Choices and making them isn’t something I paid much attention to.
A lot of the time I’ve just winged it and in some ways it’s served me well.
I mean it got me as far as Peru, right? Then this big shift happened and it changed the way I saw myself and everything that was around me. What if my future isn’t something that happens on the other side of sleep, because that “future” is happening right now?
We’ve heard it all before, and it answers to different names. Someday,
one day, could have, should have...even tomorrow. A lot of 2018 for me was spent in retrospect about the last two years, and how I was convinced that I “had to heal myself” to move on. Then I realised that each time I chose to do things that made me happy, to love myself more, it was greatly influencing the life I was creating for myself. When you let go of judgement (both of yourself and others) it asks you address the last emotional triggers that keep you from flying.
Now, maybe it’s because I have a slight, unhealthy obsession with pizza, but it seems like the men I dated last year did too. Just like pizza, the men came in a variety of flavours. Looking back, the men I attracted were a reflection of what I thought was lacking in me. I was needy. Too readily available. Undervaluing myself. Though I’m glad to say that I’ve eaten more pizza than the number of men I dated.
People I’ve met on my travels often didn’t understand why I would leave a beautiful country like New Zealand to live in Peru. So, why Peru? I would answer that it was the mountains, the culture and a desire to learn Spanish. That’s all true of course, but it’s not the main reason. I needed mental space from dating. Back home, a lot of my friends were couples and although I didn’t resent it, I felt the pressure subconsciously. A single woman in her thirties. I chose Peru because the language, culture and way of life would take me out of my comfort zone and give me time to focus on myself. Here, I’m just a 35 year old traveler, albeit an undercover gringa.
New Year’s Eve was a low-key event - I fried some chicken, made a salad and headed to my friend, Martha’s apartment, along with our mutual friend, Liliana. Martha’s partner, Eduardo joined us too. He had lived in Australia for a few years and had been a guide in his younger years, so he and I would often talk about his life there, the food or he would give me tips on the surrounding mountains. We headed home around 10.30pm.
Back in our apartment, Liliana brought out a couple of ceramic plates with various herbs. She wanted us to clear the energy before the New Year, we even found some coca leaves and made three wishes each.
I wish I spoke more Spanish, I feel Liliana would have many stories to
tell the world, and maybe I could help her share them.
The fireworks began to go off before midnight. I ran up the stairs to the veranda rooftop and the sky was lit in flashes of technicolour explosions. Where the Huaraz sky is normally a black canvas over the city, that night it was a manic lightshow. I headed to bed not long after midnight - the fireworks were still going (and got louder) as I drifted off to sleep. Learning to sleep through loud noises is something I’ve become an expert at in Peru. It’s actually a necessity.
Noise isn’t always measured in decibels - sometimes it’s also about cutting out the crap from your life and knowing what’s important. It wasn’t hard to do that here because those who wanted to stay in my life did just that. Here, where there’s been constant noise all around, I have found peace within myself. As I watched the first sunrise of 2019, I took a deep breath and smiled. I had spent 2018 exploring the shadow parts of myself, and now, I’m through to the other side. It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I did it.
Stand tall, shorty, there’s no more holding back.
Ronna Grace Funtelar is a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and slam poet currently based in Peru. She is a hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.