It was a perfect last day of travel. Just ambled around a small Peruvian town and sat on a bench by the river. My wife on one side sketching, my daughter on the other looking through the rough draft of my new book and marking it up, me writing in my journal. The sun just strong enough to be warm, the breeze just cool enough to keep us comfortable. Across the way the Inca ruins and mountains that cradle this Sacred Valley, by our feet, a well-fed dog borrowing our shade. The smell of wood burning that brings me, the way that only smells can, to those rural primary cultures where I have spent so many happy days of my long life. And the quality of silence, no drone of freeway traffic or blaring horns, just the rush of the river and a distant rooster call. Delicious.
Tomorrow I begin the journey home after three glorious weeks of travel, each part of it feeling like months ago. The teaching in Brazil, the time in Buenos Aires, the Cuzco Christmas, the Machu Picchu adventure, the Ollantaytambo New Year’s. I remember writing the “Home for the Holidays” blog and feeling reluctant to leave San Francisco and now can’t imagine having missed this trip. Part of me ready for the comforts and familiarity of home, but sitting on that bench, part of me wondering why I’m looking forward to stepping back up on the merry-go-round, with its morning alarm clocks, drive through traffic, seven classes a day with kids, staff meetings, the whole nine yards of my busyness and business. Maybe I should just keep traveling.
Had lunch at a lovely hidden jewel of a restaurant, our last great Menu del Dia deal where you get a soup, entrée and dessert for the equivalent of $7.00. Talia’s friend Zoe joined us with two more Argentine friends at the beginning of a six-month trip around South America. Zoe and Talia planning the next leg of their two-month wanderlust and all of them around 28 years old, the end of the Saturn Cycle where one phase of life ends and the next begins. That was certainly true for me all those years back when I ended my year-round trip around the world on my 28th birthday and returned to San Francisco to get married, have kids, buy a house and go back to work at the school that I’ve never left.
That was my time, this is theirs and I’m not really envious. I’ll happy to be teaching kids, playing piano regularly, cooking my own meals instead of spending all those hours sitting in restaurants, arranging buses and figuring out my next stop. But it was a beautiful time, a hearkening back beyond the music-teacher-travels to something closer to the skin, that glorious sense of wandering through this wide, wonderful world trying to feel the beating heart of other lands and cultures, jumping into the fray of the marketplace, sloshing through mud in the back country, sitting on a bench by the river just happy to smell the air and be alive.
Safe travels, young people, and know that this time will be forever cherished as you step into the next phases of your life.