Where in the World is Jillo?

Day 4
We left to board the train at 5:30 a.m. this morning to go to Machu Picchu. I don’t do well that early in the morning, but I was rewarded with the most beautiful one and a half hour ride I could imagine. Never having been on a train before, it was one experience, but moving down the tracks into the womb of the great mother was an experience I will never forget.
Mountains surrounded us on all sides reaching so high up that one had to look out the windows in the roof of the train to see the tops, which were covered with billowy clouds. Romulo told us that the “Appos,” the great spirits of the mountains lived there and they were very powerful guides.
The photos we took through the train windows not only showed us the view into the mountains and the beginnings of the Inca Trail, but they also revealed secrets hidden in this land of ancient peoples.  As I was taking photos and feeling the joy of an opening of my heart, AhNa exclaimed, “Come and see the pictures I just took!”  I walked back a ways in the car and looked into her camera.

Ahna, Finbarr and Jill reading the SWJ.

The first picture she showed me she’d taken through the train window and it looked like a giant hole was in the window, like a giant rock or something had made a hole in the glass.  There was no hole.
The next photo, which she had taken in rapid succession, showed the window with a foggy edge all around the hole… rather like a photographer does when they do creative things to pictures to make them look cool. There was no hole, there were no foggy edges on the window, but that is what the camera showed.
I thought back a couple or three years to when I had pictures of a similar nature when I was in Montana and a strange rose colored light appeared in a picture over me and my friends in a soldier’s chapel at the base of a mountain near Yellowstone Park. I understood what was happening, but there was no explanation. Finbarr and AhNa both explained what they thought it to be. I had no doubt that what they said was true.
There were so many unexplainable things that happened in Peru that we all saw, I knew we were experiencing just what we’d come there for.  Peru is a country where mysterious, spiritual things happen that can not be explained by the logical mind.  It is said that once you visit Peru, you will be changed.  Our group was changed in many ways.  My brother and his wife visited Peru over 20 years ago. I saw the pictures, I heard them tell about it, but there is no way one can really know Peru unless it is experienced by being there.
There were a group of Koreans sitting in the vicinity of me. The young guide began a conversation with us. Then one of his group started a conversation with me wanting to know where I was from and why I came to Peru, etc.  He said he traveled to meet all the people from different countries and learn about them.  I too have this feeling about connecting on a level with those who live in other countries. It is as much about the people you meet as it is about the place you are visiting.  One soon learns that we are really all alike, with many of the same dreams and desires… we are all one.
As the train came to the end of the line, we de-boarded and checked into our hotel. From there, we boarded a bus for a 30 minute ride to Machu Picchu. I was in awe of this place and felt a sense of deep peace and connection to the sacredness of the land.
As we climbed high into the mountains on steps that were very steep and tall, we had to stop every so often to catch our breath. Going up to 12,000 feet and more is apt to give one altitude sickness. I listened to my brother’s wife about getting high altitude pills before I left. They were immensely helpful. I’d never go without them.
There in Peru, they start serving you cocoa tea as soon as you arrive, or you chew on cocoa leaves. I did that also and found the tea to be very good. This is what they have used for hundreds of years to keep themselves in shape. Romulo told us to go slow and at each stop he would tell us more of what we were seeing.
When we got to a certain place, Romulo introduced us to another man who gave us a talk on the National Park and showed us around to different parts of it and the ruins. I believe his name was Andreal.  He gave us a history of the land and how the Spaniards came into the country and changed many of the ways of the Incas. It was all so informative, actually there was so much information that it is hard to remember.
Andreal took us to a spot on the side of the mountain that was kind of a shelf-like cave. Here he did a meditation in the ways of the Incas… he sang and spoke in the language of the ancient people. It was really a sacred ceremony where he welcomed us with the blessings of the ancient people. It was clear that some of us went to another place as we listened to the chanting.  The people of Peru are so gracious and loving.
Day 5
Today we got back on the bus and went back to Machu Picchu. More to explore and see. Some stomach issues were beginning to plague some of the pilgrims. Several stayed back at the hotel and a couple of them left after we’d gotten there and done a meditation in a small spot on the side of the mountain. Finbarr and AhNa did a group meditation and a bell healing and then we split into two groups. Some went with Jessica (Romulo’s helper) and some went with Romulo up Machu Picchu proper. Both groups were in for a strenuous climb.
Romulo’s group were six, including him. We took our time on the steep hike and he explained things we were seeing. We all looked down into the valley from which we came and could see the road snaking its way up the mountain. Wow! I didn’t realize it was like that when I was on the bus! It was like being on top of the world.
On the way up we stopped to eat some of our lunch in a rocky area, which was a prayer place. There was a young man there named Diego who had just come off four days walking the Inca trail. He said it was very intense and his legs were covered with bug bites. I had wanted to wear shorts the past two days and Finbarr told me no because my legs would be covered in bug bites. Today I saw what he was talking about.
About half way up a dog joined us on the climb. Whenever we stopped to rest or eat lunch or drink water, he would stop and sit or lay down by us. When we were nearing the top he left us. When we got to the very top, the dog came out of nowhere to meet us. After we’d enjoyed the view and were rested and had taken pictures, Romulo did a meditation with us in a circle. The dog walked into the circle, walked around the circle and rubbed against each of us and then went out of the circle between Finbarr and me. When the meditation was done we commented on it and Finbarr said that the dog stood behind him until Romulo finished as he could feel the dog’s tail hitting his legs.
When we were done, the dog had moved on to another spot. It was interesting to note that he wasn’t the only dog that joined our group at different times when we were there. Romulo and Finbarr both said that the animals can feel the energy and the energy of our group drew the dog to us.
It was not only dogs that joined our group. Yesterday as our group was sitting listening to Romulo talk to us about the Inca sites, three young men sat by our group and listened. When we got up to move along, one of the young men kind of stayed by us. I asked him if he was with a group and he said no he’d come to Peru by himself, just taking the first spiritual journey of his life. I began to talk to him and he wanted to know more and what our tour was doing and who Romulo and Finbarr were. He followed us the rest of the time we were on the mountain.
It was really inspiring for me to talk to this young man who was in his 20s. His name was Aaron from Seattle. As I said, it is about who one meets on the journey as well as the place one is going. We touch each other’s lives for a few minutes or a day or a week or a lifetime, but we do have the opportunity to connect with others and give them the gift of our time and knowledge and they the same for us. As we readied ourselves to depart the mountain park, Aaron and I hugged and he said he was so glad to meet us and maybe someday we’d meet again. His last words were, “I wish I didn’t have to leave you all.” I hope I gave him something useful for his journey.

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