It's 6 AM on a Friday morning and I'm chewing on a big ball of coca leaves in the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru adjusting to being 3400 meters above sea level. Coca leaves are illegal in most countries because that is where cocaine eventually comes from, with chemicals added, but here, in their natural and organic state, they are doctor prescribed for high altitude sickness. The current environment is something like this... massive stone walls with cobblestone streets surrounded by mountains, 55 degrees F and sunny, kids in uniform walking to their classes, pigeons poking the grounds, taxis honking, a few joggers, older dude running around with a big basket of banana bread :-), police patrolling the streets for any late morning stragglers from the night before and my lady Jessica is sound asleep in the old Victorian bed dreaming of eggs and fresh cheese. The school kids are fascinated by my little blue netbook. All of what I've mentioned so far I will talk about more later, but for now, let's go back four days and reminisce on our adventures in the jungle. Lift off from Miami. Florida at midnight on October 6th...
At the airport in Lima, Jessica and I were pretty jet lagged and she had lots of fun trying to decipher the Spanish written menus.We settled for avocado and eggs with a bit of coffee and tea.
6 hours of layover before we jump on a plane to Iquitos where we meet our boat captain.
In Iquitos, in a taxi...
Nice to see a family hanging out on the stoop sharing a meal fried chicken and laughing.
This is Jessica's first time outside of North America and I can only imagine what she was downloading from the images of the streets.
A float plane dock on the Amazon River.
Sunset on the Amazon River. Once we get on the boat at Iquitos we cruised for 45 minutes through a web of snaking rivers to our sanctuary. At night the boat captain uses a flashlight to guide himself through the vines, alligators and waterways.
The next day we met our shaman. Shaman by blood, he began his first ceremonies at age 16 and is now in his mid-60s. He taught me that shamanism is not just about healing and plants, it's about being a person of service to the environment and society. He showed us the medicinal plants of the surround jungle and how to prepare and use. Half of his healing work is metaphysical and the ceremonies remind me of old Kentucky fold medicine which revolved around rattles, chants, spitting, tobacco and communing with the spirits. His wisdom is being challenged by that of western medicine and I feel it to be one of my duties on Earth to retain the old folk/traditional medicines of our ancestors and elders.
Each morning after ceremony we were given a flower bath with cold river water and healing plants of the jungle to draw our spirits back into our roots. The shamans integrated worldwide spiritual beliefs pertaining to chakras, Kundalini, Christianity, crystal magic and aromatherapy into their traditional shamanic work and it feels like this is what is needed to tie together the cosmic collective consciousness/spirit. One mind, body and spirit.
Our chefs! One night lightning struck the river and we shared a laugh over how to properly fry alligator.
Fried alligator with jungle veggies and fruit. All the juices were hand picked, squeezed and delish!
Chillin on the star deck bathing in solar rays.
Jessica wandering the woods with a cup tea and journal in hand.
One day we paid a visit to the Bora tribe to do some gift trading. I gave away half of my belongings with the community. As Jess said, it's funny how the things we think are valuable are really not all that necessary and of value to those in need, but the little things, like toiletries and bandanas, are priceless. I received more gifts for the $0.99 bandana I bought in the States than I did for my $100.00 pair of shoes.The mothers were very happy for the tooth paste I 'gathered' from the free basket in the dentist bathroom in the States last month.
Can we eat it?
A night in the ceremonial circle.
Ayahuasca inspired tapestries from the local Indians.
Jaguar medicine. The boa symbolizes the underworld or water world (subconscious/dream/root consciousness), the tiger or jaguar represents the earth world that we commonly are in contact with throughout our daily lives (waking/awake/global/earth consciousness) and the eagle is of the sky world and carries messages between the stars (ancestors) and Earth (spirit/cosmic consciousness). It is in the later world that one performs astral travel and soul flight, and perhaps gets a taste of the future through divination and breaking the bounds of time.
A tree stump growing jungle armpit hair.
Not your typical seed.
The girls that Jess and I traded most of our belongings with to gather gifts for our family and friends for the holidays.
Birds of paradise.
A trip to the animal sanctuary.
Jessy and her monkey. When we first got the animal rehab sanctuary a lady handed me a sloth, which with seconds yelped and pooed green stinky slim all over my feet and hands. Jessica laughed as I rinsed myself with a bucket of river water. A few minutes later she was given a monkey to hold and the critter let loose all over the front of her shirt. I love karma. The lesson - some animals are not be held and just left alone in their own space.
Looking down at the jungle.
Yoga next to Chavin.
Our boat ride out of the Amazon. What good times and good eats we had. Time to go back to city and regroup and head to the Andes.
Adios Amazon dwellers.
Back in the city and by the docks, beer cans and sleeping dogs were lazing about in the morning sun.
Off we go to the airport.
What's next? A trip to the Lima zoo and our 20th honeymoon (of this year) to the Andean mountains. Peace n love yo.