It’s hard to pinpoint the beginning of my downward spiral, but for someone who’s middle name might just as well be Polyanna , dancing with the dark side is not my idea of fun and definitely not the person who was/is gunning for a trip like this. In retrospect, both Gary and I suspect it started when I was recently sick. For those of you who know me well it’s common knowledge that I ward off illness with a silver cross. With a long standing family pathology around illness, just saying….. being sick can put me in a serious state of panic.
The day after Gary and I returned to Huaraz (10,300 ft) from a 3 day trek to 16,568 ft I came down with a crushing headache and nausea which layed me out for 24 hours. The trek was not particularly difficult so it must be a cerebral anneruism, (I know some of you are smiling), right? An email to my brother Rikki reduces the idea to a simple case of altitude sickness. I’m good with that. Enough said… I’m up and running in a day.
The following day we did a bike ride to 13,180. No headache pre, during, or post, so why did it so impressively kick my ass…..and the bike wasn’t even loaded! Gary thinks it was because I had been sick, but I’m not buying it. I prefer to go to the dark side.
Now, having this ride eat my lunch dug up a solid fear that the Andes, with their impressive altitudes, were simply out of my league. There is no way that I can ride my loaded bike over 15,000 ft passes. Add pushing 60 years old to the mix and I’m heading for a roll that I’m in way over my head. Gary, bless his heart, knows not to intervein at times like these as it can only piss me off. Instead he’s calm and supportive, a skill he’s acquired from many years of being together. He waits for it to end as it always does.
A roll is useless if it gathers no momentum, right? With my newly amped state, going to town, with all the people, noise, cars, honking, garbage and confusion adds yet another layer to the boil and I’m now seriously wondering if I can endure this for months to come. Compounding this is my constant language ineptitude and an inability to communicate – not a good mix. I’m rolling pretty well now and everything is bugging. I talk to my friend Susan and a core desire emerges tempting me to go home where we have friends and family, know the language, know the culture, life is easy, comfy, but most of all where I know I can climb those mountains.