Going into this latest adventure, there are many obvious differences when comparing it to my 6 month stint in Southeast Asia.
The most blatant is the length of time that I was away from home. 2 1/2 weeks traversing a single country is a tease compared to putting my life on hold for an extended period of time, quitting my job, arranging all aspects of my life so that I’d be set to get back on track as soon humanly possible upon returning. For Asia, anything I did on a semi-annual basis, or more frequently, had to be taken into serious consideration. Not to mention stacking the funds necessary to make it all possible. These considerations were essentially negligible for my recent travels to Peru.
Ready to pack up, 12 hours before takeoff.
The contrasts don’t end there, however. What seemed to weigh in my mind at an almost equal level was the fact that I’d already begun to blog before this last trip. It made it difficult, if not impossible, to suppress my cognizance of the fact that I’d be sharing a great deal of the adventure online. During my trip to Asia, which I began nearly 2 years ago, it was always in the back of my mind as a possibility. For Peru, it was a definite reality. In a way, though, it really has turned out to be a positive thing. It’s caused me to challenge myself even further to truly live as much as I could within the limited time frame I’d been privileged with. I’ve done my utmost to mentally, photographically, and literally capture as many angles as I could. From the cultural atmosphere, to the natural beauty, to the regional multiplicity of this incredible nation, my short stay still only scratches the surface of what even a lifetime of travel would have difficulty fully penetrating.
And yet, I’m the kind of man who really needs to immerse himself in a new atmosphere before I can even pretend to get an authentic feel for it. I knew I’d have a great time in Peru, but leading up to my departure, it was a little difficult to get really amped up at the thought of these latest travels. I admittedly have an attachment to Asia; there was nothing in my entire life to compare it to and it stands in the forefront of my mind as a tangible example of true happiness. No 2 1/2 week trip stood a chance with 6-months-abroad holding that kind of position. But this mentality is an example of me partly missing the point of this most recent excursion. They’re two different adventures at two different times in my life. It isn’t fair to take away from one country because another eight that I’ve been to were clustered together as one life-changing experience.
In the end (or perhaps it’s more appropriate to say “at the beginning”) the moment I touched down in Lima, Peru, I knew that this visit was something special, that it would matter in my life on a long-term level. All travel, when approached the right way, should succeed in this regard.
A few minutes before we landed in South America for the first time in our lives.
Maybe, for me, it’s the tropical air. Lima is certainly saturated with it, but it has so much more than that. It has character, in many ways so different from that which I’m used to at home, in Canada. But there are similarities as well. There always tend to be. It’s a crucial part of the formula which makes this whole thing work for me, and I don’t ever have to do anything to make sure that all of the variables are in place. Not much, anyway. It’s just there, and it just is, from the largest city to villages whose populations number in the hundreds. There are always people who are relatable and there are always people willing to be friendly towards strangers for no other reason than to express their genuine kindness. It makes the minor differences seem that much more superficial, an identifiable product of my social and cultural conditioning. To put it bluntly, it puts into perspective the shit that would normally cause discomfort, maybe even the illusion of unhappiness, in the world where I had once been so used to living in.
That’s the mentality that hit me, just shortly before I took off for Lima, Peru for 2 1/2 weeks. It rang true, once again, as it had for everywhere else I’ve visited as a grown man. There was a lot more than 2 1/2 weeks worth of living to do in this country, but god damn, I definitely did as much as my mind and body allowed. It began like this:
Just stepped out of Jorge Chávez International Airport…the tropical air is overwhelming and we’re ready to begin the next adventure.