There are things no one really tells you about traveling. In most blogs or travel websites you can find stories about great adventures, breathtaking scenery, language learning, making friends, getting to know new cultures, etc., but rarely does one read about the challenges that come with a nomadic life.
It’s not much for them to live on. It seemed like a hard life to me, but I also realized that they are further away from the cycle of consumerism that defines so many of our lives. They’re always with family and spend time with each other instead of looking at screens. Maybe it just seems hard to me. When that’s all you know, why would you want anything else?
This is the story of two wandering nomads that made their way into the Colca Canyon, hiked for three days in the heat, made some friends, loved the scenery, but ate way too little food. After three days of hiking, our nomads found themselves happily tired, starving, and ready to hike up and out of the canyon. This is also a story of awe, natural beauty, Incan mythology, and a canyon that houses many different worlds within its cliffs.
As the hours turned into days, I grew used to the silence. I started to like my thoughts and I enjoyed spending time focused on my body. I thought I might feel lonely, but I had myself and that was more than enough.
So what does it feel like to hike at 5,000 meters? Slow, mostly. We were all breathing much more heavily than normal and Andrea got hit with a big headache. At one point, Andrea even said that she felt drunk: she was processing information more slowly, felt uncoordinated (try to put foot in one place, her foot ends up somewhere slightly different), and couldn’t think straight.
Having enjoyed sharing the travel experience with family before, we were super excited when my sister came to visit us in Peru during her summer break. Our two weeks together were full of adventure, unexpected twist and turns, breath-taking scenery, and lots of fun. Surprise after wonderful surprise captured a piece of my heart, that shall forever be left in Peru.
When we crossed from Colombia, we immediately noticed we were deep in the Andes. Andrea and I found that we suddenly towered above most people in the immigration line, but quickly realized our height was no advantage when it came to tackling hills and mountains at altitude. We constantly reveled in seeing lamas and alpacas walking the streets and had our breath taken away by the stark mountain views.
We fell in love in Colombia during our short visit and are confident you will too. From the massive Arvi Park in Medellin, to the impressive presidential palace in Bogota, to this hidden church by the Ecuador border, we were never bored and were constantly meeting friendly people.
We laughed, and laughed, and then laughed some more. I am still a bit dumbstruck at how easy it is to press pause and play with good friends. Time passes by and sometimes you don’t see each other for years, but when you press play again, it’s as if no time has gone by.
We love the change, the challenge, and the variety that comes with constantly being on the move, but we do occasionally miss knowing our way around. Stumbling upon this family-run restaurant in Quito helped us feel grounded. We found comfort in their food and their company and felt truly welcomed. Sometimes what seem like the most banal, everyday moments, like having breakfast, can become some of the most powerful memories, if you’re open to it.