I set down the berry pink and black tapestry my husband bought from a lady in Cuzco 8 years ago on our faux fur mid-century modern bench I reupholstered. I look at our gallery wall and smile at the picture of my son standing in front of the President of Peru’s palace. I see the empty frame where a painting of a llama will go- another project I have yet to complete. I love glancing around my home and seeing evidence of the country I was born in and the country where I took my 4 kids to visit this past summer.
If you follow me on social media (IG, FB, Snapchat- @frommewith_love) you may have seen our adventures this summer. My parents graciously offered to take me and the kids to Peru and visit our extended family. I said yes, and then I got nervous but finally sucked it up and went. My husband would have loved to go but he couldn’t get any more time off work so he lived vicariously through our pictures, videos and whatsapp. It almost doesn’t seem real that we explored the city, mountain and deserts of Peru but we did and it was incredible.
First, before you get all wanderlust on me, let me just tell you while our trip was amazing and crazy beautiful, these pictures don’t capture everything. It was hard. Really hard. And I wanted to go back home the first week we were there. SO much to get used to and making sure my kids were safe was my priority and it was exhausting. My kids got very sick the first week and one of my sons had to go to the hospital for breathing treatments. 3/4 of my kids were put on antibiotics because their chests were so congested- the climate change was hard on them. While it wasn’t super cold it was muggy so it fooled us into not keeping warm enough. If you want to travel to a different country, make sure to do your research about safety and health conditions.
- So while in Peru we couldn’t use tap water- not to drink or even brush our teeth or wash our food.
- Also, petty thefts can occur at any time. It is wise to just use your brain and not pull out your expensive camera out for all to see. Most of the time you are fine, but it happens and they’ll just pick pocket or run and take that camera away from you. Sometimes worse so just use your best judgement. And don’t carry lots of money or expensive things on you. Put them in a safe and leave them at home.
- Keep your kids close. Some crazy lady tried to take Adelle when we were in Lima. It was the most frightened I have ever been. It doesn’t happen all the time but it happens.
- Traffic isn’t the same. No one really obeys the traffic laws so as a pedestrian you have to have your guard up at all times.
- Research what is safe to eat. We avoided fresh cheeses, deli meat that wasn’t prepackaged and unfortunately, eating out in the holes in the wall restaurants. It was so so hard because everything smells so delicious but the last thing we wanted was someone to get a parasite.
These aren’t to scare you. Like I said, once we knew this and got into the habit it was fine. Knowledge is power people. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
Ok, now onto ICA! I had no idea that there was a beautiful oasis in the desert in Peru. My parents took my brothers there a few years ago and when I saw the pictures I demanded I be taken as well. I know, I’m a brat. So we went!
We traveled to Ica on a bus. There is both a direct bus and one that has a stop in Paracas (where you can take a boat out to see cool animals). We took the one with the stop because we planned on stopping there on the way back. It was about a 5 hr drive but we had reclining seats and tvs in front of our seats. The kids were champs. I loved/hated looking out the window. The scenery was beautiful and seeing as it changed from city to farms to desert was eye opening. Along with those changes you see the decrease of wealth- you see the real poverty: old old people carrying who knows what on their back to sell on the side of the road, young children running up to cars in an attempt to earn pennies for cleaning their windows, young adults standing on their heads amongst other street acts to earn anything to bring back to their families. I felt guilty as I looked at my kids with their headphones on watching a movie on a cushy bus- their very own bubble from the reality outside. This could have been my life. This could have been theirs.
As we arrived to our hotel, Las Dunas, I looked around and felt like we were in a small paradise. This resort seemed out of place considering everything I saw on the outskirts. It really was a little oasis in the desert. While my guilt still followed me throughout the trip, I was overcome with gratitude. I know people may think I just forgot about all the sadness outside those gates, but the longer I was in Peru the more I learned that everyone has sadness as well as joy. Most of these people were genuinely happy. I didn’t have to feel sorry for them just because their lives weren’t like mine and they didn’t have the luxuries I was accustomed to. They were happy with what they had- they didn’t know anything else.
We walked around and could see the top of one of the sand dunes. The palm trees, the warm sun, the aroma of traditional Peruvian food and the happy chatter made us feel like we were in paradise. I can’t say enough great things about this hotel. It was beautiful, the food was great and the rooms were spacious. We went in July, which is winter there, so while it was sunny and warm in the late morning/early afternoon, it got super chilly in the evenings and mornings. Like, I should have brought a freakin’ puffy jacket and not my utility jacket. I was also expecting more tropical weather but it was like a dry warmth- not hot enough for just a swimsuit and coverup. That was a fail on my part. It was warm enough to go swimming though but that breeze! Just have a towel handy.
My kids got sick our first week in Peru. Like really sick. And this made me want to go home because we were in a tiny village and the resort misinformed me about medical care. Perhaps I misunderstood but my daughter had a fever for 2 nights and when I called to see where I could take her they told me there wasn’t a doctor around but I’d have to go into the village. Now, not to be a snobby brat but I didn’t want to take my daughter to some random village doctor. We gave her tylenol that we brought from the states, and took her to the sauna to clear up her lungs. At first they didn’t want to let me into the sauna with her but after I cried, like really cried because I was at a loss of what to do, they let me in after I signed my life away and released them from any responsibility should anything happen. The girl helping me was so sweet and tried to make Adelle’s time there comfortable. She brought in toys from the daycare and accommodated us when the noise was too scary and loud for her. All I wanted was to be understood and this girl put herself in my position as a Mom and helped soothe us both. After a couple of those sessions we asked about any LDS missionaries serving in that area. We were blessed to have an acquaintance at the hotel call the missionaries to come to the resort. They gave my sick kids as well as my dad who had gotten some sort of food poisoning (He knew better but was tempted by the octopus and cheese!) a blessing of health. We believe in miracles from God, and my dad was better that day. My kids’ fevers went away and a doctor was able to come by the same day and prescribe antibiotics for the kids. I truly believe God heard my prayers and knew the turmoil I was in as a mother who felt so helpless. He sent these people to aid us so we could enjoy our travels.
The activities they held were so fun- water aerobics, sliding down the sand dunes, basketball, horse back riding, etc. We also purchased the buffet meal plan for all of us. If you have picky kids like mine, I’d advise you NOT to do that. My kids ate one meal and we could have just paid for a la carte and saved a lot of money. For the adults though…I ate to my heart’s desire. And you must try the lucuma ice cream which is very popular in Peru. I don’t even know what it is in English but it rocks my world. I crave it. We even celebrated Adelle’s birthday there- they had a special theater and dinner night where they brought people up on stage to sing them happy birthday. She even got a little treat brought out especially for her. These pictures actually make me sad because you can see how crummy she feels.
If you aren’t stay in the resort type, which we usually aren’t, exploring around Ica is pretty cool. We left the resort one day to ride the dune buggies down the sand dunes. You basically go to this spot and pick someone to take you. They aren’t regulated so they may not be particularly safe or licensed- you are taking a risk. We found a guy that would take us and take us on a super easy and slow ride because we had the kids with us. Let me tell you, if that was an “easy” ride, I do not even want to go on the adult rides. It was bumpy, fast and awesome. The boys were having a blast while sister was screaming her lungs out which sounded more like a hoarse pteradon. She was also quite sick so she her nerves were heightened. You MUST go on a ride on a dune buggy and board down the sand dunes. MUST. Our driver took us down a baby hill and that was a thrill enough for me. On our way back stopped atop a hill overlooking Huacachina and the lagoon. You guys. Ahhh. This is the exact picture I saw that made me want to come here. It’s like from a movie but it is REAL.
Sorry for the long long post but I also want to write it down for my family to remember. My kids are still young so they may not remember, especially the baby, but our time there was incredible. We got to experience things we wouldn’t here. Peru may not be the first place you think of when you want to travel with your kids, but I assure you it is worth it. Yes, we had our ups and downs and scary times but in the end it was absolutely worth it. If you have any questions about traveling abroad or Peru, places to stay, safe transportation, etc. please ask! We have safe and trustworthy people that have helped us with all those things.