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Chapter #3: Crossing Borders

Or what happened between Quito and Lima


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Dear all,

here I am again, with a new entry about my travel around the world. I am now in Lima, capital of Peru, and I would like to tell you a bit of what happened after Galapagos that brought me down here, where soon I will also meet my girlfriend joining me from Switzerland. I realize that it is not easy to keep the excitment as high as after the last post, with great stories and pictures, but I'll try nevertheless my best to engage you in my adventures... even if they might only be limited to sit in a bus for 8 to 18 hours, as it happened almost half of the days lately.

After leaving Quito for the second time it became quite clear to me that I am in kind of a rush, and I am not travelling to let the time pass and days go by. As you might remember, I will spend 8 months travelling through a lot of countries. This means that I might be spending no more than 2 nights in the same place, if not only 1. Of course I wake up early and spend the whole day visiting and walking around, eating in the markets, talking to people, and so forth. I exploit my days at the fullest. But many travellers I encountered lately told me that I am going to fast, that I should spend days and nights to savour all a place can offer. And I totally agree. BUT it also true that I am extremely excitied about seeing all that I planned before leaving, and call me eager or fool, but I am not ready to give any place or country up. So what I tell people that are staying for 8 months only in South America is that their way of travelling is different than mine and that I wish I could do the same someday, but that I first need to satisfy my desire of exploration of the whole world to then, in a few years, dive deeper in those areas that fascinated me the most now. ...does it make any sense? Maybe for many it does not, but as for now it does to me, and being the concept of travelling very subjective, that is what matters. I'll rush through the world till money and time last, and that's just it.

About what happened between Quito and Lima: I directly went to Banos, a small town on the other side of the mountains of Ecuador, meaning that it faces the amazon basin and not the coast. Banos is considered a backpackers center of activities, so there is plenty of them hanging around, paying for those activities that just do not inspire me: kayaking, rafting, etc. It's not that I do not like them, the point is that they are "tourist-tailored", and so they cost a lot for... nothing. They obviously need to be accessible to anybody paying for them, and so they tend to be fairly easy/boring stuff... and don't get me wrong, it's not that I am a superman that only wants the extreme, I just say that if you make me pay 3 nights worth of accomodation, than let my soul shake in excitment! So I just spent my days hiking the mountains and biking to the waterfalls... and here I soon noticed that my physical condition had been lost on the way, something that I also noticed two days ago surfing in Mancora, but later to that.
From Banos I travelled to Macas, the town I chose to be my destination in the El Oriente, the part of Ecuador part of the Amazon. Here, I guess I was the only tourist there ever was after the brother of my girlfriend that told me about this place he visited a few years ago. And being the only gringo in the city is always the best! You know that you are in the right place when you sit in the market and eat with the locals (their food at their price), when you wander in the only square around and young girls ask you to take a picture with them (not because you are handsome but because you simply are a guy from somewhere else and that makes you special eheh), or when it is so damn difficult to organize a trip to the joungle (in a touristic place you are overloaded with options from agencies that could even pick you up at your dorm room in the morning). after a daz or so the only agency I found could not find a guide for me to bring me to a certain place, but fate made me meet a woman sitting nearby that told me "oh, come to our cabin! I am the wife of a local shaman" of the shuar culture (indigenous of the amazonian Ecuador). And so I went. And so I was in the joungle! The cabin she talked about was the central building of a 4-houses complex, all for the shaman and his family. This is how it looked, with fireplace and "beds":

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I spent two nights in this cabin, and in this time I rapidly started caring for the numerous children with which I spent most of my time with, as there was not that much else to do. We spent hours playing football, divining in the river, and taking pictures of hourselves. Here is one of all of us together that I wish to share:

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And then, the night of the Ayahuasca came. While travelling I got word of this famous Ayahuasca, so I informed myself a bit before about what it was, and what the effects are. If you are interested, have a look here. I never considered it as a drug per se, rather a deep experience given that I would have never thought of taking it outside of the following circumstances: the local shaman is a healer, who inherited the power from his father who inherited it from its ancestors. At the time, there was an old granny in the cabin with me, wishing to be healed. And the shaman though of healing her when I was there as well, which turned out to be... pretty interesting. He asked me if I wanted to sit when he would be healing her, which also includes drinking the ayahuasca. Being extremely fond of what can be considered original and local, I said yes to it. So we sat, and we drank it together:

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When the effects of the hallucinogen started, he switched the light off. And started the healing process, which consists in having the patient lay down, while the shaman suck the evil out oh the body, to then vomit it back on the floow. Now imagine me, alone in the middle of the Amazon, high on the ayahuasca, seeing this. I would call this experience deeply intense, and extremely interesting. So interesting that I got my journal out and started taking notes about what I saw, real and not real. It kind of got out of me my nature of researcher and writer ("I think I am a writer in the middle of the joungle" is the last line of my notes, while I was out wandering along the river).
You know, I pondered a lot if I had to write something about this experience on my blog or not. People will say that I took a drug - let them. I wrote about this experience because it was amazing, because I will forever remember it and because I am not ashamed of it.

After Macas and the jungle, I went to Cuenca, probably the nicest city in whole Ecuador, with his colonial style, the beautiful and clean roads, and a lovely walk along the river so perfect that I thought of being in Switzerland. After a night spent there, I travelled to Peru and the first city I stopped is Mancora. Ah... good times in Mancora. 10 dollars for a bamboo dorm in a surf camp 30m from the beach, cold beers at the beach watching the sunset, waves crushing and surfers riding them (me included, even though I still suck at it - but I will get better!), and the sweetest mangoes cut with my swiss army knife in an amaca under palm trees.

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I called this chapter Crossing Borders for the following reasons: the first border I crossed was that between the regions of Ecuador. I travelled in the country for almost a month now, and it is now clear of different it is among its regions: Galapagos, high mountains and the amazon basin. The second border is crossed is the one between Ecuador and Peru, the first of many. The third, was that of the spiritual experience of ayahuasca, that on some level made me cross the border of reality. So, many borders crossed, and many still to be crossed in the next chapters. Stay tuned!!!

As I did last time I would like to leave you with my favourite picture of this period, which is always difficult to choose. I decided for this because I fell in love with this small girl, the daughter of the Shaman, and because it is for me representative of a more meaningful experience than other pictures, maybe nicer from an artistic perspective. Moreover, I started taking pictures with them with the tongue out, as I did once in Cambodia, and we all have a lot of fun. So, here she is, Daniela:

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I wish you all good times wherever you are, and an amazing carnival for those living in Ticino, Switzerland! Drink a fragolino alla mia (e per la mia eheh) salute!!!

Best,
Jack

Posted by jack87jack 12:41 Archived in Peru

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Comments

...Come dice Lady Gaga: Boy you’ve left me speechless! ;-)
WOW jack! Sono veramente attonita e basita ;-) CHE esperienza! Non vedo l'ora di poter sentire il racconto di questa storia pazzesca a voce! Peccato dover aspettare così tanto.
Foto fantastiche e invidia a mille. Qui le tonalità di colore vanno dall'impietoso bianco del documento Word (vuoto) al grigio topo del cielo invernale Zurighese...Non ti senti un po' in colpa? :-) Scherzo, goditela al massimo (come stai facendo) e salutami tanto Terry! un abbraccione!

by Meli

Fantastic places! I envy you. Loads of more intense experiences e: Alla tua, anzi alla vostra salute! Guardami bene la mia piccola : )

by Evelyn

Dopo un commento in una mail personale che ti dovevo fare... Bello voler cercare il "vero" del luogo che visiti!! Ora ti ha raggiunto la tua stellina con la sua borsa sempre pronta a partire!!
A tutti e due buon Perù e allenatevi con un po' di respirazioni imparate dalla nonna x l altitudine che vi attende!! Abbiate cura di voi ...sempre !! Un abbraccione ma

by Lorenza

Ciao G, ho la sindrome del foglio bianco...! E poi il fatto che queste parole verranno lette da "tutti"... Evidentemente non ho fatto molti progressi con Facebook, aperto e mai utilizzato....
Sono in difficoltà a concedere amicizia a tutti coloro che me la chiedono; sono un po' all'antica..... Il termine amicizia ha un valore tale per cui mi faccio un sacco di problemi nel dire si, oppure no! E la sensazione di non avere un contatto esclusivo con te mi pone qualche dubbio. Ma tanté... Ho aperto il foglio per il commento! Sono felice per quanto stai vivendo; come detto in privato ho avuto qualche dubbio sull'esperienza Ayahuaca, non sull'esperienza in se, perché "grande" a sufficienza per valutare ciò che è bene e ciò che è male, ma per il fatto che eri solo e se avessi avuto qualche problema.....
Non ne hai avuti, mi hai detto, ma queste esperienze, se proprio "necessarie", sarebbe opportuno viverle con qualcuno accanto! Lungi da me immaginare che ora che è arrivata T vi mettete in mente di riprovare....!!!!! Non si scherza!
Mi piace immaginarvi in viaggio, vivere tutti i giorni come un'avventura, il cibo, il trasporto, il riposo i contatti con la gente comune, non solo quelli preposti per far sentire a proprio agio il turista... Nei prossimi giorni arriverete a Machu Pichu, luogo estremamente turistico, ma unico! Vi auguro di poter escogitare il sistema di visitarlo un po' da soli; attenzione agli orari soliti delle visite guidate! Ma so che siete molto attenti.
Vi auguro un proseguimento del viaggio fantastico.
Un abbraccio
Sergio (nonchè papà)

by Sergio

Hang over from my first american super bowl, at work, I feel obligated to say: DAAAAAAMN!
Will I be able to talk with you once you ll be back? You will be so wise, like a shaman and I will be stupid like...well you know where I am living now, so there s no point to say it explicitely HAHA
Anyway I am so happy how the travel is treating you! Bring some Ayahuasca home, la mamma non vede l ora di provarla haha
un abbraccio

by Brother

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