Wonderment (TA-Pt: 8)

Humans have that innate nature of complacency or capacity for growing accustomed to things, which can be both beneficial and undesirable, I think. Beneficial, when dealing with difficult circumstances. Undesirable when it comes to appreciating aspects of life. We grow used to things and subconsciously set standards, especially when it comes to how amazing or incredible we think something is. It’s too easy to get caught up in always looking for the next best thing or something greater than what you last saw, not appreciating the things that are already there.
Better, I think, than always looking for something amazing or seeking to show people something amazing (despite the fact that those are worthwhile efforts) would be the endeavour to give them the ability to appreciate and to wonder and to be amazed at the small and seemingly-insignificant things in life. Everybody experiences the world subjectively anyway; so just because you’ve gotten bored of one thing that you used to think was beautiful or magnificent, it doesn’t mean that the thing has actually lost its beauty or magnificence. (As it is, what would be the purpose of something beautiful if people weren’t there to appreciate it?)
Restore to people their ability to wonder and marvel at the world. That’s a gift that cannot be held or touched, and it’s more valuable than almost all others because it allows people to love even more deeply the things that they can hold or touch or see or smell or hear or feel.

In any case, would you like to know something absurd? Ironically, the very instant I was about to get into the bus that would take us to the little town below Machu Picchu, I lost my camera. It literally just disappeared. I have no clue what happened to it. One instant, I was sitting on the sofa in the hostel fiddling with it and wrapping the strap around my toes, and the next instant, as we walked outside, I no longer had it; and as much as I searched and searched and searched, I could not find it.
It was just as well in the end, I guess. I had to settle with the reality that I wouldn’t be getting any photos of one of the most outstanding places we visited; but I think it was probably better that way for me, since I could focus more on being present in the place and moment, without having the distraction of trying to make things look good on camera. Fortunately, though, Sam and Chrystel still had their cameras, and they took a few pictures whilst we were there.

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The seven-hour bus ride back to Cusco was miserable, and the twenty-hours from there to Lima were even worse. We did travel through gorgeous landscape, though. However, at one point as we rode through the mountains, our bus crashed into a truck that also crashed into two other trucks. Thankfully, almost nobody got hurt, and nothing worse came of it except arriving later than we expected.

We’ve spent the last couple of days in Lima, trying to be real tourists for once — basically just relaxing, enjoying ourselves, finding good food, and simply making the best of our last few days together. Sam flies out tomorrow back to Canada to tend to his life at home. Once he leaves, it will be a sad and lonely journey as Chrystel and I make our way back up north without him. He has always been the life our little trio-party. We’re trying not to think about it too much.

Therefore, Chrystel and I have recently just decided that we’ll return first to Santa Marta, back to Pedro Nel’s little farm and stay with him for a while. (It’s a straight three-day bus ride to Cali, and then about another two days or so to Santa Marta. Not really looking forward to that very much.)
After Santa Marta, we’ll probably return to Bogota and quite likely stay until mid-November. After that, we’ll finally be able to return home.

Even though we do still have heaps of traveling to do, we’ve finally been perceiving the end of our journey approaching us. As you could probably imagine, it’s a conglomeration of emotions and thoughts ranging from the eager joy of soon returning to those at home, to the solemn conclusion of one of the most adventurous times of our lives.


Traipsing Around – Part 7: Lima

After nearly four days on a bus, without once taking a shower, changing my clothes, or even brushing my teeth, we finally made it from Bogota to Lima. When you’ve traversed straight through three countries by bus, you really start becoming very familiar with your immediate surroundings — and especially what positions are most comfortable for sleeping. For instance, there’s the Only-Slightly-Painful-Curl-Up-Into-a-Ball-Position, with your feet hanging out into the aisle and your nose all squashed up in the seat. Or even the Not-So-Painful-But-No-So-Comfortable-Sleep-on-Your-Back-Even-Though-the-Seat-Doesn’t-Lean-All-the-Way-Down-Position.

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Anyway, Lima is pleasant; and the scenery along the way was spectacular.
We did have our undesirable circumstances, though. There was a bit of trouble crossing one of the boarders; and when we arrived at our destination yesterday, tired, hungry, and dirty, we discovered that Sam’s bag had been lost along the way at some point.
Therefore, we stayed at a hostel yesternight to rest, and also to wait to see if Sam’s bag could be found by today. We’re resolutely believing that it will be returned to us.
This afternoon, then, we’ll take another bus, for a quick twenty-hour ride to Cusco; and then from Cusco, it’s either bus, train, foot, or maybe all three to Aguas Calientes, where we can begin our ascent to Machu Picchu.


Traipsing Around – Part 6: More Great Unknown

Just like that bus terminal back in Panama, Bogota seems to be the place we always return to and stay for heaps of time. It’s fine by me, though, because the people we’ve met here and the experiences we’ve had with them have surpassed my expectations — and I’m a person of high expectations.

Nonetheless, we still have time left and places to reach before this trip is over. Tomorrow we head out again into a lot of variables and personally uncharted territory. As far as we know, we’ll take a ten-hour bus from Bogota south to Cali; and from there, another bus for about three days all the way to Lima, Peru. From Lima, it’s just another hop, skip, and who knows how long of a bus ride to Cuzco. We have an unrelenting resolve to reach Cuzco and climb Machu Picchu before Sam has to return to Canada.

It’s going to be a matter of raw backpacking again, sleeping wherever we find a dry, comfortable place, and figuring things out as we go along. The last phase of our journey with the three of us together, heading into a great unknown.




Traipsing Around – Part 5: The Jungles of Santa Marta

I think I’ve officially reached that point at which I’ve now starting looking like a hobo, or a homeless hippie. You know you’ve been backpacking for a long time when you can chew on your own mustache.

I guess that hasn’t really mattered as much though, especially since we’d spent the last two weeks in the rainforest mountains of Santa Marta. The degree of beauty and splendour there is immeasurably outstanding. Rosita’s husband, Pedro Nel, has a plot of land there that he’s been working on. It’s where we were staying, and ever since we arrived our days had been filled with productivity and fun and all sorts of adventure.
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For instance:

Pedro Nel has a massive vision for what his property can be used for, part of which includes a self-sustaining farm with a building for hosting visitors or missionaries or even just living in from time to time. We were helping him with cleaning up the area and putting up a chicken coop, among other things:

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This is Hermano Pedro. He was already there helping out with the construction. This guy is seventy-three, and he still hikes all over the mountains, works all day, and climbs up to put onto rooftops:


This is the little house where we were staying. We collected all our water in tanks from the river, and we had only just recently installed electricity.

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We also hiked all over the mountains and thoroughly got lost more than once:

Getting Lost

Here are a couple pictures of the giant mutant monster centipede thing that we found in the bathroom:

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From the beginning of our trip, the three of us knew that it wasn’t going to be a matter of just reaching a certain point and heading back. Our goal is every day, every place, every person. Nevertheless, with that still in mind, we’ve decided upon a location we want to reach before we turn back and head home. You see, Sam has to be in Canada again at least by the middle of October, so we want a particular spot to arrive at before his time runs out. After having been inspired by some other backpackers we’d met earlier on, we concluded that Machu Picchu would be that place.

Therefore, yesterday was our last day in Santa Marta before head back by bus to Bogota. We’re going to stay here in Bogota again for just a couple of days to spend a little more time with our friends and visit a bit. After that, we’ll continue to take more buses down through Ecuador and into Peru.