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Our Peruvian travels have included cars, planes, buses and a boat. The mission part of our trip is now over, but we still have some traveling to do! We will add taxis, trains, vans and even a motocar to that list before we're done with this trip. Today, we begin our Machu Picchu adventure!

We returned to Lima from Pucallpa aboard a Star Peru flight. A much-delayed Star Peru flight! (This will be a recurring theme, I'm afraid.) When we finally arrived at the Lima airport, it was late enough that our original plan, to enjoy an afternoon in the city with all of our new friends, was out of the question. The Nebraska team had to stay at the airport to catch their flight back to the U.S. Fortunately, the Kentucky group's flight back was a red eye departing later that night, and our leaders, James and Doug, were also flying out later, so they were able to come with us and at least have dinner in the city. There was plenty of time for them to decompress at least a little with a nice meal out on the town—or so we thought!

Maybe you've complained at some point about bad traffic you have experienced in the United States. Perhaps you've made jokes about the bottlenecks and crammed highways of our big cities. They all pale in comparison to the packed roads and questionable traffic laws of Lima. The city is big and crowded. “Bumper-to-bumper traffic” could not be any more literally bumper to bumper. Our twenty-minute taxi ride from the airport to the Larcomar Mall took over an hour, and we arrived at the beautiful shopping center, situated on a cliff with cool views over the Pacific Ocean, in the dark.

We still enjoyed a very nice—if rushed—meal at a restaurant called Tanta. The food reflected cosmopolitan Lima, blending Asian, Mediterranean and South American tastes in some tasty dishes. Tom had a surprise meal change when Sam decided not to risk triggering her milk allergy with her risotto order, and the two traded entrees. Several of us got our first taste of coca leaf tea, a local remedy for altitude sickness (more on coca below). We scarfed down our food and ran back to the taxi so that the Kentucky crew could catch their plane home and we could catch some z's before the next day's flight to Cusco. Actually, it was still early enough for us that we were able to get some pictures added to our blog posts and try a Pisco Sour (a cocktail based on the Peruvian brandy pisco) at the hotel. Then to bed!

The next morning we were up very early to check out of the hotel and make our Star Peru flight. Except … well, you remember we mentioned that late flights would be a recurring theme? We got to our gate and then waited three hours before they finally started boarding. Three hours of sitting in an uncomfortable airport terminal, thinking about the clean, comfy beds we had left behind. For those of you keeping count, this was our fourth visit to the Lima airport. If nothing else, we were getting to know it pretty well! But we were really happy to finally get aboard that plane!

The landscape between Lima and Cusco is almost all mountains. The mountains are dry and barren and cover a huge area. We were repeatedly warned about the elevation change, and we suddenly realized why: in a one-hour flight we were going from sea level to a town at 11,000 feet. The plane barely had to descend—the ground just got closer and closer to us!

We were supposed to get a driving tour through Cusco and the surrounding area, but were arriving so late that we were afraid we had missed out on that completely. It turned out, though, that this and all of our tours were just for us (we weren't part of a larger group), so our accommodating tour guide, Justino, was going to be able to catch us up on the highlights. After finding our rooms at the hotel and dropping off our bags, we got on the tour bus and headed for the mountains.

Cusco is known as the “Navel of the World.” (Side note: look up “navel” on Google—say you suddenly weren't sure whether the second vowel of was supposed to be an “a” or an “e”—and you'll see the second definition uses Cusco as its example!) Lima only became the city it is now after international trade via the Pacific Ocean was an option. Before then, all roads in the area led to Cusco. It was the center of government, trade and religion.

We visited the most notable evidences of this heritage in our afternoon tour. First up were the ruins of Saqsaywaman. (Pronunciation guide: pretend you're a teenage boy trying to read that in the way that would be most funny to your friends. Got it? Yep, that's right.) The temple is a domineering complex formed from huge boulders that were manhandled from a quarry a mile away and expertly fitted together. The tall walls are a testimony to the power the Incan religion and government had over their kingdom. The buildings are now mostly gone, their stones used by the Spaniards (who conquered the Inca only in the 1500s) for their churches and villas down in the city. But the massive stones in the walls were not moved again. They still stand, impressively, right where the craftsmen and slaves of the Inca rulers put them.

Saqsaywaman was built at the top of a cliff. It is surrounded by lush mountain greenery, a stark contrast to the desert mountains we saw on the flight. On a nearby overlook, the people of Cusco built a scaled-down replica of the Christ the Redeemer statue of Rio de Jeneiro, Brazil. Llamas roam freely around the grounds, grazing on the grass of the open areas. But the main view here, besides the ruins themselves, is down over Cusco. The city has a very distinctive Spanish flavor, much like the southern U.S. and California, where Spanish conquerors, missionaries and settlers also left their mark.

After taking some time to appreciate the ruins, we headed back down to the city. Justino next took us on a tour through the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, which was built from the stones of Saqsaywaman as the temple's replacement. The Spaniards used religion in much the same way as the Inca rulers before them—as a means of dominating and controlling the people under their power. The cathedral isn't quite as imposing as the temple that looms overhead, but it is still the tallest building in the city.

The cathedral sits on one side of the central town square (the Plaza de Armas). The church is full of the work of Spanish and indigenous artisans. Oil paintings, sculpture, metalwork altars and Peruvian silver are everywhere. Tom was so taken by the beautiful artwork in the cathedral that he actually got out his camera and started snapping photos—which hadn't happened often during the trip. Of course, Sam had to point out to him the very obvious “no photos” sign he was standing almost right next to.

The cathedral is where you'll find the painting of the Last Supper with Jesus and the disciples preparing to share a guinea pig as the center part of their meal, Peruvian style. Unfortunately, this same painting also demonstrates a heavy-handed Spanish message to the people they ruled over: the one person in the painting shown as indigenous rather than Spanish is Judas.

Justino walked us back to the hotel, which was just around the corner from the Plaza de Armas, to help us get our bearings. He then left us, with a promise to pick us up very early the next morning for our drive to the Sacred Valley and the big hike to Huchuy Qosqo.

We hadn't eaten anything but airport and airplane food since a very early breakfast back in Lima, so we were eager to get out and enjoy one of Cusco's restaurants before heading to bed. We went to a trendy tapas bar called Cicciolina, which was up on the second floor of an old Spanish building. You entered from the central courtyard. They serve a lot of regional food, which means we had a chance to try some local delicacies. Janet and Tim shared an alpaca carpaccio and an alpaca steak, Tom a side of guinea pig. Sam ordered a noodle dish colored with squid ink (not necessarily a local delicacy). With stomachs full, we headed back to the hotel and to bed.

To bed, but not exactly sleep. One interesting thing about a South American Catholic town is that a festival can break out at any time. Including 3:00 in the morning. And these are not quiet festivals! The belief seems to be that firecrackers and other loud noises help keep the evil spirits away.

We had to leave the hotel at 5:30 AM the next morning in order to get to the trailhead at a reasonable hour. Justino and our driver, Santos, picked us up at the hotel. We must have surprised them by being ready to go, because Justino decided that we had time to visit one of the ruins that should have been on the prior day's tour. We wound up mountain roads to get to the Incan temple site. Some of us slept. Sam, on the other hand, who had woken up not feeling well, was now also starting to feel the effects of motion sickness. While the rest of us bustled up the steps of the temple in the crisp morning air, watching the sunrise, Sam found herself a quiet spot to sit and throw up.

Unfortunately for Sam, we still had a long way to go. Then the last hour or so of the drive was an even more winding dirt road that twisted quickly up into the mountains. This was disastrous for Sam, who was feeling completely awful by the time we stopped and started getting ready to hike. After throwing up a second time, she decided she had better not attempt the nine-mile hike up and over a high mountain pass. Janet was kind enough to opt to stay with Sam and Santos. They thought they could drive their way slowly back down the mountain and meet the rest of us at the bottom. Kimberly left Sam with some medicine and instructions to drink water and get rest. Then she, Tim and Tom started off with Justino on the hike to Huchuy Qosqo and down to Lamay. The trail started just outside the little village of Tuaca. We walked along the edge of the town, passing the villagers going about their mornings. The trail skirted right next to homes and over fenced-in areas. We saw pigs and donkeys and crossed paths with children and dogs.

As we left town, we started heading uphill. There was a steady incline to climb us up to the 14,500 foot pass, which we watched getting closer and closer each time it came into view. The last climb to the pass was the toughest. As air got scarce, our feet started to feel heavy and each step took an act of willpower. Then, suddenly, we were at the top! We stopped there to enjoy our victory and break open the snack bags that Justino's wife had prepared for us.

As we sat, some kids nonchalantly herded a few donkeys up the pass and past us. That was eye-opening. A strenuous hike for us was a day's work for them!

Actually, the trail we were on and others that we could see in use were all part of the very old Incan road system. They are being used today in much the same way they were hundreds of years ago—for moving animals and goods from town to town and to Cusco. The biggest difference is that they now have the occasional company of international tourists along their routes. Although there must not be many of us, even now. We saw only one other set of “tourist” hikers on the trail all day.

The walk down from the pass to the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo was beautiful. Not long after starting downhill, we entered a canyon carved into dark rock by a small creek. The trail crisscrossed the creek on little wooden bridges.

In a few places we had time climb down steep stairs or ladders because the drop was so steep.

As we hiked, Justino pointed out the plants, flowers and grasses we were seeing and how people used them: as ropes, medicines, teas or spices. (He may have been sharing this information as we huffed uphill, as well, but who was listening then?)

At one point, Justino guided us off of the trail and across the creek to look at a small break in the rock face where there was some cave art carved into the wall. Another reminder that this trail has been in use for as long as humans have been in the area. This little stopping point has probably been in use for thousands of years.

Huchuy Qosqo, or “Little Cusco”, was built by an Incan ruler looking for a place to which he could retreat and still run the government in case of invasion. It is a set of ruined buildings built on terraces.

The fields around the buildings offered a great place to finish our lunches and relax a bit while enjoying a great view over the Sacred Valley. The Urubamba River, the sacred river which flows through the valley, reflects the whole of the milky way on a clear night. The valley has protected farmers from the elements, yielded silver and other rich mines and been a primary thoroughfare for Incas making their way from Cusco to the lush area around Machu Picchu. In the silence, you could very much understand how it earned its name.

One of the most notable things about the hike was the quiet. There were places where all you heard was your footsteps and the thumping of your heart. (Admittedly the heart-thumping was pretty raucous at the top of the pass!) After eating lunch and doing some exploring, we headed downhill through the terraced levels. The terraces are a common sight here. The people built walls out of stone to provide level spots for farming and erosion control, cutting wide stair-like steps into the mountains.

Once you got close enough to a wall, you could usually find a set of stairs so that you could comfortably drop the six to ten feet from one level down to the next.

We passed through a couple of small farms just below the Huchuy Qosqo ruins, then stopped for a magnificent panorama of the Sacred Valley. It was only here that we started to hear the sounds of civilization. It was Sunday afternoon, and the townspeople of Lamay were celebrating a festival with band music and marching.

We were once again surprised at the local people sharing our trail. While we were giving thanks that our tour planners hadn't decided to bring us up the way we were now going down, we kept passing families out for a Sunday afternoon stroll up the switchbacks, presumably to spend their Sunday afternoon in Huchuy Qosqo. Again, eye opening and maybe a little bit humiliating. We think Coloradoans are a fit and altitude-adjusted people!

As Justino, Kimberly, Tim and Tom started down the seemingly-endless set of switchbacks that scaled down the mountain to the valley far below, they noticed a little speck of white that was the van. It looked like Santos, Janet and Sam had found their way to the end of the trail and were waiting for the hikers' arrival.

Sam had continued to feel pretty awful through the morning. She threw up once more on the winding hour-long drive back down the mountain. The slow pace gave Janet a chance to enjoy watching a bridge being built and to see children herding livestock. Once they got off the dirt road and were back in the valley, though, Sam felt well enough that Santos decided to take them to a local market in the town of Pisac. This wasn't far out of the way, and it gave Janet a chance to practice her bartering skills—or lack thereof.

The market was not on the normal tourist routes, so was geared more to local buyers than the markets of Cusco. Janet and Sam found unique fruits and vegetables and more “authentic” crafts. Unfortunately, the experience didn't help Janet's bartering skills. We're not sure she didn't end up paying more for some items after negotiating. From this point on, we made sure she was accompanied by a more ruthless team member whenever she went shopping!

Sam went into the village with Janet, but decided to sit instead of getting too far into the market. Unfortunately, she sat on a wall next to this …

… and wasn't quite far enough away. She ended up with prickers in her pants, and had to actually take off her pants to get them all out. Then, in case her day hadn't been bad enough, when she went to throw away one of the bags she had “filled” earlier, she stepped into a pile of dog poop. Santos had finally had enough of Sam's abuse of his van, and made her scrub the “caca” off her shoes before he would let her back in.

Kimberly, Tim and Tom finally emerged from the switchback descent and met Sam and Janet at the van. They had made good time on the hike, so had a few minutes to relax before getting back on the road. The area where we met was just off the Urubamba River, in a beautiful shaded area nestled between farms.

We had a train to catch in Ollantaytambo, the last stop on the way to Aguas Calientes, “Machu Picchu town.” We were scheduled on the last train of the day, though, so had a little time to spend with Justino in the little town. He bought a bag of coca leaves so that we could try chewing them. Also, Janet had been quizzing him about the religious practices of the Inca, and he wanted to show us a coca leaf ceremony.

The coca leaves that grow here were a very important part of life and economy. Coca helped with the altitude, dulled pain and kept workers working. They would chew on the leaves of the plant, which we all tried while walking around Ollantaytambo, or drink it in tea. The hotels here all have coca tea ready for brewing. In the U.S. we know coca from its derivatives: codeine and, in a highly-processed version, cocaine. And, of course, Coca-Cola, which originally had full-strength coca but now has just the de-cocainized coca flavoring.

Up on a hill above Ollantaytambo, Justino shared with us an old indigenous tradition, the coca leaf ceremony. We each took three leaves in our hand and spread them out like we were holding playing cards. We acknowledged each leaf in succession, looking first to up to the mountains, then down to the ground, and then to the sky. Then, while blowing on the last leaf, we made a wish for ourselves. The ritual was a way the people had of connecting themselves to the mountains that protected them from storms and enemies and the ground that was the source of their harvest.

After this last opportunity to bond with our great tour guide, Justino, we headed back down the mountain to pick up our bags and walk to the train station. What we didn't realize is that one of us should have wished for this next part of the trip to go well! We casually walked all the way through town and down the long road to the train station. We were supposed to meet Santos in the parking lot at the train station to get our bags. But Santos wasn't there, and Justino couldn't reach him. The train departure time loomed closer and closer. Finally, Justino learned that Santos wasn't able to get the bus down to our agreed-upon spot. So Justino, Tim and Tom ran all the way back up to the town square to meet the van and grab the luggage while Kimberly, Sam and Janet went to get tickets and hold a spot in line. Thankfully, Justino was able to hail a motocar to get the bags and the now noodle-legged guys all back down to the train station. And we made it, just in time! We said a too-quick goodbye to Justino and hopped on the train.

The train is the only way to get to Machu Picchu—unless you take the three-day hike! It is a beautiful trip. From the sacred valley, the terrain slowly transitions from high mountain to jungle. The tracks wind through the valley between steep mountains.

We were in a car with windows all around the cabin, giving us an excellent view throughout the afternoon ride.

The seats on the train were situated in groups of four, and Tom ended up sitting with a family from Lima. The parents were eager to introduce themselves, though they knew only a smattering of English—about as much English as Tom knows Spanish: not much! But they were on vacation with their daughter, who worked in the oil industry and had been taking English classes for her job. The parents heartily encouraged her to chat and “practice her English” while also translating for them. The four had a good chat, somehow, and though they said good bye when getting off the train in Aguas Calientes, we kept running into the family through the rest of the trip. Once in Machu Picchu, then on the train back and once more at the Cusco airport on our way home!

We arrived in Aguas Calientes at dusk. It was beautiful. The town sits right next to a river, and is surrounded by steep, pointy mountains.

Our hotel rooms were up high enough that we all had very cool views of the strange landscape. It didn't seem real! Everything is lush and green, so very different than the mountain scenery we're used to.

We were all dragging by the time we got checked in to the hotel. What a day! Thankfully, dinner was included with our stays, so we didn't have to go far for our meal. The waiter who served us was an older gentleman who was a real professional. Despite the language barrier, he was ridiculously attentive. The only drawback to the dining experience was the music. We had gotten used to hearing Peruvian pipes everywhere. And they're usually quite enjoyable. But the music playing at the restaurant was a succession of American easy-listening songs, like Celine Dion's “My Heart Will Go On”, with the vocals replaced by pan flute. It was painful.

As tired as we were, we had one more shopping trip to get in before heading to bed. Janet had promised a couple of our Kentucky friends that she would pick up some items for them at the Aguas Calientes market. As we walked, we saw a bunch of gangs of (presumably) stray dogs. They seemed to have their own social circles! They might have been particularly active because it had started sprinkling, and they knew that a big rain was on the way.

We got lucky—it wasn't until we entered the large covered pavilion where the local vendors had set up shop that it started pouring. That was a good encouragement to stick around and really examine the crafts on sale. We managed to stretch the shopping trip out until the rain died down and we could make our way back to the hotel without getting too wet.

Once we finally made it back to the hotel, we decided not to make it a too early morning the next day. Not only because we were exhausted, but because we think Kimberly was getting tired of hearing the crazy noises Sam had her phone set to make to wake her up in the mornings. The one she used every morning was some sort of rooster sound (“cock-a-doodle-doo” to Americans, “chee-kee-lee-kee” to Peru). But she could also make it talk to her, with voices that yelled at her to wake up. Apparently, the alarm didn't work that well for Sam. But it definitely woke Kimberly up!

The next day it was finally time to get to Machu Picchu. We enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, then headed down to stand in line at the bus stop. The small buses depart every five minutes or so to drive the few miles from Aguas Calientes up the steep switchback road that leads to Machu Picchu. If you're really interested in getting the genuine experience, you can walk to Machu Picchu from town, but where the buses go up by a series of switchbacks, hikers take a long stairway straight up the mountain. After our hike the day before, we did not even consider that option!

The road is cut through thick jungle. You can see why Machu Picchu was unknown to European and American eyes for so long. When Hiram Bingham, the Indiana Jones-esque character who led American expeditions into the jungle for mapping and discovery, was first shown the ruins, they were completely overgrown by vines and trees. It was a long project to uncover the clear terraces and buildings that we see now. And even now, workers are constantly repairing the trails, and llamas roam through the grounds, helping keep the vegetation at bay with their grazing.

It was unreal to see the ruins in person. Machu Picchu is situated at the top of a mountain. Its level areas were dug into the slopes and supported by stones. Stairs climb up into peaks on either side of the city, where stone towers perch with even headier views up at the taller mountains all around and down into the narrow valleys far below.

We had another great tour guide in Machu Picchu, Paul, who had a quiet but lovely voice, an excellent knowledge and perspective of the history of the area and a great knack for teaching. He explained that Machu Picchu is historically significant not because it was such an important place to the Inca-led society, but because it is so well preserved. Because it is so remote, it is still 70% intact! Anthropologists have learned much about the way the people lived from studying these ruins, but Machu Picchu was essentially a summer home for the wealthy Incan rulers. The temple at its center, though made of large, perfectly-fit-together stones, signifying its importance compared to the residences and other buildings in the rest of the city, pales in comparison to the huge Saqsaywaman in Cusco.

That said, the city was still amazing. It was really interesting to see how much of the architecture served the purpose of stargazing, marking the passing of the seasons by watching the movement of the sun, moon and stars. And while these heavenly bodies were revered as gods reigning above, the study was practical, too, indicating when to plant and harvest and other important dates.

One notable part of the city was a large stone shaped like a condor that sat over a small cave. All around this part of Peru, we had been seeing the three primary symbols of the Inca: the condor, the puma and the snake. Each symbolizes a different kind of strength. And this monument in the city was a shrine to life and death. The people saw three stages to their lives. The first: life on eath, like the puma. Then, in death, the body is buried in the ground, with the snake. Finally, the spirit rises into the sky with the condor. At this large sculpture the newly-deceased would be placed in the cave until their spirit was believed to have ascended.

The ruins were full of life. Not only tourists, but llamas grazing in the open areas and chinchillas—rabbit-like rodents—nestled into the stonework. There were gardens in places, planted with a variety of plants, including coca and orchids.

Paul explained the connection between the Inca and the people we had been serving in the Amazon basin just a few days before. When each successive conqueror came through this area of Peru, whether it be the Inca or the Spanish, many of the previous inhabitants were pushed farther into the wilderness. This was especially true with the Spanish, such that it's not unlikely that the Shipibo are in large part descendants of the Incan rulers whose ruined cities we were walking through. These were the people left behind, the “Forgotten People.”

After walking all through the city and learning so much from Paul, we went back to the main gates for lunch. There is a very expensive hotel here (for those who can afford to stay right next to the park and avoid the bus lines) which also has a restaurant. Our tour included the lunch buffet, a huge spread of delicious food.

After lunch, Kimberly, Sam and Tom decided to hike up to the Sun Gate. The gate is an hour-long walk up from Machu Picchu. Hikers who take the trek from Cusco to Machu Picchu aim to arrive at this gateway in time to watch the sun rise over the city ruins. Even though we were much too late for sunrise, the view was still great.

Meanwhile, Janet and Tim got chummy with some llamas.

The weather was perfect all day—slightly overcast, but the clouds rolling through the mountains only enhanced the view. It wasn't until we got in line to take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes that it started raining. We stood in line for a while, happy to have our rain coats, but soon enough it was our turn to board the bus for the switchback road back to town.

We had a little time before our evening train ride back to Ollantaytambo. Janet and Tim went to make a final run through the market—did we mention Janet had a long list of people to get gifts for? Sam, Tom and Kimberly went to a little coffee shop not too far from the train station to see if they could get something to eat before the long trip back to Cusco. Turned out the answer to this was no! After working for several minutes to flag down a waiter, we got our orders in. Kimberly wanted a mocha and a piece of cheesecake. Sam ordered soup. Tom asked to see a wine list. A half hour later, Kimberly had finally found out that they were out of mocha, had heard a long stream of Spanish that we think meant that they were out of cheesecake but willing to try to find her some other dessert, and Tom, despite two excursions to chase down a glass of wine, still had not found one. If we hadn't had to leave to catch the train, we might still be waiting for our original orders!

The train back to Ollantaytambo was fun. It was too dark to enjoy the scenery, but Peru Rail found other ways to keep things interesting. There were people at the train station performing traditional dances. And toward the end of the train ride, a man costumed as a mischievous spirit danced his way up and down the train car, posing for pictures and teasing those who weren't paying enough attention to where he had gotten to.

Paul got us loaded into a van when we got to Ollantaytambo. We mostly zonked out on the drive back to Cusco, though did wake long enough to see several towns on the way. During the day, the towns are distinctive for their Spanish architecture and large churches. At night, those same buildings are lit with yellow and blue bulbs that are really pretty. We rolled into bed once arriving back in Cusco. Though sleep was punctuated, once again, by firecrackers going off throughout the night!

We had all of the next morning to spend in Cusco before our afternoon flight. We had hoped to tour the Sun Temple, a sight we had missed because our delayed flight, but it was closed when we got there. Still, we were able to enjoy a nice walk through the city, some shopping and a sunny, beautiful morning. Tom, Sam and Kimberly decided to visit the Machu Picchu museum that was back by the hotel. They saw artifacts from the city, photos from the Hiram Bingham expeditions and many other interesting displays that gave some more context and a slightly different perspective on the city.

We met back at the gorgeous fountain in the town square. We decided to make our last meal in Cusco a nice one, and found a “Chifa” restaurant to try. We'd been seeing signs for Chifa food all over, and had learned it was a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese tastes. Sounded interesting, so we set out to find the place, which proved harder than we though it would. Tom had a map, but the restaurant was marked only with a small sign by a door that led up to the second-floor dining area. It actually turned out well that it took us a few extra minutes to find it, though, because just as we were about to walk in, we heard the sounds of one of these little street festivals (the ones that erupt seemingly any time, day or night) coming up the street around the corner. We ran down to check it out, and were glad we did. There was a marching band, a group of men carrying a large altarpiece, many dancers—it was a lot of fun. We captured a video:

After the very tasty Chifa lunch, it was time to pick up our bags and head to the airport for the return trip to Lima, then home. Tom saw his Lima friends one last time in the airport. Then, we were shocked when the Star Peru flight actually left on time! Of course, this was the one flight where we didn't need to be in a rush—so we got to spend another long stretch in what was starting to feel like home: the Lima airport. At least this time we knew how long we would be there, so were stopped and shared a pizza before going through security. At the gate, we chatted about our Machu Picchu adventure and took some notes for the blog, and then finally got on our plane for home.

Oh, but the Lima airport wasn't quite done with us yet! Once we boarded the plane, we sat at the gate for three hours waiting for a particular repair to get done. So we ended up missing our scheduled flight in Houston! It was a mess, but by this point we really just expected it. And it certainly won't keep any of us from wanting to go back!

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness”, “mercy”, “loyalty”, “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself”, active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?