Going to Peru
People often ask me, “Why did you decide to go to Peru?” For years I had undiagnosable pain. I had tried traditional western doctors who poked and prodded then an Eastern acupuncturist then a nutritionist. I found some comfort here and there, but no true relief. I continually searched for someone or something to help.That is when Peruvian Shamanism was introduced to me.
My massage therapist took frequent trips to Peru to work with Dr. Theo Paredes. Perhaps she planted the seed. Or perhaps she was the coincidence that materialized to show me the opportunity. Either way I began to consider a trip to South America, but it was a battle to decide to go. Could this mystic healer help me where all the others had failed? Could I justify taking such an expensive trip without my spouse? Could I go alone to a country I had never been before? I used every decision tool I could think of to justify the trip, but it just did not seem to make sense. Yet the idea of going would not leave me.I remember the day I decided to go. It was not based on logical justification. My heart just called out “go!”
As our bus took me from the airport to Poqen Kanchay, my home for the next two weeks, I was stunned by the abject poverty outside my window. Families gathered by a dirty stream and appeared to be doing their laundry. I could not tell if the blankets strung up on lines were just drying or if they also posed as their shelter for the evening. My heart broke for these people. The poorest homeless person in the United States seems rich in comparison.
We came to a corner and someone said “There it is.Poqen Kanchay.” There? There it is? The building pointed to was made of simple unpainted man-made cement. It was covered with the thick dust of Peruvian winters. What had I gotten myself into? Would my accommodations be just a modest step above the people we had seen near the river?
As we walked from the bus into the courtyard, I felt like I was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Nothing inside was like the dingy black and white of the outside. The courtyard, instead, surrounded us with a lush garden filled with irises, roses, and other beautiful plants. The walls of the courtyard were gaily painted in bright earthen colors of orange, yellow and green. A smiling staff greeted us and immediately rushed to take our bags and hand us a cup of warm tea.
Nothing in Peru is what I expected. Nothing in Peru is what it seemed at first glance. The second day on our journey we stopped at a restaurant. Similar to the outside of Poqen Kanchay, the restaurant looked as if it had seen better days. However, inside it was as upscale as the trendiest restaurant in the biggest U.S. city. The food and the service were exceptional.After seeing these two establishments I began to think about the people by the river the first day.Was my perception about the people at the river on the first day wrong? Should I have assumed because they appeared not to have a lot of money that they should be pitied? The longer I stayed in Peru the more I found that Peruvians are some of the happiest people in the world.
Again and again Peru gave me examples that things were not what I expected them to be. It gave me illustrations of how things were not what I perceived them to be. Hummingbirds there were not fragile, small birds, but the size of robins. Humming bees and corn kernels were larger than my thumbnail. Yucca plants reached like skyscrapers. Every illustration made me open my eyes to the difference between reality and my perception. How often does what we see get clouded by our perception? How often do we fail to see the truth because we are seeing it through the lenses of our past or of our personal beliefs?
How often do we let our assumptions or past experiences color the reality of the moment?
How much of the now are we missing because we are judging what is going on?
How many times do we miss today because we assume it is unfolding the same as yesterday?
How many times do we miss this present moment because we are focusing on our expectations?
Spend some time today observing, without judgment, and discover a new world waiting to bring you joy and wondrous new experiences. I know – I’ve been there.