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el regalo del cacto san pedro y templo de la luna donde nací de nuevo (viernes, 17 septiembre)

Cusco, Peru


This morning I woke up at 8:30 to go on a spiritual journey up in the mountains where you drink the juice of the magical San Pedro cactus. It´s really hard to describe but I´ll try anyway. I didn´t know much about it at all, but I read a little bit and found out it´s a plant used for spiritual reflection and healing. It isn´t exactly legal anywhere besides Peru, but it is an Incan / Quechua tradition that people have been using for centuries. The juice from the cactus is mind-altering and somewhat hallucinogenic, and it´s supposed to bring insight, healing, comfort, and spiritual perspectives of life and the world.

The people who run the hostel drove me and another traveller, Lee, up to the mountains near Templo de la Luna (Incan ruin) where they have a house. There were two other people (Brett and Andy) who were also drinking the cactus, and two others (Renee and Dave) who were there too. Outside there is a courtyard with mats and umbrellas and we sat outside and drank the San Pedro cactus juice. At first it was nauseating, and after about 40 minutes you´re supposed to throw up (the plant is poisonous so it´s a good thing to throw up after it´s been in your system for 40 minutes or so).

There were 4 of us drinking it and a few people from the hostel there to make sure everything was okay. At first after I threw up a little bit, I felt this intense paranoia, but it only lasted for about 10 minutes. I kept shaking the whole time, but the Incans believe the shaking is just the release of energy that needs to come out. After that I was still shaking, but felt really, really mellow. We laid around on mats in the sun, which was nice because there was a slight breeze and it was warm and nice out.

I felt really in tune with the universe and the world around me. The effects were really spiritual and you could feel a connection with everything around you. You could feel the energy of different rocks, plants, crystals, etc. At one point we lit a small fire and just watched the flames and smoke dancing around in the air, enjoying the aesthetics and healing smoke. Time just seemed to slow down, in fact, time stopped existing. I could just enjoy and soak in the present moment. I felt like I spend too much time worrying about and thinking about the negative things in life, instead of enjoying the simple but beautiful things all around us. I laid on my back and watched the leaves of the tree above me dancing in the wind. I looked at these orange flowers and could really appreciate the miracle of a single flower. I listened to the sound of the wind accompanying the meditative music playing from the house.

The San Pedro cactus is a borderline hallucinogenic plant, and for part of the time I thought that my hand had turned into a desert. I could see the sand and the veins in my hand had turned into different roads. Then the desert turned into organic material that was the same thing as the earth, the ground, the trees, etc. It was this feeling of complete connectivity and unity. It was weird, but interesting and very relaxing. Then I thought this giant cactus was hugging me and talking to me, but it felt very calming.

I had some interesting conversations with the other people on the San Pedro journey. Usually when you meet new people, the first things you ask are where you´re from and where you´re going. Here, none of that seemed to matter, just the present moment in which we had come together. I felt like oftentimes people rush through life without taking time to enjoy the smaller but equally important things. Here we were, strangers from different walks of life, united together in the experience of San Pedro. One of the people in particular seemed very different than myself, but from the cactus I learned to appreciate everyone, regardless of their different views, and to embrace them for who they are, to accept everyone. Before San Pedro, the idea of accepting others seemed like a nice idea, but something I couldn´t realistically do. We talked about different places, astrology, time, and balance.

At one point I looked in the mirror and saw my eyes. My pupils were enormous and there was almost no blue part left. I´d gotten more sunburn, but it didn´t matter because as I looked in the mirror I realized I felt happy, and it really didn´t matter what I looked like. I liked the person who was staring back at me in the mirror, and I realized I was accepting myself exactly as I am. This was probably the first time I´ve felt a hundred percent comfortable with the person I am / the person I´ve become. As crazy as it may sound, the cactus showed me that the only real thing in this world is love. Everything else may or may not be an illusion, a matter of perspective.

Simon (the hostel owner´s son) and I walked to Templo de la Luna, which is an Incan temple. It was a little windy and just starting to get dark, but we climbed up the rocks and stood in the wind. Then I went down into the cave, and Simon explained about the puma and snake carved into the entrance to the cave. I said that there was another cave like this I´d been to before. He asked, ´maybe you were here before.´After descending into the cave, I realized I HAD been here before, the day I came up here on horseback. But now it seemed so completely different. I could see the rays of the moonlight shining into the cave and illuminating the table the Incans had used as an altar. It felt like a completely different place, yet familiar at the same time. As I emerged from the cave into the light, I I felt like I was being reborn again. Something echoed in my ears that a co-worker had told me years ago: ¨This moment is the first day of the rest of your life.¨ I was seeing the world in a different, more beautiful way, and I felt completely happy.

At about 6pm the hostel´s driver took me back to the hostel where I showered, changed, and walked around the corner to another curry restaurant called Korma Sutra where I met the two guys from England for dinner. I tried to explain what the effects of the cactus were like, but I don´t think I was able to clearly put it into words. It was nice talking to them though, but talking to them made me feel really homesick for Oxford.

After dinner at the curry place, I went back up to the mountain (the people up there had invited me to come spend the night up there, watch the stars, and sit around the fire), so I took a cab back up there and brought the pizzas the rest of the travellers up there had ordered. It was beautiful at night, and we were all still high from the cactus. We continued talking, and I had some garlic bread and water. They have different rooms travellers can stay in, and I slept in a room on the second floor. It was a little chilly but I´d brought extra clothes. I slept pretty well that night.

I realize this whole thing probably sounds really weird, and most people reading this probably can´t relate, but I wanted to try to explain my experiences...at the very least so I could look back and remember them.

permalink written by  Sara Florecita on September 17, 2010 from Cusco, Peru
from the travel blog: año de dos inviernos (Chile 2010)
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Sara Florecita Sara Florecita
1 Trip
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-I am participating in the Inglés Abre Puertas program run by the Chilean Ministry of Education.
-Hobbies include travelling, writing, reading, learning Spanish and Italian, long-distance running, music, and art.
-I am a college graduate who is trying to find her place in this world.
-I...

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