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BLESSINGS IN SOUTH AMERICA

I love to travel. My sister Nancy and I recently returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip in South America for which we dubbed our retirement trip. Nancy had always wanted to see the incredible mountainous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu and I liked the sound of cruising the mysterious Amazon River. We both decided since we were “in the area” we might as well go to the Galapagos Islands, too. And why not tack on the Nazca Lines in Peru since it was an option. Our itinerary moves throughout Peru to Quito, Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands. During our three-week trip I kept a travel journal in which I noted blessings and serendipities from each day’s adventure. Although longer than previous blogs, I thought it might be fun to share my blessings with you as they occurred to demonstrate how God is with us every moment of every day. “Count your many blessings, name them one by one.”

Day 0
Today’s blessings: 1) Foresight to have reserved plane seating with extra leg space since our flight was delayed waiting on the tarmac for an additional hour; 2) Smooth travel

Serendipity moments: 1) Not having the time the night before to purchase a dongle connector for my new selfie stick, I was in need of one. Since there would be a 7-hour layover, we hoped to have plenty of time to find one in the airport. We found several at varying prices but decided to compare prices and go back for the best price. In our quest we came across a vending machine with the desired dongle connector. I bought one basically 2 for 1 at the best price. Thank you, Lord. Who would have ever thought my connector would be found in a Best Buy vending machine in the Miami airport? Certainly not I!

Day 1
Today’s blessings: 1) Found a convenient place to change money at the best rate available; 2) Great weather all day

Serendipity moments: 1) Made it just in time to see a lovely sunset over the water on the beach of Lima, Peru

Day 2
Today’s blessings: 1) Strength to get up and move after only a few hours of sleep; 2) No vomiting on the plane despite nausea caused by multiple hairpin turns to see the geometric shapes and designs etched in the desert landscape; 3) Met nice new friends that will be with us for the remainder of the Peru tour; 4) Terrific weather; 4) Glad for Nancy’s crackers and my nuts which we ate for lunch since we did not stop to eat. In retrospect, we were thankful we did not eat any more than we did since the plane ride was bordering on causing motion sickness towards the end. 5) My watch finally automatically reset after being cantankerous.

One of the many Nazca Lines (enhanced)

Serendipity moments: Big praises! 1) Nancy didn’t have to pay for an extra ticket due to extra weight in the plane saving over $200. 2) The tour guide had told us to have sunscreen for the 2-hour open air boat ride. We had not been told to bring a hat and sunscreen. I was distraught learning this after the fact especially since I have now accumulated four hats, all at the hotel. Going through my swimwear pouch, however, I discovered I had not one, but two types of sunscreen, 8 SPF and 50 SPF. It was not intentional, I assure you. It was God’s intention though. 3) So thankful for the Transderm motion sickness patches we could use for the Nazca Lines flight that were with me in my medicine bag and easily accessible. We had not planned on having to use them for this activity but had enough to spare.

Day 3
Our guide told us that Peru is made up of the following: 30% Andes Mountains, 10% desert, and 60% Amazon rainforest. And we’re gonna see it all!

Today’s blessings: 1) Great weather with some cloud cover right at the right times; 2) Nancy and I got our own seats in the back of the boat enabling us to easily move around to take photos; 3) We didn’t need a hat for the boat ride. Good thing since neither of us brought one! 4) My camera is back in good order after an annoying grid would not go away despite all of the buttons I was pushing. Thankful to my husband Parky who helped solve the problem. 5) I’m enjoying the complementary hotel housecoat and house shoes since I did not bring such items.

Serendipity moments: 1) I had packed my raincoat but had no idea why I might use it. The chilly boat ride answered the question. 2) Nancy found the phone cord she thought she had inadvertently left at the hotel. Yea! 3) We got to see a rare bird and also penguins which were not expected to be on Ballestas Islands. 4) We will be able to leave some luggage at the Lima hotel to pick up when we return later. Hallelujah!

Day 4
Today blessings: 1) Nancy purchased replacement luggage in the few minutes we had between tour activities; we had just enough time; 2) Perfect weather accommodating our planned outdoor activities

Dinner at a historic Peruvian house

Serendipity moments: 1) Discovered that the husband of our new friends has an uncommon condition known as Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) which manifests with extremely low platelet counts. How ironic that I once worked in the UAB Immune Cytopenia Lab and we did specialized diagnostic for ITP. Our friend was amazed I knew what he was talking about but I had conducted the radioactive diagnostic test for it and knew what the symptoms as well as the science behind it! Small world, God’s world.

Day 5
Today blessings: 1) I thought I had lost my phone at one point and was approaching panic mode when Nancy pointed to my backpack side pouch. There it was. PTL! 2) Nancy was able to change seats for her flight. 3) I found a lovely ring for mother that she had requested. 4) Since the flight was delayed I treated myself to a large chai latte tea from Starbuck’s in the airport thinking it would be safe. I’ve missed drinking tea but am afraid to even drink hot tea fearing the water may not have been boiled.

Serendipity moment: 1) The purchase of a new backpack and alpaca blanket was good timing. I really needed to purchase these items tonight so they could be packed away with all of our challenging packing logistics for the next two days. Thank you, God, for having an unexpected vendor at the hotel that we could make it back in time to purchase the items we wanted/needed even though we got lost back to our room.

Days 6, 7
Today’s blessings: 1) A great seat on the train to enjoy the beautiful scenery. 2) No signs of altitude sickness. 3) We are ever so grateful for the fabulous weather. The Lord has answered a much-prayed prayer and did it so graciously and abundantly. No rain, no clouds, great temp, not too cool. We couldn’t have ordered the weather to have been any more perfect. Thank you, Lord.

Serendity moment: 1) If there ever was one, it was the moment of feeling the fullness of God’s blessing in the restaurant on top of Machu Picchu. For Nancy, it was a dream come true as she had desired to see this “lost city” ever since she read “The Lost Horizon” in the 11th grade. I can remember seeing the movie “The Lost Horizon” and considered there to be mystical element that appealed to my senses. Whenever I had seen pictures of this incredible terraced mountainside, I thought it would be wild to experience it but never believed it would actually be possible. When Nancy said that’s where she wanted to go for our retirement trip, I was on board realizing that was the most amazing place I had ever seen in photos high atop of the Andes mountains.

Machu Picchu

Day 8
Today’s blessings: 1) We were able to rearrange our luggage to meet airport specifications to be under 50 pounds. We were both shocked and prepared to be over. We’re not sure how it happened in that we bought more souvenirs! 2) The ticket agent in Lima allowed me to check another piece of luggage at no cost that I had not expected to. I was grateful not to have to deal with it especially since it did not have wheels.

Serendipity moments: 1) The area of human and animal sacrifices made me reflect upon how that is not required by our Lord. The one true sacrifice has been made. Thank you, Jesus.

Day 9
Today’s blessings: 1) Being able to check my carry-on bag from Cusco to Iquitos was wonderful especially since the bag was not a roller bag. 2) The weather was perfect all day long allowing us to transition easily. 3) The flight from Cusco to Lima was not full providing additional space for greater comfort. Nancy and I sat in seat sections all to ourselves.

Sunset on the Amazon River

Serendipity moments: 1) The beauty of the heavens through the starry Milky Way touched my heart as I lay on my back looking upwards on the top deck of the Delfin III riverboat. 2) Watching the sunset over the Amazon was almost more than my soul could absorb. Look at where I was, what I was doing, and the God who made me enabling me to experience this moment by His grace and blessing.

Day 10
Today’s blessings: 1) Nancy’s phone recovered from the overturned kayak incident; 2) Our kayak upheaval did not result in any injury or horrible mishap (although my camera is in question at this point). I was able to recover my lost shoe and metallic Delfin III water bottle. 3) We were able to deliver needed items to the Amazon village people

Serendipity moments: 1) Sitting upon the water knowing my God was mightier than the mightiest river on earth; 2) I sneaked a coin to a pregnant lady in the Amazon village. She was so grateful.

Day 11
Today’s blessings: We saw about an hour’s worth of rain while folks were kayaking but the rain stopped and we were able to go on the night excursion. That would not have happened if it had still been raining so I thank God that we could go and I could have a spiritual experience and spend time with Him.

Day 12
Today’s blessings: 1) So glad to have another camera in my hands to replace my waterlogged camera AND that the camera was on sale. 2) Grateful for the opportunity to spend the remainder of our Peruvian money at the Inca Market. 3) Huge blessing that we will be able to leave some luggage at the hotel at no charge while we are in the Galapagos.

Serendipity moment: 1) A chance to say goodbye to our Canadian friends. Had I not called the front desk, we would never have known they had tried to communicate with us and we would not have been able to visit with them. God led me to call even in my frantic state of mind about another matter.

Bird watching on the Amazon

Day 13
Today’s blessings: 1) Being able to ride into Quito in a hotel cab and visit the equator sites was definitely a gift from God. Unexpected and delighted could best describe our feelings for this awesome blessing as we had really wanted to go. The cost for the cab was less than we anticipated. 3) Great weather. It would have been difficult to maneuver our luggage in rainy weather.

Serendipity moment: The time of our flight interfered with lunch so we ran to go look for a sandwich shop or something that we could take on the plane to eat. I found a stand and had sandwiches in my hands when Nancy texted saying “COME NOW.” I was the next person in line to purchase but I put the sandwiches back and ran to the gate. They were starting to load but there would have been enough time to make the lunch purchase. I was hungry, too! We had to be satisfied with our stash of nuts, crackers, and chocolates. Once a flying altitude plateau was reached the flight attendants came rolling down the aisle with guess what – free ham sandwiches. Thank you, Lord.

Day 14
Today’s blessings: 1) Thankful that we don’t have language barriers on the boat as everyone can understand English. 2) Thankful that Nancy was able to find a wet suit her size when we were downtown.

Serendipity moment: 1) Turning the corner while on the shuttle bus and seeing the first glance of the Galapagos was breathtaking like Machu Picchu. The Galapagos had crystal blue water, sloping mountain ridges, and boats in the harbor. We knew we would have five days to experience this splendor. So exciting! 2) While in the Quito airport I received an email from an editor saying that my recent article submission had been accepted and I needed to review the edits and sign the consent form. I was unable to open the documents and knew the deadline was imminent so I contacted Parky in the States to help me. He saved the day and I was able to contact the editor just before boarding the plane. Whew! I didn’t want to jeopardize my chances with this new magazine editor so I was glad to accomplish what needed to be done. The Galapagos would not have internet service and the publication date was very short and required immediate response.

An evil-looking iguana

Day 15
Today’s blessings: 1) Having the rare privilege to see giant tortoises mating as ordained by their Maker; 2) Seeing six blue-footed boobies at the beach and getting a good picture. I would have never thought this possible.

Day 16
Today’s blessings: 1) Clear day once again; 2) A fun snorkeling experience; 3) Thankful no one fell down from the ridge boarding the panga following our lava hike.

Day 17
Today’s blessings: 1) Another glorious day of beautiful weather; 2) Getting to swim with the sea turtles – not just one but many; 3) Thankful my knees held out and my heart rate didn’t sky rocket on the challenging uphill walk

Serendipity moment: 1) Imagining the hand of God in this beautiful landscape; 2) Watching the sunset out of my cabin window

Day 18
Today’s blessings: 1) An opportunity to shop to our hearts’ content in the Galapagos airport after not being able to shop at all throughout our time in Galapagos, 2) A completely smooth pickup for our luggage at the hotel; 3) Free shuttle service and in an expedient manner; 4) Being able to check two bags home at no charge. Awesome. 5) Being able to check our carryon also without charge when they asked for optional carryon check-in and not have to haul it in the airports which left us with only backpacks. Yea!

Blue-footed boobies

Concluding Remarks:
Our experience was fantastic and glorious. God was in it the whole time and we knew it well. We thank Him for His provision, His guidance, His continuous blessings and most of all for His favor with the weather. We only experienced rain on a few occasions over the course of 3 weeks but those few occasions didn’t matter anyway. We did everything we desired, took every photo we wanted, and went every place we wished. Yes, I would have hiked to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu but I was not gravely disappointed since I could go to the top of the mountain to get additional photos.

Our bodies are tired but we are thankful our bodies were able. We enjoyed numerous “firsts” and did not withhold from any available ops. We thank You, Lord, for our wonderful three weeks of adventure, for the chance to praise You in new and exciting places, and for keeping our husbands and families in good health during our absence. We also thank our devoted husbands who supported us and kept us in their communications across continents. It was nice to send emails/texts to them and share our excitement in real time.

If you would like to read my entire travel journal, please leave a comment and email address and I will be happy to share my adventures.

Karen Allen

2 Comments

  1. J.D. WININGER on May 24, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Well worth the time to read. I could see a book coming out of this; especially if your camera is intact and viable. 🙂 It was like being along with you on your journey. Wonderful trip I think. I loved how God allowed you to weave His presence into each day, which tells me He is an integral part of your life sweet sister in Christ. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, and for the wonderful reminder to count our many blessings.

    • OMALLEYTHEDOG on May 27, 2019 at 7:59 pm

      I appreciate your kind response. Thanks, J.D.

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