Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day 11, Lake Titicaca con.t

This is Amantani in the middle of Lake Titicaca. I had emptied my bottle of water obtained from a spring at Machu Picchu and emptied it into the Lake, thereby connecting them energetically. Male and female energy. I felt a surge of joy! All was well!

It was Sunday, Mother's Day, and we were about to have an adventure.

Though it does not look very steep, but it was quite a climb from our boat to the house of our host family. I was the very last one. My chest hurt. I mean, I had serious chest pain. "Oh, no....please....not here" I was very clear that I did not want to have a heart attack here. Doreen and I had a room to ourselves...and real beds! Hallelujah. I soon learned, that was not nearly enough.

We had lunch soon. Each of us got a bowl of delicious little finger shaped potatoes and tiny fried fishes. I severed their heads and ate the rest. Dinner was served also in individual bowls...the same ones which had been washed out by hand in cold water. I was surprised to see rice, potatoes, and macaroni in my bowl. I was even more surprised that it was delicious! The Swiss man who was not winded and was not cold said that it was good to eat lots of carbohydrates in cold weather. For some reason, I briefly wanted to strangle him. I was not a happy camper. Breakfast for the survivors was fried bread. I heard that it was followed by corn on the cob.

Coming home.....We wished WE were.:-)

There were solar panels, and rough electrical wiring had been done. However, only one of us had a room in which there was a lightbulb. Silvia tried to entertain us by reading coca leaves by candle-light.

In the evening there was a dance at the community hall, and the custom is for each host family to dress their guests up in native outfits, and dance with them. Good idea! Keeps everyone warm....only the community hall was not anywhere near, and tackling the rocky steep terrain in the blackness was not appealing.

It was so cold, so miserable, that it was extremely difficult to keep from whining.....but, I didn't say all that was on my mind...only, "now, exactly WHY was it we wanted to do this?" We agreed that we were both home-sick. As we lay in our beds, I found myself describing my bathroom at home to her in every detail......All we had was a chamber pot for the night. (Oh, my God....I am so rich, so privileged! WHY do I need a bathroom that big?) The out-house was a long ways off, down stairs without railings.....It might as well have been in China. I was very grateful that Doreen was not pretending that she was not miserable, too.

Here is Doreen.....and, even the red roses on the bed-covers could not cheer us. It was COLD. The good news was that we were alive, we were already dressed....having slept in every piece of clothing we had brought....and, we were leaving!
There are some miserable experiences in life which in retrospect are fun. This is not one of those....though I do see the humor in it. Oh, I have a LONG way to go on my spirituality!

I had strong chest pain again, and this time with very little exertion. I was scared, but I did not tell anyone, choosing to keep my mind on calming myself.

Day 11, Lake Titicaca

The evening before our two day trip on Lake Titikaka,
Silvia took us to meet with Jorge Delgado whom I had "stalked" unsuccessfully for many months in order to arrange some time with him. And, here he is at last!
Though I was feeling quite ill, I am obviously happy to see him!

Jorge Delgado is known as an Andean shaman, healer, and mystic....the author of "Andean Awaking", and now an international lecturer.
However, he says he is "only" a chacaruna, a bridge person who assists others to cross from one state of consciousness to another.

I now had three new names, Chasta...meaning star,
Tiki, meaning flower, and a word meaning light energy, the essence of a star, from Mr. Delgado. Since my purpose was to have a very simple name, Mr. Delgado's choice cinched it for me. I am Chasta.
How cool is that? Renamed by Peruvian shamans.

The following photos look like postcards....but, I took them all myself. For me it was a step in time so far back, that it still boggles my mind.

Nearing the floating islands of Uros, our first stop at Lake Titicaca.

Our guide, Silvia, shows us how the reeds are peeled (just like asparagus!) and then cooked. Delicious!
Two women demonstrate how the reeds are tied together to form the islands which are constantly changing as storms rip them apart and they are retied. The women do most of the work, because most of the men have left the islands to go to work and live in Puno. Everyone is quite "heftig".....but, even though they work hard, there's not much walking to do on a very small, flat reed island.
Lunch, anyone? One moment I saw this little tern swimming in the lake, and the next moment she was in the stew-pot! She still had her head on, and there was no way I wanted to have anything to do with that meal. There are also many types of potatoes in the pot....and, most likely, a few tiny fish, and reeds.
The residents of Uros were very friendly, and we had no difficulty communicating through gestures and smiles.
This mother showed us the inside of her home, which...of made entirely of reeds. It contained one large bed, some kind of a rack from which hung a couple of changes of clothing for each family member....all looking exactly as you see here....and, a very small black & white T.V.!
Solar panels were used not for light....the homes were totally dark inside except for the light of the TV.....but, to keep their pride and ancient little TV going. It was tuned to English language black and white, and with lots of "snow". I had a flash-back to the early 50's, only
we had electric lights first.:-)

It still boggles my mind to think that people live on floating islands made entirely of reeds.....and that I was there among them!

It's on to another island (Amantani) where we will spend the night with a local family.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 10, Puno & Surroundings

The Amaru doorway was rediscovered by Jorge Delgado when he saw it in a dream.

One of the legends is that when the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in Peru and looted gold and precious stones from the Inca tribes, one Incan priest of the Temple of the Seven Rays named Amaru Meru fled from his temple with a sacred golden disk known as "the key of the gods of the seven rays", and hid in the mountains of Hayu Marca. He eventually came upon the doorway which was being watched by shaman priests. He showed them the key of the gods and a ritual was performed with the conclusion of a magical occurrence initiated by the golden disk which opened the portal, and according to the legend blue light did emanate from a tunnel inside. The priest Amaru Meru handed the golden disk to the shamans, and then passed through the portal "never to be seen again". Archeologists have observed a small hand sized circular depression on the right hand side of the small entranceway, and have theorized that this is where a small disk could be placed and held by the rock.

We three pressed our foreheads to the indentation....and I asked that it open for me....but we
remained in this reality.

Silvia, assistant to Jorge Delgado, is preparing a magnificent
despacho. It was all I could do to not grab the beautifully died alpaca wool in it. I hope Pachamama appreciated it as much as I would have!

Ceremonial bundle showing coca leaves and a condor feather.

Doreen is holding the offering, while Silvia pays her respects.

Silvia gave us an hour and a half free before meeting us again at the hotel for our tour to Sillustani. We spent it lying down for a half hour, and then walking into Puno for a soup lunch.
They make the best soups in Peru!!!

Cold. Desolate. At first, I hated it.....then, became fascinated as I relaxed into it and stopped fighting with it. The sky wasn't really blue....It was drained of color just as the landscape was. It was necessary to relax to be able to see the color. A perfect setting for a Steven King movie.

What the place lacked in beauty, it made up for in "strangeness".
I would love to have had the opportunity of being at Sillustani when I was feeling better. It looked quite "other worldly", and the energy was strong.
The rocks seemed to be alive.

This is what's left of an ancient sundial at Sillustani, and I strongly felt the presence of a great and wise energy.

For the most part, llamas and alpacas are taken to "pasture" in the early morning, watched all day by elderly women or children, and then herded back home. It's a job I can see myself doing!:-) This herd was being tended at Sillustani by a little boy and an elderly woman. I sat and observed while Doreen and Silvia climbed higher. The little boy was using a switch on the animals, and it was all I could do to keep from interfering.

I know everyone believes I have a special love for cats, but the truth is that I believe I could easily have been an Alpaca farmer in another time. I yearned to kiss every single one of them on their cute white nose! This one has not had its shearing, obviously. The wool, if it comes from the very first shearing is called "baby alpaca"....soft as a cloud....though babies don't have enough wool for shearing. I bought a couple of baby alpaca items, and when it's cold, I will happily remember these sweet animals.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 9, Cusco

We were the first ones in the door at 8:30 when the doors do Koricancha were opened. If it had not been for Cucho telling us that we HAD to go here, we may have missed it! Soft classical music was playing. For a glorious half hour we had the place entirely to ourselves! The energy which is at Machu Picchu, and in Cusco is especially strong here.

There were signs stating that photos were not allowed. I immediately squeezed off a few, first doing so surreptitiously, and then in view of the guards. This upset Doreen, I think, and I understood my daughter a bit better. I do not behave "appropriately". I realized that the fear might be that we would be asked to leave. I solved that by separating, so that Doreen would not need to suffer if I were asked to leave. :-) I don't follow arbitrary rules that I don't understand and which don't serve me. I don't understand why others do.....especially, without thinking.

Later, it turned out that all the tourists were taking photos!

I loved these creatures Doreen discovered in the circulating exhibit gallery upstairs. I'm sure that this one will some day be reborn as a doll....or, maybe I will combine them all.

Silver and Peruvian turquoise. From my favorite store inCusco, Maqui Arte. I purchased this bracelet in the last hour I was in Cusco, perhaps, forever. We cannot know these things.....and I was not going to leave it there forever!

We made it back to our hotel for check-out and pick-up to the airport in plenty of time. Our tour guide, was once again wearing a heavy scent, and dressed like Barbie. I wanted to take a photo, but was too tired to crawl out of the car.

We arrived in dirty, gritty Juliaca a couple of hours later, and were driven to Puno and our hotel.
At 12,000 ft. , it was definitely colder here.....and, also much, much grimier. People looked very different....The Aymara have flatter features from the Chechua. The Aymara are visibly also much less Westernized, and much poorer. Although not at all unfriendly, they are more reserved.....their faces more serious.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 8, Aguas Calientes

Exhausted from our day at Machu Picchu, I told Doreen that I was not up for returning a second day. I didn't tell her, but I fantasized just staying in bed all morning! She wasn't up for going back to MP by herself. Perhaps, she was tired, too.

We showered and had breakfast. Most of the hotels do include a breakfast of some kind. The coffee is thick and dark....yes, a spoon would stand up in it! It makes a wonderful drink if one uses is as a "starter", adding 1/2 a cup of hot milk. I noticed a lot of tourists preferring instant coffee! Amazing.

Aguas Calientes is reached only by rail, and it exists for one purpose only: to accommodate tourists on the way to and from Machu Picchu. Built into the mountain, with a fast running river below, it reminds me a little of a California mountain town.

It had grown tremendously in the year since we were last there. Or, had we just missed seeing it all last year? We spent the day wandering around, checking out the shops which all had the same things. One notable exception was a store with crystals, altar objects of all kinds from Buddhas to dream catchers and rattles. None of it was for sale! It was the shop owner's altar.

Time passed quickly. Soon it was time for lunch, and then we had less than an hour at the market stalls outside the station before getting on the train back to Cusco. We were assigned to what at one time had been the dining car. Tables! We rode backwards, and there were no curtains on the windows to shield us from the hot sun. On the other side of the table were two young Japanese ladies who, with two other friends, had done the entire Inka trail. When I asked whether they carried their own packs, the laughed. The four of them had a guide, 9 porters and donkeys, and a variety of support personnel. They had 3 meals a day served to them on white clothed tables, cooked by white hatted chefs! So incongruous! They even had a white tented toilet set up for them, and when they complained about just HAVING to wash their hair, water was heated and a shower rigged.

I was feeling sick, and so grateful to get back to our hotel in Cusco. We had big plans for the next morning.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Day 7, Machu Picchu

We rode the Vistadome to Aguas Calientes where we were met by our hotel representative and also the shaman's wife. It wasn't even 11AM, yet! Getting up early pays!

Within an hour of arriving at our hotel in Aguas Calientes, we met our shaman guide, Cucho, whose favorite phrase was "mui beee---ennnnn."
We quickly became very grateful for his presence as we slowly climbed higher and higher....well above the crowds. It was so beautiful! So peaceful!

Kucho (Juan de Dios Garcia)
Kucho is the principal shaman of Machu Picchu. As a young man he came to Machu Picchu to work as part of the rescue team. While working in the Sanctuary he was called by the spirit of Machu Picchu to train and work as a shaman. His calling took the form of a seven-day period of experiences that completely changed his life. Shortly after his calling, he worked with a Maestro and was later given the great responsibility as the principal shaman of Machu Picchu. Kucho is a powerful shaman, healer and expert in the mysteries of Machu Picchu.

It was Cucho's idea to set up this shot. I felt a little uncomfortable. Cucho was completely disconnected from us the entire time. His eyes were soft, always slightly out of focus. Looking for spirits? Or, stoned?.....not that it mattered.
Paying my respects to Wayna Picchu and to Macchu Picchu. I became a condor and felt I could fly off at any moment a gust of wind lifted me. This felt so real it scared me.

We sat in the shade, high up over Machu Picchu and performed a ceremonial cleansing. I had laid out my stones in on the bare earth, asking that they absorb the healing energy of the son. Cucho performed a long ritual which involved humming, soft singing, whistling, "cleansing" us first with the "whisk" and, blowing tobacco smoke on us.
We held the healing stones, we blew on coca leaves after placing them into a bouquet of four, two in the back, and two in the front. We, then released them into the breeze as an offering to Pachamama. I felt at peace, and very happy.

Here is Cucho's mesa spread out before him. Included are healing rocks, a bell, a rattle, a conch shell, a puma paw, and a well worn down "whisk"made from large dried leaves.

Getting up close with our shaman-guide, Cucho.

We saw Machu Picchu from much higher ground, and from a different angle we had seen it last year. Still, as magnificent as the site itself is, it is the energy here which makes it so extraordinary.
Here, I feel the presence of God more strongly than anywhere else I have ever been.

I rather like this picture of myself, hat-hair and all. This is how I would look were I athletic. :-) It had been a glorious day at Machu Picchu, and even better than last year's visit.

This was my favorite day of our trip!