Post nine: Peru is magic – adventures in the valley of Cusco
I just looked around me and realized that I am surrounded by a roomful of monks and nuns. While I am wondering where these people even came from, I am about to relay one of the most surrealistic experiences of my life.
GOOD EATS AND OTHER DODGY HAUNTS
Last night I had the MOST INCREDIBLE sandwich at the street corner café by my hostel. The sandwich came complete with seasoned chicken, mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes, squash, and curry mayonnaise. It was probably the most delicious sandwich I have ever tasted in my life.
WHERE’S THE DRIVER?!?
In this city you don’t need a driver. You do, however, need strong legs. There is a ton of hiking up and down stairways that will need to be done if one is to navigate this city. The walks are always beautiful though. As one walks one can see remnants of ancient Inca architecture. There are lovely little cafes, incense, music, yoga/healing studios, and artesian studios; All scattered along the narrow cobblestone street-ways.
EVERY SOL SAVED IS A SOL EARNED
Cusco is expensive. It’s so expensive that I am not even going to go to Machu Pichu. It costs $190 for one day! Anyways, hasn’t everyone already been there? I have seen the stone work that is allegedly derived from alien origin. It’s here in Cusco too. As cool as it would be to see this same stone work on top of a cliff’s edge, I pretty much get the point. I will catch Machu Pichu next go ‘round, when I am rich.
THE SWEET SPOT
I went and saw the Church of San Blas today. I agree with the guidebook author’s opinion. This church does contain some of the most intricate wood carvings in the entire world. As I observed the details of this church, it occurred to me that the man who did these carvings had sacrificed his life for God. If he had not made such intricate carvings, then I would not have been compelled to enter the church this Sunday morning. If I had not entered the church, then I would not have knelt before God in His sacred home. I would not have had the incredible and genuine prayer experience that I did. I would not have gained the clarity of heart and mind that I did. The life’s work of one man, many, many years ago allowed me to have a beautiful spiritual experience today. I believe that this man’s life was a life lived for great purpose.
The New Year’s Eve celebration of Cusco was unlike anything that I could have even imagined. It was so wild and out of control that I will have to save this story for next time.
ESPIRITU LIBRE PARA LA VIDA
The long and seemingly endless stairway led directly to Jesus on the Hill. With his ivory white features smiling down upon me, I felt sure that I could surmount the series of stairs that were taking every last inch of breathe from my heaving lungs. Upon arrival, I had the chance to dance with Jesus. If you don’t believe me, just look at the picture. I thanked Him for the beautiful land and the beautiful people that He created, and then we moved on. We saw the ruins of "sexy-women" in the distance, but we knew that there was a far greater adventure awaiting us on the opposing horizon. The road turned into foothills. The only way to the Temple of the Moon was on footpaths which lead through green grass valleys and trickling streams. Before the sun set we reached the temple and awed at the sheerness of the cliff directly adjacent to it. I caressed the stones of the temple, where the Incas had so careful carved their magic. There was a ledge that seemed to scream out, “I am the site where many beautiful young women were sacrificed for the betterment of the Inca Nation”.
This was the place. This was it. This was the place for meditation and prayer; the place for a new era of good. This was the place where we could open our hearts to the Great Spirit that had moved us here. We took a few moments to practice the 5 sense Tantra mindfulness meditation. There was a hawk that appeared and took flight along the footpaths that lead toward the sky. It was getting darker and the lights of Cusco began to shine out far below us. My friend then led me in a meditation to ground my body into the earth. As I felt my bones align with the stone beneath me, my closed eyes recognized a deep and cool darkness settle upon me. The night had come and from behind closed eyes it felt as vast as the giant sky I had known just moments before. When I opened my eyes there was a brilliance of fireworks that lit the sky from across the Cusco valley. I was one with the earth, the sky, and my own spirit.
There was a great power in this place, and in the center of my solar plexus. I had come to know the great freedom that is available to me in this life. I had come to know this land of great meaning and antiquity. I felt blessed and complete, but it was getting dark and we were in a hidden spot of the hills above Cusco. We needed to return before the rains came and before we could not see our way through the darkness.
We wandered a few hundred yards and I noticed a figure above us in the dark. At first I believed it was an Indian woman in traditional dress, but I was not sure. The figure stopped and stood very still, while we kept along our way. As we got a little closer I noticed that it was a man in pants carrying a grocery sack in each hand. I did not give it a second thought, for I knew that we had God on our side. As we crossed paths with the figure though, he called out to us in the night. “Tu hablas Español?” There was a feeling of power that came along with the words; a feeling of some authority that obligated us to answer. My friend said “yes”, and the figure continued on by asking us if the site was free and peaceful of people. We said ”yes”. Then the figure looked straight at me and asked my friend whether the woman wants ceremony. In fact, this was the reason I came to Peru. I wanted to meet a shaman and experience ceremony. Nonetheless, my friend answered for me with a resounding “no”.
The man then turned from us suddenly. He faced the site and raised prayer hands to his chest. He breathed out forcefully and made a gesture that indicated he was attempting to clear the site of energies. He was shaman and he was protector of the sacred Inca site.
He then turned straight towards my friend and I and began to move very quickly towards us. It appeared that he was going to charge us and our natural instinct was to turn and move quickly away. I then knew what was happening to us. The lessons I learned of shamanism in my youth came to me quickly. I was living a moment out of the books of Carlos Castaneda and I knew what must be done. We had to face the shaman, we could not run. The terror that I felt as I was fleeing quickly turned to a feeling of power. I turned and faced the man that was charging at me in the dark. I felt no fear; it was time for battle. I focused my energy on this man, and held the intent of battle and repulsion. He changed trajectory quickly and began to run. He ran straight past us, but he did it with flight-like grace. A few seconds later he was slithering quickly up the hillside and then back down along the footpath. I focused on him intently as he disappeared along the path. I did not want to let my guard down for prospect that he may return. We eventually found the road, and decided to take the lighted path back down to Cusco. I have realized that something very deep and magical is happening here in this land.
Where did these monks come from and why are they so loud? I wonder if they can figure out that the bright pink earplugs in my ears indicate that I wish they would shush up?!?!