You leave the farm through the gate and go up the road, where you can probably catch a moto. A moto is a motorcycle-tricycle with a seat in the back for a passenger. The moto takes you to the gas station. At the gas station you can catch a collectivo taxi. For the equivalent of $2, you will be driven an hour through the Andes back to the city. If there are no collectivo taxis, you can get on a bus. For the equivalent of $0.60, you will be driven two hours through the Andes, turning down back roads to stop at random people’s houses, sitting in the bus for ten or fifteen minutes while it idles with no explanation.

The bus will arrive in Cusco, which will seem almost unbearably urban after a week in the town that is really a collection of farms, which is outside a town that is really a single intersection of two dirt roads with two corner stores, which is outside a town that is maybe half the size of one Brooklyn neighborhood. In Cusco, one line of the purest white powder you’ve ever tasted will motivate you to pack up your large backpack and wait for dawn. It is so pure that you will go hours without feeling that nagging despiration for another line that creeps up after fifteen minutes in America, so pure that when you stop doing it, eventually you can actually go to sleep, instead of to a place where your jaw grinds and your skull shrinks slightly and your eyes dart in the dark until the only solution is more, more more, and a day spent scraping yourself off the soles of your own shoes. You will feel like a superhero packing a backpack, a superhero returning to her home planet. If you had a few more lines you suspect you might not need a plane to get there.

You catch a taxi to the airport. Everyone else there seems to be in some departing tour group. They are dusty from the Inca Trail. They are exhausted from their Third World Adventure. Italian tour group. German tour group. Middle-aged European men, with their names carefully lettered on tags on their backpacks, waiting in line, bewildered as sheep. Women in sensible sweaters, grimly gripping their passports and walking sticks. You pop one of the Xanax you’ve hoarded for the plane and get in line.

You beep at the metal detector. You always beep. The security agent insists you are wearing a belt. She pulls your clothes this way and that. You’ve been wearing the same ones for a week, and the funk of travel wafts from your pockets. She turns them inside out, and you are glad you patted yourself down for roaches before you left for the airport. They never find the thing that makes you beep, but they always wave you through.

Xanax is a godsend to coach air travel. You fall immediately asleep and stumble into the Lima airport, realizing, upon burping, that you have consumed a ham and cheese sandwich, and yet do not recollect this. This is why people are advised not to self-prescribe painkillers. Another Xanax obliterates the four-hour layover and the flight to Costa Rica. Again you burp, and realize in horror that you’ve also eaten airline chicken. You’ve long ago made it a practice to be unconscious in airports, one way or another. You prefer to enter airports in a state of such sleep deprivation or tranquilized grogginess that you will curl up under the chairs at the departure gate. Reading a paperback will not do–the only way to pass through airports is half-dead, a zombie. You clutch your iPod like a plastic teddy bear; it rests on your chest, singing its digital lullabies all four thousand miles you travel.

In each successive airport there are more Americans, more irreverent teenagers, more bratty children, more fussy-skinned women, more tall, swaggering men, more impatientience, more clever gadgets, more expensive-looking luggage. You are getting closer and closer to home.

You are wearing your filthy army pants, a black t-shirt, a black fleece jacket covered in dog hair, a snow-white furry alpaca hat that dangles like fringe in your eyes, aviator sunglasses and mud-encrusted hiking boots. Sometime last week, you gave up on underwear. You can smell the evidence of everything you’ve done on you like an olafactory photo album. But you know that soon the clothes will be in the laundry and the whole experience will be catalogged in digital photo files on your laptop. The role of traveller is just one more place you’re passing through.

You’ve been given an unfortunate aisle seat on the flight to New York. You fall into thick sleep before the plane takes off, and the Spanish-speaking couple stuck in the two seats next to you spend the flight trying to rouse you so they can get to the bathroom. You fall asleep again before they get back. “Senorita, senorita,” they politely whisper until you fling yourself into the aisle so they can pass. You are still wearing your aviators and fur hat when they shake you awake in hot, muggy New York.

JFK is empty at 2 a.m., an almost calming oasis of buzzing flourescent lights and cycling baggage carousel. You are waved through customs and thirty-four hours later, a taxi that costs twenty-five times as much to travel the same distance as the one that got you to the airport in Peru takes you to an apartment where one month’s rent is equivalent to two years in the last house you slept in. You eat an avocado that costs fifteen times as much as the last one you ate, drink water from the tap without fear of ingesting microbes, flush toilet paper in the toilet without fear of destroying the plumbing, strip off the clothes that smell of tobacco and dope and fire smoke and dirt and sweat and unfamiliar beds, and wait for the sun to come up.

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