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It is llama central in the country of Peru. Peru is an unbelievable destination for a twelve-year-old tourist. For me, traveling there changed the definition of “vacation”. Women dressed in colorful, woven garments roam the streets with llamas and alpacas on a leash. After several days, it became as natural as neighbors walking their dogs around the neighborhood. The food, however, was something I was never able to get over. It was a huge culture shock for me to dine on alpaca pizza and have guinea pig as a specialty dish. Through the surprise though, I was able to enjoy my odd food, chasing it down with a nice bottle of Inca Cola.

We spent the majority of the trip in a unique mountain city called Cusco. The hotel in Cusco was a dainty little place. The bedroom had three twin beds crammed inside. Each morning, we would wake up to a pair of stinky feet at the head of our bed. Another interesting thing our hotel offered was coca tea. The tea leaves are the same leaves used for cocaine. The tea is supposedly helpful to acclimating to the high elevation.

I thought for years that New York City had the worst traffic on Earth. After visiting Cusco, I learned that I was wrong. There were taxis every way I looked. Peruvian drivers were very ignorant of red lights. We would literally be completely stuck in traffic. That, however, did not stop the oncoming traffic to think that they could magically drive through the middle of our taxi. Many times, I wondered how cars ended up in the position they were in. I learned two lessons from that though: always get a taxi while traveling in Cusco and be grateful for the neat traffic in New York.

During the trip, we partook in several bus tours. One of them included a visit to a marketplace filled with assorted foods and handmade goods. It was an amazing experience because the market was not jam-packed with tourists like every other place. The majority of the shoppers were Peruvian residents. The market was placed inside a city, so we had to walk a considerable distance from our bus. The streets were not paved, and I was grateful that I had worn my comfy tennis shoes. The market was organized by produce and everything not produce. We weaved in and out of streets, gazing at the beautifully handcrafted rugs and ponchos. I wish I could have bought everything. Also on the trip was a tour of an authentic village. The residents there showed us their lifestyle; it was such an interesting experience. One of the women demonstrated the tedious process of making different products. Their only income was off the goods they sold. Another trick they showed us was using a bug as a lip stain. They would take a bug, squish it, and smear the red blood on their lips. I was speechless when they explained that to us. After the tour was over, we were allowed to view their products. I departed with a soft pair of mittens that not only had the four normal finger holes, but also a thumb hole. Once I saw that, I got pretty pumped up.

Besides all the other magnificent things, I can clearly remember getting of the airplane in Cusco. In movies and on TV, I have always watched celebrities walking down the steps of their private jet and waving at the cameras. In a city like Cusco, the airport was not large enough for terminals like in the U.S. I finally was given the opportunity to walk down the Steps of Fame except there was more shoving and cameras were not taking my picture. A girl can dream though, right?

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