Experiential travel has various definitions. For me, it means to travel with your senses fully engaged. I wrote about this some years ago. How much of our travel is fully engaged? How many times when we travel are we half there and half somewhere else?
Why aren’t we fully engaged when we travel?
In part, it comes down to trip planning, in part to how you act when you are on a trip. Planning to squeeze too much into a trip does not allow you to slow down and experience places fully. Walking along glued to your phone, in a place you have paid thousands of dollars to visit, does not allow you to experience the place fully either.
A 3-part series of Peruvian Experiences
You cannot travel physically to Peru at the moment. So here are some ways you can experience a little of Peru, one sense at a time: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell. Part one is sound.
Experience Peru by Sound
Do you know what your town sounds like? Do you know what your town sounded like five, ten, twenty years ago? Think about the sounds you grew up with as a child and compare them to the sounds your children grow up with today. The soundscape of a place changes with time.
Élder Olave, a young Cusqeñean, set out to record the sounds of Cusco before they were lost forever. In these days of COVID-19 lockdowns, where the streets and skies are empty, these recordings remind us of how much sound is a part of our everyday life. It reminds us of how many pleasant sounds we do not consciously notice and how many unpleasant and unnecessary sounds, we simply accept.
One of the recordings is the sound of a plane taking off over Cusco. How many older people remember times when that was not a constant of their soundscape? Another recording is filled with the sound of combis, the small local buses, arriving at the bus stop, shouting out the names of the places they are going. Another records the siren of an ambulance stuck in traffic. All sounds which assault your ears every time you step out into the street but are very much the sounds of Peru.
Then there are the sounds that make you feel alive, the click of dancers’ feet at a local festival, the energy of the chants at a “Ni Una Menos” protest, as thousands marched to demand an end to violence against women. There are the sounds of church bells, of street singers, of people going about their business in a particular street. Sounds that let you know you are very much here in Cusco, Peru.
You can see part 2 of this series where we look at the experience of sight here.0