And it hasn’t been entirely easy. The adjustment has been slow. The sky seems empty for lack of mountains, the roads are too wide, there are cars everywhere, and who wants to go back to work after a 3-week vacation. Especially when work is very high stress right now and you’ve just started to get the South American command of tranquilo (calm). They don’t believe in stress and couldn’t understand when I told them me preocupo siempre. (I always worry.) I am completely alone right now for the first time in a long time. I remember telling people, sure I missed sitting on my couch with my cat watching Lost. But honestly, how banal. And privileged.
I remember looking at the houses tucked into the side of the mountain while I was on the trail. Or perhaps stuck in a glen of banana trees. There was the collection of six families or so whose lawn we camped on the second night. There was the pueblo of La Playa, one street with a single row of houses on both sides. Or even Santa Teresa, where when I walked to find a phone, I was the only gringo in sight. How did these people live? When I sat watching movies on my widescreen laptop, what were they doing?
I really don’t know how I feel about a lot of things. And about some things, I don’t want to think at all, at least for a couple months.
I’m terrified of forgetting all of the Spanish I learned. And I desperately don’t want the trip to just feel like a dream… though I know it will, like every other trip I have taken. Sure, the gears will creak and shift and life will resume. And of course it isn’t bad. Completely privileged, right? And there are many things in my life to which I am looking forward. But God don’t let me forget the faces of Carmen and Jose and the others at La Clinica de San Juan de Dios. Don’t let me forget that I walked in the homes of the Inka. Don’t let me forget what it felt like to climb Salkantay or dance salsa as the time of my life.
I can only hope that I will return sooner rather than later to continue exploring that beautiful continent.
I know I have much still to tell and share about the Salkantay hike, Machu Picchu, and my last days in Cusco. I will. And I will share pictures when I can figure it out. Suffice to say, it was a wonderful/amazing trip.