Peru: The Inner Journey
(Photo: En route to Peru)
As we travel and explore the world, we often hear that “the journey is more important than the destination.”
It does not take a full-time globe-trotter to understand that the events and encounters that unfold along the way define the beauty and meaningfulness of an experience more than the next place we are going to. Indeed, it is what allows us to be Present in the here and now instead of speculating and projecting on things that have not happened yet and in fact, may never happen at all.
Meanwhile, we also swiftly realise that expectations may generate disappointment and that the true essence of the lessons we have to learn resides in letting go of where we may or may not end up.
I am not saying that it is something easy to do though.
Interestingly enough, the geographical aspect of a voyage merely becomes a tool in order to grow on the spiritual level.
After all, personal growth and health is something that everyone has to deal with in their existence whether we are aware of it or not, and regardless of how many countries we visit or overland borders we cross. Yet, it is also undeniable that travelling sets our intention to make a change as it gives us more opportunities to explore the inner world that all of us possess within the borders of our physical body, since it is a mirror of the entire outer universe that surrounds us.
We have to grasp that it is only motion that allows us to channel energy and give birth to the synchronicity we are meant to manifest. Because this is how it works in this universe, as it is always a tricky concept to maintain the energy balance between taking action and letting things come to us.
On the other hand, we have to understand that everything is already perfectly balanced as it is and we solely go back to this equilibrium with time and dedication.
Travelling assists us in connecting the dots between our human and spiritual experiences for one cannot go without the other.
Travelling can give us more tools to free our mind from delusion and suffering, and this is what I have been striving for in the last seven years of my long journey overland around the globe.
Seven is a magic number; seven chakras, seven colours of the light spectrum, seven continents, seven wonders of the world (even though I believe that there are so many others out there). Seven years spent exploring the antipodes of the mind in all its possible ways.
It could not be a more wonderful synchronicity to celebrate my seventh anniversary of my quest in Peru, a country with which my soul has felt immediately connected at the most profound level.
In fact, our travelling experience is sometimes so deep and intense that we can hardly express it with human words and it matters not.
The people who truly love us will always try to understand us and even if they do not, we have to accept that exploring our inner world through outer travel may lead to places (both literally and figuratively) where we learn so much that some part of our heart will remain there forever and never come back.
However, it is also when we reach such a stage of consciousness and awareness that we no longer need to be understood by others, for we realise that we already have all the Answers inside. Then, we no longer have to “find” a balance as we barely go back to the perfect balance we all already have within us in the first place and that we have somehow "lost" along the way on different degrees and levels.
And this is also when we eventually figure out that we are not alone in this spiritual journey regardless of the massive differences that we all face on the unique path of our very own human experience.
(Photo: Crow pose, yoga practice & balance work in California, October 2018)
(Photo: Eclipse holistic gathering in La Punta-Montañita, July 2019)
It was not easy to leave La Punta-Montañita and Ecuador, and all the beautiful souls that I met there after three months spent on site.
I really felt part of a cosmic family and was loved for what I truly am, so that I could express all my passion and gratitude reciprocally. But it was time to go, which is not incompatible with my purest intention to see them again someday, as well as all the other wonderful souls that I have already met in this life.
In fact, departing has always been the hardest part of my long journey around the world; first having to leave my blood-family and former groups of close “friends” for I was no longer feeling in tune with them (and with my societal environment as a whole) and I was clearly being judged for it.
We could no longer assist and support each other in our respective evolution so it was time to close the chapter and start a new one. Some may see it as fleeing but I see it as finally living, for I have broken down my limitations and transcended myself through the process.
Indeed, we can try our best to assist others but we cannot take responsibility for them, and I therefore made the sacrifice to leave everything behind and leave towards the Unknown.
On my way, I have run into so many reminiscences and beautiful experiences of feeling part of another type of family. And the more I have not expected it to happen, the more it has of course.
One may think that I have been arriving and departing so much in my life that I must be quite used to it by now, but it is only true on the practical and organisational level. Emotionally speaking, it is never easy to do because life teaches us that we really do not know if we are going to see someone again on this physical plane.
Yet, being open-minded teaches us that we eventually always do since physical separation is an illusion, and even if we may not see someone again on the physical level in the present existence, we surely do on a deeper plane of consciousness.
Travelling on the geographical level is meant to be shared and so is true happiness.
This is the natural stage that takes place when we finally learn the lesson(s) we first have to learn on our own. And we all do at some point before becoming unconditionally complete. It does not mean that we cannot be alone again sometimes for it is fundamental to learn how to sustain our private space and creativity in the meantime. It is important to re-attune and re-centre ourselves at times.
It is also a great reminder of what we really want to manifest in our existence, as it is OK to have doubts sometimes in our human experience. The problem is not the distraction, the problem is not to be aware of it. Having doubts does not mean that we are losing our unconditional faith, it means that we are human and real in our intention, as long as it does not come to judging our condition.
It actually takes courage to share emotions and passions with others when we actually do not do it in a selfish and exclusive way.
A relationship does not need to be labelled or judged. If we think about it, love is immanent and omnipotent, so everything is a relationship (including with ourselves) and every single human connection is different from one another. This is the reason why we cannot love others if we do not love ourselves in the first place. Or else, we cannot be complete with others if we are not complete with ourselves.
This is what I started realising and manifesting in 2015 after hitting the road mostly on my own beforehand. It was obviously no coincidence that it first took place in Alaska as I was hiking Into the Wild to the Magic Bus, where Chris McCandless had had the same realisation and died twenty-three years before my coming.
For my part, I was “lucky” enough to be able to cross the Teklanika River on my way back and to keep living on this physical plane in order to manifest this concept for the time I would be given.
(Photo: At the Magic Bus of Into the Wild, Alaska, July 2015)
(Photo: Thomas and I playing with gravity in Lobitos -on timer-, Peru, August 2019)
As I left the Pacific coast of Ecuador in mid August, I only drove 200 kilometres on my own before I picked up Thomas, an old French friend of mine that I had not seen for ten years.
We had met in Nice, France, in 2008, as we worked in the same school as general educators for a year, before I became a full-time English teacher in another high-school. It was just before I moved to Amsterdam for one year and then delved into the present journey from September 2012 onward.
Tom and I had hardly ever been in touch in the meantime and yet, we had always followed and respected each other's respective course of evolution a lot because we have put an enormous amount of passion and faith in doing things very differently. At least, according to a certain form of "normality".
As I was briefly organising our three-week trip together, I was somehow guided to tell Thomas that he would arrive in Guayaquil (South Ecuador) and would go back to France from Lima (capital city of Peru), roughly 2000 kilometres further South. Yet, I actually left most of the content of the voyage up to the Universe and to the synchronicity that we would manifest together along the way.
Thomas and I drove through the Peruvian border with Randy (my van), spent a couple of days at the beach in the North and had a few very meaningful encounters in the meantime.
From there, it became quite clear that we were meant to experience a balance of the refreshing Pacific Ocean, the fascinating Andes and the soulful Amazon forest (the three adjectives could be put in any order really) as part of the equation of our epic trip in Peru together.
It did not take me much time to fall in love with this country. Interestingly enough, I had naturally dropped all expectations about Peru because of just having heard too many things about it. On the one hand, I was utterly convinced that Peru could easily become an overly-touristy experience to my taste and on the other, it is a huge country that could offer deserted, wild stretches of free land where it would be easy to get “lost” and to enjoy the most genuine time ever with locals, especially while travelling overland with a van.
And it is obviously the latter that was meant to take place in my experience.
I have felt truly grateful to connect with local people on the way in the most authentic way.
Indeed, I found my approach with Ecuadorian folks rather insipid during the four months spent in the in-between-hemispheres country, as aside from very few exceptions, the beauty of my adventures on site mostly resided in the unexpected encounters of soulful travellers and expats.
In Peru, I have immersed myself in a profound resonance with locals and their captivating culture from the very day I crossed the border, which is the first time it happened since I had left my beloved Mexico one year and a half before. Of course, there have been some mesmerising human connections on the way such as in El Salvador and Colombia, but Peru is very special because it relates to its ancestral, sacred culture on a much deeper layer of consciousness than its neighbouring countries.
Like Iran or Mexico, it is a country that has been heavily oppressed by the West (or the North, depending on whether one takes a literal or figurative approach of the matter) and its people have grown very strong and aware through this process.
One can feel it in their eyes and smile, which are the gates of the soul, and this is what I have been striving for through my long overland voyage.
Thomas had delved into the “spiritual” world not so long before coming to visit me, so he had expressed his excitement to go with the flow of my own experience for this section of the road together.
Consequently, we had set the intention to remain open to the possibility of sharing an Ayahuasca experience in Peru as part of our respective evolution.
We were surely on the same energy frequency level as we met in Guayaquil and it did not take long for us to follow the signs. Five days after leaving Lobitos and the beach, we ended up in the city of Pucallpa, nested in the Amazon jungle, after 2000 kilometres of an unexpected, intense journey across the Andes.
It was more and more obvious that the sacred medicine was calling at us as everything and everyone turned into bewitching synchronicity on our way through every single place we went to and folks we ran into.
Tom and I eventually spent an entire week in the Amazon forest, not so far away from the blaze of the massive fires that had been sadly ravaging it in Brazil and Bolivia for the previous three weeks, in the most uncomfortable, dodgy media silence.
And it truly meant something special to me given that our kids may not even have the opportunity to witness its intrinsic beauty for themselves due to the carelessness and greed of our distorted Western culture.
(Image: Fire spots in the Amazon forest from space, September 2019)
(Photo: Sunset by the Pacific Ocean with Thomas and Randy -my van-)
(Photo: Crossing of the Amazon forest in Peru, August 2019)
It would take too many pages to properly transcribe my Ayahuasca experience here (which I have actually done in my journal and I may express in a book someday), so I will only give you some glimpses of it for now.
Amazingly enough, after considerably exploring the world of psychedelic substances and sacred medicines for the last 12 years (since my first LSD experience in Australia in 2007), it took me 8 years from the moment I found out about Ayahuasca and started studying the sacred vine and DMT (Dimethyltryptamine, its active component), until I was eventually “allowed” to sip the ancestral beverage in the Amazon forest in Peru.
Indeed, it takes patience to meet the “right” Maestros and when we do, there is no reason to find others, for everything comes to us in perfect time anyway.
It could not have been more meant to be for Thomas and I stayed in a small village called San Francisco.
We arrived there pretty much at the same period of the year when I used to land in San Francisco (California) during the four previous years. Funnily enough, I decided that I would not go back to the USA this year in order to focus on both my outer and inner journey, and ended up in San Francisco in Peru instead.
It could not have been a better place to do Ayahuasca as I have always believed that sacred substances are much more potent as a spiritual “tool” when taken in their natural environment. Mother Ayahuasca could be considered as an exception because its process is a lot about the inner journey and yet, the setting still remains an essential part of the experience, especially when it comes to the emotional and karmic integration that occurs before and after the ceremonies.
Some people may think that it is a wonderful idea to export the sacred medicine to foreign countries in order to spread awareness to as many individuals as possible in order to heal the collective consciousness.
But it still depends on the intention that is set with it. For my part, I am rather sceptical about the genuineness of the intention of these shamans who charge massive amounts of money to participate in ceremonies abroad.
Furthermore, bringing Ayahuasca (or other sacred medicines) directly to the people just seems to be part of the constant frenzy and trendiness of the consumer society. People need more and more things right here, right now, without showing any dedication, passion and patience, and they are completely assisted through the process, which I believe, brings very little spiritual reward.
Thomas and I did three Ayahuasca ceremonies in the jungle in a week (at Niwe Rao Xobo community, which I highly recommend).
Comparisons are odious, especially when it comes to sacred medicines. Indeed, I cannot really say whether the strongest experiences that I have had on peyote or psilocybin mushrooms were more intense than Ayahuasca, but a sure thing is that the latter was tremendously life-changing for me.
In fact, I have never really fancied taking psychedelic substances in a big group and the Ayahuasca ceremonies in themselves were just very different from everything that I had tried before. The most outstanding part was definitely the integration of the personal work that naturally took place on the emotional level before and after the rituals.
Again, it is fundamental to understand that most of our daily life is ruled by subconscious psychological processes that are deeply buried within us whether it comes to an emotional or karmic approach, which is what the sacred plant is usually working on.
It takes an enormous amount of courage to show up at the temple for the simple reason that one never knows what is going to happen, as each and every ceremony is utterly different from one another.
It takes a huge deal of unconditional faith to drink Ayahuasca because even though DMT is naturally present in every single living organism and also secreted by the pineal gland in the centre of our brain, the latter occurs only through two specific events; when we dream and when we die on the physical level.
Yet, one cannot “die” in an Ayahuasca experience and it is “only” our ego that may do so, which is why the mind is usually very present since it projects itself through the ego. And it inexorably fears that we may eventually be able to completely let go of it as we surrender to the power of the medicine.
It takes a lot of humble dedication to be willing to heal ourselves for reasons we are not even aware of in the first place, and it goes way beyond the disagreeable part of the purging process, which is probably the easiest part of the whole Ayahuasca experience (relatively).
Actually, letting go of the subconscious control of the purging (and of our buried emotions by the same occasion) is usually what activates the “visions”.
They are then accompanied and guided by the Icaros (shamans' chants in the Shipibo culture) during the ceremony (that usually lasts for 3 or 4 hours). Many people never have visions (which can be related to just anything depending on our intention) and I felt blessed and grateful not only that I could have them but also that I could “leave” my physical body during my second ceremony and explore deeper layers of consciousness within me as a mirror of the entire universe outside of me.
After all, what is infinite in the macro-cosmos is as infinite as what belongs to the micro-cosmos.
As above, so below.
Meanwhile, I was surrounded by a colourful, fractal world that felt more real than the physical plane we live in. I journeyed for what felt like a thousand years through the veins of creation in the midst of utter timelessness and spacelessness.
I have not been through “hell” like many people describe their own Ayahuasca experience; maybe because I have been unconditionally trusting the medicine and the Maestros, and I have been able to let go of my resistances through the process. I know
I still have a lot to learn though. We all do until our last breath.
Mother Ayahuasca is surely the most intelligent entity that I have ever encountered in my present existence. Overall, She is the Universe and all Its possible quantum possibilities as a whole. She is the one who decides whether She wants to work with someone depending on the authenticity and purity of their intention.
She is the one who is going to beckon at one and eventually let one go. The process starts long before one even starts thinking of it and lasts long after one leaves the temple where the ceremonies take place.
(photo: With my Ayahuasca Maestros Damian & Lila in San Francisco, Peru, September 2019 -Credits: Tom La Ruffa- Editing: myself)
(Photo: Crossing of the Andes at 4,800 metres above sea-level, Peru, September 2019)
After the Amazon jungle, Thomas and I left Mother Ayahuasca behind on the physical level but it has kept pursuing me ever since.
I am very aware that everything is interconnected and that all the events and encounters that have occurred ever since are intimately correlated with Its infinite love and wisdom, and will ever be. It has now been more than two weeks since the Ayahuasca ceremonies in the Amazon jungle and I can feel that I am still channelling this form of universal, infinite intelligence. Every single thought can be turned into stunning creativity while having all the necessary answers in the meantime.
And it makes complete sense when we integrate the idea that we all already have all the Answers within us in the first place.
Thomas and I managed to make it to Lima on (perfect) time as we finally arrived in the Peruvian capital city on the very day he had to fly out back to France, after driving exactly 3,000 kilometres from Guayaquil and South Ecuador in the meantime.
The last section of the journey was actually much smoother than the five days that we had taken to get to the Amazon jungle because we could not have been more guided and protected through the process. This is not incompatible with the fact that we also were extremely tired of both the trip and the week spent in the jungle.
Meanwhile, we crossed the Andes a second time in Peru (my fourth time after crossing the Cordillera once in Colombia and once in Ecuador) as we went up to 4,800 metres above sea-level with Randy (my van) and drove for a while on the high plateau that stretches all the way to the Atacama Desert in Chile, many thousands of kilometres to the South.
Meanwhile, we saw some of the most inspiring landscapes that reminded me a lot of Tibet and the Himalayas, also when it came to gazing at some of the most mind-blowing night skies, which one can only enjoy at such surreal altitude levels, where the atmosphere is so thin and the air so pure that one may feel like touching the heavens.
(Photo: The Milky Way in the Amazon jungle, long exposure 30" -on timer-, Peru, September 2019)
(Photo: Crossing the Andes for the 4th time in a year, Peru, September 2019)
(Photo: I drove 3,800 km in a month -including 3,000 km with Thomas- since I left La Punta-Montañita and Ecuador in August 2019)
Thomas left Lima and Peru back to France early September and for my part, I stayed in Lima for a few days in order to rest and take the time to shift cycles. I now was to keep going on my own for a while.
The idea was to connect with local communities and hostels where I could do some volunteering as a yoga teacher and also be able to offer my services (and generate a little money) as a holistic physiotherapist. My conviction is to keep putting all the pieces of the gigantic galactic puzzle together that is life, and to share some “tools” with my fellow beings by giving some astrology, emotional education or holistic therapy courses like I did during my stay in Ecuador.
Indeed, I can merely carry on learning and teaching in the meantime for one cannot go without the other. We are all guides and teachers to one another whether we are aware of it or not.
Mother Aya has clearly confirmed that I am meant to assist and heal others as much as I must assist and heal myself through the process. So I should better accept and manifest this path in one way or the other, but surely through the way of sharing my passions.
I now remember that on the way from Pucallpa (and the Amazon jungle) to Lima, I told Tom that I felt as if something were about to happen and change the course of my journey. The example I took at that very moment is that “I may actually go North instead of going South.”
In fact, I said that as an allegory of what may or may not take place, past, present and future together, but I did not realise that it would be so close to being the truth.
I am definitely heading South through the overall course of my overland journey, as the idea is to get to Southern Chile and Patagonia by the beginning of the next calendar year (for the austral summer), before slowly but surely driving back up towards Brazil in 2020.
I first thought that settling down in the Cusco area (and especially in the Valley of the Incas) for a couple of months would be very suitable and appealing before heading to Bolivia in November.
Yet, I have recently decided to renew my passport in Lima (I will not have many options after that) so I have to go back to the city at some stage and do not want to get to far away from it.
After sending a bunch of messages to some communities and hostels online, I have followed the signs and spontaneously drove 600 kilometres back up North along the Pacific coast (a relatively short distance in my experience) in order to settle down in a small town called Huanchaco, which is famous for its chilled-out surfing atmosphere and breathtaking archaeological splendours.
As I arrived last week from Lima, I felt quite tired from the three-week trip with Thomas and the intense week in the jungle that was affiliated to it. Yet, I also felt so in tune with my essence that I managed to find two lovely hostels in which I could work as well as an apartment in less than 24 hours.
I am now working as a yoga teacher in a small, charming hostel called Mandala, just a few metres away from the beach and the Pacific Ocean, and a bit further from the delectable sunset that lights up the whole scene almost on a daily basis. But it is just a matter of perspective after all, as always.
I have set the intention to keep writing my first book about the beginning of my long journey around the world overland as well as about the many emotions, convictions and concepts that it has generated along the way.
I am even more immensely grateful than usual about how things have turned out since I left Ecuador one month ago. I feel unconditionally blessed and privileged to be alive and awakened in the present incarnation. What is more, I have never been so conscious that every single experience and detail in life is already perfect as it is regardless of how we judge it, hence of how we judge ourselves.
The geographical aspect on our quest is just a tool.
I keep on learning how to be fully Present. I keep learning how to let go of letting go. How to love and forgive unconditionally. Yet, I do not forget, as I keep learning my lessons and exploring the mission my soul has come back for.
I have never felt so Alive and ready to delve even more into the magic of both the spiritual and human experience. We are both infinite Light and Darkness. We somehow have to accept it for one cannot go without the other.
It is up to us to choose between unity or duality nonetheless. I have made my choice. What is yours?
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Journey around the world overland since 2012.