On our last day, before we said goodbye to Peru, we once again had some memorable, unexpected experiences. We were stunned to awake to snowy weather, as the day before on Lake Titicaca had been glorious. In fact, people had been applying sunscreen. In spite of the weather, the True Blue Duke Crew in Peru (TBDCP) had a grand time, visiting a local market in Puno, where we were able to fully observe the way that the local residents shop for groceries and staples. The abundance of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and cheese were overwhelming. It's important to note that at least one of the members of our group had worn shorts in anticipation of another sunny day; however, she quickly realized in the market that the locals were calling her a "crazy American" and she decided to buy leg warmers.
From the market, we boarded a bus to a housing "compound" outside the city. Neat and well-mainitained, the houses were made of stone and had stone floors. Beyond that, these houses were more like huts and provided us another opportunity to admire the simplicity of life for many Peruvians. We enjoyed taking pictures of the alpacas and llamas in the front yard, as it continued to rain and snow.
Our next stop was Sillustani, the site of burial towers overlooking Lake Umayo. We heard an informative lecture about these "chullpas," and some of us climbed to get a closer look. I didn't stay very long at the top, as the snow and wind got more intense. It was hard to understand how it could be so cold, when just the day before the weather had been delightful. We all agreed that we had been so very lucky with the weather throughout our time in Peru, as this was the first day we were a bit affected by the elements.
As we left Sillustani, we all realized that this wonderful trip and our incredible time together was about to come to and end. We boarded a bus to the airport in Juliaca; this city is still creepy in the day time. We had a bit of a delay at the airport, but it didn't matter. In this very small airport with only one gate, members of the TBDCP were still able to shop, spending their last remaining solas.
We travelled from Juiaca to Lima, where 16 members of the group boarded a plane to Miami, while the remaining 9 prepared to spend 4 more days in Peru in the rainforest of the Amazon.
At this point, as I make my way back to Duke and Durham, all I can say is WOW! It was such an honor and a privilege to be allowed to be a part of this incredible "Treasures of Peru" trip, particularly with these 24 Duke alums/friends and with Victor, our tour director. I highly recommend that you consider taking this trip - you will not regret it. I just hope that when you do go, your travel companions are as remarkable as the TBDCP. As awesome as Machu Picchu and rest of Peru was, nothing compares to spirit and positive energy represented by this group of Dukies.
FOREVER DUKE and GO DUKE!