I’ll admit I’m lucky. The good kind of lucky. I have bad luck too, but it seems last year was a time for plenty of good luck. Actually, I tend not to think of luck in terms of good and bad, because that would dictate I know the future and if a particular action will result in favorable results. But I digress.
I was lucky enough to win a tour with G Adventures in Peru thanks to going to a Meet, Plan Go! meeting the year before. It was the top prize and included a 10 day classic tour of Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Amazon rainforest along the Tambopata River.
The funny thing is I had already visited Peru, and performed this exact itinerary in reverse, in 2008 on my own accord and without a guided tour. Why would I even enter a contest that takes me back to a place I have already visited? I mean, after all, isn’t Machu Picchu supposed to be a “Once-In-A-Lifetime” experience? I could unbalance the whole space-time continuum if I saw it again, potentially.
In the face of such cataclysmic risk, I went any way. And I’m very glad I did. You see, an entire country like Peru can not be ‘seen’ or ‘done’ in one visit. Now one lifetime. Not even Lima, a much smaller subset of Peru, can be done as such. Granularly speaking, it’s because of constant change that I wanted to go back.
I wanted to see what was new. Even at Machu Picchu there were tarps that showed up in my first images that would now be gone. The weather would be different. The people would be different. I’d be riding a train this time (in first class too!) instead of trekking the Inca Trail. And I’d get to go with a friend time.
In the end, arriving back home to Seattle on the last of three flights that left Lima at a bit past midnight, I am ultimately happy that I returned and took this tour. Returning to the ‘same’ (big quotes here as nothing is ever the same after three years) place provided me with some important differences I never would have experienced had I only visited once.
Below I list some of the reasons I’m glad I went back to the same location three years later. I know there is far more in this world to see than I will ever get a chance to experience in one lifetime, but if by chance you are offered an opportunity to return to a distant land for a second time, I hope these reasons will help you decide it likely will be worth your time.
- New People – I met a whole passel of new folks this time around, from varied and distant lands themselves. None of them were here the last time, even the guides I met. I even got a chance to try out some of my horrible Swedish language skills on a few of the travelers this time around. New guides. New hosts. New everyone.
- New Sites– This time around I spent more time in Lima, six days instead of one and a half. I saw more of the historic district and Miraflores. I walked the beach (as rocky as it is) and visited Christ (he’s on a hill and a lot easier to find than you may think as he turns blue at night). I ate in different places (one of which was TGIFriday’s for Thanksgiving dinner. Classy. That’s me). I also walked areas of Cusco I had not visited as I was more timid last time. Heck, I even walked up to a different Christ while there.
- That Familiar Feeling – This was something I didn’t’ realize I’d like so much. I knew where stuff was. I knew how to get around Cusco. I knew which river fed which river in the jungle. I knew how hot it was going to be getting off the plane in Puerto Maldonado (answer: soak-your-shirt hot). I knew my way around Machu Picchu and where I wanted to go for the pictures I would take. That part was cool.
- I Got To Avoid Crowds At Machu Picchu – Yes, there are places with no crowds at Machu Picchu. While everyone else was busy following our guide after entering the city, I headed up hill to take some photos. I wanted to take some time-lapse images and had a spot in mind I found on the last trip. It’s a spot on the Inca Trail and after the trekkers passed by from their early morning start to visit the city, and before the tourists downhill started making their way up after they spent 3-4 hours listening to their guides teach them about the city, I had time and space by myself. At once point, I saw no one for 30 minutes. It was heaven.
- I Got To Play More – As I had seen things in most of the locations, I got to be more curious and take my time when I wanted to. I wasn’t struck with the “I must see it all…NOW” feeling that often comes with thinking you will not return to a location. I wandered into the jungle and took pictures of leafcutter ants because it struck my fancy. I met a travel writer who happened to be in town because I had the time.
- New Experiences – I fished for meat eating piranhas. I witnessed a sunset from 120’ in the air and above the tropical canopy of the Amazon Jungle. I ate in new restaurants. I touched the Pacific Ocean from that side of the Southern hemisphere. I spoke more Spanish. I visited different Inca ruins. I had a picture of Robin Hood making out with some damsel, above my bed. You know, the life giving experiences we seek.
- I Had Better Weather For Pictures – This was a big one. See those pictures at the top? The one with better light and blue skies is from this last trip. Gray clouds? My “Once-In-A-Lifetime” trip.
There are more reasons to consider going back to a place you’ve visited before and we all have personal ones, often. I am very glad I made it back to Peru for another visit. Would I go back if someone offered me another free trip?
In a heartbeat.