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Travel stories, inspiration, news and musing

We are the dreamers, the seekers, the travellers, the adventurers, the optimists. It's nice to meet you! There are lots of us with the same DNA - we look forward to sharing the journey with you.

Filtering by Tag: Peru

Mid week meetings: Aimee

Aimee Pearce

Hi! Since we're hanging out so often, I thought it might be nice to actually introduce myself...

My name is Aimée and I make up one half of the dream team that is Wanderlust People! 

Obviously my favourite thing in the world to do is travel. But here are a few little insights into my world....

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Artisan spotlight

Aimee Pearce

Rufino is one of the craftsmen who works with our partner CIAP, in Peru. Originally from Huancané - Puno, Rufino has been in Lima for about 11 years. He started playing music by ear with his brother who manufactured instruments. After completing school and military service, at age 21, Rufino became independent and continued the family tradition by starting his own workshop for making musical instruments.

 We love your work Rufino!

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My favourite places in all the world

Elissa Webster

If it's good enough for Lonely Planet, it's good enough for me. That's often been my rule of thumb in judging the merits of kinda dodging looking hostels and dubious modes of transport in the world's more remote reaches. And since Lonely Planet has just released its annual Best in Travel list, I figure I can do one too - albeit with the knowledge that such lists are obviously highly subjective and instrinsically pretty self indulgent.

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Mid week meetings: Elissa

Elissa Webster

Hello!

I know all the buzz has been about Hawaii this week, but there's also a European adventure in our very immediate future - I'm off to Europe next week! And since we're about to go on holidays together, it seems only proper to get to know each other a bit better. So...

I'm Elissa, Aimee's Wanderlust People partner in crime. This is me dressed up by a Nepali friend for the Teej festival in Kathmandu. It was one of the stand out days of the six months my husband Matt and I spent in Nepal - Teej is the one time of year when the women of Nepal get together without their menfolk and really let loose. A whole lot of preening and bangle jangling and dancing and laughing and joking about husbands goes on, and I was welcomed into the beating heart of it all just by virtue of being a woman and being there. It was a blast.

Nepal-teej-festival

But I was bitten by the travel beast (side note: "travel bug" is an inadequate term in my experience!) long before Nepal.

  • My first overseas trip was a 6 week round-the-world dash, and the first stop was Peru. I ate guinea pig, had a stranger look out for me, saw real poverty, haggled in terrible Spanish, got hideous altitude sickness and became completely smitten with mountains, hiking and travel in general.
  • My pick for good-dash-of-everything destinations is Sri Lanka. World class beaches, check. Magnificent, friendly people, check. Ancient relics, check. Mountains and hiking opportunities, check. Potential for real cultural exchanges, check. Mind bogglingly delicious food, check check. Go there.
  • The place that I first thought I could pack up and move to was Rome (there have been others since, but there's always a special place in your heart for the first!). Anywhere where people will have a good yell at each other over differing opinions on the quality of the pasta and eat gelato in the dead of winter and walk through the remains of a civilisation centuries past on the way to the office is my kind of place.
Ethan-Rome


  • The place most inaccurately represented by Hollywood that I've experienced is Casablanca, Morocco. Forget the romantic nostalgia of Humphrey Bogart; it's a pretty drab commercial centre. Tangier, on the other hand, (where lots of Casablanca was actually filmed, by the way) is pretty underrated in my book - it has all the spice and sea swept exoticism you expect from a Moroccan port town. Morocco is also the place I was first initiated into the rites of travelling with children - our eldest daughter Sascha was five months old when we travelled there. I'll never forget a lady with three children of her own and not a word of English sweeping Sascha into her arms on a long train journey and playing with her for the whole trip, just for the love of babies. I've been sold on travelling with kids ever since.
  • Speaking of travelling with kids - that probably started with my own childhood. I travelled around Australia in a caravan with my parents for a whole year when I was 11. How cool are they??
  • The landmark that most blew my mind is The Great Wall in China. I'd heard all that stuff about it being seen from space, but something about actually standing in the howling wind looking over the desolate mountains from a wall whose first stones were laid in the seven century made me ponder just how small my blip is on the radar of the world at large and the history that has written it. China was also the site of my worst food poisoning experience ever. That's a story for another day, but suffice to say it involved still having to breastfeed an eight-month-old baby (Ethan, our second child), a hideous long-haul express train trip, and a mixed up hotel booking.
  • My last trip was to Italy, Croatia and Turkey in May 2014. And you know how Rome is the city of love? Meet Luca, born in January this year ;)
Luca-owl


  • Our next trip (and Luca's first) is to England, Spain and France - NEXT WEEK!

So enjoy the last days of your Hawaii adventure and get ready for a European change up! We'll keep the photos coming :)

How to experience sleeping in a condor's nest

Elissa Webster

Condors are massive birds and no doubt their nests are big enough for a person to sleep in. But if that's a bit precarious for you (Condors are carnivorous, afterall. And big.) there is another option - the Natura Vive Skylodge, Cusco, Peru.

Perched above the Sacred Valley of Cusco, the Skylodge Adventure Suites are suspended 400 metres above the ground against the side of the mountains. Each suite is 7.5 metres by 2.5 metres and offers a 300 degree view of the valley down below. WAY below.

It's not all gourmet banquets and bubbles though (although each suite includes those too) - you've got to get there first. You can walk - or you can take the zipline. Yep, a zipline! So cool! OK, maybe it is all banquets and bubbles.

A night in one of these puppies will set you back about $400 and that includes dinner, breakfast and drinks. Sounds like a bargain to me!

But if a trip to Peru just isn't in the budget right now, here's the next best thing - take a wander through a Peruvian market.

Images via Inhabitat

Warm up with mulled wine

Elissa Webster

It's cold outside! The Romans came up with just the thing to keep the chills at bay - mulled wine. And thanks to the Peruvian artisans at CIAP, you can serve it in style too. 

What are you waiting for?! Get mulling with this European inspired recipe.

Ingredients

  •  10 cloves
  •  2 cinnamon sticks
  •  1/4 cup caster sugar
  •  1 roughly grated nutmeg
  •  2 cups water
  •  roughly grated rind of 1 orange
  •  1 apple, roughly chopped (skin on)
  •  750ml fruity red wine (such as a merlot)

Method

  1. Heat cloves, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, water, orange rind and apple in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add red wine and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain and divide among serving glasses. Serve immediately.

Life is worth celebrating!

Aimee Pearce

Celebrate good times - come on! I can hear you humming! When you're travelling, nothing beats stumbling upon a celebration! This photo was taken in the town square in Arequipa, Peru. What was the celebration in aid of? I have absolutely no idea! But it was awesome! I had to snap a photo of this guy - he had the best expression on his face, the entire time. He was just getting into the groove of life!

This week at Wanderlust People, we are celebrating too! We have launched our new-look online store and it is packed full of wanderlust worthy treasures that we just know will have you dancing for joy. Imagine the look and feel of our past collections, but with the volume of treasures hugely enlarged! So you can rest assured - any time you have a gift to buy for anyone in your world (friend, sibling, husband, parents, work colleagues, kids) there will be loads of choice! And remember all Wanderlust People products come beautifully wrapped and are couriered to your door so you don't have to worry about a thing!

So enjoy browsing! www.wanderlustpeople.com/shop

Why travelling makes you a better person

Elissa Webster

You know it's true! 

My very first trip overseas was to Peru, and I'm pretty sure I made every naive faux pas on the menu (including being surprised at being asked to pay for this photo opportunity). But this photo always makes me smile - it reminds me of all the wonder and terror and joy of that first trip, and so many travel moments that have transpired since. 

Travelling has changed everything for me; it shaped who I have become. And, in the words of The Carpenters, we've only just begun...

This piece by Lance Richardson sums it why travelling really does make you a better person so well. 

Why you should travel overseas: How travel makes you a better person

By Lance Richardson

Before I began to travel seriously at the age of 19, I was a half-formed person. A small-town country upbringing, limited exposure to news beyond the six o'clock variety, well-meaning but not particularly worldly parents: these were the trappings of my regular childhood. 

Then suddenly, with little warning, I was disembarking at Heathrow and strutting into London as if I owned the place, although really I was so naive that I even left my wallet in an airport toilet.

Brash confidence and cluelessness got me into some interesting situations. I was robbed in a Soho bar (passport, computer, hundreds of pounds) and on a train while travelling to Auschwitz (camera, Czech korunas). 

I was sexually assaulted by a supervisor in a Holborn pub, and was too polite to say anything. I accidentally went sightseeing in Ciudad Juarez, then the most dangerous city in the world, where killings were alarmingly frequent. 

I witnessed a drug sting in the Sonoran Desert just across the United States-Mexico border, watching a young man dragged off the bus, while I sat two rows behind eating a Snickers bar that had started to droop in the heat. I paid a man to lead me to peyote, the hallucinogenic cactus, then stood there poking it with a long stick, unsure of what I was supposed to do next.

I'm admitting my blithe ignorance here not because I'm ashamed, although did I really celebrate my 21st birthday in Times Square and think it was glamorous? (Yikes.) No, I'm admitting my gaffes because they made me who I am today. 

I hear you Lance - but I still heart NY ;)

I hear you Lance - but I still heart NY ;)

I was incubated in the Hunter Valley, just outside Sydney, but I learnt how to be a person by, for example, dancing on a cathedral rooftop in Mexico City on New Year's [Eve], and by walking daily past the Rosetta Stone, while I worked at the ticket desk in the British Museum, dazzled by a history I could scarcely comprehend.   

If I know anything at all, it is because I exposed the blank slate of myself to the world and allowed the world to leave its mark. Travel is life-changing. Taken seriously, it can change a person into someone unrecognisable, change everything about them from their accent to their moral compass.

Paul Theroux said it best: "You go away for a long time and return a different person – you never come all the way back." 

Perhaps this seems like a banal observation, but as tourism becomes increasingly commodified, focused on leisure, souvenirs and luxury, it strikes me as an important point to emphasise. Many people travel because they want to see something new, acquire new knowledge.

Travellers want to return home a little bit wiser, with an enlightened understanding of their place in the universe. In this way, I think, travel can make us better people. It is an antidote to small-mindedness and provincialism, or unsophisticated thinking.

I am reminded of this fact whenever I read those increasingly frequent accounts of somebody dismissing Muslims with a single blanket statement such as, "Islam is a religion of violence." Anybody who makes such generalisations has clearly never travelled much.

They have never been to Oman, for instance, where I once passed two illuminating weeks wearing a dishdash in the Wahiba Sands and Nizw, learning about Ibadi Islam, a sect motivated by peaceful coexistence and the acceptance of other beliefs. Omanis were, without exception, welcoming and hospitable, about as far from al-Qaeda extremists as I was. The idea that one could dismiss them out of hand is ludicrous to me because I have met them face to face, individuals with hopes and aspirations.      

I could cite countless other examples, ways in which travel cancels out ignorance. Once, at an art gallery dinner in northern NSW, I sat next to a woman who was decrying those Sri Lankan Tamils crossing the Indian Ocean and tangling with our navy. Australian tourists are visiting Sri Lanka, the woman announced to the table, therefore everything is obviously fine and they have no valid claim for asylum here.

"Have you been to the Jaffna Peninsula?" I asked her. Many of the refugees were from the towns of Jaffna and Mullaitivu. She had not. If she had arrived in Colombo and headed north, away from the tourist hoards, who generally go south, perhaps she would have noted, as I recently had, the barbed wire rolled along beaches, and signs notifying pedestrians of live land mines, and heard about Tamils unfairly imprisoned and still prevented from returning to their homes several years after the official end of the civil war.

Perhaps, with a little travel, this woman would have been a more generous person, inclined to think deeply about why a person might risk their life crossing a vast and terrifying ocean on a rickety boat. Travel incites reflection. It is an education. It is harder to dismiss somebody when you've sat in their living room and eaten lunch, and harder to shrug off an entire population when you've driven through desperate shantytowns and felt the presence of despair. What I am trying to say is that travel exercises the empathy muscle, making it grow. 

Another reason travel makes us better is the exposure to history it provides. Walking through the ancient streets of Rome, examining skulls of Australopithecu in Nairobi, visiting universities five times older than white settlement in Australia. Travel can't help but burst our misguided presumptions of self-importance. It creates perspective. 

It is no coincidence, I think, that the most jingoistic nationalists often seem to be the kind of people who refuse to get on a plane or go anywhere except their own backyard. People are disinclined to hear any evidence that undermines their case. Ignorance is bliss, as the saying goes. Of course, Australia seems perfect, impossible to improve, and better in all conceivable ways than every other country, if you've never actually been to any other country.

Given this country's multiculturalism, visiting origin points such as Britain, Greece, Italy and Vietnam can only produce a richer, more nuanced understanding of home. It is hard to trumpet isolationism once you recognise that half of Australia's richness comes from somewhere else, that it was our willingness to open borders in the past that makes Australia an interesting and dynamic place today.

The bustling heart of Vietnam

The bustling heart of Vietnam

There is a flip side to all this, though. Treating travel purely as an exercise in self-improvement – an eat, pray, love-style pursuit of personal enlightenment – ignores a simple but indelible truth. Travel is not experienced in a vacuum. A person heading overseas affects countless others, from street beggars to entire towns. A traveller is like a stone dropped into a still pond, creating ripples they might not even notice.

Most of the time, these ripples have a salutary effect. Tourism provides money, jobs and opportunities. It can prop up entire economies that would otherwise sink into depression, and more than once I have seen it rescue indigenous groups from the brink of extinction, such as the Masai in Kenya, guiding people on safari, or Quechua speakers in the mountains around Ausangat, building lodges to funnel tourist dollars into their community.

These ripples can also change cultures completely, turning people into luggage mules or the equivalent of zoo animals. There is nothing more depressing than seeing somebody reduced to the status of a sideshow attraction for visitors wanting to expand their knowledge.

Once, on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, near the ruins of Chichen Itz, I watched a group of Mayan woman dancing in a line with Corona bottles balanced on their heads. The dance was traditional, the literature claimed (not accounting for the beer), and the tourists watching the show had come expecting something culturally authentic.

I couldn't fault these tourists, who were simply trying to expand their horizons in a foreign country, but how awful it was. Their presence and desire, combined with the forces of market capitalism, had hollowed the dance of any meaning and produced a troupe of women who looked bone tired and miserable. Maybe you have seen a similar spectacle in Bali or a Honolulu resort.

I am not recounting this anecdote to discourage travel. Far from it. My point is that, for all its good, travel can also have lamentable repercussions. It is more ethically complicated than we might like to imagine.

But we should try to imagine it, this network of effects, such as what impact a cruise ship has on a Polynesian island, or how an influx of Westerners will change Cuba in the coming years now that the United States embargo has been lifted, because travel can illuminate the ways in which we are all connected.

"No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main," wrote poet John Donne. This, in my experience, is the most life-changing dimension of travel, the thing that resonates the longest. It's the reason it's more important than ever to pack your bags and book a ticket. 

Gifts for mini globe trotters

Aimee Pearce

There are some beautiful gifts available in our online collection this week for the children in your world.

These gorgeous handmade soft toys, musical instruments, finger puppets and bags are handcrafted by artisans in India, Indonesia and Peru and are sure to bring lots of joy to your mini globe trotter.

Great for birthdays, baby showers or any special events.

 

Check them out in our online store