we make plans

Some months back, I said that whenever we could see our way clear to take a vacation, our first since The Move, we would explore our home province.

Driving around Ontario is still something I want to do - one day. But my travel bug, forced to lie dormant for several years, is now in a fully frenzied state of discontent. Ontario just doesn't cut it. Even traveling in Canada won't do it. (Although I absolutely plan on seeing as much of this beautiful country as I can.)

This is a year to pluck a place from my "top places I want to go" list, something big and very special.

Newer wmtc readers may not know that I love - positively, fanatically love - to travel. Travel is my number one favourite thing in the world.

Living a very settled life as I do, not exactly a vagabond, I try to take one really good vacation every year. And most years, we do. It doesn't have to be a distant, exotic land - one of our memorable trips was spent driving around New York State, ending in Montreal. As long as we're on the go, seeing new things, having new experiences, I'm happy.

Our last big trip, however, was way back in 2002. We were going to take one year off, to save money for a very special trip in 2004. In the summer of 2003, we didn't travel, instead renting a house upstate New York with our dogs.

Then came the Big Idea.

By the time 2003 ended, we had decided to move to Canada. All plans for any trip were off; saving money became our first priority. Since then, emigration and moving have been our focus.

Which brings us back to the little house in Port Credit, and my itchy travel bug. Now we're settled in, we have time and a little money, and it's time to go somewhere I've wanted to see all my life. And the winner is... Peru.

I've always wanted to see Machu Picchu, since first learning about it in junior-high school Spanish class. The research I did last year for my Ancient Civs book introduced me to other ancient Peruvian cultures, much older than the Incas. (We love seeing ruins, and anything from ancient civilizations.)

So we'll go to Machu Picchu and also travel in Peru, seeing other ruins and natural beauty there. The big question is whether to add on a trip to another of my must-see spots: the Galapagos Islands. I'm thinking, it costs a lot to get there, how many times am I going to be in that part of the world? Maybe we should go while we're relatively (in global terms) near by. But perhaps it's too much for one trip; perhaps the Galapagos are best saved for their own, separate trip.

We have to decide soon - in fact, right away. We want to go in late April and early May; good airfares and Galapagos tours will soon disappear.

I've already emailed an old blog-friend, Doctor Marco, who is Peruvian, and who has traveled extensively in his home country. (I love the internet!) I'm sure wmtc reader "mkk" - my sister-in-law - will have some pointers, as she and her family have been to Machu Picchu several times. (Their travels are forever inspiring me. After we saw photos from their RV trip through Alaska, we booked our own.)

If any of you have been to Peru or to the Galapagos, please speak up! Feel free to email me if you prefer.

Now I'm off to stare at maps and a calendar.


James Redekop said...

I haven't been, but Lori's former boss did the four-day hike you can do to get to Machu Picchu, and loved it, as part of an around-the-world tour.

He didn't do the Galapagos, but he did do Easter Island. The former is a must-see for anyone interested in biological evolution and the history of biology, while the latter is worth seeing for the environmental lesson it teaches.

If you're unfamiliar with the history of Easter Island, it used to be forested. But the locals started cutting down trees to haul those famous statues around, eventually destroying the forest.

And here's the most interesting part: the island is small. From the highest point, you can see all of it. It would have been impossible for the guy who cut down the last tree not to have known he was cutting the last tree.

Without the trees, most of the soil blew away, and most of the food disappeared. The population of the island crashed to what could be supported by fishing.

Right now, with things like global warming, we're in the position of that guy who sees that there's only one tree left on the island...

laura k said...

That four-day trek on the Inca Trail is supposed to be fabulous. Sadly, I think it's beyond my arthritic knees and hips. Plus we are so not campers. I don't need luxury but I do like a bed. :) So we'll take a train from Cuzco to Machu Picchu.

We've just made the somewhat painful decision that the Galapagos are a separate trip. There are so many things to see in Peru - even in just a few regions of it. We think we'd rather immerse myself in Peruvian culture and really get a feel for it.

The Galapagos is such a different kind of trip - basically a wildlife-seeing tour. Trying to get it in this trip feels like shoehorning two trips together, maybe not enjoying either to its fullest potential. (That is, given the available time.)

I think we're looking at three weeks in Peru.

Isn't Easter Island a big part of Jared Diamond's Collapse? I haven't read it yet. I bought it for my mom for her birthday (after she borrowed my copy of Guns, Germs and Steel and adored it), and I'm waiting til she's done reading it, then I'll take it back. :) )

Doctor Marco said...

You probably received already my email. It is so long ago that I wrote such an extensive email! Anyway, Peru is known because of Macchu Picchu, however, there are other places and more ancient cultures as you said. For example, there is this placed called Caral (I did not mention it in my email). It is the oldest city in the Americas, 5000 years old, 2000 older that Chavin. I believe that it is still being developed as a place for tourists. I would love to go there. Last January, I missed my opportunity.

Visit my blog!

laura k said...

Caral! Yes, I forgot about that! In fact, we had to scramble around revising our Ancient Civs manuscript to fit in the new info on Caral. I'll have to look up where it is, how accessible it is to get to.

We are definitely going to see the ancient sites of Chan Chan and Sipan, on the north coast. Full itinerary to come, for sure!

Thanks for all your help, Marco. Everyone go visit Doctor Marco's blog!

mkk said...

Yes! We absolutely have lots of ideas for you. On Marty's first trip to Machu Picchu, he heeded the advice of travel agents, who sent him to hotels that were hugely expensive. We found great places that are ridiculously reasonable, quaint, and just right for us. We'll be in touch with details.

I'm glad to know that we have influenced your travel plans -- just as you have influenced our plans to move to Canada!

James Redekop said...

Isn't Easter Island a big part of Jared Diamond's Collapse?

I haven't read Collapse yet, either, but I can't imagine Diamond leaving Easter Island out.

Echomouse said...

Oh, that sounds heavenly! I can't wait to hear about it all when you return.

Meanwhile, Ontario isn't exotic as that, but there are lots of wonderful places to visit. Ok so camping and hiking are out. Hmmm...lots of places still to see. Elora Gorge, Niagara on the Lake during wine season, St. Jacobs, so many places in Ontario alone. And Banff, Alberta ... that might be interesting for you.

Still, I know it's nothing like Peru but I'm just trying to help here LOL :)

laura k said...

Definitely lots to see in Ontario, and I will get there. I was a big New York State booster, I'll transfer that to my new home province. :)

We haven't seen anything in Canada, except Toronto and Montreal. I want to go the Maritimes, to BC, to the Rockies.

I promise I'll do it - just not right away. :)

teflonjedi said...

This is a year to pluck a place from my "top places I want to go" list, something big and very special.

I am curious, what else is on that list?

I am a big travel nut myself, but can't offer any support in this case because I've never been to South America.