When I first came to South America I was consumed with thoughts of Argentina and Buenos Aires. Dubbed the Paris of the south, this city had captured my imagination in more ways than one. From the nightlife to the love of steak, I knew BA was a place that I wanted to live. Upon arrival I thus planned to stay in this city for at least six months before beginning any travels. And as expected, within days I had fallen in love with the Buenos Aires.
Thus when my housemate decided to take a trip up to Peru a month into our stay I was caught a little bit off guard. My initial reaction: why would anyone want to leave a place this great so soon? With time, however, the thought of accompanying her became more and more appealing: I knew, that if I wanted to I could always come back to Buenos Aires. It´s not as if I was moving out of BsAs but rather, I thought of it, as taking a very long vacation. A month after my friend first breached the subject, we were on the road headed to Pisco, Peru.
You might be thinking, why Pisco? (For those of you who are unfamiliar with South American geography: Pisco is a tiny city on the South West Coast of Peru; let´s just say it didn´t exactly make the cut for top ten places to visit in Peru, it claims two pages in SA’s Lonely Planet’s guide). Given our intents to volunteer, however, the lack of tourist attractions in Pisco was not exactly an issue . Indeed, our time was kept busy with the construction of houses for local families. Not only did this experience add some real substance to my travels in SA, but it was incredibly fun as well. If you have the time to do some volunteer work during your stay I highly recommend it.
With that said, after three weeks of cement pouring, chiseling, and brick laying it was time for a change of pace. Since my friend was flying out of Lima as it was , I decided to make a move up north. After a few wild nights together, we parted ways: I was to continue my trip through Peru and Bolivia while she was off to our homeland of New York. While I thought that I would be heading to Cuzco that very day, alas it could not be. Though I had a bus booked to the city, famous for its Inca heritage, the main highway into Cuzco was blocked, the result of an ongoing strike. After a few minutes of extreme anxiety, as my thoughts went back and forth in debate of what to do, I decided to make a move, a move to Arequipa. If I had to bide my time somewhere until the roads opened up, I thought, I might as well bide it an a new and more exciting place.
I will forever be thankful for this decision. Not only did I get to witness the awe inspiring beauty and depth of Colca Canyon, but I met some of my favorite travelers here as well: people that I continued to travel with for the following weeks, from Machu Picchu to Uyuni: people that I will continue to be friends with for all of my life. Thus my experience in Arequipa now serves as a reminder that what´s meant to be will be. Though the initial decision to go to Arequipa was brought about by extenuating and stress provoking circumstances, I now cannot imagine my trip or my life without this critical destination spot.
With or without Arequipa, however I would have to say that Peru is definitely a place worthy of visitation. Each bus ride provides a new opportunity to view its diverse terrain. The landscape appears to be in a constant state of flux as one moves from ocean, to coast, to mountain, to jungle, and then back again. It is a flux defined by ageless beauty. If you have a chance before or after your schooling in one of our site, take a trip. When it comes to Peru–as we say in the states–”there ain’t nothin like it.”