The last of the Incas

This year, sees an adventure begin. My trip to Peru in April, will be one of the biggest events of my life, I see nothing but the land of the setting sun in front of me.  It’s been a childhood dream of mine to visit Machu Pichu, my interest in the Incan empire was sparked when I was only a child, watching the Mysterious Cities of Gold, pretending to be Zia, the Incan princess. Something about the ancient lands of Peru causes a chill down my spine, the good kind, the kind, which kicks you off your seat into action, into an adventure.

I read the Lost City of the Incas by Hiram Bingham last year, it was filled with stories of discovery, the main one being how he found the last city of the indigenous people of Peru, which had always fascinated me. I had no hopes of becoming an archaeologist or historian when I was a child, I had only wished to visit the land of the setting sun so I could trace the same steps of the Incas with my very own footprints.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Last year, after coming back from a four-year adventure in Japan, I felt at odds with the world. It might come across off as little strange, but I left not out of the need for home comforts, but for adventure. Japan had given me all the necessities I would have needed to go voyaging off in some distant land,  money, accessible routes from sea and land, but it lacked the all important key to adventure; opportunity. You see I didn’t want to just visit Peru, I wanted to explore Peru.

That’s when I realised I wanted to be more than a travel writer, visiting restaurants and hotels and giving them a rating out of ten seemed a little mundane, if not repetitive. I wanted to get into every nick and cranny in Machu Picchu and find or notice something that someone hadn’t before.

I started attended seminars at UCL about South American Archaeology, and my interest started to shape into a life ambition. I began applying for internships on archaeological digs in Peru and by some source of divine power I was offered one late last year with a renowned archaeologist in the field of Ancient Peru, finally starting my adventure.

Here I include my 5 favourite civilisations to come out of Peru, and some I hope to delve into more once I become more acquainted with the region.

Top 5 Peruvian Ancient

  1. The Chachapoyas, also called the Warriors of the Clouds, was a culture of Andean people living in the cloud forests of the Amazonas Region of present-day Peru.
  2. The Inca Empire  was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America.
  3. The Nazca culture was the archaeological culture that flourished from 100 BCE to 800 CE beside the dry southern coast of Peru in the river valleys of the Rio Grande de Nazca drainage and the Ica Valley.
  4. The Wari  were a Middle Horizon civilization that flourished in the south-central Andes and coastal area of modern-day Peru, from about AD 500 to 1000.
  5. The Chavín were a civilization that developed in the northern Andean highlands of Peru from 900 BC to 200 BC.

Wanderlust

Another entry about traveling you ask? Yes, sorry to bore you with my great plans to travel across all the continents, but after an eventful January; I’ve come to realise that traveling is my only safe net.  This month was my birthday after all the drunkenness and mishaps I decided to clear my mind from all the nonsense happening around me; to make a couple of much needed adjustments.
I turned the grand old age of 25, it’s remarkable really that I’ve celebrated nearly all my early 20s in Japan. Some would say that is an amazing feat, but now I just feel rooted and I hate that feeling. Sure, I love my friends here and some you could say are almost as close to me as family and that in some ways that -scares me. You see when I was younger, I had always wanted to travel. I was pretty much a loner throughout primary school and secondary school due to my love for academia and other geeky stuff which didn’t have that geek-chic that it does now. I had only a couple of close friends who although were good company, remain little more than acquaintances. During my early years, I was one of those “out of sight out of mind,” people, but as I entered university that person I had molded began to change significantly. The constant need to hide myself, not to reveal too much had broken.  Then in my second year of university I decided that I was due a change, it was one of the hardest things to do, to say goodbyes to some of my closest friends. I couldn’t cope with what that meant to me and I decided to  make them hate me, make them really dislike me. It worked, I left the U.K without any attachments.

Celebrating my 25th Birthday

Celebrating my 25th Birthday

It was a childish idea, however after contemplating my actions for a long time, I knew I couldn’t do it any other way. The honest truth is that when I decide something mentally after hours of consideration, it’s done; nothing is changing my mind. This is one of the few traits that I have kept from childhood and possibly why down the line I have made some foolish choices.

The story begins when I was walking to work in Ikebukuro, I take the same trip everyday, I see the same shops and speak to the same people. “Black coffee please.”  I’ve never been a great fan of repetitiveness;  unlike others I find no comfort in a habitual life. The same reason that I wanted to escape the U.K came surfacing up on my journey to work, why am I here if it’s not for adventure? I had always had an ideal of being a nomad, a traveling tramp with just my backpack and some money, but alas my upbringing and my love for modern comforts had made me realise that I couldn’t live that sort of existence even if I tried.  Though the idea of acquiring knowledge has always appealed to me, I mean that is one of the reasons I came to Japan, to learn the language, the culture and its history and I couldn’t careless about grades or pieces of papers that are suppose to somehow make me feel verified.  Though I knew that I would be wasting an opportunity if I didn’t change my route. If I stayed in Japan and studied I would be missing out on some adventure somewhere else. The idea of studying in Sweden popped into my mind, whilst being rammed by yet another leather handbag on my commute to work. Japan has made me grow as a person, there’s no denying it so I’m not demeaning my experiences here.  I’m more confident with who I am, despite the obvious flaws. There’s a belief inkling at the back of my mind that I could develop even more someplace else, with more space for creative expression. I won’t deny that I also have a thirst for culture and history and I believe one country isn’t enough to suffice this urge.

Japan was a challenge. Although in some ways completely westernised, in other ways so strict and traditional that it can be suffocating. Many of the nuisances started to grate on me after a while. I wanted more liberation, I did my research and found Sweden. I won’t deny that I find life in Japan comfortable, everything is easy. I never wanted easy though, liberal-yes, but not -easy.  A friend recommended I read Into The Wild by John Krakauer.  One lazy afternoon in the staff room twittering my thumbs, I noticed a copy lying on one of the top shelves apparently disregarded by one of the other teachers. I couldn’t put it down, I read it on the train, between breaks,  before bed. It is one of the few books that has altered my views about traveling, in a better way of course. Christopher Mccandless died in a bus in the middle of the wilderness in Alaska; with nobody.  Getting rid of all my belongings and living off the land in the middle of nowhere with the chance of impending doom doesn’t exactly appeal to me, but whilst reading it I couldn’t help but empathise with Mccandless, his constant frustrations of his dreary middle-class existence, his pent up dissatisfaction with society.  Mccandless did something, he made that change although it cost him his life, given another chance; he probably would do it exactly the same, make the same mistakes.

It’s possible like Mccandless that my idealistic views of the world could end up getting me into some trouble: debt, stress, and possible loneliness.  Though to say I never took the opportunity would be a greater disappointment, at least for myself.