We walk single-file along the narrow sidewalk. The moon glows white above, and the clouds of twilight create a melange of blues and grays in the sky. Cars rumble and bounce past on the cobbled roads, which are so narrow that if I were to reach out, I could touch one of the vehicles.
Women in shawls guide llamas whose neck and ears are strung with colorful yarn tassels. Small children carry puppies in their arms. The smell of roasting meat fills our nostrils as we pass a street vendor.
We enter the throng in the Plaza de Armas that surrounds the cathedral, and people glance curiously at us as we pass. We are, after all, some of the only white people here. We are Americans and they are Peruvians.
Yet here we all are, pushing and shoving together in the golden glow of the street lamps. We break off from the main crowd and enter a small indoor market. It has one wide aisle down the center, with small areas partitioned off on the side.
Our eyes are filled with the sight of woven blankets, framed pictures, carved gourds and flutes, and silver jewelry with colorful insets. As we move towards the items that catch our eye, the voices of the vendors tell us the prices. Solamente quince soles, senora.
Para usted, veinte soles, senor. We finger the coins in our pockets and try to resist buying everything. It would be a shame to spend all of our money at once, when there are so many opportunities to buy things.
For a week I was with a group of people from my school touring the historic and beautiful country of Peru. Some of us had been strangers before the trip, but we were like a family when returned sleepy and satisfed a week later, in California once again. We tried new foods (including guinea pig and llama), bought souvenirs, laughed over silly things that happened to us on our adventure, and stood in awe before ancient structures that the Incan people had built centuries before.
Each place had an intriguing name, like Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo. I will always remember the feeling as I stood on a mountain in the Andes, looking over at the maze of gray stone walls that is Machu Picchu. Clouds surrounded the main peak like the gossamer wings of an angel, and everywhere there was different shades of green, from the bright green of new grass to the darker shade of the high peaks, spread out in all directions.
It felt as though I was breathing historic air. My experience, though short, was worth every penny that I had saved up in the past months, through working, babysitting, and selling my handmade jewelry. Witnessing the poverty of a third-world country opened my eyes, and reinforced my desires to become bilingual and to do service work in another country. Each moment there was like a thread of one of the rough woven blankets of which I saw so many in the market stalls of Pisac. Woven together, the threads serve as a reminder of my experience, as well as what I hope to accomplish in my life. The journey is not yet over, and I hope to fill every moment with new discoveries.
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