My colleague, Mark, visited Peru some time around 2013. When he returned from his trip, he brought back souvenirs, one of which was a t-shirt from Cusco. I thought it very cool that he was generous enough to give me that t-shirt. Also, I didn’t know it, but his gift sparked in me the desire to one day visit Machu Picchu. Though with the then state of my finances, I knew I could not make visiting Peru a priority.
Two years later, I still had the t-shirt Mark gifted me and my finances had improved only slightly and I had enough in savings to at least travel a short distance from South Korea. I chose to visit the Philippines.
It was still 2015 and a series of most fortunate events transpired that taken together conspired to place me in Peru. For starters, I flew back to Los Angeles from Korea. There, I enjoyed 4th of July celebrations with my family. Three weeks thereafter I flew back to Korea where I hoped to earn extra cash teaching English at a summer camp. I was out of luck because I hadn’t received express permission from Korean Immigration authorities to participate in employment outside of my primary job. Therefore, I would have risked my cushy university position by working the summer camp. I returned to my university dorm room (yes, dorm room!) where I thought I would spend the remainder of my summer. However, my dad called to ask how I was doing as he knew that I had flown back to Korea in hopes of securing additional employment over my eight week vacation, of which I had already spent three weeks at home with him. When I informed him that I would not pursue the position further, he told me to return to Los Angeles to spend the remainder of my time with my him and the rest of my family. I reluctantly obliged. My dad was paying for my travel between Korea and America and this was definitely not how I wanted to see myself as a 35 year old man — still dependent on my dad.
While en route to America from Korea, I was informed of a position to work for the Ministry of Education in Peru. This opportunity was Heaven sent! This opportunity brought me ever closer to realizing my wish to visit Machu Picchu.
I had the chance to get to know Lima, Punta Hermosa, and Miraflores during my first trip to Peru in 2015. The experience was fun. I surfed off the coast of Lima, partied at a local club, developed a taste for Lomo Saltado, Ceviche, and other Peruvian delicacies!
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit Cusco or Machu Picchu.
The two week teaching opportunity ended just in time for me to catch a flight back to Korea where I returned to my university job without exploring Peru sufficiently. I did, however, make my way to the Afro-Peruvian city of Canete which I found delightful. My consolation prize was a faux picture petting a llama in Machu Picchu.
By 2017, I had been to Peru, which I found tremendously impressive. From the moment I received dos besos on my mejillas (de mi cara) I felt the warmth of the Peruvian culture. Then there was the food — que diferente!
However, I still hadn’t been to Machu Picchu. I had had the t-shirt and been in the country once before, but I had not been there.
So, in 2017, when I was of means to travel there because I had secured a new position teaching in Saudi Arabia, I went back intent on seeing Machu Picchu in person.
In addition to seeing Machu Picchu for the first time, I also ascended Mt. Machu Picchu, which unlike Huyana Picchu is less dangerous to ascend.