Yes, I am ready. And yes, I know that llamas spit, coca tea helps with altitude sickness, and that “cuy” is a local delicacy I’d probably rather avoid. (That’s guinea pig. Yes, really.)
My Spanish is “meh”, but it’s there. I can locate the bathroom, ask for the time, and tell someone to shut up quickly and accurately. Funny story, though. As I was filling out the online form for our Machu Picchu trek, I clicked on the drop down box under “nationality” and was astonished to find absolutely NO line item for the U.S. Not USA, not United States of America. Nothing. I scrolled down to the N’s in hopes of perhaps finding something under North America when it hit me. Hey genio, it’s under E for Estados Unidos. Way to go, gringa. Ay, carumba.
Let’s see…what else have I been advised /asked about. Oh yes! Am I physically in shape for this trip? Well, besides the fact I run, swim, hike, and kayak, I’m also an exercise instructor. (We ain’t talkin’ your mama’s Zumba class, baby!) And so, I defer to my students for the answer to that question. Eh hem. Okay, that’s all I have to say about that.
For the record, though, succumbing to altitude sickness has absolutely nothing to do with one’s level of fitness, so I will be well-armed with my acetazolamide prescription and a LOT of agua as I hang out in Cusco at around 11,500 feet. The highest altitude I’ve experienced so far is 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. I was fine. But hey, I’m not taking any chances here!
Neither is my doctor. Upon hearing of my trip, she hammered out two more prescriptions to help if I should, let’s say, accidentally drink the water down there. I asked if, in the event I start to feel ill, I should plan to take the one for dysentery first and then take the one for parasites if the symptoms don’t improve, to which she kind of half-shreaked in reply, “TAKE THEM ALL!” Thanks, doc. Getting the warm fuzzies here. Hoping they’re not parasites…
No, I choose to imagine instead Mo and me kicking back with a little canela aguita, or coca tea. Whichever strikes our fancy, as we catch up on each other’s life.
In other news, I successfully whittled away the items in my pack until it reached the magical weight of 17 pounds! Granted, I will be walking through airport terminals looking like the Michelin Man with hiking boots, but I will NOT be checking any bags for this trip! It takes three different planes to get me to my destination and back. Checking a bag is like issuing a written invitation to the airlines to lose my luggage. Can I get an “amen”? And I kind of need my gear for this trip, if you know what I mean.
I re-waterproofed my boots, packed some extra pens with my journal, loaded up the Kindle with the likes of Joseph Campbell, Terry Tempest Williams, Charles Darwin, and Homer; and filled my iPod with an eclectic mix of Blue October, Jewel, Celtic Woman, and R. Carlos Nakai. Now I wait.
But waiting is not wasted time. It is a gift, a time to be mindful and reflective, not hurried and anxious. For me, that means casting aside the endless To Do list to which I am so addicted and taking note of the way the lights from the Christmas tree play off my son’s hair, the way my husband hugs me a little tighter and a little longer these last days before I leave. They have no idea how much I will miss them.
And so, I think it’s time I signed off and enjoy the “wait” with my loved ones a bit more.
¡Adios, mis amigos! ¡ Estoy saliendo de los Estados Unidos prontos!
Until next year…