All Roads lead to home
I was a freshman at Cedar High School when I first got the “itch” to travel. Madame Whetman inspired my first dream to wander. That dream was realized four years later when I headed to Paris and then onto England. As the kids say now days, “it was epic.” I saw the Mona Lisa, L’arc de Triumphe, wandered the Monmartre, climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and was awe struck by Notre Dame. En Route to London, we visited St. Malo, Mont St-Michel and then visited Normandy (that moment was life changing).
Since my first trip abroad, I have added at least a dozen more countries to my passport. But who would have thought that I would put Madame Whetman’s French to use on my most recent adventure to the country of Peru.
In fact, nearly 25 years ago I minored in French at SUU and my French accent was still intact. It was at our hotel in Icca, Peru that I met Sonia Savarino. Sonia was halfway through her year long trip around the world with her husband and six year old son. I was in awe of her “bucket list” and for a moment incredibly jealous. Sonia invited me to be her friend on facebook and to follow the rest of her journey which would conclude in December (The world is certainly a lot smaller than it was the summer of ’93 when I headed to Paris).
Peru is unlike any country I have visited. I really thought that I was prepared for what I might see. After all, I had traveled to Armenia. I had seen the effects of the earthquake in 1988 that still lingered a decade later. But I was wrong. After visiting Icca, we visited Pacarus and the surrounding beaches. Both stops were beautiful, but very much tourist destinations. However, the poverty of the rural areas through which we passed haunted me.
It was in Lima that I discovered Peru’s little lie. Lima’s population is estimated to be almost 10 million- you should hear the incessant honking of horns. The nicer areas of Lima reminded me very much of Boston. The city was marked by nice cars, beautiful homes, and well-dressed residents. But then I got on the train and I traveled to its last stop in Lima. I will never forget that image. It is one I cannot even describe. But it stirred me, penetrated me, and marked me.
I walked away from my journey grateful for so many things- toilet paper, clean water, napkins, transportation, wash cloths, and quiet. I found the beauty of Peru in its people. The kindness and humility of the Pena family changed me. Their joy in life was not in “things” but in each other.
My flight home was long, and it was solo. But I thought a lot. When I saw the desert sky from the Phoenix airport, I was beyond grateful. As I knelt down by my bed that night, I realized that I had hit the jackpot to be born in The United States of America, in Utah and in CC town. What I did to garner this lottery I will never know. I wish my French friend Sonia well on her journey, but I think I am content to be home for quite some time. I will follow Rigby around the hilltops searching for the “Big Buck” drinking in this land of color savoring the quiet and the bright beautiful night time skies.