Travel itineraries and how I don't have to be you

March 27th, 2014, 4pm

When I come home from any trip, what I hold close to my heart — more than the memories of sites and having checked items off a bucket list — are the people and random experiences that go with them.

I was in Peru for three and a half weeks and didn’t go to Macchu Picchu. That’s right. I went all the way down to Peru and didn’t go to the one place that everyone has on their 100 Things To Do Before I Die lists… And for some reason, this turned out to be a point of anger for both friends and strangers who wanted me to copy their itinerary and do EXACTLY WHAT THEY DID. “What? Why didn’t you go? You should really go. It’s the reason I fell in love with Peru! It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life. IN MY LIFE!” [stranger proceeds to grab me by the shoulders and shake]

I stood my ground, though. I made lame excuses, like how I get sick in high altitudes quite rapidly and how hiking along cliff sides makes me collapse with vertigo — both of which are completely, 100% true. But the main reason I didn’t go to Macchu Picchu? I was just searching for something else, those intangibles that I can’t replicate with another postcard shot. I wanted my private time in the Amazon. I wanted to be in an area where I could choose to stay away from a line of your buses. I wanted to practise my lousy Spanish with people who would give me a chance. And I wanted to stay put in a city, get to know it, and relax rather than wake up at 6am and worry about catching another damn plane.

In this time, I made great new friends and heartwarming memories in the process. I’m not saying this couldn’t have happened in Cusco or whatever land I should’ve visited, but I had my own personal journey, and let me tell you: it sure was lovely.

So dearest strangers and friends, aside from the daunting task of going through 3,000 photos (none of Macchu Picchu), Peru still recharged me in my own spiritual way and gave me everything I needed. And I, too, have returned in love with it, despite only getting a small, micro-level taste. And maybe next time I’ll do your trip… if perhaps you can do mine. It’d be my pleasure to shake your shoulders, too.

erin, Vivien, misseu, Christine and 5 others said thanks.

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Connie Tsang

Toronto-based event + conference photographer, lover of words, consumer of interesting things.

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