Saturday, 2 November 2013

Spiritual Healing in Cusco

Once back in Cusco after our trek, we moved hostels to the San Blas district. Here we ended up spending another 8 nights and absorbed another layer of the city at a very different pace. This area was very much the hippy sector! Lots of traveller street vendors selling their art and crafts clustered at the top of the beautiful square.

There were many art studios lining the streets – lots of religious paintings mainly – gold and quite garish; not quite to our taste! Lovely bakeries and cafes and also trendy live music bars were a plenty.

On the train back from Machu Picchu we met a lovely Quebecan couple; Greg and Karina. We swapped details and met up the next day at a local coffee shop and they mentioned they would like to introduce us to a special friend they met in the San Blas district. We head out and luckily find him at the top of the San Blas Plaza steps with the other vendors. ‘KOFLAEI’ is a charismatic Spanish speaking healer, jewellery maker and traveller. He wears all white loose clothes, no shoes, has long hair and a beard, is missing one lens in his thin rimmed glasses (blind in one eye), no front teeth and a big warm grin. Soon after meeting him he invited us all back to his place to share some food. We had a great night, chatting, getting to know each other as best we can with the limited Spanish vocabulary that we have soaked up.
Greg and Karina
We also spent a while admiring the plethora of lovely jewellery that lined Koflaeis walls and loose rocks spread out amongst the shelves.

Kyle helping Koflaei prepare lunch with Renzo 

He made Hannah an amazing homemade proper chocolatè caliente and me a tè that contained many different natural infusions. We soon learnt that Koflaei is a man of vast depth and has a wealth of rich life experiences. Even though there is a language barrier you can still manage to communicate because of the amount of expression and energy that he uses to get the message across. After seeing a beautiful ring that Karina was wearing that Koflaei made, we decided that it would be nice if we designed some jewellery for our Mums back home. What we didn’t know was that he would start the process that night (midnight) and prefer us to be present during the whole process so we can have creative input throughout. We hope you like them Mummies!

Koflaei at work

That night set the precedence for the rest of the week and we returned to Koflaei’s nearly every day. We were welcomed into a cosy bohemian community of musicians, makers, body and spiritual healers and travellers (and the cutest 2 month Labrador puppy called Puma).

Jam session in Shakiras room with various instruments

We were introduced to many things and learnt more about the process of healing. We discovered the real ‘arnica’ - arnica tincture which had a really strong smell and was bright orange (Koflaei was bemused at our tube of Boots brand 1% arnica cream!! Opps!). What we found fascinating was his ideology that the smell of a medicine plays a far more important role in the healing process than we might usually think. When you rub the arnica tincture into the skin the smell sends signals to the brain releasing the correct energy or signal required to aid in the healing. The healing process is not just physical but also psychological. He lent us a strange looking charcoal incense stick, a similar size to a Cuban cigar, that you light and hold very close to the body to deeply warm up areas of pain.

At the end of the week Koflaei had a healing session with Kyle and I had a massage from Miray. He had some awesome stories that hooked our attention, the kind of stories that really make you think about the world and existence. One night towards the end of the week we had a fire in the courtyard which we all sat round, chatted and jammed for hours; really reminding us of the kind of nights we have with friends back home.
5 minute massage for Kyle!

The way of life is so different here – this little community really look out for one another – when one doesn’t have any money; the others provide. By commissioning Koflaei for the jewellery, it enabled him to provide a traditional Peruvian meal (Lomo Saltado) for everyone (including us!).

They are all very selfless, open and giving, we were welcomed at all times of the day and night. I can’t imagine welcoming a bunch of random tourists into our home, cooking for them etc…

We introduced Bea and Alex to Koflaei after they got back from their trek.

Also our friend Anneke from our jungle trek! We love how the chain grows…

At this point I think it is important to recognise that through just brief encounters and getting to know people, your experience of a place can shift between multiple and different opportunities and outcomes. Had we not struck up conversation with Greg and Karina on the train and quickly formed a small bond we wouldn’t have been introduced to all the lovely people we met this week in a small corner of Cusco. We also had the pleasure to be able to introduce our friends to them. It gave us the opportunity to really remove ourselves from the usual hussle and bustle of the travellers/backpackers scene and get to know the place and people on a more personal, deeper and connected level.

It wasn’t an entirely restful week however!...Bea and Alex came to stay in the same hostel as us and we got up to mischief! More great meals together and a fair few bottles of wine!

KMO bar - great live music

Drunk song time!

We heard about the big storm back home and on the same night had some pretty exciting weather over here too! Torrential rain, thunder and lightening and hail… it was so bad that at one point we had a small waterfall down our room’s stone wall and we had to move upstairs!

If was difficult to say goodbye and a part of us really didn’t want to leave but after 2 months, it was finally time to move on from Peru into Bolivia… nearly a month after first planned! Apart from England, this is the longest we have ever spent in one country. It is simply beautiful here with such a rich culture and strong roots. We will never forget our experiences here…

 A picture of us by a little artist!

 The Peruvians seemed to like taking pictures of us! 'Here's us with a gringo!' 
At the Choco museo making our own hot choc with Aneke

The Cusco flag

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