Foreign Faces: Peru
One of our favorite parts of traveling is meeting incredible people from around the world and getting to learn about their lives through their stories. Lucky for us, Peru did not disappoint in this regard, and in many ways, it over delivered. As a result, we’ve decided to start a mini-series within Nomad Fuel called “Foreign Faces” in which we’ll share some of the most memorable stories, exchanges and encounters from the people we meet throughout our travels. Without further ado, here is a glimpse into our month in Peru through our favorite Foreign Faces. We hope you enjoy “meeting” them as much as we did.
We met Jamie around 1:00 am in a 24 hour café in Lima’s airport the first night we were in Peru. Like us, Jamie had an early flight the next morning and chose to rough it in the airport instead of dealing with hotels and roundtrip taxi fares for just a few hours of sleep. Originally from the US, Jamie is a psychiatrist in Vancouver and was visiting Peru for a Ayahuasca retreat. A ten-year veteran of the practice, Jamie had a lot to share about the rituals, his research on microdosing with hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and what life was like living in a country after moving away from the States. His marriage and his wife’s decision to not attend the retreat was also a gentle reminder that you don’t have to enjoy or participate in everything your partner does in order to fully support them.
Another American, we met Kevin at our hostel in Aguas Calientes. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kevin had also come from Cusco to Aguas Calientes to hike Machu Picchu the next morning. The only difference was that instead of taking the train, Kevin had trekked along the roads and railroad tracks for two or three days to get there! Even without the added altitude factor we were both impressed by the mindset it must have taken to even consider taking that route.
Sam and Chris
Sam and Chris are the Australians we mentioned in our Machu Picchu post. A few years older than us, they’d both been traveling together and separately for a few months by the time we met them. Decked in secondhand clothes from head to toe, the pair was a never-ending stream of party stories, documentary suggestions and travel recommendations. Among their most noteworthy shenanigans were the time their clothes froze to the post outside the glacial hot springs in Panchetta (the spelling seems to be impossible to confirm) and basically every story that came out of their hostel in Indonesia off of Bali called the Gili Castle.
A Brit living in Dubai, we spent the better part of a day with Matt after meeting him in a less than traditional yoga class in Cusco. The three of us went to the local market with the instructor where we enjoyed incredible vegan platters with lentil burgers, rice, falafel, pureed papas, soup and aji sauces. Afterwards we roamed the artistic district of Cusco before stumbling upon the Cristo Blanco statue (slightly smaller version of the Christ The Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro) an ancient Incan site called Saksaywaman and an impromptu horseback tour overlooking Cusco and other Incan temples. Throughout the day, Matt told us about his experience in the corporate world and how it had eventually driven him to quit, travel the world for the previous 5 months and search for a career he could build on his own terms. In many ways, his experience reminded me of my own with engineering. His insight on Dubai also shed more light on what it’s like to live in a culture completely different than the one you grew up in.
Steve and Saya
Steve and Saya are an Australian, Japanese couple who introduced themselves during that amazing vegan meal we were just talking about. They overheard us discussing plans to visit Japan and felt obliged to give us the locals’ must sees and eats. Well-traveled to say the least, the couple had worked in hospitality and were 7 and a half months (“those two weeks matter”) into a yearlong journey around the world. We quickly learned that they had plenty to share about Peru and some of the other destinations on our ever-changing itinerary. They’ve also got an overwhelmingly under appreciated Instagram feed that they post to regularly.
We met Chicho through our work with Hands on Peru. He dates one of their cofounders, Katie, and cooked arguably the best meal we had in Peru (Lomo saltado with peanuts and vegetable fried rice with quail eggs and apples). Since Chicho doesn’t speak much English, he led most of our conversations in Spanish and there were definitely a few moments that were lost in translation. One thing that wasn’t hard to understand was that he’s one of the most passionate photographers I’ve ever been around and was constantly looking for people, places and animals to shoot. This hyper focus often caused him to block out and forget about other things going on (that’s a whole other story), but it’s also the reason his work had been featured in outdoor magazines and taken him all around South America. You could tell he truly knew what gave him joy in life.
It was also incredible to see how much joy he had despite what he’d been through. Just a few months earlier, his entire home, camera equipment and studio were destroyed by the flooding in Peru. He lost his entire livelihood and was reduced to borrowing and renting photography gear until he can save up for a new camera. Despite this tragedy, he was still so grateful for what he had and that the floods had actually led him to Katie. Perspective is a powerful thing.
Sofia is a social media intern at WindAid Institute who also volunteered with us in the workshop (She also helped design our logo so let us know if you need some work done and we can put you in touch). Originally from Spain, Sofia had just finished up her masters in Denmark was also kicking off a few months of travel with this volunteering stint. Well-traveled and a hobbyist photographer, we often talked with her about the various countries we’d all been to and the peculiarities we all experienced in Peru. We also explored quite a bit with during our weekend trips to places like Huaraz and Puerto Chicama.
A few years older than us, Ryan is currently the volunteer coordinator at WindAid. Although he’s from the US, Ryan is fluent in Spanish because of a 2 year Mormon mission trip to El Salvador. Somewhat introverted, Ryan and I still connected quite a bit during our time with WindAid. Aside from helping us learn how to weld, Ryan was sort of our local guide in Trujillo since he’d already been there for a few months and showed me where to get cheap hamburgers and the finest Peruvian treats (we’re both addicted to Sublime chocolate bars now). Two points that are also worth pointing out are his incredible collection of Ninja Turtles attire and the fact that he’s the first person I’ve met with overwhelming success with investing in cryptocurrencies.
Last but not least is Eduardo. We met this Rastafarian Peruvian (hard to image, we know) in Puerto Chicama, a surfing town that’s home to the world’s longest left wave, on one of our last days in Peru. After we checked out the beach, he gave one of our friends who forgot money a free meal and spent quite a bit of time talking with all of us about music, spirituality and the energy of the world. He then went into Tai Chi demonstrations and played the Cajon for us. As bizarre as the whole exchange was, it was one of those moments that we’ll never forget. In many ways, it was great to see how much spirituality can positively affect someone’s life, even if it doesn’t have the same effect on us. We also got to enjoy some videos of his friend/coworker’s dog that can surf and skateboard.
So there you are, our first installment of Foreign Faces. We’ll probably play around with the format and execution of this series each time we post, so please leave a comment with any feedback you might have regarding what you liked and how we can improve the next one.