by Kendal, Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay
The cloud cover kept us in suspense. But once we cleared it, every single Girl Scout in our group was either staring out the window or trying to see around the person next to the window to glimpse the Andes Mountains. And as we felt the thump of the airplane’s wheels hit the runway, we were ready to start our adventure in the wondrous land of Peru.
We were exhausted when we arrived at our hotel, where they served us an amazing tea. After having travelled for nearly 24 hours most of us crashed out on the couches as soon as we finished our cups. But, the excitement to get started persisted.
After sleeping the morning away, we discovered Cusco. We ate a typical Peruvian lunch, observed Inca ruins, and took in beautiful views of the city. I thought that the trip couldn’t get any better.
But, it did! We explored the Sacred Valley of the River, ate Peruvian guinea pig and alpaca, shopped at a local market, and observed local cultural shows. We also donated hygiene kits to an orphanage and blankets to a school, and did my favorite part of the entire trip: we played with the children. Seeing the children smile was priceless and something that absolutely touched my heart.
Our four day hike to Machu Picchu began after three days in Peru. We trudged uphill with blisters and freezing cold nights for the first two and half days. But the blisters did not stop me from enjoying beautiful scenery; calming sounds, fresh air, and the basic idea that I was hiking in Peru. My confidence had never been higher and my eyes had never been wider. When we reached the highest peak of the trip, I felt amazing. The next day and a half was all downhill, which put a lot less pressure on my painful blisters. It was actually quite relaxing. Visiting another school on the way down was also a favorite part of the trip.
When we reached the end of the hike and dipped our sweating, greasy bodies in the Hot Springs of Lares, I had never felt as proud of myself. I had hiked 20 miles at 15,000 miles above sea level while enjoying extraordinary scenery, huge rocks, spectacular ruins, and sparkling rivers and lakes. And I was hiking with 19 girls I had only met on Facebook beforehand. We had so much to talk about.
We visited Machu Picchu on our second to the last day of the trip. Although I enjoyed seeing it, I was so sad that I had to leave the next day that I nearly cried. Hanging out with everyone I had met, glimpsing Peruvian culture, and experiencing a life-altering trip made me want to stay, but I knew it was time to go home and make a difference at home. I have to let others know about this experience. And someone reminded me of a famous Dr. Seuss quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
What did Girl Scouts do? They gave my courage as I hiked the rigorous Andes Mountains, they gave me character as I met and became life-long friends with 19 other girls and 6 leaders, and they game me confidence as I just traveled to another country without anybody I knew. How could I ever forget this experience?