I love metaphors because they’re all around us. Have you ever noticed how an ugly caterpillar is forced to crawl on thousands of little legs and then, after burying itself the same being goes through a deep transformation in isolation and after struggling to break through its own barriers it comes out as a stunning butterfly able to fly? Metaphors. They’re all around us and if we look close enough we can find meaning. In Peru we did many great activities but my favorite moment was hiking through the mountains towards Machu-Picchu My friends Paul and Marty good childhood friends that own Bamba Experience wanted me to try this new version of the Inca Trail where we’d avoid the crowds and literally cross mountains with a guide, a donkey and little else. “Hey, even if it goes wrong it’ll make for great television,” I thought. Everything was great at the beginning. At that altitude (almost 15,000 ft) you feel your heart pounding and working overtime to keep oxygen coursing through your veins, but there was no problem there because I do work out every morning so I’m in decent shape.
The challenges happened when I had forgone bringing a proper waterproof jacket and opted for a ‘real’ alpaca sweater that I bought in a tourist shop for 20$. Just to be safe I paired it with a 50 cent plastic poncho in case it rained. Halfway towards the highest peak of that trail, the weather changed abruptly and suddenly it happened… wild rain, sideways rain. You know the type that hits you right in the eye. Out came the poncho… water sipping through, then it was broken. Great. There I was struggling to see, filming with an action cam on a selfie stick. After ten minutes of this, I became afraid because it was also quite cold and my alpaca maybe not alpaca sweater was damp and we still had another 4 hours of hiking before reaching any covered shelter. We might have to turn back. I started to pray. Dear God please, help me… it was my fault that I didn’t buy that jacket because I was stingy and it was a stupid stupid choice but please… you can make the rain stop. Please, God, make the rain stop.
The rain didn’t stop, instead, a random mountain dog appeared out of nowhere and started playing with my poncho in the middle of the rain. Great, now this. I will say that Buddy (I named him) did manage to distract me from the rain and the cold and before I knew it, as soon as we reach the highest point the rain stopped. We proceeded to descend to the other side that was full of heavy fog… but I was so grateful for the fog. Funny how in life we tend to not appreciate how good we have it till something seemingly worse happens. Our donkeys got lost as sunset was approaching. We ended up knocking on a stone hut, the only proof of human life we’d seen for hours on that side of the mountains. An Inca lady welcomed us into dirt floor straw roofed home. She gave me one of two stools and used her one bent tin mug to pour me a tea; now that was some real matcha! I gave her some cookies I carried in my backpack and we shared a silent smile. Half an hour later I stepped outside to be greeted by one of the most extraordinary sunsets I’d ever seen. Teary-eyed with gratitude for the entire experience I walk two hundred meters away to a rock and I set the camera to film behind me. I was giving thanks for my life and such a great answer to prayer, because after all prayer is just conversation with God… when Buddy came running down the slope and sat next to me. It was a surreal moment. In Inca lore, mountain dogs are good spirits that protect good souls along the mountain paths. I cannot say that he was one or I was the other, but I will say that it was a great reminder that, in my opinion, the only prayer that God doesn’t answer is the one we don’t make. Life is truly a journey that has thousands of valleys, each with peaks and shadows, all of them with rain and sunshine. No matter where you find yourself today, just keep walking and remember that we’re never alone on the journey. At the end of the journey, we’ll look back and realize that it was all worth it.