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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Solo Sondondo, Valle of Thoughts

Our hour long solo walk through the Valle of Sondondo was an awakening experience for my brain. As I told our guide Miguel, ¨¡Yo no puedo creer mis ojos en estes lugares!¨ (A phrase I picked up from watching Spongebob with my fellow Dragones) This was one of the most amazing demonstrations of Pachamama (Mother Earth)  I have ever seen in my life.

I felt a different kind of happiness and creativity in this walk. It’s hard to explain, I almost felt maddened with the rapid pace of ideation and simultaneous feeling of peace floating through mi mente. I was walking alone but yet could recall very few occasions where I felt this full and encapsulated by sentimientos bonitos.

Here are some scenes and thoughts from the trek:

I took a step and a grasshopper jumped ahead of me.

People often ask, ¨Viajero, where have your steps taken you?¨ but I wonder, grasshopper how do you measure your travels? In leaps? In jumps? Or hops through the Pachamama? I looked over at the trees who seem to be stationary for most of their lives. I remembered the tales Don Ramon told us of the sacred trees in the Amazon. Surely they have a depth of knowledge and experience too even though they never physically move. Do my steps equate to travelling? Yo creo que hay mas en cada viaje.

I saw trees blowing in the wind. I felt they were waving at me, welcoming me through the shades of green that so effortlessly caress the rustic earthly tones of the stone walls. I looked up to the sky and thanked Pachamama for allowing me to experience this magnificent display of nature.

I took another step and felt the familiar squishes of grass soaked with water. It was evident that the earth here is ripe and overflowing. The ever present sources of water were just one display of this. I looked up to the creek ahead, bubbling slowly but steadily and in response I tried to capture a photo. I felt Pachamama somewhat laughing at the little human who doesn´t know any better. I heard her say ¨Don´t you know? Mama Tierra cannot be contained by the 24 megapixels of the man made, light refracting machinery we call a camera.¨ I suppose Nikon and Canon cannot. Pachamama superceeds.

For the entire walk, all I could see were flashes of future nature films and poems soon to be coined in words. So many scenes came rushing back to my mind. From the blue butterfly I followed in the Amazon to touching the tallest tree in the Asuncion region to eating sugar cane while playing football with the children of Asuncion to eating coconuts on Don Pilar´s farm. It´s clear that I have uncovered one function of trekking – it as a meditative and mentally stimulating activity.