I Found Myself in Peru
Last month the Yankee editorial staff was all over the place. Literally. Our editor, Mel Allen, was in Japan, visiting his son (do read his blog about the trip — it is quite touching). Our art director, Lori Pedrick, and online editor, Barbara Hall were in New Orleans for the annual City and Regional Magazine Awards. We were nominated for awards in several categories, but took no gold (this year!). I found myself in Peru.
It’s a bit cliche to say that it was a life changing experience, but it truly was. I traveled with high school friends and spouses (we try to do something exotic and adventurous together every two years). How could hiking at 12,000 feet amongst centuries old Incan ruins not change a person? Or to hold hands with a monkey? Share breakfast with a toucan? Gaze upon a rendition of the “Last Supper” featuring guinea pig as the meal? So, yeah, I am different. I am still decompressing from the two weeks of planes, trains, and automobiles.
In one town where we hung out, Ollantaytambo, in the Sacred Valley, I considered what kind of life I could have if I stayed. I decided a bakery would be the way to go, because, well, baked goods were lacking (although great food otherwise was there). A nice little cafe with great coffee and basic, but delicious, baked goods. I ruminated this idea for a few days and really let myself go with it. I’d have a simple life of early mornings, training employees, knowing local customers, arranging for deliveries to this remote town, building a bakery, perfecting my rusty Spanish, and offering advice to tourists on their way to Machu Picchu or to the nearby ruins. I’d tell a story about being on vacation and falling in love with the town, “and gosh, now, after 17 years, I guess I am a local myself.”
Then I remembered baking a cake in Aspen one year. Baking at high altitudes is incredibly difficult — the air pressure is different so temperatures are different, leaveners go kaflooey, and the air is drier so batters need more liquid. Custard don’t set. Cookies don’t brown. Pies over-brown. Bread droops and souffles pop, then collapse.
So it turned out to be a little easier to get back on the plane and come back to my real home. Besides, we took a side trip to the Amazon and I am covered in mosquito bites.