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
Wonder

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. 

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

 

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