Every good story, every fantastic tale starts with a good prologue. This travel journal needs one too.
I know. I know you want pictures, videos, amazing stuff. You’ll have all of that soon. The first chapter is already being written. I realized while writing it that I was digressing a lot. I just want to make the presentations and set the scene to start the adventure from the first character of the first line of the first episode. This prologue is here to answer to some useful -or not- questions and give you some information about the context and the story.
“¡Me llamo Ben!”. Ok, one thing done!
Why this journey?
Excellent question! Think about it, I’m sure you can guess .
To be true, the idea appeared last winter while I was in Bordeaux. Sophie (who you will meet later) told us that she would leave to Peru at the beginning of 2012. Julien then said something like “What if?”. And it was enough to make a plan. After preparing the journey, buying the flight tickets and some hiking equipment, we were all ready to meet in Peru and start this adventure.
Sophie lives in Lima, so our start point would be in Peru. Julien has also prepared us a little trip to discover the area. It’s when I landed in Lima that I opened a guide and looked at a map of our playground for the first time.
Okay, the map is a bit empty, I know. I won’t tell you all the details now! You’ll get more and more information as the story goes on.
Peru, Bolivia, Chile. Three countries with rich culture, History guided by the Inca Empire with legendary names such as Machu Picchu, the Nazca lines, the Spanish conquistadors, friendly and humble people, simple but yet excellent gastronomy, and will to share and make you discover new things.
Three countries of contrasts: Peru, from its deserts facing the Pacific Ocean, its high and frozen Andean peaks to the Amazonian jungles in the East… Bolivia, the poorest country in South America but the richest one in resources, which has places among the most extreme on Earth (hottest, coldest, windiest…), volcanic plateaus, salt seas, lagoons, canyons… and Chile, country with almost 4,000 miles of shore (more than half of the height of the continent), with some of the aridest deserts in the world and fjords and glaciers, going as far as the eye can see…
You’re OK with that?
Of course we won’t see everything, 20 days is not long enough. Just enough to make a few steps here, and start to think about the second journey I’ll have to prepare to come back.
With keeping some details for now, here are some data about the journey we made.
3,190 miles. That’s the distance we have traveled in these 20 days (from the first to the last, from Lima to Lima), using 8 different means of transportation. Time to play! To know the distribution, link each mean of transportation to the right value. To help you, some of the links are already made.
A big distance, but also a lot of time at high altitude. Because this journey is also about mountains and peaks. After a day to adapt to the altitude, I had fun up-there and went past the highest peak I could have hiked before (Mount Cameroon, 13,435 feet high).
Time to meet the team!
aka “The resident”
Age: (you don’t ask a lady!)
Lives in: Bruxelles, Belgium
Spanish level: bilingual
Special skill: if you come visit her in Peru, Sophie has the ability to leave and go back to Europe just 3 days after you meet
aka “The translator”
Age: (what have I said earlier?!)
Lives in: London, England
Spanish level: bilingual
Special skill: ability to carry 7 lb of Haribo candies in her bag while hiking
aka “El guía” (the Guide)
Lives in: London, England
Spanish level: so so
Special skill: G.O. (Gentil Organisateur of our route). So stop talking and follow him!
Origin: unknown. Rumor says he’s from Belgium. Not confirmed yet.
Lives in: Jersey, complicated
Spanish level: good
Special skill: you can’t take a picture of him
aka “the guy with the cameras”
Lives in: Montreal, Canada
Spanish level: “a coffee and the bill please”
Special skill: a bag pack with 30 lb of electronic devices and 2 tee-shirts
How was it?
Did you take a lot of pictures?
You know me! Clean and clear (no ads), here’s a glimpse at the answer in numbers (you know I like numbers…):
Yap. That’s why it takes me some time to process everything, cause I want to give you the some awesome content I can produce! .
Here we are!
The bags weren’t ready until the day before leaving. Sense of organization! Two bags, one made for hiking, one designed for cameras. Three cameras, two lenses, some films, GoPro, MacBook Pro, to unload all the pictures and data on it, a GPS tracker which will record our route, meter by meter. The charger of each device, some things to hike (shoes, medical kit…), some underwear and stuff to clean myself, and there’s just enough room left for a pants, a shorts, two tee-shirts and a sweater. 27 days with that. I have my own sense of priority.
I leave Montreal by the end of May 23. A quick walk with my two bags to the central bus station.
First part of the trip: reaching in Toronto, from where I’ll get off. Six hours of bus to get there. Arrival at 3 a.m. . Perfect timing, I have just enough time to get to Pearson Airport, check in, have a small breakfast and my plane leaves at 8.15.
The first part of this journey will have for destination Cusco, where I’ll meet everyone. But before, first stop over in Bogota, Colombia. Just after leaving the plane, the change of scenery is already almost complete.
Trying to be patient and walking around and around in the airport makes the time running. My flight leaves Bogota on time. Direction: Lima. I’ll meet Lisa at the airport, and we’ll have to wait 4 hours to get our flight to Cusco.
Landing in Lima at 12:50 a.m. No staging area here. You have to get your luggages, go through police and customs, to check your bags in again.
Bags, police, to have the very first stamp of the journey in the passport, customs… everything runs smoothly, until…
There! I’m in Lima now, our start point. This is where this travel journal begins. The next part will arrive with the first chapter of the journal. What a cliffhanger !
Now that you are nervous, impatient about knowing what’s gonna happen next, I’ll leave you, enjoy a short night and come back later to conclude the first episode. I see you soon!