Lady P - January 2020
Greetings and salutations my ravishing readers!
I am honoured and thrilled to be the travel correspondent for the global phenomenon that is emmaheaven.com. My name is Lady Perdita Fitzwilliam Tudor-Croft, Perdy to friends, Ditsy D to family and Dirty Dita to my unsavoury exes, but you can all call me Lady P.
Buon Anno Nuovo ~ Bonne Année ~ ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! ~ Happy New Year, wherever in the world you may be, my darling fellow bon viveurs!
One has just returned to Blighty after *THE* most life-changing experience, with a renewed sense of purpose and an ENORMOUS new-found appreciation of one’s luxuriously comfortable lifestyle, which I was so fortunately gifted with at birth.
Please do pinch me if I start complaining or whining about my lot in life anytime soon! N.B. This does not apply if/when Daddy has a hissy fit and cancels one’s Black Amex, again! It’s so embarrassing when the assistant at Christian Louboutin discreetly takes you into a side room to tell you that they have had instructions to cut up one’s card.
Gasp! The shame of it. I was almost as red as the soles of their shoes, and they had to call the paramedics pronto as I turned a not so delicate shade of puce! Thankfully Mummy was in the area and swiftly swept me off to San Lorenzo’s in nearby Beauchamp Place, for a fortifying lunch of linguini and some delicious Italian vino to take the edge off my disappointment. I don’t know which one of us loves the attentive waiters the most - Mummy still has a glint in her eye and a spring in her step. I swear we must have been separated at birth, I really do...
Anyway, I digress…
But as I have already been talking about having one’s breath taken away, those fabulously generous and inventive gals at EH HQ excelled themselves by sending little old moi on a pilgrimage, along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. And the pièce de résistance? A trip down the Amazon river, including a cultural stopover with an ancient tribe. I will never think of Amazon Prime in the same way EVER again!
One was encouraged to pack hiking boots, comfortable clothing, insect repellant etc. By the time one had raided the pharmacy, one’s First Aid kit was going to need a seat all of its very own on the flight out.
Thankfully when one was first appointed to this wonderful role, HQ insisted upon my getting inoculated for all sorts of diseases. I mean, one has never been on the receiving end of quite so many little pricks at one time! And Freshers’ Week doesn’t count. I had to take to my bed for a few hours as one was feeling rather faint.
Talking of ‘Freshers’, did you know that in Finland their word for ‘Fresher’ is ‘fuksi’?! My cousin Anja (Finnish father), was sent to uni in Helsinki to embrace their heritage and brush up on her rusty language skills. You cannot begin to imagine the confusion and mayhem in her first term! Thankfully her father was a good friend of the provost, and any last whiff of scandal was snuffed out…Her father’s already called the ‘Scandalous Scandi’ by all who know him!
Now where were we? Ahhh yes. Up the Amazon, thankfully with a paddle! And a very able boatman. As we wended our way through the seemingly remote, lush Amazon jungle via the river, one was amazed to hear quite so much noise, and strange noises at that!
One soon learnt not to repeatedly ask “what was that?” because each time I tremulously enquired, the boat would rock violently from side to side. The only other loud noises echoing down the river besides my intermittent, muffled squeals were from the wonderful array of wildlife.
The decibel levels rose somewhat when I started seeing crocodiles along the river bank. Now as much as I love a bit of crocodile, or mock croc to be precise, especially bag-shaped and dangling off one’s arm, seeing Croc in the flesh was an entirely different matter. Anyway, one was mightily relieved when my knowledgeable guide told me that they were caimans - a member of the alligator family.
I swear the last time I saw a living creature with a rictus jaw like that, was a certain someone who snared my ginger prince; and a look which continues to this day… Last thing I read, she was holed up in some gazillionaire’s mansion in North America, waiting for the dust to settle after a little family disagreement. Sigh! Some gals are never satisfied.
Both Mummy and Daddy keep telling me to ditch my unrequited love, but this latest development has rekindled my hope that one day, he shall be free to marry me! Meanwhile Daddy is trying to find out who the gazillionaire is, to see if he’s footloose and fancy free, and in the market for a chatelaine (moi). We shall see. I want to marry for love, not money, but Daddy says beggars can’t be choosers, and that I need to be more realistic for everyone’s benefit...
Anyway I digress...again...apologies and back to my adventure…
As accustomed as I am to countryside living, there was an abundance of bugs I hadn’t bargained on, and I’m not ashamed to say that I cried copiously in my tent, when we set up temporary camp that night in the jungle. One was firmly, almost hermetically zipped into a sleeping bag, silently sending thanks to Mummy (via text). She’d had the good sense and foresight to pack me a mini Dyson, complete with spare batteries - all charged up and raring to suck up any little blighters which dared to venture into one’s tent!
At the risk of being a tad indelicate (and lavatorial), another one of Mummy’s genius ideas was to take a daily dose of Imodium. She politely reminded me that I am a Lady, and let’s just say, that bears might do ‘it’ in the woods, but one had one’s decorum to consider - and perhaps it was best to wait until one could perch on some porcelain in private, apres-Amazonian adventures. Also one didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise one’s desirability and do anything off-putting to potential suitors or paramours.
As we ventured deeper into the jungle, one felt compelled to try and blend in by wearing the local dress. By the time the darling ladies of the tribe had finished helping me, I was rocking the Amazonian style, looking quite the bad a*s, kick arse princess I always knew lurked within!
After being taught how to shoot an arrow at a target, I was invited to sup ayahuasca with the shaman. Now I know it’s terribly bad form to refuse hospitality from one’s hosts, however I couldn’t but help but have flashbacks to the only rave I ever attended in the 90s, recalling a popular group of a similar name - The Shamen, and their anthemic Ebeneezer Goode song. Oh what a night that was, and oh how we danced!
Anyway, I remembered the sage travel advice from my gap year travels, which was not to accept drinks from strangers - especially strange drinks. So I politely declined, replenished our water supplies, and headed back to the river to resume our travels.
Our boat thankfully had enough room for me to stow some wonderful souvenirs of our short stay ashore, including an impressive grass skirt which the tribe women helped me to weave, along with the most darling necklace made from the most unlikeliest bits and pieces lying around. Move over Bvlgari!
All paddled out, and back on dry land, our next stop was Cusco, high up in the Peruvian Andes, a launchpoint for Machu Picchu and a location where people struggle with the lack of oxygen at such high altitude - one was advised to suck on coca leaves. However, one didn’t have to resort to such extreme measures, as one has had plenty of ‘aerobic’ practice, not least from hyperventilating each time Daddy cuts of my credit card. My impressive lung capacity and ability to breathe deeply is quite the talk of Belgravia and other parts of town dontcha know!? Surely that would be enough to get me through this trek??
And so the trail began… trekking our way through the most beautiful scenery and majestic mountains. We sampled the local cuisine (Andean pan chuta - a sweet anise-flavoured traditional bread, baked in colonial ovens, was to die for!), meeting lots of fellow travellers en route - most of whom shared the same pained expression as me, the ‘what am I doing here and what have I gotten myself into?’ look.
We lost count of how many were sat along the dirt path, massaging aching backs and feet, all asking the same questions: “How much longer?” and “Are we nearly there?”. One can’t remember the eventual answers to either of those, other than I know it took an awful long time; it could have been hours, days, or weeks even!
It all became a perversely exhilarating blur of mountains, trees, dirt tracks, sore feet, pained expressions and general exhaustion; if ever one needed to be rescued by Daddy’s long-time chauffeur it was now. To say one is not match fit is an understatement and we will need to address that little issue sooner rather than later. Not only that, one has a lung capacity reputation to defend and doesn’t want to lose that crown!
When we reached Machu Picchu, as if I wasn’t breathless enough already, I found the sight before me was quite simply breathtaking and mesmerising. It was such a magical moment to see the village in all its glory, beautifully lit up, with the sun streaming through the ruins. The white Urubamba River winding around like a coiled snake - simply spectacular.
Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca citadel on a 2,430 metre mountain ridge in the Cusco region, Peru; it’s believed to have been constructed as an estate for the Inca Emperor Pachacuti. It has been built in a classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Some of the buildings have been restored and reconstructed to give tourists a better idea of how they originally appeared.
However one personally thinks they missed a trick or two by not putting in a coffee shop and a gift shop. One would have killed for, or at least paid top dollar for, a ‘Machu macchiato’, a ‘Pichu pizza’ and a few little trinkets as souvenirs. I really am quite the entrepreneur at heart - if only Daddy would invest in my dreams and schemes!
I had thought of capitalising on the Paddington Bear connection with Peru, and his love of marmalade sandwiches. ‘Lady P’s Marmalade & Sandwiches’ I was going to call it. However, I’m reliably informed there’s a niche bordello network, trading under a similar name.
Quite randomly and weirdly, when I got through to them on the phone, they answered with ‘voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?’ Now I know my French is a little rusty, but I fail to see what bedtime has to do with sandwiches.
Even more bizarrely, I remember my French tutor saying ‘two is company, three’s a sandwich’. I never did get to the bottom of that funny little phrase...
Gosh, there I go again, digressing away...
Anyway. With my Peruvian adventures well and truly over, one now has a far greater appreciation for life’s mod cons, bathroom and loo facilities, and just ever such a teeny, tiny crush on my Dyson, my hero; which, without sounding too dramatic, saved me (and my sanity) from the jungle’s creepy crawlies. I wonder if it’s quite as effective with bar flies around Belgravia?!?
***Note to #TeamHeaven / EH HQ’s darling gals***
If you pop to reception, you’ll see I’ve left you some goody bags from my travels. I couldn’t resist sharing the spoils and fruits of my adventures, and I hope you enjoy the Pisco Sours as much as I did. They make a margarita seem like child’s play!
You’ll also find a little bag of miniature dolls, which are called ‘worry dolls’. Traditionally, Latino children believe that before you go to bed at night, you tell one worry to each doll. Put the doll(s) under your pillow and when you get up in the morning your worries are gone! Needless to say, Mummy and Daddy asked for a caseload - I do hope they weren’t joking, as I’ve just had a call from the shipping agent to say they’re clearing customs, but the sniffer dogs are going beserk there!
Once again, thanks ever so for a superb trip. Tho the last time I was eaten and bitten alive like that, was my trip to Transylvania. But that’s another story for another time, over another bottle (or two), chez moi!
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