Much like Nepal, hiking in Peru is a flower lover’s paradise. Everywhere we turn, orchids dot the fields, rows of lady slippers like Christmas lights, bulbs bright and festive, illuminating the landscape with their dainty pendulums of Frida Khalo sensuality.
Exotica like this comes around in massive floral displays where I come from, each petal and flower commemorated for its delicate beauty, while here, they are borderline profane, armies marching us uphill and back down, overwhelming us in sheer number so as to become expected, typical.
I remember my Nepalese guide BIjay telling me that they feed the oxen these types of flowers when they corral bushels of grasses and weeds, indiscriminate between the blade and the bud, for there are literally thousands of these folded beauties in his corner of the Himalayas.
To return, then, to an orchid and petal paradise on the other end of the globe, now in the Andes, and find their numbers equally outstanding and overpowering is to come full circle and marvel at how what one deems special and noteworthy is only a matter of vantage point.
Nevertheless, I finger and tap and sniff the bulbous slippers like the velvety splendors I esteem them to be.