Saturday, April 28, 2012

Adios a Cuzco

It´s with a heavy heart I say goodbye to Cuzco tonight. As with so many places I´ve been, like Paris, Mexico City, Lisbon, I´m leaving wanting more. Four days was not nearly enough.

And yet, we had a whole day to wander the streets on our own yesterday. That´s my favorite thing to do in any city I visit. We climbed cobblestone hills, we rested in plazas, we bartered for gifts. We befriended Augusta and her son Cesar Augusto, a two year old who rode around town strapped to his mommy´s back all day. It was a gorgeous, unscheduled, group-free day--utterly glorious.

Today we rode out to a llama farm, through scenic mountain towns, past Incan ruins named something that sounds just like "Sexy Woman." I loved the llamas and alpacas. I could have spent hours feeding them, petting them, admiring the babies. Then we watched traditional weaving, and saw how they make dyes from plants. And yes, then we shopped and shopped and shopped some more.

I saw the Sacred Valley, the mountains and rivers. I explored the city of Cuzco, even popped into a few churches tonight on the way to dinner. I ate like an Incan princess, and lived like Spanish royalty. This trip was so much more than I ever could have dreamed. So I will try to focus on all we did, and not the things I would also like to do. Maybe I´ll just have to set my next novel in Cuzco, so that we´ll have to return.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hola from Peru

Dear readers, through a generous twist of fate, I find myself in Peru for a week with my dear friend Jan. Life is bueno. Muy bueno.

We spent the first twenty four hours in Lima. I was reminded of my mom´s saying, "If your standards are low enough you can have fun anywhere." Many people in our group weren´t impressed with Lima, and I´ve been better places, but for the mother of a 10 month old baby, I was honestly thrilled to sleep until 9 a.m., have a cup of coffee in a quiet hotel room, and enjoy the ocean view. Also, I got to take a nap later. That´s a damn good day.

Then today we landed in Cusco. If Lima felt like a generic city, Cusco is what I imagined Peru would be. Bright colorful textiles, old stone plazas, grand churches, baby llamas.
Cusco is literally breathtaking--at 12,000 feet, it is very difficult to breathe. When we landed I felt short of breath and light headed. My heart pounded. Very disconcerting. But I´d been hydrating all day, and I sat down while we waited for our luggage. When we arrived at the hotel, I immediately sat down and was served a cup of coca tea. This is what the locals drink to help with the altitude. It´s miraculous. After two cups I felt almost normal. So what if it´s made from the same plant that´s used to make cocaine? This is vacation after all.
After lunch in an ancient monestary, a bath in the sumptuous jacuzzi, and another nap, we headed to dinner. We are traveling with a super nice group of folks, eating and drinking like royalty, and not paying for any of it. A girl could really get used to this.
Maybe the best part of Cusco is our hotel. I feel like I´m living in a fairy tale. Not only does our bathroom have a jacuzzi and heated floors, it has a crystal chandelier. The hotel is a mansion from the 1600s, with these amazing antiques, paintings, chandeliers. Our room smells like cedar. The bell boy just gave us a lesson in local history and literature. I am loving every second. Just soaking it all in.
Tomorrow we go to Machu Picchu. My heart is already overflowing with joy and gratitude. They say that at Machu Picchu your heart opens, so stay tuned for that.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Good News, Bad News

The lovely Claire, who has been an invaluable support to me, creatively and emotionally, just told me that she got her dream job—hooray! And that it’s in Baltimore. Ug.

Like Anne of Green Gables, when I find a bosom friend, I want her to stay with me forever. I hold on to many of them, and I want Claire to be in that category. Unfortunately, long distance communication is not my strong suit, and I have learned that some people, in spite of how much we love them, fall away from our lives. So yes, I am thrilled that Claire has this opportunity, and yes, I am so sad that she’s moving away.

But on another level, seeing her dream come true gives me more hope in my own. I have journeyed with Claire, watched her discern what she wanted to do for work, try things that didn’t quite fit, adjust, try something else, and persevere despite setbacks. After this long road, success!  She has found a job that will use her considerable skills, where she will be valued and important. Seeing this come together for her helps me to keep believing in my own dreams, to keep trying, to keep doing the next thing.

Yet wouldn’t a writer need to be writing for their dream to come true? That’s what the inner critic asks. I suppose he has a point. With vacation, some drama, and less naps from Daniel, I have not put fingers to keyboard too often in the past few weeks. But rather than giving in to fear or self-doubt, I’m practicing breathing. I’m reminding myself what Havi says, that we can only work on one tiny corner of the garden at a time, but any work we do helps the entire garden thrive.

So, no critic, I have not written much these past two weeks, but I have seen a lawyer to write my will, made a long-feared doctor’s appointment, supported a friend in a very difficult time, and prepared for my trip to Peru. Inner critic says, “Havi’s theory is a crock. You just say that to make yourself feel better!” Man, he can be an asshole. I’ll channel Claire instead. She would tell me that I’m right on schedule. I’m working on believing her.