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I didn’t want to open my eyes. Not yet. Let me stay here for a little longer. The morning sun had already blanketed my room in light and warmth, countered occasionally by the cool mountain breeze slipping in through the windows. “Not yet…not yet…”

There I lay, a little tired from being up all night, but I could feel the adrenalin slowly welling up inside of me. “In a few hours I’ll be on my way to the airport…”. My heart sped up until I lost my desire to remain in bed.

“…I should probably pack”. O shi…I forgot about that whole packing thing. Eyes open. Eyes open and peering at the MESS of clothes and stuff I had thrown around the room. “Oops. Yeah well, it’s about that time…”

Pack ALL the things! I didn’t have TOO much stuff, but I did have enough to keep me occupied for a substantial amount of time. There was some stuff I still wanted to do, some goodbyes and pictures I still wanted to take.

The original idea was to pack, then when my car arrived, finish off the second bottle of champagne in back of the taxi with the girl from the night before, laughing like the eccentrics that we were. Would have been a lot of fun, but she went back to the city early, and I’m quite glad for that, since I got to have more time to myself and with my friends.

Back to the situation at hand….

I was rolling my clothes quite quickly and jamming them into the suitcase like a hasty game of Tetris, in an attempt to maximize my space. “Carry-on items over there, laptop over here, and…did someone call me?” I paused my packing for a moment and stepped out onto the balcony, looking downward into the main room of the house. There stood everyone’s favorite gypsy companion, singing to herself and lighting up the world as she seems to do.  I leaned over the balcony as she called my name in her fantastic British accent. “Morning! I’d like to sing to you before you leave” “Sing? I’d love that! In fact, I’d like to request that moment of your time I mentioned last night during the party” I responded. (Fun Fact: I asked if I could have a moment of her time the night before).

She ascended the stairs and we stepped into the organized chaos of my room. I did have a request, a question really. It was one I had asked about 19 times before, but she would be the last. She sat across from me as I reached up and untied the rope knots of my crystal necklace. The necklace itself and our friendship really, was an unintended, but beautiful product of my journeys with the medicine. The crystal is a physical representation of an obelisk that came to me during one of my ceremonies. (The ceremony of pure horror which I haven’t written about, but those who were there with me, will know the one I’m talking about. Chills, I just got them. Fun fact: The ceremony of pure horror was pure horror)

As I made my way through the journey that was Peru, and came in contact with people who really, really meant a lot to me, or helped me in some way, I would ask a moment of their time. I would ask that they hold the crystal in their hands for just a minute, nothing fancy, just a physical interaction with it. The idea was that, not only will I have my memories of our times together, but I will have something that has physically come in contact with said person, something physical that I can cherish, that I can look at or reach out and actually hold.

After I told her the purpose of the necklace, she smiled wide and took the crystal in her hands. The stone has passed through the hands of about twenty different people, and no two interactions were the same; one person held it to her heart, another whispered something to it, another held it high in the air, each was unique to the person and hers was no different. She held it in both hands, vertically and raised it to her lips. Out came her that stunning voice of hers, and as she sang to the stone, I was bombarded with such a spectrum of emotion; I couldn’t even begin, to attempt, to describe how I was feeling. (If anything, I’d equate it a little to Tennant’s “I don’t want to go”).

After she finished, she held the necklace in her hands for a little longer before handing it back to me. And what a beautiful conclusion it was…

I finished packing my things and we made our way downstairs. I had a little bit of time left, and I wanted to get some pictures before it was too late. I threw my camera around, juggling it from person to person, as I snatched up as many people as I could before I left! My housemate, a fellow Flame Keeper (Previous Entry: The Flame Keepers), a fellow traveler from the area.  I ran across the way to my dear sweet neighbor, but much to my dismay she wasn’t home. Le weep! (<3 Meredith)

It wasn’t a solemn goodbye, we were all too busy laughing and hugging. Well, that was until the taxi pulled up and the realization of the day returned in full force. “Your taxi is here”. “One minute!!” I bolted around my house and knocked on every door, tackling the residents inside with a hasty hug. Thanking and praising my friends one more time.

And that was that. I turned toward the road, and there it was in the distance, my taxi. I walked the dirt road I traveled every day to get to town, only this time it seemed to take forever. The driver greeted me with a smile and helped me put the rest of my things in the back.  One more round of hugs for those who followed me before I found myself inside, peering out from behind the glass. “See you soon!” I shouted as the taxi pulled away, hoping to put enough desire into my statement to make it true. I leaned back in the seat, took a breath and composed myself. “See you soon….”

I leaned my head on my hand and stared out the window, watching the familiar landscapes pass me by.

~~

On the run way, I stared out the window, over the airport, to the city, to the mountains, to the sky. This was it. The journey I so desperately wanted was over. I DID it.

I dug the ipod out of my pocket and scanned through my songs. I had one for such an occasion, one of the two songs that acted as my catalyst for this trip. Music that penetrated deep and allowed me to open up and send that message to my brother which led to the eventual push toward this destination. May as well end on it too.

(Fitting name too)

By the time I clicked play, the plane was already moving. We weren’t at max speed, but we had just taken our final turn onto the open run way. The final minute was such an intense experience, I couldn’t have timed it better. As the music rose, so did our speed, and so did the overwhelming feeling of “you’re leaving this place”. My eyes welled up; my body was wracked with this anxiety, this panic, as if I had made a terrible mistake, as if I was leaving behind something extremely important. The intensity of the song continued to fuel the panic, as the plane shook and the landscape screamed by outside of the window. The wheels left the ground at very moment the crescendo peaked. My breath stopped for an instant, and by the time I took another, I nearly choked on it. Regaining my composure, I fixed my eyes on the city disappearing beneath the clouds. “See you soon….”

Leave the Sacred Valley

~~

An hour later and I’d find myself doing laps in the Lima airport. I wanted to scout the place out, since I now had six hours to kill. The food court held my attention for about an hour, but besides that there wasn’t much to keep me occupied. I couldn’t find a free Wi-Fi hotspot, so I grudgingly found myself in Starbucks. “Wifi is for customers only”. Yeah I saw that coming, now I pause, trying to justify buying an overpriced drink that I don’t even like. (Fun Fact: I hate the taste and smell of coffee)

At least there was a caramel macchiato on the chalk board menu. Not that I knew what that was, but at least it had some sort of cultural reference to a favorite movie of mine (“Caramel macchiato, for f—ing Scott Pilgrim”). Maybe I’ll give that a shot…if only for the caffeine.

(I like how they spell my name out here)

Try a caramel macchiato. Fun fact, it tastes like coffee. Surprise!

At least I got the wifi password. Oh wait. The wifi is out!?! You slippery coffee swindling fiends! You’ll pay for this treachery, and the only currency I’m accepting, are beating hearts. ON GUARD!

Seconds before I lunged at the cackling coffee baron, the moment was shattered as fire alarms started going off all around the airport. My coffee rage was quickly forgotten as large groups of people were flooding toward the exit signs. Following closely behind them were armed security guards and fire fighters. “Hrmm, ok well, time to go” I grabbed my things and skirted the crowd, taking the stairs and following the line of officers herding the group to the exit.  I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I wasn’t about to wait around for whatever was happening to happen.

I’ve never seen an entire international airport evacuated before, and from their bewildered faces, I don’t think the line of taxis did either. “TAXI?! TAXI!?” They screamed, assuming they just hit the jackpot of customers. “No thanks, I don’t want a taxi, I want a plane…”

We weren’t outside for too long before the expanding crowd paused, and seemed to be sucked back into the airport doors like a great wave receding down a drain.

-Have a fire drill at an airport

Back inside, back in my coffee chair, plotting the demise of the demon behind the counter. He shed his human suit and stood there with his arms crossed, flapping his wings impatiently as he stared and awaited my next move.

He was quickly forgotten when a lovely young writer asked if the chair across from me was taken. “Please do” I said with a smile. Time flies when you’re busy causing mischief with a beautiful, passionate stranger…

~~

Back on the plane. This one would do it; this one would take me all the way home. The flight was long, but comfortable. We flew silently through the night sky, until I saw a small glimmer on the horizon. I’ve been on plenty of planes before, but this was the first time I literally, saw the sun creep up over the horizon. How beautiful…

Watch sunrise from a plane window

And there it was. The city in the distance, New York.

For the first time after a trip, I felt like time had actually passed. I felt changed, even though everything around me was the same.

Now for the hard part; to taking everything I learned and apply it back in life. To stay vigilant and not let the environment I fled from harden me back up. That’s the hard part. That’s the test…

My travel gloves have come off…and that’s the end of Peru.

…for now.

Follow through, experience and survive the trip alone

– Travel to Peru –

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