Travel Interrupted

Incredible. I’ve actually stayed in a country long enough that I need to consider renewing my 3 month visa. I’ve been in Peru since July 4th, and I need to figure out how/where to exit to another country and re-enter.

(FYI, I’ve since crossed to Arica, Chile and back – got a 30 day extension, and used it)

I’ve been volunteering for a tour agency in Cusco, making videos, and doing some work on their website when necessary. The owner sent me on one of their tours (Inca Jungle Trek) that involved downhill mountain biking, white water rafting and ziplining in exchange for a series of 5 videos I shot and edited and promoted on social media.

It’s funny, I remember watching the videos of the Inca Jungle Trail, wishing I could do it – then being offered the opportunity to do so. It’s as if I warped reality, and entered the film, which seems to happen more and more often.

Machu Picchu was just a distant fantasy – until I did it. Then, it seemed like an ordinary occurence, as is travelling through foreign countries, crossing borders, riding overnight continental busses and figuring out trekking at altitude. It kind of feels like: well, what else?

Because of my volunteering, it’s allowed me to stretch my travel dollars, and am able to stay for longer periods in the cities and countries of my choice. Which happens to be only 2 in 5 months: Chile and Peru.

I struggled with a bout of loneliness, traveling as a solo dude, only occasionally befriended – mostly by other dudes. But in Cusco, I’ve had the pleasure of staying in a volunteer room with a Taiwanese girl named Yun Fen, and then her friend Iris, making dinners together, trekking, joking, and cooking together. It’s a pleasure, and a welcome break.

And now I am back in a place of space and silence, traveling alone again. Both have their plusses and minuses, but I recognize I also need my space and my silence.

I garner what I need in cafe’s and walks through the beautiful city of Cusco, dodging trekking touts, restaurant purveyors and massage offers. “Masaje, masaje, masaje!” is a constant ring I here as I pass through al centro. I just look at them and go, “What can your small hands do?”

What’s been interesting for me is that Yun Fen is also a videographer, complete with large facebook following. Her methods are different – younger, with faster cuts, jump cuts and even effects. I think we both learn from each others styles, as I do longer videos, and am concerned with longer narratives, whereas she does shorter videos. But now I do shorter ones, and she does longer ones. It’s an interesting collaboration, as we often edit from the same footage, yet organized in individual and with our own creative sensibilities.

 

Ecuador

I finally entered my third country after 6 months, 2 in Chile, 4 in Peru – we’ll see how long in Ecuador. I have a cheap $10 room to myself, with good wifi and breakfast included. And the breakfast is scrambled eggs, a nice soft bread, and coffee, or tea. I booked for 2 nights, but will have a look around at a couple other hostals as I may decide to stay a bit.

I contacted a couple different language schools, but the 4 hour/day classes they recommend give me the shivers – why 4 hours? Seems excessive, especially as I am traveling and experiencing, etc.

But I recognize the value of strengthening my language skills.

I’m struck by how calm and nice and quiet the city of Cuenca is – seemingly without the craziness and constant honking of just about every other Peruvian (or Chilean) city I’ve passed through. The architecture is beautiful, and the backdrop of mountains is lovely.

The crossing from Mancora to Cuenca was uneventful as well. Other than the pain of getting up at 1:30am to do the border crossing, it was about as quick and pleasant as one could be. Didn’t even have to remove my luggage from the bus, or move from one building to another – the agents for both Peru and Ecuador sat next to each other, much like the Arica crossing of Chile and Peru. And this time they didn’t have any trick questions, just a ‘Is this your first time traveling here?’

Responded ‘Yes’. Cruised through.

I will do a separate post on the actual border crossing from Mancora to Cuenca, since it would have been nice to have found something online prior to the trip. Now that I have crossed maybe I can help a fellow traveler out.

Still getting my bearings. Figuring out where and what restaurants I want to try, what the nearby attractions are (Cajas Nacional Parque…), and figuring out where the rock climbing is. Will suss out Cojitambo, where my friend Erin told me I had to go. Also researching Banos, and other rock climbing areas. New country, new purpose.

I got a new tattoo my last day in Peru, from a photo I took of a Pelican flying overhead. I knew I wanted a couple bird silhouettes on my chest, and I really liked the photo I took. It seemed less committing than having the 4 lines of poetry I originally wanted on the underside of my right arm. I may still get the poem, but for now I have to think that one over.

I’ve also realized that while my other tattoos have a certain meaning, and often multiple meanings, this is one where the motive was simple – I just liked it and wanted it. And, I guess after getting a few before tattoos don’t always have to be deep in meaning and significance.

I can just simply like them.

Okay, was able to brash my way through the day, even though I was rundown from the lack of sleep on the overnight bus. Now: blessed sleep.

 

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