<I left grad school in Blacksburg, Virginia to start a job in Raleigh, NC – my fiance was staying behind and I needed a quick place to crash to start my new job until we figured our lives out. My aunt and uncle are AMAZING and let me move into their basement. The best part was hanging out with their three children – my cousins ages 5, 7 and 8. >
Me: “OK girls, I’m leaving for my trip today. I won’t see you for Christmas or New Years, ok?”
Chloe: “Where are you going?”
Me: “I’m hiking to Machu Picchu, remember?”
Chloe thinks for a minute
Chloe: “That’s in Peru, right?”
I’m shocked an 8 year old knows that Machu Picchu is in Peru – I mean I didn’t even really know it was in Peru until I started researching the trip
Me: “Yah! You’re right!”
The 8 year old is always right. She smiles, knowing this. The 5 year old starts to think for a minute.
Lucy: “Deepest, darkest Peru?”
Well…that’s a very precise phrase…
Lucy: “That’s where Paddington Bear is from!”
Me: “Really, I thought he was from England?”
Lucy: “No let me show you!”
The 5 year old brings out her collection of Paddington Bear books. Apparently Paddington boarded a ship from Peru, ate a lot of marmalade on board, and wound up at Paddington Station in the London underground. Apparently ‘Paddington’ is much easier to pronounce than his Peruvian name.
We review what Paddington Bear looks like so that I can search for him (or his relatives) in deepest, darkest Peru. And we discuss ways to lure them out: maybe a jar of marmalade?
The 8 year old steps in and says deepest, darkest Peru must be the jungle and there’s no way I’d go to the forest – there are boa constrictors there. Hiking is through the woods, I respond.
With this new information, the 5 year old thinks finding Paddington is still way more important and tried to push her Paddington book collection on me for more thorough research. The 8 year old is convinced I’m going to die from a boa constrictor attack.
Our first morning in Cusco, we were served marmalade with our Airbnb’s breakfast and I considered keeping it as a lure.
On the last day of our hike, as we maneuvered Incan steps from the Sun Gate into Machu Picchu (the last 3 miles of our 26 mile journey), we spotted Paddington hitching a ride on a fellow hiker’s pack, decked out in rain gear versatile for both London and the Peruvian rainy season. We found him!