My Tayrona

How to make the best of Tayrona Park, Colombia – 26/07/2018)

My bad luck……. (Sometimes)

Do you ever have the feeling that when you decide to do something or attend somewhere, circumstances do not work in your favor? In other words, that you have bad luck (or at least not the same luck than others?)… Sometimes I do.

And this is one of the things I am trying to burn in this trip….. because it isn’t true and because, in any case, the universe works its way for us and everything happens in the way is supposed to happen. But despite knowing that, I still feel wound up when everything conspires against.

The Tayrona Park is without a doubt a must see place in Colombia. So when you travel to Colombia, make sure you allow yourself sufficient time to visit the place. As well, it is very important to get all the information correctly, so you make the best out of the place.

Minutes after my arrival to the hostel in Santa Marta, one of my roommates gave me information about the park. But unfortunately this information was incomplete and without you having the correct and accurate information, you will make your experience at the park more complicated, as they are quite few restrictions in place in order to preserve the purity of the park. So this post will try to give you better understanding on the choices and what can you do.

Buses from Santa Marta go to the Park every 15 min. And cost is 8000 COP.

The park stretches over a vast area of the North Caribbean cost of Colombia, although only 1/4 of the park is accessible for tourists. The rest is protected and sacred land.

So in the area open to tourism, you will find numerous beaches and places to stay. However, we could say that there are mainly two areas for staying: San Juan and Arrecifes. Both have different atmosphere.

San Juan is the most famous one and, therefore, the busiest place. It is right by the beach, so you will sleep seeing and hearing the waves. That is a wonderful thing. It is also, the place for partying and socializing. So San Juan is packed with young backpackers all over the world. The downside of this is the quality of the facilities (more backpacking standards), the noise and the difficulty to get a place. It gets filled quite quickly.

Arrecifes instead has more options, including a higher rating lodge-camping ground with a good restaurant. It is also quieter, and the hamacs have mosquito nets (not present in San Juan), so for those looking for a good night of rest and quieter mood, Arrecifes is better. The dowside of Arrecifes is that is not by the beach, but slightly inland. So you don’t see or feel the sea close.

Obviously, despite I always tend to to go for a good sleeping place, I was preferring San Juan. I wanted to sleep right next to the sea. I was told you could not prebook your accommodation in the park.

When travelling from Santa Marta,  you will find two entrances in the park. The most remote one is the official entrance and it is on the eastern end of the park. But there is a nearer and a small entrance in a place called ‘Calabazo’, which is a bit inland but aligned with San Juan if you walk straight towards the sea. The Calabazo entrance is poorly equipped, so you will not benefit from all the infrastructure you have in the main entrance. The advice given was to enter through Calabazo and walk straight to San Juan, so I could arrive earlier than the others, as they were coming from further distance.

I wanted to secure my place in San Juan, and despite the walk from Calabazo to San Juan is through a steep hill/little mountain, I decided to do this route, assuming it will get my faster to my destination.

Calabazo should better be name Calabozo….. You have a pretty good 3.5h hike in a torrid, sticky, hot and humid environment. So it is not easy, neither you can walk fast.

In the middle of that hike you will visit a indian settlement (Pueblito) which is half way to San Juan. Usually people go there from San Juan and come back. The path is quite rocky and challenging, so if you do it from a relax mood (rather than rushing through it as you want to get to San Juan quickly to get your space), it is quite enjoyable.

After 4h, and sweating my own body weight, I arrived to San Juan. I queued at the reception to get to my hamac, just to be told they are fully booked.  But right after me, some Argentinian girls claimed their reserved hamacs for the evening….. Reserved????? –  ‘I was told accommodation in the park could not be reserved!!!’

Here is when my insistence in getting the right information is key to ensure a pleasant experience. Apparently, when you get off the bus from Santa Marta at the main park entrance, some people are selling you spaces in San Juan Lodge, so before you enter the park you have your space. Booom!!

Even worse, once inside the park there is a shuttle service from there to an internal parking area, very close to the beach La Piscinita. So people entering  from the main entrance, walked half the time with a secured place. And myself, I had to walk 5h at the end to get a space which was not by the sea.

So, I hope this prevents you from making the same mistakes and you can make the most of the Park. Despite that, doing the hike through Calabazo was an experience. Did not get what I expected but got something else that other people could not enjoy. An undisturbed hike at the heart of the park where I could probably feel the energy of the place, whereas the rest of the crowd were just following the designated route for tourists.

I admit I can be very grumpy sometimes and not see the good happening. Trying to control things in a trip like this one, and even more in life, only spoils the experience. So just relax. And allow yourself few days to stay there and finish your visit in Palomino (few kilometers beyond the Park), one of the most beautiful nature preserved beaches in the area.

Pictures of the Tayrona Park and Palomino are in the video below.

La Abuelita (The Grandmother)

(A magic encounter, Lima – 28/06/2018)

They say that you don’t find her. She finds you. And she comes to you when you are ready.

I started to hear about her at the same time than the idea of the need of a sabbatical break (and trip) was brewing. Initially was like the exotic story you hear from someone when you are drunk. The kind of conversations you have when you are intoxicated.

She only can be found in South America. At least, the real deal. The Amazonian Jungle is where she’s from. As my trip proposal and plans were slowly pointing myself towards South America, references about her started to appear as well. Was that a signal? I didn’t know. It could be that during my trip she could be meters away from me and we would never meet.

She has to come to you. She finds you. That is the way she always work.

So I kept my mind open. With the understanding that when the moment comes, I would not have to bend backwards to find her. She will just cross my path.

But she kept me sending subliminal messages since I entered the Latin America. From time to time, she sent me a messenger just to tell me ‘I am around’. So I was optimistic about the possibility of meeting up.

If there is a country where she feels comfortable, that is Peru. One of the spiritual vortexes of the world, Peru is the place for mysticism and transcendence. So when I reached Peru, despite I knew she had to find me, I could not help to be, let’s say, extra alert.

She chose the perfect time and place to send the messenger announcing her arrival. Once I arrived to Cuzco, just to meet me after visiting Machu Picchu. The channel she chose to send the messenger was Grinder. What a twist. The least spiritual platform on earth became the platform for enlightenment.

-‘ She is playful ‘ – I thought when I could analyse the whole thing retrospectively.

Someone from Cusco wrote me a message when I was in Arequipa. His name was Victor. It wasn’t clear how would meet and for which purpose. But turned out we ended up having a coffee 30min after I arrived to Cusco city centre. We had that coffee and we never met again (although the initial plan was to properly meet up). During our brief coffee, we spoke (among other things) about Cusco and its mysticism.

I asked Victor if she had met her. His answer was yes. And that he knew who could put me in contact with her. She is the caring grandmother of us. And if you have not worked out who she is by now, her name is Ayahuasca.

From that moment, I knew I would meet her. Victor passed me the details of a shaman he knew. I immediately messaged him. And despite the shaman did not reply my initial message, I began my preparation.

The nickname of La Abuela is not my make. Local people and shamans refer to San Pedro (the herb) as el Abuelo and Ayahuasca as La Abuela. Both take care of the humans, but do have a different personality.

Ayahuasca is not to be taken lightly. Neither to be embraced without a preparation. It has to be done only through a Shaman. And you have to prepare yourself physically and spiritually.

You need to detox your body and spirit. For at least one week, you will have to diet. Not to eat dead animals, specially meat. No coffee, no alcohol, no cigarettes. And no sex (you cannot masturbate yourself either). Your body is the temple where you will receive her, and you will need to be as pure as possible. As well, praying and meditating during that preparation time is helpful.

Under those conditions I did the Salkantay Trek (4 days trek in the mountain, ending in Machu Picchu). At my return to Cusco, the shaman replied to me. He was in Lima during those days and not in Cusco.

I could not come to terms why she would choose Lima for our encounter, but that was the way things worked out. So I booked a ticket to Lima.

At this point of the story, I started to feel a bit of anxiety. I did not take her lightly. And I knew that, although is a healing journey, is not necessarily a pleasant one. That respect I had for her along with the fact that we were going to meet in the middle of an urban jungle, instead of being in the middle of nature one, was a key factor to understand what came next.

Two things the shaman asked me to do in preparation for the ceremony. Number one, to wear clothes as white as possible. And number two, to do a preparation/forgiving prayer for my ancestors, my parents and myself prior the day of the ceremony.

The forgiving prayer was an interesting experience. I did it the night before the ceremony and lasted for almost one hour. During that time I was thinking about my ancestors and my parents, although the energy shifted towards my parents, my brothers and uncles/aunties.

I cried during that prayer. For some reason, I could see them under a different light. I became more aware of the history behind them and the pain each of them was carrying in life. And I felt compassion. And I cried.

Next morning I went to Lima. And couple of hours after I arrived to Lima and checked-in, I was on my way to the ceremony. It took me more than 1 hour in a traffic jam to get to the place. That was not good start. You need to put things in perspective. Here I am, about to have a life changing experience. To be done alone, just me and the shaman, in a quite run down house in a proletarian suburb of Lima. That was quite intimidating.

But that was the way she came to me. So I was committed to just do it.

The shaman took me to the room and prepared both himself and myself for it. Blankets, cushions and empty bucket for each of us. And there she was. Right front of me. My anxiety peaked. But there was no way back.

The journey that came after taking her was unconventional. And, like everytime we are extremely alert about something, it worked in an unexpected way. The best way to describe it is like when you are waiting to get somewhere and you set yourself in a waiting mode, just to realise at some point that you are there. You got there without noticing.

As I previously disclosed my fears to the shaman, he was conservative about dosage. The idea was to have first journey not too wild. And that was going to be the case, although I didn’t know it at that time.

In the journey, you go through different sensorial phases. There is a sound phase, where the smallest resonance vibrates inside of you with no fading. There is a geometrical phase, where alive geometries take shape inside your brain. And from there you go to organic phase.

It is an interesting journey. You get out of reality as same time part of you remains within. Your brain drifts in and out of it. And I was conscious of the whole thing and therefore, bit scared. I didn’t know where the journey would take me.

I remember a part of me wanting to stand up and go, although I was unable to move. I never had crazy visions nor too strong or frightening. It was neither the thing I imagined. The gate of the universe did not open front of me. For that, you will probably need to let go more and trip much further. The journey just went as far as I was ready to go. She was gentle with me.

The visions were right front of my eyes but at some point stabilsied. Normally that is the moment you are given a second dose. But neither the shaman offered it, neither myself was keen to do it. Probably the shaman felt it. So at that point, when I knew that nothing bad would happen to me, I started to relax and embrace it.

Ironically, at the point of embracing it was the point where a plateau was reached. And from that moment, the sensations and visions started to slowly gradually further themselves from me. The vision of animals (especially cats) crossed my mind. That along with the idea that she was doing her work in a different way I had expected. At the end of the day, that is always the way lessons come to you.

So I relaxed. Took the experience as it was. And enjoyed myself in the gentle journey of touching down.

Almost five hours after the start, I finally touched down. Didn’t throw up. Wasn’t feeling weird or bad. Just clear. And with the conviction that she did her work in a subtle way. Isn’t that the way our grandmothers taught us lessons?

The experience needs to be taken as a whole. Not only what occurred at the ceremony, but what I learnt during the preparation was also part of it. Other people also told me the same. Other people’s first experiences were similar. It is, in a way, like your first sexual experience. Rarely deploys itself to the full. And your expectations about it always exceed the reality of it. Good thing this time is that it was not traumatic. Despite my initial fear, it was pleasant.

Although I was offered the possibility of staying there overnight, I preferred to skip the morning horrendous traffic. I booked a cab to get to where my accommodation was.

When I arrived to the hostel, something odd happened. The in-house cats (who barely saw me) came to me as if I was a magnet. They were rubbing themselves against me for 40 min. And I stayed in that state with them in the darkness of the living room.

As I went to my room, one of the cats followed me. I laid in the bed and the cat sat front of my face, looking at me. The cat did not want to be petted or touched. Just to stay still front of my eyes. Like a guarding agent. As if the cat felt a special energy or vibration. And just like that, I felt asleep.

Six hours later, I opened the eyes and found the cat’s eyes facing me. I naturally woke up. The cat did not do anything to wake me up. I released the cat and the memory of my dream came to my head.

I could not tell exactly what my dream during my sleep was. But there was this feeling in the dream of being humble. Not in reprimanding way. My dream was showing me a path of humility and gratitude.

The final message that the Abuelita left me with. Until we meet again.

El Dorado

(A revelation of an ancient story, Machu Picchu – 24/06/2018)

– Yupanqui, what are we doing in this city? There is food scarcity, our trading with other tribes has diminished to almost non-existent, we no longer protected by our federation and people…. Our enemies are surrounding us….
– We are protecting the sacred gold of our Gods from the greedy bloody hands of the spanish. We are the keepers of the Inca Empire.
– But there is no Inca Empire. It is all gone…. Our time has gone! On the other hand, the spanish will offer us a civilization in which we can live.
– You are out of your mind Huáscar! – Yupanqui said – We are the civilization!  We had an empire that extended over the entire land. We know the secret of the stars. We live synchronised with our environment. We know the secrets of mother earth… Spanish people know nothing. And they have obscure intentions.
– They have same intentions we had with other tribes… To create an empire and integrate people under that rule…..
– They killed our people!!! We are safe here. We built this city and as long as we are here, we can survive.
– Yupanqui, you don’t see the reality. Our children are getting sicker and weaker by each generation, our militar ability to defend is diminishing, the spanish are expanding across the land and it is a matter of time they will see the fires we set in the night to warm us…… It is a matter of time they will find us.
– We can’t surrender to those gold diggers. We can’t give our sacred gold to the spanish…. It will only feed death and destruction. The gold of our Gods is for the connection of the man with the light, not with the darkness. We can’t allow the sacred gold to fuel the evil in the world.
– But Yupanqui, by staying here we will not protect it, rather the opposite. We are exposing it. The best way to protect the sacred gold is to do something rather than staying here… to be proactive! Staying in this place will actually allow the spanish to find us and get the sacred gold….

Tears came out of the eyes of Yupanqui. For the first time in years, he saw the reality. He knew Huáscar was right. Their sacred city, Machu Picchu, was no longer safe. It had to be abandoned. A city built by the most noble and fierce men of the Inca Empire. The empire that once dominated the entire land. Now reduced to few isolated settlements in the jungle.

– Oh Gods, why did you abandon us? – Yupanqui thought.

Yupanqui and Huáscar summoned the sacred council for the next day. All the wise men together had to decide what to do with the city of Machu Picchu and its people.

After a light dinner and little pray for the gods, Yupanqui went to sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a big day and he would need his sleep. Whitin minutes, he was sleeping.

The gods visited Yupanqui during his dreams. He heard stories of kings and priests visited by the gods during the sleep, but he always thought that was part of the group of legends to contain the ancestral knowledge of the Incas. But that night it was happening for him: he was being visited. He could not see any faces, just shapes of light around him, making a circle .

– Yupanqui, – the gods said – you need to listen carefully. Huáscar was our messenger to prepare you for this. We cannot allow the spanish to get our sacred gold. Our culture, our history, our knowledge, our memory is contained in our sacred paraphernalia. If the spanish get hold of the gold, we will be vanished for good. Our memory will be wiped out, and the mother nature will lose its guards. Our spirit, our values must remain. We need to protect the mother nature, even if we protect it to allow foreigners to thrive and act against us. They think they can rule the world without us, but without our existence mother nature will die and everything on Earth will die too.
– Oh Gods, but the spanish only create destruction and pain…..
– Yupanqui, we are the keepers of mother nature. Our mission in this planet is to nurture and guard mother nature, so the light and the darkness, the good and the evil, can exist. It is not for us to judge the others. Our mission is to enable and keep life.
– Gods, I am your servant. I will follow your instructions….
– In a month, on the day of the summer solstice, the entire city has to be summoned in the flat land at the north of the city before the sunrise. A stone totem will be placed in the middle of the land by that day. Our sacred gold will be distributed among everyone, so every person will be carrying a portion of our sacred gold. You, Yupanqui, need to organise people in circles. Climb to the totem and conduct them from there. Circles must be concentric around the totem made by the people holding hands.
Everything needs to be ready before the sunrise. Each circle of people will be rotating in an alternating way, and the people will be singing the mother nature mantra.
– Is that all? What will happen after?
– It is not for you to know more than this, Yupanqui. Only that by doing that the survival and memory of the Incas will be preserved forever.

The next day, Yupanqui spoke at the sacred council explaining the vision he had during the dream. Surprisingly, no one had any objection. They agreed the course of action and the next day the entire city was informed.

On the day of the summer solstice everything was arranged according to the indications of the gods. The stone totem was placed in the middle of the flat land at the north of the city. The gold was distributed among the entire population, ensuring everyone was carrying a portion of the sacred gold.

It was still a good hour before the sunrise, but everyone was holding hands creating circles around the central totem. Yupanqui was at the top of the totem, setting the pace, the sense of rotation of each circle and conducting the mantra, so everyone was synced.

At the beginning was a bit chaotic, but soon everyone found its way and moments later the entire city of Macchu Picchu was dancing in circles around the totem. Yupanqui, at the top of the totem, elevated his arms, pointing the the sacred golden sphere above his head towards the sky.

It was at that moment when the first sunrays appeared and started to reflect. The curved surface of the sphere reflected the sun rays in different angles, reaching each of the circles. The rotation of the circles made the reflection of the sun to reach everyone. And the gold everyone was carrying reflected back, creating an immense cloud of shine.

Like a tornado spiraling, the different circles of shine started to spin faster and ascend, creating the shape of a mountain. The energy was so powerful that everyone blended with the ascending spiral of shine. As they ascended, the tone of the mantra elevated. The entire people unified in one single energy field, spinning faster and faster until a point was reached where it was no longer possible to distinguish people. Just a shining mountain shape covered in haze emitting the sound of the mantra of the mother nature, which was gradually fading as the spin got faster and faster.

When the sound of the mantra faded, the hazy atmosphere cleared up to reveal a new mountain at the place where people summoned. The Huana Picchu. The Inca people blended with mother nature to become the permanent guards of Machu Pichu and the Inca memory. And that is the way it has remained since.

Tells the legend that if you visit Machu Pichu on the day of the summer solstice, the first rays of the sun over Huana Pichu will show the golden reflection of the sacred gold than the Incas took with themselves. And if you manage to silence your spirit, you will hear a mantra in the background.

The Incas keep safeguarding life and nature for us to enjoy this world.

On the morning of the 24th, the Inti Raymi, we ascended the Machu Picchu mountain to see the miracle of the sun hitting the Huana Piccu montain.

We woke at 3.30am and departed from Aguas Calientes so we could start the ascension to the sacred city by 4.30am. There is a stepped climb of almost 800m to reach the entrance. But these are no easy steps, they vary as the mountain changes.  The first 30min were very difficult, but surprisingly after that, seemed that my body got activated and the other half hour went better.

By 5.45am, covered in sweat and exhausted, we reached the entrance. 15min before opening of the gates. The place was jammed…. everyone seemed to have the same idea.

We grabbed a coffee and few minutes later, we finally got in….  And there it was… The Huana Picchu, like a magnet capturing all the energy and presence of the place.

We sat in a privilege area and waited for the sunrise rays to hit the mountain. What a magical moment. I saw the golden reflection and my soul heard the beautiful message that ancestral people of Machu Picchu wispered to me……..

Message In a Bottle

(A message received,  Cape Town – 15/01/2018)

If there is something I am convinced about it is that the Universe is playful. I will explain.

Everything you really wish, comes to you. But here’s the playful bit. It doesn’t come to you when you want it. You don`t know when it is coming to you. The universe sends it to you when you don’t expect. Even more, many times you don’t recognise when it finally comes to you. That is the playful part the universe plays. It is like sending a message in a bottle. It is received at some point, but you don’t know when that bottle is going to reach the shore and the message acknowledged.

I was living in my home town, Granada, in the year 2003 when I met a german couple. At that time, I was so bored in my home town, that I was very keen on socialising with foreigners and anyone who would broad my horizons and mindset.

Tom and Klaus. We had few drinks and took them around few places in the city centre. At that time, speaking in english was way more rewarding than speaking my own language. I know is silly, but that was my mindset at that time.

I had a big crush on one of them: Klaus. What a interesting sexy man. He was different, nothing to do with predictible boring locals from Granada (I know I know… that was a silly way of thinking but, again, that was where my mind was at that time).

The theatrical part of me was fantasising the idea of Tom getting food poisoning and staying in the hotel. Or just him tripping in a stair. Or a huge fight with Klaus and quick divorce… (teenagers fantasies) but I knew that it was more useful to use that part of my brain for other more creative purposes.

So I politely and discreetly detached myself from them. There was no point to maintain that contact, as I thought it was not honourable to meet them wishing one to be much closer and the other one much further. I blamed my university commitments for limiting my time with them. We had a couple of coffes before they left Granada.

The following 15 years were a rollercoaster for me. So that memory was stored at the back of my head.

So let’s go back to the present moment and the time where this blog is being written.

That night in Cape Town was hot. And there was full moon. I normally prefer to go to the Manhattan (one of the gay bars in town) to have a sundowner, chill and talk. Cape Town scene is quiet (at least this year has been) so places are not hectic, and there is a feeling of a little family there. I mean, you start to know people and when you get there, just start a chat with who you bump into. The kind of interaction that happens in a bar where everyone knows everyone. It is a pleasant thing. Specially when you are alone in a city.

But that night the Manhattan was particularly dead. I did not encounter the acquantainces I normally do, so I had my drink alone. The drink was there, I only needed the conversation to complete the moment.

Smartphones are our providers of everything nowadays. Tickets, food, sex, shopping, news, friends…. etc. are sourced through the device. Not saying it should be like that, but reality is that we are getting more and more things through them. So opened Grinder to initiate a conversation.

Flicked through few introductions till I started a conversation with someone. We chatted, swapped pics and briefed each other about where we were coming from and what we were doing in South Africa. As the Manhattans was close to its closing time, we agreed to meet at his hotel bar for another drink.

We met at the place and ordered a drink to start our conversation. Went to the terrace so he could smoke. And there, under the moon and hearing the sea waves, I realised the bottle with my message 15 years ago reached the shore of the Cape Town. The man front of me was Klaus.

The memory of the episode in Granada was so distant, and we both have changed (specially me, lost my hair and grew a beard instead) that we did not recognise each other instantly. 15 years later, and 9000km away I ended up meeting the person once I wished so much to do. Just him. Tom did not have to trip the stairs or get food poisoned. Klaus was travelling across South Africa and we ramdomly met again.

These kind of coincidences take me out of my standard mode. It is not the first time something like that occurs. And always catch me off guard. There he is. What I wished for. But do I really want it? Specially now, after such a long time…. I have changed so much in this time… is this really what I want? What is the purpose of this happening now?

I don’t have an answer for those questions. I don’t understand why the universe gives you what you wish at a different time. What is to learn with such thing? I keep thinking is because the universe is playful. And perhaps real needs and wishes don’t have an expire date. They are timeless.

I took the experience as it was. A pleasant coincidence and re-encounter. It was a pleasure to close that circle. To meet Klaus again and reinstate contact. He is still happily married with Tom and I realised that, as much as he is the same beautiful interesting person, my perception and wishes have evolved. Perhaps the Universe allowed me to meet Klaus at the point I could manage my wish in a constructive way.

I am sure that if I visit Berlin we will reinstate our coffee tradition. The three of us.

P.S. Klaus and Tom are fictional names. Elegance protocols 🙂

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