Tag Archives: ruins

Traveling solo

31 Mar

I knew something was wrong when walking up 10 stairs winded me and left me sweating and needing a break.  The  young Peruvian woman carrying a a full load of goods to sell up high, who passed me, asked if I was ok, assuming it was the altitude.  No, no, I responded.  Only a week or two ago, I was at 6,000m.  She looked at me dubiously, but passed on.

ruins in pisac

I pushed thoughts of sickness out of my head – not now, please not now.  I am visiting the sacred valley for just two days and then a trek, I thought to myself.  I racked my brain for what I could have eaten in the past few days that would make me sick.  I tried to think of others around me who were sick. Nothing came to my, no reason why I should be feeling this way.  I hadn’t even been eating street food (well, not that much!).

As I reached the top of the hill, I collapsed onto a rock (yeah, it was probably sacred, but I really needed a place to sit at that moment), coated in sweat  and shaking slightly.  What was wrong?  What was wrong?!   not now, please….

more pisac ruins

After taking a few pictures (to remind myself I had been there), I made my way down and caught a bus to Ollanta, the town where I planned to spend the night.

the ruins at pisac

After two bus rides and a conversation with a man on the bus (who told me that my spanish was good — whoa, he must not be used to gringas speaking spanish!) — I clumsily made my way to a hostal.  At that point, I was ready to collapse….

Fortunately, the first hostal had  a room at a good price (though I might have paid anything!).  Shivering, I crawled into bed with all my clothes on and prayed for sleep.  It was 3:30 in the afternoon.

17 hours later, following shivers, sick dreams and worries that I was really sick, I decided I had to get out of bed — at least to make it back to Cusco.  I tried a light breakfast, I did see the ruins in Ollanta and I did make it back to Cusco (though I skipped the ruins in Chincero in favor of more rest).

impressive ruins of Ollanta

But during those 17 hours, in between worries that I had the flu or worse, giardia,  I realized that no one knew where I was at that moment.  There I was, sweating it out in Ollanta, feeling like hell, and no one who loved and cared about me knew where I was at that moment.  No one was going to come in with chicken noodle soup (which I desperately wanted).

the view down into the impressive village of Ollanta (which has not changed much in 700 years!)

I have lived on my own for a number of years.  I have traveled, I have been independent (fiercely so at times), I have taken care of myself.  But, for the most part, people have known where I am.  People can get in touch with me.  I can get in touch with people.  I might live alone, but I am not alone.

Traveling solo, I have had a few moments like this — when I am acutely aware of how alone I am.    I love traveling solo.  I love the freedom of choosing where I want to go, when I want to go, how I want to go.  Traveling solo has given me the freedom to talk to strangers, to meet people and share dinner.  And also the time to spend with myself, to get a sense of what I want and where I am going (more on that in a week or so….).

But, there have also been these other moments, when I am sick or tired or scared….  when I feel utterly and totally alone.  When I cannot (due to lack of connectivity or sickness or distance) reach out to others around me.  Those are the tough moments.  Fortunately, there have only been a few of those.  But after I recover (which I seem to have now — fever and pain free!), I am always so happy to connect with friends and family — I have new appreciation for those connections.

old rocks, new flowers

I have not always made people my thing, opting for skiing or climbing, hiking or travel — by myself if need be, in order to get out and go!  But, one of the big lessons on this journey for me, has been to start making people my thing.  To start opening my world to those around me and, maybe not less to the things I want to do, but more sharing in the things I want to do.  Being in that room, 17 hours of utterly-alone-time, I know that I do not want that. 

So, here’s to Inca ruins and traveling solo and making people my thing!

and special thanks to C.P. for reminding me of that!

hampi — land of rocks and ruins

6 Dec

new friends

I have spent the past three days wandering the ruins of Hampi, which was in its heyday in the 1500s. But now, there is just the bizarre — where people live on the side of the road in old ruins, painted bright colors with their children running around and goats and dogs and chickens mixing in with the walkers and tuk-tuks. The ruins are pretty amazing — the stonework itself is great and it is fun to imagine what it would have been like back in the day. For instance, I stopped by the Queen’s Bath – aq large building that was rather boring from the outside – but inside you could just imagine it as a bathhouse for the queen — it was huge and it would be more of a pool than anything else — but on a hot day – it would have been delightful! Or the Elephant’s stable — yes, you read the right — the stable for the elephants. I loved imagining all the stables being full with the royal elephants and having them come out for the king and queen. It is a pretty awesome mental image!

While walking from site to site, I traveled though banana plantations lined with coconut trees. I know that people must die from coconuts falling on their heads — so I am wary will walking down the street with trees lining either side. I mean, I am sure there isn’t a huge likelihood of it happening…but still. Twice, I have climbed to the top of the highest hill around, scrambling up the rocks to the temple ruins up there, to watch the sunset. It is great to be up high above the banana and coconut trees and away from the hustle and bustle – which, compared to other places I have been — isn’t that much.

This is definitely off the beaten track (for instance, I tried to go for a run but the dogs are obviously not use to runners – so they thought I was playing and they wanted to run/play with me) — though there are lots of tourists here – both western and indian. Some of my most fun times in the past few days have been when the Indian families, perplexed with me, stop and talk — or they want to take my picture. This family wanted lots of pictures with me — here are a few. And after they took pictures with me, we walked together for awhile — which allowed me to get some more candid shots of the kids.

the main temple


rocks of hampi

sunrise over the ruins

one other travelers….

I find that it is hard to make actual friends with other tourists – unless they are on their own. But, it is very easy to strike up conversation at lunch or dinner — since many times we all frequent the same places (though since I have been going the local places for lunch and breakfast, there are not a lot of other tourists there). The last few days have been a little lonely after Varkala — where i only had dinner by myself once – either with Rob or the Nepali friend I made (we had fun reminescing about all that we like about Nepal – I got to learn more about Nepal and he got to be proud of his country when I told him everything I liekd about it). But here, it is kind of quiet. Which is fine, just have to get used to it again.

Otherwise, the other travelers….they all (ok, probably not all….) smoke like it was going out of style. at restaurants especially — you know, when you are eating. They (euros) make fun of americans for liking the big coffees and liking really sweet tea – but that seems inocuous compared to smoking at the table next to me when i am trying to eat.

my new friends in hampi

And – (ok, bare with me and my venting this morning – you all are my captive audience — as I don’t have anyone else to tell!) it kind of drives me crazy to hear them complain — It is ridiculous to me to hear some of the tourists (Euros mostly) argue over 20 or 30 rupees. I mean, really? i get that if one tourist gets cheated then it drives up the pri ce for all the other tourists but……. and then when they complain about the food — all i can think is…. why are you ordering lasagna in India – from someone who probably has never had a good lasagna before?! I mean, I like my comfort food as much as the next person – and I have ordered pizza here and there (though i weaned myself from the every day occurence that happened after the trekking!) — but, i mean, it is Southern Indian food — how can you go wrong?!

My breakfast this morning was 30 rupees and consisted of idlys (which is rice pressed into a patty), two deep fried chili peppers, sambar – a dal mix with veggies – which is slightly spicy, and then a coconut sauce thing — i don’t know the name of any of it — but so good! you dip the idly into the sauce and scoop into your mouth – amazing! I think that they were surprised that i liked the chilis – as most people ask for food that is not spicy.

I wish i could go to the road side stand every day for breakfast but I dont think that they will be open when i leave tomorrow morning at 6 to catch a bus to Hospet in order to catch another bus to Hubli in order to catch an overnight train to Mumbai. Makes me tired just to think about it…. and kind of sad…. I wish that I could stay in S. India for another month…. I was worried that this would happen — that by purchasing all my tickets up front that I would not allow myself the freedom to stay in a place I like. And here, it has happened. I would love to stay in these parts – wandering around, head all the way south, more time on the coast. But I fly out in less than 2 weeks and so I need to head north. But, the south has enticed me, teasing me with her food, her people, her views…..Oh India…..

i told her i should sit for the photo so i did not look like a giant….

a boy praying in front of a temple ruin