Peru – I embarked on this journey on an impulsive decision. Having watched far too many episodes of ‘Monsters Inside Me’, I’d decided Peru was a place where I would most definitely get Leishmaniasis. If you don’t know what Leishmaniasis is, I recommend you google it. A flesh eating bacteria which can be spread by the bite of certain sandflies. This was obviously an irrational fear of obtaining a parasitic infection. Highly unwarranted but kept me from ever really considering a journey to Peru. Nevermind Malaria! Anyhow… I was emotional having recently had my mother die and wanted to do something that meant I was confronting a fear head on. This led me to impulsively booking a trip to go to Peru, the jungle, the inca trail, lake Titicaca, Bolivia and all those fun places.
My trip was more than I expected and my fears were proved to be irrational. I say, ashamed at having them in the first place. Insert groan face here! I’m not going to go into every detail but if you have any questions leave a comment. This blog post is not about what to pack, what to do and what to see. It’s about the beauty beyond the surface level.
While I and the ‘group’ sat around each evening after 6-7 hours of hiking the Inca trail, we each asked each other why we were there. Why was I there? Each group member; being from different countries with different backgrounds all told similar stories, all in summary being something they had always wanted to do. A bucket list item. I don’t and never have had a ‘bucket list’ so why was I there? How could I tell them that I just decided on an emotional impulsive because I was terrified of getting a parasitic infection and wanted to face my fears? Kind of… Nuts!
I found something beautiful in the people. Something I’d never really seen before. Glimpses of something simple we don’t appreciate coming from the “western world”. Many of them are farmers and for additional money when not farming season, they porter for us westernised pussy’s. They wear leather sandals and carry 20-25kgs of weight on their backs and they move faster than us. Us? Us, wearing our special hiking boots, our 5kg daypacks, our outdoor ‘active wear’. You see children playing. Laughing. Untainted by social pressures to fit in. Untainted by social media and constant wifi connection. Genuine smiles, despite hardships. Communities work together for the greater good of the community, despite the severe lack of funds from local governments to support improvements within the community. I saw people carrying rocks to build a pathway around a 4km long island of lake Titicaca. All supporting the cause, a representative from every family.
There is something endearing in it. Something that makes you want to reach out and grab it. What did I see? A raw unadulterated kind of happiness?
Here’s an idea? Should we have a zombie apocalypse I think I want to make sure I’m in Peru at the time. It should be rated the country least likely to end up with gunfights and slaughter between organised groups of human beings in a post apocalyptic world. I can barely imagine a Mad Max scene fitting in.
When you are creating your Bucket List, hiking the Inca trail and the view of Machu Picchu from the sun gate, is amazing. Obviously. I implore you to look deeper at the surroundings and make sure you see the beauty beyond all this. The tangible. The things that still exist.
Bucket List item – find the beauty in negative spaces.