|An account of an initiation into
ancient Andean spiritual traditions
during which we learn to tap into
and work with the natural energies
of the earth and the universe.
Hatun Karpay Initiation in Peru
MORE ABOUT MACHU PIKCHU
As we learned at supper, Ali and Debra had decided to hike up along the Inka Trail toward the big Machu Pikchu mountain after returning from their exhausting climb on Huayna Pikchu! After they'd totally worn themselves out taking this second hike, they headed back to the parking lot. But even though they had tickets for the long bus ride down the switch-back road to the village of Aguas Calientes on the other side of the 'little' female mountain, Mamita Putukusi, that stands between the Inkan city and the town and our hotel, all the buses were full!
So the gals started back down the mountain, climbing down the steep stone stairs, yelling and waving frantically to each bus that passed them as they crossed the switchbacks. But they ended up having to hoof it all the way back up the many stone steps leading up the lower part of the mountainside upon which our hotel is situated. As Ali was relating their adventures to some of us later that evening, Debra grumbled with a wan smile, "It was all her idea! I hate my roommate!" But the next morning, they were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed --well, not exactly!
In the Pachamama Cave the group encountered niches where formerly stood huacas or sacred stones representing the 5 ņust'as or sacred female energies of nature. They gave their refined energies to Pachamama--instead of their heavy energies as we'd always done before. Juan told them about the ņust'as--one is red, one black, one gold and one silver. Juan told them to give all their energies or their power to each of these first 4 ņust'as. Then they were to give their hoocha to a large stone. After giving away everything that they could of their powers and energies, they asked the energies of the 4 ņust'as to blend inside them. And then they were to move to a 5th niche and give those combined energies to the 5th ņust'a which was green. The group all said that this was a very powerful experience.
Juan then took them even further down to a cave of the underworld, innerworld or ukhu pacha. This cave is the only intact Inkan temple remaining, as the niches each still have their own original huacas. And here the group encountered the energies of ukhu pacha directly. Another very powerful experience. You can read about Elizabeth's experiences in the Pachamama Cave and the Cave of the Underworld in her book, "Initiation: a Woman's Spiritual Adventure in the Heart of the Andes."
The little town of Aguas Calientes, named thus for its location near the hot springs, is now mostly a tourist town. Businesses such as a few hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and a few other types cater to the tourists. For the local residents there's a cathedral and a school bordering the town's small square. The noisy 'night life' of this little town consists mostly of children who play ball games and with dolls and other toys in the square. A few tiny bars are tucked here and there along the steep streets' other buildings.
We had to trudge up and up and up one of the steepest streets to get to the hot springs. Along this street are shops of a better quality. One of them is run by a shaman who sells crystals and other stones, some rough, some carved into small figurines and statues. They also string beads of semi-precious stones and make up necklaces and bracelets. He wasn't there when I stopped in, but his wife is very nice and knows a fair amount about Andean spiritual traditions.
Juan took us to a wonderful restaurant, Indio Feliz, a French bistro owned and operated by a Peruvian woman and her French husband who is the chef. The food was delicious. Although we ate there a couple of times, we usually ended up eating at a pizza joint right on the village square. This restaurant is quite small, but has a big clay oven that makes the restaurant's interior hot when pizzas are baking. Service seemed quicker than at the Indio Feliz and the prices were lower. Of course, the food prices at the hotel, as in all hotels, are about twice the amount charged in other restaurants.
To get to the town from our hotel, we had to walk along the unused lower set of railroad tracks. And all along these tracks the local crafts people have set up tents and booths. They hang up colorful weavings and clothing on lines behind or between their tents. Some sell stuffed dolls, animals, jewelry, trinkets - and even tropical butterflies and tarantulas all carefully pressed and mounted in display cases.
Tourists catch the buses going up to the ruins of Machu Pikchu in the town. The buses are owned by a cartel of opportunistic local drivers who managed to get the Peruvian government to give them exclusive rights to offer this service. But the buses are old, rickety and poorly maintained. They do have accidents every once in a while. Their engines have so little power that they creak and groan up the switchbacked road to the ruins.
Now the Peruvian government is building a cable car to run up the mountain to the ruins. This cable affair is supposed to be capable of delivering 400 tourists per hour, many more than those rickety buses do now. There have been some political opposition rumors claiming that the government also has plans to build a massive hotel right on top of a part of the ruins, thus destroying some of the ruins. But as far as I've been able to ascertain, from friends who've just come back from Peru (summer, 1999), this is a wild political rumor, nothing else. The area is a national park and as such is protected from such doings.
We were staying at the incredibly beautifully constructed Inkaterra Machu Picchu Luxury Hotel (Youtube video). Situated on the east side of the Willkaņust'a River (modern spelling: Rio Vilcanota) opposite the big Machu Pikchu mountain, this is a complex consisting of a main building constructed on several levels a short, but steep climb up from the new train station on the upper tracks. Porters meet the train and loaded up with 5 or 6 heavy suitcases apiece, these hardy wiry little men and boys practically run up the stone steps to the hotel lobby! Leaving us tourists panting in their wake. They also hang around until we are assigned our rooms and then they carry our baggage up to our rooms. I was mighty grateful for this service!
From the main building, stone trails, including lots of steps, extend further along and up the mountainside to clustered "pueblos" where the guests stay. The 52 "casitas" are constructed from adobe, hand-made bricks, eucalyptus wood and stone. All construction materials were carted in by train from the Urubamba Valley, then carried by hand up the steep mountainside. This is so the ecology and archaeology of this federally protected area would be disturbed as little as possible.
These mountains in the Machu Pikchu area support what is termed a high tropical cloud forest. Supplementing the native flora, fabulous tropical plantings, a couple of fountains, a small reflecting pool and several patio areas make this hotel the most visually and sensually beautiful of all the places we stayed at.
As explained below, Pat and I didn't go back to Machu Pikchu the third day for the long difficult hike up to the top of Huayna Pikchu. We remained behind at the hotel to meditate and tune into the group's energies.
Since I had two hours after the group left before meeting Pat, I decided to explore the hotel's orchid trail. Along the way one of the grounds keepers noticed my interest in the orchids. Although he couldn't speak a word of English and I not a word of Spanish, except for "gracias," we got along fabulously. He was so eager to show me all the little bitty, almost hidden orchids---I never would have spotted some of them without his help! He and I knew the scientific names for many of the orchids, so that's how we connected. He was so very helpful, so eager to try to discuss the orchids--I assumed that he didn't get very many chances to talk about plants, his favorite subject. There are over 100 species of orchids growing along the trail! We must have spent over an hour looking at and trying to talk about the orchids and other plants. I gave him 30 soles and he was very grateful. That's a lot of money when you don't get paid very well.
The orchid trail winds slightly downhill past all the guest bungalos for several hundred feet. It ends at the hotel's avocado and tea orchards! In addition to these trees, they grow other types of tropical fruit trees. We saw several kinds of tropical birds, but since my companion knew only their Spanish names, I could only guess at what families of birds they belonged to. There seemed to be some finch types and some wrens. We saw a so-called golden quetzal, but it was plain green and brown, probably a female. My companion indicated that the bright flashily colored quetzal lived further down in the jungles and didn't come up near the hotel. The hotel's brochure shows a male cock of the rock, too, but I never saw one.
The third day at Machu Pikchu the group was going to make the long climb up the right-hand trail clear to the top of Huayna Pikchu! Since Pat and I didn't feel up to it, we decided to meditate and hook into the group's energies this way during the time they would be doing their rituals. Juan told us to merge our bubbles with those of the other women, forming a feminine group bubble. He explained that he'd already had the men bond and merge their bubbles the previous evening. He said that the group's work of the previous day had been the honoring of the feminine, and that today would be the honoring of the masculine. Target time for starting their rituals was 10 a.m. Since we had a couple of hours to wait, I decided to walk the hotel's orchid trail, as described above.
A few minutes before 10, Pat and I got ourselves settled down. We both felt intuitively that the group had already started the rituals--but my left brain said, naw, that's not possible. After I got it to shut up, I opened my bubble to the women's collective bubble and settled in for the next hour. I felt some changes in energies during that hour, but really didn't have a clue as to what they meant. Pat and I got up and stretched, drank some water, then settled down for the next hour. I got nothing from the group that hour and neither did Pat. But she said she'd had a 'visit' from the Dalai Lama, of all people, during the first hour! While we were in Peru, he was lecturing to college students and faculty and the general public very near Pat's home!
The group returned about an hour and a half ahead of the time Pat and I figured they'd show up! They said the climb wasn't as rough as the one the previous day to the Pachamama Cave. But for descriptions of the rituals and people's experiences, again I'll have to refer you to Elizabeth's book.
|A cave near the top of Huayna Picchu. The women entered this cave first, then "cleaned" each man as the guys crawled through one by one. When the women emerged, they left their feminine aspect inside the cave.|
Photo by Patricia Palacios
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|Patricia Palacios resting atop Huayna Picchu, after the long climb. Juan is seated behind her.|
Photo by another group member
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That evening we did the rituals in the hot springs and the next morning at the large boulder in the Willkaņust'a River, as I wrote about previously. And then we took the long, long train ride back to Cuzco.
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Links 2 ~
19 - Musings ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Florence W. Deems
Š February, 1999;
revised May, 2002; November, 2002;
May, 2003; March, 2004; February, 2008;
September, 2008; July, 2010; July, 2012
August, 2016, all rights reserved