Fiction: A little black box to remember me by

The ride from Cusco city to the town of Chinchero was a beautiful and winding adventure through the magical mountains of the Incas. After spending almost two weeks on the coast, there was nothing that could make Ketut feel better than to adjust to the altitude and low oxygen assimilation of the Andes. The lightheaded feeling of being closer to the clouds was something Ketut could not compare to anything, except maybe reaching the summit of a volcano and looking over it’s steaming crater.

Ketut decided to take one of the public buses from Cusco to Chinchero instead of a private taxi. He sat on a window seat and suddenly the smell of ruda, an andean good luck plant was quite potent. Ketut had never smelled ruda before but he figured that the smell was coming from the big plant bundle that the quechua lady had just deposited on the floor as she sat next to him.

She put her feet up on her bundle with a sigh and a smile for Ketut. “Hola papito”, she said with a big smile. He smiled back as the bus gained speed after the woman and a couple other people had boarded and settled in the empty seats.

Looking out the window at the fluffy clouds and the glacier looming over the black rock mountains, he knew he was getting close to where his mom and abuela were staying with the weavers. His grandfather had told him, Chinchero was the best place to view the entire cordillera of the Sacred Valley, if the skies were clear you could even see the pyramid shaped peak of Salcantay.

Before leaving Lima, Ketut and his abuelo had shared a pot of coffee in the studio, his sisters were out as usual. The shelves in his abuelo’s art cave were topped to brim with books and sketches and notebooks and old art supplies, some looked to be really old. From one of the makeshift bamboo shelves, abuelo gingerly picked up a little black box that looked to be as old as any other thing in the room.

“This is your bisabuela’s memento box, it has her initials engraved in the back see? It’s been going from home to home for many years. When your father was a little boy, it made it’s way here with your uncle who found it in an old storage box in the old house in Magdalena. He knew I would like it and has been on this bookshelf ever since. I’d like you to have it so you can have something special from your Andean heritage. Take it with you to Chinchero and put away a little of the Andes for yourself in this little box.”

As he neared the bus stop at the edge of the town of Chinchero, Ketut took the camera out of his bag and asked the woman next to him if he could take a photo of them together. She was very glad to and smiled widely for the photo. When he got off the bus she waved to him from the window until he couldn’t see her anymore.

With the little black box in his pocket and his rucksack comfortably strapped to his back, he started the short walk up the paved hill. Ketut breathed in the crisp air, knowing that even if there were no volcanoes in Chinchero, he was about to have a very important week.


Ketut Jorge is a Balinese / Peruvian Volcanic enthusiast that travels the world with his family learning as much as he can along the way.