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On a Return Trip to Peru, Second Time’s the Charm

By Sarah Buder 


From the September/October 2018 issue

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Two members of the AFAR + Nikon World in Focus trip check out the view in the Sacred Valley.

Photo by Sarah Buder

Two members of the AFAR + Nikon World in Focus trip check out the view in the Sacred Valley.

How does it feel to go back to a place you once fell in love with? Sometimes the best part of a journey is sharing it.

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As a backpacker a few years ago in Peru, I fell hard for the country. In March I returned to lead a 10-day AFAR + Nikon “World in Focus” photography trip. We visited many of the same places I had explored on my first trip: We saw hundreds of people parade through the streets of Lima during Holy Week, met female weavers from the Sacred Valley’s indigenous Amaru community, and watched the ruins of Machu Picchu emerge from a mass of fog.

A weaver from the indigenous Amaru community works on a table runner.
But I was most eager to revisit Cuzco. On our first day there, nostalgia swept over me as we gathered in the Plaza de Armas, where a church and the cathedral frame the square’s central fountain. Some members of our group joined me for a tour of my old haunts. We walked up Cuzco’s cobblestone alleyways, passing colorful shops that sold woven cloths and hand-painted dishes. When we reached the San Blas neighborhood, I took them to Green Point, which still served my favorite quinoa burger topped with a zesty sauce and flower petals. After lunch came the open-air San Pedro Market, where, during my first trip, I had used my newly acquired Spanish skills to barter for a pair of shoes. I watched my fellow travelers try on alpaca wool sweaters and sample picarones (Peruvian doughnuts), just as I had years before.

That night, our dinner table was abuzz with conversations about the city’s maze-like streets and the traditional monteras (adorned headpieces) local women wore. I now had a new memory of Cuzco I would cherish: sharing it.

Locals walk in the town of Maras.
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