My flight to Peru departs early in the morning. At the airport in Guayaquil I discover that my friend from Montañita has the same itinerary. He looks noticeably different. He’s wearing a shirt for a change, the cigar smoke has cleared and he’s limping, heavily.
I tell him the rap music has stopped so he can quit pretending to be a 90s gangster. He tells me I’m hilarious and that he actually sprained his ankle.
We ascend, descend, disembark and let a taxi drive us to Lima’s tourist friendly area, Miraflores. My mate and I agree that his cripple walk looks really cool, but concur that a hospital visit might be a wise decision.
After three hours of waiting rooms, sign language and broken Spanish we find out that his sprained ankle is actually a ruptured Achilles heel.
Before leaving I try to persuade a sixty year old nurse, who’s width surpasses her height, to refill my depleted Oxycodon stash. With no luck. My power of seduction seems to be at an all time low this night and with a ruptured Achilles heel and bruised self esteem we return to the hostel.
The following days are spent him contemplating and me helping him out where possible. Eventually he decides to return to the U.S. for surgery. As a thank you for doing what seems logical he gifts me his private room.
This includes free breakfast, housekeeping, fresh towels daily and my own bathroom. I feel like a refugee entering a first world country after years of war and trauma.
“Yes,” I say to myself, “this is exactly the same.”
That night I do what every person with a private bedroom would do. The next morning, after she leaves, I enjoy the complimentary breakfast and return to the room to get ready and explore the city.
Suddenly I feel like an amateur pilot in a Boeing 747, like a Sunday driver in a Formula 1 car: I crash, badly.
Two and a half months of moving places, constant music, missed sleep and never ending conversations come rushing in and call me to a halt. Who would’ve thought that all these things are a bad idea when you’re suffering from a severe head injury?
The detox begins. Curtains and eyes close, lights go out, sunglasses come on. Earplugs exclude the outside world and shift the focus to my inner monologue. That voice I’ve been trying to ignore and flee from.
I realise I’m not in a better place mentally, merely in a different one physically. All I’ve done is making sure I didn’t have time to think about it. For someone who claims to be a fighter I’ve been avoiding this confrontation like the plague.
Sitting in cerebral court I endure what I have to say to myself. I sweat profusely. That what trickles down my cheeks and body is on par with the water in lakes in Tsjernobyl.
Days later I somewhat recover. I can’t help but laugh at the person staring at me in the mirror: hair that resembles a bird’s nest, an unshaven, pale face and the bags under my eyes are larger than the average backpack.
I wash, shave, wash again, reinstall the earplugs and sunglasses and walk to the Parque del amor on the coast to enjoy the sunset.
Around me are numerous couples and groups of friends enjoying each others company. A sight that always causes a downfall in my flatline of numbness. I nod my head upon feeling that well known feeling I can’t seem to shake off.
I adjust my sunglasses and glare at the sun performing its final trick of the day.
“Look at me, being honest about what I’m actually feeling for once,” I mumble.
A final night in my private room and I start my journey towards Cusco. On my way there I briefly stop in Paracas and Arequipa (places that are on route). When in Peru you could stop here, you could also not. Afterwards you’ll be exactly the same person, regardless of your choice.
A week of travel passes by and I drop myself and my backpack on my hostel bed. As per usual I’m dead upon arrival.
I haven’t actually come to Cusco for Cusco. There’s supposed to be this village nearby that’s interesting to visit. However I’m so tired that I can’t even seem to remember the name.
My eyes start shutting. I grab a piece of paper from my back pocket and unfold it. I can barely read my own handwriting.
“What’s this place called again?” I say and yawn. “Meru... Meku... Maru... Machu Picchu?”
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