Just a week ago today I was fully mesmerized by the beauty of the Sacred Valley region of Peru. I had only been with my “tribe” of 22 others from around the world for a mere six  days. We had completed four days together at varying volunteer job sites in the city of Lima. While we shared those first long days, we also shared cancer. And while A Fresh Chapter had brought us together, I think we all knew that our fearless leader, Terri, had really been the fate whisperer –  as she personally interviewed each and everyone of us.

The week had been amazing and daunting at the same time. It seemed as the week wore on I felt as though all I was capable of seeing and feeling were extremes. There was the beauty of the Lima coastline and then there were the people permanently “camping” on those coastlines with little more than tents to call home. There was the litter covered dirt roads to the preschool and the smiling faces with Pikachu backpacks inside the school. There was the absolute chaos of city traffic and then there was the most tranquil, peaceful man behind the wheel of the small Nissan keeping us safe each and everyday.  There was my extreme homesickness as I battled missing my “hub”. And then there was the strong sense of comaraderie I felt with my current “tribe”. A collection of different personalities from all over the globe.

And this first week, it took my breathe away. My mind was on autopilot and my body utterly exhausted as I struggled to keep with the pace of my tribe. Everything was new, different. All of my senses were on high alert and it took ALL of them for me to process minute-to-minute decisions.

Leaving Lima and seeing the beauty of Peru’s Andean highlands that surround Cuzco and Machu Picchu, again all of my senses were engaged and overwhelmed. As we arrived in our beautiful “commune” hotel/resort the immensity of climbing Machu Picchu began to weigh on me. Could I do it? Was my body capable? I was so tired. And I had lost all confidence my body had once afforded me to years of cancer treatment. And again, those stark extremes. Here I was in one of the most breathe-takingly beautiful places in the world and I was worried my body wouldn’t be able to take me where I needed to go to fully absorb all that damn beauty!

Thinking of a week ago, I can’t help but get a little teary-eyed, missing that beautiful collection of personalities that helped me get to the top of Machu Picchu. But, I am also appreciating these minor epiphanies that seem to be continuing to overwhelm my senses. Terri and her merry-making pals – Deirdre and Lisa – they were certainly fate whisperers. It was pretty humbling to watch them work.

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