by Kait Whiteside, Greenheart Travel Volunteer Abroad Participant in Peru
photo by Kait Whiteside
After a couple long days of traveling, I was very thankful to be landing in my final destination of Cusco, Peru. The lush green of the rolling mountains in Cusco was quite a contrast to the endless brown of Lima. Laura, my volunteer coordinator, picked me up at the airport to take me to the volunteer site in Urubamba, which is just an about an hour car ride from Cusco.
Before finding a cab, we stopped in a café for some maté de coca, an energizing tea that helps with adjusting to Cusco´s high altitude of 10,000 feet. I was obviously in need of the tea as I felt myself become heavily winded after walking up a single flight of stairs to the café. The tea had a pleasant, earthy taste and I would send some back home for everyone to try if wasn’t an illegal commodity in most other countries.
After tea, we found a taxi where I basically spent the entire drive to Urubamba with my face smashed against the window, gawking at the breathtaking scenery. The terrain is stunning and I have never seen so much green—everything is carpeted with a verdant cover. At a couple points we could see horizontal rows carved high up along the mountainside. These were the Incan terraces used for farming. It was a bit surreal to think of how the ancient people of the Incas walked this same land and the remnants of their life are still standing today, looking over modern civilization with immortal dignity.
Once we reached Urubamba we each paid the cab driver 7 soles…that’s right, for an hour cab drive we paid a little more than $2 USD.