One thing I've learned is always to pick your bridesmaids with care. Mine, Sara, from 54 years ago, now lives in Boston. She called me a couple of months ago.
"I'd like to go to Machu Picchu in Peru," she said, "and I'd like to take you as my guest." Didn't take me long to think that one over.
I had to get out my maps of South America. Peru is the long, skinny country along the west coast .Its coastline is 3,000 kilometres long and its latitude is from 0-18 degrees south of the equator. To the east is the Amazon rain forest, to the west, the Pacific Ocean and down the length, the world's longest mountain chain, the stupendous Andes Cordillera.
There are lots of geographic superlatives about Peru. In fact, of the 112 mini climates in our world, Peru has 86 of them. There is the long coast. The land there is arid, but the ocean surf makes it the best for that sport in the world. There is the mountain range, moist and rich in terraced farm land, so much so that Peru abounds in crops; quinoa first of all, corn, barley, amaranth, 150 varieties of potatoes, fruit and vegetables.
Civilizations in Peru go back 4,000 years. My interest in all things global is intense, but my specific knowledge of this continent has been scant. Out came the Spanish phrase book and the Public Library website.