What an adventure to take off in an airplane and land in Peru! How many things I take for granted in my life!
o Like electricity; it was on in the jungle only from 5:30 pm until 10:00 pm.
o Like hot showers; we did have hot showers in Ollantaytambo on the third and fourth days and then on the fourth and fifth days in Aguas Calientes (one would hope so considering the name means "hot water" named for the hot springs).
o Like flushing toilet paper down the toilet (I thought that was why they called it toilet paper); the sewers in Peru are unable to deal with toilet paper so it goes in the waste basket next to the toilet.
o Like living at an altitude where I can easily get around; in Cusco, at over 11,000 feet elevation, my heart rate as I was sitting on the floor in the airport to conserve energy was the same as when I am doing aerobics at home.
o Like things being logical and able to be figured out; Machu Picchu was beyond figuring out how and why people made that incredible site so high up in the mountains.
o Like having the lane lines on the street actually mean something; the drivers use their horns and go where there is space (for me it was bumper car style without the bumps).
o Like the freedom to own property; one of the shamans we worked with in the jungle had his children threatened by a company wanting to take over his private land for logging.
o Like learning so many things from books; our tour guide in the jungle had learned so many things about the monkeys because he lived in the jungle.
We landed in Lima and the next day flew to Cusco at 11,300 feet. Immediately outside the airport terminal, there were vendors selling hats, dolls, and most importantly coca leaves and coca candy. Chewing the coca leaves apparently opens up the vascular system to allow one to more effectively adapt to the altitude. We arrived at the hotel to be served coca tea and to be sent to our rooms to rest and acclimate. I was easily convinced.
We met for a late lunch. Immediately outside the hotel doors were the throngs of vendors waiting for our group of about 40. Since we had name tags on, they were calling us by name. My desire for connection meant I was looking at these people and then engaging them. They then took my offering of connection as desire to buy. They locked on. I was mis communicating. I thought my intent was so clear! Luckily, at the restaurant we were given tips on communicating with vendors. "Maybe later" means you will buy from them when they see you again. They will search you out to find you. Looking at them with any interest engages them. I learned that lesson quickly. From then on it was, "No, gracias," unless I was interested.
We visited sacred sites in honor of the local celebration of the Seven Crosses. We headed to the Sacred Valley where we went to Moray (an amazing creation of terraced concentric circles that resembles a great stadium), Pisac (where we did some energizing exercises and a water ceremony on my birthday), and Ollantaytambo (where we did some night exercises which allowed us the chance to fully enjoy the brilliant stars and Milky Way without the contamination of electricity).
A train (where we sat in front of the large window and watched as the engineer honked at those on the track in front of us) took us to Aguas Calientes below Machu Picchu. Then a bus ride on the 14 switchbacks up the bumpy dirt road to the wonder of Machu Picchu. My questions swirled. How did they build this? What was the purpose to have it so high up? How many lived here? How long was it owned? What was life like? What was each part of purpose (everything seemed so intentional with all those likely cut stones and four foot thick walls)? What were the people like? After three days exploring Machu Picchu, my questions and awe only increased.
Back to Cusco, then to Puerto Maldonado and the jungle. The week in the jungle was serene. Life slowed. We explored internally and externally. At Eco Amazonia we met Elias. Just like the other workers there, Elias would serve food and then be our tour guide. The employees all did multiple tasks.
Off to Monkey Island. The island had various kinds of monkeys. There were the social varieties and those who live alone. Elias, now our guide, seemed to know all they monkeys. "Here comes a grumpy male. Be careful to keep him off your shoulders." "There is the female who bit me the other day." "There is the mother with her baby clinging to her." "She takes care of the baby for a year and then it is on its own." I could feel Elias' connection with the monkeys. Elias had lived in the jungle to learn and it showed. So different from learning about things from books. He had a passion and a connection.
There are more stories and learning. This is just a tidbit. Overall my trip to Peru bought me to a place of gratitude. I am grateful to live in this abundant world filled with many people and much life with what I am connected. And you are one of those people. Thank you.