Thanks to Mountain Equipment Co-op’s trip partners listing, Kirsten found nine women who happily left their boyfriends, partners, pets, families, a tuba, and one imaginary tortoise at home to go mountain biking for 17 days in Peru.
This mercury-mad adventure started in Lima, then headed down the Pacific coast to Nasca for sand boarding on the highest dunes in the world, a flight over the mysterious Nasca Lines and some accidental handling of 2000-year-old human remains.
Then over to Arequipa, up Misti Volcano, down into the Colca Canyon (where they ended up surprise guests inside a bullring with ten bulls and no matador. (Oh, he was there but he was boozing it up outside the bullring.)
Then they gasped and barfed their way up to Puno, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, through the Sacred valley of the Incas, Santa Maria Jungle, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu, through cloud forests and all the while frequently sampling the leaves of coca plantations.
Here’s the itinerary that their guide, Saul Ceron, designed for his favourite “chicas” at his Peruvian company Peru Adventures Tours.
Kirsten arrived home in Canada after an exhausting 3-week back-road trip through the Peruvian Andes and desert to discover an ATM in Lima continuing to make withdrawals from her bank account days after getting home.
Back to Peru!
Being a tiny bit of a risk-taker, Kirsten travelled to Peru for a second time with online strangers. Joining her was Geeta Nadkarni (you may know of Geeta from Montreal’s CBC News at Six, or from her radio column) and also Geeta’s sister, Namrata, from the UK.
Namrata is an editor for SeaTrade Magazine (by the way, Geeta calls Namu “Boy” and now Kirsten knows why — it’s a Tarzan thing — and not because Namu screams like a boy when sandboarding. Watch it and hear it to believe it — Kirsten’s 19-second video clip of Namu screaming down a dune in Haucachina Peru).
Speaking of boys, the girls had been looking for a 4th muchacha to join them but ended up saying “si” to a muchacho. Josef Seywerd is the director of Chilliwack Search & Rescue and is a school librarian (yup, it’s a Clark Kent/Superman kind of thing).
While, Kirsten hadn’t met any of her trip partners before, Geeta had written a very funny review of Kirsten’s book Lost in Moscow a couple of years previously.
On arrival at Lima’s airport, they rented “Christine”, a small Suzuki Jimmy with a psychotic alarm and Boston Strangler seatbelts. They immediately escaped Lima’s entanglement of writhing traffic and headed straight up (15,800 feet above sea level — way up) and over the Andes for ten days, finally arriving in Ollantaytambo, located between Cusco and Machu Picchu, where they stayed in welcomed serenity at the newly opened Apu Lodge.
There, in the Central Highlands they test drove a Mother Earth and Goliger’sTravel, Voluntourism-tour and swilled some chicha with Aly Ponce de Leon (it was not the chicha made from spit). They also tucked into Peru’s “other” national dish, cuy (guinea pig) that was marinated for days at Aly’s mom’s house.
From Ollantaytambo it was west to Nazca (gotta love that hooky pooky Nazca link) to see a lady about some mummies, then back north up the coast to Lima.
I was going through my filing cabinet and in it are hundreds and hundreds of travel stories that were written by writers from around the world and entered into a competition that I ran for a responsible tourism organization in the UK. There’s some beautiful and finely crafted writing in that drawer but I knew when I received those pieces that the judging panel (editors, authors, journalists and travel writers) would dismiss them because they were missing a key ingredient that an editor is looking for when they select a story for a book, anthology, or as a competition winner.
And I know some writers who entered the competition were hurt because rejections suck (I know—I’m a writer) and some writers became angry and I received the angry and confused emails.
If you’re a writer (creative non-fiction or fiction) you can save yourself a lot of unnecessary pain and wasted time by spending time with Lavinia Spalding, a publishing house editor, this summer.
Details and Prices: http://www.kirstenkoza.com/expeditions/ Cell phone users: http://kirstenkoza.tumblr.com/post/49113305221/writers-expedition-southern-peru-aug-2-15
And just because it is highly amusing. Here’s my favourite book rejection scene of all time from Black Books.
The Coca Kings (as I call them) in my above photo are shamans. I drank chicha and chewed coca with them for hours and regret not buying one of their hats, but I was feeling kind of out of it by the end of the day.
By Kirsten Koza