Posts Tagged ‘Chucuito’

The Sun Shines On

February 28, 2011

“How do you feel?” Jorge Luis Delgado asked me as we sat together on the bus that would take us back to the hotel.

It had been a long day. The Solar Disc Activation ceremonies were over. We had made our good-byes to our host families, boarded our boats, spent the next three or four hours in happy chatter as we sailed back to shore, and made a memorable stop at one of the floating islands. Now we were headed back to the hotel for dinner and celebration.

“You know,” I replied, “I guess I must be tired, but mostly what I feel is . . . just . . . good.”

It was all I could say, really. There weren’t words for how I felt, which seemed almost ridiculous for a woman who is a professional writer and editor. But there it was. No words. Only delicious peace and internal glow.

“Do you know why that is?” he asked.

“I’m not sure,” I said.

“When we work with our hearts open, we do not get so fatigued,” he replied.

I knew he was right. His words washed over me and settled into my bones as truth. I thought about the shamanic work I did with clients. I often did journey work with clients on Friday evenings, after having gotten up at 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. We wouldn’t finish until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. sometimes, yet I would come away from the work high as a kite. I’d always found it curious, but I’d never tried to explain it to myself, other than assuming it was the result of doing the work and seeing its impact on the client. But he was right. I was not only fully present with my client during the work on such nights, my heart was always wide open.

The same was true for the shamanic clearing work on houses and the spiritual coaching. As I reflected on his words, I saw that it was also true with the writing coaching, editing, and other work I did. When my heart was open, the work didn’t deplete me. Yes, body and mind needed some rest at the end of a long day, but it was more like adding juice to a battery that still had plenty of charge to it than trying to recharge a dead battery.

I recalled my days in corporate America. I’d held management positions that required ten to twelve hour days, demanded broad expertise, and provided endless helpings of stress. I was good at what I did and I always strived to serve the greater good. But it depleted me and I was never at my best when overwhelmed by stress. I’ve no doubt that more than one person who reported to me in those days would be able to attest to my being a pretty demanding boss.

When I left the corporate world, I realized—not immediately, but after a time—that no amount of money and no promotion would have provided what I sought and staying in that world would likely have eventually killed me. It had never been an environment in which I could work with an open heart, at least not for long. In fact, the more open my heart had become in that world, the more problematic that world was for me and the more problematic I was for whomever I reported to.

One of the most telling experiences I had in the corporate world happened months before I left the last company I would work at for any length of time. It was 7:00 p.m. or so. Everyone had left but the President, the Vice-President of Client Services, and me. The V-P of Client Services and I were sitting in the lobby, talking through some issue. The President came out and joined in the discussion. At some point, one of them presented a scenario and asked me what I would think about it if it was offered up. My heart bypassing my brain, I told the truth, instead of what was politically correct.

“I guess I’d ask what love would have me do next,” I replied.

The V-P of Client Services, a good friend as well trusted colleague, looked at me quizzically for a moment and then said, “Oh, I get it. It’s like, ‘What would Jesus do?’”

The President? He looked from one to the other of us and said nothing. But the look on his face said it all. We were nuts as far as he was concerned. I might as well have suggested that we consult the tarot or pull in an astrologer or even call up Warren Buffet for advice. My spontaneous comment was way too heart-centered. I couldn’t be trusted.

Of course, he already suspected that of me. I was gone after a time and my colleague was gone a while later. We weren’t calculating enough and we couldn’t be trusted to sacrifice people—including ourselves—for the sake of his agenda. We were toast.

Sitting next to Jorge Luis Delgado on a bus driving from Puno, Peru to our hotel in Chucuito, I realized that I wouldn’t have changed anything in my life. Everything had led me to a life and a body of work that allowed and even required an open heart. In that moment, sitting next to Jorge Luis, I was in a state of grace and no words were needed between us. We sat in peaceful silence. The sun had set . . . but it was still shining within.

Copyright 2011 by Melanie Mulhall

Meeting the Lake, the Land, the People, and Myself

June 16, 2010
Once I had arrived in Peru, my first priority was to introduce myself to the land and to Lake Titicaca. The morning after our arrival, I breathed in the sweet smell of Peru and took my time, as one would do with a new lover. I took coca leaves with me down to a grandfather tree at the edge of the gardens, made a k’intu, a little fan-shaped arrangement of three coca leaves, and entered a prayerful state of consciousness. In that state, I introduced myself to the land and to the lake, spoke of my purpose for being in Peru, and offered my respect. Then I gently breathed blessing into the coca leaves, raised them to the sun, and let the wind take them.

Afterwards, I walked down to the lake and began to get a feel for her. Lake Titicaca is considered to be the epicenter of feminine energy on planet Earth and I immediately felt her tug at my quosqo (the energy center around the navel). I felt connected to her—even felt that I was at her service.

Later I walked the labyrinth on the property, enjoyed the gardens, and helped some groundskeepers clean the stones in one of the pools. I had come to Peru on a service trip, to help Jorge Luis and the shamans and elders gathering at the lake activate the Solar Disc. It seemed to me that anything I could do on behalf of this important cause was a worthy thing to do. The hotel belonged to Jorge, the pool was a part of the hotel, and everyone involved in the Solar Disc activation was gathering at the hotel. If stones needed to be washed, then I would wash stones.

I climbed into the empty pool, looked at the rather startled men scrubbing away at the stones, picked up a brush, and joined in. They seemed amused by the crazy lady scrubbing slime off the stones and made an attempt to communicate. Even though I knew almost no words in the local language and they knew no English, before long, we were laughing and interacting as we meticulously washed the stones. I had made some friends.

Melanie the Rock Scrubber

And Her New Friends

But it wasn’t quite all bliss.

Because of the nature of the trip and the work to be done, I knew that my time in Peru could, and probably would, surface my “stuff”—my internal detritus. Lisa (my longtime friend and the ringleader of the Denver contingent) and I had discussed it numerous times and had done plenty of internal clearing in preparation for the trip. Still, I knew that whatever needed to come up for review was likely to. And it did, my second morning there.

No warning. Like a sniper attack in the well-intentioned jihad for my spiritual sanity, ordered by kindly helping spirits—but painful, just the same—I found myself knocked off center and feeling vulnerable during a conversation with Jorge Luis, himself. I saw it for what it was: my stuff coming up. Once the conversation was over, I felt my feelings, explored my thoughts, meditated, and shed a few tears. And I breathed a few prayers of gratitude for all the hucha clearing I’d done before coming to Peru. Then I did a little more hucha clearing.

And then I went exploring again. I’d heard that there was a temple in Chucuito and I set off on foot to find it. It had been referred to both as a sun temple and as a fertility temple by some fellow travelers, but a merchant in town frowned at the notion that it might be considered a sun temple and insisted that it was only a fertility temple. The merchant pointed me in a direction.

Still, I wasn’t quite sure where it was and stopped, past the plaza and church, at an area that was walled off. An old Peruvian man stood at the locked gate awaiting entrance and a young man—very blonde and very white—came to let him in.

I approached and said, “What is this place.”

The young man, clearly an American, told me that it was a retirement home for the very elderly and that the people staying there were very poor. I asked what had brought him to this small retirement home in this small town in Peru and he told me that he had just completed college and was there doing service work—repairing, building, and fixing things up. He would be leaving in a few days to work elsewhere. We chatted about his work, our homes in America, and the fact that many shamans from around Peru and around the world would be congregating very close to where he was in just a couple of days. He was startled by the news . . . but no more startled than I had been to find him in Chucuito.

He pointed to the temple (Inca Uyo), which I had just passed. I backtracked, paid my two dollars to get in, and was promptly taken in hand by a young girl who looked no more than seven or eight. She was quickly joined by a slightly older boy and the two of them chaperoned me. The phallic looking statues peppering the grounds suggested that it was, indeed, a fertility temple.

Fertility Temple

The tour was quick. Within a couple of minutes, the girl began calling out what sounded like, “Finis! Finis!” and kept repeating a word I did not understand. (Of course, “finis” is Latin for “finished.” She certainly was not speaking Spanish and I had no sense of whether she could have been speaking in Aymara, the local language.) But I wasn’t finished experiencing the site and the boy was more accommodating. He pointed out several things of interest, the girl continuing to call out quite insistently and becoming more and more agitated the longer the tour took.

When she rubbed her thumb against her index and middle fingers and looked at me with disdain, I finally understood that she was not only insisting that the tour was over, but that she wanted money for the quick spin around the grounds. I had been at the temple but a few minutes. The two had chastised me when I suggested I just wander the grounds on my own. My head was spinning from the brush-off. I gave her a dollar. The boy demanded one too, but I’d had enough of the merchant urchins by then and simply turned and walked away.

The fellow travelers who had been to the temple before me had been enchanted by the delightful, loving children who had given them a tour. Their guides were clearly quite poor and equally sweet. But the boy and girl who ushered me were wearing designer duds and seemed to have affection only for making a buck. The boy at least had basic manners, but the girl was both disrespectful and pushy.

Yes, it can be said that the majority of Peruvians are not particularly well off, a condition that has spawned many little entrepreneurs. And, no doubt, some tourists are less than respectful of the Peruvian culture, people, and land. But the chasm between my friends’ experience and mine was a vivid and pointed message that Peruvian children, like people everywhere, are not generalizable.

Days unfold and reveal themselves to us regardless of where we are, but sometimes we are more cognizant of it, on alert for what might transpire. This day had more to reveal. We were taking a side trip to Sillustani—a place known for its UFO activity. The day was already revealing itself as being just a little disconcerting and odd. I wondered what was next. 

Sillustani

Copyright 2010 by Melanie Mulhall

Liftoff

April 28, 2010

Sometimes things change in an instant. My trip to Peru didn’t exactly change in an instant, but it changed almost overnight. In late January, 2010, flooding and mudslides in Peru made Machu Picchu inaccessible. People lost their homes. Some died. Tourists had to be rescued by helicopter. Fortunately, Machu Picchu itself was not lost, but it would be lost to tourism for weeks or months to come. In fact, the entire Sacred Valley had endured flooding and some areas near Lake Titicaca had been flooded, too

My side trip to Machu Picchu was washed away in the floods. Visiting the Sacred Valley was in question. For a few days I was not sure that the trip would happen at all. Fortunately, while the trip schedule had to morph a bit, the trip was still on. Instead of visiting Machu Picchu, we would be going to what many believed to be the most important archeological site in the Americas: Tiwanaku, in Bolivia.

Now this was truly interesting. A couple of years earlier, I had been sitting meditation one morning when I received the very clear message that I would be going to Bolivia one day. I wasn’t even quite sure where in South America Bolivia was. I was skeptical. (Yes, I admit it. I sometimes question what comes in meditation, even though it is right on, more often than not.) Bolivia? What in the world would bring me to Bolivia? And now, two years later, it seemed I would be going to Bolivia on a side trip.

Part of the Denver contingent gathered at DIA on February 7. The first leg of the trip for us was Denver to Miami. Then Miami to Lima and Lima to Juliaca. From Juliaca, we would take a bus to Puno and on to Jorge’s hotel, the Taypikala Hotel, which was on the shores of Lake Titicaca, in the little village of Chucuito.

I suspected that my flight from Denver to Miami was going to be a good one when the man already seated next to my assigned seat on the airplane greeted me even before I sat down and offered to help me stash my carryon. He had a huge smile and emanated peace. I quickly learned that his name was Shane Senevirante, he had been born in Sri Lanka, and he was the owner of an open wheel (Indie style) race car team called Team Stargate Worlds. Yep, the same folks connected with the television series and movie sponsored his team. He was heading to Miami to meet up with one of his drivers, Simone De Silvestro.

Shane and I chatted the entire flight. We talked about open wheel car racing, shamanism, family, Peru, Sri Lanka, and leadership. That conversation with Shane gave me hope. Here was a young team owner in the highly competitive field of car racing speaking about the importance of maintaining harmony within his team. He genuinely cared about his team members and their overall well being. He had a firm grasp on business necessity, but he also had a firm understanding of the importance of maintaining internal peace. And he cared deeply about his family.

If someone had suggested that enlightened leadership could be found in the race car industry, I would have seriously doubted the veracity of the comment and the sanity of the speaker. Yet there I was, impressed by the wisdom and commitment to principles coming from a young race team owner. I had dropped out of corporate America more than a decade earlier because of unenlightened leadership and greed. This young man was making me rethink my position on business. I planned to keep an eye on him and his team.

The layover in Miami was many hours. It might have been exhausting, but wasn’t because our group bonded during those hours. We had come together for a purpose: to join with others to activate the Solar Disc. It was a service trip for all of us and joining together in service, in and of itself, helped forge that bond. But we also had so much time to wait at the less than inspiring Miami International Airport that we were able to share stories about ourselves and our lives, buy a group gift for Jorge and another for one of his guides, and otherwise gel as team. The layover was enlivening instead of exhausting.

The layover in Lima was also long and we were just a little rumpled around the edges at that point. But the flight to Juliaca was awe inspiring. The Peruvian Andes were blanketed in green—and not just any shade of green, but a vibrant mixture of forest green, Kelly green, and spring green that was surely the essence of what God meant by the word “life,” and could easily be the pictorial stand-in for the word.

The Juliaca airport was a diminutive tarmac break among all that green, like a nest tucked into the terraced hills. I found myself grateful for the pilot who had managed the landing. At the luggage carousel—and there was only one, so it was easy to find—a smiling little band of locals greeted us with pan flutes and guitars. Their cheerful traditional Peruvian music created an immediate sense of celebration, but my reaction was that of having all the wind sucked right out of me. Tears sprang to my eyes.

I felt as if I had come home . . . after a long absence.  

Copyright 2010 by Melanie Mulhall