In my lifetime, I’ve been lucky to visit off-the-grid places where I’ve experience nature at its finest; far away from the madness and clutter of everyday life. Spaces where I found solitude and experienced a powerful oneness with nature and slept like a baby.
As a child, I often fell asleep on a flat, hot rock in the middle of the Arizona desert waiting for a spaceship to rescue me. I felt certain they had left me in the wrong place with the wrong family.
As a young woman, I made a childhood dream come true when I followed Heidi’s footsteps on a trek through the Swiss Alps. That night I slept in a picturesque chalet, nestled high in the hills above Hergiswil, Switzerland with a stunning view of mountains and lakes. An eiderdown quilt kept me cozy and warm.
I once napped atop the ancient rock fortress of Masada, Israel, after a rugged dawn hike to the top of the plateau. A most delicious rest.
While crossing the Indian Ocean, in monsoon season, much to my surprise sleeps were deep with lots of telling dreams.
I knew I had experienced the most unusual places to sleep in remote locations until July of 2016 when my husband and I toured Peru’s Sacred Valley with a group of other tourists.
Our bus stopped alongside the Urubamba River, near a railroad track, and our guide suggested we get out and look at a structure across the river. He pointed skyward to a strange shape stuck to the pristine mountain side.
“What is it?” I asked.
He said it was a “sky lodge” attached to the sheer rock face—one of three transparent sleep capsules suspended above Peru’s Sacred Valley of Cuzco. Each capsule measured 24 feet long, and 8 feet in height and width, equipped with four beds, a dining area, and a private bathroom with a big window view across the Peruvian landscape. Solar panels powered Interior lighting.
I borrowed a pair of strong binoculars and inspected the strange sight. The pods looked like space ships stuck to the cliffs.
“How do guests get there?” I asked.
He explained. Lodgers must first climb 400 feet up the cliff face—a rough climb, with 400 iron rungs and a steel cable fixed to the rock to help climbers navigate the toughest parts to reach the sleeping pods.
“For the intrepid adventurers,” a fellow tourist remarked.
I could imagine the spectacular views over the cliffs of the mystical valley and the Urubamba River flowing below. To watch stars explode across the night sky would also be awesome.
But I couldn’t imagine the nerve-racking climb, much less a good sleep while dangling from the side of a sheer cliff. What about the roaring winds? I wondered when a strong gust of wind blew past. “And just how does one get down?” I asked.
“Zip-lines, seven hair-raising zip-lines,” a fellow tourist (in the know) chimed in.
For foolish thrill seekers. I shuddered, shook my head no, crossed my heart for the thrill seekers, and crossed the sky lodge adventure off my bucket list. No dangling sleep necessary.
Excerpt from Susan Joyce’s book in progress Journeys—Short Travel Stories from around the world.