The perfect way to start my year abroad!
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Dance Camp – St. Eulalia – Feb 4-9, 2006
Sat Feb 3 -
I got back to town on Feb 3 from Trujillo and I met some of the group going to the St. Eulalia for the dance camp for Dances of Universal Peace. I have never done this type of dancing and was surprised to meet Bob, one of the 8 people from North America who would be attending. I am not sure why, but I thought it would only be women. There would be up to 40 people attending from Peru, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Brasil, Venezuela, one from Spain, one from Holland and 8 from the US.
I had dinner with Bob, from Washington State and also met Leigh, from Portland.
Sun Feb 4 –
At breakfast, I sat with Bob and Leigh and Rowena, from Australia. Rowena had been traveling around the world for 8 years teaching diving. She had recently been on a bus from Cusco to Nazca that was held up a gunpoint. She lost everything and spent the entire day on the Internet at the hotel trying to get her life back in order. She was rather philosophical about it and had decided to take the offer of grad school in Aust in Marine Biology, providing she could get her airline tickets redone. I had mentioned to Bob that I needed to get to a store to buy a blanket and Rowena said that she was ditching her sleeping bag and that I could have it. I gave her several paperbacks that I was done with for trading at the book exchange and we called it even. The Universe provides again.
Also at the hotel were two Peruvian’s Carlos and Eduardo, the later who would be giving us drumming lessons during the camp. It was an hour drive from the outskirts of Miraflores to St. Eulalia. The town was small and made up mainly of vacation homes and compounds of bungalows for holidays.
Our compound is owned and run by Peter who is a stately gentlemen with gray hair who was all over making sure we all had hot water and sweeping the steps and the tops of the houses to get rid of the extra water from the unexpected rain we were experiencing. There were over 10 bungalows and the grounds had numerous mango, banana, avocado, apple and pear trees and flowers ranging from hibiscus, roses, bouganvillia and jasmine. Wonderful to walk through and smell or sit at one of the many tables or benches and just enjoy.
I would be rooming in a house with 5 other women. Leigh, Cynthia and Janine from the US and Anna Maria and Nancy from Columbia. Our bungalow (The blue house) had two bedrooms with three beds each. Leigh and I were in the smaller of the two up stairs and we weren’t sure when Cynthia would arrive. Janine came up a day later so for the first night it was only 4 in the house.
After dinner, which was soup, rice and seitan and lovely lemongrass tea, we had our first dance session.
The Dances of Universal Peace is an international program where people gather to sing, dance and pray from the heart for the furtherance of understanding and global peace. In our group, three languages were spoken so the opening invocation was done in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Luckily they did a lot of translating so that those of us with only one language could understand and follow. The dance room was a large building with mats in the middle, a central position for the musicians, flowers and incense and around the perimeter, chairs and benches to put your shoes. There are three doors and lots of windows but at times it got a little warm with 40 bodies moving together.
What a lovely and handsome group of people. I felt like an Amazon towering over most of the women, but luckily there was one man who was considerably taller than I so I didn’t feel like a giant. There is always a smile to greet you and lots of hugs and even though I could not understand some of them without an interpreter, I know that I was accepted and loved.
The first night, the leader was Grace, from Ft. Collins, who began the dances in Peru over 7 years ago and who was the driving force for this workshop. Other leaders of the dances included the rest of the organizational committee. This event was the first time most of the South American countries were together for an event. During the week, the main group comprised of dance leaders, dance mentors and their mentees, met in the afternoons to discuss the logistics for the South American Network and the future of these dances for the entire continent.
Each session began with walking in a counter clockwise direction to balance ourselves in the space and the session and to begin connecting as a group. After that, the leader, who also generally accompanied the group with guitar, drum or other instrument, sings the melody for us to learn. Then came the steps and after a little practice, off we went. It was generally lovely, gentle dancing with lots of swaying and chanting at times, all with the intention to pray to the higher powers for global peace and understanding. We were singing in English, Spanish, Hebrew, Aramaic and other languages and luckily, it was usually only a few phrases per song. Whenever I got lost, I would just hum along or go la la la and as that is half of Allah, Zubin (from Holland) said that was fine. Most of the dances come from biblical text or prayers and hymns from any of these traditions.
We ended about 10:30 and then off to bed.
Mon - Wed, Feb 6 -8
The daily schedule was breakfast between 7:30 and 8:30. Dance from 10 until 12:30. Lunch at 1:00, afternoon meeting for the main group and drums lessons for the rest at 3:00. Break at 5:00. Dinner at 7:00. Evening dancing from 8:00 until 10:30. There were also early morning sessions of yoga, tai chi and other forms of light exercise that started at 7:00 am. I never made any of them, because I was sleeping so well.
Tuesday morning, Thomas from Spain lead a Family Constellation for the South American group as they began to work through some of the differences that were causing a little tension. It was all in Spanish and the people that went said that it was amazing. We were all invited, but most of the guests who were not involved with the meetings did not attend.
Breakfasts were fruit, fresh juice, coffee or tea, cheese, olives, bread, cereal, yoghurt and jams and condiments.
After the first evening session, most of the dance sessions were lead by one of the countries in the group. Each group did at least 7 dances and brought something new to the group. There was usually one of two dances that resonated with me and usually had me in tears. There was so much love and spirituality in the room that you could not help but be moved from time to time. People were very respectful of others emotions and did not intrude. The Brazilians won for the most energetic with the most playful rhythms.
Lunches were always the biggest meal and usually had some type of salad, a main dish including seitan (a gluten that was cooked like a meat and would take on the flavor of the spices) bread, fresh tea and a pudding for dessert.
The drum sessions were wonderful, if not a little exhausting. The first day, Eduardo, gave us a simple rhythm that we all practiced and got quite good at. We were very high energy that day and thoroughly enjoyed it. The next day, we were more tired with lower energy, but were more confident with our drumming and dove right in to our second major rhythm. My hands became quite tired, so I lay on the floor to enjoy the energy and the sound. I was right next to one of the metallic drums, and boy it was piercing.
Dinners were smaller with soup, a light meal including rice or potatoes, dessert, tea and bread.
Wednesday night, our last night of dancing was wonderful with lots of different leaders. After the session ended, we had a bon fire with drums, flute and songs. People sang and danced and even jumped over the fire and the moon came out over us all. It went on well past midnight.
Thurs, Feb 9 –
This was our final day in St. Eulalia and we had a short session at 9:00 for a final dance before the buses arrived at 11:00 to take us back to Miraflores.
We were a little late starting and began with a giving and receiving practice. This involved two lines of people facing each other. The left hand side silently gave a gift to the person standing in front of them and the receiver would say thank you. When the chime sounded, everyone moved one step to the right and repeated the process. This way, we both received and gave gifts to everyone we had danced with. I was fine until I came to Zelice, a wonderful woman from Brazil who had the most delightful smile. I noticed her the first day and although we didn’t understand each other most of the time, there was a wonderful connection. Luckily, I came prepared this morning and used all of the tissues in my pants before the ceremony was through.
The buses were early but bus number one was very late in leaving as we all had a hard time saying goodbye and getting that last hug in before we left.
Back in Miraflores, we went to the Hostel Buena Vista to collect bags and try and find lunch before most of us made connections in Lima for other locations. Leigh was kind enough to let me use her room to reorganize my bags and make calls before I left Lima. Being away from the web was wonderful, but I had some catching up to do with things from home and arrangements for hotels in Auckland, Bangkok and Santiago when I return from Easter Island. Not all in place as of yet, but moving along.
Juan Marcos, one of the men from the dance camp, and I shared a cab to the airport and we were there in plenty of time for our flight at 8:35 to Santiago. I was seated next to a lady from Peru who shared candy with me and sang in her sleep during our short flight to Santiago. It was only 3.5 hours in the air, but also a 2-hour time change so I left at 8:30 and landed at 1:30 am. I am currently in the Santiago airport, it is 3:30 am and I can check my bags for my flight to Easter Island at 5:00 am. Yah! Then off to the gate for a short sleep until I board the plane at 8:30 am.
Now that I am no longer in Peru I can say this. The Peruvians are WONDERFUL DRIVERS. This would not be easily recognizable by the US standards because intersections are an amazing collection of cars from every possible direction all negotiating their way around. Yet for all the honking with multiple sounds, I did not witness one car wreck, one slightly crumpled fender or witness one international signal for unspeakable acts. Remember how I said that the horn was the most used piece of equipment on the car? It is simply a device to alert drivers within your vicinity that you were in the area and requesting space on the road. My hats off the all the drivers in Peru. They are amazing.
What did I learn in Peru?
- I am braver in a crowd, but more friendly and outgoing when I am on my own.
- Letting go earns you better results than pushing your own agenda. (I know, this is obvious to everyone around me, but I had to find it out for myself).
- Best item I brought from home – jar opener that stands in for a drain stopper when doing hand laundry in the sink.
- Item I forgot that I wish I had – inflatable hangers. While most of the hostels and hotels had hangers, some did not and others could not be removed from the closet.
- I HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF WITH ME! I have already mailed my big sweater home and plan to either dump or give away more stuff before I make it to Thailand.
- FedEx does not allow ANY FOOD STUFFS IN THEIR BOXES, not even coffee or chocolate. So, no food goodies for the mail from now on.
- I will have to wait for another location for Rhett Butler auditions.
- Items I will buy as I arrive in a new country – shampoo, Kleenex, Gatorade, candy and cookies, phone card, washing powder, sun screen.
What I have noticed so far from my travels.
- * International travelers tend to be liberal in their views. Sorry Rob, I don’t think there has been a Republican in the bunch so far. I will keep the survey going though and will let you know the results.
- * Well over ½ of the people I have met from the US or other Western Countries have done a stretch of 6 months to a year of international traveling.
- * The group I have met so far always have wonderful ideas of where to go and how to get there and are a wonderful source of good books to read.
I continue to search for a WIFI Network so that I can access to download this and the other entries from Peru including pictures.
Next entry, Easter Island. Quen is very much looking forward to his next photo.