I had been in Cuzco for approximately 26 minutes (plus or minus a few) when Nora, my new roommate and co-worker, and I were skating down a rocky hill that led to what would be my new home for the next six months. My co-workers were openly and honestly answering all of my questions, from riding the combis and taking taxis, to general food, water and safety queries. Everyone added an anecdote of their own, highlighting the importance of the advice they had just given me.
"Oh, and another thing, you should maybe carry stones in your backpack. I do," Nora said.
I laughed, more out of nervousness than from humor, confused yet intrigued as to how rocks would serve me in my time in Cuzco. She explained.
"It is a good way to fend off aggressive dogs."
It was then that I realized I was not in Kansas anymore, but I was also pretty sure I wasn't in Oz, either.
It has been just over a week since I moved and began settling into my new life as the Communications and Programs Assistant with Mosqoy. Moving to Peru, I knew my life would be very different than my squishy, soft life back home in Colorado. However, after graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder, I felt the itch for a new adventure, something that would stretch me, grow me, challenge me, and make me better than the person I was before I left. I had been asking for this adventure and surely Peru has already provided that and much more.
I have already learned how to successfully ride the combis (Cuzco's version of public transportation) without ticking anyone off or dying, have had the best cup of coffee in town (at Jack's Cafe), have taken a bucket bath (we are currently suffering from a lack of water pressure and hot water at Casa Mosqoy), have rested in a Peruvian Emergency Room (my butt has already been kicked by a pretty gnarly bacterial infection), and have had to throw a rock at a dog chasing me up the hill near our house (so, no, Nora was not kidding...)
With all of these new things, new experiences, I would be lying if I said I haven't felt overwhelmed by the reality of what I have committed to, the life I would experience here. Lying in a Peruvian ER makes you quickly realize what is important, what is not and how much one takes for granted when life is just normally easy and convenient and comfortable. While sick, I just kept thinking how badly I wanted to take a hot bath, but here, that is just not my reality, nor is it the reality for most people in Cuzco. So I am learning to just suck it up and shut up. This is my life now; I asked for this.
And so as I adjust to the new, different and unique quirks life has to offer in Cuzco, I am also learning to appreciate the beauty of living a simpler life. Without all the distractions that consume my life back home, I have more time to just be. To sit. To think. To ponder and to enjoy the company of others. To listen to their stories. And hey, I have already read a book from my reading list!
I am learning that different does not necessarily mean bad. I am learning to laugh at the daily inconveniences opposed to letting them throw off my day. I am learning that an adventure is something that is not always pretty, glamorous or heroic, but rather scary, messy and unpredictable. And triumph does not come when you have successfully slain the dragon, but rather, with getting through each day, alive, willing and as prepared as you can be (with stones and all) to take on the next.
And so little by little, poco a poco, this adventure will soon become home.
Until next time, xo