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Hello, Peru

So, a whole new adventure…somehow, I’m at a long table in a nurturing nook in a city on the very edge of the Pacific Ocean. If I hang over the balcony, lean my head out skew and peer through the cloudy mist, I can actually see the sea. I’ve flown 18 hours to get here - my very first visit to an entire continent on which I’ve never stepped foot except so many times in my imagination. South America. Peru. Lima.

Yesterday, I wept goodbye to my 92 year old mom in Joburg. She is so close to the veil. As her sight and her hearing have started separating her from this world, her insights become more penetrating. Her softness palpable, and her wisdom indescribably present. It feels as if my ancestors bless the journey I’m embarking on with their future - my beloved sons. Time folds in on itself, and my mother connects my father and his grandsons in one move.

My traveling companions

My first-born roars his joy as he sweeps me off my feet in the arrivals hall. It feels normal here to be effusive. Overwhelmed by tears, we embrace - Skype, whatsapp and FaceTime can do so much. But only that much. Touch is just different. My second born floats into our picture and joins the fray. He has just arrived from Europe. It’s been too long that we have been apart. And now we aren’t.

He has made us a base in this city. From here, our adventures. We arrive, bags and all. Wine, food, laughter and we have suddenly never been separated. There is no exhaustion, no time difference. It all melts away. We crow our gratitude and my heart feels whole. Who are these humans that were born of me? What is this on which they so clearly lead? Like arrows, sure and pure, all I need to do now is as ever - have faith. No rationality, no logic. Just faith. Even when, as Rumi says, ‘if all you can do is crawl, start crawling’. The first hand venturing out is not a sure, elegant reach. It’s more like a chameleon’s tentative gesture, or even a seemingly catatonic plea. Sometimes accompanied by a howl of right, royal rage. But whatever it is, it’s an act of faith.

I sleep little. So much energy. I walk with my first-born to his co-working space. We stop for Peruvian coffee along the way and there suddenly seems something very strange happening. I can’t quite put my finger on it. And then it dawns. He is speaking Spanish! Oh my word. A whole new world he is in, to which I have no access except marvel. As we walk, his first conversation is about giving. The refugee centre to which he is now paying attention has us captivated by stories of xenophobic deaths, a 17 year old boy making his way on foot across half the African continent, family separation, people wanting to set up tiny businesses, no identity, no papers. The stories of refugees, immigrants and lives so wrought with separation, violence and trauma that we have no idea how their struggle for life continues. And one man providing a home for all this. How to help, wonders my first born. As usual, he has a strategy. He has turned the mentality of financial scarcity into which he was born, into one of vast abundance. And, as he does this, he helps others more and more. The family separation stories bring us both tears.

The city leadership had at some stage some nouse - the shopping mall is built in a sort of subterranean way, so that the usual eyesore does not blinker the view of the ocean.

I love the co-working space. It’s funky, industrial-feel, half of it outside. Unpretentious. Fast wifi. Tiny coffee shop with food made daily. Fresh fruit. Plants growing up a slightly dilapidated wall. The roof is part open. If it rains, you have to move your Skype call somewhere else. This part of the city has a slightly old world feeling. As if magicality is just behind where the eye cannot see. The trees are quiet, and the park a place where the dogs have pink and red boleros. I get the feeling that things do work here. With a twist. As if the Andes, the ocean, the Amazon, the climate all have their slightly mocking way with the city. Things are not what they seem.

I am the mule for the trekking gear - all the way from our other treks. Nepal, Rara Lake, insane beauty of the Himalayas, Uganda, Ruwenzori, the mountains of the moon, Italy, lighthouse to lighthouse on the tip of the African continent … what does Huaraz and the trek from there have waiting in store. No matter - for now, I am a mother of men. About to do the shopping for the cooking I so love doing.

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