valley high up in the Andes.  After, we went to visit and provide supplies to a school. We went to pottery workshops, saw alpacas, and climbed Ollantaytambo, a massive ancient Inca temple/fortress/palace that is now a modern town.

Our next noteworthy day trip was to Machu Picchu, Peru’s ancient gem and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  We trekked the extremely well-preserved Incan city that lies amidst towering mountains.  Despite being cloud-level distance above the ground, I was able to hear the river flowing far below me.  On our first day of exploring Machu Picchu, it poured.  But the city was so beautiful that we did not care about getting drenched.

The next day was bright and sunny as we hiked up the Inca Trail to get to a mountain peak for a view of the whole city.  Though I knew that nothing could compare to Machu Picchu, we headed to our next stop, Cusco.  Cusco was fun and full of life, despite being situated at a higher altitude than Machu Picchu.  We got to spend Christmas Day there and witness huge holiday parades full of dancing, masks, and traditional clothing.  The parades showed how Incan traditions live on, even though Peru is predominantly Catholic.

After a fun few days in Cusco exploring more Incan traditions, as well as the city itself, we travelled to our final stop, the Amazon.  The Amazon was humid, rainy, and hot, but also fascinating.  We went on water safaris to see birds, alligators, frogs, tarantulas, monkeys, sloths, and other animals and insects.  We also had the opportunity to explore Amazon villages where residents have to move their houses every few weeks because of the rising water from the rainy season.  We played with the kids in the village and talked to some of the adults.  Though it may seem like a desolate life to us, life in the Amazon seemed more than enough for its inhabitants.

When it was time to go home, we were all upset about leaving this magical place full of vibrant culture and beautiful views.