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Making Do in Peru

Peru misadventures

Honestly, I feel like this title could be a name for an OPI nail polish. Whoever is in charge of coming up with the color names, I want to BE you (OPI marketing team; are you listening? I would be so good at this job!)

Sidetracked. Sorry. So three years ago today (ok, last week) I wrote my first ever blog post! Yippee! More coming soon about this next week – stay tuned as I am preparing a little something-something to say thanks to you guys.

Exactly three years ago was my last college spring break, and I wanted to go out with a bang; so I spent it gallivanting around Peru, my first and last (so far) trip to exotic South America. Some girls like spring break in Mexico or party time for only adults in Punta Cana, me included. Nothing sounded better than visiting a new continent and getting to see some of the sites of my dreams. But more than anything I needed a break from frigid, wintery Massachusetts along with my insane last semester course load.

I needed to get out, and my then-boyfriend and I decided why not Peru?! Looking back, sometimes I think, why didn’t we just go to an island like everyone else?!

Peru misadventures

Did I mention I have the worst luck in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE? The worst!!

I fell head over heels in love with Peru, but she was not an easily romanced. In fact, without doubt those 10 days were jam-packed full of misadventures and failures whose like I’ve ever experienced while traveling. If something could go wrong, it did. Guilty of being a bit of a control freak, I don’t like it when things don’t go according to plan when I am traveling, so I was not exactly happy.

In spite of everything, it was still an epic trip, and I loved it. Peru was a total catastrophe, in the best way possible. Here are the 6 dumbest, craziest, unluckiest misadventures to befall me while traveling around Peru. 

I think I need to give Peru a second chance; what do you think? Have you ever had anything major go wrong while traveling? What’s your best incident?

Peru misadventures

1. Missing out on Machu Picchu

So this one time, I traveled all the way to Peru and didn’t get to go to Machu Picchu! Can you believe it?

A month or so before we were scheduled to depart, there were massive flooding and mudslides around Cuzco and the Sacred Valley, knocking out the train tracks to Machu Picchu for months and closing the famous site to the public; thousands of trapped tourists had to be helicoptered out. Heartbreaking! Not the tourist rescue part but the closed indefinitely part (see, I told you I was selfish!)

It’s every kid’s dream to climb up to these mystical ruins in the Andes, wearing a wooly hippy hat and taking the obligatory llama shot (or was that just me?)

Peru misadventures

Amazing photo from Over Yonderlust (some of my fave bloggers), and the best llama photobomb ever!

Left with the dilemma of canceling the trip, or trying to make the best of it, we opted for número 2. At the time, there was no official stance on how long the monument would be closed (any day now for months), and I being the stubbornly optimistic fool that I am, was hoping and praying every night that magically Machu Picchu would reopen in time for my arrival.

The Incan gods did not hear my prayers.

Peru misadventures

Peru misadventures

Stepping off the plane in Cuzco, it was a ghost town, with hardly a fanny pack or blond in sight, except yours truly. Machu Picchu was closed of course, but luckily most of the other attractions and activities in the region were still going strong.

As bummed as I was that I missed out on one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, I still had a fabulous time in Cuzco and got to see plenty of things I might have missed otherwise. As I understand it, it is usually a very crowded and can be a costly destination, but since most tourists postponed or cancelled their trips, we had Cuzco to ourselves, making it all that more memorable. I hate crowds almost as much as I hate fanny packs.

Peru misadventures

2. We can still be friends

Are you ready, dear readers, to hear one of the dumbest things I have ever done while traveling? I can’t believe I am going to admit this on here, but I promised you guys a 100% disclosure policy, and I don’t think I can really write about my time in Peru and neglect to mention this. Besides, you guys loved it last time I overshared on here, so I’m actually do it for you all. Ok, here we go (god, this is hard).

I went to Peru with a boyfriend. NBD, right? How about, I went to Peru with a boyfriend right AFTER we broke up.


21 year old me wasn’t thinking, that’s what. I had my eye on the prize, Peru, and nothing was going to take that away from me. Do I even need to elaborate on here why traveling with an ex is a bad idea?

Peru misadventures

Exhibit A: it sucks having to do this to all your photos

A break-up and a mudslide in Cuzco before I even got on the plane. Why don’t I ever listen to fate?

I had mentally invested so much into the trip by this point, I couldn’t bear to not go, if that makes any sense. Part of me was hoping we’d get back together, part of me was hoping it wouldn’t matter and we could travel together as friends no problem, and the other part of me wanted that goddamn llama picture on top of Machu Picchu SO BADLY! I should have listened to fate and realized all three were impossible.

I haven’t written much about Peru on here mostly because I preferred to forget that it ever happened.

Nowadays, I don’t regret going to Peru with an ex, though it took a while to come to that realization. I had an amazing time in spite of everything, but I definitely learned a lesson. Several lessons. Listen to fate, and realize that so many things while traveling are out of your control and you have to go with the flow or it could end up blowing up right in your face.

Peru misadventures

Riot police or relationship police?

3. Double camera fail

For this trip I decided to rent a super fancypants camera lens to go on my DSLR camera. I love wide angles and sweeping landscape shots, and I was beyond excited when my Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 (try saying that 5 times fast) arrived in the mail a few days before leaving. My first day in Lima with it was magical, and I took hundreds of photos as we headed north to Huaraz where an old study abroad friend was working in the Peace Corps.

The lens lasted a full day while we were high altitude trekking up in the Cordillera Blanca mountains. It even lasted enough to take the beautiful sunset photos that are now my blog banner; then my camera died. Something happened and it shorted out and no amount of begging, pleading or crying would make it turn back on again. Is there anything worse for a blogger than having your camera die on you in the middle of a big trip?

Peru misadventures

Peru misadventures

Sitting on the rooftop of our hostel, I tried to hold back tears. Was nothing going to go right on this trip? Then I manned up and realized several important things. Much worse things could happen than having a camera break; I was so lucky to be there. Looking around me and seeing half finished houses and children without shoes, with mongrel dogs running every which why. Who was I to be upset about such a luxury?

Of course my back up point and shoot broke on our last day, as it got caked in sand playing around in the desert. Typical.

Ultimately, it wasn’t a big deal. I had another camera with me that worked, and it made me realize that it’s important to step back and really absorb and soak in everything that you experience and see, smell and taste while traveling. Nowadays, it’s so easy to get caught up with documenting things, with your eyes glued behind a lens, that you miss what’s going on around you. Sometimes you have to step back and admit you are being ridiculous. Also, bring a back up camera, maybe two.

Peru misadventures

Peru misadventures

4. Getting stuck on a bus for almost 24 hours

After a beautiful few days in Cuzco, we boarded a luxurious overnight bus to Nazca to see the famous Nazca lines. These are mysterious shapes and drawings carved into the landscape, and many companies run small plane flights over them. Luckily, the fancy double-decker buses in Peru are pretty swank, with attendants, meals and seats that recline almost into beds. Swallowing a few sleeping pills, we promptly passed out, hoping to wake up in Nazca the next morning.

Vaguely, I remember waking up in the middle of the night in a sluggish haze, wondering why we had stopped. Turning over, I fell back asleep til the bright sunshine woke me up the next morning.

Wait, why are we still stopped?

Peru misadventures

6 hours later and so many behind schedule I can’t even remember, we finally rolled in Nazca. The bus had broken down in the middle of the night and took hours and hours to fix. Yawning and stretching we grabbed out backpacks and paddled off to go find one of the flight operators.

There is nothing positive I can add to getting stuck on a bus for a full day; at least it was a fancy bus and not a chicken bus, right?

Peru misadventures

5.  No Nazca lines

Are you even surprised at this point? A week or so before we arrived one of the planes carrying tourists over the famous Nazca lines crashed killing everyone on board. The government finally intervened and grounded all the companies while they carried out mandatory safety inspections.

Of course.

Why hadn’t we heard anything about this? Oh, they didn’t want tourists to stop coming to Nazca! WTF?! There is nothing to do there except see those lines; it’s in the middle of the desert! And the designs are so massive, you can only see them properly from a plane.

Grumbling, we stuffed some hot food in our faces before catching yet another bus to Huacachina, a village oasis in the desert.

Peru misadventures

 6. Getting sexually harassed in Huacachina

It was hot and sunny, just what I needed. Hanging around in hammocks under palm trees by the pool at our awesome hostel while parrots chirped and the sand dunes glowed gold in the afternoon sun was just what the doctor ordered. We scheduled a fun ride at sunset over the sands in the dune buggys. Perfect end to a long day, right?

I should have known something was up as I eyed a group of drivers drinking beers, smoking and making crude jokes as we piled in. What did we get ourselves into? Flying over the dunes at warp speed, I got sand in places I didn’t even know existed. No wonder my camera broke! Convinced we would surely DIE SCREAMING as our rather rotund driver flung the buggy up and down mountainous dunes laughing maniacally, I held on for dear life.

Finally we stopped and he let us out to try sand boarding, which is a lot harder than it looks by the way. I am not the most coordinated of persons, but I gave it my best.

Peru misadventures

Huffing and puffing, our group slowly made our way up the giant sand mountain to the buggy. As I walked past the group of drivers, I realized they were talking in Spanish about all of the girls in our group, and let me just say, it was not nice, friendly, complimentary or appropriate. Then I realized they were talking about me, the only rubita (blondie) in the gang. Oh no.

I could feel my face getting red in embarrassment and anger. I can tolerate a lot of things while traveling, but listening to a bunch of lewd men saying filthy things about me (after I had paid them too-what nerve!) thinking I didn’t understand is NOT one of them.

Throwing my sandboard at them, I calmly and politely (read: hysterical girly yelling) in Spanish said something along the lines of “listen bitches, I understand every dirty word coming out of your foul mouths. Don’t you dare talk about my tits to my face-your man boobs are so big you have no room to talk! And keep your nasty opinions to yourselves, you pigs, before I go complain to the hostel owner myself.” Fold arms, pop out hip to the side followed by the sassy-girl side to side head move, then walk off with my nose in the air.

Men suck sometimes.

Keeping quiet after that, we witnessed a beautiful red sunset over the dunes, turning the sand gold, orange and red. In spite of a few rude people and the fact that I cannot sandboard to save my life, it was still one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Peru misadventures

Peru misadventures

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55 Responses to Making Do in Peru

  1. Alisa March 15, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    I love travel misadventure stories, and these are some great ones. Props for having the lady-huevos to tell those pigs what was what! And I definitely relate to the having done stupid things for/about/with boys…ah, youthful ignorance.

    But the good part to all of this is that now you have to go back to Peru! Where’s the downside to that??

    • Liz March 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

      I know, right?

  2. Mike March 15, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Wow! I’d say that’s an incredible string of bad luck. I’ve never been to South America, but have a friend teaching there. He says the country is incredible. Machu Picchu is definitely on my to do list, and I felt so bad for you reading this when you couldn’t do it. I have no doubt that you will get back to South America and Machu Picchu though.

    • Liz March 15, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

      Just have to go back one day 😀

  3. Hannah @ Getting Stamped March 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    Wow you are just as lucky as I am when it comes to stuff happening to you! Love hearing people travel stories both positive and the mishaps! I love that photo from Over Yondluster! We will be in Peru for our RTW trip in October 2013! It is one of the highlights of our 15 month trip! I am sure sometime in your near feature you will visit Peru and it will be nothing like this trip, think WAY WAY better!

    • Liz March 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      Glad to know I’m not alone in the bad luck boat haha

  4. Talon March 15, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    My goodness you had a time of it!

    • Liz March 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      You have no idea

  5. Alex @ ifs ands & butts March 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    “A break-up and a mudslide in Cuzco before I even got on the plane. Why don’t I ever listen to fate?” <– this cracked me up BUT if I had already invested all that in the trip, I definitely would've gone too.

    I definitely had a camera die 1 week into a 4 week Eurotrip and I was devastated so upset. It was my SLR. So I went and bought a cheap Canon point and shoot and my pictures are just sooo crappy. It was a devastating lost.

    • Liz March 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

      Oh no!! It’s the worst isn’t it?!?

  6. Yishyene March 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    The best thing is that.. despite EVERYTHING you still had a great time, right??! X

    • Liz March 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

      Yup! It was a good trip and I got to see so much!

  7. Ian March 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    Don’t feel too bad. I lived in Peru for 5 months and never went to Cusco or Macchu Picchu. I was training to hike the Inca Trail while living in Miraflores and developed a nasty foot infection. It derailed my hike plans, derailed the trip to MP altogether.
    I’ve yet to return, but it will happen. Someday. You should too.

    • Liz March 15, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      Oh no! That sucks! The way I see it is next time I go to Peru ill have more time and I can hike the inca trail, that’s what I really want to do anyways 🙂

  8. Cortney March 15, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    You know you are a true adventurer when you can go through all that and then ask for more! I hope you were able to relax enough not to pop a blood vessel before graduation. Thanks for sharing all the stories… esp. the note about travelling with exes, which by the way is a thing I would be totally tempted to do.

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      Don’t do it!!

  9. Teresa March 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    You truly live up to the name of your blog with this post! Wow. I love your attitude about it- even if it is in hindsight. I’m glad you even want to give Peru a second chance.

    Your post made me reminise about 3 years ago.. Wait. Similar timeline with you. I went to peru with a long time bf, we broke up on the trip. Prior to that i had ecoli poisioning, was stuck on a bus bc of a mudslide, got held at knife point and found a fake cop when trying to report the crime (last two was in ecuador) i was stuck at the same hostel as my ex as he tried rebounding.I met someone new, we were drugged, robbed, he lost his ATM card- diaaster! This new guy ended up being my future hubby and love of my life.

    And I missed m. Pitchu too when I originally was with my ex- ended up extending my same trip to do peru again and see what I missed- nazca and mpicchu. Despite all of the madness, I tell people peru was my fav country because it surprised me in so many ways.

    PS- that would make a great OPI shade. I imagine it as a deep forest green. 🙂

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

      God that’s intense! Sounds like we’re twins! Here’s to hoping I meet my future husband on my next disaster trip haha

  10. Claudia March 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    I actually made it up to Machu Picchu last June. When you go back (because I’m positive you will), hike up, Mt Machu Picchu instead of Wayna Pichu. It was an incredible hike, and totally worth the two mental freak outs I had being so high up. Hehe. Plus, people often choose Wayna pichu, to the point it sells out. There will be lest people at the top, and you won’t have to fight for some space to take pictures. Of course my trip wasn’t all roses. The change in altitude and weather hit my friend really hard. Once we got back to Lima, she got really sick, to the point that her Asthma came back. She was basically in bed for the second half of our trip, and even had to make a couple trips to the hospital. Uff!!! We both still had a great time, and she wants me to take her back. I have no objections to that 🙂

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

      Thanks for the tip! Sounds like you had a rough time of it too!

  11. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas March 16, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    Is there anything worse than having your camera break? remember that time in Portugal when I had my laptop stolen AND got bedbugs?! Bahaha, everyone has these moments, and they’re fun to laugh about. PS today I ran into a pole face-first and had to cancel a day trip and go to the ER, so it even happens when you’re at home!

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

      Yikes sometimes things just suck the big one

  12. Shivangi March 18, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    woah…whatta trip ! Don’t we all love the rosy tints of hindsight ?! n you shud definitely go back for machu pichu !!

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

      Totally going back one day!

  13. Meg @ Anderstons in the Andes March 26, 2013 at 12:02 am #

    Try again with Peru someday. I live here and it is the most beautiful country. i’m a little jealous that you got Cusco all to yourself!

    • Liz March 26, 2013 at 2:15 am #

      That was definitely a great part of the trip! I loved getting to explore the area with zero crowds!

  14. Juan Carlos April 7, 2013 at 2:42 am #

    I wass delighted to read your post about my country, I´m really sorry you couldn´t make it to Machu Picchu. I´m sure you will have all the luck when you go next time, hopefully your misadventures will turn into great memories. I just loved your very positive attitude though. Kind regards!

  15. Flora May 25, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    I hate to say it Liz, but all this sounds so damn familiar! I loved Peru so much but I swear it presents every single person who visits with utter madness to deal with on a regular basis. I seriously hope you make it back to MP eventually though – it was so worth it when we finally got there!

    • Liz May 27, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

      I know!!! I really want to go back one day, and hike there properly. What a catastrophe!

  16. Crystal September 21, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    I love this post so thanks for sharing…Peru/Machu Picchu is on my list of things to do before I die and ughhhh, you had to miss out, but maybe next time you go it’ll be with some incredibly wealthy man who owns a jet and you can drink champagne whilst traipsing about the ruins.

    ALSO, GO YOU! I’m Mexican and I cannot stand it when I get talked about in Spanish….I would have also been hysterically yelling and shaking my fist at them had it been me.

    • Liz September 21, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

      exactly haha! I got so mad! Couldn’t believe they had the nerve to talk about me right in front of me, it was really foul too, ugh men

  17. Jalena September 25, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    I feel for you. When I went on my two week backpacking trip to Peru my luggage got lost. It never did arrive. I bought some Peruvian clothing and made the most of it. Making it to Machu Picchu made it all worth it!

  18. Kami January 28, 2014 at 6:42 am #

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching
    for more info

  19. Juan Jefry April 14, 2014 at 6:29 am #

    There are always things that happen when its a random election for travel, Peru is my country and its nice people choose it for visit.

    Machu Picchu is a wonderful and mystical place.

    About those guys talking bout you , I am sorry you met with those kinda of person, its horrible when people (guys) talk bout nasty dirty things bout girls and worst when the girl doesnt understand cuz the language. There are these Guys named “bricheros” are like hunters of foreigners girls, there bricheras (girls) too, its dissgusting when people try to catch a person from other country with that way.

    I hope you come back to Peru and finally go to Machu Picchu, here are great Food, great sceneries, and really nice people too , I hope soon Peru converts more than only Turistic place by the Foreigns.

    Greetings from here.

  20. Amy April 30, 2014 at 4:50 am #

    I lurk on your blog all the time and had to look up your Peru entries since I am planning on going. I’m sorry but I DIED laughing at your post. 🙁 It was sooo hilariously written & entertaining. <3

  21. Kathriona May 21, 2014 at 8:30 am #

    I loved reading this! Made me laugh out loud! I’m off to Peru this summer!

    • Liz May 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      have a good trip!

  22. Robbie September 5, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    Quality articles is the secret to invite the people to go to
    see the website, that’s what this web page is providing.

  23. Ashley October 31, 2014 at 4:40 am #

    “In fact, without doubt those 10 days were jam-packed full of misadventures and failures whose like I’ve ever experienced while traveling. If something could go wrong, it did. Guilty of being a bit of a control freak, I don’t like it when things don’t go according to plan when I am traveling, so I was not exactly happy.”

    GIRRRRRLLL that is just South America. You’ve always gotta plan for the worst when you go there.

  24. Elizaveta December 22, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    Hi Liz! Would you say that Peru is good for solo female traveling, is it safe enough? If yes where else besides Machu Picchu would you go alone in Peru? I love your posts! And reading this one made me want to go! Thank you!

  25. Shantel March 11, 2015 at 10:52 pm #

    Soooo we’re planning a trip to South America as well. the control freak that i am, is hopeful that it will not be a disaster.

    Where is that lake (with mountains and snow in the background) that you’re standing in front of? Also when did you travel there?

    • Liz March 14, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

      Lake 69 it’s called, near Huaraz

  26. Rodolfo Reyes October 22, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    The Cordillera Blanca is a beautiful places m there are many routes for trekking climbing expeditions as santa cruz trek, cedros alpamayo trek olleros chavin, pomabamba trek, tours 69 lake paron lake, churup lake awac lake, etc climbing as alpamayo chopicalqui huascaran artesonraju pisco tocllaraju.
    I invite you visit the Cordillera Huayhuash one of the most beautiful trek. the full trek take 12 to 14 days in this region was filmed to movie Touching The Void by Joe Simpson and Simon Yates

  27. Kevin Wagar October 23, 2015 at 6:59 am #

    I love your honesty and the tenacity to keep going, even whe. Things get tough. Traveling always comes with misadventures, but sometimes these lead to the best stories!

  28. Kelly Grainger November 27, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

    Great blog Liz! This is one of the best travel Peru posts out there. Too bad you didn’t break up with bad luck, too, while you had the chance… 😉 Kelly.

  29. Katie December 11, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

    I just got back from Peru and this story makes me laugh, but also realize how things just work out and it’s amazing how they do! Loved reading your story!

  30. Liz March 31, 2016 at 8:04 pm #

    Loved your blog, your story makes me laugh!. I just came back from Peru, it was amazing, we also had some of those funny to remember missadventures with our flights from LA to Peru, we were lucky enough to hire an excellent travel agency in Cusco city that made our trip unforgettable. It’s called Machupicchu Holidays in case any of you need to arrange a safe trip 🙂

  31. John Tatter June 5, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    Lol what a trip! I loved your blog, it’s so entertaining. I visited Peru about a month ago. Peru is such an amazing country! I have also travelled with a the same travel agency Liz recommended and had the most amazing experience in Peru. I hope you give Peru a second chance (no boyfriends) I’m sure you will love the country.
    I will leave you the webpage of this travel agency ( in case you decide to give it a chance.
    Kind regards!

  32. Damir June 25, 2016 at 6:43 am #

    Pitty to read about not being able to do the Nasca Lines..then again they are not all that impressive from the tiny plane. And these planes are scary! So despite being disappointed, it might have actually saved you some trouble 😉

  33. AndesTransit June 27, 2016 at 1:29 am #

    What a trip! I can relate to you on missing out on Machu Picchu, there just isn’t enough time sometimes. When I travel, I concentrate more on the overall feel of the place. I don’t like rushing myself here and there to ensure I see all the famous spots. Loved your pictures!

  34. MissNemou September 17, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

    I really loved reading your travel experience in Peru! Very well written!!
    It´s refreshing to also hear about down sides, or things that didn´t work out as planned as well!

  35. Roberts November 18, 2016 at 3:38 am #

    Thank You ,
    You are such agreed blogger i have reading this blog again and again and your pictures are so good.
    Thank you

  36. Rod November 21, 2016 at 1:10 am #

    Wow, exciting experience.

    I want to visit Peru with my dog (75lbs).

    I was wondering if you might suggest some towns or areas, where me and my dog could be, for awhile, since…we go everywhere together,safely? I dont mind staying in a village for a few weeks, and then move elsewhere.
    Thing is, I dont want to stand out with my dog, since we’d be a duo, basically.

    Is it highly uncommon to see “dog-owners” walking about with their best friend?

    Thank you.


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