This time last year I was in Cusco, where I stumbled on a street parade of traditional dancers after my Spanish lessons one day. The colour and costumes and friendliness of the people delighted me as I raced around with naught but my phone, trying to capture it all. These are the photos I took that day, as I skurried around behind-the-scenes, phone in hand, talking to the performers and trying to capture the event through their eyes.
If all has gone to plan, right now I should be in Pisac, not too far out of Cusco, tucked away in a curve of the Urabamba River in Peru’s Sacred Valley.
I spent a memorable half a day in Pisac this time last year, on my last full day in Peru, exploring some of the old Inca ruins and enjoying a chance to breathe in the peace and quiet of the mountains after a month in the noise and colour of Cusco. Can you imagine sitting among the ruins of an Inca check-point on a mountain path, watching Andean eagles circle overhead, while a Quechua woman hand-weaves traditional designs by your side and an off-duty guide stops to tell you stories? The guide and I walked back to town together: he sang for me in Quechua and showed me useful native plants, and as the sun sank behind the mountains someone was playing the quena on the ancient Incan terraces…
This time I’m staying for the best part of a week and taking the time to get to know this one small part of Peru a little better. It feels a bit strange to be going back somewhere I’ve been when there’s still so much of this country that I haven’t seen yet, but I know that right now I need a touch of familiarity. I need time to relax somewhere safe and quiet, where I can walk in the mountains and wander the town on my own, and such places are rare over here. Sometimes it’s worth going with what you know will work instead of seeking new adventures, especially when you’re as tired and in need of time out as I am!
I’m not a city girl. I love my bushwalks and garden and knowing my neighbours and growing a community around me. I’m not exactly flourishing here in the big city: the noise and concrete and the absence of nature pull at me and leave me tired and frayed, so I’m taking myself off to the country to recover and recharge for the adventures still to come in this challenging year. It seems that, at last, I’m really learning the lessons about how to look after myself.
I’m looking forward to walking in the hills and exploring the high-up Inca fort. To wandering through the markets looking for native plants to eat. To learning more about the history, the culture and the ecology of the part of Peru that first captured my imagination on that first brief visit two years ago, when I trekked the Lares trail.
I’m looking forward to coming home with more sweet memories hived up in these wandering bones.