Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yellow Spectral Warrior

Imagine Bobblehead Laura. Imagine a two year old shaking Bobblehead Laura. For 6 hours. The bus ride from Popayan to San Agustin is notoriously rough, and that´s what it was like, no exaggeration. It is the bumpiest ride I have ever experienced. And I get to do it again in about 3 hours. I may not be sane when we finally roll into Cali.

After that lovely ride, I found myself at one of my favorite hostels I´ve experienced so far, La Casa de Francois. San Agustin is known for the hundreds of ancient statues sprinkled across its hills. They date back to anywhere from 3000 BC to 1000 AD, and are a good excuse to go horseback riding or trekking across more idyllic countryside. And then once you´ve seen enough statues, the peaceful nature of the hostel will keep you planted in San Agustin for a couple more days.

The night of my arrival, a great group of people were already gathered in the hostel on the hill, and I joined them for some really delicious pizza in town, followed by a fueled night of playing 'Shithead'. The pizzaria in town, owned by an ex-pat German, was so tasty, and included some of the best local music I´ve heard on my trip. I was so happy. The group consisted of myself, 4 Londoners, and a Swiss. I´m just going to leave it at This was a great group of people and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. I really wish all of them could have stayed longer, but they´d been in San Agustin for 5 days already.

This traveling alone thing has been great for practicing my social skills. I mean, I meet so many new people everyday, and if I don´t become friends with them quickly, either they or I will have left for the next destination. It´s also been really interesting to see who I connect with, or who becomes an unexpected friend. Even though I´m from NYC, a city teeming, overflowing with people, I meet far more people on the road than I do in my 'normal' life. And I find myself in situations, in the company of people, that I never would at home. I feel like I could travel Europe next year and have places to stay all along the way.

The hostel here is set in a farm on a hill high above the town. I spent plenty of time in a hammock overlooking the valley, reading my book. I also went horseback riding for 5 hours, stopping along the way to learn about some statues. I was even the official interpreter! I went with a Swedish friend I had met in Salento, who had also ended up in San Agustin, by name of Martin. I knew more Spanish than him, so our guide was exceedingly patient, speaking quite slowly, so I could grasp the pertinent information and relay it on. It was good practice, and I´ve got to say I was pretty proud of myself.

Another day Martin and I set off for the Parque Archealogico, 3 km from town. We must have walked at least 12 km that day. Martin made an excellent travel companion, I am so glad he´s been around both in Salento and San Agustin-- very smart, great conversation, similar interests. I´ve been really lucky lately in the people I´ve met and spent time with. I´m not going to elaborate here, but I´ve had some really fantastic moments with people in the last week. Moments I will cherish and remember. Again, I really think it´s the mountain thing. Hopefully I´ll meet up with several of them again down the road.

On our horseback riding day, Martin and I ended up in a small cafe where a woman offered to tell us our Mayan calendar horoscope, basically. I don´t really believe in such things, but it was cheap, and when else would I discover my Mayan horoscope? And she did end up telling me some things that I think are important to remember during the rest of my trip, and the rest of my life.

She deciphered my Mayan identity through my day of birth, February 13, 1984. I am a Yellow Spectral Warrior. There are countless things that I don´t remember, I have an awful memory for such things, but what she said really was quite beautiful. The most significant or important thing for me in life is intelligence. And I am a risk-taker, adventurous. I have the ability to be a great warrior, but I am a pacifist. I am proactive and strong. And journeys like this, being active out in nature, is and will be integral in my ability to fulfill my potential. I am like a phoenix, I regenerate throughout life, being able to take challenges and turn them into strengths. It was very flattering, and it was apparent to me that this girl really did believe in the Mayan calendar, and many Mayan traditions. As I was leaving, she looked me right in the eye and said ''It is good to be a warrior, yes?'' Yes. Yes it is.

The next few days will be spent in travel as I head back to Cali, catch a plane down to Lima, and eventually a 22 hour bus to Cusco. I am grateful I have a couple of good books to keep me company, and a bag full of fresh fruit from the mercado here. It was the best mercado I´ve been to yet! Fresh fruit and vegetables as far as the eye can see!

The last week or two in the mountains have been so wonderful. I´ve been so at peace, had such wonderful conversations, been surrounded by such beauty. I would happily return here.

But this warrior journies on.


Sven said...

Wow. Two posts so close to each other. It's like feast or famine with you. I'm glad to hear that you're still doing well. Keep posting.

Anonymous said...

Of course, those are basically the attributes you would guess a foreigner traveling as you are to have (or believe they have), right? Don't trash the Patriarchal Blessing yet, Laura.

Rebecca said...

That's awesome. AWESOME. I love what she said - it's totally you, and something to remember when things are difficult. You're a warrior! I love it.