After a soothingly warm meal, I stepped out of our long dining tent and looked up at the sky and, my God – in every direction, the night sky was covered with brilliant, white stars. The star-studded dome was overwhelmingly breathtaking, and, ever since that first night of our trek, the flow of almost surreal experiences never tired.
This summer, a group of us from the LSE went all the way to Machu Picchu as a part of ChooseAChallenge’s fundraising challenge for Action Against Hunger. Just over a year ago, way before we started our 13-hour-and-2-transit flight to Cusco, and our 6-day trek to Machu Picchu, I signed up to this crazy challenge in the Michaelmas term of my first year.
… Can you imagine how this wide-eyed, wandering Fresher felt once she fully realised how huge of an amount £3000 is, a month or so after she had signed up?
Well, there was no turning back by that point. Okay, well, there probably was… but, where’s the fun in that! No pain (i.e. doubt and anxiety about reaching the target), no gain, right? Now that I’ve accomplished the challenge, I’m crazily happy that I didn’t back out. With sandfly-bites and all, this challenge was the best ‘try something new’ I’ve ever done.
Try something new #1: try to fundraise £3000 in 9 months!
In the end, I fundraised a total of £2,825.12; £1,325.12 from donations (for the charity) and £1,500 from my savings (for the cost of the challenge). And, by the time we left for Peru, everyone (i.e. across the UK) who took part in this fundraising challenge had raised a whopping total of £411,317.41 for Action Against Hunger. Thanks to everyone who donated, this global charity is able to save a further 9,790 children from deadly hunger. How incredible is that!?
Try something new #2: go on a 6-day trek to Machu Picchu!
Whether it was being greeted by a painful headache at our first camp, the freezing cold from sleeping a few kilometres away from the Salkantay Pass, climbing up 6km to the top of this cloud forest, and crawling up the never-ending blocks of steps to the entrance of Machu Picchu the day after, the trek was never short of difficult moments. I swear, each day never failed to have us completely exhausted. And, from the exhaustion, I noticed a few things, i.e. how the curves of my palms were perfectly made for a cup of hot coca tea!
With that said, 1) these painful moments passed (storms can’t last forever!), and 2) without going through the pain, we wouldn’t have witnessed the unbelievable beauty awaiting us each day. From the vibrant hues of blue, green, and yellow of the Humantay glacial lake, set against the magnificent, snow-topped mountain, to the lush-green cloud forests and the fresh, fragrant aroma that filled our senses, the experiences that flowed into our trek had us in absolute awe throughout the 6 days. And, through and after the challenging times, we experienced the infinite bounds of care, warmth, energy, and lightening humour of our phenomenal guides.
Thus, embrace the pain and the challenge, and breathe in & out the beauty and kindness! [i.e. appreciate the world’s beauty and another’s generosity, and in turn be kind and compassionate to others]
In short, this challenge was definitely the highlight of my 1st year. As cliché as it sounds, and as absolutely true as it is, this was the adventure of a lifetime.
So, what are you waiting for? Go out there, and try something new!
P.S. If you’re interested in doing this challenge, or another, here are the info sessions for RAG’s challenges for 2017/18:
- Bilbao Night Marathon Info Session: 02/10 6pm
- Everest Base Camp Info Session: 09/10 6pm
- Machu Picchu Trek Info Session: 16/10 6pm
- London to Paris Cycle Info Session: 23/10 6pm
- (All of the events will take place in the SU’s 3rd Floor Meeting Room)