Darshita's journey continues and culminates in her trip to Peru. Read about the earlier parts of her journey to Mexico and Ecuador. Words & Images by Darshita Thurairajah. Edited by Nur Safiah Alias.
Holding myself to a promise I made to two friends, I started my five-week trip to Mexico , Ecuador and Peru in June 2013. I only began planning two weeks before my actual departure date. First up was Mexico with my friend Maria, then down to Ecuador with friends Tefita, Carol and Karen and finally, couchsurfing in Cusco, Peru with Mario.
Last stop, Peru! The Land of the Incas!
I had not finalised my accommodation in Peru with my host Mario, and I was worried that I would not have anywhere to stay at or a plan to get to Machu Picchu. As it got closer to my departure, things slowly worked themselves out.
I realised concentrating on the bigger picture of enjoying the trip enabled me to ease up on getting frustrated over these obstacles. This experience helped shaped another lesson I learnt.
Life lesson #5: The unexpected happens but things will work out. This became my motto every time a glitch in my plans occurred. While my mind is usually stronger than my heart in making decisions, sometimes, following my “gut” is vital in dealing with the more unexpected plans, and more often than not, they turn out to be the best decisions I have made in my trip!
1. In Peru, take your time to enjoy the Inti Raymi Festival (“Festival of the Sun”).
Mario and I woke up at 7 am and took a bus down to Qorikancha (Quechua for “Golden Courtyard”). In Incan times, this place was literally covered in glittering gold. But, within months of the arrival of the first conquistadors, this incredible wealth had all been looted and melted down.
We were there to watch the Inti Raymi festival at Plaza Del Armes. Inti Raymi marks the start of the Winter solstice where the Sapa Inca asks for blessings from the sun gods. The ceremonial events begin with an invocation by the Sapa Inca. Following the oration, he is carried on a golden throne, a replica of the original which weighed about 60 kilos, in a procession to the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuamán, in the hills above Cusco. I joined Mario’s friends here.
Together, we followed the procession as they danced, sang and chanted to the anthropological site to catch the final part of the ceremony. The Sapa Inca followed by the high priests, garbed in ceremonial robes and thereafter, the officials of the court, nobles and others, all elaborately costumed, marched down the street.
(Note: Do not attempt to run, I had to take a couple of Salbutamol puffs given the high altitude.)
2. I can pass off as an esteemed Peruvian!
I took a two-hour train ride to Machu Picchu, set against a majestic backdrop between the Amazon Basin and the Peruvian Andes. Standing atop this completely preserved Inca city (2000 m above sea level), was amazing!
While I was wandering around the temple, an old lady ran up to me excitedly, claiming that I resembled Tupac Amaru’s wife. Tupac Amaru was the leader who began the Spanish revolution in Peru and his wife was a warrior in the battle – I would be honoured to be anything like her! I must have spent so much time in Latin America that I looked like a legitimate Peruvian!
Peru marked the end of my travels and I realised I learnt so much while travelling around in Latin America.
3. Looking back where I started.
My initial worries were unfounded. Instead, after the five weeks I spent in Latin America, I am writing this for all the thrill-seekers, culture-vultures and nature-lovers in Singapore, for those who are afraid to step out and embrace what the world has to offer.
I hope to motivate you to travel to places so unimaginably inaccessible to us and vastly wild in traditions, it demands us to seek comfort in the present with an open mind.
Latin America is a captivating place with its beautiful sights, friendly people and intriguing food. I can’t wait to experience a 13-hour time difference and to speak broken English peppered with Spanish words again. My battered suitcases and backpacks are piled on the pavement, ready for another adventure under the stars. I hope that I have shared with you a little bit about the beauty of the endless mestizo culture I have fallen in love with.
This is the final of a three-part series where we follow Darshita Thurairajah and the little epiphanies she experienced. If you would like to contribute, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and do give us a 'Like' on our Facebook Page!