What does it mean?
Have you ever arrived somewhere and just suddenly felt an inner sense of calm? I can recall only a handful of occurrences of this in my life.
#1 A Buddhist temple somewhere in Vietnam – the monks chanting, the air crisp and clean, the sounds of the meditation bells.
#2 On arrival in Ollantaytambo Peru – sitting down at a cafe on the central square, clean mountain air, the clouds wisping across the Andes and tears flowed down my cheek.
I can’t say that I can describe the feeling of calm that I’m speaking of, it’s something that is more than calm, it touches your core being. Before my experience in Vietnam, I wouldn’t have understood this feeling if someone had tried to express it to me. It’s spiritual but not. It’s like the joy that you get when you see you’re first born child, or the happiness on your wedding day…only it’s not. It’s different in a way that I can’t really express.
My arrival in Chachapoyas was anything but easy. The week before my arrival, I visited several travel agents in attempt to book a flight from Lima to Chachapoyas. This wasn’t my original plans but with the flooding in a large part of Peru, I determined an alternate route. All of the travel agents told me that there were no flights. The planes that normally run the Lima>Chachapoyas route were being diverted for evacuation and medical transport. I decided to book a flight to Tarapoto and then catch a flight in Tarapoto to Chachapoyas (I was told by a local that there were 3 flight daily on this route).
I arrived in Tarapoto and promptly dropped my bags and headed off to the central square to get my flight booked for the following day to Chachapoyas. After checking with 3 travel/tourist places and 2 airlines, it was clear that I had to go back to the airport and book my flight there directly from the Airline. Saeta airlines is the airline for all flights for this route.
The Tarapoto airport is amazingly small! There is one Saeta counter but they don’t do ticketing for the flights. I was directed across the street to a small office to purchase my ticket. On arrival, I was told that there were not any available flights until Monday (this was a Tuesday). I really didn’t want to stay in Tarapoto and I had my heart set on visiting Chachapoyas for the Kuelap ruins that are just outside of the town.
On asking (in my broken Spanish) if there was a chance that someone might cancel and have a last minute opening, I was told that I could arrive an hour before the flights (at 8am, 9am and 11:30am) and see if there was an opening.
Back to my hostel with intent of an early morning checkout and a half-day sitting at the small office waiting and hoping for a seat. (3 moot-taxi’s Total Cost: 15 Pecos/$5 usd)
The next morning, I arrived at the Saeta office at 7:10am and was told ‘wait’. I had time for one cup of coffee at the restaurant next door and I was rousted with a ‘¡vamos!’ They had a seat for me!! A hurried ticket purchase, check-in at the airport, and two sets of ‘taxes’ and I was on my way!! (1 Moto-Taxi and one-way flight with taxes – Total cost: 80 Pecos/$26.66 usd).
The flight from Tarapoto to Chachapoyas was nothing but spectacular! The flight felt like it was only minutes! I checked into a hostel that was recommended and set my things down. Immediately, I went across the street to the central plaza and sat with the locals on one of the many park benches and just soaked in the atmosphere. #3 on my list of ‘Calm Places’ is certainly Chachapoyas!
I think I have decided to take the 8 hour bus back to Tarapoto, just so I can see the land. When we landed, I felt like I could reach out and touch the mountains just to the side of the runway. Chachapoyas is in the ‘cloud forest’ of Peru and it’s a beautiful site.
More coming soon!
LIFE IS GOOD . . .