a week of wellness, sacred valley peru

It's day 3 of a work trip in Cusco, Peru and the morning sun creeps over the terra cotta at Hotel Quinta San Blas. Bleary-eyed, I sit in a chair warming my hands on a cup of coffee and wriggling my toes on the blue-cold tile. I attempt to recollect the past days, but they blur to one. What did we do yesterday? What was the name of our driver again? 

I wonder to myself, "Why do the days seem to slip past me when I travel? How can I slow them?"

The creeping sun reaches my toes and they stop their dance. Frustrated, I exhale and realize that this is the true first breath I’ve taken since arriving here. The air is thin at 11,152 ft so I take another. It’s pure and sweet. For 10 minutes, I breath nothing but stillness and it heals me. It makes me well. Using simple math, I continued the stillness practice for the remainder of the trip. Here is what it did for me: 

saturday, 9:00 a.m. - After a morning of reflection I hop in a cab and head to the Baratillo Market, or Black Market of Cusco. The polar opposite of stillness, pickled alpaca head and house-made horchata are sold in adjacent booths as crowds stream by. I stop to chat with some local weavers and amidst the chaos, I am struck by their silent strength. The market ebbing around, these women’s stillness is inspiring. 

Travel day essentials:
Sleeping with the shades open to rise with the sun
Small portioned vegan dining to aid with altitude acclimation 

sunday, 5:00 p.m. - I set the phone down. Scrolling friends’ postings at breakfast I felt pulled away from Cusco to Thailand, to Maine, and back home to Austin, TX. And although I found only a few minutes of stillness in the back of a Toyota Yaris by doing so, it felt good to be there. 

Travel day essentials:
Rest from social beckonings
Coca tea to fight altitude sickness 

monday, 10:00 am - Three quarters of the way up to the Sun Gate above Macchu Picchu, I’m forced to stop and wait for my breath to catch up. Hands on head, I look out over the jungle opposite the teeming geological site and am enthralled by its boundlessness. Though Macchu Picchu has been tamed, the wild jungle lives on around it. 8 minutes pass, and I continue my hike, slower now.

Travel day essentials:
Respond to needed breath

tuesday, 12:00 p.m. - Departure day. We linger over coffees before walking the now familiar streets of San Blas, Cusco. Time feels slow and the past days vivid. Reflecting on the time spent here I face a simple truth: stillness is not something that happens to us, but something we carry with us. The invitation is there. 

Hydrate in the morning to avoid afternoon slump
Carry camera instead of phone
Pack layers to combat swings in temperature


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