Urubamba, Tzolkin and fire ceremonies

What next after Calca?

Our plan after leaving Calca was to head South to Arequipa and from there back to the North of Peru, then cross into Ecuador. Katya told us of her plans of staying in Urubamba for a while, less than an hour away from Calca, house sitting for some friends who were traveling. Then go to the jungle where another friend had a house available starting October. She asked if we’d like to join her, so we said… why not? 🙂

It was very interesting how things turned out, as Urubamba was exactly where we had stayed 6 months before, when we first came to South America. Coincidentally our house now was less than 10 minutes walk from our house then. Another very nice circle, we thought. Looking back at the past 6 months we could easily recognize that even though it seemed like the same people were coming back to the same places, that was definitely not the case. The places were not the same, and we were certainly not the same either. We were different people now, and we were seeing the places with completely different eyes.


Moving to Urubamba

So that was how we all ended up house-sitting and cat sitting for Katya’s friends Nicolas and Paloma. They are originally from Lima but have moved to Urubamba a few months ago as the Sacred Valley was calling them. They have a 3 year old daughter called Ramta who we got to spend a few days with after they got back from their travels – we all agree she’s a pretty special kid!:) They also have a 4 months cat whose name is Anay.

“Anay” means “Thank you” in Quechua, one of the native languages of the region. Ever since we first listened to Quechua we loved the way it sounded and felt strangely drawn to it. As time went by we kept hearing things about it, how it was sacred and there were some word which did not even exist in this language (e.g. swear words, the words traitor, prison, etc). How fascinating…

Coming back to Nico and Paloma, they are both therapists: Nico does music therapy and Paloma does more physical and energetical kind of healing. Their house is pretty eco, with an ecological toilet and a shower outside, and they follow North and South American Indian traditions and wisdom. They have built a Tipi (Native American tent) and a Temazcal (a sweat lodge) in their garden and are now working on building another temple in the form of a chakana, the Andean cross. We (especially Silviu) helped a bit with that and we hope we’ll still be here for its inauguration. This temple will be used mostly for ceremonies related to the Tzolkin Calendar, also known as 13/20, knowledge left to us by the Mayans in a temple in Honduras. They both have extensive knowledge on the subject and Nico was kind enough to hold a 7 hour workshop for us in which we learned the basics, and then attended the bimonthly fire ceremonies held by those following 13/20.


The Crystal ceremonies

They are called the Crystal ceremonies and we simply loved being part of them. According to Tzolkin time is not chronological but cyclical and it follows nature as opposed to being something arbitrarily set by humans, as the Gregorian calendar is. For this reason a year has 13 moths of 28 days each, as this is the natural cycle of the moon (I had never actually thought that there are 13 full moons in a year, not 12, so it all made a lot of sense to me). In Tzolkin they also talk about wavespells that last for 13 days each, so every 13 days this fire ceremony takes places to celebrate the end of one wave and the beginning of the other. Each of the waves carries with it a certain type of energy and knowing what it is can help you understand better what’s happening with you and those around you, and also how to make the best of the 13 days to come.

I personally loved participating in the ceremonies because it was a great way to look back at the past 13 days and see what they had brought into my life – the experiences, people, learnings. I realised how seldom I did that and at the same time how helpful it was in appreciating things more and also noticing my progress on the path of becoming a better person. Even though at the beginning my mind would think “oh, it’s just two weeks, nothing that special happened”, the moment I stopped to think about it more I’d see how many significant experiences I had had and how they had helped in my growing each day. It also made me appreciate life and living more, and listening to the others’ stories enlarged my perspective and made me more open to the connection with the people and things around me.

The ceremony was also a good opportunity to think about the 13 days to come and the kind of person I wish to be. Every fire ceremony filled my heart with love, joy and hope, and some of that energy stayed with me throughout the next days and made them brighter. The feeling of deep connection with nature and all beings was also intensified during these ceremonies and I was left with the idea that I’d love to continue doing this at home, so that my family and friends can benefit from them at least as much as I have.


How we found Urubamba

We were staying a bit out town and did not go to the centre and market every single day, but that didn’t prevent us from following our Calca routine of having fresh fruit salad in the market, looong conversations with mamachas over the delicious lunches they had prepared and end the evening not with hot chocolate this time, as Urubambinos do not seem too keen on that, but over churros prepared by the coolest papacho in town. He let us in on his cooking secrets and grateful about that we were.

Instead of having hot chocolate as the Calca people do, the Urubambinos end their days (and start their days, and have breaks during the day) having chicha, the local “beer” made of corn. One day we went into a local “bar” to buy some for the Crystal ceremony that was taking place that evening. The moment we walked in our eyes fell on an older couple having a 1L beer each. They spotted us immediately as well and started waving while asking in a very loud voice what we wanted to buy. We said we needed some take away chicha and the lady shouted towards what seemed to be the kitchen: “Chicha to go for the girls!” We initially thought she was the one working there, but as it turns out she was just a patron as well. It was not the first time this happened to us – we’d sometimes have other customers cleaning our table or bringing our soup when we were out lunching. We thought that was just too cool….

The lady turned to us and told us to have a sit, then asked “May I offer you some beer?”. Without really waiting for an answer she took her husband’s glass, cleaned it with her hand and said: “You don’t need to worry, we don’t have any disease”. Then poured us a glass of beer and gave us the biggest smile ever. While we were drinking it still in a bit of shock, her husband, who had obviously had a bit too much to drink, asked us: “So are you foreigners?”. Before we had a chance to reply his wife turned to him and answered in a really sarcastic tone: “No, they are Urubambinas(inhabitants of Urubamba), can’t you see?”. Then turned to us and said “Don’t mind him, he’s drunk”. I don’t think he got it, but we certainly found it hilarious how she’d make fun of her husband that way.

Later she moved on to tell us how she really liked seeing foreigners around, how she used to work with them before and how she loved it because “We learn so many things from you”. “Well that’s true for us as well”, I replied, “we learn so much from the people who live here”. She nodded and said “Yes, it’s true, it’s learning on both sides…”. Then she shook her head slowly and added “But in the end, we are all equal. In the face of life none is better than the other, we are all the same”. We agreed with her, took another sip of beer, received our chicha and off we went, impressed again by what we’d normally consider the “uneducated” people in the villages.

These people… they were making it so hard for us to leave the Sacred Valley…:).

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