Tuesday, November 2, 2010

the curtain has fallen

he curtain has fallen

From my room, my penthouse view, I can see nothing. The curtain of rain is metaphorically and visually drawing this journey to a close. The sound of the rain on the roof serves as thunderous applause to time well spent.

I look at my bag and think of the rain jacket I have not yet needed and sigh as I unpack what I just packed for the last time. In shorts, flip flops, tshirt and hat I zip up my rain jacket to walk to the chiropractor to help relive my sciatic nerve before tomorrows flight.

It feels good to be going home. And I am glad to be leaving from where it all began: medellin.

My Spanish is much improved, but that's not hard to believe as I was limited to I want, I need, I have and I am when I arrived. In maslow's hierarchy these verbs could lead to a sufficient existence but not a satisfying or exciting one.

I knew no one but had friends of friends who took me in. I am staying with one and will meet the others for a farewell dinner. When I invited them for sushi it was 85 degrees. In the cold rain outdoor seating is a little less inviting.

In Colombia I have seen some of the craziest lightning of my life. Right now I do not see it but the roar of the thunder leaves me little doubt of the intensity of the show.

In some regards I am sad to leave. Although I am ready to go home I am not quite done seeing things. This creates a nostalgia for things I do not yet know. I guess it's nostalgia for the feeling of exploration.

And while I am eager for the company of people who know me well, I will miss those who will become my far flung friends from everywhere.

Today I was going to go hang gliding. Given the rain I am happy to have missed that one last adventure.

And so to work I return. Excitedly. With the closing of the curtain here today, the rain a cleansing intermission, act two of my life with bgi begins.

that BGI space, it is amazing. I never felt alone this whole time as I was constantly held by you all. in joy... aly

these are a few of my favorite things

These are a few of my favorite things....
Secret garden hostal
St Augustine heladeria for lunch
The many parks
Walking in old town

Canoa beach town:
Coco Loco hostal
The surf shack
Nice town, beautiful beach

Riviera Sucre hostal
Casa mojanda inn/ mimi and Jim's

Secret garden cotapaxi hostal

Ishcayluma hostal
Cosmos cafe
Pizza at cafe across the square from cosmos.
Mandango hike with Jacob

Moonrise travel


Jacks for breakfast
Hielo dress shop
Fresh juice every morning in San Pedro market.
Chicha restaurant
Ciccolina restaurant
The potato lady in san blas.
Hike templo de Luna
Maccu Picchu

La Mar restaurant

Uyuni salt flats

Navimag boat to Patagonia
Lee and Emma
Torres del Paine
Backpacker Kawaskar hostal

Bike ride with jen
Eco etnico hostal, poolside cocktails

Pisco Elqui:
Magic hostal! Forgot the name
Loved this town
Observatory tour

unposted thoughts, recently found

well, it seems silly, but I never realized I did not post my final post from the trip. I was looking through my notes in my phone and I found two more entries. I know no one is reading this now, but I feel compelled to complete the process.

So please forgive the untimely nature of the posts. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Home. On a slow northbound trajectory. I have been excited for the turning point and it turns out to be quite different from the halfway point. The turning point is now.

Yesterday as I ran my final errands in Cusco I realized that I have spent more time here than anywhere in my travels. At the same time it feels like I have traveled more of my own path in this place than anywhere.

Cusco, a muddy depressing mess in recovery from floods when I arrived. I wanted to go home. Today, leaving toward home I realized in six weeks I have seen transformation. This city has worked so hard to go beyond repair and recovery. And the work is everywhere.

So has it been with me. Three weeks of meditation, yoga, fasting, breathing exercises etc... In this time I have felt enormous as a part of the greater whole of the universe moving in concert with the whole to evolve our reality. I have also felt smaller than a grain of sand with the whole of the universe saying, you are one grain of sand. All that you do is insignificant in the big picture.

Where is the balance in identity? Part of my take away is to know that all that I do is sigificant to me and that the butterfly theory applies to me as well as a butterfly. One conversation, one person inspired could have repercussions unknown and unplanned. Let's hope those repercussions are positive. :) but even that engenders responsibilty and awareness of my own words. I may never be significant but my life can be if I strive to be my best self.

Six weeks on and off in cusco and I see that I have embraced the friendly advice of John Perkins: be afraid of nothing, be aware of everything. As I have faced uncertain situations fear turns into courage because I have no choice but to move through it. As I become more courageous the heart opens and compassion flourishes. And I can better see what is right in front if me.

Six weeks to feeling home in a place where I was first afraid of despair. And I suspect there will be moments when I feel the pang of homesickness for cusco.

Homesick for the place my wallet was stolen. Homesick for the place where unknown friends became known and took care of me until funds arrived. A place that made me trust others and myself.

I walked around the town early this morning, mourning my departure from a place that has given me so much. Enjoying it as it started to come to life. I super appreciate those who have made my life here seem like home. besos!

passing beauty

I am on the bus to Cusco and the splenor of the landscape grips my attention. I had thought I would read through my bus trips but find that often I am content watching beauty as we pass over the world.

In Bolivia I observed an elegance in the desert. With little flora to enhance the beauty it somehow acheives elegance at the most elemental level. The mountains rise up without the texturing of flowers, trees and shrubs but instead are painted red, black, orange, white and gold by the mineral elements that have shown themselves on the surface. The landscape appears soft and surreal when in fact it is harsh and unforgiving. In the Bolivian desert life is a surprise. Unexpectedly, rabbit like creatures peek from rocks, vicuña bound across the plains towards the next water source. And when you arrive at the lagoons large flocks of flamingos congregate, the thirst if the vicunas is satisfied and sometimes a fox lurks. But as you travel through it, the sun is so bright, the air so dry and water so scarce that you hardly expect to come across life. To witness life in this environment is to see the strength of nature.

It makes me wonder what is the barest necessity for a beautiful life? Is a simplified life a more beautiful life?

Why is it that simplifying my life seems so complicated? How do I fit simplicity into my complex world? Sqeezing in meditation and rushing to yoga seems like the purpose is defeated. I want to garden more, sing and dance, cook for friends. It all takes time. And exercise? How to I best respect this body which is my vehicle for service? The answer is in the simplicity... The body thrives. However the work, the service done by the body adds the complexity. Oi vey... As grandma Jeanne used to say.

All this comes to mind as I transition from the austere beauty of Bolivia to the verdent highlands of Peru.

From my vantage point in seat numer nine, I see the earth as it was made, not as we have made it. Where there are people I see them working with the land that is. Living with the earth not so much on the earth. Their lives seem simple. Their lives seem far from easy.

A strangely beautiful part of being in the Andes is that I am living in a narrow band of sky. The clouds are so close, it often feels like walking in the sky. Sadly I feel like I am walking in the discovery channel as often as I feel it is reality. I don't even own a television and I feel like reality mimics tv.

How can I work in this world in a way that helps to create more natural authentic experiences for everyone?

I love the work that I do. I am ridiculously happy at the thought of returning to it. As I have traveled I have had conversations with people who enthusiastically endorse the need for BGI and those who are incredibly skeptical. Both types of conversations make me see the importance of this work. Both inspire me to spend my life making a better world possible.

How do I come back into the work gracefully and maintain some of the simplicity of this time away? How to transition as naturally as the landscape rather than feeling like someone has simply changed the channel of my television?


So how was the border?

We arrived on the Peruvian side, stood in line, relinquished Peruvian visas. Walked across into Bolivia.

It was so easy. Another long line where I filled out paperwork, paid money, submitted photo I had taken just in case, showed my ticket out and gave a copy of my passport. There you have it, a few simple steps to being a happy US citizen in Bolivia!!!

Who could know that the return trip would prove more difficult.

Sitting contentedly on my direct bus back to Cusco we stopped for a routine check. Show the nice military man your passport and visa please. Not a problem. Back on the bus.

Exit bus to exit Bolivia. Fairly gruff but a quick process. I ask where I go next and get told "Peru". Not really helpful. Asking a second person yeilded the same answer. Mystified one of our party asked the obvious. where is Peru?I'm sure this is part of immigration's entertainment because they laughed and pointed across a bridge.

I walked across the bridge and it was not obvious where to go. I ask a police officer who takes me, not gently, by my elbow and steers me into the building on my left. It says national police, not immigration.

I am suddenly inside a movie. Concrete room, shuttered window, bare light bulb, one rickety table and two unsmiling officers.

"Tiene drogas?"

Do I have drugs. No, of course not.

They dump my handbag and my daypack out to search my belongings, repeatedly asking about drugs. How did I fall into this reality?

They look at my wallet. Since my wallet was stolen and I left my travel towell somewhere I have been using the mesh towell bag as my wallet. It has two pockets and it closes with a zipper. It's not ideal but it works and I have a wallet at home.

They wave the "wallet" in front of my face yelling because my money is disorganized. I explain slowly in my wonderful Spanish that my wallet was stolen and now this is all I have.

"Why is your money disorganized? Are you on drugs?"

No. All my money for a current country goes in one pocket. The back pocket is a mish mash of currencies.

"then where are your bolivianos?"

Because I am leaving Bolivia, I traded them for soles at the bus station this morning.

"entonces, no drogas?"



I start to organize my things.

"hurry! Get out!"

I shove things in my bag and leave, seeing two other girls waiting to go in. I cannot say anything as I am being escorted out.

Into immigration and three minutes later on the bus.

Now as I write this a woman next to me in the airport asks if they did not bring in women police for the search? I think the whole point was pulling in women just to terrorize. Good times for all in the border towns.

high on salt

So... I have developed some travel habits that are rather uncharacteristic of my Virgo nature. I am an admitted list maker, even for cleaning my house. Daily errands. Work. Travel itineraries. I like to know times and places. I bought innumerable guide books and read for months. I made plans. The books were heavy. I left them all at home. First step out of character.

I wanted to go to Bolivia but read that for US citizens it is very difficult. All the canadian, Aussie and European friends I've made empathized with laughter the plight if the American where visas are concerned. Reciprocity.

Bolivia: 140.00$, six months of bank statements, submit photo to government, itinerary, proof of ticket to exit. Apply at consulate three weeks in advance.

Forget it. I ruled Bolivia out.

QThen I chatted with some folks. No, aly, just show up at the border with passport, copy of passport and money. They'll let you in. Don't fly, it's harder.
So while in cusco with mickey I moved my own flight back a week and did a quick Internet search for a trip to the salt flats.

Wow. One company, direct bus to La Paz, transport to Uyuni and back again. No planning for five days. Awesome!

Direct bus overbooked. I got booted off twelve hour trip and on 22 hour trip. Lame. Off a semi cama (reclining with foot rest) to Classico (semi reclining no foot rest). Last leg, 8 hours no toilet. Grrr. :)

But arrival in la Paz went smoothly and overnight to uyuni was comfortable with only six of us on a bus. Two seats fully reclined is sort of like a twin bed. I slept.

With five others at 11 am we set off on three days of sights. The salt flats.... An incredible expanse of white. A village constructed from salt blocks. And fun with the camera too! We traveled between 4500 and 5300 meters all week. The sights left us breathless in all ways. The minerals of the area color lagoons in different ways. Each lagoon supported a population of flamingos.

Food was mediocre, housing like concrete bunkers, people great fun, worth the trip and the effort??? Absolutely. I rank my salt flats tour in my top ten. So much fun!