18 months ago, I got a strange call from a man calling himself Mavis (is that even a real name?), he told me he had the opportunity of a life time and that I must meet with him asap. A bit sceptical I meet with this stranger called Mavis and he started speaking 100 miles an hour about Activ8, and how we needed to get a group of our clients to go on this adventure to Peru.
Fast forward a year and we had a group of 23- 19 Activ8 clients, Shayne (my business partner), my wife/business partner Miranda, myself, and Mavis. Mavis, (and his business Dream It) vision was to create an experience that is out of this world. That meant that we couldn’t do the normal 4 day Inca trail walk, it meant we were aligned with the best guides and people in Peru to take us along an ancient path that followed in the footsteps of the legendary ‘Chasqui’ runners. I didn’t realise how special this was going to be.
Before the trip life was full on, organising work (we have a great team but was nervous with the three directors being away and out of contact for 2 weeks), we also had to organize our two girls (age 1 and 3) down to Gisborne to be looked after by grandparents. It really snuck up on me, I was literally at work until the 40 mins before my flight from Whangarei. This meant I never gave the trip too much thought, but was generally looking forward to it.
What happened over the next 15 days was nothing short of life changing. There were three main areas for me that made this trip something else.
Game of soccer at altitude Horsemen vs Kiwis with local kids on both teams
The People we met
I am 100% sure we had the most amazing support crew ever assembled in Peru. Two fantastic guides Julio (local guide), Rob (American guide), 5 horseman, 2 chefs, a waiter, and a tent man. All these men were out of this world with service- we had 5 star treatment in the middle of the Andes. Little things like waking up every morning to a cup of tea delivered to our tent, along with warm water to wash your face; cooking meals on mountain tops at over 4000m altitude (these were hot 3 course meals for 25 people, some with gluten free and vegetarian requests). Small details like our guide Rob Harsh- having daily ‘visions’ of people within our group and their spirit animal – these moments were priceless and always provided a laugh at dinner time.
The local village people in the mountains we meet along the way were amazing. These people taught me so much. They live a simple but hard life, and have the most amazing personalities. They are so happy and so excited to hang out and interact with tourists. We had an amazing afternoon at a rural school in Yanama- the kids sang for us, we had a game of football with the horsemen and local kids (this in itself was a totally new experience trying to run at altitude!)
“Happiness is not what we have, it is the perspective we put on what we have”.
Coming back to New Zealand, I have made some conscious decisions on how I live my life- after spending quality time with these awesome local Peruvian people. You can learn a lot about yourself by seeing how others live their lives. Little things- like everyone we met gave us a smile and friendly hello/olla, but more, children would come running out, would give hugs and were always over the top happy. The more smile and hugs we give out the more joy we bring into our own lives, it is so simple, but we are either too busy or too embarrassed to pass these small joys on. Our world is becoming too fast, too impersonal. My goal is to slow down, and be personal, no more HB (happy birthday) on someone’s face book page, if you care enough about them give them a bloody call, maybe even visit them……crazy aye!
Team Jump Our team with the horsemen in front row
The People we travelled with
As mentioned- we travelled with a group of clients, now all the travelling I have done in the past are with family and close friends. Travelling with such a varied group, varied back grounds, experiences, fitness levels and personalities was amazing. It was such a buzz to see how everyone helped each other out, how we mixed and made new friends.
Another highlight for me was the kiwi culture, we mixed effortlessly with everyone we come in contact with. One night in particular will stick with me forever- as mentioned we had the most amazing support crew. On the Horsemans last night we shouted a few beers for them- for the next 3 hours we had laughter and tears with our new friends. They knew less than 5 words of English and we had less than that of Spanish. This didn’t matter as we had a great time in each others company, we communicated with gestures and actions and shit, did we laugh! This moment didn’t sink in until the next day until both our guides said that that was rare. Seen what? I first thought, but most groups didn’t interact with the ‘help’ like we did, language was no issue.
Thank you to every individual in our group, you all added to an amazing experience by being you
View of Machu Picchu from half way Machu Picchu Mt.
The Places we saw
OK Machu Picchu was amazing, and the climb up Machu Picchu Mountain will be with me forever. But after 10 days walking over Mountain after Mountain, not seeing any other tourists, and passing through tiny farming villages based in the most unique places, it was a bit of a pain to have to share Machu Picchu with 1000’s of tourists. Our itinerary was awesome. We visited Choquequirao- an ancient village similar to Machu Picchu, that is still being discovered, we walked around these breath taking terraces built for farming, some built on a cliff face, just totally mind blowing stuff, and we had this place all to ourselves.
One morning we woke and the horsemen pulled our tents down for us (there was a tent man who normally did this), thought nothing of it at the time, but our tent man had woken at 3am to head off to clear some scrubs for the next camp site. We arrived mid afternoon after 6-8hrs of hiking to see our beautiful yellow tents all up along some ancient terraces – our views that day were 2nd to none.
Yellow tents on ancient terraces, careful going for a wee in the night!
In Peru there seems to be no Mountain ridges – where you can travel mountain to mountain on, that would be too easy, you have to walk up and down each one. We could see 5 or 6 spectacular mountains from this camp site (including one with a zig zag path that lead to the clouds….tomorrows walk.)
Our photos will never do justice to what we saw.
Before I left I thought I was a happy, positive person, I loved my life. However after this trip I have ‘awaken’ (bloody hippy I know), but seriously I am now happier- I believe I know how I can live a better, happier life and I am sure I can have more positive connections with more people and get more out of all my relationships with all that I may come into contact with.
To those that made this trip happen, to those that shared my experience along the trip, and to those amazing Peru men and women (sadly I can not tell them how much they influenced me) thank you, thank you, thank you.
Bring on the next trip of a life time. I am fizzing already.
If anyone would like to contact Mavis, his business is called Dream It. (His real name is Michael by the way – he loves it when you call him that). Easy to find on the web, also if you know anyone who is heading to Peru or America and would like our guides contact details I would be happy to pass those on. Just contact us: http://www.activ8nz.co.nz/contact/
Read Shaynes blog on his Inca experience http://www.activ8nz.co.nz/news/inca-roads-journey-life-changing-experience/
Read Mirandas tips from Peru http://www.activ8nz.co.nz/news/called-human-beings-reason/