North to South




we leave delfin’s house in the north, and it is a long day of driving in the car as we make our way south towards sebastian’s house at los encuentros. on the way, we will stop overnight on the first night, and then again for a second night, before arriving at los encuentros the following day. In the car, conversations rise and fall, punctuated by long intervals of silence. I use these moments to listen to music and reflect on what has just happened, what is now happening…………just under the surface………………….

in my heart, soul and body, i am fragile. emotion from the departure sits inside, a sweet, uncomfortable heat. delfin travels with me, the innocence of his eyes never far from my thoughts. in conjunction with the deep clean that my digestive system has experienced, the first night of ceremony with delfin coincided (or not?) with the start of my moon cycle, so there is a soft emptiness in my abdomen connecting me all the more deeply with this release. on a more mundane level, in the past few days i have been under constant attack by sand flies and my legs are absolutely covered in bites- i look like i have some sort of infectious skin disease. besides looking absolutely terrible, the bites are starting to itch and it is all i can do to not scratch. to complete the trifecta, i am also having issues with my right eye ~something must have gotten into my eye, perhaps a grain of sand or some dirt under my contact lens, with each passing hour my eye appears to be worsening. it is weeping, itchy……in this state, we drive south. i watch the landscape through the window, embracing the lush abundance of green, bringing it from my eyes down into my heart. life can be so simple, so abundant, why do i complicate things so much?

on the way, we stop at a waterfall called “la cascada de la lata”. it is threatening to rain so most of the group decide to hang back and not make the 40 minute trek up to the main cascade. myself, cesar, david, roberto and mati put our gumboots on and start walking…………….it is a slightly precarious path, slippery with mud and mossy stones. aaaahhhhh, my soul sighs in relief as i begin to walk, traversing the green, all to the soundtrack of running water. pure ecstasy. the nature of the path means that i have to concentrate on not falling over. i work on finding perfect consciousness in each step that i take in the mud, each soft muddy squelch supported underneath by the safety of firm earth and stone. my hands searching for support from trees, the railing… i move, i feel the complication falling away and once again i am in my favourite place. breath, movement, air. pores and heart open, the green penetrates, cleansing. we move past streams,  and as we walk upwards the group splits up. cesar and david are powering ahead, mati third. roberto fourth. i lag behind on purpose, enjoying the solitude.

we finally arrive at the main pool and after the walk it is a given that i am going to get in for a swim…….immersing myself in the pool draws a scream of pleasure from deep within. the water is deliciously cold and the pleasure at finding myself in such a place is so exquisite i can barely contain myself. i love to swim, dip and dive, imagine myself to be a fish, feeling the water against my skin. here, i feel safe. i float on my back and watch the water the coming down. i swim right up to the veil of water cascading down and sit there, feeling it crash down on my neck. nature’s perfect massage…………………….after a while, another group of people arrive, breaking our intimacy in this most beautiful of spaces. we walk back and join the rest of the group. i feel a different energy within myself, a welcome change towards lightness, away from the density of the sadness of departure. the water has done its’ cleansing work. i stop and take photos of the water running across the rocks, imagining it smoothing away the rough edges, endlessly flowing, endlessly working.

we continue on the journey, and as the first day of travel draws on, my right eye begins to irritate me with a vengeance. we stop at a pharmacy where i try to find something that will relieve it….i buy some eyedrops, put them straight in, but to no avail. by the time we get to the end of the road for the day, i am feeling really irritated. the end of the road involves getting in a boat and travelling for about 20 minutes in the moonlight along a beautiful wide river. clouds spread across the sky, diffusing the light of a growing moon, create an almost mysterious vibe. this would ordinarily have me enthralled, but my eye has got me in a state where i can no longer ignore it. i try to sit inside the pain, befriend it, but to no avail. i simply cannot wait to get to wherever it is we are going, have a shower, close my eyes and hope for sleep. being in the moment is an impossibility for now.

our destination for the evening is a beautiful hotel at sinchi sacha, made up of cabins, set high up on the hillside. when we arrive, there is a rapid and excited flurry of showers, shifting to dinner, which is delicious. grilled chicken and yuka. i have never eaten chicken and enjoyed it to the extent that i have in ecuador. and i have to say that the way they grill the chicken in this particular place, leaves me licking my fingers, yum yum yum!!!!! afterwards, i/we fall into bed, into a delicious post warm shower, post delicious meal, post long day coma. it is a delight to disconnect from my eye and forget about it for a few hours.

as the second day dawns, we breakfast, get ourselves organised, walk down to the boats and head back to where the van is parked. my eye is continuing to bug me. the pain is curious, impossible to ignore, it sits in the middle of my mind screaming to me to pay attention, to not even bother trying to look away. we set off driving and once again the day passes in a blur of conversations, music, jokes, toilet, food and cigarette breaks, and overlaying it all is the constant conflict within myself between how i feel physically and just trying to enjoy where i am and who i am with. needless to say, by the time we get to our hotel that night i am in quite a state internally. when we walk to dinner i am suddenly overcome by a deep feeling of loneliness. i need someone to hold me, hug me, kiss my eyes, whisper to me that everything is just fine, because the day has been long and i am feeling sad from the comedown after delfin and physically drained from trying to not rub my eyes or cry from the pain and i can’t seem to find the strength to talk myself around, to soothe myself. but everyone is absolutely wrapped up (and rightly so) in their jokes and in having a good time and i can’t seem to find the courage to ask for what i need. i lag behind as we walk and when i am far enough behind and i feel tears coming i turn around and walk back to the hotel without saying anything. the only thing that is in my mind is getting into bed, pulling the covers over my head and finding solace in sleep.

in the morning i sense that sleep has done its work leaving me in a more balanced state. we have a lovely breakfast together and my colleagues ask me what happened and where did i disappear to and i can see that they are with me, that we are all together and for a moment i feel that i could have opened myself and said something and i would have received the love i needed. as breakfast progresses i become more excited because today we get to los encuentros and i will finally meet the famous sebastian and we will have the first of seven ceremonies tonight. it will be the start of something new. now, if only i could sort this eye out…………….

click here for a video of the waterfall: 

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