My connection with Peru began as a school project when I was around the age of 8 or 10 years old. My memories of the project itself are faded, it was a long time ago, but the feelings it had stirred in me have lasted a lifetime.
I didn’t know why, nor did I understand why learning about the Inca people, their Sun God and the Kon-Tiki expedition captivated me in the way that it did. I wanted my whole day in class to be spent on this one project, but of course the time we spent on any particular subject was limited. I remember sitting in class fuelled with anticipation, and willing the words to come out of the teacher’s mouth. Words that would tell us that we would now work on the project.
All I really remember is the emotion. Of being completely engrossed. Of feeling connected with something that I can describe now, but couldn’t then, as making my heart dance.
The years passed, and the project faded from my mind, but whenever the word Peru was mentioned for whatever reason, my ears would perk up, and again, there it was. That feeling coming alive inside me. Like a familiar vibration, or the distant echo of a tribal drum, somewhere out there in the ether, resonating with something inside of me, something deep in my soul. It was almost as if while learning about Peru at that young age, something had sparked to life inside me, as if it had added something, or awoken something in my DNA. A spiritual awakening. But of course, as a child I had no concept of this.
So, as I was saying, the years passed. I’m now 21. Already married with a baby son.
I remember this particular morning as if it only happened last month, of waking up one morning after having a very vivid dream. I remember still sitting in bed and telling my husband all about it. How I’d been sitting on the edge of a high mountain with my feet dangling over the edge. The Sun was high in the clear, blue sky. It was a glorious day and there were mountains all around me. I can see it now, over 30 years later, like a fond memory. Like I was actually there, and had really experienced it.
I tried to explain to him the happiness I had been feeling inside me. A happiness I’d never experienced before. A level of happiness I had never known existed, or was possible. I remember using the words euphoric, and euphoria. I don’t think I’d ever used these words before, but in that moment, they’d come to me as being the only words that would come anywhere close to describing the feeling I’d had in that dream. I also remember telling him quite bashfully, that I had known in the dream that I was in the one place on this earth that was the closest to God! I said it bashfully, because I had never been a religious person, and didn’t really believe in God. But in the dream, this is what I had felt. In fact not felt. This is what I had known!
It left me feeling confused. It didn’t make any sense!
Haunted by the dream, I began sketching drawings of the mountains where I’d sat. I didn’t want to forget this.
I remember showing my husband a drawing I’d sketched. One I was happy with. One which I felt portrayed the closest image of where I had been in my dream. He showed interest, but of course, it didn’t really mean anything to him. It had only been a dream after all.
More time passed. A few months.
I remember sitting at home, on the sofa with a coffee, browsing through a Thomsons Holiday brochure. It was in the days when the brochure included all types of holidays that the travel agent offered in one brochure. This included skiing holidays, Winter sun, Summer sun, Beach holidays, City breaks and Far away places etc. It was a thick catalogue! Later, they divided them into separate brochures.
We’d decided to look at the possibility of going abroad on holiday as a family. It would be our first holiday abroad. So, there I was, sitting browsing the pages, casually turning them one by one until I finally turned a page and almost choked! My heart started to race, and I think my eyes almost popped out of my head! There in front of me was a photo of the exact place I had been in my dream.
Those mountains, the scenery, that vista! It was Machu Picchu.
In that moment I felt I was looking at something unworldly. A ghost. A haunting! It made me feel so creepy that I snapped the brochure shut.
When my husband came home from work and I started excitedly telling him, and showing him the photo, he just insisted that I must have seen the place before somewhere. Well, of course, I must have. When I had been so engrossed in the school project about Peru all those years before, Machu Picchu must have been included. But at this point in my life, I had no memory of that, and it still could in no way explain the emotions I had felt while I’d been there. There in the dream.
It was quite clear by his tone that it wouldn’t be something to carry on being discussed.
More years passed.
I went on to have another two sons. We holidayed in France, Spain and Venice, Italy. Mostly Venice, because, Why wouldn’t we? It’s a wonderland of culture, history, mystery and beauty. To this day I love visiting Venice. As a young family, we had great times there, but still, deep in my heart I knew that one day I was destined to visit Peru. I had no idea how it would happen. We weren’t in any way wealthy, we saved for our holiday, and Peru wasn’t exactly somewhere I could go with three young children. It would’ve cost the earth, or a small fortune at least.
At that point in my life it was easier to see it as more of a fantasy in my heart and mind, rather than an ambition.
Eventually, and a good few years later, my husband and I divorced. I have no bitterness. We have three fantastic sons, and for that reason I have no regrets.
Time moved on.
After my years of living in Tenerife, and returning to Scotland, I ended up being in a relationship with a like minded, adventurous soul. We’ll call him Mike for this tale.
Our relationship was a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows, but one of the things I loved about him, was that I could say to him….Fancy going to China? Or Cambodia, or Indonesia, and he’d always reply with words like, Great idea babe. When can we book? Or Hell yeah, let’s do it! He was always “up for it” so to speak.
And we did visit those places, and more. We trekked and backpacked across and around some of the most fantastic locations on the planet. Booking the flights online, and then just booking hostels or bed and breakfasts, and onward travel as we went along, while abroad and in the country we were travelling around. We had some great adventures, and I value those times. I would probably never have done it without him, and vice versa. We were destined to meet, if only for that reason alone.
One year though, late in the year of 2008, I had the intuitive, but scary notion that it could be time to go to Peru!
The very thought of it unsettled me. There aren’t many things in this world that frighten me, but I remember it worried me deeply. This had been a dream, in every sense of the word for so many years of my life. What would my life be like if I no longer had a dream? If I fulfilled my lifelong ambition, and the mystery was solved? What if I was left disappointed, having built it up so highly in my childish memories and emotions?
But despite my sleepless nights, I booked the flights!
To be continued…….