Hola amigos y amigas!
I hope you're well and happy. I'm writing from Cusco, Peru, where I arrived last Tuesday after a fantastic exit to Mexico. It's only been a few days but they've been so packed it feels like a lifetime!
I love Cusco! I'm having the most incredible experiences here. I'm particularly enjoying the veggie restaurants - hurrah for tofu! I've not had any problems with the altitude but then again I drink mate de coca like it's going out of fashion. I'm staying in San Blas, a dodgy area at night, in a fairly nice (and warm, hallelujah!) room. I've befriended my guide who I met at the airport (has amazing parallels with my book, strangely enough) and Cusco has opened up to me. I've done all the tours already, and am now starting to really explore and get to know Cusco and the other sites of the Sacred Valley. Two days ago for the Winter Solstice I went to Saqsayhuaman and its caves, followed by Q'enko, with a local shaman and had my aura cleansed. He looked like a down-and-out but had incredible energy, and wow what an experience. I was doing my first exercise, whole body against a huge stone which is supposedly a portal, and drumming began (practising for Inti Raymi, the Sun Festival, on Sunday). I felt every beat, and the whole thing was magical, intense. I felt and still feel great, peaceful, light, connected, relaxed, home. I'm going to do some more work with him (all research of course!)
Two nights ago we went to a sauna, and the people there thought I was Cameron Diaz (!) and so there was a lot of commotion and I had an audience the whole night in my (tight, borrowed) bathing suit! It was very comical. Yesterday we visited the Sun Gate, the door to Cusco and I climbed right up to the top on some dubious rocks and it was amazing. I was out in the Valley all day soaking up the ruins, the mountain air, the sunshine, the Pisco Sour too, it's so beautiful. Today we went swimming in thermal waters and I got to cuddle lots of baby llamas and alpacas, it was divine. Tomorrow I'm going to get my (still bad) cough cured by a curandera (medicine woman), who lives in a little village of curanderos. I'm going to be having some kind of bath. I went yesterday but the line was immense, which I take as a good sign. Later I'm going dancing (as luck would have it my guide is a salsero!), and will hopefully be home not too long after pumpkin hour to enjoy Inti Raymi on Sunday. I'm going to be sitting with the locals, and did all my tours in Spanish too without thinking, and have met lots of Peruvians and not a single tourist (well, one!)
In a week's time I'm planning to walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I'm getting mentally psyched up for it, and physically used to the often bitter cold. So many experiences for my book, it's really coming alive!
Be well and happy, I send you mucho love!!