Like many people, I came to yoga in the 1990s mostly out of curiosity. And, like many people, I was interested in yoga for its physical benefits. I had always been involved in some type of exercise or sport, starting in high school with field hockey and volleyball, then continuing through the tennis and racquetball boom. In the late 70s, I worked at the YMCA for three years and have maintained a gym or health club membership ever since. Running, aerobic classes, stationary bikes, weight machines…did them all. For me, yoga’s best offer was a subtle promise to stretch my spine. As a short, small-boned woman whose grandmothers and aunts all had the shrimp-backed, sure signs of osteoporosis, this had great appeal. Any help with concentration and attention would be a bonus. Surprisingly, there were other unexpected benefits.
Whenever I find myself on top of a mountain in winter, especially when it’s snowing, I feel a rush of emotions. Above all, I am always amazed that I am there; that I ever took up the sport to begin with and then stuck with it despite a discouraging beginning. Equally important, I am grateful that I can physically do it and can afford it, as it takes stamina, some level of skill, and a decent chunk of money. I’ve experienced this same introspective moment every year for 30 years straight and I’ve experienced it all over the globe.
A strange and wonderful thing happened to me at a Halloween swing dance this year. As usual, it was a well-attended gala event. Most people, including me, were decked out in costume. It was early in the evening, a lively song came on, and I asked a masked man who was standing near me to dance. He wore a long cape with a hood and not one part of his head or face was visible. I had no idea who he was. He nodded yes, we got into dance position, took a few steps together. Then I looked up at him and the magic began.
My feelings about returning home from South America were quite complicated, a strange mix of sadness and anticipation, of struggle and apprehension. I expected to stay with the group for four months but came back home after three. I was clear about this decision and yet apprehensive about re-adjusting to my previous life. My trip so completely consumed me, I was so immersed in day-to-day challenges that home now seemed distant and even strange. This is how it all fell out.
On our second day in Cusco, now in possession of all our luggage, getting acclimated to the altitude and with one 1/2 day tour under our belt, we were ready for our 2-day overnight excursion to the Sacred Valley and the iconic Machu Picchu.
I first visited Lima, Peru in 2008 for an AMCIS conference and afterward took a short, 2-day trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu. I might not have gone again in March but my son Eric was interested and it was a way for us to celebrate his upcoming birthday together. I must say, it was all “lovelier the second time around”!
Peru is big and its geography is diverse. I didn’t realize how big and diverse until I hopped on a bus, left the city, and ventured into the outlying areas.