So now that Heather and I are finished with Cuzco, we`re going traveling until we can`t anymore!!! aka when we have our flight home. I am going to write this entry by dates so some will be short, some will be long, and some days will be none existent because there wasn`t really anything particularly interesting in them. Ahora...
April 12th, Tuesday
Ok, so somehow I just got the print I`m typing in in bold and can`t fix it so this whole entry will be in bold haha. On that morning Heather and I woke up and nervously got ready to go to our spanish class. The day before we had taken our final exam to see what grade we`d get. I swore I failed miserably. The lecture they gave us in spanish was super hard and both Heather and I didn`t even understand some of the questions that we were supposed to write at least a paragraph on. We warned our spanish teacher, Luis, that we probably got really bad grades. He went to go check the exams and brought them back to class. It turned out that I got an A- and Heather got an A!!! We were so surprised and happy.
Because we didn`t have to retake the exam, our spanish teacher aided us in getting bus tickets for Lima. Our last spanish teacher (we`ve had three different ones), Luis, was a history teacher for kids and super animated. Heather and I would laugh all the time because he has such goofy manerisms. We found it funny that out of all three teachers... the one that worked best for us was actually an elementary school teacher. Our first teacher was Magda. She was a very sweet elderly lady who had a very young spirit. I also loved this teacher, but I got more practice speaking in spanish with Luis. Our other teacher was Marianes. She was nice, but moved way to quickly for Heather and me. All three had different sections that they specialized in. I would recommend the spanish school of Excel to anyone that wanted to take spanish lessons in Cuzco.
In order to celebrate and have a little fun before we got on the 22 hour bus ride to Lima (well, and the fact that Heather and I love chocolate) Heather and I headed to the chocolate museum in Cuzco. It`s called the Choco Museum. And wow... the chocolate they have there is amazing. It`s a small little museum that gave us tons of information about chocolate and it`s history. We could have made our own chocolate if we wanted! They have cacao and everything there. They also gave us some cacao tea for free. It was amazing! It was a mix between tea and hot chocolate and undescribably delicious. And even thuogh the chocolates were more expensive Heather and I splurged and got some. I got a maracuya con ahi chocolate, a pisco sour chocolate, and a sort of mint chocolate. All I can say is WOW.
Woohoo, the bold magically turned off lol. The whole bus ride took 22 hours to get from Cuzco to Lima. We went through the bus company called Tepsa. They haven`t had a crash since they started 10 years ago. If Heather`s or my parents are reading this aren`t you glad we care about safety? :) We watched 5 or 6 movies and got to get off the bus once for a breakfast that was included in the price. It happened to be chicken. I must admit I`ve never had chicken for breakfast haha. When we got to Lima we decided to stay at the hostal called Friend`s House for the first night to not overstay our welcome at Chelan`s host parents house.
We were able to meet up with Chelan later that night :)
That morning we met up with Chelan again and walked along the cliffs of Lima. I forget what they are called so for now they will just be called the cliffs of insanity. We went with Chelan to her marinera class at her university. The university was beautiful (almost new) and we met a lot of the other exchange students from the states. Heather and I also got to learn a bit of marinera, which was quite fun:) If you see it, it looks like a really simple dance, but there is actually a lot of specific foot work involved.
That night, as a thank you to Julio and Puchi (Chelan`s host parents) for letting us stay there, Chelan, Heather and I made suspiro and no bake cookies. Since we didn`t have peanut butter we replaced the peanut butter with marshmellows. They weren`t the best, but it was still delicious!
For those of you reading this you probably know that I love basketball. Julio loves basketball too and goes all out when he plays. That morning we played Heather and I vs. Chelan and Julio. It was a lot of fun and competitive (no worries I controled my over competitiveness:) Julio was really good and had never really played on a set team. He just played pick up games. He gave me an awesome compliment and said I play with a lot of heart. It meant a lot to me. It always surprises me how playing sports with someone can instantly make a connection stronger, but I love it:)
We went to the supermarket that day and to my surprise I found the greatest treat ever... MANGOS FOR 1 SOLE PER KILO!!!!! Of course I bought tons and the next day went back for more, too haha.
Later, Chelan needed to go to class so Heather and I kicked around a volleyball as a soccer ball. I played goalie and Heather shot against me. There was a little boy that came and was shooting on the other side and we invited him to come shoot and kick with us. He was shy, but I think he enjoyed playing with us.
That night we went to a Peruvian band concert. The band was called La Mente and we saw it at Sargento Pimienta. I had never heard of the band before, but I will definitely hit it up on itunes when I get home:) I liked the concert a lot, except the creepy clown that kept flashing up on the screen in the background haha.
Heather and I went to the mall with Chelan. It was a huge mall and Heather and I felt pretty overwhelmed. Our favorite part was the food court haha not actually, but we spent a lot of time there looking at all the delicious food. Outside the food court there was an arcade, a petting zoo, and a roller coaster! It was so random. At the petting zoo you could feed the goats, cows, guinea pigs, or pigs. They also had ducks there. In the guinea pig cage we saw the fattest guinea pig we have ever seen. It was so big that it had to be pregnant or something. It could barely walk.
When we went to the marinera class earlier that week, Chelan´s teacher invited us to a marinera show on Saturday night. We arrived and didn´t really know what to expect. It was great though with free drinks (for us because her teacher was one of the head guys leading the show) and beautiful marinera dancing. It´s a romantic dance with men and women gazing into each others eyes and right as you think they are about to kiss... they twirl away from each other. After the marinera show there was a band that played all types of music. It was great to see the guests dance (even Chelan and I got up a few times). I feel like in the states there would be so much fear to dance in front of a whole bunch of people if you weren´t that good. There was no fear here. Everyone enjoyed dancing, even the guys!
Sunday morning Chelan, Heather, and I caught a bus to Eco Truly Village (Yes!!! we were so lucky that Chelan could come with us:) It took about an hour and a half to get to our stop. Luckily, we were actually dropped off at a station. Some of the other volunteers were dropped off on the side of the highway and had to walk down the huge sand dune to get to Eco Truly haha. Eco Truly Village is a place where they worship Krishna, which is kind of confusing because they practice Vaishnavism. They are vegetarian and accept volunteers to help on their farm (if you´re a volunteer, you get a cheaper price to stay there than someone who just stays at the hostel). That first day we arrived just in time for lunch and after chores so we didn´t have to work hehe. We went on the beach with two of the many dogs that wander around Eco Truly. They were my favorites; Krispeta (which means popcorn in Columbia) and Lisa (an old police dog that broke her back, but is really a sweetheart). Everyday, they have some sort of activity for the volunteers in the afternoon. That day it was philosophy of Vaishnavism. I´ll write the notes next. It´s actually quite interesting and would recommend reading them. The 17th will continue after the notes.
Notes of the lecture (they aren´t really totally formed ideas of explanations... just notes) :
Vaishnavism is very similar to Hinduism, but different in that Vaishnavism recognizes Krishna as the supreme god. They believe in reincarnation. For example, every 7 years every cell in the body is renewed, but you are not your material body. They focus on returning the identity to yourself (the soul) and not the material body.
There is the gross body which is made of 5 elements- space (ether), earth, water, fire, and air. The material world is made of these five elements. Superior to these five elements are the subtle elements. The subtle body, or celestial body, is made of mind, intelligence, and false ego. These are layers that cover our real selves (our real self is our soul). The false ego is the thought that you are your body. We cannot see the soul, but we can know that the soul exists because of consciousness. When we dream we use the subtle body and when we imagine, too. Both the gross body and subtle body are considered material because both have an end. If we die and we are attached to material things, including our bodies, objects, or other people, the soul is trapped in the subtle body because the soul has a necessity of a gross body and remains close to their things/house. These souls are basically ghosts. The tradition is to have a fire ceremony usually with the past away person´s things so the soul can recognize it´s situation as a soul and move on. The ceremony would be in the house with decorations and offerings (of fruit for example).
Some people can communicate with the souls by having the soul enter their body and communicate through it. Others have no desire to communicate with the souls because it is not beneficial for spiritual advancement.
The subtle body is a period of suffering, and a soul can get stuck there. For example, a soul wants to eat, but it cannot eat. These souls usually are looking for bodies. They take the bodies of pepole that are unconscious, drunk, or are on drugs. A soul can only take a person`s body for that period of time that the person is under the influence of something.
People that died because of suicide become a subtle body and remain there for however long they were supposed to live. For example, if I killed myself when I was 28, but I was supposed to live until 48, I would be a subtle body for 20 years.
Every person has a number of years they are supposed to live based on their karma of the previous life and current life.
There is a science of light (knowledge) called jotesi (i´m not sure if that is how it is spelled, but that is what it sounds like). It´s where a person charts out life based off the planets. Druva (the guy teaching the lesson) knew a guy that knew he was going to die in an accident from his chart and so prepared his family for his passing. Within the month he died in a river accident.
When you die there are 27 planets that your soul goes between for different punishments. There is a lord that determines your punishments by reading about your life (it all has been written down). For example, if you acted as a pig in your current life and you died, you would go into a room with a pendulum in it and poop on the ground. Hanging from the pendulum would be a giant blade. The blade would start swinging and slowly you would have to be getting lower and lower into the pooh until your mouth was in the pooh. Then the pendulum would stop and you would feel relief. So in the next life you would be ready to be a pig.
When a baby is in the womb it remembers 100 lives before and their is lots of turmoil and suffering. The new body is very delicate too so there is more suffering, but when a baby is born it forgets everything.
Spiritual knowledge is never lost from past lives. For example, if I got 1 percent of spirtual knowledge toward Krishna in the next life I would start at 1 percent when I was born.
There are 8,400,000 species of life a soul has to go through in order to be a human. That includes everything in the sea, plants, and animals. The last animal before a human is a cow.
If I were a human and died, but choose to help other souls and become a channel for Krishna my soul could get another human body to help others.
Animals don´t create karma because they are not conscious of their actions. They just have pure instincts, which is Krishna because Krishna is in the heart of everything.
Killing animals and things will have repercussions unless you are helping that animal to move on (example, a horse with a broken leg), but it is still better just to comfort that animal.
We should have mercy for those experiencing karma, just don´t say they deserve it because it is their karma.
We will always harm souls. Even just by walking we are killing things, but it´s not our intention. We can kill a tree to build a house and kill to protect our family, but the key is to not exploit others a lot.
Animals suffer a lot when they get killed, but they suffer less when they die naturally because they prepare themselves (they stop eating).
We shouldn´t eat meat because when an animal is killed it is out of hate. Then when we eat that meat we are eating that hate. Cows need special protection because they are sacred.
Material happiness and material suffering are equal on this planet. Only when we realize that we are not our bodies and our materials don´t matter will we be happy.
17th, a continuation
We worshiped at the temple after the lecture. We started by dancing and singing. It was such a freeing feeling to be dancing and singing under the stars in a Krishna temple. Everyone had a smile on their face. One thing that is different though is that the boys and girls can´t really dance with each other. It is because they are not allowed to have illicit sex and dancing with each other is a distraction of the opposite sex. I didn´t care though it was fun dancing with all the girls. After the dancing their was a lecture on loving and not being attached to material things. A person should love another person´s soul, not their body. The guy that was giving the lecture mentioned that it was easier for woman to love, but with that love comes attachment and envy (which you are not supposed to have) and so it is still difficult for us. Men have a harder time loving because they have so much going on in their heads and think more with their mind than their heart.
There are a few moments in my life that I wish I could always recall perfectly, as if I were filmed, and that morning was one of them. A short hike over a large sand dune, across a small beach, around some rocks where you have to time the tide right to get around, and across another beach lead a group of us to a cave. We also had to time the tide right in the cave or we would have gotten soaked and potentially swept away by the vicious current. Painted in the cave is a large painting of a demigod with the head of a lion. He is an extention of Krishna. It took a past worker 3 months to paint. We had brought flowers as an offering to the demigod. We circled his body 7 times with the flower, then is middle 3 times, and then his body again 7 times. We were led to the cave by a guy named Daniel, who looked very similar to Weston. I think it was because he looked like Weston (my older brother for those who don´t know) that I really liked hanging out with Daniel and talking to him.
After we went to the cave we hiked a sand dune to a temple for all religions. It was a truly (a type of building) built by Eco Truly. They petitioned to the government to build a temple for all religions on government land and the government accepted. Inside the truly are names of many different gods from different religions. I thought it was very cool that they acknowledged other religions. I feel like other religions don´t do that.
Krispeta loves to go out with us on our hikes and chase birds. Lisa loves to come along, too. When we got back from the cave though the tide was too high for Krispeta to cross because she is a medium sized dog. Therefore, Daniel and I had to carry her the last part of the way because she was terrified of the water. I almost tripped when I was carrying her, but when it was all over she was really grateful to Daniel and me.
Everyday, after breakfast there is a volunteer meeting to see who gets what chores. I had the lucky time of doing the bathrooms my first day haha. The bathrooms at Eco Truly are different than normal bathrooms. The toilets are plastic garbage cans with a toilet lid on it. After someone uses the toilet, they put sawdust in the inside of it to cover up the smell. The sawdust also helps the pooh decompose. We dispose of the pooh into a cement block at the back of Eco Truly. The pooh must stay there for 3 months and then will be transferred to a different spot with worms for 3 months. After this, it can be used for fertilizer. The soil and fertilizer smell nothing like pooh and is very healthy for the plants.
After I helped clean the bathrooms I made lamps with bamboo, sawdust, glue, and chalk. We connected the bamboo sections with a mixture of sawdust, glue, and chalk. As I was headed to the bathroom after making some lamps I looked out towards the main entrance and saw Heather´s and my friend from Cuzco! Her name is Julia, but we call her Jiles:) I couldn´t believe it and ran over asap to give her a bear hug. It was her last day in Peru and she came to visit us for a few hours before she left. Jiles had been our roommate for awhile before she left Cuzco. The time with Jiles flew by, but it was so good seeing her and such a nice gesture of her to come visit us.
In our afternoon break, Heath, Chelan, and I went to the ocean for a bit. It was freezing, but refreshing. It was hard to go back to a cold shower though after haha.
Our activity for that afternoon was yoga with one of the guys there named Gocula. It was difficult (I´m probably the least flexible person ever), but good and relaxing. I love the positions that I feel actually work my muscles a lot. I thoroughly dislike stretching haha.
Every morning starting from this day we had yoga with Vivi at 7 in the morning. It seemed early to us, but nothing compared to what the devotees did. They had temple every morning at 4:30 in the morning! That is dedication. Although, yoga was early it was good to get a bit of exercise to wake us up before chores.
My chores for that day were training Chelan and Heather how to do toilets. After that we painted bathrooms... which were not very ventilated so we got a little loopy haha. Chelan taught us spanish songs (one about arroz con leche! yummy) and I somehow managed to only get a little paint on me (miracle!).
After lunch all the volunteers (which at the time were girls) took a run to a gas station about 15 minutes away. It was good exercise and I actually felt less out of breath then I usually am when I`m out of shape (thank you Cuzco lungs).
Our afternoon activity that day was a woman`s circle. Woman`s circles have been happening for 100`s of years. It`s a way of woman empowerment and a way of supporting each other. We started by making a sort of alter in the middle of our circle. Then we closed our eyes and Vivi cleared the air around us by a feather (it`s usually with sage, but we didn`t have any). When this was done we invited the spirits of the four directions (North, South, etc.) and said whatever came to our minds in no particular order around the circle. After each direction was invited we welcomed them. Once the introduction was done the feather was passed around the circle and whoever wanted to talk could. It was pretty neat.
Once the woman`s circle was done some of us headed to temple. It was much quiter than the first temple we went to. People were still playing instruments and singing, but it wasn`t all hyper and dancing around. We were sitting and more like chanting. I like the dancing praising better. It`s a good way to get all my energy out so I can actually listen without wanting to fall asleep. The lecture for that night was about fear. Chelan and I noticed that for some reason conversations we had throughout the day would be eerily connected to the lecture. We don`t think they planned it or anything because some of the things we talked about were right before going to temple and there would be no way they could plan the lecture on the walk to temple. It was weird and kind of cool haha.
I had the closest thing to fresh tortillas that night! For dinner we had this sort of burrito thing with some sort of fried vegetable in the middle with cheese. We also had some chocolate cake! By the way, Eco Truly makes amazing desserts!!!!! I was looking forward to eating healthy there, but the meals and desserts were so good I usually ate too much haha.
Wednesday was Chelan`s last full day so we decided to go to the early morning temple at 4:30am! I actually liked it better than the afternoon one because the whole thing was just singing and reading phrases out of a book. At the end they had to say a certain amount of the Hare Krishna mantra and taught us a special way to count. They have beads around their necks to keep track of how many times they say the mantra. They are supposed to say the mantra 16 rounds a day... but each round they say the mantra 108 times. 4 rounds takes about 25 minutes.
After temple we went to yoga and I couldn`t believe how sore I was. Every movement was killer. I wasn`t sore because of working the strength of my muscles, but more because I was stretching them so much.
Our morning chore was to pick beans. Eco Truly has a small organic farm where they sell or use the food for the volunteers and devotees. One of the reasons Eco Truly is so special is that it was able to grow many different fruits and vegetables in the middle of a desert. It`s right on a beach and is surrounded by sand dunes. Online they kind of make it sound like they are completely selfsufficient, which isn`t the case. They buy a lot of their products, which aren`t necessarily organic. We definitely used the beans we picked though. And anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE BEANS! Sadly, Heather is the one that had to deal with the after effects of me eating them:) hehe
Because some volunteers were leaving the next day, we all climbed a sand dune and watched the sunset together. We were in the perfect spot overlooking the Eco Truly temple with the sun setting right behind it, tucking down into the ocean.
After the sun had set some of us started the task of making a maracuya tart. Maracuya is passion fruit. Oh. My. Gosh. It is one of the most delicious things ever. Luckily, Heather and I got the recipe:) But sadly, I have never seen a maracuya being sold in Wenatchee, but we can replace it with some other delicious fruit.
Okay, so I am not done completely with Eco Truly yet, but I`ll post this so people can read it. I`ll continue my blog even when I get home so I can write about everything!