Welcome to the Incan Empire!

What a year!

We don't know about you, but 2020 for us has been characterized by unprecedented moments. Some moments have made us fearful. Others have made us discouraged. Many required us to dig deep for the courage we didn't know we had. As we look at the year as a whole, we cannot help but find tremendous gratefulness and compassion for those around us who rode the roller coaster of 2020 with us. For that reason, we've curated one of our most special adventures for you to share with us rolling into a new year that we hope is filled with goals met and dreams fulfilled for you and your family. As you may already know, we're headed to Peru, specifically the Ancient Incan Empire for this celebratory edition of our Bibliophilic Excursions Signature Journey. Read about the destination and everything included in your literary adventure, along with some special ways to give back below. As always, we're so happy to have you on this journey with us!

Turn Right at Machu Picchu

Our nonfiction selection this month is a special pick by adventure writer Mark Adams entitled Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time. Part history, part travelogue, this New York Times Bestseller retraces the 1911 journey of Hiram Bingham III, a former governor of Connecticut and explorer as he "discovered" the great Incan site Machu Picchu. As he sets out to correct the historical record, Adams will find much more than Bingham's plundering. He will learn survival skills, he will realize that stories are not always as simple as they may seem, and he will find that not everything found or discovered was ever truly lost at all. We hope this journey will challenge each of our literary adventurers to find something in your life that may feel hidden but has been with you all along just like the ancient temple of Machu Picchu, despite war, plundering and dare we say pandemics remains standing firm in the hearts of native Peruvians. Check out a special video tour of Machu Picchu below.

Tour Machu Picchu

The Archer 

You may know Paulo Coelho as the author of The Alchemist, one of the best selling books in the history of literature. For our fiction selection, we've included the author's newest work, The Archer. While Coehlo is a Brazilian writer, his newest novel is inspired by the Ancient Peruvian traditional spiritual practices and is centered around the metaphor of archery, perfected by the Inca Army to protect the empire with projectiles reaching a distance of nearly 2 meters. While we typically choose classic literature as our fiction selection, we felt moved by this little book's ability to connect our past and our present. We hope this parable offers each reader a glimpse into traditional meditative paths and reminds each of you, as it did for us, to be intentional, compassionate, and understanding in our ever-changing world.

Below, you can find a link to Coehlo's blog post about a Peruvian priest's challenging and uplifting sermon.

Paulo Coehlo Blog

Peruvian Literature

If we haven't had the pleasure of meeting you yet, we're two sisters who love introducing great books to great people. It's always difficult to choose only one fiction and one nonfiction book for each country. So, we wanted to share some of the books we also considered to include in the box. We hope you check out the reviews and consider purchasing at your local independent bookstore or bookshop.org.

  • The Neighborhood by Mario Vargas Llosa
  • Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende
  • Ollentay
  • Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo
  • Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcon

Follow the link below to find a great article on the work of Mario Vargas Llosa (pictured), Peru's only Nobel Prize winner.

Mario Vargas Llosa

What's Inside?

Each month, we include amazing handcrafted goods to take your literary journey to the next level. We found some great local goods that will tantalize each of your five senses as you read your way through the Incan Empire. You can find a description and some facts about each item included in your literary adventure below.

White Quinoa

Quinoa was first grown 5000 years ago and is native to Peru and other Andean communities. In fact, quinoa played a critical role in the agricultural industry of the Inca Empire. The quinoa included in your Signature Journey, along with the handmade reusable bag, is from SIMPLi, a Washington D.C. nonprofit that works with 450+ small family farms surrounding Lake Titicaca, Peru. All proceeds go directly to local communities for sustainable agricultural development and regenerative farming practices.


Gourd Ornaments

We've also included a special play on the 4,000-year-old tradition of art through carving and burning gourds. Your gourd ornament has been handcrafted by local Peruvian artists. Pictured is Lizette Hurtado, one of the most accomplished female gourd artists. In Peru, gourd art, being ancient and prestigious, is a male-dominated field. Still, Lizette and her fellow female artists see persist even when change is slow.

“I want to encourage all women not to feel self-conscious, not to feel less. I know that it is still hard, there is a lot of discrimination but we women have strength, and we can help other women succeed.”

-Lizzet Hurtado


Peruvian Pan Flute

For your hearing sense, we've included the Incan zampona or siku, a traditional musical instrument. In ancient times, women would play a single tune as they came down from spiritual meditative journeys in the Andes. When they came together as one community again, the single tunes would become one cohesive melody with the instrument representing the work of strengthening one's self in order to contribute to the greater good of our communities. What is your tune and what can we each contribute to those around us? 

The flutes included in your box are handmade by locals from dried reeds surrounding Lake Titicaca.

Alpaca Gloves

Alpacas are considered integral members of the Andes communities. Especially when the weather is cold, the fur from these beautiful creatures is used for mittens, hats, and other warm attire. Each alpaca is humanely sheered and your gloves include traditional Incan patterns for both warmth and style.

Clay Bowl

Your literary Peruvian adventure also includes hand-thrown clay bowls hand-painted by local artisans with traditional Incan Pisac geometric patterns. They're the perfect size for a bite of quinoa (hint, hint) or even to store your keys or a few coins.

Hot Chocolate

We can't forget hot chocolate in the winter. We've included a bar with cloves and cinnamon. To enjoy, simply mix the bar into a bit of warm water or milk. Sol Del Cusco is made in Peru and sold all over the world. 

Here's to a less unpredictable, more compassionate 2021!

Give Back with us!

Each month, we include a way you can give back to the destination. This month, we want to offer a challenge to our members.

"Visualize the perfect master always by your side, and do everything to revere him and to honor his teachings. This master, whom many call God, although some call him "the thing" and others "talent," is always watching us.

He deserves better."

Paulo Coelho in The Archer

This month, we're challenging you, along with ourselves to be kinder during these unprecedented times. Find a small or big way to be more compassionate, more gracious, and offer more mercy to anything or anyone in your community. For ourselves, we're going to keep a gratitude journal and make sure that we tell our family and friends how much we appreciate them, including our four-legged family members. We'll be patronizing our local businesses, especially bookstores and restaurants. Finally, we're challenging ourselves to clean up our community during our daily walks to keep our planet clean and hazard-free for fellow inhabitants. 

You can find us on social media or send us an email and let us know how you're planning on approaching the challenge with us if you like. We love hearing from you!

Seasons Readings!

Thank you for taking this literary adventure with us! We're wishing you a beautiful holiday season filled with love, adventure, gratitude, and, of course, great books! We're planning some big changes and expansions early in the new year. Be sure to find us on social media or send us an email to stay informed. 

See you at our next destination!

-The Bibliophilic Excursions Team