Finding Joy in the Little Things

Finding Joy in the Little Things

Sophia Kishimoto

Peru 2021

All images have been provided by  Sophia. Read her story below!

My name is Sophia Kishimoto, I’m from a small town in Southern California and a freshman in college at University of San Francisco.

My trip to Peru was a life changing and memorable experience that I will definitely never forget. This trip was different from some in the way that it was a school trip, so the people I was with were people from my high school. Even though I knew most of the people I was traveling with, I became friends with people who I never would have become friends with if I didn’t go to Peru.

This was not my first trip to Peru. I had been before, but the experiences I had and the adventures I went on were something I would have never been able to do without Rustic Pathways, my amazing guides, and my teachers who took us on this trip.

When thinking back to being in Peru, so many experiences come into my head. From rock climbing in the Sacred Valley, exploring Machu Picchu and Cusco, and meeting amazing people everywhere, one experience really stands out in my head, and that was the time we spent in the Amazon.

The Amazon Rainforest is a place I never imagined myself being able to go to, so the fact that I was able to go with Rustic Pathways was incredible. We stayed at a lodge that houses rangers so they are able to help protect the rainforest. We spent our time hiking and learning about the different plants and animals that help the rainforest thrive, going on night stream walks at night and learning about deforestation in the rainforest. For service work, we planted trees in the rainforest that are vital to the environment, but are often chopped down.

This part of the trip was extremely memorable to me because of how disconnected we were. Often I get distracted by my phone or social media and forget to look around and take in everything that is happening. We had no cell service and limited electricity which forced me to not use my phone. Besides the few pictures taken, it was amazing to be able to be disconnected from technology, because you do not realize how much you miss by being on your phone all the time. One night in particular, we were on a night hike by a stream and our guide told us all to turn off our flashlights and just sit and look at the stars in silence for one minute. Never have I seen so many stars, and I felt so connected to everyone I was with and with nature.

Besides all of the amazing experiences I had and all the adventures, one of my favorite things about this trip and what I remember the most is the amazing people I met. Not only were my guides amazing, but every single person I had conversations with were so kind and welcoming. In the Amazon we got to cook with local ladies who work at the lodge and play games and have hilarious conversations with the rangers. In the small town of Ollantaytambo, we met a local couple selling their art and became friends with them. Even with a language barrier, we connected with so many people and learned so much about them.

This trip truly pushed me out of my comfort zone, helped me meet new people, and helped me decide what I want to do in college and for the rest of my life. It reminded me how important it is to disconnect and helped me remember to look around at everything that is happening around me, because you never know what you might miss.

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