Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
Travel is all about the experiences along the way. These experiences can range from minute to life-changing. No experience has changed my life more than when I went to Peru during the summer of 2012. I went through Girl Scout Destinations and a youth adventure travel program called Global Explorers. We backpacked the Lares Trek for 5 days, explored Cusco, and went to Machu Picchu. These are just the facts though. The growth in myself that these two programs fostered was truly remarkable.
This trip was not my first Girl Scout Destination (an adventure program designed for girl scouts). I went to London, England in 2008 and went backpacking through Costa Rica in 2010. Obviously, both of these trips were amazing, since I kept coming back for more. But, Peru was where I “found myself.” I found my love of nature, outdoor education, travel, and adventure.
It all started with a lengthy 28ish hours of flying. Louisville to Atlanta to Miami to Lima to 5 hours sleeping in Lima’s airport (where I, full of excitement, did not sleep) to the final flight to Cusco to finally passing out in a hostel for two hours before our exploration began. We spent 3 days in Cusco, 2.5 days touring and trying local food, plus a half day volunteering at a school as well as donating school supplies to it. Luckily, I have never suffered from altitude sickness in my life, so even though we were living at 11,000 feet above sea level, I was shockingly feeling well and enthusiastic. Many girls were not. But, after three days, almost everyone was feeling better, and we began our trek.
The trek was amazing. I refer to it as trekking because we did not carry our own packs, but had donkeys that came with us that carried them. We camped for four days, and reached our highest altitude of 16,500 feet. It was cold, it was exhausting, but it was amazing. Watching everyone come together to complete this incredible feat, between the ages of 14 and 18 years old, from all different parts of the world, was amazing.
The sense of community was also amazing. Two years later, I still talk to two of my best friends from that trip. When girls were struggling, we all encouraged each other. One day, a girl told me that she would have had to stop if I hadn’t walked with her and talked her through the climb. It started to click then that pushing and helping people in the outdoors was what I wanted to do with my life.
What I loved most, though, was my guides. They truly loved every second of leading us, and it was then that I realized I would always work for passion, not for money. I had always thought about being a teacher, but I knew that that was what I was going to become. Outdoor education had floated through my mind, but I knew that that was going to become my specialty. People are so focused on becoming a success, that they overlook the job of helping other people become a success.
The journey was not over quite yet. You cannot travel all the way to Peru without a trip to Machu Picchu! My personal pictures look like I am standing in front of a green screen, the site was so spectacular. Never have I been so amazed and inspired by humans, since this piece of architecture is truly magnificent. The exactness and the time spent are things I cannot even begin to fathom. Sad as well, since so many people died attempting to build Machu Picchu. Historical monuments like this are really a part of the nature, something that European society has moved away from in their architecture. I enjoy investigating historical motivations, like different architecture, and this is why part of my degree is in history.
Travel always opens you to a new world. But, the feelings of hope for humanity and myself I got on my adventure through Peru are what push me to keep travelling, as well as push my limits and others.