,So this is Peru.’
I thought to myself sleepily looking out of the window of a bus.
Entering the 5th country of my trip, I could barely keep my eyes opened. Crossing borders became a part of the routine and even though it normally used to speed up my level of adrenaline, now it became more of an administrative “pain in the ass”. I was making my way to Mancora, a little coast town in the north of Peru, having nothing ready, apart from the name of the hostel where I wanted to stay. After I got dropped in the center of the city, I jumped into the car of the first taxi driver who was willing to carry my backpack. As a direction to the hostel, I instructed “Loki”, which brought to the driver´s face a larky grin.
“Lokiiiii, hahaaaaa… a party girl, huh?”
I choked. Could it be as “bad” as everyone says?
,A little, dusty countryside.´ Coming back in mind to my first moments in Peru, I smile subtly, knowing how innocent I was, thinking that Peru would be a nice, calm and well-behaved solo trip. The truth was that the next 30 days became one of the most passionate, wild, fun and beautiful periods of my life. Here I bring the insight why.
1) Party like a Loki – or how to loose a sense of yourselves quickly and easily
You, the people who know me, know that I have always been a good girl. No smoking. No drugs. Not drinking too much. No unnecessary flirting with strangers. A good student.
Well, I can tell you, the most of that was gone from the first day I came into Loki. Liberated by the free-spirit and open-minded atmosphere of south-American countries, I headed to this infamously famous party hostel without any reservation, hoping that some „accidental sold-out“ would save myself from the worst. (Un)fortunately, there was a free bed for me.
„Loki-loki-loki, oi-oi-oi!“ Splaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaash…. That was the first thing I heard when I walked into the pool area.
„Heeeeeeeeeeey, babe! Where are you rushing?!“ asked a sexy, sun-tanned boy with a beer in his hand. „Wanna have a drink?“
I modestly thanked and rushed away. Then he stopped me, asking where I was from.
„Slovakia.” I answered.
„Slovakia!!! Oh-my-god! You are the first Slovakian I have ever met!“ Started shouting a Londoner at the bar, buying me a drink instantly.
From my first beer to the very last one, I have become a different “me”. This Natalia was painting her whole body for a pirate night, dancing Makarena on the bar, playing (and winning) beer pong games, swimming naked in the sea and dancing lovely and passionate salsa with an Israeli boy at the hostel’s balcony.
„What Loki-Natalia does, the real Natalia doesn’t know.” I comforted my again-well-behaved “me” every morning after party.
2) Fighting exotic disease – or was it just a flu?
So it goes without saying that my first 2 nights in Peru were more than amazing. However, since every coin has two sides, on the third day of my stay in Mancora, I almost died. I woke up with a dizzy feeling, which I considered to be an impact of the wild and long nights, however, by 3pm I could barely walk. Already checked out, I spent the day lying on the couch at reception, shaking from the cold and fighting the fever. The same night, I was supposed to take another night bus to Trujillo, 9 hours over the night. Doped with analgetics, I took the challenge and tried to survive the night.
Thankfully, the cause of my sickness turned out to be just some kind of a virus and not an exotical disease, and so after three days in Trujillo spent lying in the bed, I recovered enough to hike one of the most beautiful places in the world – Huaraz. And I can tell you, even all the deathly viruses in this world would not stop me from doing it.
3) Huaraz and how I met my personal guard angel
My first meeting with Huaraz was indeed very emotional. The mountainous Peruvian town, full of indigenous people and art vendors, was almost straight to the ground by a huge earthquake in 1971, which destroyed 80% of the city and killed more than 20 000 people. The streets and buildings were still either destroyed or recently reconstructed, as locals were putting the town back on its feet step by step for 45 years now.
However, once we rocked up the mountains, my whole existence was left in awe. Snowy peaks, green grass, pure water in rivers and wild horses running around freely, brought Huaraz to the top of the list of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. See yourself!
4) Trip to Cusco and altitude messing up with me
On my 3rd day in Lima, I hit the road again to visit a beautiful Cusco, a cultural center of Peru. I spent 24 hours on a bus with a snoring man, crying baby, and an elderly man randomly singing aloud Spanish songs, ascending rapidly to the heights of 3500 m above sea.
Already used from Huaraz, I knew the changes of altitude could make a real chaos in one’s life. However, struggling with dizziness and headaches before, this time I felt surprisingly healthy and fit. Or least I thought so.
On my second night in Cusco, I woke up to a weird feeling that my bed was shaking. Experiencing this before, I was very sure that what was going on was an earthquake. I stayed still in my bed, scared, waiting for the moment to pass. After 15 seconds, the quaking was over, I thanked god and went back to sleep.
At 6 am the same night, I woke up to the same feeling, just stronger and more terrifying. I rushed down to the bed, quickly put on my shoes and run out to the garden in order to find a safe place to stay. However, what I saw surprised me. In the garden, the people were sitting on the bench, talking eagerly and sipping mate de coca with a smile on their face. I stopped for a second and wondered if I should tell them there is an earthquake going on and they might want to find a safe place to hide. Then I looked attentively at the subjects around me, realizing apart from me, nothing around was moving. There was no earthquake, or at least not beyond the space of my body. My heart was racing and hands were trembling . What was actually happening was probably just the altitude pulling my leg.
5) Machu Picchu – A tourist wonderland
If I should name one thing which makes my friends and relatives in Slovakia jealous, it would totally be Machu Picchu. I don’t have to say, I myself was very excited and on the third day in Cusco I went for a 2-day hiking trip to Machu Picchu. Being the cheapest deal for 65 USD, we had to walk first 10 km from Hydroeléctrico to Aguas Calientes, a little village connecting the world with Machu Picchu, and then the next day another one hour up the steep hill from the village to Machu Picchu itself.
However, my expectations gone disappointed once I saw the 50m long line at the gate to Machu Picchu. Hundreds and hundreds of people waiting in the front like if it was not an ancient sacred place, but 75% sales in a shopping mall.
Being always “not-a-tourist” person, I was initially disappointed, but my grumpiness was all gone once we have climbed up the insane 2000 stairs and saw the puzzling beauty of the place. People say Machu Picchu has got an energy that everyone can feel, but no one can describe. I totally agree. As an ancient Inka’s city abandoned suddenly by its inhabitants hundreds of years ago, Machu Picchu really does present one of the greatest mysteries in the history of this world.
6) Done with hiking! – Arequipaaaaaaa
In the very end of my trip, we headed to Wild Rover hostel in Arequipa, the equivalence of Loki hostels in Peru, aiming to enjoy the last few days of our trip to the fullest. However, in a little town called Arequipa, around the pool and by the bar, I experienced the most bittersweet moments of my whole trip.
Crying from broken heart one moment and dancing salsa and laughing the next, I have found the value of friendship when a bunch of my homies from all around the world* were keeping my head up while the circumstances were pulling me down. Here I have grown the strongest I have ever been, partly thanks to the resistance and force I raised in me along with the experience from my trip.
Or who am I kidding – I had a Jesus to help me!
These days I am spending in the house of my friend Fernando, getting ready to go home, absorbing every single moment that happened on this journey, evaluating the good and the bad and wondering whether my initial expectations met the reality.
For now, I only can tell you, this Natalia whose article you read is a completely different person than the Natalia that boarded the plane in Prague on 8/2/2016. How? When? What happened?
Stay tuned 😉
*special THANKS goes to my amazing dutchie friend Anne, Canadian Jesus and Israelian Hezi and Omer 🙂 You da best xx