PAUCARTAMBO: A Midlife Adventure from Martha’s Vineyard to Peru. Written and illustrated by Shirley W. Mayhew. Music Street Press. $25, 169 pages.

In 1983 when Shirley Mayhew of West Tisbury was 58, she decided it was time to experience travel as more than a tourist. As a tourist, she had enjoyed visiting 11 countries, but she wanted a day-to-day living experience in a foreign land. She chose Peru,

She had been there as a tourist and its rugged Andean landscape had captivated her both as a writer and a photographer. Although both Shining Path terrorists and cholera were affecting tourism there at that time, Peru was her country of choice. And she wanted to stay in an out-of-the-way village where foreign visitors were rarely seen. She found that village, Paucartambo, through a guide she met as a tourist while visiting the Incan ruins at Machu Pichu. He was an American, married to a Peruvian who had grown up in the village.

Paucartambo is the site each July of a fiesta that attracts Peruvians from all over the country. At other times, it is a sleepy high mountain village of Quechuan Indians. In college, Shirley had briefly studied Spanish but her knowledge of it was rusty. And she certainly could not speak any Peruvian Indian tongue. But she would return five times to Paucartambo, making friends there and, Protestant though she was, becoming godmother to two Catholic Indian children.

She would also link the sixth, seventh and eighth-graders she taught at the Edgartown School with the children of the village. The Edgartown students raised $900 by collecting cans and bottles and $1,000 more from bake sales and sales of items from Peru.

Verna Lacey, a teacher at the regional high school who sometimes accompanied Shirley to the village, got her students involved and they raised another $1,000 for Paucartambo schools. The pair made their last trip, with their gifts for school repairs and maps and flags, in 1991.

Paucartambo is a touching book. It is also an adventurous book. Sometimes, there was no way out of the village to the major city of Cusco except as a passenger in the back of a produce and supply truck. Gamely, Shirley climbed in and rode along as the truck went from village to village and lurched over the mountains. There are rich descriptions in it of the beauty of the Andes — both from the air and from often hazardous roads — along with a collection of impressive photographs.

Paucartambo is available at the Edgartown Bookstore or through Amazon.