Against all odds I made it out of Buenos Aires in one piece. I had been so depressed in the winter in that city, doing homework. But last Wednesday I got on a plane to Iguazu Falls and a period of traveling began. All of a sudden I was no longer in the dark, cold winter of BA and instead I found myself in the humid jungle! It was still cold and very damp, but it was refreshing. Plane travel is amazing.
I'm back in Urubamba now, I almost can't believe it. Blogging from an old PC in a dusty internet cafe feels so much better than blogging from my little computer in my room, just like I would write from here last summer and it just felt good.
Amy and I made it to Cusco on Sunday and Monday, and spent a couple of days wandering around. Cusco is a marvel but also the most touristy place I´ve probably ever seen in my life, so it´s not my favorite city in the world. We lucked out with a wonderful hostel perched way up on the hill. The first night there was a thunder and lightning storm and purple bolts shot down from the sky followed by an uncharacteristic light, winter rain. We met up with Craig where he´s working and on the way drove through low neighborhoods of Cusco that I´d never seen before. There was a massive blackout and the only lights were the headlights of the fast-driving taxis. Everybody was out on the street and little candles were shining through all of the windows.
Yesterday there was a transportation strike and we didn´t know if we were going to be able to make it down to the valley. We got very mixed information from Cusco residents about the likelihood of our making it out, but decided to try anyway. The bus station was closed, but we caught a big van (which I prefer to the bus anyway).
The drive down to the valley was like a spectacular show. We had to take a dirt road for a good half hour because of road blocks from the strike, and even then the driver had to get out and move rocks. But going this alternate route meant a slower, new view of the valley, one that I had never seen before. We crossed over the highest part right as the sun was setting, and each turn meant a new little lake, a new ice-capped peak, a new purple shadow on silvery clouds. I almost couldn´t breathe. The Sacred Valley is hands down the most beautiful place I have been in my life.
Today Perú already caught Amy with illness, so we cancelled our hiking plans and I decided to head out on my own to see the cemetery and then visit my old host family. It´s strange to be here almost a year later to the day. If the Valle Sagrado is the most beautiful place in the world, this cemetery is the most beautiful spot within that place. As I was sitting there I realized that it has been eons since I was outside, alone, surrounded by flowers and warming up in the sun. Complete solitude is not easily found in Buenos Aires.
I stopped by and saw Pilar and Ruby. The house hasn´t changed a bit. It was so nice to talk to Pilar, maybe the sweetest most innocent woman I´ve ever met. Randú the dog still has a watery eye and Ruby looks older but the same.
What surprises me about Urubamba this time is how much has actually changed. The bakery where I used to buy truffles moved across town, the alpaca clothing shop across from my house closed and the whole building is no longer Eric´s dad´s house but some kind of political organization. The firewood place on my street is now a restaurant and live music bar. Everywhere I could notice differences. I guess proof of evolution and growth? I did, however, see Dominga (the insane, homeless woman that all of the parents in the town threaten their children with when they won´t eat) within minutes of nearing the market. Some things stay the same.
I´m excited to spent more time with Katie tonight, who is doing ProPeru this summer. I feel really calm and content in my alpaca sweater nestled in these hills but strangely also really ready to get back to the United States. We´re really finally at the final countdown.