Before I decided to become an expat in Peru I did my homework first. I studied carefully all the promo materials related to the places that I consiered for my volunteering to find out as much as possible. Peru, Equador, Colombia… in each video the previous travelers shared their personal stories. And in each video for the question about what is the best part of their journey, all respondents gave the very same answer – the people.

After less than a month from my arrival I can put my name under those words without any hesitation. People are definitelly the most interesting, most inspiring an most eye-opening part of this adventure. Living in one house with other volunteers I am lucky to meet people from different backgrounds, with different experiences and life stories. More or less every two weeks the brand new delivery of fresh volunteers is delivered. If you add to that the locals that I had a chance to meet already, and the people that I’ve talked with in the way you will get quite a number. A group of people from which every single one thought me something new about the world, relations an attitude towards different things.

The last three days I’ve spent in Huaraz, a town which is basically a checkpoint for various excursions in Cordillera Blanca. I’ve taken one of those tracks to a lake on the altitude of 4650m above the sea level . And yes, I got to admit, the landscapes that I’ve seen were worth a thousand likes. Still, the thing that will stay in my hand for much longer time then the views were meeting two guys from Israel. Boys, who after two year obligatory military service set of on the trip across the Latin America.

RUN BOY RUN

Walking up Cordillera Blanca to reach Laguna 69 we had quite some time before reaching the top. Once in a while between the bites of insanely sweet King Kong waffle and mouthfuls of bitter coca leaves we talked down our compañeros on a trail. ‘so, where are you guys from?’ – my american buddy started with classic and friendly opening line. ‘Noooo way, that’s awesome!!!’ he followed with his specific teenage enthusiasm after the guys answered his initial question. Few hundred meters later (or couple yards – depending if it’s me or Michael who narrates this story) we also knew they have just finished their military duty and went to conquer the world. Michael kept going with the questions and as befits teenager, he didn’t really thought through if they are subtle. More than his question ‘so, have you guys been to war?’ was I surprised by the positive answer to it. On the other hand – why should I be surprised? Chinese proverb in it’s original version sounds “Better to be a dog in a peaceful time, than to be a man in a chaotic warring period” . Well, we definitely live in chaotic \ warring \ interesting times. I shouldn’t be surprised that the guys that come from the middle east have actually been involved in conflicts in their part of the map. On the other hand… damn…. I have never met anyone who actually went to war… and were about 10 years younger than me.

Both guys served in two wars. One in Syria and in Gaza. Both have seen the missiles coming in their direction. Both lost some comrades. ‘It’s bullshit, man. The war is just bullshit. Old men start the war, and you need to fight in it… that’s such a bullshit!’ Michael kept going with goodwill and pacifism. I though of the scenes from Forrest Gump movie and the confrontation of US soldiers coming back from Vietnam and Flower Power protesters. Who is right? Who is wrong? ‘We don’t have any other choice. We don’t have any place to go.’ The first boy with controlled calmness summed up the conversation.

The other one, with poor English (or maybe just restraining from this discussion), from time to time added some comments directly to his friend. You could tell that the matter of middle east crisis is not the best topic for a chit chat on a sunny mountain track. During the whole conversation I didn’t say a word. I had nothing smart to say. I still don’t. The whole thing did not last longer than reading this blog post from cover to cover, it will however stay in my mind for a long time. Those boys were unlucky to be born in the part of the world where they need to give up part of their lives to the war. Conflict with no perspectives for peaceful and long lasting resolution any time soon. They were however lucky enough to regain their youth after those two years, and come back to things that you’re suppose to do when you are young. Traveling the world, conquering the mountains and meeting dudes from Poland or US.

 

Leave a Reply