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Strangers Abroad

Jan 17, 2018

On the morning of my father's 58th birthday, I woke up at 4 in the morning on a full bed next to an Austrian boy I had met 16 hours ago in the middle of the Andes. Thomas hopping into the bus within the first few moments of beginning my trek to Machu Picchu. Thomas hoped into the bus and I were the first on a bus from Cusco to Hydroelectric. He was young and present, one of the most mindful people I had met. We kept each other company while enduring a 6 hour whiplash of a ride throughout the Andes. That ride was one of the most diverse of rides I had ever taken as I witnessed how the temperature can so quickly contradict itself, constantly switching between elevation and landscape. At some points, you are surrounded by snow, and then 30 minutes later you could be in a lush forest crossing over a waterfall. Once we got off the bus, we walked for two hours along the train tracks that would bring us to Aguascalientes or the entrance to Machu Picchu. He was someone I quickly felt comfortable walking in silence with, not needing to fill the in the patches of history that happened before we had met, but we allowed ourselves to meditate amongst the wild pyramids sculpted from tectonic shifts, water, and wind. I was relieved once we got to Aguas and wanted nothing more than a place to stretch my sore back and shoulders from my bags digging into my body for the past two hours ( I didn’t pack well). We found a cheap hotel to house us for the night with only a full bed. Our relationship had clearly been established as platonic and neither of us blinked at the idea of sharing a bed with a stranger.