Making Friends in Peru

Our Peru trip was the first time I’ve ever booked myself on an organized tour. I had planned to make all my arrangements myself as usual, but as I looked at tour itineraries to get ideas (one of my travel tips!), I found a 12-day Highlights of the Incas Tour offered by Tucan Travel that I couldn’t resist. It was going everywhere that I’d hoped to go and more, and the best part was that all the domestic flights, train trips and buses were taken care of. That made the decision easy: I booked. (This is not a paid endorsement of Tucan.)

It’s one of the best travel decisions I’ve ever made.

Not only were all the travel details taken care of, but we were among a group of incredible people and we meshed immediately.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

We had an Irish woman who’d formerly been a flight attendant and told us about so many amazing places in the world. We had an Australian couple who loved adventure and have traveled extensively as well. We had a German woman who is currently living in the US and who we are hopeful that we can easily stay in touch with. We had another Australian woman who celebrated her birthday with us on the trip, and an Australian man who was often our comedy relief and an easygoing person passionate about philosophy and non-traditional medicines. In other words — we hit the jackpot! How lucky to be among a group of fun-loving adventurers!

Even better, we had a fantastic tour leader as well. Carlos was eager to share all the beauty of Peru with us. I told him that my daughter was studying Spanish and he spoke Spanish with her the whole time. He made any extra arrangements we needed, suggested restaurants for us and sites to see in our free time, and then he did something completely unexpected — he invited us to his house for a picnic.

Carlos lives in an old traditional home on top of a cliff near Cristoblanco.

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera

Small apartments are formed around a central courtyard where we had our picnic. Carlos had checked with his neighbors before he invited us. This was more important than I’d realized because they all shared a common kitchen, living room, and dining room area:

The building itself dates back to 1534 and was the residence of an Incan princess. It was definitely a unique experience to get this glimpse into the home of our tour guide in Cusco.

I think Carlos, like the rest of us, realized that we were a special group of travelers. We mixed and mingled among ourselves in any sort of configuration and it was always easy. We formed a chat group and have stayed in touch in the hope that someday we’ll each meet up again. I’m not sure we’ll ever get as lucky with a tour group again.

Have you traveled as part of a larger tour group? How was your experience?

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