I never knew I had a preference.
I mean, I’ve always known that I love being outside; being in the presence of something bigger than myself and the little dramas that make up my life. Whether it be the desert, the mountains, Lake Michigan, heck, a gum-filled sidewalk in the middle of Chicago, I would always rather be there than inside.
So as we continued our descent deeper and deeper into the Peruvian jungle, in the midst of leafy green ferns and mammoth avocados that hung pregnant from the lush Avocado Trees, I was somewhat surprised at my indifferent, albeit appreciative reaction to life below 11,000 feet in the Andes.
Now don’t get me wrong, the humidity and heat beating down on your bare skin from the hot, equatorial sun was beyond refreshing after a few days in the snow and rain, and the flowers and birds? Holy cow. Everywhere you looked cheery greens and yellows flitted by overhead and violet and white orchids wound their way out of the thicket.
There was a relaxed meandering mindset that punctuated our trek down and into the lower Cloud Forest, which was the perfect opposition to the determined pace of the previous few days as we made our way up and over Salkantay Pass. As it turns out, it’s less of a challenge to wander through a lush green rainforest taking in surprise sightings of wild turkeys (distant relation to the Peruvian Mountain Turkey, which by the way, has made several visits to Summit County, CO…), hummingbirds, begonias, and puya cacti, than it is to climb a glacier garbed head to foot in garbage bags.
And the bugs. Ew. Ick. Blargh.
I have never been a bug fan, but some of the creepy crawlers that crossed our path were fairly impressive in both size and color.
And while the bugs and the birds and the flowers piqued my curiosity and the company kept me giggling, a little part of me wanted to head back in to the wilds of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range. Feel the enveloping sense of drama exuded by Salkantay and Humantay as they preside over the valley, the contrast of the jungle greens melding with the grays and whites of the glaciers, and the pinks and oranges of the setting sun illuminating the craggy peaks as they touched the sky.
Now this may comes as a shock to those of you who know me, but as it turns out, the mountains seem to be my preference.