Memorializing Ashley in Machu Picchu

Memorializing Ashley in Machu Picchu

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If you know me, you know that I'm usually trying to chase after one of the items on my so called bucket list. Usually it's a means of adventure or simply a way to avoid boredom. Visiting the New 7 Wonders of the World, including Machu Picchu in Peru, is #66 on my list, and the one that I've made the most recent progress towards. There's so much I can share about my trip. How it was tough, but never impossible. How the ruins were breath taking but it was the non-stop laughs with my newly found friends that really made it hard to breathe. How it was an experience of a lifetime, but not one that's right for everyone. There's so much I want to share (and I will) but for now, I'll tell you why it wasn't just about chipping away at an item on my list. Our first glimpse of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate

In the words of my sweet friend, Ashley, on her blog post, "My dear friend Sejal has, at the ripe old age of 25, been working away at a bucket list. It's quite inspiring--she is one of the most adventurous, fun-loving, and vivacious people I've ever met in my life, and her excitement about life and the experiences it has to offer is contagious. So contagious, in fact, that I started my own bucket list." One of my favorite parts about having a list is sharing it with other people and helping them accomplish something on their list--it's such an incredible feeling knowing that you're someone's inspiration and an even more powerful feeling when you're able to help them reach their goals. Ashley and I had talked about going to Machu Picchu together, but before we could plan our trip, she unexpectedly passed away in January. Her passing reminded me to find more joy, embrace and own my emotions and was a painful reminder that we truly have no idea or control over when our time is up. Needless to say, I was even more motivated to make this trip.

We made it to Machu Picchu

This trip was more than a bucket list adventure. It was more than just a chance to visit a new country and soak up a new culture. It was more than testing my physical limits and doing something way, way, outside of my comfort zone. (I, Sejal, camped and went 4 days and 3 nights without a shower. Say what?!) It was about all that and more. It was about memorializing a friend, doing something for someone who couldn't and feeling her spirit and support along the way. Ashley's mom sent me some of her ashes to spread in Machu Picchu after I completed the trek. I found the perfect spot for them: the view has a peek of the ruins and also looks over a field where a bunch of llamas were grazing and just hanging out. She'd love it.

Ashley's view

I have more I want to share about my adventure and my trip (including telling you about the incredible friends I made and the tips I'd have for someone else who wants to take on this journey)--but my emotions are getting the best of me. Instead of trying to shove them in a box and lock the door, I'm going to own them. I'm going to take some time to remember my dear friend and the trip we completed together and all of the wonderful people who supported me and sent me good vibes.

It was the trip of a lifetime and one that we had wanted to do together. It was Ashley that rooted me on when my legs felt like lead. It was Ashley who would find a way to calm my breath after a tough incline. It was Ashley who never let me give up and never let me regret my decision. I'm just grateful that I was able to do it, for both of us.

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More to come.

The Cast of My Machu Picchu Adventure

The Cast of My Machu Picchu Adventure

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I Applied for My Dream Job, and Didn't Get It