Chopicalqui

Echoes of the Andes

Peru
July 2015

 

“When the sun first hits me high up on Chopicalqui, I know I am alive again.”

Before that? I was daydreaming that I was having a conversation with my grandpa, who passed away not long ago.

My grandpa had this charm when he sat down to share a life story with you: you would be moved, every single time. And for just that reason alone, I always looked up to him.

The truth is, I miss the man, this high class, honorable, traditional man. But even more so, I regret that I didn’t attend his funeral. I was across the world, in South America, 20,000ft in the air, climbing on Chopicalqui’s steep slope. There is no excuse for it; the only thing I can hope is that I can make up for it and ask for forgiveness with this: when I finally meet him again in the afterlife, this time, it will be my turn to share stories. Stories that took place on those mighty giants, within those narrow boundaries between horror and joy.

“So proud to be your grandson. So proud…”

“Look, dad, stars.” A boy is pointing at the sky. “Can you touch them?” He was five that year. “Yes, of course you can. But first, you should stand on top of a mountain.” “Why?” “It is closer that way.” His father lightly touched the boy’s head. “Oh.” The boy seems confused. Even though the boy had never seen a mountain, that night, the father planted a seed in him. And no one, including the boy himself, could have foreseen how that seed would take root, and later grow into something so much bigger than the boy himself. That boy? I am that boy.