Reality Check

So it’s been a while again – oops. After our crazy Machu Picchu climb, we hit a bit of a wall, both physically and mentally. Our bodies are just starting to feel normal again – no fevers, no double-digit bathroom visits per day, restoration of appetite (though not weight, in T’s case, but we’ll keep force feeding him). Our physical sickness led to some very nostalgic homesickness, to the point where we ate Domino’s pizza for 2 dinners in the course of 5 days (for the record, quite tasty in both Arequipa and Lima).

Also, as I’m writing this, one of my very dearest friends from college is getting married to a fabulous guy in Houston, Texas, and I’m not there to celebrate. Obviously, I knew I would be missing her wedding, but now that I’m actually in the process of missing it, I can’t help but regret planning this trip in a way that precludes me from being there. She is of course incredibly understanding and is one of our most enthusiastic supporters, but missing her wedding is still one of the biggest regrets of our trip.  I’m also missing a college roommate’s wedding in Jamaica in October, which is especially absurd and pathetic when you think about the fact that I’m traveling and can’t even make it to a destination wedding. I suck.

But even more saddening and maddening for me is that another of my closest friends, also a college roommate, is experiencing the most bittersweet week of her life. Her first child is due at any moment now. But her younger brother passed away suddenly this week. She somehow has to remain healthy and calm enough to bring a new life into this world (and what a blessed life it will be with she and her husband as parents), but still mourn the unexpected and inexplicable loss of a dear loved one. And I can’t be there for her. T&I knew we would miss important events this year, including tragic ones, but I feel wholly unprepared to be so utterly useless and helpless. I can write emails and make phone calls and pray with all my might, but it’s not the same as giving someone a hug. My heart hurts.

To avoid being completely depressing, here is my brief travel update, since that’s why most of you read this. We spent this week mostly traveling in the cheapest way possible to get to Fortaleza, Brazil (ended up saving a ton because the direct flight from Lima was absurdly expensive). On Sunday, we took a 6 hour bus ride from Paracas, Peru, to Lima, Peru. On Monday morning, we took a 3 hour flight to Puerto Maldonado, Peru (in the Amazon). On Tuesday morning, we took an 11 hour bus ride to Rio Branco, Brazil. This involved another land border crossing experience, but the Peruvians and Brazilians take national security much more seriously than Central Americans. Even though we were leaving Peru, they went through our entire bags, even crushing one of Tyler’s vitamins and checking it for who-knows-what with some special solution. They also questioned my birth control, antibiotics, and other assorted medications, but fortunately let us keep everything. We had to go through our stuff again with the Brazilians, but they were not as thorough. They were mostly focused on yelling at the Peruvian passengers: “YOU CANNOT WORK IN BRAZIL!” I’m not exaggerating.

On Wednesday, we spent about 12 hours at the airport/flying from Rio Branco to Brasilia to Fortaleza. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see someone I’ve never met before – Otavio. Tyler studied abroad in Fortaleza 10 years ago and has kept in touch with some of his friends. Otavio and his parents are incredibly kind and generous and invited us to stay at their house for way longer than most of you allow family members to visit, let alone essential strangers. Their house is BEAUTIFUL – it’s the 12th floor flat of a condo building in a gorgeous neighborhood. We have been enjoying the weather, food, beach, and nightlife, and are the happiest (and healthiest) we’ve been in a long time. Being around a family just lifts our spirits, I think, and eating home cooked meals certainly doesn’t hurt. We will be here for at least another week and then plan to work our way to some relatively close ultra-beautiful beach areas and then south, eventually getting to Rio.

I know I should probably write about our last week in Peru which included Arequipa, an overnight trip to Colca Canyon, and a stay at the Starwood resort in Paracas, but to be honest, it wasn’t particularly eventful. Tyler pretty much covered it in his pictures, so I’ll leave it at that for now. Despite wishing I could magically teleport home for these few days, I do feel refreshed and ready to conquer my nomadic life once again. If for no other reason, I owe it to my friends to make the most of my travels – if I’m missing important events, I better at least be doing something amazing! E&J&S, with you in my heart, I will drink a caipirinha, learn how to dance samba, and conquer the Portugese nasal intonation.

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