Prepping For Peru Part II


Travel is supposed to be an adventure, right? Whether it’s a place you’ve never been (like Peru) or a destination you visit annually, it’s still an adventure.

I chose Peru for several reasons, key among them:

  • Peru offers a sense of daring enterprise that is reminiscent of “Indiana Jones.” At its center is the real-life academic exploration of “lost civilizations.” The well-chronicled “discovery” of Machu Picchu, in 1911, by Yale historian Hiram Bingham, brought the famed Incan civilization to scholars, adventurers, and now tourists.
  •  From the Amazonian basin to 20,000 foot Andean peaks, Peru casts a mysterious, exotic spell. There is an unmapped jungle, the world’s deepest canyon, sand dunes, 1500 miles of Pacific coastline. And we’re talking a country smaller in size than Alaska. I know I’m just skimming the surface in one trip to the famed Inca region.
  • The flight from North America, though long, does not trigger much jet lag. There is just one-hour time difference from the U.S. East Coast and then only during Daylight Savings Time, which Peru does not recognize. The time difference from the U.S. mainland is no more than 3 hours. That’s a big plus in my book.

Itinerary and Logistics

The big question, especially in the age wide-ranging Google searches and transparent Trip Advisor reviews, is whether a travel/tour professional is really necessary.

I’m in for the help of a travel professional.  I chose Yampu Tours.

As an experienced yet older traveler, engaging a knowledgeable tour company is a must. Especially in a country with a less developed tourist infrastructure. This isn’t France.  

Based on my experience in Argentina with Yampu, I know they will do a great job on the Peru trip.  They already have,  in presenting a customized itinerary for myself and two traveling buddies,  travel insurance options, international and domestic air reservations.

  I don’t want to deal with in-country logistics. I do want train tickets, local guides, time-sensitive admissions (as in Machu Picchu) sorted out beforehand.  Again, Yampu has done all that, and more.

I’m coming upon my seventh decade. Unapologetically, I’m at the age where I feel it’s okay for someone else to vet the hotels, arrange the transportation, provide on-the-ground support when things go awry.  And I think that’s okay.

That said, I don’t want the “Deep State” of Tour Operators. 

Yet, I don’t want every hour filled nor every meal planned. And Yampu gives you plenty of free time.  I do want to know what I’m doing day-to-day, not but second-to-second. I’m looking for flexibility, some time to roam around on my own. Even some “toes up” time.   Check and check.


The importance of friends’ recommendations on Peru

Your own network is the most reliable place to start a trip prep, including the selection of a tour company.

Why reinvent the wheel? Your friends know you, your quirks, they way you live. And you have the same basic knowledge about them. So when they make a recommendation for a restaurant in Lima, for example, you immediately know:

  •  They always choose the most expensive/the cheapest place to eat.
  • Their sense of culinary adventure is close or not so close to yours.
  • Invariably, they will eat at the hotel. In that case, don’t bother.

Friends’ suggestions provide important insight. For example, I’ve had more than one Peru-saavy friend counsel me on remedies for altitude sickness. One recommendation was to take the acclimation process slow — and have this – Altitude RX– on hand.

 Another friend suggested a joint ticket available for same-day visits to the Pedro de Osma Collection (OSMA), MATE, the museum of iconic Peruvian photographer Mario Testino, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

All these art venues are located in the quite hip, bohemian neighborhood of Barranco, a seaside quarter once favored by Lima’s aristocracy. Again, Yampu has left the time in the itinerary for me to explore on my own.

The last bit of advice, which I’m taking to heart, is the importance of hydration at altitude.

Hydration must begin beforehand, not once you land in the mountains.

My itinerary will wind through Peru’s Sacred Valley at elevations well above 5,000 feet. To help acclimate, I’m starting now, a week before departure, to drink (or try to drink) 2 liters (approximately 64 oz) of water per day.  


Ahh, the Internet

The internet is the ultimate prep tool. Answers to specific questions about anything.

What’s the weather going to be like in Machu Picchu?

The 2-week forecast. It is very handy when deciding whether to pack the rain gear.

I like details on my destination: time, the distance between stops, phases of the moon…

Really, phases of the moon? Okay, here you go.

What’s the altitude along my itinerary?

Some perspective on Peru’s Andean interior. Nearby Lake Titicaca is at 12,500 feet.

Do I need additional vaccines?

Typically, tour operators will advise on recommended preventive shots for specific locations. Further, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a wonderfully comprehensive website. Here’s the update on Peru.

I plan to climb Huayna Picchu, towering a thousand feet above Machu Picchu. But what about coming down?

I’ll be that lady coming down on her backside, clinging to the wall.


The Upshot

 I began my prep for this trip with literature. I’ve touched on Peruvian authors and travel writers, read magical stories, fictional histories of the Marxist era of the 1980s, essays, and non-fiction, in an attempt to unravel Peru’s diverse cultural, historic, political currents. Here are my recommendations that have informed my impressions of Peru. Travel, as always, will confirm or dispel the assumptions gleaned from the armchair. Travel does that.

Via con Dios.

N.B. Purchases on Amazon from links herein will generate a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

Feature photo by Tom Cleary on Unsplash

The original version of this article was first  published on Medium.com

2018 Copyright Jane Trombley

Prepping for Peru: How to Make the Most of Your Holiday, Part I

There is no single image that can capture the essence of Peru; it’s more than llamas.

I’m soon heading out on what I’d call the “starter tour” of Peru. Ten days visiting some of the high spots: Cusco, Sacred Valley, Manchu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and, of course, Lima.

I’m going with Yampu Tours, an excellent travel company I’ve used before, traveling to Argentina. 

With Yampu, I experienced  Buenos Aires, the incomparable wine country around Mendoza (and a wonderful city in itself), and the magnificent, awe-inspiring Iguazu Falls.

The Peru trip promises to be special as it’s the home country of Jose Irauzqui, founder and president of Yampu. So when I say they really put their heart into it… I’m looking forward to great, great experiences.

But 10 days is barely enough time to scratch the surface of Peru.

Start with the country’s almost incomprehensible geographic diversity.

Just a bit bigger than Alaska, Peru boasts the world’s highest city (the mining town La Rinconada, at 16, 700 ft), a 1500 mile Pacific coastline, sand dunes of the Huacachina desert oasis, glaciers and dense jungles, and the soaring the Andean peaks surrounding Manchu Picchu.

Kingdom Compass on Unsplash

And the Amazon rainforest. In fact, this region covers over 60% of Peru, the second-largest chunk within a single country. (Brazil has the most).

Zachary Spears on Unsplash

Literature as insight into Peru’s cultural diversity and rich history.

Any of the guidebooks — FodorsEyewitnessLonely Planet, or for that matter, Wikipedia — will take you through the drill, but what’s the larger context?

It’s found in stories.

Mario Vargas Llosa, a prolific Peruvian whom the New York Times dubbed the “elder statesman of Latin America literature.” He is an essayist, novelist, and political activist.

He has the soul of his country in his heart.

His skills brought me to the fantastical reaches of Peru’s Amazonian tribes in the 1950’s: The Storyteller.

His Lima-centered Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is something I’m saving for the plane.

Then there is the grim tale depicting Peru’s grinding stand-off with guerilla Maoists of the Shining Path in the 1980’s: Death in the Andes.

The novel gives us a quick brush stroke, a tiny keyhole glimpse of conflict through the eyes of the characters, both noble and not so much.

I’ve found a probing intellect in Vargas Llosa’s Notes on the Death of Culture.

While not meant to be a “travel book” per se, I find thought-provoking for the serious traveler in our “post-culture” world.

He laments a global sameness, an aspirational materialism stoking the world’s economic engine, the primacy of image over the word. All, he posits, have contrived to change what it means for a society to have a culture.

Culture has little to do with quantity, everything to do with quality. — Mario Vargas Llosa

In travel, culture matters. A lot.


Other Must-Reads for Peru

These provide an insight into Peru you won’t find in travel guides, on Trip Advisor, or even the most informed travel itineraries.

It’s the work you’ve got to do to get behind the brochures.

• The Peru Reader

If you have the time or inclination for just one book before traveling to Peru, make it this one. A collection of essays, short stories, legends and biographies, this provides a look at the diversity that makes Peru so fascinating.

• Turn Right at Machu Picchu

This one is on every list of must-reads on Peru. Focusing on the history of the Incas, it retraces the steps of Hiram Bingham, the early 20th-century explorer who claimed to “find” the lost traces of the remarkable Incan civilization near modern-day Cusco.

• The Lost City of the Incas

The seminal work of Hiram Bingham. You might as well read his first-hand account, written soon after his 1911 exploration that made him famous.

The Upshot

‘If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.’  – James Michener

 

This article was first published on Medium.com

Featured photo credit:  Alexis Huertas on Unsplash


N.B. Purchases on Amazon from links herein will generate a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

Copyright 2018 Jane Trombley All rights reserved.

The Joy of Ferragosto and Life With Intention

Editor’s note: this post was originally published on Medium.com

It’s mid-August. In Italy, the country is on holiday. It’s planned. It’s anticipated, and it’s savored. The pinnacle of the month-long kick-back is August 15th, the public holiday of Ferragosto.

Being Italian, it conveniently coincides with the important Catholic feast of the Assumption of St. Mary.

Long before the Church took control of the calendar and the holidays, the Roman emperor Augustus introduced, in18 BCE, Feriae Augusti a late summer break after the extended period of intense summer labor in the fields.

A planned break after long labor: that’s living by intention.

Apparently not everyone can take August off. But everyone CAN (and does) take a day — August 15th — for a long lunch, copious wine and rest. That’s Ferragosto

In 2008, Italian filmmaker Gianni DiGregorio won “Best First Film” at the Venice Film Festival for this charming portrayal of a man caught in the vise of Ferragosto gone wrong.

In this spoof, the middle-aged son of an aging aristocratic mother is conned into looking after the mums of various others on this holiest of summer holidays.

Here’s the trailer.   And here’s how you can enjoy “Mid-August Lunch” yourself.

(affiliate link)

Everyone in the film, it appears, is living with Intention. Except for our hero, and yet, even he managed it in the end.


In America, we react to August and to life.

We Americans tend to take the latter half of August as it comes, with an eye to Autumn. We tend to start thinking about back-to-school, maybe the last beach trip. We tend to react to the close of summer, rather than celebrate it.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, we’ve circled back to summer: school has already started, the consumption cycle is all about Autumn. It’s the last hurrah. But still, it’s a reaction. It’s not living by intention.

We’re always forward-looking and reacting to what comes our way. Do we plan? Yes, for retirement, children’s education, a house, a car.

But I posit that as a society, we’re lousy at living by Intention.

The commitment to living by Intention

I’ve been troubled by this flopping around, reacting to everything. My life seems chaotic, putting out fires — metaphorically — in every aspect of my life.

It’s draining both physically and emotionally.

I was in this state of depletion when Benjamin P. Hardy’s article really resonated. It was this sub-head that hit me:

Getting out of Survival Mode

Wow, that’s me. Survival Mode. Okay, then.

The subconscious cycle, he explains, blurs the distinction between the body and the mind. We go on autopilot. We react.

I’m not so sure about the morning routine making me a millionaire. Actually, other factors must come into play for that to happen.

But I get his point. I get that living with intention takes conscious effort. It takes conscious effort to effect change in behavior.

I’m sold. I’m on the other side of 65, but I am convinced there are more (again, metaphorical) mountains to climb. I know what I’d like to become. I can see it.

But I’m often either too lazy or too frightened to step out of my very established comfort zone to go for it.

Here’s the 4–1–1: It won’t happen unless I break out of my own self-imposed jail.

It won’t happen unless I subject myself to the uncertainty and accept less predictability.

It won’t happen unless I accept the chance I won’t make it (except I know I will if I try).

Finally, It won’t happen unless I try stuff I’ve never done, explore the unknown. Simply put, the unknown is my vision.

I’m just scared.

Moving forward with Intention

I don’t want to hang the “Closed” sign on my life. Not yet.

I’m taking some of Ben’s suggestions to begin to organize my life around them.

I’m following the basics of his Evening and Morning routine. I can see early on that setting up the following day eliminates floundering; you merely get stuff done because you know what needs to be done.

I won’t do everything, of course. We each need to work this out for ourselves, for our personalities, for our objectives.

That said, I don’t want my life to be a series of random acts responding to stimuli. I want a plan, dammit!

And I am committed to doing new things. Going new places. At least once a week. Getting out of my head.

I’m seeing how organization can keep the nonsense crap from invading my purpose and intention.

I wrote recently about crabgrass and writing. Now I think it’s bigger than that. I don’t want the crabgrass of life to overtake my proverbial garden the garden being my hopes and dreams. My own “garden of desire.”

The Upshot

I want an intentional plan. It won’t necessarily guarantee success. But it won’t mitigate my chances, either.

It’s not over til the fat lady sings.

And this lady is just warming up. There’s another act to unfold.

So here’s to a good break in August. Here’s to Ferragosto. Cin Cin.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


2018 Copyright Jane Trombley  All rights reserved

Walking the Dorset Coast: Here’s What You Need to Know

backpack on Southwest Coast Path, Dorset

Editor’s note: This post was published originally on Medium.

Dorset, like all of England, is a haven for walkers. It pairs fitness with some of the most idyllic scenery on earth. There is terrain to suit every fitness level and every quest for an aerobic challenge.

About two hours by train from London, Dorset combines aquamarine sea vistas with the pastoral beauty of Shakespeare’s “blessed plot.”

In a nation acutely aware of those blessings, a good bit of Dorset is designated as an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

This coastal walk is part of the famed Southwest Coast Path, which in its entirety is 630 miles around the western tip of England.

Photo courtesy: https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/south-west-coast-path

This 5-day stint covered the “Jurassic Coast” — from Lyme Regis to Lulworth Cove, beyond Weymouth — a total of about 45 miles.

Photo credit: Google Maps

Topline Tips

Plan, Plan, Plan!

The success of any hiking or walking trip the trip is defined by variables such as weather, trail conditions, the unforeseen injury. Mitigate any possible downside of the unexpected with a plan.

Winging it is good; I love on-the-fly. But I also like knowing where I’m going to lay my head each night, and how my luggage is going to get from point A to point B. There is enough drama and adventure on the trail.

Organize with a professional

Self-guided tour companies provide structure and guidance that takes the guesswork out of the experience.   Encounter Walking is a very professional provider.

When we got stuck along the trail, befuddled by the map the second day out, there was a phone number and a helpful voice at the other end.

When to go to Dorset

Mid-June which, despite an early heat wave, gave us the untrammeled beauty of early summer. That said, all the places in the northern hemisphere are lovely in September/October.  Dorset glows at that time of year.

However, the Dorset coast is a tourist magnet. High summer, July and especially August, is the ‘season’ so set your expectations: packed restaurants, impatient crowds, increasingly frazzled staff.

“Shoulder” seasons are highly recommended. Late autumn would be stunning.

What to expect in Dorset

  • Terrain — The maps/itinerary are very clear as to the difficulty of the topography. Most fall into the “mild” to “moderate” range with some steep patches. While the “ascent” is not remarkable, the long, slow climbs are challenging.
  • A good part of the trail leaving Lyme Regis is along the beach, under the famed Jurassic Coast cliffs. It makes for a pebbly, unstable ground underfoot, slow and tiring. This section is also stunningly beautiful, and it’s possible to pick up a fossil or two if you’re eagle-eyed.
  • Weather — Coastal weather is often fickle but, it’s important to understand that this walk is very exposed to the elements. There is little shade from the blazing sun, little protection from rain and wind.
  • Facilities — are few and far between on the trail. Be prepared if necessary, to “go” behind a dune or other secluded spot. As ever, good trail etiquette is “carry in/carry out” so, be prepared!
  • The trail runs through private pasture land. At points, you’ll be next to, or in some cases among, sheep or cattle.
Photo credit: Jane Trombley

It’s a very different concept to American hikers/walkers who would not dream of “trespassing” on private land. In the U.K. it is permissible. There is an unspoken pact with the cows: you leave them alone and they leave you alone.

Photo Credit: Jane Trombley

What to bring to Dorset

  • Maps/guides Maps/guides If you work with a comprehensive trip organizer, you’ll have a precise itinerary, essential phone numbers, general maps. The trail is well marked, so additional material (like the famous British Ordnance Survey maps) isn’t necessary.
  • Proper gear This is more than a “sneaker” walk; bring good quality, lightweight hiking boots. You’ll cover a range of terrain, from muddy pastures to pebbly beaches.
  • A good, comfortable backpack. Even though you’re just out for the day, you’ll need more than a “fanny pack.” Find a comfy, small backpack; the kind with the mesh holders for water, or other things you want handy, is a plus.
  • Snacks because nothing is worse than being hungry on the trail. Or, hitting lunchtime with no lunch in sight. Have protein bars, hard candy (chocolate melts), maybe an apple.
  • A walking stick is one of my necessities. I use a telescope model that fits into luggage for overseas flights. It helps with balance, getting over difficult terrain, and is as useful uphill as downhill. They are easy to find at outfitters; the good ones are pricey.
  • You need to be prepared for varying weather conditions: rain gear, shorts, long sleeve shirts, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen. If your luggage is transported daily you needn’t carry all this stuff. Having it with you means you can be prepared for any weather.
  • Tissues for a runny nose and for when nature calls. Small plastic bags with a “zip” closure for tissue storage until you reach a trash bin. Pre-moistened wipes are useful and take up little room. Bring insulated, refillable water bottles. It’s imperative to stay hydrated, and buying water along the trail is an annoyance.

Highlights of Walk, Lyme Regis to Lulworth Cove.

Lyme Regis

We started this adventure in Lyme Regis, spending a few days at this durable seaside resort. For well-heeled Londoners in the 19th Century, Lyme Regis was a “go-to” summer destination.

Photo credit: Jane Trombley

Jane Austen, author, and a frequent visitor captured the vibe in Persuasion when she wrote,

“A very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better.”

It’s as true today as it was back then. Below, the garden path she was said to have strolled.

Photo credit: Jane Trombley

The town’s other claim to fame is being the epicenter of England’s early proving ground for the Evolution vs Creation debate, raging in 19th C intellectual circles.

Mary Anning (1799–1847), a self-educated fossil hunter and collector, was eventually credited with the first discovery of the plesiosaur, who roamed these parts during the Jurassic era. In her time, Mary endured intellectual and gender bias by the more “learned” men at the British Museum but now has her due.

Heading out

We left Lyme Regis, walking along the shoreline and up across the “Golden Cap” toward the town of Eype.

It was a strenuous 9 miles in scorching heat, with gorgeous views but no relief from the sun.  It was a relief to find this welcome sweet on the pillow at the hotel.

hard candy from Eypes Mouth Hotel

Ever Onward

Day 2 Eype to Abbotsbury an eleven mile stretch of easy to moderate terrain, but difficult underfoot on the pebbly beach.

Photo credit: Jane Trombley

Walking under the dramatic cliffs, but no fossils to be found.

Photo credit: Jane Trombley

Day 3 took us from Abbotsbury to Weymouth, thirteen miles over easy terrain. Here the challenge here was the lack of amenities: no rest stops or places to buy lunch. We were slower than planned, and should have anticipated the need to carry a sandwich. Live and learn. Snacks filled in. Water was crucial!

Photo credit: Jane Trombley

Weymouth was all the rage during the 18th C. reign of King George III. The Georgian architecture and graceful promenade along the shoreline tell the story of a luxurious bygone era. A bit faded, but with very good bones.

Today it’s a bit forlorn, bravely trying to regain its long-gone glamour.

Photo credit: Jane Trombley
  

Day 4, Weymouth to Lulworth Cove. It was a strenuous thirteen miles to Lulworth, but perhaps the most dramatic scenery of all. The highlight is the spectacular limestone arch known as the Durdle Door. The steep incline covering 1.25 miles or so is worth the slog.

Photo credit: Jane Trombley
Photo credit: Jane Trombley

The highlight is the spectacular limestone arch known as the Durdle Door. The steep incline covering 1.25 miles or so is worth the slog.

It’s where England could be mistaken for the Almafi Coast.

Lulworth is a charming town and in mid-June geared for the upcoming tourist season.

Photo credit: Jane Trombley
Photo Credit: Ann Savage
Photo credit: Jane Trombley
Photo credit: Jane Trombley

Lastly, who doesn’t love a place that loves dogs?

Photo credit: Jane Trombley

In the end, who doesn’t love a place that welcomes dogs?


2018  Copyright Jane Trombley  All rights reserved.
Note: This post contains some affiliate links, through which I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. 

It’s summer and that means travel…

It’s summer, and do you know what your plans are?  NO PLANS?!  You need Ideas!  So head on over to 3 Score’s Travel News page.

Food tours in Dublin, Cruise ideas (and bargains!), the ultimate list of travel essentials.

Get some ideas, get your essentials, and off you go!

How to be a culture maven: The Betsy, Miami’s South Beach

On bustling Ocean Avenue in Miami’s South Beach, there is a 1940’s era hotel called The Betsy.

3 Score’s guest blogger Paula Forman shared her experience there in 2017. This time I  joined her and two other friends for a mid-winter get-away.  It was the tonic we needed, but for reasons that surprised me.  Ready for an update?

I knew The Betsy to be a luxury hotel. I did not anticipate it to be such an oasis of cultureContinue reading “How to be a culture maven: The Betsy, Miami’s South Beach”

AirBnb guest guide to Portobello Road: 5 essential shops

One of the fun things about being an Airbnb guest is the opportunity to have a fantasy local life during your stay. If you’re near bustling Portobello Road, the commercial heart of Notting Hill, here is the ultimate guide to shopping in the neighborhood.  You will feel positively native… without breaking your travel budget.  Continue reading “AirBnb guest guide to Portobello Road: 5 essential shops”

Best of the best: 5 favorite destinations in 2017

US Passport cover

2017 was a banner year for my travel.  Some destinations were carefully planned but others were just serendipitous, popping up out of the blue. Either way, believe me, the travel gods cranked  it out on my behalf.   During this remarkable stretch of travel and exploration, the trips were chronicled in this space.   And now, as the year winds to a close, here are my 5 favorite destinations for 2017.  I hope you’ll find some ideas and inspiration for your 2018 travel plans.

Continue reading “Best of the best: 5 favorite destinations in 2017”

How to make your family holiday an outstanding success

Chaplain's House, Tyntesfield

Imagine a family holiday in a 19th C English country setting with 21st C amenities. You’re settled in a comfy, period cottage on the grounds of an exquisite  Victorian Gothic mansion, endowed with a history Downtown Abbey’s fictional Grantham family would envy. Add a couple of sophisticated gastro-pubs, an easy drive through the bucolic countryside.  Toss in berry picking, farm visits and an enchanted forest to charm the youngsters. Some interesting stuff for older kids. Perhaps a quick visit to Bristol,  a thriving destination with a pretty impressive history of its own.

The holiday venue is Chaplain’s House at Tyntesfield, a gem of Britain’s National Trust rental cottages. Here’s why it’s a recipe for success, and worth the travel from North America.

Continue reading “How to make your family holiday an outstanding success”