A month of backpacking in Peru has passed, and is time for some reflections. This will be a little ethnographic account, therefore I am the filter through which the story is told. Of cause there are many ways of being a Backpacker in Peru, but I will give you my impression.
I have dreamt of exploring Inca ruins since I as a little girl saw a show about the Incas on Discovery Chanel. Through Peru has been on the top of my list of places to go for years, I always ended up in other places. Last winter I made the decision that it was time to fullfill my dream. My boyfriend and I booked the Inca Trail in january, and from that day I knew for sure that I was going. My life in Denmark is characterized by rutine, and what keeps me going is dreaming, planning, and looking forward to my next journey. Ever since I was an exchange student in Texas at the age of 16, I have felt a constant erge to get out of Denmark. Don’t get me wrong, I have good times in Denmark as well. But I constantly long for inspiration, adventure, new experiences, challenges, and seeing different ways of living and different landscapes. This erge was the very reason why I began studying social anthropology four years ago.
Within the last year I have changed a lot as a person. I have developed a much stronger sense of who I am and what is important to me. I have started to question things that I so far have tanken forgiven. People in my surroundings might think I am getting a bit crazy, but the truth is that I have never felt more at home in myself that I have done this year. I have become a vegetarian, I have developed a daily yoga practice, began to recite a mantra each time I cook, I have sunk into anthropological litterature, I have made some amazing friendships, and two month ago the five year relationship with my boyfriend ended. I spent my last month in Denmark feeling lost. I did not know what to do with myself. The only thing that kept me going was this trip.
From the day I left Denmark I have felt great. Each day has been an adventure. Many Peruvians have asked my why I travel alone. The though of being away from friends and family seems remote to them. I tell them that I am free to do exactly what I want, and that I have nobody to fight with. The truth is that I feel more alone in my daily life in Denmark. Here I meet new fellow travellers almost every day. Twize it happened that I sat next to another backpacker on a Cruz del Sur nightbus and we ended up hanging out for a day or two at the destination. Going on guided tours has also been a great way of meeting people.
Generally Backpackers in Peru are currious about cultures, enjoy nature, are sporty, and hike rather than party. We generally trust each other enough to leave electronic devises in common areas for charging. If you ask what countries we have been to, you better have a lot of time. The number of good travelstories are endless. Opening a backpacker’s pack means hours of searching and rearranging, so it is better not to do so.
I have generally felt safe in Peru. I got nervous the first time I took a taxi because the distance was farther than I had though and because it was an industrial area and night. I also felt nervous the morning I walked about in Arequipa for two hours looking for a hostal. Otherwise it has been good. The macho culture is not as aggressive as it is in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
I feel a constant need to move. I do not like to waste time or too miss out on experiences. Each day is a gift of sensual impressions, people and places. The more I move the more I get.
I have not sleapt a full night since I was in Denmark. I have become used to cold showers in cold weather, to always carry extra toiletpaper and to have dry skin (lotion ends up in the whole back). When I was in a park in Cusco a little girl came up to me. She played with my hair, and pretended to give me makeup on. She asked me why I did not wear makeup and why the skin around my nails was dry. I told her that I had been hiking. I clearly did not fit into her image of a real woman.
The other solo travellers I have met remind me of myself. Many have either quit their jobs or ended a long time relationship. They search for themselves or a deeper purpose in life. Travelling on your own enables you to think and reflect on who you are, whom you want to be, and what is important to you. You get to know yourself. Solo travellers will open up to you a for a while, but if you come too close they close like an oister. Solo travellers have developed the ability to cope with short term friendships. There is something interesting about this kind of friendships. It can go two ways. You either poor out all of your secrets because you know that you will most likely never see the other person again, or you simply enjoy being quit and thoughfull together. Solo travellers are strong and independent. They are the kind of persons I admire and that inspires me. They do not give a shit about what other people think, they just follow their dreams and instant desires.
I have never before hiked so much as I have done on this trip. I have blisters and a black toenail, but if I had the opportunity I would have kept hiking. Downward facing dog is my favorite strech after a hike. The sacred valley, the Inka trail and the area around Huaraz offers endless posibilities. I am definetely a mountain girl. Colca cañon and Paracas are too dry for my taste. I like to be challenged by distance, inclination and altitude and the fertility of the Andes is breathtaking. I love how my heart beats fast if I walk fast in the altitude. This offen happens to me in the beginning of a trek, and right before I reach a peek. Vinyassa must have been good prep for hiking, because I feel like I am flying when the majority of people are out of breath. I am going too miss hiking.
I might look and smell like a vagabond, but my heart is beating and my mind is open. I feel alive!
Next stop: I am settling down on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico for 3 months.
Keep following YOUR dreams and desires!