Before you blow out your candles on your next birthday cake, maybe you’ll want to make a wish like Intrepid Express reader Michelle Geraghty…
“At this point, I’ve had 31 birthdays – each one of them being pretty special… whether it was spending it at my granny’s when I was 4, because I got the bicycle of my dreams at the age of 12, because I got to take photos of Uluru changing colour at sunset when I turned 28 or because I was surrounded by mates having a wicked weekend on the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland when I hit the ripe old age of 30. Each of them, a happy memory that’s etched in my mind forever.
But none stand out like my 29th birthday, when I found myself breathless from the altitude (not the trekking – honest!) on the Lares Trail in Peru. Visiting Machu Picchu had been on my ‘To Do’ list for a while, and I’m not the type of person to take an easy route there!
The 4 days were full of adventure as we pushed our physical limits trekking at altitude, visited local families and a village school, breathed in the spectacular views and learned about the local culture. And we met plenty of llama and alpaca along the way for company too!
For the most part we were in the middle of nowhere, but the porters always managed to pull quality meals, seemingly out of thin air. But even so, imagine my surprise when I woke up on my birthday, on the side of a mountain in the Andes to a fully iced birthday cake – with a “Happy Birthday Michelle” in big iced letters! To this day I don’t know how or where they found the time or tools to pull that one off! But it didn’t end there… Later that day we popped into a house in a small village to find numerous guinea pig running around at our feet. The last thing I expected was that one of these cullinary specialities would be on the plate in front of me at lunch – teeth and all – as a special birthday treat!
To think of all the effort these relative strangers went to to make me feel so special that day still humbles me. Throw in the incredible views, the highs every time we reached the top of a mountain, and the friends I made along the way and it’s hard to imagine a birthday that will top that one!”
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* photo by Simon Waite – Intrepid Photography Competition