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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

A Tale of Two Worlds

We just arrived in Puerto Maldonado after our trek in the Lares Valley. The Lares Valley is part of the Sacred Valley of Peru, and Chris has been lucky enough to trek it twice. It is hard to describe the feeling of being in such an incredible place.

It was refreshing to be in a place so different from our own homes, where people live in harmony with the land they live on, working with nature instead of fighting against it. In the United States we find ourselves constantly seeking more. Traveling through the Lares Valley with only the packs on our back (and on the backs of our mules,) we reached an understanding that happiness in life does not have to be achieved through what you have.

The second day of our trek was challenging for everyone. Rain beat relentlessly against our backs, and cold temperatures caused our hands to turn red and stiff. Once we reached our destination for the day, the community of our incredible guide Americo, we found our campsite flooded with water. We all had wethered cold temperatures and rain for an entire day, and dreaded the thought of sleeping through the same conditions. Americo and his family were kind enough to offer us shelter, water, food, and a bathroom. They extended their hearts and their home to our small group of travelers. They shared with us the potatoes that have grown on their farm in the Sacred Valley for many generations, completely organic and free of undue human intervention. We thought about the lives we have temporarily left back in the United States. Would we extend our comforts to complete strangers who had very little to nothing to give back?

Americo and his family live in harmony with nature in the Sacred Valley. Their situation was in stark contrast to our own. This was not only an experience that brought the group together, it also showed us how simply we could live and remain happy.

Signing off from Puerto Maldonado,

Mary Ren and Chris