Do you know the difference between a llama and an alpaca? I didn’t. I suppose I could have just looked it up on Wikipedia, instead, I went to Peru to ask the experts. (Llamas and alpacas are a crucial part of the Peruvian culture, especially that of Peruvians living in the Andes.)
I admit that I didn’t decide to go to Peru to find out about llamas and alpacas. It actually started with a simple girls’ night out with a couple of moms who needed a break!
During dinner, Amynah mentioned that her husband, Firoz, was going to Peru for a work conference. Firoz wanted Amynah to go with him, but, as she put it, “What am I going to do in Peru all day while he is working?”
After a general discussion on how cool it would be to go to Peru, Amynah jokingly said, “Anyone want to go?” I was shocked when I found myself saying YES! I don’t think anyone else was shocked, because I don’t think that they believed me. I admit it, I am a bumpkin. I’ve had a passport for years, but I had never used it – not once. Not even to get into Canada (the last time I went, you could still use a driver’s license).
When I got home, I woke up my husband, Rahn, who was exhausted from getting the kids fed and to bed and asked him if he wanted to go… he looked at me like I was drunk (I hadn’t even had one drink). In his exhaustion, he said, “sure, why not?”
Based on a friend’s recommendation, Firoz and Amynah worked with Ana Maria of Imperial Services to design a jam-packed itinerary, including transportation, a tour of Lima, and several remarkable tours in the Cusco region.
In Lima, we toured the Colonial City and saw, among other things, the Presidential Palace and Lima Cathedral. We also explored Miraflores (including Kennedy Park and Central Park) on our own.
Once we arrived in Cusco, we toured the city and surrounding archaeological sites such as Sacsayhuaman and Tambomachay. We then spent the next two days exploring the Cusco region, including Machu Picchu, Moray, Maras and Chinchero. I cannot tell you how pleased we were with the tour package Ana Maria prepared for us.
Our only complaint was not having more time! I guess we will just have to stay longer next time.
Oh, and after traveling 7000+ miles; walking up and down 2000+ stairs (no, I’m not exaggerating); meeting dozens of remarkable people; eating the most delectable food (although, I did not try the guinea pig, a Peruvian specialty); learning about the wonderful Peruvian culture (ancient and modern); and seeing some of the most phenomenal sites on earth, I’m still not sure if I know how to tell the difference between a llama and an alpaca.
The experts tell me that the secret is to check the neck and nose. Llamas have long necks and long noses – alpacas, not so much.
Where would you go if you could plan the trip of a lifetime?
(Note: To read more and see more about our trip to Peru, visit my husband’s blog, gonesomewhere.com)