Every traveler can recall at least one memorable event or sight that remains long after the bags are unpacked. After all, isn't that what travel is all about? But how many can say that every day brought something so unusual and unique as to call forth all the superlatives one can conjour.
The South American journey from the Galapagos Islands to Machu Pichu in Peru perfectly fit that category. Unspoiled ecosystems with creatures of land, sea and air were the order of the day in the Galapagos.
The natural world unfolded with views unseen anywhere else. Imagine being able to watch a sea lion nursing her young and being totally unfazed by your presence. Giant turtles claimed the roadway as their own, in no particular hurry to let you pass. Penguins watched your dinghy floating by with not a bit of fear. The sometimes challenging terain soon let you know this was no 'let's make it easy for the tourists' agenda, but rather remaining as natures' erruptions had left it. A long alphabetic list would be needed to capture in memory the many creatures residing there.
The agrarian lifestyle of the Ecuadorians abounded. A patchwork quilt of crops dotted the landscape. They make good use of the Equatorial climate. Native dress and tourism go hand in hand.
The clash of two historic cultures seemed to be the order of the day in Peru. The Inca way of life had been so impacted with the arrival of the Spaniards. Viewing the archetectural genius of the Incas it seemed hard to believe that mere mortals could erect such temples to the sky. Their short-lived civilization is still shrouded in mystery. Archeologists today are constantly unraveling the unknown. The unique way they mastered the challenging landscape with terraces and aqueducts boggles the mind.
The Spaniards did their best to bend the will of the Incas. In many ways they did, but still the Incas were able to circumvent some efforts. In towns one can see the blending of Incan remains and European influence, especially in the ornate cathedrals. You're caught short of breath in an altitude where there are clouds below you. Luckily, the camera lens catches it all, for otherwise, who would believe you?
The Road Scholar organization is to be commended for this comprehensive program. Knowledgable caring guides and noted lecturers melded together to create this truly 'a journey of superlatives'.