Your Travel Stories:

Getting Lost and Finding Charity in Peru

Written by:

Renee Roberts

This short story is about something that all travelers experience at some point: getting lost. I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself in this predicament. If you ever find yourself lost in a foreign place (like Peru), always remember to stay calm.

This story starts in the mountains of Peru.

After an incredible journey starting in Cusco for the Inti Raymi Festival, then biking down the Inca Trail, and hiking to Machu Picchu, my traveling partner JP and I boarded the train to Ollantaytambo. Needless to say, we were exhausted from all of our adventures and fell asleep on the train. When we arrived at our destination, it was around 11:00 PM, dark, and cold. We were carrying around 50lbs of gear each. Still tired, we loaded up our packs and headed out into the darkness. I had read online that our hostel was within walking distance of the train station.

A Peruvian woman with an alpaca

We were a little nervous

about walking in a strange town so late at night. Dogs barked, there were no streetlights, the few people on the streets hurriedly passed and made no eye contact. As we trudged along the cobblestone streets, I kept saying, “It should be just a little farther!” The road started to wind in an opposing direction of where we were supposed to go, and it became clear that we were lost, at night, alone, in a very small town, and we spoke very little Spanish.

Hungry, tired, and discouraged, we found a café that was still (barely) open and decided to stop in and see if we could regroup. We sat down ordered some hot tea and began to go over our directions again. We felt a little rushed because it was obvious the café was preparing to close, although the staff was welcoming and friendly.

Ollantaytambo is beautiful!

I finally decided to attempt in my basic-level Spanish to ask for directions. I knew how to ask this but was unsure if I would be able to comprehend the directions given, but thought it was worth a chance. I asked the man at the front counter where Mama Simona Hostel was and he immediately called for a small boy to come out of the kitchen. He instructed the boy to escort us to where we were going.

An alley in Ollantaytambo, Peru

Shocked, and still a little nervous,

we gathered our things and began following this boy (who could be no older than 10) down the dark alleys of Ollantaytambo. Along the way, the boy (who spoke no English) kept saying (in Spanish) very slowly to us, “It is safe here. Ollantaytambo is a good town. Good people live here.” This helped to calm my nerves and as we walked farther into the night, the stars became brighter and brighter, illuminating our way.

Finally, after a long night, we reached our hostel. We thanked the boy profusely and gave him some coins we had. He thanked us and skipped off into the night. The next day we woke up and decided to revisit the Hearts Café that had been so kind to us the night before. We sat and ate a beautiful breakfast. While sitting there, amazed at the pure kindness of strangers, I picked up a small flyer they had on the table. It turns out the café operates in order to raise money for a charity that assists in feeding people in this rural area. I stashed the flyer to remember the name of the charity to look up when I got home.

JP photographing the beautiful Ollantaytambo

The boy was right about Ollantaytambo.

It is a beautiful town, filled with kind and happy people. We enjoyed it so much, we extended our stay for 4 days there. If you are traveling through Peru, I highly recommend it.

Every time I travel, I am most amazed by the people I meet along my journey. How so many strangers have been kind, and helpful to someone whom they will probably never see again. Travel has taught me that for the most part (contrary to what the media projects about foreign places) people show kindness in any situation.

One of the locals from Ollantaytambo

Living Heart Peru

If you would like to learn more about the charity Living Heart Peru, visit
their website. To repay them for the kindness they showed me, I have donated monthly to this charity for the past 2 years and encourage you to donate to consider them as well. Their mission is fantastic!

If you ever see someone who is lost, take a moment to help them out. It can be scary being in a new place and not knowing where you are going! And if you ever find yourself lost, don’t be ashamed to ask for directions. You never know who you may meet along the way!

Renee Roberts

Renee Roberts is a 28 year old Florida native that has visited over 35 countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. When she’s not planning her next adventure she spends her time enjoying outdoors. Follow Renee’s adventures on instagram at @reneedventures

What’d you think of Renee’s story?

As Renee said, every traveler gets lost at some point during their adventures. Although there’s something to be said about being self-reliant, it’s beneficial to (carefully) accept help from locals and other travelers. Some of the best experiences come from those interactions!

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