Peru was to me an island. Its beaches were mountains; its jungles were jungles; and I, traversing its plains and slicing its rivers, was an Amazonian frog. I found the essence of Peru on the breath and in the fur of its animals. I found its best-kept secrets laid bare in each human embrace. On the father mountains, Apu, and in the mother earth, Pachamama,–most fully manifested in the desperate undergrowth of the Selva–along the ancient trade route of coca, the land sleeps deep, resting by the ancient stream of brotherhood. Protected by the ones they fear, the people of Peru breath, rest, die as one, in the cool shadow of the Andes, the natural symbol of their bold humility.
The people who live in the diverse and terrifying natural beauty of Peru–at once harshly barren and chaotically lush–humbly concede to their dependence on the land each other, fostering cultures rooted on patience, harmony, solidarity, and love.
On a different note:
I have thinking a bit recently about my experience speaking Spanish during the course. I keep returning to the word milagro, miracle. Milagro serves to exemplify my relationship to every spanish word, to varying degrees. Although I thoroughly know what milagro means, the word feels empty in my mouth and sounds insufficient to my ears. It is a string of sounds supposed to signify the concept of a miracle; the word itself does not lead by direct connection to my rich collection of memories, connotations, associations, and emotions that accompany the word miracle. When I say “miracle,” I see, vivid in my mind’s eye, Jesus walking on water, children pulled from burning buildings, and the Eternal Light burning for eight days in a ruined synagogue. When I say milagro, despite my total intellectual understanding of the word, I see nothing. I believe that the day when the spanish word pierces my mind with the same power as the english one–when it opens the floodgates of my subconscious, freeing every memory and feeling associated with miracles–that will be the day when Spanish transforms from a practical tool into a new worldview.
I can’t wait to go home.