In celebration of turning 70, Larry is hitting all seven continents with the help of THIRDHOME.

As Larry travels the globe with THIRDHOME, he’ll be blogging about his experiences as he navigates the post-pandemic world. His planning began in 2019 with THIRDHOME Director of Adventures, Liz Bates, who has assisted him in pivoting to satisfy his travel cravings when COVID-19 restrictions have not allowed him to visit a destination. Keep reading to learn more about Larry’s most recent travel experiences.

Next Stop: Peru

Look, I’m all about a relaxing vacation.  Poolside margaritas, reading a good book at the beach, and maybe a yoga class or two. But this trip wasn’t THAT vacation. This was going to be an adventure. I was headed back to possibly my favorite country on the planet, Peru, for three weeks and I needed guidance and ideas. So, I did what I always do when I’m visiting a faraway place and I called my secret travel weapon, Liz Bates at THIRDHOME Adventures.

After all, post-COVID travel has gotten more complicated and more expensive, so there is little room for error.  Back in the day (I’m old), there was no such thing as Expedia, Kayak and the like. There were travel agents in the mall who gave out brochures and travel advice and offered a variety of trip options. Real, live human beings who planned travel adventures for a living, and had a passion to help folks like me who wanted to explore the world. Enter Liz, a throwback to the Travel Agent Era!

I had already reserved a really cool THIRDHOME property in the Sacred Valley of Peru. My daughter, Morgan, made it clear that if I was going to Machu Picchu, she was going with me. So I called Liz and pleaded:

“I need a ‘kick-ass’ Peruvian itinerary that explores the Sacred Valley, Cusco, and the Peruvian Amazon that will be interesting for me and my 31 year-old somewhat quirky daughter who lives on Instagram.

I knew Liz was up to the task, since she was the coordinator for Morgan and my “Colors of Morocco” tour this past October. We not only survived the tour together, but had a blast, met some great people, and decided we were pretty good travel companions. In this case, Morgan could get her Machu Picchu groove on, and I could continue my adventure into Cusco, and later, visit Iquitos and the Amazon jungle.

It was at this time I was introduced to Marco Bustamante and his travel company ,Peruvian Odyssey.  After 28 years of helping Gringos and other foreigners explore his country, Marco put together the perfect itinerary that would keep both of us happy. Marco is one of those people you could sit and talk to for hours. He’s visited all corners of the globe and has a story for each corner.  His plan allowed Morgan to knock Machu Picchu, one of the 7 Wonders of the World, off her bucket list and enjoy her celebrity as the Queen of Instagram. I could do my thing and take photos, explore glorious foreign markets, and practice my bad Spanish with the lovely Peruvian people. We would climb hundreds of Inca stairs while exploring ancient Incan structures and visiting villages inhabited by direct descendants of the Incas.

From Cusco and the Sacred Valley, I flew to Iquitos, Peru. After a four-hour journey by van and wooden boat, I arrived at Treehouse Lodge (suggested by Liz) to spend three nights in the Amazonian jungle doing my best Mowgli (see The Jungle Book) impression.  Sleeping 60 feet above the ground while listening to birds chirping, monkeys howling, and insects buzzing is a different kind of experience for a guy who grew up in Chicago.

Over the next three days, my guide, Leyner, demonstrated why he was the guide… and I was not.  Where I saw a never-ending canopy of uninhabited trees, he saw trees full of monkeys, sloths, macaws, toucans, and owls.  On the river, we witnessed pink dolphins jumping during the day and cayman alligators cruising at night. In one of the Amazon riverfront towns, we met the town’s mascot: a 12-foot anaconda snake. 

Trip Highlights?  Here’s a few:

  1. Riding the Vistadome train from Urubamba to Machu Pichu.  The Andes never disappoint in terms of majesty and beauty.
  2. Eating one of the 4000 plus varieties of Peruvian potatoes that are baked underground in a dirt cooking pit or huatia in the Andes mountains.
  3. Hanging out in the Cusco Plaza del Armas in the afternoon and evening. Music everywhere, aromas from the many restaurants enticing visitors, and a walk through the Cusco market for smoothies, souvenirs, or street food.   
  4. There’s not a sight on earth that compares with looking down on the Incan village of Machu Pichu from up high.
  5. Going back in time several centuries to visit the high in the Andes village of Willoq, a community where time stands still and artistic, musical, cooking, and dress traditions of ancient Peruvians flourish today. 
  6. Seeing the creepy crawlers of the Amazon up close, including tarantulas, bullet ants, the jumping stick, and the Leaf-Cutter ant.
  7. Visiting classrooms in remote villages to see youthful villagers fully engaged with outstanding teachers learning a new language and working on school projects.

Maybe in time I’ll be a sit-around-the-pool-guy and revel in relaxation. But for now, bring on the adventure! 



World Traveler, Philanthropist, Friend, & THIRDHOME Member

My Great, Big, Fat Peruvian Adventure.

I met Marco 2 years before in Iquitos, Peru on the magnificent Zafiro boat while on a THIRDHOME 6-day adventure touring the Amazon.  He was the medical guru on the boat and his English was like my Spanish:  just good enough to communicate, while completely butchering every noun-verb combination in existence.  We talked non-stop during our excursions and at the end of the trip he gave me two pieces of advice:

  1. Come back to Iquitos to spend time with him and his family and really understand what the Amazon means to Peruvians.
  2. Go into the Peruvian Andes and explore Macchu Pichu, Cusco and Lake Titicaca (yes, it’s a real place, birthplace of the Incas).

All that sounded good, but the missing ingredient was finding travel companions willing to do an extended Peruvian boondoggle deep into the Andes.  I’m not a “big tour guy” and I really like to travel at my own pace meeting locals, taking photos and drinking beer at dives in small towns.  My U.S. friends were useless and gave me the following excuses: too many days, too far, altitude sickness, “you know they kidnap Gringos in South America”, and finally my friend Ronnie’s “who wants to spend all that money to look at a bunch of old rocks”. 

So I put my Machu Picchu dream on hold for 2 years until, while hanging out with my friends Paul and Ronnie in Mexico City, I met my Chilean-Peruvian-Japanese and future friend and muse, Ozaki (her last name) while eating tacos and listening to Mariachis (see my Mexico City Blog).  “Don’t be cowards” she advised us, “come to Peru and see the most beautiful country in South America with the best food, nicest people and, of course, Machu Picchu”.  Maybe it was the “tequila factor”, but by the end of the night I knew I found my guide and exploring Peru would be a future adventure. 

Six months later I embarked on my meticulously planned 18-day Peruvian adventure beginning and ending in Lima.   My wonderful new Peruvian friends: Ozaki, Marco, Carlos, Rosita, Santos, Pili and Daniela knew routes, restaurants and don’t miss places.  I traveled by plane, moto taxi, car, train and boat across Peru with just the right balance of crazy, hectic sightseeing and mellow times in local cafes, bars and plazas.  On day 4 I realized I would need a vacation after this vacation just to sort out the experiences, but by then the old adage “go big or go home” won the day. 

Hundreds of photos and thousands of miles traversed later I’ve concluded that Peru is in the running for coolest country for any Gringo to visit.  So many stories and highlights but here are my Top Seven experiences I want to share in no particular order:

  1. Partaking in the Peruvian/Chilean beverage, the Pisco Sour (both countries claim to produce the best version of this grape-based liquor).   It is a delicious, refreshing cocktail loaded with fresh lime juice and topped with a frothy egg white (it’s practically a national pastime here).  For four Peruvian soles (about $1 U.S.) I had the treat of a going behind the bar for a tutoring session from an experienced bartender on how to make the perfect Pisco Sour at the Museo de Pisco restaurant in Arequipa. 
  2. Driving through the Andes to the Colca Canyon region in southern Peru with lush green valleys, terraced agricultural terrain and the world’s second deepest canyon (twice as deep as the U.S. Grand Canyon).  I had the opportunity to soak in natural hot springs, visit several traditional small towns along the way and watch giant Andean condors from a mountaintop fly through the Canyon.  These birds are majestic with a wingspan of up to 10 feet, making them the largest flying bird on the planet.  It is simply breathtaking to see these birds flying above. 
  3. Hanging out in the Cusco Historic Center at night.  Cusco is the former capital of the Inca empire and a Unesco World Heritage Site.  At night the plaza and surrounding streets comes alive with restaurants, bars, music and stores catering to locals and tourists alike.  I listened to local melodies in a tiny bar while enjoying my favorite Peruvian specialty: “aji de gallina” (Peruvian chicken stew).  To make my Cusco stay even more memorable, our Marriott hotel was a restored convent from the 16th century with multiple lounge areas, and an enormous central courtyard that I took advantage of during my limited down time.  
  4. A visit to Maido Restaurant in Lima.  Maido is ranked the No. 1 restaurant in all of Latin America for the past three years and features Peruvian-Japanese cuisine and is not to be missed.  Reservations are required and difficult to get.   It was a novel experience to have the waiter cook shrimp at the table with a mini “blowtorch”.   Quite simply, my meal was the most scrumptious eating experience of my life.  Long live Peruvian fusion!
  5. The entire Machu Picchu experience was everything I could have hoped for.  It began with a two-hour train ride on a Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu.  The train ride itself features some of the best scenery on the planet and whets the appetite for the rest of the adventure.  Looking down at Machu Picchu from above was a humbling experience that literally took my breath away.  For one thing, I kept asking myself “how in the world did the Incas pull off building an entire city on the side of an Andes mountain?”  The pictures I have looked at for the past 45 years simply do not do it justice.  As one of the new “Wonders of the World” it is a very busy attraction so when you visit, get there early.
  6. The “Alpaca factor”.  Several options exist regarding how best to enjoy this domesticated Peruvian cousin to the camel.  Alpacas and llamas seem to everywhere in the Andes and it is not unusual to see them blocking your path on the road and roaming free in the mountains.  They are really beautiful animals and I chose to purchase a colorful alpaca blanket that is extremely soft to the touch.  In Peru they serve a dual purpose as alpaca steak is listed on most menus and is renowned to be an excellent lean protein source.  Me, I’m sticking with my blanket.
  7. Visiting and staying on Julio’s floating island of Uros in Lake Titicaca was undoubtedly a trip highlight.  The tiny island is one of 42 artificial floating reed islands inhabited by 1200 descendants of the Peruvian Incas.  Julio, who had an infectious laugh, clearly loved his island life.  Each day he toured us around several colorful islands, each with its own yellow “tortura reed boat” and unique character.  His family  prepared scrumptious meals during our stay and entertained us with fabulous stories describing the history of this area of the world and the work it takes to keep these traditions going. 

Much of the joy of traveling throughout Peru was the incredible kindness and hospitality of the Peruvian people starting with my new travel mates.  During my short stay in Peru I gained a Goddaughter, made 10 new friends I plan to stay in touch with, and I’m already planning a return visit.   Upon reflecting on my adventure I’ve come to the following conclusions: First, small group travel is priceless and I found it to be far more fun than sitting on a tour bus with 50 or 60  fellow travelers.  Second, when traveling in a foreign country with friends who speak the language and are familiar with the terrain you are privy to many experiences you otherwise might have missed.   My formula was simple: They led.  I followed.   And as a result, I ended up with probably the best vacation of my life. 

Members in THIRDHOME’s Inner Circle recently returned from a river cruise down the Amazon River.


Inner Circle members went on a Peruvian Amazon Voyage aboard the elegant Zafiro riverboat to discover Earth’s Greatest Wilderness. They voyaged deep into the pristine Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, a 5-million-acre labyrinth of flooded forests, lagoons and peaceful creeks; traveled upriver from the inland port of Iquitos aboard the Zafiro to experience extraordinary wildlife, flora and fauna.

See what these THIRDHOME members had to say:

“The Inner Circle Amazon Voyage was an incredible, unforgettable experience. We would ride down the river and see the wildlife in their natural habitat and I was thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m here!’ The staff and all involved in our Amazon trip made it all so enjoyable. From piranha fishing to visiting the village was all laced with a special touch. Even our last night expedition included a glass of champagne and toasting to a great cruise while sitting on the skiffs in the middle of the Amazon river at sunset! It was all absolutely fabulous!! Thank you THIRDHOME!”- Rick and Vikki Desoto

“We would categorize The Inner Circle Amazon Voyage as a unique lifetime experience. To sample a slice of life on the Peruvian Amazon River, aboard the luxurious Zafiro River Boat, was truly a highlight of our forty year travel career. The boat’s amenities, staff, food and service were first quality. The International Expedition team coordinators and naturalists were indispensable in the full educational adventure. Our favorite day was visiting the small village and sharing school supplies with a dozen sweet elementary school-aged children. We can highly recommend this trip to anyone who has (n)ever thought about such an adventure.”- Sherry and Andy Harris

“I’ve just returned from the Amazon trip on board the Zafiro. It was wonderful…Everything and everyone was terrific. I am inspired to go on more trips with my family and the THIRDHOME family. Please keep me in the loop. Thank you! The Zafiro exceeded my expectations, as did the experience of being on the Amazon River. All the sights, the birds, the animals were thrilling. I had no idea what to expect. In addition, the other guests on board were all interesting, well-traveled, and fun to share such a unique experience with. I had such a fantastic time and looking forward to the next Inner Circle trip!”- Ronne Fisher

“The THIRDHOME Amazon trip was terrific—not only an excellent travel experience with all details planned to perfection, it was an opportunity to spend time with a great group of other THIRDHOME members with similar interests. Every experience was enhanced by being with a fun group to share it with. I highly recommend this new THIRDHOME travel program to anyone that enjoys unique travel opportunities.”- Stan Brading

Click here to discover future Inner Circle events.
THIRDHOME member, Jerry Heffel, extended his stay to venture to Machu Pichu. Check out some of his amazing photographs below.

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