Desert thrills and breathtaking moments, oasis paddle boarding, salsa dancing, and Peruvian cooking lessons filled our week. I will describe a few of the highlights and like any good story reads, a few low ones peppered in, as well.
Last weekend many of us adventured by bus, leaving Lima and headed 3 hours towards Chincha, home of Afro-Peruvian Culture and 17th century haciendas that once served as plantations. As we approached Casa Hacienda San José, I notice its gorgeous architecture and beautiful grounds, the home now operates as a hotel. What is not seen upon arrival, is the dark secret it holds. Underneath lies an elaborate system of tunnels connected to the dark historical scar of Peruvian slavery. I can see and feel the darkness in so many ways as Francisco leads us down. I can only imagine how others in our group must feel, although no words are said. Fran does say to us before entering, “We, Peruvians are not proud of this time in history, but we choose to remember, to do better”…I know he means it!
The rest of that day’s adventures were exhilarating desert times, including dune buggy rides, playing in the oasis, and the most romantic sunset setting. There are 2 couples in the group, the rest of us are single. I was thinking maybe Remote Year could add a tag line…RY the perfect partner! The set-up included candles, a fire, a beautiful circle of pillows and throws complete with wine and scrumptious snacks. Perfect photo-op moments turned to lively pisco-filled star and moon gazing and loads of connection time with each other.
The weekend did prove to require some patience as things were a bit crazy as it was a holiday weekend in Peru. Some of us ended up in a less than quality hostel, the boat trip was well-delayed, and the winery visit canceled requiring major restaurant changes. Yet the mood of the group was barely phased as we were all on such a high. As we were in line for the boat trip with no idea how long it would be, I heard Kadeem mention how he often enjoys these between-waiting-times sometimes as much as the tour or excursion. I felt the same as we seemed to happily wait an hour or more in the sun with our delicious mango popsicles.
I came by Coelho by default as the original RY program I considered and applied for was canceled. I knew when I saw the name it was meant to be. Named for one of my favorites, the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. He wrote The Alchemist, a brilliant gem I have read and reread multiple times. A theme portrayed often in the book, quoted from its text:
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”
I think Kadeem is quite wise, and our group appropriately named! It’s not a challenge to enjoy the type of adventure travel and breathtaking sights and moments, of which this group has already been exposed – just look at the photos, but what about the challenges?
After the trip and back in Lima, photos don’t show that the week brought a horrendous stomach bacterium to over half the group and 7 positive virus tests results. Fortunately, no one was seriously ill. I could talk for many more paragraphs about what a great job RY and our fearless leaders Eddie and Francisco have done to manage it all, but I want to talk about the Coelho’s. The character and care of the collective, the team support (emotionally and physically) is off the charts. Checking in on each other, delivery of goods and food, offers of laundry and so much more. So much sharing and caring and genuine concern and I am going to say it – Love for All! It is hard to imagine that we have only known each other for 2 short weeks – es realmente extraordinario!
Stay tuned- we are off to Cusco and Machu Picchu next, for the simple and the extraordinary!
Kathy Elliott is a recent empty-nester and entrepreneur who shares her stories of a year-long journey around the world with 23 strangers. Follow along to discover the insights, wisdom, and understanding she gains from the adventure. Follow Kathy at IG @iamkathyelliott.