I always joke that I pull a superman when I go on my work trips. I go into the airport dressed up as mommy, and –like superman- change into my super aid worker costume (only using the bathroom as opposed to the phone booth, which no longer exists and could get me arrested).
While no actual change in clothing happens, there is a shift in my head which takes place sometime in the process. The airplane acting as a time capsule of sorts takes me away from my reality, and eventually brings me back.
This last trip entailed a family stop over, so it was hard knowing what to turn into at the airport. I had a few somewhat surreal days in Lima, a gift of time with those close to my heart, but too far for my hectic schedule and anorexic wallet. Much like a dream it ended abruptly when I found myself on a plane headed for a place were I’d once spent a romantic holiday, back when theone was still only maybe. I’d had no time to morph and was still struggling to see what is somehow home as the target country. Which already says miles about what the aid industry can do to your mind map of the world.
As we approached the mountain range for landing, the sunset’s golden light and heavy clouds gave way to a striking landscape. Only then did I remember that this is the imperial city, once capital of the Inca empire, home to one of the most spectacular temples, world heritage by excellence, a spiritual place and axis of the earth’s energy to many. I was reminded of another gift I was being handed, that of time, in this magical place, alone. And so right there on the plane I decided I would make the best of it. By day I would tend to my duties, but outside working hours, now freed of any family commitments, I would spend my time feeding my spirit and its temple. I would find yoga classes to attend, for sure available in this Mecca for hippies. Fill my empty hours with meditation, and take in the energy from this sacred place.
Next thing I know the pilot is informing us that those beautiful thick layer of white clouds won’t let us in, we are flying back. Years ago the gods had made it impossible for me to reach machu picchu. Now it seemed like Cuzco was also resisting.
I spent the night in a cold damp three star hotel. Which was fine because I had to get up at 3am to be picked up in time for the first morning flight, but annoying because my bus did two previous stops to drop other passengers at gorgeous five star hotels.
The next day we attempted to beat the sun and the clouds. As soon as reports of clear skies came through we set sail, and after one failed first attempt we managed to land. Finally. The humid cold air creeped into my bones as soon as I set foot on land. I’ve forgotten half of my clothes back at grandma’s and can only wear skirts for the next 5 days. The cold and high altitude keep my fingers paper white and ice cold. It would take me almost a day to finally thaw them. Fast forward to the end of a first productive day of work to find me bending over the office bin vomiting, documents and purse in one hand, a can of oxygen in the other. My grown-up dressed-up look completely ruined. Maybe the gods are taking the demons out the old fashioned way, no yoga or meditation required. Maybe even the best laid out plans are just that, plans, wishful thinking, naïve two dimensional visions of what always turns out to be a complex 3D reality, coming right at ya when and how you least expect it. Maybe that was the lesson the gods chose to share with me.