“You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”
May 25th, 2010
I made a simple post on Facebook. It was a group of pictures, all of which were of the beautiful and magical Machupicchu.
That post only had one comment. It was my own. It read…”Machupicchu… I WILL go here one day.” It was at that point i set the goal. The goal of seeing that unbelievable wonder for myself, in person. I immediately started checking prices with travel agencies, and for hours I looked for one I could afford. Information on making the trek yourself was confusing, and I was discouraged. There was no way I could afford the trip at that point in time, and I was not confident I could pull it off without a travel agencies help.
I gave up and put that journey in the back of my mind for a later time….
Fast forward to May 10th, 2017, and I’m in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with just a backpack and my lovely girlfriend in the seat beside me. We are about to spend 11 days backpacking in a country we’ve never been to, on a budget that most people would laugh at. We’re taking “the back way” to Machupicchu.
Sitting in the terminal, staring out a giant pane of glass at a Delta 767, it finally hits me. We are going to Peru. We are going to Machupicchu. What the hell are we doing?! The many months of planning and stressing over every little detail has come to an end. Countless hours of reading and jotting down notes, searching for hotels and hostels, figuring out what tickets need to be bought and when to buy them, and being confused more than once… that’s all over. It’s time to put our plan in to motion.
Sitting in front of me is the backpack I bought a year earlier. It is stuffed with only what I had deemed necessary for backpacking in a foreign country for 11 days. Nothing else. By this point, this pack has been packed and unpacked, and repacked approx. 7,894 times, each time with the same gear. I lost count on how many times I dumped it all out on my bed and started over, repacking and checking things off my list. Again and again I repeated this process. The week leading up to our departure date, I did this every single day. Excessive i know, but I like to be prepared. My girlfriend has her own pack, stuffed with a similar amount of gear, and by this time, she has performed the same ritual as many times as I have.
We arrived at the terminal about 3 hours too early. The airports fault, not ours. Earlier that day, we had checked the their website for any delays or other information. It told us that anyone on an international flight should arrive several hours early to get through all of the security procedures. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 5:38pm. We were dropped off at the terminal around 2. The extremely long time they claimed it would take to get through security actually took about 10 minutes. Needless to say, we had a lot of time to kill, and when you are as excited as we were, time seems to drag on forever. After spending more time in the gift shop than any human ever should, we headed to our gate to sit and wait. And wait. And wait some more. Those who know me personally know that I have a hard time sitting still and waiting patiently, so this seemed like the longest three hours of my life. Parked directly in front of us is the 767 that will be taking us to Lima, Peru, and dropping us off in the middle of the night.
It is interesting to watch just how many people it takes to service a commercial airliner and get it ready for another long flight. In the back of my mind I am hoping these guys aren’t slacking on the job today. Then I start to look around at all the people who will be joining us on this flight and hope and pray that no one does anything stupid and gets this plane delayed. Too much time waiting makes the mind think too much.
A little bit after 5pm they announce that we would start boarding, so we grabbed our packs and got in line. We show our boarding passes and passports and head down the corridor to the plane where we are greeted by the smiling attendants. They point us in the right direction, and we take our seats. I must say that I was glad i’m not over 5’8″. In economy class, there is much to be desired in the legroom area! On Delta 767s, there are screens on the backs of the seats that display the flight path of the plane and your approximate location, altitude, speed, and outside air temps, as well as movies and tv shows. I’m not one to watch a lot of tv, so staring out the window would be my entertainment.
It is a 7.5 hour flight to Lima, and a 5 hour layover until our next flight to Cusco. From there, we will be hitching a ride to the small town of Ollantaytambo, which takes about two hours. By the time we get there, we will have been awake 27 hours. With that in mind, I tried to settle into my window seat and rest as much as possible.
And its at this point I should probably mention…This was my first time on a commercial flight.
To be continued…