I MISS BEING NAKED


I miss heat.
I miss the ability to get warm by turning on heat.
There is no heat, no thermostat, no temperature control system in most of Peru.
I miss the hot sun that allows me to live naked.

Living in Cuszo, Peru is like camping out in the mountains.
You always have clothes on.
I sleep in 2 layers of clothing and I have three blankets on me at night. 
I take a hot shower twice a week because I hate getting naked, here.
I pray for hot water in the morning for a 'take the chill out of your bones' shower,
and I really pray for the hot water to last when I finally get into the shower.

The 'naked time' before I get into the shower can be the absolute worst. 
I've learned to have hot water running so I'm not standing there in the cold air wishing I was fully dressed.

I wear a hat to bed and keep my wool socks on 24 hours a day.

The clothes that I wear are the only clothes that I have and they are worn every day.  
After two days, they smell, 
which means I smell, 
but I still have to wear them for a few more days.
The alpaca sweater that I bought three weeks ago has never been washed so it carries its own special scent. Ick.

My underwear has two sides, I flip them inside out and wear them again just to conserve on laundry.

Doing laundry regularly is difficult to do when you only have one good set of warm clothing. 
Laundry is 'sent out' because personal washers and dryers don't exist here.

I wait for a 'warm' day to do laundry because I only have leggings, shorts and a Tshirt to wear as I wait 24 hours to get my laundry back.
On laundry day, I stay in bed to stay warm.

I miss being naked.

JESUS CHRIST, BOB MARLEY AND THE DALAI LAMA

'Cristo Blanco' in Cuzco, Peru

When I think of Jesus Christ, 
I think of two modern day men,
Bob Marley and the Dalai Lama.
Jesus was a revolutionary.
A socialist.
A rebel with a cause.
He gave his life for the well being of all.
He was a kind man.
A true gentle man.
A man who loved God.
He was a nomad.
He told stories.
He shared his insight.
He gave good advice.
He was the ultimate 'empath'.
He loved his twelve friends unconditionally even though every one of his friends betrayed him.
He loved everyone even those who despised him.
He was God.
He IS God.

CAST THE FIRST STONE, I DARE YOU!


Peru is 93% Christian.
It's a third world country and the people are grateful to God for what they have.

I live without heat.
The entire city that I'm living in lives without heat.
We bundle up and proceed with our day.
We sleep with wool blankets and hats on our heads.
Though I drink bottled water, it's just a matter of time that I will get giardiasis because of the poor conditions that surround me.
Sometimes I don't know what animal I'm eating.
It could be chicken, beef, pork, rabbit, guinea pig or cat.
Maybe dog. There's plenty of them around roaming the streets who are scavenging for food. If I was poor, I'd eat them. 
I probably already have.

PERU? WHO KNEW?


My interest in Peru began in the 5th grade.
Sister Kathleen, my Social Studies teacher, told the class to pick any country in the world and do a research project. With our pick, we were to explore the geography, learn about the culture, know the Capital and primary cities and then present it to the class. 
I picked Peru.
We had two months to do the project and I remember it like it was yesterday.
At least the assignment part of it.
I don't remember much about Peru except that its Capital was Lima, the Incas were there, they ate corn and there were mountains.
For some reason or another, when I think of South America, my mind has always naturally drifted to the country Peru, probably because of the 5th grade Social Studies assignment. I never really thought about visiting Peru, probably because extra money for travel was nonexistent in my adult life so I never really thought about visiting anywhere. I learned not to dream outside of my own capabilities and traveling anywhere that involved an airplane ticket was out of the question, not to mention, taking two weeks off from work was just not financially possible.

Since I gave up all of my worldly possessions in 2015, and have downsized my life to just a backpack, my only expenses are food, a cell phone bill and little gifts for my grandson that I buy him from time to time. I am actually able to save and set money aside for travel every year after I'm done working my seasonal waitress job in Florida. 
The 'Bible Belt' trek came to fruition in August while my 'Southern man' and I sat idle in Annapolis, Maryland. We had to wait out hurricane season before we sailed back to Florida and I realized that I had time to put on my backpack and to take another trek. He was completely supportive, recognized my desire to trek again and he encouraged me to do what my heart was telling me. I really wanted to continue my exploration of the 'human experience', and more specifically, human kindness, so I decided to go back to the road and trek through the rural part of the Carolinas instead of the coastal route that I originally took in 2015.

My original 'long mile trek' in 2015 from NYC to Miami clearly showed on a day to day basis that human beings are predominantly good, we want to help others whenever possible, and though bad people exist, they mainly exist in stories that our news media chooses to tell us. We rarely, if ever, encounter a burglar or assailant in our life time, and for the most part, our days are relatively uneventful when it comes to encountering criminals. Backpacking the 'Bible Belt', specifically Richmond to Charleston, seemed liked a good segue from my first trek and it was an achievable distance to walk in two months time.

How does Peru figure into all of this?

In January 2016, I was hosted by a woman in Flagler Beach, Florida. She was quite eccentric and a fabulous cook. She cooked me a delicious dinner and we sat in her living room for hours talking about her desire to go to Peru. We even talked about going together someday and experiencing it together. That is when Peru first stirred my interest as a future excursion, but at that time, I couldn't put too much personal thought into it since I still had to walk two hundred miles to Miami and to finish my thousand mile trek to Florida. 
Peru would have to wait.

Fast forward.

A couple of weeks ago, when I was being hosted outside of Fredericksburg, Virginia, my hosts, Heidi and Vince brought up Peru. They had recently gone there and the light in their eyes when talking about it reminded me of my Flagler Beach host and the conversation that we had about it then.
Peru.
Why was Peru continuously coming into my path? There's hundreds of other places to talk about and Peru was not one that you usually hear about when people are discussing travel. I now had two hosts in my trekking path who expressed their passion for Peru.

When I got to Ruther Glen, Virginia and stayed with Jennifer and Emma a couple of weeks ago, I kept thinking about Peru. I guess the conversation with Heidi and Vince was still lingering in me and I tried to push it aside but couldn't.
'Not now, I can't change my 'plans', I kept telling myself, but Peru was definitely 'calling' me and I didn't know how to process it. I had already set my sights on backpacking to Charleston and it didn't seem appropriate to just change my direction.
Appropriate?
What the heck does that mean?
I guess I was thinking what people might think.
What people might think?
When did I ever care about what people thought?

I shared my concern with Jennifer about wanting to go to Peru and she said,
'Go for it! Do what you think is best! It'll be great!'
I went into the room that Jennifer provided for me and spent several hours looking at websites about Peru, I texted Heidi and Vince about certain basics about being there and they texted me back with some great information.
I looked at flights and what it would cost and it all looked achievable.
I could afford it if I lived cheaply and I was good at that.
I went to bed, and when I woke up, 
I opted against going to Peru. 
Even though I was feeling a bit crushed and I didn't know what to make of it, 
the timing didn't seem right. 
I needed to carry on and explore my original 'plan'.

Plan?
What was happening to me?
I needed to trust the path and
live in the 'now'.
That's how I lived.
I didn't make plans.
What's a plan?

Fast forward.

Hurricane Harvey hit.
Hurricane Irma is about to hit.
Hurricane Jose was on his way.
The weather in my distant path wasn't looking good and the weather in the next couple of days was going to be rainy.
I had to stop again and get off the road. 
'Godwink'?

I'm currently in Smithfield, North Carolina, due to inclement weather and in the past 48 hours I've been hunkered down in a cheap motel room pondering my next move.
Last night, I decided to go back online and check flights to Peru.
The flights had actually decreased from the last time that I checked in August. 

I went to Hotels.com to check lodging options.
There were tons of lodging options and they too were cheaper than when I looked before. 
The 'Godwinks' seemed to be returning but how did Peru fit into the 'Bible Belt' trek?
Where was the connection?
I was curious.
So I randomly went on Wikipedia and checked out the statistics on Peru. 
Under the 'tab' demographics, I discovered in the census that Peru was,
81% Catholic,
12.5% Evangelical Protestant,
3.3% Protestant, Judaism, Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, 
and only 2.9% non-religious.
Instantly it occurred to me that Peru WAS a 'Bible Belt' and that the people of Peru knew the same God that I knew.
The bridge from here to there was beginning to make sense.

I called Jennifer to see what she thought and she said again to, 'Go for it'.
I called my 'Southern man' in Annapolis and he was completely supportive. 
He said, 'Baby, I want you to be happy. If going to Peru makes you happy than I'm happy for you. How can I help?' (Dang, I love that man!)
I texted Heidi and she was super excited and sent me a bunch of resources that she and Vince used.
Everything was aligning, and though it felt like a huge leap, I was getting excited about the thought of going to Peru.
I looked at the monies that I had put aside for my Richmond to Charleston trek and my trip to Peru was actually cheaper. 
(Of course it was.)
I took a deep breath. 
I closed my eyes and waited for a 'Godwink' that would suggest that I shouldn't go and it didn't happen.
I opened my eyes and felt completely at peace with my decision, so I did it.
I booked the flight.

Tomorrow,
I leave on an Amtrak train back to Washington DC.
I will get a flight out of Dulles Airport and land in Lima, Peru on Friday.
I will go to Peru and experience THEIR 'Bible Belt'.
I will visit their sacred sites, go to their churches, eat with Peruvian 'God people' and sleep wherever.
I have no 'plans' when I get to Lima, just land, trust the path and live in the 'now'.
I'll be there for a month.


Namaste.

IT'S TIME TO BUST OUT A MOVE



Yesterday's short trek to Colonial Heights wasn't much different than the day before.
Though the scenery changed and the streets were cleaner, I was still assumed to be a woman on the go with intentions that were less than favorable.
In other words, I had two stopped cars in my path again that assumed that I would hop in and offer services that only the 'desperate' would consider doing and the 'desperate' would consider buying.