That’s strange for a kid, right???
Maybe it was that Action Man figure (just like this one) that my Dad got me for Christmas one year that did it.
I invited my youngest sister Sarah, to join me on this epic adventure and whilst I was checking out the travel guides I noticed that it was the rainy season right when we were planning to go.
I live in England so I'm no stranger to rain but I thought I should go to a Travel Agency just to check it out, so I asked "How bad is the rainy season? " he looked at me and was very confused, OK maybe it was a silly question. He said that if this was a trip of lifetime we should go somewhere else. Well, OK then. Back to the drawing board.....but the suggested Peru, and to my embarrassment I'd never even heard of it. But after spending a little time checking it out, it was go, go, go.
We thought that Peru looked absolutely stunning.
Woohoo, Peru here we come
On 28th July 2003 we arrived in Lima, the capital of Peru. The 28th of July is Sarah's birthday, Peruvian Independence Day and I only realized recently that it is also a sign of my freedom and independence from an abusive relationship.
Between 1995 and 2004 I had been in a mentally abusive relationship, the first 6 months were great but then I made a mistake which set the wheels turning for a very difficult 8.5 years. For many years I blamed myself and I did everything that I could to please him, to show him that I was worthy of being married to him.
I even converted to Islam.
When I decided to convert I had convinced myself that I was converting because Islam, made total sense to me and that I knew in my heart it was right. I covered myself up in my own way ie I didn't show any part of my arms and I wore long, non clingy tops to ensure that my butt and shape were covered. I prayed 5 times a day in full hijab and head scarf, didn't drink, didn't go to clubs and I love dancing.
By the time we went to Peru I had been Muslim for about 3 years, it was the first time I had been in South America and the first time that I had ever traveled to a country where I didn't understand the language.
When we left the UK all we had booked were our flights, a hotel for our first night and a taxi from the airport. Absolutely nothing else, nada.
We arrived in the very early hours of the morning and to say that I was shitting myself was putting it lightly. I'd read a lot of nightmarish stories about Lima, so it wasn't ideal getting into a car at about 4am with a driver we didn't know even if it was booked by the hotel.
Being Muslim in South America had its challenges, eating meat was impossible and I ended up praying in the most obscure places and received some really confused looks lol. Let me set the scene, praying in a make shift tent, bamboo beds and sandy floor in the middle of a Canyon being watched by the people on the Colca Canyon tour whilst dressed in a black hijab and head scarf. Not you're every day sight.
The night before we went to Cusco, which is known by many as the energetic navel of the earth we were staying in Arequipa which is a long bus ride away from Cusco we decided that we wanted to try and book a room for when we arrived the next day. The only place we could find was called Casa De la Gringa, so we booked it straight away.
We turned up at about 7.30am even though we'd received no confirmation that we had a place to stay. That morning whilst we were at Casa de la Gringa I was introduced to San Pedro and my life would never be the same.
"San Pedro reconnects us to ourselves, and also to Mother Earth. The plant is a master teacher, a great sift from creator. It helps us to heal, grow, to learn and awaken, and assists us in reaching higher states of truth and consciousness"
The day before you drink San Pedro you need to eat a very light diet and strictly no alcohol. I didn't drink so that made no difference to me but my sister liked to have a drink so this was a pain in the ass, especially when you're in a party town like Cusco.
It didn't stop us from going out though, whilst dancing the night away I started to get cold feet as I thought my ex wouldn't be best pleased that I was going to have this "drug" so I caved. My sister then caved and had a drink as there was no longer any reason not to drink. So we partied the night away, Cusco is a lot of fun : )
The next day I explained to the beautiful Lesley Myburgh (owner of Casa De La Gringa) that I couldn't do it, she didn't know any of my story but with tears in her eyes she said that out of everyone there I needed to do it.
So.... Green lights are go again
We drank San Pedro the next day, the experience was the kick up the butt I needed to begin the path that I am now on, even though at the time I felt that nothing had changed for me.
I had such an amazing experience, it was where I first encountered my teacher and protector the wolf.
The wolf has been on this journey of life with me ever since, he was probably there for many years before but I just couldn't see him or feel him as I was too wrapped up on surviving each and every day in that awful relationship.
Even though I was only in Peru for 3 weeks on that trip, it became my saviour, teacher, loving arms and so much more.
I couldn't wait to go back, so I did in 2004 and met my Hubbie and we celebrate our 9 year wedding anniversary on 17th September.
I am no longer Muslim, I was brought up Catholic but I no longer see myself as Catholic either. I believe in God, The Universe, Source but without any boundaries from any one set religion.
It's never too late to learn something new about the past but don't stay there too long, the present is exactly that a present. Enjoy the simple things each and every day.
NB I now love Lima, yes there are problems there, yes there are horrible bits but there are also many amazing places, people and experiences to be had.
Action Man photo from Eagle Eyes Action Station