Peru: Beginning at the End

Chinchero, Peru

Some stories begin most appropriately at the end, and this is one. Before sharing any of my Peru adventures, I must first share the end of my story. I returned home four days earlier than planned, having made my way some 4,200 miles with a broken ankle.

Peru is a rugged place. Mountain trails, precipitous drops, endless tipsy stone steps and cobblestone streets all challenge the traveler to be mindful in every step. And mindful I was. That is, until I stepped off a curb in the village of Aguas Calientes (the evening after visiting Machu Picchu) and felt the snap of bone when my foot rolled beneath me. My trip ended with that snap and my journey home began.

Four days, two doctors, one ambulance, seven wheelchairs, one train, one bus, two taxis and three airplanes later, I arrived home. To say I was sad to leave Peru before reaching Lake Titicaca’s mountainous shores and remote villages doesn’t touch the breadth and depth of my feelings. I left behind work unfinished, places and faces that I’d just begun to know, and many more I will only now imagine.

In the days ahead, I hope to unravel the tangled threads of memories and understandings about my time in Peru before I took that less than mindful step. The vibrant color, the flavors, the landscape, the beautiful people—I know the memories are all there, somewhere.

For now, I’ll focus my healing energy on mending bone and ligament. And figuring out how to take a shower, weed the garden, dress my body and generally live life with a cast. Knowing, of course, that I’m lucky it is just a broken ankle.

Peru’s first lesson: what happens next is often not what you expect.

Broken Ankle

31 responses

  1. So sorry to hear about your accident. If only you could rub some comfrey on the broken bone!
    It really does help!

  2. This is such a beautiful beginning to the ending (and whatever comes in the next part of the story). I wish you much richness as you heal, and am so sorry for what is lost.

  3. Welcome home! Not surprisingly, sounds like you had an exciting adventure…sorry there is a cast involved tho.

  4. Stunning photo. Glad you were able to do as much as you did before the ankle accident. You truly had a once in a lifetime experience!

  5. Oh no!! Eleanor – I would guess your heart feels more broken than your ankle. I am so sorry that happened to you and wish you swift healing!!

    • Thank you, Julie. It’s not making sense yet, but I am finding more peace about the whole thing with each passing day, and the magical memories are nudging out the memories of the injury. I appreciate your healing blessings, and those of others. It really helps!

  6. Oh my, what a shame you had to cut your trip short. I love the photo you included (not the ankle one!) and I agree with what many others have said here. A new journey awaits. Praying for a speedy recovery and patience for dealing with a cast… yuk. If you need some help, I just live down the road you know.

  7. I’m so sorry, Eleanor, that your adventure was curtailed! Just think, though, of all you met along the way that helped you to get home… sometimes, in retrospect, I find what I thought was a shadowy time was, in fact, a golden one. Welcome back and looking forward to reading more about your time in Peru.

    • So many good people! From the doctor who nailed the exact kind of fracture using only his hands, to all the cheery wheelchair pushers along the way. It’s amazing how kind people are. I like the image of seeing this as a “golden time” — thanks!

  8. Awwww Eleanor! I am so sorry to read this – I was hoping you would return revitalized and refreshed and full of interesting stories. This is interesting, but not the kind of interesting I’d hoped for you…

    • Thanks, Jackie. I was disappointed, definitely, but I’m feeling better as time passes. I do have lots of stories, and will be sharing some of them soon. Peru is such a colorful, magical place—too amazing to be overshadowed by a broken ankle!

  9. Pingback: Lessons from Peru: We First « Nourishing Words

  10. Oh I am sorry you broke your ankle!! Yes, the Andes is a wonderful place. I was born in the Andes north central part of the Andes a samall city near Huaraz. Took my son in 2008 to visit the Andes for the first time. He was in awe! at the beauty and altitude, so much beauty there is. I also speak Quechua the incan indian language besides Spanish of course. Hope you heal soon! Hope you try to visit the Andes again someday. Thank you for sharing your story.

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