Alison Faulhaber, left, of Lowell, Mass., and Amy Nelson of Arlington, who began a friendship two decades ago, hiked to dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail in Peru for a dual birthday celebration. (Amy Nelson)

Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.

Who: Amy Nelson (the author) of Arlington and Alison Faulhaber of Lowell, Mass.

Where, when, why: In October, we hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. It was a celebration of our 40th birthdays.

Highlights and high points: We didn’t realize that the Inca Trail traverses many archaeological sites en route to Machu Picchu. It was astonishing to come over a pass and see Incan ruins with llamas as the only other tourists. We were also captivated by the variety of wildflowers and orchids along the trail.

Cultural connection or disconnect: We arrived at the customs checkpoint in Lima at 2 a.m. It was nearly deserted, but the Peruvian woman in front of us started a conversation. She said that Alison had past lives in Peru and would feel a special bond with the country but that my energy was more closed off. Of course it was closed off — it was 2 a.m.!

An ongoing joke during our trip was about an archaeological site named Sacsayhuaman, outside Cusco. A Peruvian man we met wanted to take Alison to the site, which, of course, is pronounced “sexy woman.”

Biggest laugh or cry: We arrived in Cusco in the morning, took a nap and did some unpacking, then went to have lunch. During lunch, a violent hailstorm broke out. We hurried back to our room and were confronted by a terrible smell. The storm had apparently caused a sewer pipe to burst. Raw sewage was seeping into our room, and all of Alison’s trekking gear was in its path! We screamed and lunged for her gear. In the end, only a small corner of one backpack was soaked. It’s a good thing we hadn’t dawdled at lunch.

How unexpected: Our group of 11 trekkers became very close over the four days of the hike — and also very dirty. On the fourth day, we literally turned the last corner to Machu Picchu and were thrust into the middle of one of the world’s largest tourist sites, with bus-riding hordes coming at us from all angles. Their guides helpfully pointed out that we were Inca Trail hikers. It was difficult to make the transition back into civilization so abruptly.

Memento or memory: Alison and I met when we were 20 and both exchange students in Wollongong, Australia. We lost touch in the pre-Facebook era but rekindled our friendship about three years ago. We both turned 40 in May and wanted to celebrate our new decade instead of worrying about getting older. Successfully completing the demanding Inca Trail hike left us both with the sense that many more adventures still lie ahead.

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