This is my story of how I spent the past week doing something I've never thought I could. What I will relay to you in this and next few posts is about what this trip did to me, rather than the things you can find in travel books. Here it goes:
I boarded the first of the three planes to take me to Cusco, Peru on December 23, 2012 morning with not so much a single worry about going to a place where I have never been before, whose language I do not speak, to do something I was not sure I was prepared for.
The first thing I noticed on the plane was - thanks to the gentleman sitting next to me - that the South American men are really into smelling nice a little too much. During the 5 hour flight, the bridge of my nose tingled with the intensity of his smell. Despite the olfactory violation, my eyes were entertained by his dancing hands to the Latino music that was playing through his headphones. As I tried to fall asleep to the violent turbulence we were experiencing, I noticed the map in front of me said we were flying close to 'Mathematicians Seamounts'. I made a mental note to look that up once I get back home before I slipped into a shaky slumber.
The first layover was in San Salvador. The very nice young guy at the boarding gate to Lima plane yelled "Turkiya!" upon seeing my passport with a big smile but then could not decide if my visa was valid and had to consult the other nice young guy at the counter. I was told to wait to the side for 5 minutes while they counted on their fingers to determine the validity of my 6-month visa. The finger-counting was successful, and I was sent through the gates with holiday cheer.
During the next 4 hours on the flight to Lima, I felt like I was turning into the 13th warrior: starting to understand Spanish more and more. Amazing how fast you start recognizing words and patterns once you are immersed in a language. While we were still at the gate, sitting in the plane, they announced that the plane was being refueled and to remain seated with seatbelts unbuckled. Is this normal? But then what defines normal? Wasn't it me sitting in the third stall of the airport toilet a couple of hours ago in some miniature Central American country's airport, asking myself "what am I doing?". The answer promptly came through the speakers when "dream weaver" started playing. Yes I'm weaving my dreams to make them real, tangible, touchable, visible, out of my head, to make room in my head for more dreams.
Taking off from San Salvador, there were more starlights above than city lights below. Really distorts your perception of where you are on earth, in universe.
As I was wondering why the apple juice served on international flights always tastes divine, I received my holiday cookie in the shape of a little tree adding to the growing joy of my trip.
Everyone was asleep. That night out of the small portal of the airplane, only I saw what the moon did to the silky clouds. Words cannot do justice to the love affair that was going on up there.
Read more in Part 2