It was the wonderful Anne-Marie’s birthday a few days back. She chose to spend it here in Cusco with us and flew over from Dublin. And so, on September 10, we went out with Anne-Marie, one of our oldest friends, with Yuri and Maia, two of our newest.
I love my friends for a variety of different reasons. You all have a particular place in a heart that I couldn’t conceive of being able to store so many people inside it. You are also the people who make extended travel the hardest, as you are the main part that I struggle to be without for this amount of time. I love some of you for your open hearts. Some for standing with me through turbulent times. Some for the experiences we have shared. For opportunities that you have opened up before me. For broadening and deepening my mind. For opening and sometimes hardening my heart when it was needed. For singing with me, for not laughing when dancing with me.
Some of you have been coming to mind recently as we have got to know Yuri here. The visionaries. People who want to change the world, or at least a part of it. I have been fortunate in my life to have met a few of you who can claim this as one of your traits. You plunge your arms into those dreams, grab them in your hands, and pull them right out and into reality. Tony, you scarcely have time to wake up before your dreams are thrust into the real world. Matt, you have a way of painting visions with friends and clients alike that takes them out of reality and into your dreams before diving back out and collectively making them happen. Ben, you took one of yours and in realising it made a difference to an unimaginable amount of people who needed you for them to make a difference. Gareth, you and I shared so many together since university days. Baz, you and I created and lived a great one for a while – happy days. Cyrus, I scarcely know vision from reality with you, the two are so seamlessly intertwined as one fabulously becomes the other. Kev, you decided a long time ago that the reality that was painted before most of us was just not good enough, and created your own better version on the island, which you’ve been living for over a decade now. Dorf and RT, you convinced a lot of us to create something with you and gave us space to unleash our own creativities and make something of immense beauty and success. The list could just go on. And that’s not even mentioning the vision I harboured for so many years, whom I finally married and showed me qualities in reality that were beyond mere dreams.
Well, here in Cusco, we are fortunate to be enmeshed and embedded within Yuri’s vision made reality. I wrote about the Aldea Yanapay school in an earlier post, and we are staying at the Hostal Magico, which along with the Aldea Yanapay restaurant, helps to fund that school. Like many who are from, or live in, or have travelled through Cusco, Yuri saw the abuse that afflicted many of her children. Like a smaller subset of those people, he also saw how that behaviour was cyclical and moved from one generation to the next. Like very few of those people, he had a vision of how that could be changed. And like the only visionaries that count, he decided to take action with the school he founded to try to change this. In a few days that we have been here, he has also become a friend to us and our family, including the children who have asked if he could come back and be our au pair!
Here are some pictures from the Aldea Yanapay of the children, the volunteers and Yuri.
Which brings me back to the start. Yuri booked for us to eat in a restaurant, Chicha, that would not be out of place in St Martin’s Lane or Mayfair in London on the event of Anne-Marie’s birthday. The best food on this trip so far, and possibly from long while before we started. And great company with friendships formed that will last a long time after this particular journey has ended. A beautiful evening, thank you Anne-Marie for giving us the excuse, and then for sharing it with us.
On another evening here in Cusco, while Paola was trekking to Machu Picchu, we met our first travelling family. Patrice and Marie are travelling from Quebec with their two children. Estimated end of journey date unknown. They have a blog far more elegant than our own going, at moments of an open life. No surprise that Patrice is a video pro, and the two of them are videoing their journey with a goal to fund their travels as they go. Like us, most of their friends thought what they were going to do was insane, and like us they found that once you take the first step, it is remarkably achievable. Guys, if you read this, please feel free to drop us a comment. Especially if it’s to tell us when you will be coming to London to visit!
Coincidentally, one of my favourite films is also one of Patrice and Marie’s. In the docufilm Man on Wire, Philippe Petit is standing atop one of the twin towers about to undertake the seemingly impossible task of walking the tightrope which he has set to straddle the two skyscrapers. He has one foot on the building, and one on the wire. And he says that he simply decides to shift his weight from one foot to the other. This seemingly innocuous decision begins one of the most audacious and beautiful acrobatic feats of the last 50 years.