Al Sever and his girlfriend, Sandy Downs, of Loyalsock Township, recently returned to Peru for the third time, spending three weeks wandering the South American country.
"I watch the Internet for deals, and this deal came up to fly out of Washington (for) $355 including taxes," Sever said.
They left Sept. 21 and returned Oct. 12.
Two years ago was the last time the couple was in Peru. A trip such as theirs isn't out of reach, financially, for many people, Sever said.
"It's an economical place to travel," he said.
Sever said he loves to visit Peru because it is fascinating and scenic.
He and Downs did a lot of hiking and touring, but Sever found the Incan architecture intriguing.
"It's mainly because I am an engineer and I find the Inca stonework so fascinating," he said "I don't know how they built this stuff.
"Photos do not do it justice. You can't fit a razor blade in between the rocks," he said. "How they built everything, how they could they put rocks together, and how they could move them ... everything fits together perfectly and it boggles the mind how they did it."
Sever also took a spinning rod and did a little fishing at the base of Machu Picchu, a famous 15th-century Inca "estate."
"There were trout there, but I didn't do my homework," he said.
He discovered that the water was extremely low and thick with algae. He didn't catch any fish.
"I would have loved to have had a picture of me holding one up," he said.
When he was done fishing, he gave his rod to a fellow angler, the owner of the hostel in which they stayed.
"That way, I didn't have to carry it around," he said.
Behind Machu Picchu is another peak, Wayna Picchu. Sever said only 400 people are permitted to climb it per day.
"It's very steep, and it took about an hour and 20 minutes to go up," he said. "The one thing I wanted to do is climb it. I figured at my age of 65, I had better do it."
The route is almost straight up.
Downs didn't take the hike with him.
"She chickened out. She is a afraid of heights," he said.
On your own
At the top of Machu Picchu is a cave and when a hiker exits it, he finds a 900-foot drop, straight down. There are no handrails, guardrails or anything to keep a person from falling.
"This not Disney World. There are no safety things there. You are on your own," Sever said.
He and Downs caught a bus to the Amazon. The same trip used to take two days, he said.
But, this spring, a new road opened. It stretches from the Andes Mountains, to Cusco, to Puerto Maldanado and into the Amazon Basin. The road traverses terrain with an elevation of about 13,000 feet.
Traveling the full route now takes about 10 hours.
"We took advantage of that," he said. "It's a very scenic road."
Sever visited a quarry outside an Inca fort that guarded the capital. The quarry was the source of the rocks used to build the fort.
He said he had heard that there were caves and skeletons in the quarry and he photographed one of the only ones he could find.
"I walked up to the quarry, about three miles," he said.
It took five hours of climbing to get there.
"It is sort of hard to find out what is up at the quarry. I could only find one cave with skeletons in it, but rumors were there are more caves and skeletons," he said.
In Williamsport, the elevation is only about 500 feet, so switching to an elevation of 13,000 feet left Sever and Downs rather tired.
Altitude sickness is caused by exposure to low oxygen pressure at high altitudes. The higher the altitude, the thinner, or less dense, the oxygen in the air.
Symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, fatigue, stomach illness, dizziness and problems sleeping. Exertion can worsen the symptoms.
Sever said he and Downs walked all over and noticed they fatigued easier there.
To combat the feeling, and to regain energy, the couple made use of a local "cure."
"You chew coco leaves. Everyone chews them down there. They sell them everywhere," Sever said.
He described it like chewing a tobacco leaf.
Chewing the coco leaf, a stimulant, helped the couple.
Peruvian people are very friendly, he said, but they didn't interact much with locals in the small villages. They dealt more with people involved in the tourism industry and those in some of Peru's larger cities.
Sever and Downs spoke little Spanish but always found Peruvians who spoke English.
"People don't realize how cheap you can travel to other countries, and people don't go because they do not speak the language," Sever said. "But, in these places, so many people speak English."