A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Taking a Mini-Retirement Now: Reason #50 February 18, 2010

Money can always be replaced, but the body cannot.

Scenerio 1: You slave away at your desk job with a picture of Machu Picchu tacked to your cubicle wall. The day after your retirement party, age 65, you board a plan for Peru and realize that you are not fit enough to climb the strenous hike from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and instead board the tourist bus along with 50 other seniors and are driven to the entrance.  You snap a few photos and casually graze about the ruins but the crowds of people ruin your shots. You look at your watch and realize that you need to take your heart medicine and five other multi-colored pills that are stuffed in your pocket so you head to the cafe’ where you order a hamburger and fries off the tourist menu because spicy food, which you once loved, now gives you indigestion and heartburn. You go back outside but the sun is hot and your back begins to hurt, after a few more tourist infested shots, you take the bus back to your luxury hotel where you take off your shoes, and lay down for an afternoon nap.

Scenerio 2: You are on the corporate track but know that you can work and make money for the rest of your life, so you decide to head out for a 4 week adventure and that Peru would be a perfect antidote for your wonder lust heart.  You fly into Lima, take a rickety bus to Cusco where you ride with the locals, sit next to a woman with a caged chicken on her lap and make friends with the man in front of you.  Although you can’t speak a lick of Spanish you manage to “talk” with gestures over pulls from a bottle of homemade pisco.  Only minutes after arriving in Cusco you make friends with some other travelers at a hostel and decide to join them the next day on the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu. You trek through green pastures, rolling hills, high mountains, valley floors, across streams and even rivers.  You get to know travelers from around the world, share stories over the campfire at night and are waken up each morning with coca tea served at your tent flap. After 7 days of intensive hiking you arrive at Aguas Calientes for your first real hot shower.  The next morning you wake, start hiking in the dark, and arrive at Inti Punku (the sun gate) just as the sun is coming up over the mountain peaks. You watch in awe and your body shivers as you feel incredibly small in comparison to the magnificent ancient ruins. After an hour of taking postcard perfect early morning photos, the tourist buses begin to arrive and the ruins become overrun with overweight seniors. You decide to head back down to Aguas Caliente to enjoy a mid-day beer on the hostel’s balcony while recounting your hiking adventure with your new group of friends.

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