Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An Andean Wedding

What a wonderful Sunday. I had the pleasure of witnessing the wedding of Allysan and Lovier yesterday with Marco. Allysan is my violin teacher, concert violist, and shaman who has her own organization Sacred Dimension. She met Lovier in the jungle. He is from the Shipibo people and has grown up with very powerful ayahausqueros and healers. He is a very nice man and it's exciting to see Allysan with someone who will really help her flourish and be an even more amazing person than she already is. I felt kind of like the maid of honor since I was given the task of picking up the rings the day before and making sure they got to the ceremony. :)

The day started at 5:45am for Marco and myself. We got up extra early so we could get to Coya by 7:30am. It ended up being around 8am when we finally made it to the house. Marco's poor 13 year old Volkswagon Polo couldn't do the last 100 meters due to a nasty rock pile and stream in our way. We parked it down lower and walked up. The morning was dedicated to a temascal sweat lodge called Chulluchaka. It was only for couples and couples that had good auras and communication between them. I am happy to say that Marco and my relationship is very healthy and communicatively strong. Anyway, we headed into a very intense sweat lodge. Neither Marco nor I had done one before even though we frequent saunas.

The ceremony started with us receiving headbands that represented the female and male energies with X as male and O as female. (We got to keep the headbands!) We learned how we were supposed to receive and pass things while in the lodge. Receive with the left and pass with the right. We chose three coca leaves and pasted them together before making a wish/giving thanks and throwing them into the fire outside the hut. We were then purified with smoke and repeated quechua words that asked if we could enter the womb of mother earth. When entering one must always move in a clockwise fashion. The entire sweat was probably about and hour and a half long and boy did we sweat! Each element was given time and before we opened the door to each one hot stones were thrown into a hole in the middle. As that was done we all yelled and called "APU CHAY!" which means great spirits or god. It was fun. We also said  "ari" after every blessing like amen. We passed water around and each person poured water onto the stones (in a clockwise spiral motion) as the Allysan and Loiver were blessed by each element. At one point Christian, our guide, showed us how to cool off by putting our head down in a prayer with our fingers in a triangle shape for our head. It was wonderful. We also had water poured on us after the third element. Each element was more intense than the one before and after the third element, Linda, a lovely woman from Australia had to ask permission to leave. It was a bit much. I don't blame her. I was amazed I lasted the entire sweat. The 4th element, water, wasn't as bad as the third. All of us laid down were it was a bit cooler. The hut itself was lined with leaves from a native tree that I don't know the name of. I was covered in a earth when we finished. Haha it was great! Finally, when we exited the hut we were given a bucket of cold water to the head. Talk about involuntary reaction by my body. I shook uncontrollably and it was glorious! I felt totally energized afterward but as soon as Marco and I showered and sat down on Allysan's super comfy couch I quickly passed out. It was an awkward nap but it was necessary since we had a mountain to climb.

What? A mountain? That's right. We climbed over 1,000 meters for sure. It took us about an hour and a few rests but we made it to the site of the wedding. We were originally going to take people up in Marco's car but there was no way the polo was making it up the mountain. Fortunately, my chiropractor Howard Levine let us know that everyone had moved to a different spot where the marriage would take place or else we probably would've missed it!

Loiver was dressed in all white with what looked like a silk shirt with a beautiful mandala on the back. Allysan had on a sheer lace full length dress and was surrounded by her Coya family. Lovier played quite a few flute pieces while we waited for everyone to make it up the mountain. The man who lead the ceremony was from the mountains and explained that the corn on the blankets in front of us was for us to pick up and give our prayers too before putting them in a bag. The bag was then given to Allysan and Lovier who were instructed to bury it somewhere where no one would find it. People gave speeches and the couple exchanged vows and rings. It was really quite beautiful and made me really excited for my own wedding!! Love is in the air and it's wonderful!!

We made our way back down to the house. Marco and I were the first on foot to make it there. Marco wasn't feeling too well. We would've left right away but I didn't know he wasn't feeling good until after I had gotten a plate of food. He was feeling sirochi or altitude sickness since he had only gotten back to Cusco two days before after a three week trip in Lima. Fortunately, we both slept soooo well last night. We went to bed at 9pm. Que rico.

I don't think Marco was expecting the even to be an entire day long but overall it was a great experience and we had a great time together. Weddings are such happy occasions!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Escuela de Guerra and other Novedades

Good news! Marco made it into La Escuela de Guerra or War School translated literally. It is a post-grad course for majors in the Peruvian Army and a necessary step for anyone who wants to move up in rank. He has been in Lima for the past two and a half weeks and is currently on his way back to Lima from Chiclayo where he was able to spend some time with his son. The good news from his trip is that he made it into La Escuela de Guerra and the bittersweet news I that we are definitely moving to Lima next year. I believe Marco has to be in Lima in December and that means that I will only have one month instead of two by myself in Cusco. That is definitely good news. The less time apart the better.
I celebrated Claudio, my guitar-mate, and Carla, his sister this past weekend at a place called Amaru. It was super fun and I sang a few songs with Los Sierra, Claudio’s band. I was going to sing Feeling Good by Nina Simone for Carla but the occasion called for rock and roll, not jazz and soul. We rocked out and danced and had a great time. A little while before that I walked back to my apartment to put my equipment away and I noticed a drunk man lying in the middle of the street. I was talking to Marco and I told him. He told me to alert security and leave him be. I couldn’t let him stay there so I asked a taxi driver who slowed down to just help me move him to the sidewalk. Poor guy couldn’t even talk he was so drunk. I had no worry about danger or him trying anything because he was so uncoordinated. I then told security and they took care of him. It was my good sumartian work of the day.
In other novedades (happenings) the dogs in Zaguan del Cielo are out of control  which in turn has caused some of the neighbors to be a bit crazy about their lawns. I was walking Pepe the other day and a seƱora started throwing rocks at him from her second floor. I yelled at her to stop but she kept going. We moved out of the way and went on our way. Then, another day I was walking Pepe we passed her lawn and she started throwing rocks and yelling at him to leave. I was obviously right there with the leash in my hand. She could have easily just said please pick up the poop your dog leaves but instead I get a “GO BACK TO YOUR HOUSE!” in broken English. At the time, I didn’t have the words I wanted so I just showed her that I had a plastic bag and she calmed down. I told her she shouldn’t throw rocks at my dog especially when I am right there. We avoid he lawn now but honestly, the way she acted makes me want to leave Pepe’s presents on her lawn. I don’t completely blame her because I have only seen one other person (my downstairs neighbors) with their dogs on a leash. Everyone else just lets them run free so they poop anywhere they want. That poop then turns into dust which is tracked into the hosues and get people sick. It’s super disgusting. I try and do my part by picked up Pepe’s poop.
Finally, I have been replacing a flute player at the hotel Monasterio on Friday evenings when he can’t play because of a concert with the symphony orchestra. It is an instrumental and opera show. I play with a piano player that has some trouble keeping time but it’s not bad and it is good pay for the time. I got a little bit of constructive criticism from the flautist who said the opera singers feel that if I am not completely confident in playing a piece that I shouldn’t play it and that I should play with more confidence. It is always super hard to not get defensive when getting criticism but it’s a good lesson. I have had very little experience playing classical music in public. I sing all the time but when it comes to my violin I always get a bit nervous which means I need to practice twice as much if not more to be super confident. This past Friday I think I played much better and it will only continue to get better.
Claudio and I are working super hard on getting a classical and jazz repertoire together so that we can play in more hotels. Hotel Libertador is interested in us and this past week we played twice at Palacio Nazarenas. The pay is good and if we could get a regular gig twice a week that’s easily 620 soles a month. I wouldn’t complain at all.
So that’s what’s happening lately. I hope all is well  with everyone!