Yesterday we visited our dear friend and trusted guide Fabian, who led a ceremony in his home to pay tribute and provide offerings to la Pachamama as well as request permission to enter Apu Ausangate for our 5-day trek. While orientation gave us the opportunity to build our strength as a group and learn the backcountry skills needed to successfully reach passes up to 17,000 feet, our time with Fabian allowed us to prepare emotionally and spiritually for the challenge ahead. During the ceremony, Fabian invited each student to choose 3 of the most beautiful coca leaves and blow to the spirit of the mountains as we expressed appreciation by saying “Urpillay Sonqollay” (or-pi-yay, son-ko-yay) which is a form of expressing deep gratitude in Quechua (translating to “mi corazon paloma” or “my heart floats like a dove”). Fabian placed many objects on a cloth representing the concept of duality in the Andean cosmovision, with one side symbolizing the masculine aspect of the mountains and feminine characteristics of mother nature on the other. This offering was given to the fire as we stood holding hands and receiving blessings to have the safest, most magnificent journey. If we are lucky we will witness condors soaring across the landscape! The group is beyond excited for this expedition and has taken initiative to buy and sort all the food which will be carried along with our gear by 10 horses. Right now we are on a truck traveling to Upis, where we will meet the Condori brothers and begin our trek. Although we will not have any internet or phone access, we have a satellite device to connect to the office in Boulder, and you can expect a Yak upon our return!
Photos: 1) Instructor Vanessa and students stand near the fire in front of Fabian’s home. 2) the group on the truck on the way to Upis!