Romancing the Stones with Camellia Hart


Location: Peru & Bolivia

Novel in my bag: Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

Best of the trip: I did coca—a leaf tea. When we checked in to the JW Marriot Cusco and were offered coca leaves—chew or brew, your preference—the gravity of where we were hit us. Other than Lima, every place we traveled in Peru and Bolivia was around 11,152ft (3,399m) - 13,000ft (3,962m) above sea level. Coca leaf (not yet cocaine) tea helps prevent altitude sickness.

Worst of the trip: Luxury train ride from Cusco to Puno – 10 hours journey – seats, no births – runs on diesel – the smoke, a toxic choke hazard, lingered in the cabin the entire time. Avoid.

Foodie Highlights: We saw our first Alpaca in Cusco. It’s cute, cuddly and makes for a delicious burger. Some days I’m a vegetarian. The guinea pigs too are cute and cuddly. You pick the one you love the most from the playpen and hours later it’s your crispy dinner, a Christmas delicacy. I mostly survived on Pisco-Sour.

Hart_Peru_09In 2015 I found my destiny. For the first time ever I had a two and a half month sabbatical from work, so I prepared a checklist of some huge life goals. I wrote my first book, Chasing Eva, and sent it for the first time to my amazing editor in Canada. I ran my first 5K race in thirty minutes. I ate my first Krispy Kreme (meh!). I traveled to Czech Republic to hang out with family, to Netherlands to hang out with college friends, to Peru and Bolivia because I built Machu Picchu in one day…from the Wonders of the World puzzle my father had gifted me for my tenth birthday. South America had topped my must see list since.

This wouldn’t be the first time I crossed the equator. I spent my pre-school years in Tanzania. Our drive from Dar-e-salaam to Kidatu cut across a national park. Lions, zebras, giraffes, and elephants watched as we zoomed past leaving behind a storm of dust. My First Zoo had come to life, so did my love for travel.

Hart_Peru_010After taking a train from Cusco, Peru, to the ancient high altitude trail, my husband and I hiked breathless all day along the same path the Incas used to run messages across the kingdom. And then appeared the magnificent citadel. Photographs from this exact location make the cover of every travel guide to Machu Picchu.

Lake Titicaca is another stunner. Here the Uros people live on floating islands made from reed and root clods, and their adorable (but evil) children drown fish.

We crossed the border into Bolivia and after several military checkpoints arrived at the remnants of ancient alien mysteries. Nobody knows who (or how) cut the stones in Puma Punku at perfect right angles, or sculpted the stone faces in Tiwanaku that represent all races, including an alien. If nothing else, the elongated skulls in a ditch at the side of the road should make you less of a skeptic (the truth is out there).

Hart_Peru_07We neared the end of our travel with a dizzying flight over giant human and animal figures drawn onto the high desert plateau. The purpose of Nazca lines remains unknown, but the symmetric shapes make for wonderful photography.

We returned reluctantly to the airport in Lima, despite our next destination being Hawaii, it was still the last item on my checklist. Connected once again to the wifi, my phone buzzed. My editor had returned my book for the first time. I frantically scrolled through the three hundred something pages. She’d added fun notes throughout, but nearly every other sentence needed a change. I loved it! And that’s when my destiny unfolded. I added one more item to my list, become an author.

Author Bio
I'm a murderer, an intriguing woman, an enticing man, an evil child, a tarot card reader, a thug...and much more in my book world. In real life, I’m a techie turned author of romance. I live in California and have the best husband in the world. Together, we travel, we read, we binge watch anything suspense, sci-fi, crime, or soccer, we eat ramen, drink red wine and devour chocolate truffles.

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It started as a crush. Then a kiss. Then fifteen years of separation, and the agony of not knowing where or how to find Eva, the only girl he’s ever loved.

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