Huancayo to Cerro De Pasco/Road 100

Written by Neon

Huancayo is a large city, containing many different sections. We chose to slack (walk with only day packs) out of the city to avoid having to stress out about carrying everything we own through crowded streets. Walking through a busy city without full packs on, we were able to look around and have a more enjoyable experience. A great thing about every city we’ve experienced here in South America is that there is no suburban sprawl, so we go straight from busy city out into the campo. Continue reading

Paucara to Huancayo

Written by Neon

Leaving Paucara, I noticed we had made our way into the 12th parallel, meaning we were at 12 degrees south from the equator. I was so excited, because we had been moving through the 13th parallel since the end of last season. The Andes in this part of Peru curve to the west, causing our route to do so as well, and not making northern progression as quickly had been wearing on me. “We’re finally going north again!”, I thought excitedly as we made our way along the edge of the road out of Paucara. Continue reading

So You Want to Walk the Qhapaq Ñan

Written by Fidgit

A Summary

The Qhapaq Ñan or the GRI (Gran Ruta Inca) is the Inca road system which, at its height, was almost 40,000 km long. It connected the Andes from central Argentina and Chile to southern Colombia. Two primary arteries ran latitudinaly, one along the coast and the other along the puna or high planes. Many connecting roads allowed for movement of goods between the jungles of the eastern slope of the Andes and the Pacific Coast to the west.
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A Walk of 1000 Mothers

I think we made a mistake in calling it “Mother’s Day.” I think we meant to celebrate “Someone Loves me Unequivocally” Day.
For those inside the bounds of a healthy mother’s love, you are blessed beyond measure.
For those who live outside of that sense, I honor you and acknowledge your experience.

I happen to have gotten lucky, in that I do have a mom who loves me like that. Also a handful of uncles and aunts, friends, surrogates, and have even amassed quite a number of moms-for-a-day along this hike. I think my definition of mother’s love was loosened by necessity and divinity.

My mother’s biological mother, Patty, was carried away on a river boat to heaven when my mom was but a few months into life.

She was taken in by her uncle and his wife, Masue, who, uncertain about adoption, called to confer with HER mother in Japan. They agreed and family lore tells of a tender night when Masue tiptoed into the blonde, curly haired little foreigner’s nursery and hugged her to her bosom and held her and rocked her, “until she came from my own tummy.”

Still, she was raised by an army of mothers. Her grandmother, Barb Johnson, friends’ mothers, a church family. Each fit into the story. And each was mourned when she slipped beyond.

Marva and faye

Little Marva and Faye Anne.

One year, as a girl, I joined my mother and aunt Marva in Kansas City for a motherless daughter’s gathering. It was bittersweet to taste both the fortune of being there with my mother and to be accepted into the circle of grief.

Until that point I had only watched my mother go through it and felt it second hand; sitting on the ground outside of the bathroom door as she wept for GG. Her indignation when Barb died. Waking up to her crying wearily over a packed bag as she left us yet again to travel back to the US when Masue finally managed to slip away.

That ceremony inducted me to a wider sense of mothers; the ManyMothers. Those who took a pass, who were passed over, or who have passed on. I no longer merely beheld it, I swallowed both loss and comfort in a circle of women bearing and sharing their most tender wounds, and that made me a keeper of the flame.

In that way, I first took on Patty. By being allowed to feel her loss, that ceremony gave her to me. It made her part of me, along with many others.

Thus I came to see what I have come to frame as my Constellation of Mothers.
They oversee my path, protect, and love me as I birth each step in this journey, painfully and imperfectly.


The physical reminders I carry of the love which protects me: Patty’s High School ring, a camel from my mother’s life in Saudi, a firefly for Masue, a charm from a necklace both my sister and I had, a quartz to represent my friends, 2 rocks were a gift from a grandmother in Ollantaytambo who told me of the uses and power these rocks had to the Incas, the round rock a the top, I picked up from the Beagle Channel to bring as a gift to the Arctic.

I knew they would be with me, as they always have been. What I did not anticipate, was the legion of earthly mothers who awaited me in South America. Literally from the first days starting from the Beagle Channel, mothers were there.

They love as mothers do: with protection, tenderness…and feeding us. Mending our clothes, giving us places to sleep and assuring safe passage but only after we ate something. Insisting that we call them once we arrived safely to the next town. You know, mom stuff.

Taking us into their homes, sharing their kitchen and hearths. They bake, give us jams, fruits, and breads. They sneak an extra avocado or five into our food supply. They run out from their shop doorways to slip a piece of candy into our hands or send their children to bring us a bowl of potatoes.
They take us into their hearts, giving us their confidence and blessings. The blessings are very literal; a “stop what you are doing, hands laid upon you and earnest words spoken to the heavens”, type ordeal.
They give directions, then walk with us to make sure we find the way.

They hug me to their bosom when I weep because it is all too much and I am tired and weak and scared.
They hug me to their bosom when it is all too much and I overflow with their love and faith and kindness.

A story before I sign off:
In one town, Neon was ill and while I went to find us a place to stay, she huddled on the corner of a sidewalk to rest. It began to pour. When I made it back, grandmothers were hovering and circling like condors.
“The poor thing!” the cried at me when they realized I spoke Spanish, swooping out from the eaves.
“She is too thin. Can’t you see she is cold?” they scolded.
“I told her to get under the awning and out of the rain but she doesn’t understand and is too weak to move,” another cried.

In fact, Neon was just being obstinate as she is of the “prefers to be left alone when ill” variety,.I managed to placate them and we hustled away.
“If you can’t find someplace, bring her to my house, I will have hot water for tea.” one called over her shoulder for good measure.
We literally CAN’T get away with not taking care of ourselves under the watchful eye of a continent of mothers.

This is a video for my mom as a thank you for her supporting us on Patreon. Meet us there!

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Ayacucho to Paucara

Written by Neon

Leaving Ayacucho, we walked past the bus station at the edge of town and down into a narrow river ‘quebrada’ then ascended a small mountain to cross into another river valley. It was a hot day, though thankfully a cool breeze was blowing through the valley as clouds built in the distance. We stopped in a town to sit in the shade and drink cool beverages before continuing up to the tiny town of La Vega. There was no hostel in town, so we asked about camping and were told we could camp in town, and they would keep an eye on us. As we wandered towards a place to camp, a local shop owner came up and offered us their neighbor’s house. We weren’t sure, but followed yet another stranger into their house. Continue reading

Herstory: Lourdes

Written by Fidgit

Lunch had been served, and the two other tables at the shop/diner had already left. Neon and I sat dawdling in the corner, discussing whether there might be a shortcut into Ayacucho, checking the GPS and comparing it to the land features outside. We wondered where the mewing cat behind a wall of beer crates was coming from.
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The Farmer and the Snake

Written by Fidgit

Climbing out of Andahuaylas, we diverted onto a stone aqueduct. We like the aqueducts; they follow a gentle grade. Following the narrow trail alongside the stone embankments overlooking the valley, the city inched further to our backs. A man dropped down from one of the many feeder tails. The colorful blanket and a sickle curved over his shoulder. Continue reading