It all started 28 years ago in Berwick, Nova Scotia. Where’s that, right? Well, it was the closest town in the valley that had a hospital. We really lived in Kingston, Nova Scotia. When I was 3 years old, my dad got posted to Kingston, Ontario and that’s where I grew up.
My family would drive back to Nova Scotia almost every year to visit family and besides a few trips to Florida we didn’t travel many other places. But I always enjoyed every trip, even if it was just for a day to a new city nearby.
I always had that itch to travel and see the world, I knew I had to do it.
As I was looking for something to do abroad for a gap year, I came across a volunteer program in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru. And that was it.
I had never even considered going to South America. Why not?! Seriously, there was this whole continent that seemed to be completely ignored, at least in my head.
So I bought my ticket and spent my 19th birthday in Cusco, Peru. It was a pretty quick trip, with 2 weeks learning Spanish in Cusco, 2 weeks volunteering at the reserve and then I did the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. Even though I only spent 5 weeks in Peru that time, I knew I’d be back eventually; Cusco felt like a second home.
Unfortunately I lost almost all of my pictures from that trip, but here’s a couple of poor quality ones for you.
A Long Break From Peru
I returned from Peru in August 2006 only to promptly start university at McGill 5 days later. Coming home was hard and I almost “missed” my flight home. I wasn’t ready to start university. But we had paid a lot of money and everything was about to start. I had to go.
Every year of university I wanted to take the next year off and go travel. But I never actually did.
I met someone, fell in love, started to have that perfect comfortable cookie-cutter life that everyone seemed to want. I had the perfect boyfriend, he had an amazing job, we lived well. I have a great family who supports me. What more could I want? The proverbial white picket fence and everything that came with it was coming for me fast.
Well it just didn’t sit right with me, I needed something different. I felt super uncomfortable with how life was going. What was I doing, what about my need to travel?
I ended things with him after almost six years and finished my semester of school.
I was searching for flights to South America to see how much money I’d need to start saving. I didn’t really care where I went I just wanted to go. I tried so many different combinations of departure and arrival cities. Living in Toronto at the time I could take a bus and depart from many other cities.
And then there it was, the cheapest flight I had ever seen in my days of searching. It was unbelievable.
The flight was New York City to Lima, Peru for just $300, tax included! How could I not buy that right? I didn’t really have enough money saved yet, but I couldn’t resist. I was all set to leave on August 7, 2013.
I was somewhat hoping to go to a new country, but Peru was good enough. I hadn’t seen enough of the country the first time I went, so hey, why not go 7 years later and see how the country had changed.
With less than 3 months to save up some money with my minimum wage job, I was a little nervous at first about what I was going to do for money. But hey, I just wanted to travel and I would make it work.
I figured I would spend one month in Peru, then head south and do one month in Chile, then return to Canada for Thanksgiving.
Boy, did things turn out differently!
Slow Travel Through Peru
A close friend was already in Peru, so my one and only plan was to go wherever she was in the country and hang out with her before she went back to Canada. She was in Huanchaco, a small surfers town just outside of Trujillo in northern Peru.
I hadn’t been to the north of Peru, so it was a perfect place to start my adventure. The people I met in Huanchaco were amazing and it led to a pretty interesting next adventure.
Some friends wanted to go to Huaraz to hike, so I joined them. Huaraz is absolutely stunning if you like mountains (who doesn’t like mountains…) From there I took a 32-hour bus to Cusco, but only for a month because I promised a man in Huanchaco I would return on October 1, 2013 to go with him to the jungle to take care of his other house while he was away.
Cusco turned out to be super, as always, but it’s when my life really began to change. I wasn’t ready to leave Cusco, but I told the man I’d go to the jungle of Tarapoto to take care of his house. Again, I knew I’d be back to Cusco.
I spent 2.5 months there in a little village about 30-minutes away from Tarapoto. The people there are super amazing and I’ll never forget the smiling faces of all my kids there. Every day I would play with the kids and learn about the jungle life and all the plants there from the locals. No one spoke a word of English there so my Spanish improved greatly.
In January 2014 I returned to Lima to meet up with my future husband, Camilo. We had met in Cusco when we were both working at a hostel called Let’s Go Bananas. He had invited me to go with him to visit his grandmother in a tiny village in the mountains of Huancavelica, 2 hours from the closest city. The landscape there is stunning, there’s painted mountains everywhere with desert plants.
My parents came to visit me in Peru while Camilo stayed in Lima to visit with his family. It was great getting to see my parents in Peru and having them see what I was up to here. I think they really enjoyed seeing the country from my point of view, even though we did more touristy things than I would ever sign up for. It was a lot of fun.
When my parents left Peru, I stayed in Cusco to live with Camilo for the rest of my time in Peru. In April 2014 I was forced to leave Peru because of my lack of money and I had maxed out my visas.
Moving To Peru
After Camilo and I spent so much time together in Cusco, we knew we had something great going on. It was a short but fast romance and when I went back to Canada we decided to tie the knot. He was denied a visitor’s visa to come to Canada, which fortified our love. I flew back to Peru to get married in Lima in November 2014.
My parents came down for the wedding and got to meet Camilo’s family. The wedding was small, but really nice. I returned to Canada once again to start a new job. The job was great. I was super lucky to land it and it was the kind of job you don’t turn down. After working there for 5 months with very little time off to go visit Camilo, I decided to quit.
I tried to quit my spectacular job. It was a hard decision, but after I told my boss I knew it was the right decision. Luckily he said don’t quit, we understand why you’re leaving and they allowed me to work remotely.
Within a few months I had saved up more money and was on my way to live in Peru. Camilo was living in Cusco again, so here I am.
Cusco has a crazy rainy season from December to April, so we’re hoping to travel around South America at that time. But for now enjoy my blog about Peru and I’ll be posting more detailed and interesting stories or guides on all things Peru.