Some stories begin most appropriately at the end, and this is one. Before sharing any of my Peru adventures, I must first share the end of my story. I returned home four days earlier than planned, having made my way some 4,200 miles with a broken ankle.
Peru is a rugged place. Mountain trails, precipitous drops, endless tipsy stone steps and cobblestone streets all challenge the traveler to be mindful in every step. And mindful I was. That is, until I stepped off a curb in the village of Aguas Calientes (the evening after visiting Machu Picchu) and felt the snap of bone when my foot rolled beneath me. My trip ended with that snap and my journey home began.
Four days, two doctors, one ambulance, seven wheelchairs, one train, one bus, two taxis and three airplanes later, I arrived home. To say I was sad to leave Peru before reaching Lake Titicaca’s mountainous shores and remote villages doesn’t touch the breadth and depth of my feelings. I left behind work unfinished, places and faces that I’d just begun to know, and many more I will only now imagine.
In the days ahead, I hope to unravel the tangled threads of memories and understandings about my time in Peru before I took that less than mindful step. The vibrant color, the flavors, the landscape, the beautiful people—I know the memories are all there, somewhere.
For now, I’ll focus my healing energy on mending bone and ligament. And figuring out how to take a shower, weed the garden, dress my body and generally live life with a cast. Knowing, of course, that I’m lucky it is just a broken ankle.
Peru’s first lesson: what happens next is often not what you expect.