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Monday, 27 September 2010

Smile and the world will smile with you

 This weekend I was alone for a few hours and suddenly was really missing everyone at home so I felt really sorry for myself for a minute. But then I decided to get myself together, I mean I am seriously lucky to be here, and from the moment I decided that: my eyes opened again and I decided to see what was out there. So I participated in a yoga session on top of the mountains  above Sachsayuman ruins in a very beautiful place close to the Jesus statue. Afterwards we had lunch and shared our different journeys. Again: amazing people and from there on it has continued. Today I was meant to do yoga in the morning but was deep in conversation over breakfast with a lovely girl who realized a while ago  that her call was to be a healer ( I know what some of you think but really, she healed me just through some chats) so she retrained with shamans etc and now works with that in NY. Needless to say I forgot completely about the yoga session.
Then I went for a second breakfast with a german who is addicted to travelling: before south america, he biked around India for 6 months and here is been working in the jungle in a school and so forth...
 Then I went to the San Blas area and sat down in one of the cobbled streets to paint. I am not lying if I say that I met and spoke to at least 40 people during a few hours of painting. I seemed to make everyone stop on their way and sit down to talk and listen .  It was  like a movie: children on their way from school, dogs, locals relaxing from selling their handicrafts and of course: tourists, sitting around me intrigued by me painting and the people there. I even had a wedding proposal and an older gentleman decided that I was the one for his son!!
Then from there it did not stop, wherever I went I seemed to meet someone new to talk to. Oh what a beautiful day.

 I was invited to stay with a Peruvian family in the sacred valley through an Australian friend. Perfect timing as Cusco was on strike for a few days.

Peruvians living ouside of the cities are still very much  in touch with nature and are worried about climate change. Peru has been identified as the region which has the most to lose from global warming. It's glaciers are retreating fast and it is estimated that by 2025 Peru will be the first south American country to experience "permanent water stress". Travelling though the valley you notice the destruction caused by the mud and land slides in march. Some villages were completely destroyed and the roads are still very thin in some places.

The family I stayed with owned an organic farm so I got to taste some amazing vegan food. I loved just listening to theirs and their friend's stories about the country and learn about all the healthy living that is just part of Peruvian life. All the herbs, oils, tinctures, vegetables, teas and other  products that you can only find in "fresh and wild" and other overly expensive so called organic shops in Europe; they are all part of daily living here.  They still dye their clothes in natural dyes which means going up the mountain and picking leaves, insects and flowers. Beautiful Lila who is my age and 5 month's pregnant with her third child was telling me about how when the girls were small they used to live high up in the mountain with no electricity or running water. She used to have to walk 500 meters to get the water which if she did not treat it properly; the babies would get parasites. But somehow she was so happy with only a clay stove and one room and growing all their own food in the garden, that they did not need anything more. I was so impressed watching the girls do their homework, they were writing and reading better than any children I have met in Europe that age, Who needs private schools??? Above all; the children still had the innocence that somehow have dissapeared in our society.
Me and a Peruvian girl staying with the family hiked up to Huchuy qosqo ruins a few hours from the village. I was embarassed at my slow pace as she was practically running up. But when we arrived there were a group of french hikers sleeping. We went to have some coca tea from the guides who told us that they had taken 5 hrs hiking up, so then I felt better... It was magical sitting on the top of the mountain drinking tea whilst looking out over the vast mountain ranges, the ruins filled with lamas and watching the arcaeologists working around you trying to find some more answers to the Inka magics.
I left the family the following morning to go to a neighbouring town called Pisac which has a great market and again, yet more ruins. From there I managed to hitch a lift with a tourist bus for the day around the valley to different sites: the most famous being the stunning Ollantayambo. Unfortunately my camera was on the wrong setting and the sun was so strong that most of the photographs are too light. We had an excellent guide who was trying to explain the whole story of the Inka empire and how they really only existed as an empire for 94 years yet they managed to build over 3000 sites. Then of course the Spanish came and ruined it all. It was such an interesting tour and so remarkable to hear how everything that was built was based on astronomy. I attach a pic from a book showing how the river around the sacred valley follows the milky way and how they planned Ollantayambo around that and made sure that winter solstice on the 21 June lights up different important areas of the site but only for 3 min once a year! Imagine that!
 We then continued to a village called Chinchero where all the locals still live on their handicraft and were happy to show us how to dye and which plants they use.


Peruvian village life

On my second day I somehow felt drawn into an area where some Peruvian artisans were selling their goods. And lo and behold; a girl whom I was meant to be contacting through a friend stood there selling her family's products, which I immediately recognised. So we started talking and she invited me to come over to her village some hours from Cusco to have a look at the weavers working and spend the day with her.
 The village was quite small but everyone was out as there will be political elections soon in Peru, and the girl's sister was one of the campaigners in the Plaza de Armas. I was one of very few tourists that has ever been there and some of the children had never seen a foreigner so I stood out quite a bit.  



For sunday roast.

You can not really be in a hurry in the morning to look like this.


                                                  On the way, with the locals...


                             For dancing and special occasions they wear 10 skirts on top of  each  other.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

South American internet...

Sorry for the late postings but I have been having trouble with the internet. I should have some new posts by tomorrow.

Monday, 20 September 2010

My dream come true.

I ve arrived in my spiritual home country: Peru. I don't usually like airplane photos but as it was such an unbeliavable feeling to fly across the Andes and into Cusco I though I 'll share it with you.

Why have I always dreamt of this country? is it the colors, the people's faces, the landscape or just the whole history of the Inkas? Now I am here I can tell you that sometimes reality is even better than the dream.

Travelling from BA I was told to take it easy and as I had spent more than 30 hrs awake ( some of these were spent with a group of lovely Americans dancing and having deep conversations at Starbucks Lima airport...) I should have known better than to head out with some new friends to watch them bungy jump. So in the evening I fell asleep in the restaurant whilst talking. Cusco is a great city to stay in to explore the surrounding Inka remaindings, make friends and spend the days painting in the square. The city is definetely up my alley with all the hippies and yoga teachers mixed in with lots of locals and of course: tourists.
I realized the next day I had not been alone many hours in the last few months and thought I should really spend a few days around  Cusco on my own trying to meet locals.  In a great cafe I realized after a pretty long time that I had been speaking to the waiter in Spanish! That felt good. What did not feel good was when I saw a beautiful homeless child standing outside just watching all the tourists in the cafe and noone acknowledging him . Just as I was about to give him some money I saw the waiter come back with sandwiches for him. It made me so sad and ashamed to be a part of these synical people


So I've arrived in Argentina and wow it really is better than I expected. I decided to go with a friend to where I have always dreamt of going: the Pampas . We stayed at an estancia in San Antonio de Areco where we had lots of local wine, food, music and then went riding across the green fields. Afterwards we spent some time watching the real Argentinian gauchos in action. Then finished with a bit of Tango. I love South America.

Why can´t we paint the whole town pastellic?

Wouldn´t all Londoners be much happier if the houses were painted like in la Boca BA, I know we have Notting Hill but really who can live in that area nowadays??