The past four days have presented a whole new rhythm. With Molly now settled back in her own ‘casa’, my path each day is no longer dominated by cab rides back and forth from the hospital. I now spend a little more time each morning enjoying the uniqueness of the casa I have been a guest in, watching the sun make its presence known each morning,
setting into another level of familiarity with my hosts, Walter and his papa, Señor Felix, so generous in their greetings and enthusiasm for each day.
In a breakthrough conversation with Walter, each of us with our smartphone translators in hand, I wasn’t surprised to learn that Señor Felix has Alzheimer’s. Each morning I have been sharing the kitchen with him as he methodically opens and closes drawers, sorting the same things each day, gently talking to himself, hovering. I recognized the simple act of just sharing a space in comfort with another human being without a word being spoken. I shared with Walter about my years of caring for Gramma as her brain also began to change, endeavoring to express appreciation for how elegantly he seems to be caring for his papa from what I had been witnessing, the consistency of respect and gentle reminder that characterizes his communication with his father. A connection was made. A little later, Walter came to sit with me in my bench as I was knitting, wanting to tell me a bit more about the history of their casa. He began by telling me there is buried treasure under the courtyard that is built on top of Incan ruins. We talked a bit about the spirit of Pachamama here, and the power of the metal and bone shaped by another time that lies deep with in her. He shared that he has actually seen the light of this treasure bubble up through the ground like moonlight, at exactly one o’clock in the morning one day, pointing to a place right across from the door to my room. And then we laughed together when I said this must be why I sleep so well here. With very few more words, I understood this was a sacred place.
When I pass through the thick wooden door of this casa that has been my home for the past eleven days, the trajectory to Molly’s apartment now leads me through the core of history in this ancient Incan city and down streets that offer uniques views,
through the Plaza de Armas, and across a myriad variety of squares and public places to be. The past four days have also been a continuous festival of dancing, parades, magnificent floats honoring the spirit of Incan culture,
and music, all to celebrate the history of the Incan Empire in these days approaching solstice. Each morning I have descended into a world of color and ceremony, proud faces carrying the multicolored flag with reverence, traditional costumes of all ages practicing and preparing to participate in the parade that lasts all day.
Molly’s casa is an apartment buried within a collection of apartments that gather around a different sort of courtyard, filled with all manner of simple daily life, laundry, potted plants, and the voices of many generations that traverse across and up the two flights of stairs to her entrance. Her apartment has a bank of windows facing south that bring the midday sun streaming into a solarium type space, filtering through thick plaster arches into her living room. We take a late morning walk out in the neighborhood each day to feel this sun directly on our bodies, seeing where this insistent sun makes art along the way.
We stop to share a coffee and carrot cake in one of her favorite little places,
then return to sit and enjoy the afternoon light here too, visiting and sharing a midday meal with friends, knitting, simply resting in place. One of Molly’s many food cravings while she was in the hospital was for shrimp scampi. What she really wanted was the rich buttery sauce to dip fresh bread in. Yesterday was the the day. We bought six loaves of crusty bread from her neighborhood bakery during our morning outing, Her boyfriend Ivan returned from the market with tiny fresh shrimp and a bagful of red radishes. For an hour, the small kitchen held the energy of Molly, Ivan and and his brother Bryan peeling shrimp, squeezing fresh lines, finely mincing an entire head of fresh garlic, and thinly slicing radishes for salad.
At the last moment we decided to make small pieces of the chicken breast waiting in the refrigerator. Then they all left to prepare a table for the meal, while I added the garlic, lime juice and some white wine to melted butter in a pan just big enough to hold the shrimp, chicken and extra sauce. Missing corkscrew sent Molly over to a neighbor to open the bottle of red wine. Food was placed and oh, what a sight.
We truly feasted. A meal to remember. Every last piece of bread was dipped in the rich sauce, each tender piece of chicken and shrimp and lightly dressed radish consumed with mmmmmm’s and ahhhhh’s and the silent lip smacking noises of food being thoroughly enjoyed.
Followed by lazy hours of a Cusquenean afternoon. As Molly and I parted in the evening for return back to my casa, we hugged fiercely, knowing it would be one of our last before my flight home, pulling away with smiles and “it was a good day.”
I walked home through the last hurrah of celebration, streets filled with food vendors, shops and restaurants bustling with business, the plaza now teeming with what must have been half of Cusco there for a big rock music style concert, only this was the rocking rhythm of traditional Peru bassanova style that left the crowd swaying to its rhythm. Back in my room at the casa, I imagined the ancient Incans also swaying in celebration in the energy of earth below me, as the boom and crackle of fireworks signaled the end of the celebration.
My flight is out tonight. I can’t even think of that last hug with Molly without tears, without a swell of emotion that will hopefully settle as I find my rhythm again in my very own casa in Massachusetts.