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Waykay, Panay, Turay, Nanay

Last lesson (number five): This final lesson is one I’ve known forever, but sometimes don’t remember. Friends are truly the family you can choose. I went into Peru not knowing a single person - voluntarily. And I was ok with that. I have been on solo trips in the past to foreign countries, but this one involved being with seven others plus two guides whom I’ve never met. And I would be encouraged to mingle with each of them. For eight straight days. Before I move on with my post, I want to make clear that I am very much an extroverted introvert. Meaning I’m actually quite introverted and shy around those I don’t know or are uncomfortable around. Being a physical therapist, youth rock climbing coach, and yoga instructor has brought me out of that shell and allowed me to make conversation with many people I normally wouldn’t have. So know that when I say encouraged, it does not mean forced, nor was it something I was dreading. It was just something for me to take note of. So back to my post. Each and every one of those nine others in my group are something special. We were all in different parts of our lives, and came from very different backgrounds. But we went from strangers to family faster than a blink of an eye. We created a hashtag. We each had nicknames. We shared warm clothing, extra medicine, ponchos, extra toothbrushes, cell service, hiking poles, gloves, stories, laughter, and tears - just to name a few. Our family consisted of: an “in-tents” yoga instructor (a.k.a. me), a beautiful, spunky “plate cleaner”, The White Morgan Freeman, two infectiously hilarious gals, Everyone’s Favorite, two lucky (bagless) girls, Future REI Guide of the Year, and the very patient and encouraging Mr. Photographer. (Names created by each of us for each other, and posted prior to this by Lauren). We all had baggage that we carried into this trip, but I know we all left feeling a little lighter and more whole. People enter our lives at just the right time (thank you universe), whether or not we realize it at that point. New friends, old friends, new family, old family. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Incan family. My heart grew because of you. #intheAndes

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