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Rendezvous in Peru With My Conscience

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By Gideon Resnick

When your mother asks you to accompany her on a 10-day trip to Peru, there are two natural reactions. The first being, "Wow, what a swinging time I'll have going to the Amazon and seeing Machu Picchu -- all the danger, blow darts, malaria, spectacle and vibrancy."

Then, proceeding on down to the second thought: "Christ on earth, I'm going to be with my mother for 10 days."

From the ages of about 5 to 10, family trips to places like Disneyworld are magnificent because you haven't discovered friends yet.

Not friends like the kids you play kickball with at recess or jump off of monkey bars with at Jewish day school.

Family takes precedence during these years because little tykes know no better. And seeing as my clan is spread out around the world from South Africa to kingdom come, when it came to family excursions, my mother and I hoofed it alone.

As a college student living away from home, I think I've come to understand even more how family relationships work.

Conflicts are simply reduced when family visits are less frequent. This correlation would be undermined the moment I agreed to travel mano a mano with old mommy dearest.

So what's a fellow going to do? Abandon the opportunity of a lifetime to experience a country akin, in my mind at the time, to a place in The Temple of Doom, just to avoid having to do so with my closest family member?

As immature as it seems, this thought did run through my head at times.

Vacations are now predicated on the notion that there will be friends around, and with friends come drinking, mischief and mishap.

Thinking about being in a foreign country without the opportunity to express myself in the same barbaric manner as I do on my own sounded like torture.

So it was with a certain degree of trepidation that I decided to whisk myself away to the land of the Incas, where the only sure thing that awaited me was the long-overdue heat.

Throughout encounters with alpacas, hikes up the Andes and smoke-ridden, 85-mph car rides through the streets of Lima, there were days that tried my patience.

Of all the moments that blurred together from that beautiful whirlwind of a trip, I best remember the sounds of jaguars howling in the Amazonian jungle, biting into a hunk of rotisserie guinea pig and racing to the peak of a mountain next to Machu Picchu.

But maybe the moments that have lingered longer are those when I forgot I was traveling with my mother and instead saw a friend beside me on plane rides throughout the country.

Sometimes it takes a foreign country to see the forest for the trees. As I get older and more cynical, I am still surprised at how some human interactions make me a better man.

Gideon Resnick is a Medill freshman at Northwestern University.

All opinions expressed in this column are solely the opinions of the columnist and do not reflect the views of The Daily Northwestern. If you would like to respond to the column, you may comment below, email the columnist or submit a 300-word letter to the editor to forum@dailynorthwestern.com.