After 60 hours, a delayed flight, and a subsequent missed connection, we finally arrived in Cusco.
Being a day behind schedule, we had to hit the ground running. Within 15 minutes of arriving at the ATEK compound we were re-packed and ready to head to a remote village buried deep in the mountains of Peru. We knew this was going to be the plan, although we had hoped for a few days to acclimatize ourselves to being at nearly 11,000 feet. The village we were traveling to was at roughly the same elevation, but some of the mountain passes surpassed 16,000 feet. We started taking our high altitude pills the night before and were hoping for the best.
The Toyota Land Cruiser was packed full of food and supplies for the five of us taking the trip. Up front was Pastor Freddi our driver and his trusty co-pilot Peter, a Swiss missionary here to teach English and on this particular trek, to be our translator. On our way out of town we picked up Yoni, a young girl we would later find out is in charge of children’s ministries for ATEK.
Eager to get out and see what God is doing here in Peru, we were excited and ready, but nothing could have prepared us for the roads that lie ahead. If you’ve ever driven a logging road to a primo hiking spot in the Canadian Rockies, you’ll have some idea. Just add a 5,000 foot vertical drop, triple the amount of switchbacks, remove the guardrails and let loose dozens of roaming sheep, donkeys and cows.
About a half hour in to the trip I realized that the supermarket chicken goulash was not the best choice for lunch. The combination of traveling for the past 2-1/2 days, the windy, bumpy roads, and what the doctor would later tell me is altitude sickness made for a rather unpleasant drive and resulted in three unscheduled stops to “take in the view”.
190 kms and 7-1/2 hours later we arrived at our final destination, Perrca. In the end the trip up was definitely worth it. The views were incredible, the people were welcoming and the knowledge that God is working here was encouraging.
It was amazing to see the distances that the members of ATEK go to minister to the forgotten Quechua people. Check back as Lorene will continue to share specific stories of what God is doing here over the next week as we move back in to areas with reliable internet.