I’ve been in Peru two whole weeks and have to keep reminding myself I’m not on holiday, I’m on a working sacred journey with Outer Travels Inner Journeys who I’ve been working with since late Feb this year. Joining this 23 day spiritual adventure is a way for me to understand the business and collect some great content to add to our website and social media. So it’s not a holiday. It’s actually quite hard, and for me in particular. You see I’m the oldest in the group and the least fit by far. Many, if not all, of the group are in to hiking, and even though they’re still finding the steep Andean slopes and the altitude a challenge, they have more physical resources than I have. So not only is the going getting tough, but there is the extra challenge of feeling like the weakest link. I am learning to accept helping hands with grace and I am also learning not to rely on them, but to keep pushing myself so my stamina and strength increase. I’m looking forward to the time when I don’t quail at the thought of climbing lots of steep steps up mountains!
Our last night in Cusco was a dreadful one. I woke just before three with waves of fear seething through my body, making me take massively deep breaths to disperse it. Over and over again this happened, for hours on end, like an intimidating flooding tide which won’t turn. I wasn’t aware of anything specifically on my mind to trigger this but the intensity was as strong as if I was going to the gallows the following morning. It lasted all morning and well in to the afternoon and was debilitating as we wandered around the extraordinary ruins above Cusco of Sacsayhuaman – the very epicentre of Peru, which may well have been built before the last Ice Age and only discovered by the Incan’s rather than built by them. It’s a huge and fascinating site but all my body wanted to do was let this strange energy surge its way through me, making me feel like I should be vomiting. At one point I left the group and sat with my back to a stone and broke out in a cold sweat. I was tearful and overwhelmed but had no idea what was the cause. After about ten minutes or so later I found a different route up to where the group was hearing about the unusual ‘stone machines’ designed to create energy.
Amaru, our guide, suggested we do an exercise to evoke the master within. I felt far from masterful but agreed. In single file, with orders to keep our hand on the left wall only and in silence, we walked in to a tunnel through the rocks. It was pitch black. I had no idea how far we’d have to go. I knew if I lost touch with the person in front I could well panic. But minutes later we were out the other side. I was glad I didn’t miss the chance to do this with the group but I didn’t enjoy it at all.
Regardless of this mini rite of passage, this is an amazing site to visit with the most incredible eagle eyed view over Cusco in its Andean bowl. The sun was hiding most of today and by the time we’d finished lunch the rain was pouring in earnest. The bus took us to the Sacred Valley and I slept on the way. When we arrived the weather was not the best for what had been planned, so it was postponed to the Sunday and we had the afternoon to relax and enjoy our new surroundings out in the peace and quiet of this very sacred valley.
It’s amazing how much there is for me to be frightened of here and it just overtly expresses how much I allow fear to run great swathes of my life. I’m frightened of not being fit enough for the steep hill climbs, I’m frightened of the narrow winding roads weaving up the sides of the mountains and the terrifying drop as we climb, I’m frightened of experiencing both sacred psychedelic plant teachers San Pedro and Ayahuasca and what they might show me, I’m frightened of the intense heat and humidity in the jungle not to mention the insects of various sizes…. and as always lurks the underlying fear of dying.
I hadn’t been at all prepared for walking down a mountain. Above our lovely hotel in the Sacred Valley are two particular peaks – one with Pisac ruins at the top and another next to it which is the guardian of Pisac. I thought we’d take the bus up and have a bit of an uphill haul to the ruins – but even though we did have a little uphill climb the biggie of the day was to walk down the mountain in to Pisac town.
‘Are you warriors of the light?’ asked Amaru
‘Yes,’ we all chorused, but I still didn’t feel like one although I woke up feeling far better than any day previously. The only drawback was a puffy eye and cheek for some reason making it look like someone had got a bit handy with their fist.
The bus wove it’s laborious way up the switchback of the mountain until it disgorged us not too far from the top and just where we needed to be. I was apprehensive even though it was all downhill. My balance hasn’t been that great and there was a two and a half hour downhill climb ahead of me. But the group is amazing, rooting for me to do well. By the time we got to the bottom I don’t think I have ever felt so tired…that is until San Pedro day.
What I will remember most from our San Pedro* day is nausea, 36 hours of colon-cleansing and physical weakness beyond anything I can remember! I had a deeply unpleasant and disorienting experience although the humming bird darting in and out of the Datura plant was a gift. We all had various experiences from this sacred plant medicine – some felt a powerful communion with everything, others handled deep rooted ‘stuff’ and a couple of us seemed to shed layers of gunk on a physical level. But apparently I look a world better today and even shed a few years off my face so that’s motivation to continue when we get to the jungle and face the mother of all sacred plant medicines, Ayahuasca. She is not to be toyed with we’ve been told.
Waking the day we left Pisac for Ollantaytambo I feel different in a very suble way beyond explanation. I feel like some deep inner healing has been done, and that has given me the impetus to carry on with the sacred plant medicine and see where it takes me.
Next stop Machu Picchu and then on the 25th of the month we enter the jungle for a week long Ayahuasca retreat!
*San Pedro is a disgusting tasting psychedelic brew made from the San Pedro cactus. Used for healing and personal growth.