We all know them. Those people that say, “I’ll do it when…..” fill in the blank. When I have more money. When my kids are grown. When I have more time. When I am older. And that phenomenal thing called time occurs and suddenly it is too late and all we have is “I wish I hads….” left. I was one of those people until I stepped up and decided not to wait any longer. An unexpected death of a friend spurred me to act before I was one of those wondering where the time had gone.
I had been divorced for three years. I was a single mom of active teenagers. I was a teacher. And I was only identified my those characteristics. Through the years I lost who I was. I started finding myself again. I did ten triathlons. I started a masters at University of Central Florida. As I got closer to graduation, I wanted to challenge myself to step out and be a brave individual somewhere where no one knew how I was identified. I had always wanted to see Machu Picchu so I began the thought of my adventure of hiking the Inka Trial.
I had traveled internationally before, but always had someone to meet and travel with. This time, I was on my own. Learning not only about a culture, but about myself. My children were not keen on the idea of me traveling to a foreign country alone, but we had a year to prepare. My daughter took me shopping. My son worried. Despite all of our fears, they dropped me at the airport and with hugs, wet cheeks and well wishes, I was standing there alone. Almost as soon as I entered the airport, my heart soared thinking about the grand adventure I was about to undertake. Fear was gone.
After 18 hours of travel from Orlando to Cucso, via Lima, I arrived exhausted and exhilarated! Pushing my limits, I dropped my bags at the hotel and instantly went to find the trekking company I had booked for the hike. Brave is one thing, careless is another. I should have taken into account the altitude and lack of decent food, but excitement took over. One misstep and now I had a knee scraped to the bone and gouges in my palms from a tumble on the uneven cobblestone streets. What terrible timing. I had a day and a half to nurse myself, but I started to trek bandaged up. Push on.
It was an amazing few hours into the hike, then the rain started. I am not sure what else I expected for March in the rain forest, but it was tough. Basically four days of steady rain. Day and night. I was hiking with fourteen strangers that quickly became friends and between us, we found ways to stay dry, enjoy the great food cooked by our porters and laugh. I took 1500 pictures of things that I never would forget.
The last day as we were coming down into Machu Picchu, I began to slow down. Smell every flower. Hear every rain drop. See every distant peak. I wondered how I got to be so small in such a big world. I wondered how to make the best impact. I knew when I returned, I would be a changed person. Less fearful. My children would be proud of their mom. I hope as they age, they look back at their 45 year old mom, a Don Quixote, and not be afraid to take chances. Life is too short not to be brave. Try new things. Test those limbs.
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