JESSICA’S JOURNAL: Importance of travel

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in Clarkston. My articles continued to show up in the paper, so everything’s probably seemed normal for you subscribers out there, but I’ve actually been on vacation.
I traveled down south of the border to the beautiful country of Peru and hiked the 26-mile-long Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Trekking through places such as a cloud forest and the forebodingly named Warmiwañusqa (Dead Women’s Pass), my friend and I spent four days isolated from the outside world, camping in the mountainous jungles of the Andes.
Aside from the great adventure of it all, visiting Peru and being immersed in the culture was a humbling experience. Everyone can benefit from traveling to new places and realizing the sheer size of the world and how life in another place is completely different from your own. Yet these people still have jobs, families, responsibilities, worries, hopes, and dreams, just like you.
Tourism is a large industry in Peru, especially around Cusco, where I spent most of my time when I wasn’t on the trail. Many locals work as tour and trail guides, porters, drivers and trail cooks.
Our trail guide Martín had extensive knowledge of Incan history and local flora and fauna, as well as being able to communicate in many languages including Spanish, French, English and German.
During the trip we practiced our Spanish, learned that Inca actually refers to the leaders of the tribe—the subjects are the Quechua people—and experienced the difficulty of hiking up a mountain.
Hiking doesn’t sound too bad until you hike up 4,000 feet and down 3,000 all before lunch. It was certainly an experience worth having, though probably only once. It was a vacation that allowed me to feel accomplished and get a fresh perspective on the world outside of America.
Though traveling to new places in general is a great learning experience, I encourage you to go off the beaten path and travel somewhere other than a resort town or major city, especially outside the United States.
I’ve found big cities are similar, there’s not many differences between NYC, London and Lima. But having a one-of-a kind experience, such as hiking the Inca Trail, can change perceptions and allow us to view our lives through a new lens.

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