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, gringaAy, 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…

Armed with my Spanish books and prescriptions meant to keep my tummy feeling good!
Getting ready is a process!  Here I am, armed with my Spanish books and prescriptions.
Only the bare essentials in an effort to keep the pack weight under 17 pounds!  My secret?  Compression packs!
Only the bare essentials in an effort to keep the pack weight under 17 pounds! My secret? Compression packs!




  1. I am so excited for you! I hope you will be able to enjoy this trip without the use of drugs- but a girl scout is always prepared! I look forward to reading your posts from down under the imaginary line of 0 degrees. Hugs! Cathy

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