As I step back on the escalators leading down to the NYC Subway, I see how much of the last 9 days I can remember.
I remember Lima; the way we danced around the fountains as they danced around us, the taste of Peruvian chicken in the middle of the night, getting our 5am flight redirected on our way to Cuzco, deluding myself to believe that I had altitude sickness.
I remember Ollantaytambo; the way we bargained our way from Cuzco, hiking along the sweeping hills of a mountainous city, the nonstop rain that somehow made everything prettier, the girls from Germany that I met on the train to Aguas Calientes.
I remember Aguas Calientes; the way we struggled to get up at 4am, the people we waited in line with, the instant coffee, how we got our tickets to Machu Picchu the moment the ticket office opened at 5am, how we almost forgot to buy our bus tickets at the last minute.
I remember Machu Picchu; the way we rushed to be the first 400 people to sign up for Wayna Picchu, how we climbed up stone by stone to the tallest peak in the region, sitting at our personal little rocks taking in the views, when we decided to take the road less traveled to the Temple of the Moon, our shock to the countless steps we had to retrace, sunbathing by the Temple of the Moon, the burning in our thighs as we returned, the rain on our bare skin the moment we finished descending from Wayna Picchu, the fellow climbers we met along the way, the sense of accomplishment when we finally reached the observatory tower overlooking the ruins.
I remember Cuzco; the way we shamelessly danced with other backpackers at Loki’s the first hour we were there, the people we met at our hostel, the feel of the city’s cobblestone roads, the trustworthy roommates that partied with us, the friend from the States who agreed to take us around, the taste of guinea pig and llama steak, the bizarre monsters at La Turca, the horrible pronunciation of flirtatious Spanish phrases, the shisha at Indigo, the 6 hours that we danced and the characters we met at Mama Afrika.
I remember my one night in Bogota; the way we made our way into Kong’s, ordering Green Jasmin drinks and late night fried steak, how none of the ATMs accepted my card, the taxi ride along 7th Avenue, the taste of Aguadiente, waking up thinking I missed my flight to Cartagena, the godsend morning breakfast, a grueling taxi ride to the airport without cash to pay for it, worrying about Kseniya when she failed to show up to our flight, surprised to see Kseniya when she was taking the same flight with me back home to NYC a few days later.
I remember Playa Blanca; the way we formed a team in bargaining our way there, riding on motorcycles, arrving to an empty beach that stretched for miles, the sugary white sand, swimming in the Caribbean at night, falling asleep to the Caribbean waves outside in a hammock, waking up to the sound of roosters, being roasted by the sun, making fun of daytripping tourists, the speedboat ride back to Cartagena.
I remember Cartagena; the way we befriended fellow Colombians that led us to stay at their place, walking along the streets of a city I wish to return for my honeymoon, eating cerviche in the same seat Anthony Bourdain ate his, the late night salsa at Mister Babilla, the circle around us as we danced off at Babar Nightclub, the final hugs goodbye.
How could I forget.