August 1, 2013 OLLANTAYTAMBO
August is the month of celebration of Pachamama (Earth) so today being the first day, there were many celebrations around like music played from the ruins.
Today I woke up at 4 and finished Diane's book on the Munay Ki rites. I slept a bit more then did my meditation and yoga. More reading then breakfast at 8 and catching up on emails. I was then invited to a yoga session here at Apu Lodge at 10 which was outside in the sunshine. 5 women doing yoga on the lawn, it felt great. I was invited to participate in a sweat lodge that evening. I asked what that was, Louisa the owner of Apu Lodge explained very briefly and when she said it would be a celebration and ceremony for Pachamama, I said yes. That was enough for me to know I wanted to accept the invitation.
Then I packed up a few things and headed to climb/hike up the mountain behind the hostal to the Pinkuteru (?) ruins. Again, it was a challenge for me. The trail was narrow and steep and in some cases scary enough to bring on a bit of panic in me. I wanted to turn back but I kept getting myself to the Power of Yes, telling myself to just make it to first set of ruins which I did. I then continued to climb, even rock climbing at some points which was very scary for me. I made it to the small ruins that look like the crown on the profile of the Inkan in the mountain. I felt good to have pushed past my fears and continued on. It was a great view but mostly it felt good to have made it and just be there. Going down was the easy part. I then walked into town for lunch (grilled trout, rice, french fries, salad) and ice cream (chocolate and banana split gelato) - all delicious. I was again, very tired so headed home.
Wrestling with the internet, arranging a taxi for tomorrow, paying my bill, showering and getting organized all took me to dusk when they said the ceremony would start. I walked over to the lawn where a large fire was being built. It would be another hour before the fire would be ready. People started to arrive including Winn, the owner of Casa de Wow where I had originally had a reservation, it was a nice meeting. Once Winn found out that I did not have any preparation or much knowledge about the sweat lodge, she explained what would happen. The fire was heating up stones which would be placed in the center of the lodge, water would be thrown on the hot rocks creating steam inside. Seven hot rocks would be placed inside at four different times representing the four elements and directions: Earth, Water, Air and Fire (Spirit). We needed to be prepared to be very hot and sweat profusely and to the point of going beyond ones ability if possible. At the same time, we would be able to come out if we needed to.
(repeat) While sitting outside by the fire, I met Winn, the owner of the Casa de Wow. This is where I originally had booked but she had closed her hostal suddenly. There were also quite a few others like me who had originally booked with her. It was nice to meet her especially since she was so open and friendly. She asked if I had every experienced a sweat lodge before and when I said no, she then explained what was going to happen. I was grateful for her explanations so I would know a bit about what to expect and what I could do if needed (drink water, lie down, exit). The 'sweat lodge' was shaped like an igloo all covered with thick wool blankets. Inside it was dark with a bed of eucalyptus leaves on the floor. In the middle was a fire pit. When it was time, we were instructed to crawl inside and make our way around the edge, letting everyone in and sitting around the pit. It was pitch dark inside with only light coming in when the blankets were pulled aside to open the door. The fire stones were brought in, flute played, chanting and prayers in Spanish. Quite a lot of talking by the guide who would be conducting the ceremony, all in spanish. At one point, I felt so hot and unable to breath due to the high humidity inside. I then lay down on the earthen floor burying my face in the leaves. The ground was a cool contrast to the rest of my body so provided some relief and ease of breath. Prayers were offered, each of us in turn sharing something, with an expression of "Ahor Pachamama" expressed by all. It was an amazing experience to practice letting go and realizing how fundamentally connected we are to the Earth. At one point Winn sang in the most beautiful voice: Earth is my body, Water my blood, Air my breath and Fire my Spirit. I was completely drenched both by sweat and having water thrown on my with each new placement of stones (4 rounds). After perhaps 2 hours, the ceremony ended. I stepped out into the cool night, standing by the fire listening to music being played, Scorpius high in the sky. It was a beautiful evening and a special parting gift for my last night in Peru.