Learnings From the Road – Gypsetting Peru 2012

Learnings From the Road – Gypsetting Peru 2012

I have been on the road for about three months now. I have travelled to what I would say is the most beautiful place in the world. These mountains broke my soul, in a good way, taking me into a divine state of grace. With tears in my eyes and a dove in my heart, I felt satisfied and whole at the sight of beauty. All I wanted to do was lie naked in her soil, for my life was then complete should death claim my body. But the beauty of the world does not stop with the land. I have also found it refracted in the souls of many who were once strangers to me.

 

We were camped out in a valley in the Andes, nowhere in particular. The days were warm and sunny but the nights were crazy cold. Every morning I would wake up freezing but run up the hill over frost covered grass and sumberge myself in the warm waters of the natural hot springs. I’d stay bathing and talking with new friends for hours, until the sun rose over the mountains, and then we’d often migrate down to the cooler natural swimming pool. The first week at the festival was a little isolating at times, as my spanish wasn’t very good and not many people speak english, but by the second week my spanish had improved a lot and I made many friends.

 

I remember when I first arrived meeting David from Switzerland and having a big crush on him, only to sever these thoughts upon realising that he doesn’t speak ANY english… At first we both tried to communicate through our pigeon spanish (his first language is french) but gave up soon enough… A week later, one night, it was raining and so I went to check on my friends tent… There was a candle flickering in a two man tent and the ominious scene of the mountains was complimented by the most beautiful music I had ever heard. It took me a moment to find the courage to invite myself in, but when I finally did I was welcomed warmly by David and his Swiss brother from another mother Jonathan (these two are like twins… so beautifully inseparable).

 

I was tired and lay curled up in the tiny tent with them as they played and played and played my dreams into reality. Their music was incredible and what made it even more amazing was that it was all improvised. After an hour of non-stop jamming where I found myself drifting in and out of consciousness, they handed me the guitar and asked me to play them a song. So I did and mid way through, David picked up the other guitar and started to play with me, while Jonathan fumbled for his flute. And so, music became our language. We jammed for another two hours, loosing all sense of time and pain despite our cramped positions, being three people and two guitars in a two man tent.

 

When we finally took a breath, the rain had ceased and we all emerged from the tent, smiling, so high on life. After that it became absolutely necessary to jam together every day as we were all so aware of the precious rarity of such an easy musical connection.

 

Today I find myself back in Cusco, sitting in the sun talking of loneliness with a timeless friend. If there is one thing I have discovered about myself through travel, is that I am not the lone wolf I once believed myself to be. Yes I love my independence and would never seek to have a relationship based upon dependency, however taking a very literal leaf out of a good friends book, I’ve found great value in following the trail of loveliness, walking the road with only the most beautiful people that grace my reality. I flow with those who make me feel good and feel blessed to find kin so easily. Community is key for me these days and I am delighted to watch it develop around me wherever I go. There is only love here, and so much love here.

 

Where in the past I valued solitude, these days I am all too aware that it is not the places I visit, but rather, the company I keep, that brings satisfaction in my life. I am learning to give and give and give and give, for as I give, I create space for me to receive more and more and more and it is the transience of these gifts that grace my reality which really excites me. And people are such divine gifts, for we can only go so far within ourselves, by ourselves. I believe it is the contrast of an alternative reference point that really allows one to grow. I see my connections manifesting perfectly as I become the medicine for those around me just as they become the medicine for my own personal development. Sometimes this comes in the form of a challenge – an invitation to transcend old programming as our interactions highlight egoic attachments that it is time for me to let go of . Other times, this human medicine is in the comfort of another’s arms and as they lend their ears and mind.

 

As I wonder this hall of mirrors I also become a gift to others through our interactions, naturally providing what is needed for them to grow. In turn, I have met shiny, shiny beings who live up to Marianne William’s manifesto. They remind me to be myself without fear as everywhere is a safe place to express myself. The implicit message is, a universal truth… if you are okay with every aspect of you, then the rest of the world will be too.

 

They say the jungle is not feared by the saint; that pure thoughts keep one safe from harm. It is the same in these cities which sometimes feel colder than they really are. I am learning to accept that I don’t have a dirty mind, that my intentions are always pure and how blessed are the amoral. Everything I do is okay. Adulthood is a myth. My choices are right and there is no need to doubt myself or suppress my desires and dreams as everything I could need or want is here for me. All I have to do is trust and it is given.

 

Sitting in the sun, we went on to discuss loneliness as a state of being vs. an emotion. One thing I have been really learning to do is letting emotions flow through me like food and water. I believe sadness and loneliness to be fleeting emotions, rather than lasting states of consciousness. That is, unless I allow my ego to engage in their illusions. Its become a yogic practice for me to consciously not attach to such emotions, knowing how the Ego loves to personalize emotions and create attachments through stories. I want to stress that this doesn’t mean suppressing emotions like sadness and loneliness. Rather its about giving myself the space to feel these things, without justifying them with a story.

 

Looking back, I can see patterns in my past where I actually believed that holding on to pain and sadness was worthwhile. Like it gave me a place in a twisted world focused on pleasure, pain, loss and gain. I wore my pain like a badge of honour, as if I had earned my stripes to be here. As if I needed this pain and sadness to fit into a world of lost souls. These days I choose to see things differently. I notice how more often than not my mood is affected by my environment. It’s not so personal. When I  am aware of the stories my mind likes to create to make my emotional state relevant to reality, I can detatch from the emotions that I do not enjoy and allow them to fall away like water off a ducks back.

 

Saying that, I can also recognize the beauty of contrasting emotions and the important role they play in allowing me to appreciate the good times, which is why I am prepared to feel them fully from time to time. Lying on my back, my eyes to the sky, I can let everything be as it is, with gratitude as I recognize that I am still alive and breathing. It is moments like this that I am able to tap into amazing states of interconnectedness, where I feel that no matter what becomes of this physical body, I will never dissapear.

 

Sometimes I wonder how sustainable this lifestyle is and how I can make it easier and more wonderful for myself. I have my doubts from time to time but it is these profoundly familiar moments I share with once-upon-a-time strangers that reminds me that this is what I want. A life of moments like this, where I feel at home with new friends, as if we have always been together, we are meant to be together, and the spontaneity of our interactions were always preordained.

Argentina Round up – Part 1 – Buenos Aires

Argentina Round up – Part 1 – Buenos Aires


Buenos Aires Travel 

Buenos Aires is a sight to behold with its charming cobbled streets and hundred-year old trees that own their space in this otherwise concrete jungle. There is a lot to love here, with its emphasis on creativity reflected in the complex and beautiful street art that splashes the city with colour amidst all the chaos and decay.

Vamos Spanish Academy

So I went to Buenos Aires mainly to learn Spanish at this great boutique school. Here classes are intimate with only 2-4 students per group class. Facilities are great and the staff are all friendly and ready to help with any questions or information you might need. I found the classes to be well structured, and learnt so much in just two full weeks! Another thing I really loved about this school is their progressive attitude towards recycling. They also offer free workshops on a range of topics such as pronunciation, using the busses and commonly used slang words between classes which are very practical and helpful.

*One thing to keep in mind however, is that Argentineans have their own style of speaking Spanish and many other Spanish speaking cultures find their accent (of “sho” rather than “yo” for example) difficult to understand.

Group classes Monday to Friday, 9:30am-1:30pm

For more info, check out http://www.vamospanish.com/

 

Bikram Yoga Buenos Aires

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love Bikram Yoga!!! Having practiced all over the world, this studio is by far one of my favourites (it rates second to Bonfire, my home studio in Australia). Here the facilities are new and clean, and you can get 7 days of yoga for 85pesos  (which is about $20AU at the current date of writing). They also hold classes in English at 1pm each day, however for those who are familiar with the practice I recommend the Spanish classes as a great way of increasing your vocabulary.

Bikram Yoga Buenos Aires
Av. Las Heras 3541. Palermo, Bs As.
2-5 classes daily…
For a full class schedule, click here.

 

Buenos Aires Verde

Okay, this surprised me to… a raw vegan restaurant in the heart of a carnivore kingdom? No way! But its True! Buenos Aires Verde is the best vegan restaurant I found in BA (and I tried a few). It offers a range of fusion dishes – raw and cooked… as well as some unique smoothie combinations (try the chai pear with lemon rind) and OH, dig a spoon into that ice-cream!

Gorrutu 5657 Palermo Hollywood
Open Monday to Sunday 9am to midnight
http://bsasverde.com/ 

 

La Bomba de Tiempo

Fancy a night of dancing? Every Monday night at Konex becomes a unique percussion party showcasing the latest and greatest percussion musicians in Buenos Aires in an epic three hour jam. ‘The Time Bomb’ is a improvisational drum group known for their skill of seamlessly fusing rhythms from Central America and Africa, with samba and Argentine folk beats such as chacarera. Among the instruments making an appearance are congas, djembes, maracas, shakers and cowbells. Every show is unique and guaranteed to get you dancing.

Ciudad Cultural Konex
Sarmiento 3131
Abasto
Tel: 4864-3200

Tickets $50 pesos (2012)
Monday nights, rain, hail or shin, doors open at 7 p.m.
http://www.labombadetiempo.com/

 

Contact Dance

Speaking of dancing… Six months ago I met a guy who was so enchanted with  Contact Dance. I didn’t get what he was so attracted to. Six months later, I find myself at a little festival in Buenos Aires, enchanted as I watch bodies collide with such playfulness, ease and grace. Suddenly I understood the attraction. If you find yourself equally inspired, Buenos Aires is the perfect place to learn C.D. as there is a plethora of teachers and events on offer. I organised a few private classes with Gabriel Greca, who speaks perfect English and was able to teach me the basics in a couple of hours. Send him a personal email if you are interested in a private class in English and I am sure he wont let you down!

gabor_greca@hotmail.com

 

Other tips…

Bs. As. Can be expensive, even though the exchange rate appears fabulous at first glance. Furthermore, the price of products is very inflated and if you happen to order anything online, expect to pay extra tax for importing it. What is good value however, is the costs of services. Massages, pedicures, waxing, tattoos & pricings, cabs and other services are surprisingly cheap here, so make the most of it and live like royalty.

 

Peru Travel Round Up – Part 1 – Iquitos, Tarapoto, Lima

Peru Travel Round Up – Part 1 – Iquitos, Tarapoto, Lima

I am so in love with the clouds here!

Peru Travel

The Peruvian Amazon is by far one of my favourite travel destinations in the whole wide world. Why? Because it’s a magic wonderland of a strange yet beautiful wilderness.

As the focus of this trip was the high jungle, I strayed far from the usual Peru tourist track.

Here, chaos is king. There are no safety nets, but once you get past any initial fears I found it wasn’t nearly as dangerous as I was led to believe. Of course, common sense is useful, along with a reasonable degree of caution. However, if one allows fear to devour their conciousness, they will surely miss out on the bounty of unique experiences Amazonia offers.

In addition to its natural beauty, one of the reasons why I have always enjoyed my time in Peru is because of the other travellers it has connected me with. I feel Peru attracts people who offer a unique and deep spiritual perspective. People don’t go to Peru just to shop or to party and get crazy drunk every night. They come to connect with the land and perhaps even delve into the wonder and mystery of plant medicine work.

 

Iquitos

Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm

I have a confession to make: I never made it to this zoo, but I really wish I did. To really rub it in, every traveler who’s been this way raves about it which is why I felt it was worth sharing here with you. So just to be clear, the “butterfly farm” isn’t just about showcasing the many thousands of amazing and unique butterflies that flutter the amazing forest… It’s also an animal rescue shelter home to a lot of very cute monkeys, an ant eater, a tapir, a jaguar, an ocelot, a manatee and many beautiful Amazonian birds. The best bit is you get to play with the animals… Okay, maybe not the jaguar… but my first hug from a monkey was a true moment of grace, feeling its tiny humanlike hands resting gently on my pulse.

Open Tuesday to Sunday 
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Entrance: $5 for adults; $3 for students.

 

Temple of the Way of Light

If you are interested in working with grandmother Ayahuasca, then this is a great place to start. I spent two and a half weeks at the temple, and had an amazing time, working with Ayahuasca and learning about the plants and Shipibo culture. Tucked away in the low jungle, I found that entering the temple grounds was like entering back into the womb. It is a safe place for healing, growing and self exploration. What I particularly love about this place is the emphasis on the feminine energy. Here, eight out of ten shamen you work with are female – and wise, wise, joyful women at that. For more information on workshops and volunteer experiences, visit http://www.templeofthewayoflight.org/ for more info.

 

Tarapoto

Tarapoto and the surrounding jungle was a really beautiful place to settle. I spent two blissful weeks staying in the jungle outskirting Tarapoto, near a small village called San Roche. Here, impressive mountains and majestic clouds surround. During my stay I made some great friends (hanging out at the arts centre is a great way to meet people) and we spent our days exploring the jungle by foot, swimming in pristine rivers, drinking coconuts and making superfood feasts with all the amazing jungle fruits on offer. Once a week we ventured into town to pick up fresh supplies (there are cars that run regularly to and from San Roche for ten soles). In the name of culinary adventure, I particularly recommend you try the Lucuma – a sweet, powdery fruit with a mango-caramel flavour.

 

Hot Springs

For the full moon, mi amigo and I went out to the hot springs Paucar Yacu. A humble family operation, these hot springs are a divine little getaway, providing the option of both natural and man made pools for relaxation and rejuvination. We spent time in each area, bathing under the moonlight. Having bought hammocks we slept in peace amongst the mountains and awoke in the morning for more hot spring pampering and fresh coconuts!

 

Lima

Lima is a big, bad city, which I personally, would rather avoid. However, seeing as most flight routes include a stop over, I figured oh what the hell and spent a few days trying to breathe in amongst the dirty chaos. If curiosity tempts you too, try and aim for the weekend so that you can check out the Bio Fare on Sunday – an organic market offering fresh gourmet food. Look out for the essene bread in particular – its super delicious, healthy and makes for an easy on the go snack. There is also some funky yoga classes happening in the park throughout the morning.

Miraflores Bio Fare
Parque Reducto
Saturdays from 8.00 to 14.30 hrs
Free entrance 

My only other recommendation is to check out the Artisan Markets, where you can buy all the goods Cusco has on offer for much less than you’d find in the sacred valley (I know, it surprised me too). Here you can find high quality alpaca goods such as blankets, jumpers, shawls, gloves, ponchos and bags, as well as jewellery, musical instruments and plenty more. Have a good look around before you buy anything however, and be prepared to barter as the shops will often quote you top dollar while their neighbour – who has the same, maybe even in a nicer colour – will usually do it for a couple of bucks less… and so it begins.

Av. La Marina blocks 6 and 8, Pueblo Libre, Lima

Open daily, noon-8pm 

 

Other Tips..

Another little tip I have for those visiting Peru is when buying water, steer clear of the San Luis brand (or any others owned by coca cola) as they are known to put additives in their water that actually dehydrate your body. On that note, for longer stays, it is certainly worth finding out where the nearest spring so you can fill up your water bottle with probably the most nourishing water your lips have ever tasted.