During CFS and fibromyalgia a flare-up, I look at photos and read my travel journals to help me remember past experiences and adventures. I don’t feel bad that I am not able or interested in travel, rather I am reminded of the places I have been that so many ‘healthy’ people have not and the diverse people who I have met. I have learned so much and feel fortunate for the opportunities. While my life is now very different and is leading me in a new direction (for which I have no regrets!), I am so lucky to have these memories!
When I felt ‘cured’ of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I decided to treat myself to a new adventure. As a lover of archaeology, I decided to go to Peru and visit Macchu Picchu. I had never been to South America and while I realized there was a risk traveling as a single woman who didn’t know the language, my excitement outweighed my fears and anxiety. I have traveled extensively and lived in Greece and Israel so I was relatively confident in my abilities to handle myself.
I have never been a big fan of tour groups but did not want to travel aimlessly. I fitting compromise for me was to hike the Inca Trail a four-day hike to Macchu Picchu with a group of eight and two guides. I had been healthy and fit in the past and believed that jogging for a month would improve my endurance and be enough to manage the high altitude and long days of hiking.
In September 2004, I traveled to Lima and arrived late that night. I was forewarned at the airport to be careful of hackers and to be sure to get in a legitimate taxi to take me to my hotel. As I drove through Lima at midnight, the first thing that struck me was the poverty. I have driven through ghettos in the U.S. but this somehow felt different. It brought me down from the exhilaration I felt after touching down.
The hotel was a few blocks away from the center of Lima, Square. I spent the morning at the Cathedral of San Francisco with a wonderful guide. I then visited the catacombs which piqued my morbid curiosity of what kind of lives had all those bones experienced.
Endless steps for four days!
Along the Inca trail
The Inca Trail is mostly stone steps and meanders through three climate zones – high desert, rain forest, and cloud forest. It was not easy for me but so worthwhile. The flora and fauna are spectacular. The archaeological sites remote and fascinating. The views of the majestic Andes are awe-inspiring. And the climax is at the end of the trail when we suddenly see Macchu Picchu below us and greeted by llamas as we descended into the ancient city.
The picture says it all!
I can’t express my wonder of Macchu Picchu. It was never discovered by the Conquistadors and while unsure of its exact purpose, Macchu Picchu is believed to have been a palatial city. When it was deserted, it was completely covered for hundreds of years until it was miraculously discovered. I was at peace and my imagination sparked by what life used to be there. I made life changing decisions in this magical place by deciding to quit my current job at the Jewish Community Federation and explore other opportunities that would be less stressful.
I spent my last night in Peru at a lovely resort in a luxurious hut. I slept most of the day and night and can now admit to myself that I was having a CFS flare-up. But it was soo worth it and, fortunately, my strength soon returned after I returned home.