I have always wanted to visit Machu Picchu. About 10 years ago, my parents were Mission President in Bolivia. I went down to visit them for a month and planned on taking a "small" side trip to Peru to see Machu Picchu (hereafter referred to as MP). At the time, my dad said I didn't have the money for something like that - which was true - and crushed my dream. I felt it was such a waste of being relatively close and not being able to take advantage of the situation.
With my job at Qatar University, I am able to request funding to attend or present at various conferences throughout the world. I found a couple conferences that I could submit a proposal to, and then got accepted to and received funding for Peru TESOL. I managed to schedule my travels so that I could do a whirlwind trip to MP.
This was in the middle of the summer break, so what would Lindsay & Leoni do while I was away? I wanted them to come with me, but that just wasn't a practical option this time. So much of our summer was dedicated to balancing time with both of our families, it was difficult to figure out when we could visit Lindsay's grandpa in California or her aunt and cousin in Utah (since time in Utah was mostly dedicated to my family). We decided that this would be a good time for Grandpa Tubbs and Aunt TTT.
Shortly before my flight, L&L flew down to California. Lindsay's mom drove down and those three generations of ladies spent a few days with Doug (the fourth generation of that picture) in/around Fullerton. Then, L&L flew back up to Utah and spent the weekend with TTT and Emery.
In the meantime, I arrived in Cusco, Peru, on a Tuesday, and spent the day wandering around the city. I left early the next morning to take the only means of motorized transportation from Cusco to MP: about a 4-hour train. Some people backpack a few days along the Incan Trail to get there. The train goes all the way to a little town - Aguas Calientes - at the river's edge below MP. However, I got off the train about an hour early to hike along the Incan Trail the rest of the way, with my guide.
I hiked up (about 500m) and along the mountain for about 8 hours (only expecting a couple hours) visiting a few different Incan sites until we (my guide & I) arrived at Intipunku (the Sun Gate) overlooking MP. By that time, it was approaching sunset. We descended down to a bus which drove down a series of switchbacks to Aguas Calientes to stay the night.
The next morning, we got on a bus to go back up to MP with my guide. We went all over the site to see and learn about the incredible work of the Incas. There is one section that you can hike up to to overlook MP, but this involved getting up extra early to wait in line to get a permit. I enjoyed sleeping longer.
After a few hours at MP, my guide returned to Cusco and I wandered around Aguas Calientes until my departure back to Cusco on the train. I wandered around Cusco a little the next morning and then left for Arequipa that afternoon. My conference was great, especially because of some the people I met there.
I felt a little guilty going without Lindsay, but she reassured me by saying that we may never have the opportunity to go as a couple or family and I should take the opportunity. After visiting, I am very determined to make sure that Lindsay also has the opportunity to go some day.