‘Are you dying them one at a time?’ I asked Wendy, as she carefully ministered to my eyebrows. I was at Espiritu Salon and Spa as part of my pampering preparations for a month long sacred journey to Peru. At a fraction under 5’ 2” tall the beauty bed had to be lowered for me – as Wendy kindly pointed out I wouldn’t want to exhaust myself before tackling Machu Picchu!
A couple of years ago having my eyebrows tinted and waxed was never a part of my beauty regime because I didn’t have one. Since becoming a nomad in January 2013 and after butterflying around for a few months I’ve become part of a wonderful family who just happen to own the above mentioned hair salon and beauty spa. So I’m not really a nomad anymore but I have become very adept and used to living on very little. I’m also getting used to being pampered and treated like a veritable queen, even if the two sound diametrically opposed.
So here I am after seven weeks of preparations having my eyebrows done (I must say the arch of them is beautiful!), my hair cut so its easy to manage particularly in the 7-10 days I’ll be spending in the humid heat of the Amazon Jungle. Wendy has made me look Julie Christie glamorous and although I shan’t try to emulate this while I’m away it’s fast becoming my signature look here in the UK. I’ll collect my Aromaworks Face Oil sometime this week which I know will be fabulous on my skin with no horrid chemicals.
Apart from glamming up for this trip I am fully conscious of the journey I’ve signed up for. It’s not a trek but we’re spending about 16 days of our 23 day tour travelling around many of the most fabulous sacred sites in the world which are mostly at altitude perched up in the Andes. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and even the fittest can get altitude sickness up at 4000m of rarified air. Machu Picchu itself is possibly the lowest at 2400m with Cusco being an elevated city of mystique at 3400m. I can’t prepare for how I may feel which means it’s sort of out of my control – arggghhh!
My seven weeks of preparation for the Andes have included a very comfy pair of Skecher walking shoes with the perfect sole to allow me to tread effortlessly across stony trails. Hertfordshire is pretty flat so even though I’m less of a couch potato and have enjoyed capturing my walks across local farmland on my MapMyWalk iphone app, I don’t feel anywhere near ready for steep slopes. But I’m happy that I feel fitter than I was and at the same time far more vibrantly energised (some of the time anyway!).
After a London walk of 2.5 miles from Highgate to Kentish Town the other day in my cheap trainers I decided to get some gel insoles. After all I won’t wear walking shoes all the time. When the man in Boots told me to wear them in for a couple of weeks before going and to expect some pain I assumed he was pulling my leg. He wasn’t. After one stroll for less than an hour I could hardly walk the following day. Apparently because these insoles have an arch support as well as cushioning they can alter the way I walk and impact my posture. Follow their advice if you choose to do the same!
The last 7 days of this sacred tour have a whole different raft of challenges. In the Amazon jungle it will be phenomenally hot and humid between 28-35C. Now 21C is getting warm for me. Above that and I flush like beetroot and melt like ice. As I can be a bit of a control freak imagine how I’m handling the thought of surrendering to the sacred plant medicine Ayahuasca. I’ve often wondered how I’d handle using a virtual reality headset. Now don’t get me wrong – I would LOVE to play in different realms and dimensions but I can’t see what’s going on around me in the so called ‘real world’ when I’m in a virtual one. With Ayahuasca it won’t be so much a virtual world as an experience different to this ‘normal’ one and one which requires me to surrender to in order to get the gold of the plant medicine’s teaching.
The best I can do to to prepare for the jungle then is have a head torch so I can see where I’m going at night mainly for when I need to purge from the brew, and still have both hands free. And my favourite of all purchases…ta-dah – a Shewee and Peebol! Now if you think they sound like characters out of a recent childrens TV show think again. Think being a woman and having the flexibility to pee like a man. Now you’re getting it. The Shewee is a plastic extension I can use to pee and the Peebol is a pocket size port-a-potty which can handle up to a litre of fluid. I’m almost wetting myself with excitement! I do have to practice however before I’m out in the field, so to speak.
So my suitcase is ready to be packed for the cold of the Andes nights and the heat of the jungle day. One week to go. A few last minute things to buy. A bit more technology organisation needed for camera and tripod. And then I’m away.
All of a sudden it’s landed as being very real and very intriguing….and even though I have these anxieties I know what I’d really love is to jump headlong in to the flow of the experience, getting every ounce of juice I can from such an extraordinary opportunity.
I shall keep you posted through this blog as well as through Outer Travels Inner Journeys.