Two years ago, Dex’s Spanish teacher presented a plan to take all her kids on a dream trip to Peru. This was someplace I had never thought we could go, but we worked to save the money and luckily the school worked with Educational Tours, which allowed us to pre-pay monthly (and interest free!).
The group of middle schoolers, many of whom did not know each other before the trip, headed to South America this summer and one of the biggest attractions they visited was, of course, Machu Picchu.
It was interesting from our perspective, as the parents who stayed home with our child a world away… Dex was definitely homesick and had the most fun doing mundane things like playing games back at the hotels.
He didn’t take as many photographs as I would have expected, so some of the below were taken by his fellow travelers. I did ask him to get a selfie from “that famous view.” You can bet this photo is framed at our house.
According to Google: Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, above the Urubamba River valley. It’s renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, intriguing buildings that play on astronomical alignments, and panoramic views. Its exact former use remains a mystery.
Dex learned from his guide that Machu Picchu was built at the height of the Incan Empire but was abandoned after the Spanish arrived in Peru. The person who re-discovered Machu Picchu (Hiran Bingham in 1911) may have been looking for another lost city (Vilcabamba), and found this one by accident. Dex was also bummed to hear that he took approximately 40,000 artifacts from the site (but Peru wants them back, so they are being returned).
Oh look! A bunch of Dex’s classmates are taking a bunch of photos. Note to Dex.
How did these guys go about their visit? They flew into Cusco and took the 3.5 hour train to Machu Picchu. You can hike the Inca Trail (which our best friends have done and loved) but obviously that is a much more involved trip. Otherwise, you can visit in one day. All these kids are from Denver, but many still were affected by the elevation – so that is something to keep in mind.
When I asked Dex what he remembered most about Machu Piccu, he described how there was a really great view facing the mountains, and it had just rained, so there was a rainbow. Pretty magical, if you ask me.
There was also huge discussion of the llamas. Because, you know… Middle schoolers.
While I know this was all a bit overwhelming for my barely 13 year old, I am so glad he went. Not only is access to this historic site sometimes limited due to restoration and weather damage – but we are obviously a family of travelers, and for him to be able to have this experience all on his own was wonderful. He got see and learn about a totally different culture, and he took his first steps on the way to taking care of himself out in the world.