tag

Climbing Huayna Piccu (Machu Piccu, Peru)

 “You just do it, then if you die, you die.”
T. Scott McLeod, The Light in the Darkness   

20160905_123005

Machu Piccu with Huayna Piccu in background

 

It was a chilly beautiful morning in Aguas Calientes, Machu Piccu. I repacked my bag giving careful thought to what I could eliminate. (Did I really need Mac Lipstick, lotion, hand sanitizer and handwipes or that second bottle of water?). I grabbed a Sandwich  (no food for purchase in park) from the hotel’s breakfast bar and walked to the bus station at about 5:40am. The bus ride was 30 minutes so I thought this would give me enough time for my 7:00am Huayna Piccu Entrance . When I arrived at the bus station, I realised that there were easily 300 people in line in front of me and I wished I showed up earlier.  

I couldnt sleep the night before, I was very nervous about what I was about to do. I was still having dizzy spells from Altitude sickness, I feared heights and I wasnt in the best physical shape. I thought about all the youtube videos I watched showing the narrow path on the side of the cliffs and the German tourist who fell to his death on this path only a few weeks earlier. I was a terrified and even had a second thought or two.

When I entered Machu Piccu, the park took my breath away but then I saw handsome Huayna Piccu rising magnificiently out of the valley wrapped in a blanket of clouds. The clouds had a few breaks here and there as if daring me to take a peek. I was so captivated that I knew I had to mount him even if it took me 5 hours. Pictures didnt do justice to the beauty. It was truly love at first sight.

Wayna Piccu wrapped in cloud blanket

The road starts out with a descent or a calm before the storm, then and ascent into the clouds.  The cloud was so thick that I could only see a few feet in front of me and as I looked over the cliffs all I could see was a sea of white (clouds) instead of the steep drop offs that I saw in pictures. It was as if the Mountain was telling me to not be afraid and to keep coming.

Blanket of clouds made the ascent less scary

As we continued up, the path became narrower and narrower and the steps became higher and smaller. I guess the Inkas had tinier  feet than my size 11. We climbed and rested and climbed and rested. We finally reached the “Stairs of Death”. I looked up at the never ending steep rugged steps and felt the way Jack felt in the story of Jack and the beanstalk and thought I neither want to climb nor descend those. My legs hurt, my head throbbed, I was dizzy, my friend even suggested turning back but somehow the mountain kept pulling me up.

death-stairs-2

Stairs of death

death-stairs

 

I wondered if the clouds would clear. I figured I would be annoyed to climb all this way and not experience the breathtaking views. We continued to climb until we reached the first terrace. We sat to take a break and then the clouds suddenly cleared. It was as if the mountain threw off its blanket and said to me “Hello”.  I saw the most amazing views. The hairpin road from Aguas Calientes, the Urubamba river lazily coursing its way through the valleys and numerous other mountain peaks, each more magnificient, each competing to be more spectacular. I also saw Machu Piccu, the beautiful city, so remote that the Spaniards didnt get to destroy it. Machu Piccu is so well built that 700 years later, the structures are still intact and the water collection system still functions.

20160905_093133Beautiful peaksMachu Piccu20160905_125952

The structure on top of Huayna Piccu was amazing. 700 years and still standing but what impressed me the most is how the Incas were able to build with such precision on the side of a mountain with such steep drops. How did they move the heavy rocks in place with medieval tools? The Incas were simply brilliant.

Shortcut  20160905_08443220160905_084614

Somehow the sun bursting through the clouds gave me the energy I needed to climb to the top of my love. The path included walking on a narrow cliff, crawling  though a tiny hole and finally mounting a rock where 1 wrong move would lead to certain death.

Choke point to top

20160905_085857

 

But oh, getting to the glorious top was a totally Orgasmic experience. Thank you my love!!

 

20160905_092437

 

Until next time

Jamaicangirl 🙂

20160905_114108

Ode to the Annoying Chain Letter

IMG_1981.JPG

Once upon a time there were prolific chain letter writers. Gaining inspiration from their zero friends, they would write  letters implying that refusal to pass on the chain letter would lead to imminent death or strings of bad luck. These letters kept mailmen in business. Although annoying to many recipients, they kept being passed around, since receivers did not want to risk ruin.

Fastforward to the age of emails, the letters increased since they could be sent for free. Many letters, passive aggressively threatened that if you do not forward to 20 or more people quickly, you would face an everlasting string of bad luck.

The letters eventually evolved into conscience attackers, with endings such as share with 10 people if you are not ashamed of Jesus or if you love your mom or if you are not a heartless witch.

The text letters are the worst especially if you pay for messages or even if you don’t.  Ever get a text or whatsapp saying “forward to 10 beautiful ladies”? I only tolerate these from my friends’ moms which are few and far between and I absolutely ignore them. Please dont send me this crap.

Thankfully social media has reduced the amount of chain letters being paraded around but then the people who base their sole existence on the amount of likes they can garner on Facebook discovered memes. Memes pop up in my news feed begging for likes or  comments of “yes” and “amen”

 

Power in pressing "like"

Power in pressing “like”

But the worst chain letter/meme is the one that shows a picture of “Jesus” that implies some kind of blessing if you press like or type “Amen”. Last I checked Jesus wasnt a geenie

Everyday I see these annoying memes and I wonder at the people who like them or type amen. Most importantly I wonder about the people who create and share them. So desperate for likes. Lie on the lord much?

It is not all fools day

It is not all fools day

Chain letters, texts memes are annoying. If a meme or post requests likes….Dont press like….Just move on. Your response to a meme does NOT determine who you are so if you don’t like a meme of a man crying because his mom died, you are not heartless. Say a prayer in your heart for him if you feel so inclined but whatever you do.. do NOT feed these attention whores.

IMG_1980.GIFIMG_1208.JPG

Official companies like face book and whatsapp will not implement a charge unless you forward the message to 10 people. Think about it before you forward and if common sense doesn’t do the trick then check snopes.com. Whatever you do, STOP FORWARDING THIS CRAP.

Trust me nothing will happen to you!!!

Rolls Eyes

When pics of White Jesus is created offering you blessings, its unlikely that the person who created it is a prophet. Also do you think 10 million $100 bills will just fall through the unlit chimney (if you have one) of all the people who pressed like. Think about how foolish it is. Again don’t share, don’t like, just ignore.

 

Just stop the stupidity!

 

The Dance of the Masai Warriors

Masai Warriors

Masai Warriors

With long legs, and grace they leap

Strong lean arms extend grasping sticks and swords protecting the village from all that come to feast at nights

The hungry lion realizes he stands no chance against these jungle kings. With a loud growl he gives up his life.

Grunts of Joys, All the cattle is safe, all stomachs are filled, a severed Simba’s head to feed the giver of their might

With joy they leap because another boy just became a man and will getting a wife

DSCN0579

As I searched for my roots in Africa, I asked our tour operator to take us to a Masai Village. The Masai Warriors are a nomadic group of people who live in small communities throughout East African countries such as Tanzania and Kenya. Majority of their diet is made up of beef, cow blood and milk. Their life is simple and their wealth is in the amount of cattle that they own.

Masai Dance

Masai Dance

A pic of the Masai

 

 

 

We arrived at the village, which was a group of about 30 huts built around a circle. Due to numerous tourist visitors many of the teenage boys spoke English, (thanks to the Kenyan government). The first thing I noticed when visiting the village was the flies. A guy met us at the front and as he welcomed us I noticed the numerous flies on his face.

Masai Males

Masai Males

Later I found out that the villagers have a symbiotic relationship with their cows. Masai do not practice Agriculture since they live among predators. John, a Masai I met told me that about a decade ago they tried to grow maize and two men were killed trying to defend the fields againsts killer elephants. Cows are the primary source of food and building material for the Masai. Their dried skin is used as bedding and the dried dung is used as construction material. Cows are so valuable to the Masai people that the front room in the Masai’s tiny home is used to house calves at nights. The Cows fresh dung attracts flies, thousands and thousands of them! The people were covered in them. I saw one child with about 15 flies on his face. I instinctively tried to fan the flies away as the mother grabbed the child thinking I was shooing the child. I smiled and stroked the child’s face trying to convey to the mom that I wasn’t shooing the child. Honestly I have never been around that many flies and my first instinct was to run back to the Safari van, however I realized that these villagers were nice enough to allow me into their village and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity due to my fear of the flies. Heck I could always take a shower or three back at the lodge.

Masai woman reparing her home

I saw a lady on a roof, spreading dried grass. My tour guide told us that in the village, women build homes. He also told me that Masai women are very strong; they gather water, do the laundry, build homes, cook and gather firewood, make necklaces etc. I asked him what on earth the men did. Men take the cow grazing, gather the sticks and build a fence around the village to keep out predators such as lions at nights. Even though the women do most of the work, the men learn to be strong and fearless. A Masai boy’s coming of age includes spending weeks in the wild on his own and killing a lion. (The practice of lion killing is now discouraged due to the sharp decrease in the lion population.)

This is heavy! Picking up a Masai woman's load

This is heavy! Picking up a Masai woman’s load

Another part of the tour that interested me is the Masai home. The homes were small and circular built with sticks, clay and dried cow dung. The homes were very simple and unventilated with dirt floors, beds made of sticks and covered by cowhide. The house was extremely dark and smoky with only a small window (about 6”X6”). One thing that amazed me was that the cooking is done in the tiny, dark house which requires some serious skills.

Beside a Masai Home

Beside a Masai Home, Im 5’6″ so not very tall

Masai Bed made of Dried Cowskin

Masai Bed made of Dried Cowskin

The only window in the Masai house. It is really really dark in there

The only window in the Masai house. It is really really dark in there

Before my trip, I considered bringing items for the villagers such as clothes, food and first aid items, however I decided not to in the end. Silly statistics would say the Masai live on less than $2/day which would classify them as poor. Their diet is packed with fats and low in grain which is a far cry from the Standard American Diet. When I went to village, I saw healthy, lean, fit people compliments of their low carb diet. They were well fed, happy and very educated with the life skills required to survive in the jungle. . Their lifestyle involved herding cows, starting a fire using friction (although I’m an engineer I can only do that in theory), and fighting off predators. I saw no need in the village and I was happy I didn’t show up with an arrogant, savior mentality.

DSCN0706

My favorite part of the visit was dancing with the Masai. The men were long and lean with beautiful dark skin clad in colorful blankets called Chukka’s. Their dance involved jumping and man could they jump high. They could beat anybody at my crossfit gym in box jumps. As they jumped they made a grunting noise. The women also sang and danced for us. They were stunning and walked with such grace as if on a runway. They were decorated with beaded jewelry, beautiful chukkas and shaved heads. We danced, sang (well tried) and jumped until we were out of breath, (didn’t take long).

Dancing with the Masai

Dancing with the Masai

Sleeping with Hippos

 

Hippos in the River

Hippos in the River (Wikipedia photo credit)

Hippo

Hippo. Took this pic from my table at lunch

My bucket list included taking an African Safari. My tour company, Marura Safaris, booked us into a luxury tent located in the middle of the Masai Mara Reserve along side the Mara River called Ashnil Mara.

As we drove from Nairobi through the Kenyan Country Side, we were taken aback by the impressive views and all the animals we saw in the wild as well as a few herds of cows led by a fearless, Chukka Clad Masai Warrior.

Herd of Cows being led by a Masai Warrior

Herd of Cows being led by a Masai Warrior

We stood in the Safari Vehicle with our heads hanging out taking in the majestic scenes. We saw Elephants, Ostriches and even 2 baboons in the height of passion.

Ostriches

Ostriches

Passionate Baboons

Passionate Baboons

The driver stopped suddenly as we drove pass some mundane savanna grass and told us to look at the lions. On Closer look we realized that there were 4 large lions in the grass gnawing on the Carcass of a wildebeest. My desire to step out of the van and take a picture on the Savanna died immediately!

Lions camouflaged by savanna Grass

Lions camouflaged by savanna Grass

Lion in the Grass

Lion in the Grass

After about 4 hours of driving, we finally arrived at the Ashnil Mara Camp. The staff ushered us to the dining room and gave us our pre-assigned table overlooking the Mara River.

 

IMG_7612.JPG

We saw crocodiles bathing in the sun, a giraffe grabbing a snack and hippos enjoying a dip.

Hippos Sun Bathing. Imagine Sleeping a few feet from this

Hippos Sun Bathing. Imagine Sleeping a few feet from this

I asked the waiter if the animals are able to come onto the property. He assured me  that there is an electric fence. He pointed out the fence which turned out to be a flimsy piece of wire.

Giraffe on the other bank of the Mara River

Giraffe on the other bank of the Mara River

The room was majestic with king sized beds, a beautifully furnished balcony overlooking the Mara River and Walled by a think white tarpaulin (they did say it was a tent). The room was luxury at its best.

Room Overlooking Mara River

Room Overlooking Mara River

My Bed

My Bed

After dinner I sat by the fire chatting with a Masai Warrior named John as he cleaned his teeth with a stick from a nearby tree. He made me a cleaning stick and assured me that it was better than my toothbrush. I didn’t want to try it fearing getting sick but I didn’t want to turn down his act of kindness so I accepted his gift and started picking at my teeth making a mental note to say an extra prayer and swallow some pepto Bismol later that night. He told me that the hippos sleep in the river at night. The thought scared me since mature hippos weigh up to 5 tons!

me and john

Masai Warrior John and I

As it got later I returned to the room excited about spreading out in the comfy bed. It was a little cold and as I crawled into bed I realized that the staff had placed a bottle of hot water under my blanket. I turned out the lights and snuggled up to it. The night was a different kind of quiet. No cars honking but there were crickets and other night insects everywhere humming the melodies of the night.

Suddenly I heard some loud grunting as if many hippos decided to sing a chorus. I thought of the fact that the only thing separating me from these 5000 lb killers was some flimsy tarpaulin and flimsier wire. The room had no phone and it was almost a block to get to the club house. I wondered why I decided to get my own room. I was downright scared until I drifted off to sleep.  And oh what a wonderful sleep it was.

 

Maybe its the fresh air or the fact that I was in my “ancestral lands”. Maybe it’s the fact that I was not on top of the foodchain or the luxuriousness of the tent.. Who knows? I can truly say the best sleep that I have ever gotten is when I slept with hippos

 

IMG_7603.JPG

Open mouth Hippo ((Wikipedia photo credit))

 

 

 

Seduced by the Blue Lagoon

Blue lagoon diver

Blue lagoon diver

A friend and I decided to take a trip across Jamaica to find this beautiful water falls called Reach Falls. We drove from Kingston and as we entered the hills of St Mary, we were awed by the the greenery and lush beauty. The place seemed untouched and showed no signs of human interference except the asphalt road that we were driving on and the occasional plume of smoke escaping through the window of someone’s outdoor kitchen as they boiled their morning tea.

The air was fresh and slightly chilly as the Caribbean sun hadn’t fully risen yet. We rolled down the windows and allowed the wind to comb my hair as I chewed on some sweet sugar cane I purchased from a rastaman on the way to his farm.

As the drive continued into Portland the scenery got even more beautiful, thanks to the frequent relief rain. I stopped multiple times to snap pictures.

Navy Island in background

Navy Island in background

As we drove under a tree canopy I glanced to my left and saw the most beautiful bluest water that I have ever seen. Blue waters is a common sight in Jamaica but there was something about this shade of blue. I asked my friend to stop and I jumped out of the car armed with my camera. As I peeked through the trees I noticed a narrow road heading down the hill and yes I jogged down it as my friend sat in the car with a worried expression. The water was so beautiful and seductive that all I wanted to do was to get closer and to  take a dip inside of it (no pun intended)

blue l2

As I reached the foot of the hill I was excited to see that this wasn’t a commercial beach. I kept walking and as I turned the corner I saw the most magnificient site. A large pool or lagoon of fresh water. The seductive water was warm in some parts and freezing in others as it collects the water flowing down the blue mountains.

Boat men are available on the beach to give you a ride across the lagoon either on a raft or a small boat for about $60usd. A few vendors also peddle art on the beach but apart from this the blue lagoon is a peaceful non crowded area. It is a must see if you are ever visiting Portland

JAM ARTbl3

Until next Time

Jamaican Girl

Is racial loyalty giving you the bad end of the stick?

 

images violence

I recently  read Beverly Johnson’s story about being drugged by Bill Cosby

Her main reason for not going forward with her story was:

“Black men have enough enemies out there already, they certainly don’t need someone like you, an African American with a familiar face and a famous name, fanning the flames.”

I thought this sounded familiar as years ago a friend called and told me how her husband beat her up. I suggested that she call the police however she told me no because she wasn’t going to be responsible for sending another black man to jail. Funny enough he beat her for the next five years until he left her for someone else who he is probably beating today.

These excuses may seem plausible especially with racial tensions at an all time high in the U.S with the recent cases of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Even so this allowing of criminals to go unpunished in the name of protecting another man of your race is unacceptable and only guarantees that they will be free to victimize someone else.

It is very important to uplift and preserve your community however this should not be more important than protecting your life.

Reporting your victimization by a member of your race to the police is not about putting another black man, Italian man etc into jail but about putting a bad man into jail. As someone who spent 6 years as a councillor working with people in crisis I have seen abusers from every single race! Trust me it is not unique to your race. Its a bad person issue instead of a race issue.

Many women especially black women will also chose men who are jerks but of their own race instead of accepting the advances of an eligible man with a different skin tone. I have had an older mentor tell me that as a successful black women I should only date and marry black men in order to uplift the race. I replied that character and not skin tone is the determinant of who I chose to date.

It is time that we stop being so loyal to people of our race that we allow ourselves to be raped, beaten and robbed. Allowing a rapist go free may keep a man out of jail but it also allows many more women to be raped.  Dating or marrying a jerk just because he shares the same skin tone  just means that you don’t value yourself enough to chose the best for yourself.  it also means that your daughters will grow up thinking that men should treat them badly because that is the example your allow her father to set. This does not uplift the community!

People let us stop taking the crappy end of the stick in the name of racial loyalty.

 

Until Next Time

Jamaican Girl

XOXO

Wash Out time

No this post has nothing to do with flooding. Growing up in rural Jamaica with my grandmother included many hated rituals. One of these rituals included a “wash out” that would be administered at the end of the Christmas and Summer holidays about a week before school restarted. A washout is a detox cleanse. Children would be given a store bought herb tea or a stinky concoction of all sorts of plants collected though out the woods.

One of the herbs in the detox

One of the herbs in the detox

I hated the washout days. We would be given the awful brew while an adult stood above us with a belt to ensure we drank it. We were not allowed to have breakfast until we went to the bathroom. Apparently this would help us to pass out all the worms that collected in our stomachs. Thankfully I have never passed a worm, not knowingly at least . Apart from a hate of the taste, these detoxes never had any discernible impact on me.

10 years after my last detox a friend told me about this “Wash out Tea” that would jumpstart weightloss. I gulped down the tea without even giving any thought to what it really was. 4 hours later I woke up with the most excruciating abdominal pains I considered going to the ER.. Let us just say that the next 4 hours of my life didn’t go so well. I quickly googled the tea I just gulped down and realize I drank a powerful laxative.

The memory of the 4 hours of stomach pain and time spent in the bathroom turned me off from food for a few days. so yes I lost a few pounds. Try “Dieter’s Tea” if you dare!!It hurts but I'm about to be toxin free

Dieter Drink