I’m living semi-off grid in Peru

Accessibility

It’s been two full weeks here at the compound in Sauce, Peru and I’m throwing in the towel and calling it quits!

The other day, cellular signal went out randomly and I missed an online appointment. My plan for a work assignment due the next day was placed in a precarious position.

So, I made a quick decision to hitch a ride into Tarapoto with Macarena two days earlier than I had planned just so I could stay in a hostel and get some WIFI to work on the assignment.

Pit stop for a picture. Ride into Tarapoto

I was planning to go anyway because that’s the closest ATM and I was down to my last 50 soles, which is about $10USD. And that’s the other thing, the closest ATM and it’s 2 hours away. I will never complain about running errands again.

I find myself thinking fondly on suburban America with their comprehensive shopping plazas. I used to bemoan the contrived and cookie-cutter nature of these glorified strip malls, where you’ll find a Target, Whole Foods, Homegoods, and a great local bagel place all within a few minutes of each other. But man, when it’s no longer an option, I see it in a new way.

Here, the simplest task is a whole event. Going into town for groceries involves a 35-minute moderately intense, albeit very beautiful, hike to the road then an additional 20-minute motobike — an hour one way just to get some onions. And you best believe with that sort of trek, I am stocking up on groceries.

Until I remember that I need to carry it all on the return hike, let’s put back some of the potatoes … It really calls forth my domestic planning skills. I think about what I’ll buy in town now and what I’ll buy in town later.

The accessibility is definitely the most challenging. But when I saw neighbors on the footpath, some of them old Peruvian women, making this trek into town for their daily livings, I’m reminded that while I’m mentally bitching as I hike up the mountain with my groceries, this is somebody’s way of life.

Imagining doing this hike day in and day out flips my perspective upside down on what “running errands” means. It looks different for everybody and trying this on is an unusual and interesting experience that’s introducing me to a bigger world.

Cooking rice OG style when the gas was out

Refrigeration

I noticed about a week ago that I haven’t seen much refrigeration. In fact, I haven’t seen any tiendas or stores with refrigeration. My home is also without refrigeration, a situation I’ve never encountered.

It makes one think about all the conveniences back home that are taken for granted. Initially, I felt more overwhelmed than I’d like to admit.

I thought, Oh my god, no refrigerator?! What will I do?!

Well, it’s actually pretty simple and doable. Every day I cook something in the late morning that’s enough for two meals and I finish it that day. Sometimes, I have leftovers that I then use the following day.

Because of the no fridge situation, I find myself buying produce and groceries that last a while. Things like garlic, onions, carrots, and cabbage with starches like potatoes and rice.

I don’t buy leafy and watery produce like greens (goes bad too quickly) or fruit because fruit feels heavy (it’s all about that weight to value ratio) but it suits my living situation and I’m all about living intuitively with my environment.

Fresh little eggs!

Sleep like a Bear

The domicile situation is very rustic. My bedroom is made out of earth and a stone floor. When the walls are made of dirt, it doesn’t matter how often I sweep, dirt just seems to seep out of the pores.

But it does make for an absolutely incredible sleeping situation. As soon as I walk into the room, it feels like walking into a cave. It’s 20 degrees cooler and there’s this beautiful musty smell like in a cave and an internal sigh releases a calming Ahhhh….

I fall asleep very quickly and then wake up very early, naturally with no alarm and actually feeling super refreshed like sleep is supposed to do. I haven’t gotten this kind of sleep anywhere else ever before.

Beautiful moth and Laguna Azul

City Mouse or Country Mouse

When I was finally hooked up to some WIFI at the hostel in Tarapoto, I searched for some places in the city to stay. I was grumbling to myself about Sauce and fiending for WIFI and convenience.

But by the next day, the grime and noise and collisions of people and cement and cars and honking in the city had me craving the simple compound on the hilltop overlooking Laguna Azul — the sweet smell of the wild grass and damp jungle and the light cricking of the nighttime bugs and the cool stillness of my cave room.

And so I faced that mountain again after a long trip of buses, feeling tired and dirty and ready for a nap, but with relish for the sweat and intensity. What a blessing it is to move and have strong limbs. And it truly is a beautiful hike across meadows and a stream and jungle, culminating in fresh winds at the top and a stunning view of the lake.

“Nah,” I said to myself when I got home and fed the chickens and ducks, “I’m going to stick it out here.”

I’m growing to love the challenge, it’s revealing parts of myself that can bend and be flexible and grow to meet the circumstance. It broadens my horizons to walk in another’s shoes.

Dreamy sunset

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