On our last night together, we eat really extraordinary food in a restaurant overlooking the Pacific ocean. I choose wine that lands up about worth the whole food bill by mistake. From Chile, and completely fantastic. I scream silently, but we are quite delighted with my error. They cook from scratch, and we melt into the view, talking, drinking wine and then the tastes we share in some awe. Nothing like amazing food.
I leave Lima before dawn, and I quietly half-wake them to say goodbye. We somehow stay for a few suspended moments in that space, pervious to all that is, where grace enters our interlaced arms. No words, no tears. Beyond words into love that is simple as skin.
I guess in one way we are supposed to take family for granted. I mean you can’t go gushing on and on about family. That would be weird. Only, when you have nearly lost them, or when it all got broken, then there’s something different that arrives. A kind of glistening in each moment. Especially the everyday, supposedly boring times. A joy in the fabric that makes up arriving home into the smells of food cooking, the laughter between tents on our trek, the conversations that open up more and more, and just simply being together. They’ve been listening to a book called Battle Mage the whole trip. Dragons, unlikely heroes, battles, fantasy, learning mage moves - the mythologies trail our journey. The part that moves me most is the grief of a dragon. I leave first. In a couple of days, one is off to Brazil and the other to Mexico.
I’m not sure I’m meant to leave this magicality. In Sao Paulo I discover my plane is overbooked, and they’re about to bump me off. I’m the very last standby passenger allowed on. When I get into the plane I discover I’ve left my noise-cancelling earphones in Lima. Same kind as both my sons, it’s our joke - our family travelling team symbol. Mine has stayed with theirs. And then, I arrive in Joburg, and my bag is somewhere between Lima and Sao Paulo. (It’s lost for the same time that I have jet lag. Six days). I start laughing. Maybe I just should’ve stayed.
Disoriented, spaced out, jet lagged and still half-hovering above the Andes, I make my way back home. It’s the beginning of spring, and I start feeling it. That familiar surge of energy midst my sleeplessness. The strange thing this spring is that something has stayed in the Andes, and something else has travelled back with me. I released ties with almost all familiar before I left.
I see a whale on the way to meet my friend, the traditional magician. We’re both a bit befuddled by what’s pitching up. A mixture of international pulls, deep local learning, death, and tentative awakenings. He senses my liminality, and we sit quietly. It’s nice to be with someone who knows how to just sit.
There’s tidying to do. The village veggie garden, the oral histories starting Humans of Lynedoch. Like Humans of New York. Connecting in quiet ways, a radical simplicity that gives life a chance to unfold itself. I visit my artist friend’s farm near Ceres and am put into a complete and reverent reverie when we come across a deep portal holding yellowwood trees, soft moss, tiny waterfalls running rivulets down extraordinary cliff faces of ancient rock. I can’t move, pinned by a sacred sense of all that is.
Our house is sunny when I arrive home. The clay walls glowing, and the combinations of Africa, Nepal, ancestors and a huge rainbow seem to welcome their live human, returned. The same, only different. Full, happy, belonging. Different than when I left. My friends say I’m glowing too. I recognise now what came back with me. The violations and violence has dissipated in the sheer beauty of that place with the thinnest air, those mountains, being in purest nature. It’s as if the trauma never was. And I’ve been sent home bathed in contentment.