you were my 4th country between Argentina and Alaska. Today, when people ask me, “what is your favourite country from the entire trip?” I struggle to name a country, but in my head, I see vivid images of your majestic mountains touching skies and the road twisting and looping in them. It was there where I reached the greatest heights.
In the company of your pristine landscape, I felt summoned in God’s court. How I kept my breath and thoughts in check lest the glaciers clinging to the sides of the mountains come sliding down and crush me for insolence!
Those twisty roads in the sierra, zigzagging and never-ending like devil’s intestine. They slowed me down so I could know you more. You pushed me on the downhills so my fears wouldn’t catch me.
Your sky was like the eye of the universe always watching me—your colourful mountains, an Artist’s palette—your glaciers, white sleeping giants—your waterfalls, nature pouring milk from heaven to earth—and your rugged landscape, a sea frozen amidst a storm.
Your people, brightening the land with their colourful dresses like Lilies of Peru symbolizing love and friendship, waving at me and passing greetings. Sitting in Layyah, I can still hear their voices “hola, amigo!” Their shining smiles, warm hospitality, and simple way of life enough to make someone lose their identity and be one with them. The entire country was my home, and I could knock at anyone’s house as if I lived there.
On your uphills, I got to know my heart from its pounding. From your high passes where the valleys down below held sky in the bowl of earth, I could form a new perspective of life. It was here where I felt the most humble.
You taught me what goes up, must come down, and what goes down, must come up. You showed me that nature has answers to all our worries and that there is more to life than seeking worldly pleasures. And that inside, we will always remain nomads, and that we don’t belong to one place.
I came to you to explore you, but you held a giant mirror in front of me.
By seeing you, I saw myself.
For that, and everything you taught me, my dear Peru, I will always be yours.
Happy Independence Day!