Final Word (Probably) on the Odd Congruities between The Hobbit and My Trip to Peru

My husband and I were reading The Hobbit to our son, as some of you may recall seeing in earlier posts where I pointed out several ways in which the book seemed relevant to me (as I prepared for my service trip to Peru). Well, we almost finished reading before I left — got through the climax at least — but still had Bilbo’s return home to read. As expected, said husband and son finished the book without me. Boo hoo! So when I returned, I read the final pages alone.

Bilbo, after being knocked out during the final battle and thus unable to help his friends, returns to consciousness when the battle is over. “He was now weary of his adventure. He was aching in his bones for the homeward journey. That, however, was a little delayed….” Ah, yes. After being out of commission for a while in Peru, having succumbed to all manner of intestinal bugs, I, too, was ready to go home (and felt as if I had been of little use to my friends on the last part of the trip, especially). As you may imagine, going home (when one begins that process in rural Peru) is a long, drawn out process which necessarily includes things like completing inventory of equipment left behind at home base, bringing the group together to reflect and feast at the beach, taking all manner of public transport to get to an international airport, flying several hours, passing customs in the US, transferring to another plane, and getting home from Logan International.

A weariness set in for both Bilbo and me. By the time Bilbo returned to Elrond’s house, he “had fallen quiet and drowsy” and slept exceedingly long. The elves, in fact, remark, “Tomorrow, perhaps, you will be cured of weariness.” This week since I came back, I have gone to bed uncharacteristically early, sometimes on the heels of my ten-year-old son at 8:30 p.m. I have also eaten with voraciousness, clearly making up for the lost calories of my starvation diet in Peru (not that the food didn’t look delicious — I just couldn’t eat anything). Yes, I am now fully rid of my intestinal bugs, thank goodness, and my appetite has returned with all manner of cravings. For someone who has been doing Weight Watchers since October, I am, understandably, cautious about wild abandonment when it comes to food. But honestly, I have decided that for this week alone, I just wouldn’t worry about what I ate. I felt that somehow I needed to feed my body and soul, and I wasn’t counting points along the way!

In the end, Bilbo returns to his home in disarray. This is where our paths diverge. I came home to the three things I asked my husband for in a desperate email from Casma one day: (1) clean bathrooms, (2) a clean, pettable dog, and (3) a few food items that I knew I could eat to get me back on track (Activia yogurt, instant chicken noodle soup, pasta, applesauce). My child did not fall apart upon my return, as he has sometimes done in the past (though we found out Friday that he had NOT done the work for his book report due that day … or a whole host of other in-class work in January!) Anyway, I am deeply grateful to my husband for holding down the fort while I was in Peru. He did a great job of juggling a huge number of tasks.

Back to Bilbo…. The book does say that Bilbo became a bit “queer” after he returned home — that “he took to writing poetry and visiting the elves,” in fact. And, of course, he began writing his memoirs, “There and Back Again.” AH! Yes, I can clearly see the impulse to write and process the trip as well as the love of poetry that emerges from a personal encounter with danger and deprivation. The yearning to listen to the elves’ beautiful music and enjoy their feasting and merriment makes perfect sense.

In Montessori education they discuss the Fundamental Needs of Human Beings. Yes, food and water, shelter and clothing, etc. But also religion, friendship, and art are fundamental. Without these latter things, we cease to be fully human. I have not fully fathomed my reaction to this trip to Peru yet. As someone suggested to me the other day, I am still “filing” things away in my brain. I do recognize in me a much stronger attraction to art in all shapes since I went away. I might even call this attraction a clear and pressing need. While I was in Peru, too, I found myself searching for the beauty and found much of it in that place, most often in the faces of the people, but elsewhere, too.

I leave you today with some of those beautiful faces…










2 Responses

  1. Beautiful pictures (as were the ones the other day) and great post. I skimmed the post a little, though, as I am not to that part in the Hobbit yet (I’m at the part where they are all captured by the wood elves and Bilbo is planning their escape).

    Don’t worry about spoilers, though. I think 40 years or whatever, is time enough for people to have read the book 🙂

    Anyhow, good luck with your writing!

  2. Yeh, I tried not to include anything too revealing! You are getting to the part where Bilbo becomes really useful. AH!! To be useful 🙂

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