Hillary Prather (@hillaryprather) — The poor man’s polyglot. Currently in: 🇺🇸
I cannot believe today is our last day in South America. Most of it has been a dream 😍 Some, less so... I’ve been bitten by at least four dozen mosquitos, sunburnt in unmentionable places, violently sick a few times, swindled, terrified, and have had a couple panic attacks for good measure. Not to mention: hoo boy, if you ever want to find the cracks in your relationship, try spending every waking and sleeping moment together for three consecutive months 😂 But at the end of the day, I got to see a sliver of the world with my best friend, and I wouldn’t take back a single moment ❤️ Now it’s time to find our way home again, I miss it so much!
Lares Trek to Machu Picchu, Day 3: It’s quite literally all downhill from here! We followed a river downhill for about 6 miles, and finally arrived in the Sacred Valley! Stopped at a local house for some homemade chicha (corn beer), and sat down for our last lunch with the @trekwithalpaca staff. They spoiled us rotten. I’ve never had ceviche while camping before 😍
More of Lares Trek, Day 2: We camped in the village of Cancha Cancha, where we got to meet the locals, visit their houses, sample their foods, and try on their textiles. It’s comforting to know that everywhere in the world, kids mostly act the same. Some were shy, some were serious troublemakers (like these three little boys, notice how thrilled the woman taking care of them looks).
Lares Trek to Machu Picchu, Day 2: With approximately 3,000 feet of elevation gain, this was without question the hardest day of the trek. Don’t let the smiling photos fool you, hiking at 15,000 feet is no joke, and we were all gasping for air. We peaked at Condor Pass, with panoramic glacier views. It’s amazing how quickly all the hard work felt like no big deal 😄
Lares Trek to Machu Picchu, Day 1: From unbelievable views to the coldest night I’ve ever experienced. We were picked up in Cusco at 5:00am and taken to the beginning of our trek in Lares. We hiked up to about 12,000 feet and set up camp on a blue lagoon, where icy fog almost immediately set in. Our chef warmed us up with some coca tea 🍃 My hands are still defrosting...
Okay so here’s the thing - this convent is BEAUTIFUL and full of rich, colonial history. However, it’s also built on top of Qoricancha, the most sacred temple to the Incan people. The Spanish came in and said “Oh, fantastic! This is ours now” And proceeded to loot the place and destroy all but three of the Incan structures here. The history in Cusco (and much of the surrounding area) is fascinating, because locals seem to have a simultaneous love of Catholicism that the Spanish brought, and respect for the Incan traditions that the conquerors tried to destroy.
I WISH I could have taken pictures inside this place. The catacombs are vast and incredibly spooky. There are frescos from the seventeenth century that they JUST discovered after a recent earthquake revealed them under walls of paint. And absolutely my favorite part: there’s a huge library filled with books from as early as sixteenth century. The humidity has peeled back the spines on most, and the only lighting was from sunlight through the windows and slats in the ceiling. Dark wooden spiral stairs to the second floor mezzanine. It feels like stepping back in time! 📚📖