A Travellerspoint blog

Realizations and Reflections

Moving On...

So we’ve been traveling for almost three months now, and we have learned so much about ourselves and exactly what it is that we’re looking for on this journey. We basically jumped head first into the world, after being cooped up in our American “box” and now we’re seeing things with much more clarity. First of all, we’ve realized what our priorities are in life, and what we really need to be happy. Family is an obvious one; the three of us are very much connected and when one or more of us are sick, it’s a huge drain on our small family system. But to further that point, we also know that we need extended “family” too. This doesn’t necessarily mean blood relatives, but we need community that we consider family around. It’s really hard to take care of all facets of your being when you don’t have others that you can rely on. One obvious area that has been lacking for us is our relationship, as in Tracy and Jessica’s bond. We always have Elijah with us now, and even though we love him so dearly, there are times that it would be nice to be just the two of us to connect in a way that doesn’t include a baby.

Next, we’ve come to really, really value health and good food. It’s amazing how much being sick can change your perspective on things, especially when it’s your sweet baby that has had diarrhea for two weeks. There were times when both Tracy and Elijah were sick, and Jessica was ready to book a ticket back to anywhere in America to just have decent sanitation and good water/food right now. Of course, we persevered because really the food/water in America isn’t really that good; it may not make you sick today, but probably sick in 10 years. Then again, they’re poisoning the food here too with chemicals and RoundUp and such; it may too make you sick in 10 years and sick today, boo! For example they put Fluoride in the salt here in Peru, stating on the back of the salt bag that it is good for children’s health by preventing mental retardation and increasing intellect. If you know anything about how awful Fluoride is, you’d know this is a load of crap! It’s very frustrating how the people here are being tricked and trained to believe this stuff, just like they’ve done in America and other Western nations already. We really wish we could find an oasis where fresh organic food is produced and clean drinking water is available, and we wouldn’t have to worry anymore about being poisoned by the ones in control. We’ll keep looking…

Another priority we’ve realized is how important it is for us to have nature and wildlife around. It’s strange here, but there are no wild animals or many trees in the Sacred Valley of Peru. Tracy really misses animals (that are not pets) and has realized that wherever we end up, it will be somewhere that includes wildlife to view and to hunt or fish. There are fish here, but again the Urubamba River has been polluted so much that you wouldn’t want to eat anything out of it. There’s just tons of garbage floating in it, and that’s only the stuff you can see!

Finally, we’ve realized what kind of community or environment we’d like to live in. We really want an environment or community where everyone is heard and there is no central leader, but instead of group of individuals that make decisions. For example, right now we’re staying with this guy, Michael, helping to take care of his dogs and house. There are also volunteers here who help take care of his small farm. Up front, this sounded like a great opportunity. The farm is beautiful, the kitchen and house are very nice, there’s good organic food, and we get to stay here for free! What could be bad about all that??? Well, we realized quite a bit, haha. The way Michael organizes and communicates to us and the volunteers is basically like mini-America Michael-style, where whatever he wants goes and if you don’t fall in line with his way or don’t allow him to mold you to his way, you basically don’t matter to him. He seems to like mid-20 year olds who are still searching for what they want, and he can use them to start businesses, which is his hobby. Listening to their farm meetings every morning is like listening to the CEO of “insert random corporation”; basically, it’s really, really draining for us. One of the main reasons we left America was to escape commercialism and materialism, and now we’ve found ourselves caught right in the middle of this guy’s huge plan to make tons of businesses all over the Sacred Valley in Peru. And it’s all about money and the bottom line and the market and blah, blah, blah….. it makes us sick. And since we don’t fit into his mold of business schemes, he’s been pretty rude to us (and he thinks we’re neglecting his dying dog, oh well). We’ve decided we’re leaving here soon for somewhere tropical! More on this later!

That brings us to our next point. Beyond realizing our priorities, we’ve realized we are free!! Free to go anywhere in the world! We have the whole world at our disposal and its liberating. We are never stuck! And it’s an amazing feeling! I hope that more people wake up to this realization. We thought with a mortgage and bills that we were stuck in America and in Kansas City, and that just wasn’t true. We really do have control of every situation we are in. Of course, actions do come with consequences, like we let our house foreclose, but that’s only a bad thing if we cared about our credit scores and getting another mortgages or credit in the future, which we definitely won’t be doing any time soon. We also realized that there are ways of making things manifest with intention, and with letting God guide your decisions. We don’t need to be tied to a “job” or to money. We have let go letting money decide or determine how or where we’re living. And it’s refreshing! We’ve realized that in America, so many people are tied to money and let it decide how they go about their lives. When you let that go, you realize how abundant your life really is and you can let Spirit or God govern your choices in life. If you let that happen, you will always be taken care of.

So with all that said, we are leaving Peru and flying to Tampa, Florida....... wait a minute, you're probably thinking why the heck are we flying back to the States!?! Well, it's only temporary, we think. Tracy's parents are there, so we'll be visiting them in their condo near the beach. We're imagining awesome weather, laying by the pool or beach, and just relaxing for awhile after a whirlwind tour in Peru. Of course, we could get sick of America quite soon, and in that case, we'll head south to Mexico, Guatemala, or who knows where (but somewhere tropical). If we aren't totally sick of America, our plan is to trek across the US visiting only intentional living communities. Just in case, you're new to that lingo, an intentional living community is a group of people living sustainably, self-sufficiently, and sometimes off the grid or semi-off the grid. They do this by way of growing their own food, producing their own energy, home schooling their children, etc etc. Some communities also share finances. Basically it's the same as a commune; that term came out of the 1970's, but typically that name has a negative connotation associated with it, so we'll stick with intentional living community. If you're more interested, check out ic.org. Anyway, after exploring Peru, we're definitely more focused on where and how we want to live, and now we just need to continue working on our inner happiness and raising our consciousness, despite our living situation. We do know that true happiness does come from within, not from any outer experience, but it sure does make it a whole lot easier when your outer situation complements the inner one. So we'll continue looking and learning! See you on the beach! Chao Peru!
DSCN1070.jpgDSCN1077.jpgDSCN1091.jpgDSCN1092.jpgDSCN1121.jpgDSCN1134.jpgDSCN1138.jpgDSCN1151.jpgDSCN1139.jpgDSCN1167.jpgDSCN1176.jpg

Posted by jessp2386 15:22 Archived in Peru Comments (2)

Cusco and Beyond!

So we were going to talk all about each and every day that we spent in Cusco, but just recently Jessica had an epiphany that this blog is not about that. We’re not here to tell a timeline of our events or everything that happened; we’re here to talk about life and soul searching, and sometimes certain moments in time and ideas are much more important than others. So with that said, here is a very, very brief update to bring you all up to speed… then in the next posting, we'll get into some deep stuff :)

We got to Cusco after an eight hour bus ride. It’s a beautiful city with many Incan and pre-Incan ruins that many of the old Spanish churches are built on. We still felt like tourists with dollar signs above our heads for the rest of our tour, it was extremely frustrating, and we were happy to finally be done after Machu Picchu. We saw some amazing ruins in Cusco, like the Temple of the Moon, and then went on to the Sacred Valley to see Pisac and Ollantaytambo, which have huge stones that are so perfectly cut and fit together, it is unexplainable by modern standards. Lastly, we went on to Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, Elijah got sick for the first time on our way to Aguas Calientes (the town at the base of Machu Picchu). He had a slight fever, diarrhea, and vomited once. We decided not to go up to Machu Picchu with our group at 6 AM because it was raining a lot, but waited until he was doing better around 11 AM and the rain had stopped. We only had a couple hours up there; however, it was still amazing and very expansive. The most impressive part was the location of the ruins; to fathom how and why the Incans (or pre-Incans) would built such a site in the middle of the jungle on a mountain is very difficult to conceive.
DSCN0704.jpgDSCN0723.jpg
DSCN0741.jpgDSCN0748.jpg
DSCN0812.jpgDSCN0864.jpg
DSCN0877.jpgDSCN0883.jpg
DSCN0888.jpgDSCN0902.jpg

After our tour ended, we head to a Pachamama Earth Festival on December 20th and 21st. It was located in the Sacred Valley as well; Tracy was able to participate in his first yoga class and a ceremony to celebrate the 21st. There, we ran into Sol, Luna, Skitch and Ryan again. We also met some other amazing people there too; it was a great couple of days. After the festival, we headed back to Cusco and Skitch, instead of going back to California with his friends, decided to stay in Cusco and arrange plans to sell his possessions in the US. We ended up hanging out with him, Nancy, and Maggie from the festival for about a week in Cusco. We also met up with Jessica’s cousin, Luke, finally after being in the same country for over a month. He was staying with a host family just outside of Cusco and taking some Spanish classes, as he waited for his girlfriend (now fiance!) Courtney to arrive.
DSCN0952.jpgDSCN0968.jpg
DSCN0975.jpgDSCN0977.jpg

We were staying in the San Blas district in Cusco, which is known for their artsy, hippie scene. As we explored the area, we looked forward to better living. We knew we didn’t want to keep living out of hostels and city life was getting to us. We started looking into communities in the Sacred Valley, and ended up at one called “El Molle” in Pisac. It’s sort of a travelling community, with only one person living there permanently, but they have a couple gardens, a horse, a community room, and a kitchen. We decided to stay there for about a month, so we can rest, relax, and figure out where our journey will take us.
DSCN0769.jpgDSCN0780.jpg
DSCN0994.jpgDSCN0995.jpg
DSCN1008.jpgDSCN1010.jpg

So that brings us to now. We were in Pisac at El Molle for three weeks, and now are in Calca, a smaller town about 25 minutes from Pisac, and we have enjoyed our down time. Jessica couldn’t believe how much she missed cooking and baking that she has been doing it non-stop since she got here; she’s made everything from Tikka Masala to Cinnamon Rolls to Granola Bars and it’s been wonderful! Baking at this altitude (8,000 feet above sea level) has made things a little more difficult though. Luckily we were able to learn some tricks from a local guy, Jose, who bakes bread for a living, and now we can successfully make yeast breads here. Cinnamon Rolls, yum!!
DSCN1039.jpg

Now that we’re at a place where we can actually think for a moment, we’ve been contemplating what exactly we’re doing here in Peru. We know we don't just want to travel to travel. We don't like living out of hostels and constantly moving. We want to be somewhere for awhile, but we weren't sure if that "somewhere" was here. We've also met numerous people along this journey who are settling in Peru and a lot looking for somewhere to build community. However, we don't know if we're ready to "settle" and build a life here; we just realized there's a whole world out there waiting for us! Yet every day more and more opportunities open up to us here, from talk of cheap land to working with the locals on permaculture projects. It's really exciting and exactly what we want to do. But its also hard to make a decision to put down roots in the first place we've traveled to. We feel a pull in both directions, one to move on to Argentina and one to stay here.

Anyway we're putting that dilemma aside for now. We realize we really just need to "let go" and let life take us on a journey, and everything will work out the way it's supposed to. That's a lot easier to say than do though! We did finally decide to stay here for awhile, at least one more month, maybe three. Now we’re staying at a small microfarm in Calca, called Casa Girasol (or Sunflower House in English). There's only about one gringo (white guy) that lives in town, and we're going to live with him in his house to help take care of his dogs, clean and cook a little. He also has about 5-10 volunteers/wwoofers (in a separate house) that live on the property who take care of the farm. We're really excited because he seems to love farming and food just as much as we do!
DSCN0926.jpg
DSCN0932.jpg
DSCN0933.jpg

Well, stay tuned! We don’t have internet where we are staying (hopefully soon!), so it may be awhile until the next posting…

Posted by jessp2386 08:45 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

Puno Continues: Part 2

DSCN0446.jpg
First, we want to begin with explaining a bit about our tour. So we stumbled upon it one day before we left, after hearing about Jorge Luis Delgado from our midwife, Sarah, who had been on a tour with him in Peru 10 years ago. The title of the tour was “Peru Portal Tour 12/12/12,” and it was about bringing in the new era of consciousness that the Mayans and other cultures have predicted. Also on this tour, we got to see many of the ancient sacred sites in Peru, like Machu Picchu (more on that later!), so it sounded great to us! And no, we don’t think the world is going to end, but we do believe that people are starting to “wake up” to realizing that this world holds a lot more than modern science and every day life would let on to. We also believe that indigenous cultures and ancient civilizations had technology, knowledge and powers that the majority don’t have today. And we believe this new awakening is based on love, as opposed to money, power, or achievement. To support this, we’ve already met so many people traveling and living in Peru that are completely changing the way they are living (like us!) to live more in harmony with nature, God, and each other. It’s quite inspiring!
DSCN0596.jpg

Okay so as we said last time, we had just started our tour on December 8th, and were already slightly disappointed in our hotel. We are still learning to let go of expectations, as we had very high ones for this tour. So as we roamed about the hotel, we began to meet other members of our tour group. It was actually quite confusing because as we found out, there was more than one tour company that individuals booked through, so everyone’s tour was slightly different with some starting the same day as us, some started a few days before and some a few days after. We later learned that Jorge, our “tour guide” (he was never actually our tour guide to any site), had about 4-6 different groups that he was orchestrating over the following weeks. After eating lunch that first day, we learned that we had a small group of about 15 people that would be led by Jorge’s nephew, Broz. He was actually very knowledgeable and we ended up enjoying our time with Broz much more than the few moments we spend with Jorge. Jorge seemed to just be the organizer of all these groups and appeared very ‘commercial’ to us; he was very short with us (meaning Jessica and Tracy specifically), but others, like our friend Justin, he seemed to connect with more. We didn’t really mind because we met so many amazing people in our tour group, it more than made up for the fact that Jorge wasn’t what we expected.

That first day was so filled with positive, exciting energy that Elijah actually only napped twice that day; and if you know this kid like we do, he normally naps at least four, sometimes five, times a day! Yet he wasn’t even fussy; he just loved meeting and interacting with all the people. We also got to spend some time meditating; the hotel had a labyrinth and some beautiful meditation areas outside with huge quartz crystals everywhere. It was very peaceful.

The next day and the first official day of “touring,” we went to the Molloko Vortex, south of Puno. On the site, there are 4-5 different chulpas which are these huge stone cylindrical or square towers. The individual stones that create the chulpas fit so perfectly together they don’t even need mortar! Many locals believe that this site was built by the Incas as a cemetery, but we were told it was a sacred site much older than the Incas, built to facilitate the releasing of our heavy energies. So we did a ceremony to cleanse ourselves and to rid ourselves of any bad or heavy energy we were holding onto and give them to Pachamama, Mother Earth. We both had a very good experience there, and were able to let go of some negative feelings we were holding onto.
DSCN0449.jpgDSCN0457.jpg

The morning of the 10th, we woke up for breakfast and all of a sudden, Elijah grabbed Jessica’s banana and started eating it! Before this, he never had an interest in food. Later that day, he also ate some sweet potato and regular potato. That day for touring, we went to Copamaya, a sacred mountain on the coast of Lake Titicaca. We climbed very high up the side of this mountain to do ceremonies at three different altars, representing the Snake (lower world), the Puma (middle world), and the Condor (upper world). Initially Tracy was very afraid of the climbing because he has always had a fear of heights since he fell off the high dive when he was seven, but during the first ceremony he let Pachamama have his fear and he climbed fearlessly to the next two altars. It was another great day!
DSCN0468.jpgDSCN0491.jpg

The next day, we went to the imfamous Aramu Muru doorway. It’s a “doorway” that has been carved into the side of a cliff with two inverted pillars on each side of it. The history behind it is that Aramu Muru, one of the last Incas before the Spanish took over, had the Golden Disk, a sacred object from the lost continent of Lemuria. And to keep it from the Spaniards, he hid it in Lake Titicaca, then he himself disappeared through this doorway and entered another dimension. Now we didn’t disappear through the doorway, nor did anyone from our tour group, but we did experience a huge amount of positive loving energy there. It was very intense and wonderful. There was definitely a feeling of connectedness and oneness among everyone there and everyone in the world. Afterwards, our small group came to pray together, but Elijah decided he was hungry right at that moment, so Jessica went to step away. However, everyone encouraged her to join in by sitting in the middle of the group circle and breastfeeding Elijah there. It was a very peaceful and loving prayer, and Jessica felt even more connected with Pachamama, Mother Earth, as she realized how important the motherly role is in everyone’s lives.
DSCN0501.jpgDSCN0504.jpgDSCN0525.jpgDSCN0533.jpgDSCN0531.jpgDSCN0546.jpg

Finally the day came, 12/12/12, and we were to do a ceremony on Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca to usher in the new era. It was a beautiful sunny day and we spent it on the beach of the island. Most everyone in the group reported intense energy and love during the ceremony. It was cleansing and refreshing. Jessica did spend most of the time trying to make sure Elijah didn’t eat too much sand though; however, she didn’t regret not being able to participate. Rather than separating meditation and prayer from everyday life, we’ve come to learn that life itself should be a meditation, which really means being present in every moment. It has definitely changed the way we look at our time spent taking care of Elijah; he really is amazing and we feel lucky to be his parents. After the ceremony on the island, Tracy participated in an Ayahuasca ceremony with a shaman from the jungle of Peru named Jesus. He had to fast for the whole day other than water. There were a total of 12 people in the ceremony on 12/12/12(the number of people was not planned). Tracy drank a dose and a half, as he vomited first out of the group and might not have had the medicine in him as long as necessary. He felt many strong feelings of love and interconnectedness. He didn’t have the strong visions that some experience under Ayahuasca. It was a very pleasant experience and he came out of it with the message that he is perfect the way he is and there is much strength in silence. He was told that he doesn’t have to perform outrageous feats or have amazing spiritual experiences to be doing what he is meant to do here. The shaman reported that Pachamama (Mother Earth) was very happy with us after the ceremony and stated that several hummingbirds had circled throughout the room. Tracy was also told by another participant that she saw Pachamama place a flower on him when he was in a trance. It was all very interesting and it provided much inner growth.
DSCN0556.jpgDSCN0571.jpgDSCN0560.jpgDSCN0570.jpgDSCN0575.jpgDSCN0574.jpg

On our final day in Puno, we visited Sillustani, another site with many large chulpas, similar to the Molloko Vortex, but this site was much larger. There feelings of love, unity, and oneness resonated within our group again. It was another great day of inner reflection and meditation. On a very different note, Elijah got his first tooth! It actually came up in the morning and then by the end of the day, went back down. Apparently that can happen. Don’t worry though, it will make it’s appearance again soon!
DSCN0628.jpgDSCN0614.jpg

So as our time in Puno neared an end, we looked forward to the many more wonderful experiences we would have as our tour continued in Cusco and Machu Picchu. But before that, we celebrated with the different tour groups at our hotel. We all enjoyed live traditional Peruvian music and dance. And Elijah went to sleep on Tracy’s back in the Ergo, so we were able to stay up later than normal! It was a great night spent with our new multicultural spirit family! We wish we could tell you all about each one of the amazing people we met on this tour, but that would probably take too long because their each that special. So we’ll have to summarize a bit! We really felt like we all were meant to be on this tour together; it was like we were family from the beginning. We miss you all so much already (we apologize if we forget anyone!): Joanne, Adan, David, Justin, Bonita, Paul, Rita, Liza, and Hildegard! Also, we miss everyone else who was part of the other tour groups, like our Aussies, Judy, Vicki and Sue, as well as many others, Lino, Leslie, Alan, Broz, Noel, etc. we’ll be seeing you all again someday as we make our travels around the world ! Stayed tuned for more on our tour in Cusco….
DSCN0641.jpg

Posted by jessp2386 14:24 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

Puno: Part 1

The adventures continue!

Aaahhh! We don’t even know where to start with this blog entry! It’s been three weeks since we last documented anything, and we have had so many amazing experiences! Anyway, we’ll try to gather our thoughts and go step by step, so you too can experience this spiritual path with us. However, it might take us a few blog entries to get it all out. Here goes Part 1…

Well, as we said earlier, we had an awesome bus ride from Arequipa to Puno. Everything started falling in line spiritually. First, we met a group of individuals, Sol, Luna, Skitch, and Ryan, traveling from California to Peru for the 21st of December. Instantly we connected with them on many levels; however, they weren’t planning on staying in Puno, which made us a bit sad that we wouldn’t be able to talk with them more. Instead they were planning on heading onto Bolivia right after the bus ride. But then after 6 hours on the bus and a bit of food poisoning, they decided to stay in Puno a couple of nights. We weren’t happy that they were a little sick, but we were glad that we’d get to spend some time with them in Puno. Also on the bus ride, we met a shaman named Inti, who has a spiritual center in Yanahuara in the Sacred Valley and is holding a Pachamama Earth festival from the 18th to the 22nd of December. It was perfect because our tour ended on the 18th in Machu Picchu and we didn’t have any plans for the 21st, so we could go to the festival! We were very excited! Finally, we met a 70 year old guy named Peter sitting next to us on the bus, who was traveling from Canada to the tip of Argentina on his bike. It was very impressive and amazing. He also teaches yoga and meditation, so it was wonderful to be able to talk to him about his journey, both spiritually and physically. (Check out his blog at yogipeter.com).

Anway, after the awesome bus ride, we arrived in Puno. Finally we found the first place in Peru that we really liked! We made it to the mountains and we finally felt a feeling of “home.” Puno sits at about 12,500 feet above sea level and is right on the coast of gorgeous Lake Titicaca, also known as a sacred lake where the Incas originated from. We ended up going to the same hostel as Sol, Luna, Skitch, and Ryan, but that night, we didn’t get to hang out much because they were all sick and Tracy had an awful headache, probably from the altitude or lack of caffeine.
DSCN0412.jpg
DSCN0425.jpg

After drinking some coca tea to help with the altitude and some rest, we felt much better the next day. It was a beautiful crisp day; we walked down to the pier on Lake Titicaca. We also watched a festival here. It seems like every day they are celebrating something! Also, here every Peruvian woman thinks Elijah is cold, and they keep saying “frio, frio” to us. However, we know that he has always been a hot baby, sometimes sweating when he nurses even. We try to explain to them that he’s not cold, but we continue to get comments about it everywhere we go. They bundle up their babies here like it’s the Arctic, but it’s really about 55-60 degrees, so we just keep him in a long sleeve shirt and a hat. That day we explore the main street of Puno’s tourist district and they have so many awesome little cafes and restaurants. We’re so excited to finally find some delicious food. We even find organic coffee from Peru! Muy rico! There was this one café that we continued to go back to each day for our afternoon coffee. All the walls were covered in vinyl records and hippie posters; it was awesome! Almost every place we go in Puno has posters of Bob Marley. We definitely like the laid-back atmosphere of Puno.
DSCN0427.jpg
DSCN0432.jpg
DSCN0435.jpg
DSCN0439.jpg

After a few relaxing days in Puno, hanging out with Sol, Luna, Skitch and Ryan, we have to leave for our tour. They leave for Bolivia, but we all agree to meet back up at the Pachamama Earth Festival in the Sacred Valley in a few weeks. Our tour is just 10 miles south of Puno in a town called Chucuito, known for their stone phalluses. We arrive at our hotel and meet a couple in the lobby, Steve and Tiara. Steve is from New Zealand, and Tiara is from the US, but she is living in Cusco. They were on their own “tour” of the sacred sites around Puno and Cusco. We learned that they also have a non-profit called Children of the Sun (check it out at childrenofthesun.org) and will soon be doing a world tour activating people to help them (and the world) reach a higher level of consciousness. We told them about the festival as well.

As we settled into our hotel room, we asked the staff there where we could do our laundry. They told us we couldn’t, but they had a laundry service. They charged by the item, and it was expensive! There was no way we were going to pay for that, so we ended up hanging our laundry in our room’s window to dry. Next we went to take a shower, only to find out that our hotel doesn’t have hot water in the middle of the day! After our semi-cold shower, we went to eat lunch and found out (after the fact) that our hotel charged 5 soles (about $2) for a small bottle of water, which is about 4 times as much as anywhere else in Peru. We were learning that we had some expectations for this hotel and tour and quickly they were being shattered, so the lesson was that we need to let go of our expectations, especially those based on material things. We learned that we still have an attachment to money, and because we paid quite a bit for this tour we expected much more than we had staying in hostels. And as our tour continued, we continued to let go of more expectations that we had. We’ll explain more on that later. Anyway, this is all for now. We’ll write about our tour in the Part 2: Puno continues.
DSCN0434.jpg

Posted by jessp2386 11:20 Archived in Peru Comments (5)

Nazca and Arequipa

Moving on up!

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.
DSCN0317.jpg

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. DSCN0316.jpg

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.
DSCN0323.jpgDSCN0322.jpgDSCN0321.jpg

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.
DSCN0345.jpgDSCN0338.jpgDSCN0396.jpg

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. DSCN0350.jpgDSCN0351.jpgDSCN0357.jpg

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.
DSCN0369.jpgDSCN0368.jpgDSCN0375.jpgDSCN0370.jpgDSCN0376.jpgDSCN0387.jpg

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.
DSCN0400.jpg

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!

Posted by jessp2386 06:23 Archived in Peru Tagged mountains food peru arequipa baby milk backpacking nazca cows couchsurfing spirituality plaza_de_armas modern_city Comments (2)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 23) « Page 1 2 [3] 4 5 »