Day 6 of our 23 day Peru Odyssey and we’ve had an amazing time exploring sacred sites around Puno and Lake Titicaca, experiencing the extraordinary qualities of the ancient (and modern) Peruvian shamanic way. It is amazing to realise how alive this shamanism is. Many of the people recognise the sacredness of this land, it’s ancient sites and their ancestors – it’s woven in to the fabric of everything from their clothing and jewellery to their food. Wherever you go their beliefs, rooted in the bedrock of the Andes, emerge as vibrantly alive as they must have been thousands of years ago. Peru is smiled upon by her deities so maybe it’s no wonder the place has a sense of benevolence.
There are 16 of us on this tour. Our ages range from early twenties to late fifties. We come from all over the world and we are different in so many ways, And yet our passion to live a life rich beyond money or status and closer to nature, her elements and her intelligence bonds us. So do the challenges which are inherent in a tour of this kind. We’ve had mountains to climb in our first week both literally and emotionally. Handling altitude sickness is a challenge all its own depending on how your body handles it. Some of this first week has also been akin to a pilgrimage, which by its very nature incorporates challenge.
Two powerful things have emerged. One is that being on an ‘outer travel inner journey’ like this brings the participants together like a deeply caring family. Whenever someone needs help hands reach out with big hearts behind them. The ‘cinnamon roll’ hug was born to express this, where the person needing support is wrapped in the centre of a spiral of people. As sweet a sensation as a cinnamon roll too! The second is that even when you’re on a sacred journey lightness of spirit, laughter and both the sublime and the ridiculous are never far away. This is not a sacred journey for those who believe spirituality should be serious and correct.
It was a long drive from Lake Titicaca to Cusco. On the way we had the chance to get
some all important llama and alpaca photo’s as we stopped for lunch. We arrived after dark and could only see the tiny cobbled streets in the old part of town where our delightful hotel was situated. The following morning we could appreciate the magic of the setting with the mountains all around us. Our wonderful guide Amaru, who almost bursts with excitement as he shares his knowledge and wisdom, took us on a tour of the important landmarks of Cusco, giving us ample opportunity to spend yet more money on the most fabulous choice of things to buy. The quality of what’s on offer here is astounding and it’s almost impossible not to part with far more than you ever intended.
One of the young local artists had painted images which inspired his imagination through taking ayahuasca, a sacred plant medicine known to give extraordinary psychedelic visions. A couple of our group loved them enough to buy them rolled up in cardboard tubes to keep them safe. Leaning over a high wall to take in the view of the main plaza not too far away, one of these tubes rolled off and fell into an enclosed garden 25 feet or so below. Oh well, never mind, these things happen. But we’re a family now and each one of us has gifts to share….
Over the wall went one of our crew, climbing down the sheer wall as the rest of us watched in surprise and horror. Moments later he re-emerged and handed over the retrieved tube to great applause. Our hero!
Time for lunch. One of us had his birthday and was clearly missing celebrating with his wife and children. After we’d ordered our food a Peruvian group of musicians appeared and played Happy Birthday on pan pipes, Peruvian guitars and drums. A slice of chocolate cake topped with a burning candle were delivered to the table. Sometimes you just have to celebrate with the family around you. We hope it did the trick.
We have many more experiences to come, more mountains to climb, and more life to love and live. We’ll keep you posted.
Bye for now, Francesca