I’m writing this post from a bus on my way to Puno and Lake Titicaca in southern Peru. Before my wife and I get caught up in the busyness of our travels through Peru, Chile, and Argentina, I thought I would take some time to reflect on the last five months and say goodbye Cusco.
Life here wasn’t always easy or even fun. At times I was enamored by the colonial architecture and the grandeur of the mountains. Other times I couldn’t wait to get out of the city. I was tired of being treated like a tourist, tired of the grime, tired of the stark contrast between rich and poor that plays out everyday in the city’s plazas.
The week leading up to our departure was marked by that tiredness. We had said goodbye to many friends, finished out our work, and were once again dealing with sickness that has seemed like a monthly event here. As we prepared to leave the city, I thought saying goodbye would be easy. I thought I was ready to shake the dust of my feet and never look back. I was wrong.
Despite the challenges we’ve faced here, we’ve also had amazing experiences and lived out a dream that we have shared for many years. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have spent more than half of this year living overseas.
The original purpose of this trip was to learn Spanish and in that regard I think it was a success. Even though I have a long way to go before I’m anywhere near fluent, I feel like whole new worlds have opened up to me with the Spanish I’ve been able to master on this trip.
Of course, like all travel, we learned much more than we set out to. I think Sonya and I both experienced big shifts in our priorities. We have better perspective on where we are going in life and what is important to us. During these last months I’ve had lots of time to think about my personal ambitions, art, and meaning. I think it’s helped me to hone my vision for this blog and understand in a deeper way what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.
We are of course both looking forward to our upcoming travels but we are also looking beyond them. Looking towards what comes next when we return home. There may be some significant changes in store for us (Sorry, Mom, no kids yet) and we’re doing everything we can to get ready for them.
In the meantime, we’re just enjoying the memories of Cusco. The time spent with my brother and sister, and the company of friends who bravely rescued us from loneliness over the course of our stay. Then there is my work with Threads of Peru. Not only did they allow me to build a body of work I am proud of, they also helped me to visit places and people I never would have met if I had come to Peru as a tourist.
Finally there are the adventures we had. Over the course of five months I visited Machu Picchu twice, climbed passes as high as Mt. Whitney, saw countless festivals, camped, hiked portions of the Inca Trial, rode buses to the middle of nowhere to witness unique traditions, explored caves, stumbled upon ruins I never knew existed, rode motorcycles, made new friends, and I even saw a couple of llamas. These memories are the ones that will stay with me long after the food poisoning, dirty streets, and pushy vendors are gone.