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On the 5th day of every month you will come across a new corner and a new story around ...
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Sunday, 14 April 2013

(Part 2) "Lake Titicaca, me and the power of Natural Therapies."

PART 2 ...

Another three weeks went by without any success with obtaining a refund or any clue about the purpose of my trip. And then, one afternoon about seven weeks before my departure, a message shot like an arrow through my mind: “You are going back to Amantani Island to offer your healing services for the community.”

“Thank you!” I replied as I felt my “Virgo rising” letting out a big sigh of relief and my “Piscean sun” looking forward to the magical energy of Lake Titicaca.

18 December 2005 – Lima to Puno

Only a few hours after arriving in Lima at 11pm, I was back at the same airport catching my 6am flight to Juliaca near Puno. With quite a few plane trips in recent years I have become proficient in saying “Hand check, no X-ray please” when handing over the homeopathic items for my personal use. I also noticed the security staff were getting more familiar with this kind of medicine, making the whole process so much easier. I guess this is one way of introducing natural therapies to the world.

On this particular morning I had an older man with a happy face checking my “treasure box” and while looking at the collection of remedies, he asked: “Do they really work?” to which I joyously replied: “Yes, and with no side effects.” He seemed content, as if my answer reinforced his own opinion. Furthermore, after questioning the purpose of my trip, he was pleased to hear my answer, acknowledging that the people on the islands were often the last in line to receive any help. His comment gave me a warm reassurance that I was heading in the right direction.

21 December 2005 – Puno to Amantani Island – Lake Titicaca

I was all ready and full of anticipation for my two week stay on this “very special to me” island. A travel representative called to confirm my early morning pickup. He also informed me that Benedicto’s home where I had organised to stay was situated on the other side of the island from where the boat would arrive. And so, my first night on Amantani would be with a different family. I wasn’t too happy about it as I wanted to set myself up as soon as I could, but in South America hiccups are not uncommon. At times, “going with the flow” is the best option to avoid making things more difficult.

I was one of the first to be picked up and once on the boat, I was greeted by yet another hiccup. Expecting a direct trip by the public boat, I was surprised to be part of the overnight tour to the islands, identical to the one that I had done only a year ago. I wondered if it was my safety or extra income that had influenced their decision. However, on the more positive side, there is a usually a reason behind most hiccups, in this case to be revealed sooner than I thought.

The group on the boat was made up of smaller groups of two to four travellers from different countries. Our local guide Bruno as well as other people on the boat were a bit curious about the reason for my extended stay, as Amantani is not exactly a Greek island. Nevertheless it has its own charm, despite an altitude of about 4000 metres, lack of electricity and running water, a rainy season with overnight temperatures at the time of below 10ºC and daytime temperatures in the sun of 54ºC as well as other minor “highlights”. Bruno was very interested in my work and in natural therapies. He was eager to find out as much as possible, so I tried my best to answer his many questions.

Upon arrival on Amantani by the floating islands, I discovered I was to share a bedroom with two French girls. Shortly after entering the premises of our host family, we were invited to the kitchen for lunch. This was still being prepared in clay pots over traditional wood fire clay stove by the mother and daughter. It wasn’t long before the increasing level of smoke looking for a non-existent chimney filled our eyes. Our “French” resistance was short-lived and with tears running down our cheeks, we gave ourselves permission to wait outside.

After lunch, together with Bruno, we made our way up to the Pachatata Temple where we would await the sunset over Lake Titicaca. The island has two temples: a round-shaped Pachamama to celebrate the female energy of Mother Earth located on the highest point of the island and a square-shaped Pachatata to celebrate her male energy on the second highest point. You can make a wish and have it granted by walking three times in an anti-clockwise direction around either of the temples. Having done this on my first trip, I was pleasantly surprised to see my wish come true. Be careful what you wish for as these requests do get granted, except perhaps when you wish for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

As the sun disappeared, the temperature dropped rather quickly, so a warm dinner upon our return was very much appreciated. And to warm us up even more, a traditional dance party was awaiting us at the local community hall. Dressed in their traditional clothing, we had a lot of fun following our local dance partners to the sounds of the Andean band. As the party came to an end, we felt hot, tired and definitely ready for bed. The sky was full of stars that night and it seemed to me like there were more stars than the sky itself.

As my roommates went to sleep, I stayed back with Bruno in the courtyard as he offered to write a short note in Spanish for me explaining the purpose of my stay and anything else I thought the people might want to know. The island’s native language is Quechua, but the majority of people speak Spanish. I could speak neither!

With an introductory letter in my hand, I quietly entered the room so as not to awaken the girls. By now I was looking forward to a well-deserved sleep as it had been a long journey for my body. Less than an hour later, I was woken up by the sound of the metal gate being opened and a conversation between two men. Wondering what was going on, I was startled by a knock on the door and my name being called.

                                               To be continued next month ...

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