Sometimes life’s blessings come in the form of happy accidents. Exhibit A: My good friend Zora knew I wanted to travel to Peru and suggested I check out her travel group. I could’ve sworn she said it was called Global Expeditions. I Googled them, found their web site and, sure enough, they had a trip to Peru coming up.
I booked the trip (more on that below) and loved the tour group! Global Expeditions is run and owned by Jeff Kelly and Kevin Foley. The two met at a Wall Street firm, where Jeff was a trader and Kevin worked in IT. They left the securities industry behind several years ago to start Global Expeditions and share their love of travel with other people. Here’s how Jeff and Kevin (accurately) describe themselves on their web site:
We are those ever inquisitive personalities, the type that thrive on exploring the new and adventurous destinations of the world. And we enjoy doing it in the company of other fun-loving people. Simply put, we love life and we want to get the most out of it.
Global Expeditions trips are unique, extremely well-planned and organized, reasonably priced, and loads of fun. The groups are very diverse and include many solo travelers like me.
About halfway through Peru, Jeff and Kevin asked me how I heard of Global Expeditions. I said Zora recommended them, and that she had gone to Morocco with them. Only they didn’t know Zora, and (at that time) they hadn’t done a trip to Morocco. As it turns out, her travel group is Geographic Expeditions. Oops!
Ten Things Unexpected Things I Loved About My Peru Trip With Global Expeditions
The Amazon. We stayed for 2 nights and 3 days at an eco-lodge (Posadas Amazonas) in the Amazon jungle. Our rooms were equipped with hammocks, stationed in front of the “wall” that was open to the jungle. I lay in that hammock, listening to jungle sounds, knowing it was a moment to be cherished. We spent an afternoon with a shaman who acquainted us with, among other things, jungle Viagra. We fished for piranha using chunks of raw meat. Some of my group went on a nighttime “spider hike”, which they said was amazing. (I opted instead for an amazing massage.) We awoke at 4:30 AM to go on a sunrise cruise of the Amazon, and saw things like 6-foot-long giant river otters and gorgeous macaws. We stood quietly in the jungle and watched monkeys at play. I’ll never forget the Amazon.
Pisac Market. Located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Pisac market is an enormous, open-air shopping venue with a vast array of handmade goods, jewelry and locally grown produce and meats. You could stay there for a week and still not visit all of the stalls. The most memorable part of the market is the people (mostly women) who work there, many of whom have their children with them. I wanted to take this little girl home in my pocket!
Peruvian Food and Drink. The food and drinks in Peru are unique and delish! My favorite Peruvian drink is a tie between Pisco sours and chicha (a yummy beer made from corn). Peru has fruits and vegetables that I’ve never seen anywhere else. They’re enormous and so fresh. And Peruvians know how to cook quinoa dishes like no one else in the world.
Llamas and Alpacas. Llamas and alpacas abound in Peru, and they’re the source of the wool for beautiful Peruvian sweaters, hats and other handmade goods. One of our most memorable stops was a llama and alpaca farm in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where we fed the animals and saw beautiful handmade goods being created from their wool.
I’m Tall in Peru. Average heights in Peru are 5’5” for men and 5’2” for women. The picture of me (at 5’5″) towering over the woman with the llama says it all.
Our Tour Guide, Juan. One of our tour guides, Juan, is a retired college professor who thoroughly educated us in Peruvian history. He was fantastic (except for that one time he purported to give us homework).
Incan Architecture. Incans were amazing stonefitters. No mortar. No iron tools. They carved those rocks, using only small rocks as tools, to fit together perfectly. They even put shapes of things that were sacred to them into their stone work. Check out that puma claw that Juan is pointing out. Amazing!
Guinea Pigs. Guinea pigs are a staple of the Peruvian diet; they’re used by shamans as diagnostic tools; and their poop is used as a power source in a village outside of Lima. So revered are guinea pigs in Peru that a famous painting of the last supper in the Cathedral of Cusco features a guinea pig carcass on the table in front of Jesus. And to think we keep them in cages, running on wheels….
Rainbows. Rainbow flags and symbols are everywhere in Peru. When we first arrived in Lima and I saw all of the rainbow flags, I thought, “Wow, they must have a huge GLBT community!” Then I learned that in Peru, the rainbow is an image of Incan heritage. The bright colors make for a very happy atmosphere.
Aliens. Global Expeditions is a very fun group to travel with. One of my fellow travelers in Peru brought two small, plastic green aliens with him. They became our group’s mascots. We even invented a sort of alien “dice” game on the train to Macchu Picchu. The highest scoring roll in the alien toss was the elusive “two butts up.”
Stay Tuned For Further Adventures With Global Expeditions
In September, I’m going to India, Nepal and Tibet with Global Expeditions. Stay tuned for future posts about my adventures in Asia with Jeff, Kevin and our fellow travelers….