Each morning, I’m awoken to the sound of my host mother’s voice just outside my door, “venga al desayuno, Andrecito.” (Come to breakfast, Andrecito.) (Well, initially I’m awoken to the sound of roosters crowing outside my window at 4am, but that’s beside the point.) Before me, there is usually a breakfast quite uncharacteristic of what one would consider breakfast: no eggs, no bacon, and most unfortunately, no pancackes. To give you some perspective one meal actually consisted of solely beans and choclo (similar to corn).
After breakfast, its time to begin my daily trek up the mountain and into the town of Apuela. This hike usually takes me anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes depending on the weather (or how tired I am). For me, this is a time for meditation and mental contemplation, though there is no set thing I contemplate on. I could be thinking about anything from dreams I’ve had to how I’m feeling emotionally at the moment, or sometimes I just take in the breathtaking landscape. Though, often times, my mind simply wanders, a myriad of thoughts and ideas. I often feel as if I’m the last man on Earth, adopting the nomadic lifestyle of my primitive ancestors, which is a pretty easy idea to entertain, considering its extremely rare to encounter anyone on the road, except on Sundays.
Ultimately, my feelings on my silent hikes remain mixed, as you may well imagine: a half an hour walk daily has the potential to grow quite wearisome. On the positive side of things, I feel these hikes also maintain a therapeutic aspect. As we learned on our silent hike during Fall Training, they allow me to take a step back and sort out my thoughts and feelings in times of hardship. In addition to therapeutic benefits, naturally, a hike up a mountain everyday has its physical benefits too. So with luck, by the end of 6 months I’ll be “más fuerte!” (stronger).