Moving on up!
28.11.2012 - 04.12.2012
We arrived in Nazca, a medium size desert town about an hour inland from the coast, after a three hour bus ride from Paracas. Elijah is doing much better on buses already. When we got off the bus, we were bombarded by so many people offering tours, hostels, and taxis. They were in our faces and extremely overwhelming! All we wanted was to get off and get to our hostel that we had found online. Unfortunately we were told that these people will lie to get you to their hostel instead, so we can’t believe them when they say they will take you to the one you want. We were able to fend them off and walked to our hostel, only to find out the staff were out for two hours. Thankfully we were able to leave our bags at the hostel and go get some food because Jessica was starving! There was no meal on a 6 hour bus ride, aaahhh!
That night we just went back to the hostel and rested, as Tracy had been sick from something he ate. The next day it continued, so we just stayed at the hostel the whole day. We met a nice British couple taking a round the world trip also. They seem to have roughly the same itinerary as we do! We wondered how they are able to afford the trip, as they don’t plan to do any “working” like we will be doing, and they are seeing all the touristy sites along the way.
Nazca is famous for the Nazca Lines that ancient civilizations created in the middle of the desert. No one knows quite why they were created, and they weren’t discovered until planes were invented because you can only see them from the air. It seems very strange that ancient people would create such designs that can only be seen from the sky. A lot of theories include either that they had abilities to fly or they were in touch with extraterrestrials. We’ll probably never know! Unfortunately, we didn’t have any time to see them or anything in Nazca because Tracy was sick the whole time. Oh well! We enjoyed our time spent at the hostel with the couple that runs the place, Sonya and Jesus, who will be expecting a baby in January.
A few more odd things we’ve learned and experienced are the following. People here are strong and have incredible balance! We’ve seen so many women and men carrying heavy loads on their heads and backs. Jessica saw the lady who does the laundry at our hostel (they call it a laundry service, but really it’s an old woman on the roof hand-washing clothes) walking down the steepest and smallest set of stairs using no handrail and carrying a giant load of laundry on her head. It was amazing! Every time we walked on the stairs, we thought we were going to slip, haha. The only way we keep explaining how people live here is that they live in a different reality than we do. Just like Deepak Chopra, and other writers we’ve been reading, say your thoughts/mindset become your reality, it’s got to be true. We can’t believe what humans are capable of here. They also don’t seem to drink water much or need to eat as much as we do. It’s very strange.
We’ve also noticed that as we loosen up and become more relaxed, Elijah does too. We’re not sure if he’s just getting older and less fussy, or he’s feeling our energy and we’re all becoming a lot less stressed. Either way, he’s doing great! He’s actually adapting better than us. As we learn to better navigate this culture, we’re trying to do more meditating. It’s been difficult when on one end we’re just trying to get by and survive (find food and shelter) and then on the other end access this higher level of consciousness with meditating and practicing intentional living from the heart. Jessica was able to get in a really good meditation here in Nazca. Up on the roof of our hostel, while Elijah slept on her back, she let go of a lot of fears that she was holding onto. Afterwards, she felt refreshed and cleansed. We hope to continue releasing our fears and learning to live out of love.
After Nazca, we headed onto Arequipa, with a stop over in Camana, a small beach town, just to spend the night and break up the bus ride. The next morning, we arrived to Arequipa to meet our second Couchsurfing host, Rosemarie and her family. They were so nice to welcome us into their home, despite it still being under construction. Even though, it had three stories and numerous rooms, as they are continuously building for their large family. Here in Peru, there are no mortgages, so you just have to build your house as you make the money for it. They also had a small garden on the first and second floors where Rosemarie’s mother tended plants and Cuy (Guinea Pig) for eating. We were given a room on the first floor and about 10 blankets because it gets very cold in Arequipa at night.
Rosemarie is one of seven children, five of which still live at home with their parents. They all work, except for the youngest, Manuel, who is still in high school, to help support the family. We couldn’t believe how much they work here just to support one household; it really puts it into perspective with so many people in America living off of mortgages to have houses. Imagine if we all had to build as we go. That would be a much different America!
So since we were left at the house alone a lot of the time, while everyone was at work or school, we decided to check out downtown Arequipa. Arequipa is a city about 7600 feet above sea level and has 2 million people, being one of the largest cities in Peru. After leaving the quiet neighborhood of Hunter where we were staying, we were bombarded with a noisy, fast-paced metropolitan city center. At first, it reminded us of Lima, or any big modern city for that matter. Then after finding some of the more touristy areas near the Plaza de Armas, it actually became a little more manageable and peaceful. We eventually found some good places to eat and enjoy the city.
Over the weekend, Rosemarie had a day off, and offered to take us to these gorgeous waterfalls outside of Arequipa, in a small town called Sogay, with her boyfriend and cousin. She described it as a small hike that takes about an hour, and we would be back by noon for lunch. Well, after a 30 minute taxi ride to the outskirts of town and two hours hiking up and down the sides of mountains and crossing over a river numerous times, we decided to call it quits near a smaller waterfall. It was a bit overwhelming. We told Rosemarie that they should go on without us and we’d wait for them there. To be honest, it was downright scary at times with Elijah on Tracy’s back, knowing that one wrong footing on a slippery rock could be very bad. Thankfully, we were fine and found a much easier route back that didn’t involve crossing over the river so much. The time spend there was relaxing and peaceful. The water was a little too cold to swim in, but it felt good on our feet when we got too hot. Eventually we had to turn back as it took way longer than Rosemarie predicted and we were getting hungry. It took another two hours on foot to find a taxi and we almost got chased by a bull on the way; then the taxi we got in just kept picking up more people until there were ten people total in the taxi! Finally we made it to a restaurant for lunch. It looked a bit sub par, and we were weary of the menu items. They didn’t even have water, so we tried some purple corn juice and order a salad to split.
We have learned that our sensitive “western” stomachs prefer the higher priced tourist restaurants as we don’t get sick from them, so we’ve decided we’ll pay the extra cash to not spend our days in the bathroom. Sometimes in a new city, we’d end up walking around for 30 minutes or more starving, but unwilling to eat what was available to us. It’s been hard for us because good food is something we value so highly. It’s really unfortunate what most of the locals eat here. Basically, it is processed junk food or small restaurants serving the exact same thing (seriously the exact same thing, you’d think they’d get sick of it), rice, potatoes, and meat, which is rarely that tasty. We have really missed fresh vegetables!! Luckily, since we’re staying at a house here, we were able to go to the market to buy fresh produce and cook for ourselves. It’s been a life saver! We have had to forgo our organic diet, as everyone here uses pesticides and fertilizers. There are tons of stores advertising the use of chemicals for agriculture; it’s sad when a city like Arequipa, which has tons of space for growing crops, could be 100% sustainable, yet the system here has them exporting their produce to places like America. Even the milk from the numerous cows here goes the Gloria factory to be turned into boxed or canned milk; you can’t even get fresh milk here and there were milk cows across the street! Rosemarie said the farmers used to provide fresh milk to the locals, but now they all sell it to Gloria. There it’s evaporated, condensed, and enriched (or poisoned, in our minds). We’ve also become vegetarian for the time being. Yes, you heard us, Tracy is a vegetarian. We never thought we’d hear him say it, but it’s true! At least for now, that is.
Another thing we’ve noticed in the cities that we’ve visited so far is that they are not too different from America. The West has really reached even the smallest towns in Peru, selling Coca-Cola and candy bars. And just as people are in America “enslaved” to a system that continues to offer the allure of more money and stuff, it has also captivated the individuals here. Sometimes walking around, we feel that we just look like dollar signs to the locals. We’re just another way they can make an extra buck. The part that is different than America though is the spirit or attitude of the people. Even though they are working tons of hours, making just enough money to get by, and hoping to one day live “the dream,” they seem so content. Americans could go on and on complaining, drinking away their sorrows, or distracting themselves with television, iPods and Facebook, but here in Peru, the people don’t seem to do that. They appear to be content and happy with their lives, no matter what is going on externally. We’ve really respected that from the Peruvian people and hope we’ll pick up that attitude as well.
Anyway, we were planning on staying in Arequipa until Friday the 7th, but something Tuesday night resonated with both Tracy and Jessica that said we should leave Wednesday morning for Puno instead. We thanked Rosemarie and her family, and left for the bus station. We enjoyed our time there, but Arequipa didn’t feel like home to us. It was much too Western and modernized. And we felt that God, the Source, was calling us to move on. We’re just looking for somewhere quiet and simple, with community and good food, and where we can develop our spirituality. It seems strange that it’s such a simply request, yet pretty difficult to find in these times.
So we caught an early bus to Puno from Arequipa. Now we’re really heading into the mountains, as Puno is over 12,000 feet above sea level. It also lies on Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. We are very excited! And since we’re writing this a little late and a few days into our adventures in Puno, we’ll tell you now that it seems like things are finally starting to align for us spiritually. We already met so many awesome people just on the bus ride over here; you might say we were meant to be on that bus. There was a man Peter, who is traveling on a spiritual journey from Canada to the tip of Argentina on his bike. Then we met an awesome group of individuals traveling to Peru because they felt called here during this time of transition to a higher level of consciousness as predicted by the Mayans and other ancient cultures. Finally, we met a shaman named Inti, who will be holding a Pachamama Earth Festival from the 18th to the 22nd of December in the Sacred Valley. We were starting to wonder where we would end up on the 21st of December and now we know! And its works out perfectly because our upcoming tour ends the 18th in the Sacred Valley, so we’ll already be right here. It’s really exciting how everything is coming together! Well, we are getting ready for an amazing 10-day tour with Jorge Luis Delgado, a local “bridge person” as he describes himself, which is similar to a shaman. He will be taking us to many spiritual and sacred sites around Puno, Cusco and finally Machu Picchu. We’re sure we’ll have many, many more stories and adventures to come!