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Encountering Huaraz

Yep, magic happens here. Things are not what they seem. Yesterday morning very early we zoom to the airport. Annecke’s are early for flights. It’s just kind of who we are. So we are way in time, and stroll over to check in our bags. Oh, she says, your flight left an hour ago. No, there is no other flight until a few days time. Ashen, my first born shows her the tickets - yes, we are to leave in two hours time. No, she says. Not rude or anything. It’s just how it works. The flight left an hour early.

And then I know it’s a funny place. Because it’s exactly right for us. My sons don’t blink an eyelid. Oh amazing, they say at once, let’s do a road trip! And my heart bursts of love. No aggression, no old-style masculine chest beating. Just a hustle, finding the car hire place, and suddenly we’re driving. Like we have always loved to do, since they were small children. Six hours to Huaraz.

We leave the toxicity of the industrial areas of Lima. We drive on a double highway going endlessly through desert sand - miles and miles of it. On Google Maps my second born directs us to a tiny, local coffee shop right in the middle of a town in the middle of what feels like nowhere. And, as the vegetation starts changing, some hills and even some trees… so our conversations change texture, timbre and depth. How it has always been. We’re driving higher and higher, and we are leaving parts of ourselves behind. In the meanderings of the road, we are able to listen in quiet empathy, talk in long uninterrupted sentences, know that we have weeks ahead where we can keep finding each other. It’s different to how it used to be. The months and massive events since last we were together make us marvel at our love, our intimacy, the simple ways of caring when all has changed.

We find Huaraz, and the snow-capped Andes in the distance hold us spell bound. As if they knew that we needed to ‘arrive’ here, in a long journey participating in the unfolding of the landscape. Not suddenly ‘appear’ out of an aeroplane. My tears come unbidden, in a gratitude that makes us all laugh. How did that all happen? And, in the long journey together, we have found each other again. So glad that plane left us behind.

We eat. Amazing food. How much I love eating with them. Grace begins where I stop. We listen, laugh, be present, and fall into bed in a dreamy kind of way. I dream beautifully in the jet lag. Everything is opening up. The frozen trauma is melting.

We do our first acclimatising hike this morning. I’m fit - but the altitude! We walk from 3100m to 3900m and I am filled with awe. The Andes are in the Peruvian people. A strength, beauty and sheer ability to live. I have to stop every 10 seconds it feels like. Just to gasp for breath. They say I’ll feel better tomorrow, and our big trek starts on Tuesday.

I live in an adobe house in Lynedoch EcoVillage. I love seeing the Peruvian men building with mud and straw, sun-baked bricks. Ancient art, that Malcolm Worby, our architect, had such deep experience with in New Mexico. I love our house so much. Lots of light streaming in, cool in summer and warm in winter. I stop, to talk to the men about their building. They show me with pride. My non-existent Spanish turns to garbled marvelling. My son translates. We all leave happy.

I fall asleep, with the sun streaming into my room. As I wake, I go and find the coca tea. Illegal in most other countries, it’s perfectly normal here. From ancient times, people knew of the coca plant properties. In its tiniest form, the leaves soaked in hot water provide an immediate lift from altitude sickness. This is a world where plant medicine is still deeply respected, despite the draconian banning from the times of the Spanish invaders and the Catholic Church. Perhaps these plant teachers simply made people feel too good. I wonder.

There’s a spell being woven. Unconditionality, the awe of the Andes, the ability to walk every step of the way. And it’s only two days in.

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