It had been blessedly cloudy for most of the day which meant protection from the great and powerful Inti, and that the likelihood of rain was great. I suppose this is why Martín decided we should eat first, and rest, and then climb up, just 1 hour, he promised.
I had only my bundled mesa, my despacho kit*, water, and the paqowachu instructions in my bag and was waiting for Martín under the increasingly cloudier sky. I was feeling extremely content and satisfied in the height I had climbed. It was in view of the glacier. As far as I was concerned, this was really as high as a I oughtta climb. And so it was that it started to rain. I was hoping it would sprinkle and then pass, but it wanted to stay.
I went back into the tent, grateful that it hadn’t rained while we were hiking earlier, and that the tent was cozy and dry. My water bottle was full of still-warm coca tea made from boiled mountain water, my breath labored just from turning over from one side to the other, but I was content. I slept a little, wrote some, and came to realize I might really not be climbing up any higher and would be doing the ritual right here in this little tent. I laid in my tent in the rain contemplating life. How in the live long world did I, out of 8 bazillion humans, get to be here now?
Back in my tiny tent, in the last light of day, I began my ritual. I can’t tell you all about my ceremony, but I can tell you one thing: When I opened my mouth to speak my prayers, I wept. I was so overcome with emotion to have the opportunity to be where I was, with this magnanimous, generous, and wise Apu. To be in these lands where such wise and strong people sowed generations of beauty, and vision, and to have the love and support of my community in such tangible ways, to have the privilege and the bequest, truly has no verbal equal.
When I was done, it was after dark and raining hard. Feeling very content and rather sleepy, I went to bed a little after 7pm.
It was still raining, the walls of the tent were quite wet, but the ground was still dry. However, the tent narrowed towards the feet and my feet were up against the walls. The outside of the sleeping bag was damp, and I knew if I didn’t fix it, I was going to end up wet and quite cold. I put my poncho over my feet and legs and tried to fall back asleep. I was floating on my little sleeping pad, in a wet tent, at the top of the world, with Beyoncé in my head, heavily breathing, and all I wanted was to be asleep again. Just then, I felt something reach into my tent. I struck out my hand only to catch the arm of my husband, Lance. Relieved but still concerned, I said to him, “No! I can’t!… I’m on my paqowachu!…” He didn’t say anything, he just pulled me into his arms, in our bed at home, and held me there — so warm, so soft, so dry.
I dreamt a few other dreams that night, all restorative in their own way, but nothing could touch the warmth and relief of being home for a moment, in the middle of, well— death.
While we gathered the last of our things, I asked them about what time we’d get down. They looked at each other, evaluating the circumstances, and said about 8 pm, maybe 10 if we don’t go very fast at all. They asked me if I could ride a horse to which I stoutly replied ¡Si! The prospect of riding a horse greatly lifted my spirits. It was 8 am and they pointed down through the clouds to a patch of green and said “There. There is the chance for a horse. We will walk, maybe 5-6 hours.” My spirits deflated slightly, but I knew that even if we didn’t get the horse, I would still make it to the taxi by the cemetery, one step at a time.
Stay tuned… next time on Pilgrimage to Huascaran: Part 5 – the thrilling conclusion where we find out whether Amy ever got that horse!!
*See Earthflower Offerings on our Resources Page
Amy Mermaid Isakov
Amy Mermaid Isakov is a tech savvy and innovative dreamer passionate about connection, spirituality, music, ritual arts, and how the Divine can manifest in all its forms. Having left the traditional education path, she has studied in-depth with shamans, bodyworkers, evolutionary thought leaders, and green builders since 2001. She is a Pachakuti Mesa carrier, writer, teacher, singer, and mother – among other things. You can reach Amy at TeachHeart@me.com.