Eat, Pray, Peru
by Lynnette Ramirez
‘Like sands through the hourglass so are the Days of our Lives.’ That’s what I remember from the summer of 1985 when I was ten years old. Every afternoon my seventy-something babysitter had to watch her “programs” while my brother and I anxiously watched the clock. We knew as soon as DOOL was over we could go swimming. After 10, life got serious and it seemed from then I had summer classes and jobs.
Before I knew it I was a twenty-two year old ‘Hollywood assistant’ working for the original James Bond, Sir Sean Connery, and vacation meant my devil of a boss, that did indeed wore Prada, went home before 8pm. Until this summer when I found myself gainfully unemployed. So, I planned a trip to Peru alone.
Why Peru? I had a read a travel memoir a few years ago titled THE LOST GIRLS about three twenty-something girls that quit their NYC jobs to travel around the world. I was inspired particularly by their South American adventures and had ever since longed to visit. My supportive friends aware of my singledom coined my trip after another well-known book and film, “Oh, it’s your Eat, Pray, Love trip.” The last thing I needed to do was eat more. My appetite is quite healthy, thank you very much chocolate and carbs.
Pray, admittedly I’m a Hollywood cliché that deems herself “spiritual” and often uses the word Universe in substitution for God. Love, well sure that would be great after enduring a broken engagement in 2011. Universe knows I’d welcome Javier Bardem with open arms, and legs for that matter.
At thirty-seven, almost a decade older than the Lost Girls, and not recovering from a divorce like the heroine of Eat, Pray, Love, I wasn’t exactly trying to find myself either. As I’ve considered myself mostly found since around 32 when I stopped fad dieting and cut up my credit cards. However, traveling alone sparked a dialogue about why a single American woman with a lot of friends and family would opt to forgo it solo. ‘Carpe diem!’ apparently wasn’t a satisfying enough answer. The truth is if I had waited for one of my friends or family members to plan a vacation around their job, finances, spouse, pets or kids I would have never made it to Peru in 2012. The time for me to take this vacation was right then.
I imagine many countries could have provided what Peru did for me. Although, not every country would have provided a photo op with a Llama. As a woman traveling alone I found it to be a safe country. I also wanted an active exploit and trekking on the Inca trail was both mentally and physically challenging due to the high altitudes of the Andes.
While visiting Machu Picchu it became clear why it has been named a wonder of the world. Nestled in the mountains at a boutique spa after my intense three days of hiking I realized as a film and television executive it had been longer than I could remember that I had completely disconnected from all media. My last days spent in the Peruvian Amazon provided further disconnection as well as more than enough adventure for this city girl. The intense humidity, rare species and insects crawling up my pant leg more than fulfilled my rustic fantasies. My friends were also right. It ended up being MY “Eat, Pray, Love” trip sans Bardem.
I ate incredible quinoa hashes tied in banana leaves, homemade soups and easily became accustomed to dessert served with both lunch and dinner. I ended up praying a lot too. I prayed I didn’t faint when I reached almost 16,000 feet altitude on my Inca trek. I prayed I didn’t have to use the toilet tent in the middle of the night during my two nights of camping and I prayed extra hard that the giant cockroach that I flushed down my Amazon lodge toilet didn’t have friends.
And I fell in love all over again with solitude, travel and nature. The sunrises were as equally stunning as the sunsets. At one point I did even “find myself”…I found out that away from my Hollywood existence I actually like getting up at 5:30am if it means I’m going to spend the morning looking for Halloran monkeys in tree canopies or climbing to a high peak. These are the days of our lives and I’m for one glad I seized the moment. Admittedly sometimes being a single woman can feel like a burden. While in Peru it certainly felt like a virtue.
Trip planned through: http://www.globalbasecamps.com/