Puerto Maldonado, May 1st, 2014
A few weeks ago my mother told me she didn’t understand what I was looking for on this trip. When I left home last year in November I didn’t feel like I had to look for anything, but rather that I already felt gifted enough. Still I wanted to undertake this adventure to let myself be led by intuition to get to places and people in Latin America that I can learn from. I wanted to meet people that live their lives strongly connected to nature and remember their roots. What I find startles me. I don’t want to close my eyes, but rather want to learn. What I learn I didn’t expect. It shows me parts of this world, of people and myself that aren’t always pleasant.
After six weeks in Puerto Maldonado I finally go to Cusco mid-February. But I feel stuck. I cannot continue, don’t know where to go, but cannot go just anywhere to experience something, to distract myself. It is my vision to make this film. I therefore sit and wait, slowly digesting these past weeks’ impressions in the rain forest. And I live in Peru. I live with Peruvians, in a small house without running water a little bit above town. Like Peruvians I also take the foul small public busses. I am proud to be different than the other gringo tourists. Machu Picchu and the Valle Sagrado are not on top of my list of things to do.
I do go climing, however, and am happy about my new leisure activity. Around Cusco there are numerous rocks for different levels of climbing. This sport is pretty new to me, but I make incredible process, which at the beginning of each day I can barely imagine. It shows me once more what we are capable of doing when the orientation is clear, you add a portion of joy and last but not least, companion – when climbing they are quite important for safety reasons – who help you to reach a goal, in this case the edge of the rock, and focus on this goal together with you.
The energy of Cusco is fierce to me. In this pot hole everything is reinforced additionally, as if nothing could breeze through. Some emotions and encounters hit me with amazing force. It is like standing in the first row at a heavy metal concert right in front of the main speakers. And I am not alone. Many “gringos” are in Cusco, seeking spiritual guidance and go through an intense phase, accompanied by ceremonies and rituals – many of these are tuned to a sort of esoteric tourism, but like everywhere there are exceptions and people that offer guidance not solely out of financial reasons.
In a so-called Aya Dispacho I say good-bye to some parts of me that have died and therefore can be released into the cycle of passing by. You choose one ore more things that you consciously want to release. At the end of the ceremony all of this gets burned in the fire. The fire symbolizes the ghosts for whom this offering serves as food. Watching the ghosts eat wouldn’t be polite, therefore we only listen to the cracking noise of the fire, the paper, the coca leaves symbolizing the intensions and other admixtures. We listen to the ghosts eating and a heavy burden I hadn’t been aware of carrying slowly disappears from my shoulders. After the ceremony I am tired and go to bed early, exhausted. Next morning I awake. Gently cleaned, eased, free.
The congressman of the district of Loreto has heard about my project and would like to meet me. So I fly to Lima. The first time in my life I try out couch surfing. Having requested a couch in Lima I receive about 40 invitations of men from Lima who want to show me the beaches and the city’s nightlife. How great. I also get invited by a Peruvian journalist, who offers because I am making a documentary film. I accept because he is a journalist. Bingo.
Three weeks later we meet each other for a press tour of Ica to make a story about the country’s national drink Pisco. I take tons of pictures. We try a lot of Pisco, the typical cuisine of the desert town Ica, and I have to admit that I am quite thankful for a bit of luxury after this time of living a very simply life. Especially the time at the Queirolo winery is a wonderful present. At 5.30 in the morning I jump in the pool and just enjoy my work and life.
Back in Cusco, cured from a previous cold and despite of the work in the desert well rested I see where this journey and the film are going next. Finally! I am relieved and glad to have a direction again. First, however, I go back to Puerto Maldonado to get some images and complete the story which I couldn’t do before because of rainy season.
The parts of Puerto Maldonado I get to know now make me sad. The people are striking for more than three weeks. I understand how catastrophic the education system is here, the news and content of information. I see the impacts of the gold mining activities to the rain forest, and how mercury leaves vast areas deserted. Where I was hoping for answers and inspirations I find uprooting and fainting.
I have started this journey to learn from native people. The natives I was hoping to meet, however, seem to have ceased to exist on this planet. Their existence is limited to films like Avatar, where extraterrestrial natives sit around the mother tree and pray.
I am on the road to make a film. My enthusiasm gets choked in between, but I do NOT let myself be carried away from realizing my vision now. On the contrary. Honestly putting these realizations in the film will give a very unique account of this personal journey, giving insight into sometimes frightening connections but hopefully showing that we can always and everywhere on this planet find sources of inspiration.
I am irritated and tired and realize that once more it is about making friends with the not so convenient parts of my surrounding and especially with what that trigger in me. I am after all searching for myself again. And my intuition is working! Every day I get to know myself more and more. I get to know the people around me better. I discover parts of my friends and family that I appreciate a lot but haven’t noticed before.
Over and over, life is about taking off and developing new points of view. What does give us an answer to many questions at the end of the day is the mirror in which we can take a good new look at ourselves with open eyes again and again.