From Tiffany Schauer, August 2009
Indagare member and frequent traveler Tiffany Schauer traveled to Peru in July to attend a yoga retreat in the Sacred Valley at the Willka T’ika Garden Guesthouse. During her trip, she also visited Machu Picchu.
The next day, we travel to Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Machu Picchu. You can only access Machu Picchu via train or the Inca Trail. There are three levels of service for the train: backpacker, vistadome, and Hiram Bingham luxury. The Hiram Bingham looked to be the Orient Express of Machu Picchu – although I found the vistadome entirely fine – complete with on-board entertainment on the way home. Machu Picchu is fun and worth a two day visit. There are tons of hotels in the town of Aquas Calientes below the ruins. There is one luxury hotel immediately at the foot of Machu Picchu.
On our first day of hiking, we waited to take the bus to the ruins until the afternoon after the crowds had dispersed. The less-crowded experience was well worth the wait, as we had moments of stillness and solitude. After a day of hiking and yogaing around Machu Picchu, we went back down to Aguas Calientes to spend the night. We visited the storefront shop an Andean medicine man for a traditional healing ceremony. Later, we have dinner and eventually happily wander back to our hotel and fall into our beds listening to the Rio Urubamba river rush by our windows. Its heaven or something really close.
On the second day, our uber treksters woke up at 3am, caught the bus to the Machu Picchu ruins entrance and sprinted for the gate to climb Huayna Picchu (limited to 400 hikers per day). Their efforts paid off with an unparalleled view looking DOWN on Machu Picchu. The rest of the group enjoyed the natural hot spring baths in the town, the cafes, and shopping. Later, we caught the train back to Ollantaytambo and headed to Willka T’ika as if it was our home for the last twenty years.
Back at Willka T’ika, we rested and prepared for a native Andean to read our cocoa leaves. In Peruvian culture, cocoa leaves have a thousand-year-plus history of uses and mythic powers. In this instance, our visiting Curandero used the leaves as a magic symbol to predict the future and reveal one’s past lives. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, she opened a large bag of cocoa leaves and threw them on a pile. She sifted through the piles of leaves to find the definitive answer to each seeker’s questions. Lee, a fellow group member, told me the Curandero revealed that he was once a Military spy and because of his secret work, he had had difficult relationship and that he carries these difficulties forward to this day. He also was a Hermit in India living in a cave alone working on his consciousness for many years. He was very wise. He was also a Healer in an African Tribe acting as the tribe’s Medicine Man. Perhaps most dramatic, he had been a Pre-Incan Healer, or great white magician, that had been confined and eventually killed by a black magician for having a relationship with the black magician’s wife. The Curandero also revealed that Lee’s spirit guides were: a Native American named “Golden Arrow”; and “Ellancumu of the four elements,” a very old powerful Incan spirit. Ellancumu is above a shaman. He is a god for the shamans and controls lightning. The Curando told Lee that having Ellancumu as a guide means that he is heavily protected. Lee is a wild man and to me this reading explained everything.
Later I was invited by another group at Willka T’ika to experience a group sound healing session with Reconnective Healing Practitioner, Pierre Garreaud (www.soundlighthealer.com ). I have never heard such a beautiful voice with such a powerful purpose. Pierre splits his time between Peru and New Hampshire. I can still hear him singing. With all my beliefs suspended, I eventually board a bus for Cusco to fly to Lima to catch my flight home. I feel different, and I know I will go back to Peru.
Read about Schauer’s yoga retreat at the Willka T’ika Garden Guesthouse.