Friday, June 24, 2005

gotta rush away, she said

day in, day out, accumulating

When I reached the Sun Gate on the Inca Trail, the whole morning, the whole four days, the entire trip squeezed into a tight ball of sharp clarity. All morning, I wondered where the energy came from, what force was keeping me upright and mobile. In our particular trek, the third day was the most strenuous, passing through three mountain passes, one of which reached a dizzying 4210 meters. That it was named Dead Woman's Pass did not help morale any.

By the last morning, every muscle in my leg felt overexerted. The high altitudes and cold nights and hard ground had contributed to sleep deprivation. The little energy that remained, I used to avoid twisting my ankles. Even on that last day, there were downhill descents over uneven rock that required special concentration. Or at least it felt special after three days of hiking.

But on that last day, there is no weariness. It is the classic point in a journey. Well past the half way mark, it is clear that the path must be followed. No weariness, but no elation. Just the knowledge of what is inevitable, of what must be done. I can trace back the inspiration for braving the mountain passes of the third day, for keeping my chin up on the second day, but I still can not pinpoint where the source of energy sprang that brought me to Macchu Picchu on that last day.

Standing at the Sun Gate, realizing the booty was all but in hand, I took in the view, and then peered closer. If you do too, you will see the extensive winding road, snaking its way through the green, making its climb to the ruins. I looked at my watch. It was nearly 10 in the morning. From that view, from that distance, the ruins still looked untouched.

An hour later, after the brief gratuituous collapse, I came upon a different world altogether. After four days of near solitude, of listening to wind, tree branches, and the gentle trudge of footsteps, I found myself thrust into throngs of people. People who were well-dressed, clean, rested, and not particularly quiet. I would love to launch a diatribe about their sense of entitlement, their lack of awe, but I know that the real problem was one of shock.

Since I have been back home, it's been some of the same. I could bemoan the bad luck that's befallen me upon my return, but it seems unwise to do so right now. I know my Peru-colored glasses are slanting everything. Instead, I'm going to give myself a double dose of culture shock, by going to visit my family this weekend in EBF. This time of year, the contrast of the heat and humidity alone should turn me into a raving lunatic.

No comments: