Arrival, The Sacred Valley

A bit of an update is required. I’ve been in Peru for a week and every day has been a swirl of confusion, laughter, frustration, and heart.  The last week seems to have lasted for months, not for lack of joy, but for the sheer amount of moments that have brought me back to myself.  It ended up taking me four extra days to arrive in Ollantaytambo, the Sacred Incan valley, after flying into LIma, due to all sorts of travel hiccups, but even those moments of delay and unexpected chaos have been perfect and what my soul needed.  I’ve experience more kindness in this country than I can put words to, and met new friends around every corner.  There is also an energy in this valley I can’t describe, but my notebook is running out of pages after three days, and I feel light.

As if reaffirming that this trip is what I needed,  yesterday I got fired from one of my online English teaching jobs because my internet wouldn’t work, and what at home would have been a crisis I realized must be what was supposed to happen, and today I just settled into it.  There will be more jobs, more work days, but this I will only get to experience once, and I let it go.  It’s weird, maybe because I have been flailing and challenged since I arrived, even the defeat of getting fired for the first time in my life seems okay in this moment.  

This place itself is somehow swirling chaos and calm at the same time, narrow cobblestone streets jammed with tourist buses and taxis, women in bright Quechua clothing not seeming to notice the honking and police whistles as they float down the sidewalk radiating something inexplicably mythic. I feel like I’ve stepped into one of my dad’s old National Geographic magazines I flipped through when I was eight, deciding when I grew up, I didn’t care what I did for a job, as long as it looked something like these pages.  The photo captions were the first words I fell in love with, because they were so alive. 

Today it’s raining, and I’ve caught a cold, so instead of climbing the ruins or sightseeing, I’m wrapped in a alpaca wool blanket drinking hot tea under an awning. My nose is running, I’m shivering, my back aches, and I’ve still never felt more at peace.  I wrote this poem my first night in the valley. 


I have not yet been to Machu Picchu,

Or the crumbling ruins on top of that mountain.

But I have chose.

Chose a destination and



The air smells of flowers and wild onion

I wander the market

Fruit, coca,

Alpaca sweaters.

I cannot choose what to buy

Anymore than I can choose

What I will carry home

In this heart-

Corazon. Heart.

That’s a word I have always remembered.

The rest of my Spanish comes & goes.

No entiendo. I don’t understand.

These two words my saving grace.

I say them so often,

I begin to believe I will never understand

The vendor who speaks to fast.

The sweet man who wants to chat on the bus,

But I was too tired to translate my thoughts.

The woman selling paintings of condors,

That I ask her about,

And smile, because she lights up as she tells me

But in so many words I don’t know.

No entiendo.

These words become so comfortable on my tongue.

That I no longer need

To understand anything.

One night I look at the stars,

The darkness behind them is a heavy wool blanket.

I calmly let the truth of the words I’ve been saying over and over

Wrap themselves around my heart.

As I whisper to the Incan Apus,

The mountain gods, Pachamama, whoever is listening,

Two words that set my soul free-

“No entiendo.”


Almostopenbook.Com is the blog of Jennifer Monet’, writer, wild-eyed-wild-haired adventurer, and lover of life. She offers travel coaching, mobility solutions, and resources to earn a living while turning your passion for adventure into a reality at