Thursday, February 19, 2015

School in session

Update #3

Some of you have been waiting for the new blog and It's not for a lack of things to talk about that I've been waiting, I simply haven't felt like writing. We lost the use of our camera (phone) we brought with us and until it's replaced we will have to rely on the borrowing of friends cameras (thank you to Tom for loaning us his iPhone for the time being).

Things are up and down for me out here...

I came here on intuition which means that I have no clue what the next day will bring or how any of it fits together. It's within me to give my life meaning and it is within me to find joy or sorrow in that meaning. I must admit that on the days where I perceive little has been accomplished, I worry that maybe my intuition is broken and I must "do something" to correct it...

My senses are bombarded when I look at the huge sky and multicolored flowers everywhere, my ears strain to translate this beautiful language and I feel exhausted after only a couple hours of interacting with my supremely positive housemates. If another person were to share these insights with me I would shout "What a high-quality problem you have!", in the experiencing of it I must admit I struggle to take it all in.

The school house

A few days ago Christina and I said yes to helping out at a school house being prepared and the word "painting" was used in an unexpected way. We arrived early in the morning with Rebecca and were handed two bags and a shovel. Confused but eager, we followed our host down a path to a hole behind a barbed-wire fence. There was nothing but rocks and red clay on the other side and we were instructed to dig up the clay and put it in the bag... Fresh with morning energy I attacked the clay only to find it had rained the day before and it was hard to get a foothold. Whenever I took a step, I sunk my shoes deeper and deeper into the muck. I would not be undone- I filled my bag about half way before I checked for weight... OMG! This half-full bag must have weighed about 100lbs and I could only move it a couple steps before I had to drop it.

 I finally got it through the barbed-wire fence, I he-manned it the rest of the way over my head and with only 20 minutes into our adventure I was covered head to toe in muck and leaking sweat like I had just gone for a jog in saran wrap! The "painting" part came soon after- the red clay was mixed with sand and water to form some kind of plaster and we applied it with our hands to the outside of the school walls. I learned a few things about natural clay that day and a little something about mental preparation :)

I think this is a good time to temper the ass whooping I received at the school with what brings me joy every single day and that's the animals around the house. Two of the housemates, Tom and Danielle, came with animals- two puppies and a kitten to be exact (Inti, Qechu and Scree)! The puppies spend most of their time sleeping but wake up just long enough to eat and fight each other like two drunk babies. The kitten on the other hand is mostly a blur but stops long enough to headbutt your leg if you have any food.

We received a visitor a few days ago when a tall, skinny Frenchman showed up at our door and asked to stay. He had just come out of the jungle where he spent 6 weeks following a strict dieta and he was dizzy and confused. Nobody was quite sure how he found his way to us but strange occurrences are the norm here. This interesting tri-lingual (French, English, Spanish) fellow peaked my curiosity so I inquired as to what he was doing in the jungle and how he arrived in this place (there seems to be a common thread when you listen to how we all found each other).

 Alexandre explained that he felt compelled to leave France to explore different parts of the world learning about permaculture. He has a passion for inner knowing that was cultivated through Vipassanā meditation techniques. When he first came to Peru, a close friend took him to an Ayahuasca ceremony and he's been following the instructions of a Shaman since then. He isn't allowed to shower in cold water or walk in the rain right now and he arrived with cockroaches falling out of his bags. This "jungle hobo" has showed us how to improve our Aquaponics system and he makes the most interesting food stuffs out of foraged plants from the  neighborhood.

San Roque

Future Aquaponics station in San Roque
This week, there was a trip to the jungle town of San Roque, where Dave is in talks with the mayor and believes this is the perfect spot to implement his master plan. Utilizing the water surrounding the town to bring hydro-electric power to the town for free while creating a giant aquaponics system (this is already partially completed). Implementing a better recycling program that entices the locals to exchange their waste for "credits" that can be used to buy things locally, he then takes the bio-waste to create a rich, fertile soil called Bokashi and non bio-waste gets packed into plastic bottles that are then used as bricks for building... FULL recycling.

 The reason he picked this town is because the fresh water that runs down the mountain side is the head water supply not just for this town but continues all the way to where we are in Tarapoto. Dave would like San Roque to be a shining example of what is possible in the new paradigm and this is just the beginning!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Planting Seeds

Update #2

It's only been a few days since my last post but quite a lot is going on and I want to keep on top of it.

First, we are no longer staying at the hostel, we have officially moved in to Mission I'm Possible headquarters and we are welcome here for the rest of our stay (3 months)! The head-honcho Dave Stewart is a force to be reckoned with and his partner Rebecca (who speaks very little English) keeps us striving to learn Spanish, constantly engaging in conversation. Not only am I learning Spanish out of necessity but I'm also becoming more animated and clever with my gestures when words fail me. 

Dave refuses to charge us rent, instead suggested that we donate what we think is fair to one of his many projects. Christina and I are on a shoe string budget so this form of barter was a blessing. We negotiated S/.1200 (roughly $600.00 CAD) to improve the water "situation" at the headquarters and to set up our bedroom.
It's important to mention here that the city water only comes on in the morning before 9am and again later in the evening. This water is okay to use for washing clothes, showers, cleaning and dishes, but is not for drinking (for that they collect rain water which was stored in a couple of 20 gallon jugs). With the money we donated, we were able to buy a 750 gallon tank (replacing his 250 gallon one) for the storage of city water which means even when the place is full with 6 people we will be able to have water ALL DAY!!
Not only that, but we are going to use the 250 gallon tank for the rain water and attach a filter to that as well. As a bonus, we were able to attach the toilet (before this we used a bucket to fill the toilet tank), washing machine and even install a second shower (outdoor head soaker)! I had zero plumbing skills but I tried my best to be a helpful assistant as there is never a shortage of things to do. 

The living conditions are SO different from home, it's much more open concept- where most of us would have a hallway, my place has open sky and a garden. If it's raining I can open my bedroom door and get splashed! Some would look at this place and call it a hovel and could be right- the roof is made of metal sheets, there are bugs everywhere and you can't drink the water out of the tap- but the things that get done here are game changers. 

 (yes that is a puppy sleeping on the table)

Rebecca has created a school here for the local children to learn traditional crafts, gardening and even some English. A lot of these children are left alone (or with relatives) during the day by their parents when they go to work, so this provides them with some projects to focus on and they certainly seem to enjoy all of it. I didn't think I would enjoy having a bunch of kids around but they are polite, upbeat and enjoy practicing English with us.

Seeds are being planted in our garden but they're also being planted in the streets. I see the roots reaching our neighbors and their children and I can only imagine what kind of beautiful flowers will bloom!

When we first arrived here there was this little boy, Bernardo- he's much younger than the other children (maybe 2 years old)- he never smiled or laughed. I was told his home life was abusive and I recognized distrust in his eyes whenever I smiled and said "Ola". Yesterday Dave grabbed him by the arms and swung him out in front of himself as he walked to the bathroom and he started laughing! Rebecca bought him a tiny plastic truck (Dave reprimanded her as he detests cheap plastic trinkets), she smiled at me and said "Bernardo!" and gestured a huge grin with her fingers and winked. Bernardo had that truck in his hand all day, playing in the dirt! Dave was right, it is a tiny plastic piece of crap, and if it puts a smile on Bernardo's face... it's gold.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Week #1

This first blog will most likely be the longest since we have so much ground to cover to bring you up to speed on how I have arrived in this place and why.

Hell that's a great title;


It's 2am in Tarapoto, Peru and I've come to the realization I'm not the slightest bit tired (I'm sure it has nothing to do with the "Inca Kola" I consumed before bed). I'm not usually one for staying up late but since I am up I might as well take advantage of it....Commence blog mode!

This isn't my first time in Peru (it's my second) though this will certainly be the longest- we are scheduled for a 3 month visit. I came here about 3 years ago based on a conversation I had with a client, who mentioned there was a strange drink that came from the amazon administered by Shamans and known to cure ailments both physical and mental. It's hard to condense the experience I had down to something palatable for a blog so keep this is mind as I attempt to do just that.

I'm deeply interested in knowing myself better, not because of any altruistic traits but because I have always seemed to be at the mercy of my thoughts (much like Tourettes Syndrome these thoughts never seemed to have anything nice to say).

Because of this interest in knowing more about my brain box, I've accumulated several modalities through my life that have been MOST helpful (Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP for short and Faster Emotionally Focused Transformations or FEFT for short) and I've been able to use these modalities to not only help myself but my clients as well. This was important in my decision to go to Peru because I have already had some very positive experiences in my life that let me know changes could be quick and powerful.

I hopped on a plane to Peru with hopes that I might silence the whispers of inferiority that still persisted...

What I received from that trip and more specifically the brew was nothing short of miraculous. I communicated with what I believe to be a plant entity. It communicated with words,visions, feelings and did it all with a loving but stern demeanor. I was shown how powerful my thoughts were, I was shown how I was holding a kind of anxious desperate energy and was instructed to "take it down a notch", I was told I am a healer and a builder and when I questioned those facts I was shown how I have been doing it my entire life with snippets from my memory (some I hadn't consciously accessed in years).

The third time drinking this brew I had a VERY brief vision of some insect or parasitic looking (some kind of cross between a squid and a flea), I inquired to this plant spirit about what I had witnessed and was informed it was not important for me to dwell on it (I asked 3 more times anyway and got the same reply every time). This event wouldn't of been anything special except that after that 3rd session I literally felt a weight come of my shoulders and a peace like I have never experienced before....AND IT DIDN'T GO AWAY!! 

I am not in any way shape or form saying that I don't still struggle with my internal workings but this was like taking a 20lb weight off my shoulders that I had been carrying around as long as I could remember and not only that but the constant internal chatter had stopped.

I went home most grateful with a renewed sense of wonder at how much I really did not understand about this world.

That was 3 years a go and nothing has been the same since, It hasn't been easy in fact it's been the most challenging 3 years I can remember because I'm constantly receiving download like information and sometimes that information requires me to unlearn behaviors that I've been doing as long as I can remember. 

I've  been learning how to follow my intuition and differentiate it from thought, it's lead me back to Peru to meet and greet with others and though their experiences are quite different than mine all had events that lead them to this same place. 

I know I'm here to volunteer for some VERY interesting projects that I will share in future blogs, I also know I'm here to network with some of the most interesting people I've ever met. 

Today I walked around the city getting lost (luckily I'm close to a major landmark -Hospitalia), after asking for directions 3 times I finally found my way back. The locals stare at me like I'm purple and my Spanish is about 20 words so as a true Canadian I make sure to end all my interactions with lots of mucho gracias  :D 

As an animal lover I'm really enjoying the sheer number of dogs on the streets though a lot of them aren't domesticated like back home (I'm finding it strange that about 99% have no interest in my excellent petting hands). Their world revolves around other animals and the occasional food handout
so I guess my two choices are to slowly earn their trust on a case by case basis or some create some kind of dog outfit with special pockets for meat.

It's 4:30am and I can tell by my last paragraph that I'm pretty much ready for sleep now. I'll check back in a week with lots of details and more pics!