During our kids' spring break, we headed off to Peru for a week to explore one of the 7 wonders of the world and get in a little bit of service as well.
Arriving late in Lima from Atlanta, Georgia, we spent a luxurious night at the Radisson. That was the last of luxury, as we (Diane, Mike (husband), Jazzy (daughter, 19), Jackson (son, 17), Zac (son, 16) and Eli (son, 14)) headed off to the top of the world -- Cusco. The rest of our nights were spent at hostels and living like the locals. Perched high in the Andean mountains at an elevation of 11,200, the altitude of Cusco takes a bit getting used to. Luckily, altitude sickness was very mild as we explored the town, munched on coco leaves to curb the effects of the altitude, found some wonderful restaurants along the cobble streets and did a bit of shopping.
From Cusco, we hired a private car to tour us through the Sacred Valley. Breathtaking views, a stop to pet the llamas, and exploring the mountainside and valley for a few hours before catching a train at Ollantaytambo. The train ride (about another two hours) brought us into Agua Calientes late at night just in time to catch a few winks before rising at the crack of dawn to start the bus ride up to Macchu Pichhu.
Macchu Picchu is nothing short of stunning and amazing. It is a 15th century Incan site sitting high on a ridge between the Huayna Picchu and Macchu Picchu mountains. The site covers about 80,000 acres including terraced fields on the edge of the site which allowed the Incans to farm up the mountain side. In addition to exploring the ruins, the family climbed the steep Machu Picchu mountain for some exercise and stunning views!
After returning to Cusco and flying back to Lima,we spent 3 days in the Puente Piedra district of Lima volunteering. We stayed in a flat run by some Catholic sisters who lived next door at a convent. We got a rare glimpse of Lima as we ventured deep into some of the poorest districts in Lima, worked in community centers, visited a preschool and volunteered at a school for orphans/foster children.