Going fast...and fasting...
Trip Start Oct 28, 2005
31Trip End Jun 23, 2006
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Again this a rather long blog....apologies. IŽll split it into 2 parts in case you dont have time to read it in one go...
Mountain Biking down The World's Most Dangerous Road: 64 kms downhill, 3600m of vertical drop, riding from the high mountains of La Paz to Coroico in the low Yungas region, through valleys, across rivers...thankfully not over the side of the very steep cliffs.
This trip is one of the Bolivian highlights on the backpackers trail...the company we went with has taken over 20,000 people safely down the mountain (thats their sales pitch), so it didnt seem to be a huge risk...that said, each year about 100 people die going over the edge...and other bike companies loose a few tourists each year. So, there is definitely some risk...
The first 24Kms of the ride is on a paved road and i was absolutely loving flying downhill in the cool fresh mountain air...then we hit the worlds most dangerous road which is definitely maountain bike terrain...and at the beginning i definitely had anšoh crap, what am i doingš moment... somehow along the way i had managed to forget that i have a serious fear of gravel..in cars, on bikes...im thinking it must be one of those phobias caused by a past life ....im convinced ive died on a gravel road at some point...
But, surprisingly quickly i somehow adjusted to the gravel and was racing down the road...the group of about 20 people naturally developed its own order of speed, which i hadn't paid much attention to - i only realised about half way down that i was always in the first group, with all the boys...the only girl in the front pack (sigh...some things never change)...Anyway, it was a fantastic experience all around...highly recommended for anyone travelling to Bolivia :)
The ride ended in Coroico, a stunnning little town set in the suptropical Yungas...yay, finally some heat! I was in the pool in no time after the ride...and was pretty excited to be spending at least a few days here.
When i arrived to meet Cass at our little hideaway, i thought i was in heaven. Heat, lush greenery (compared to the barren landscapes i had gotten used to over the last 3 weeks at altitude)...and cheap rooms! Not only that, i decided to splash out and treat myself to a private US$10-night 2 storey bungalow, nestled in the tropical bush...with little table and hammock (round the corner was the open air shower and loo) and up the ladder, this little loft room, with a platform (for reading or meditation) and a lil bedroom with only a curtain separating me from the spectacular views of the mountains, birds, stars....(and the only thing separating me from gazillions of creepy crawlies was a pretty manky, but functional mosquito net)...and, for me one of the highlights was 5 min walk up the hill was a meditation room that doubled perfectly as a yoga studio, which i made use of every afternoon.
After a few days i decided it was time to wander the 20 min down into town to buy some goodies and check email...on the way back up, i had a flash of insight that i wanted to do a fast...its something i've wanted to do since university, but never felt i had the right opportunity to chill out, go inside and really really slow down, not to mention a serious detox for the first time in my life...(i wanted to do one in india, but the food was so amazinging, why oh why would i choose not to eat it?)
So, starting the next day, i weened myself back to just fruit...then the fast. My days fasting were filled with very little... Im guessing some of you reading this might be interested in what it was like for me, so here's some detail on my thoughts and feelings from my experience...
Day 1 - i decided i wanted to try a water fast (i still cant help my nature to go straight for the extreme), so today, just water...and very little else. From my little hideaway i watched all sorts of wildlife..loads of birds (including massive condors!), butterflies, those creepy crawlies...read lots, and really chilled out... I also made some natural body scrubs and cleansed from the outside as well...In the afternoon i decided to have treat - so i boiled some hot water to mix it up a bit! Hunger pains came and went, but were surprisingly not overwhelming. I was pretty tired though, so yoga in the afternoon was really gentle.
Day 2 - I woke up (and for the first time in months remembered my dreams, which was pretty big for me) but was physically exhausted and also really out of it mentally, so i decided a juice fast was probably a better option - after a watermelon juice i was feeling HEAPS better. And, I did some research on fasting (yep, maybe I should have done this BEFORE starting the fast) that confirmed this was a wiser decision for me. But, a juice in the morning was all i needed...and some honey tea before bed.
Day 3 - With the help of loads of juice in the morning...papaya, watermelon, mandarin...i started to become really clear mentally and in the afternoon I was thinking that i had expected the fasting experience to be more profound...but it wasn't...just a very quiet, lazy time. But, that night things began to shift. I had a pretty intense meditation where I really started to feel like excess layers of me were beginning to fall away... emotionally, physically, mentally... i felt like a snake, shedding layers of skin that i no longer needed. That night I started feeling lighter - filled with joy, clarity and freedom, and at the same time really grounded and strong.
Day 4 - Well, day 4 was not all rosy. Without offending you with the gruesome details, I'll just say that the cleansing process was in full effect (yet another humbling experience reminding me how human I am!) - It was a pretty major effort to make it the 15 min walk up the road to meet Cass at the other hotel where we decided to rent a room so we could watch DVDs for the day. (But i felt i had to make it - i didnt want to be alone in case things went seriously wrong). On the bright side, in my yoga practice my body began to move differently...its hard to describe, but i felt my joints and muscles began to move more freely, and i started to feel strong again. In the evening, for the first time I wanted food again - definitely didnt need it, but wanted it....
Day 5 - an excerpt from my journal: 'Today is the last day of my fast and im feeling clear, calm and filled with joy. The serenity over the last few days (with a few exceptions) has been very, very special, and rare to date in my life.' In the afternoon i spent a lot of time thinking about where i am and whats important to me... for thefirst time, i admitted that i am missing having a home and having friends and family around. The clarity gained from this time has further reinforced the priorities in my life. Then, I had a big yoga session - 2 1/2 hours...and it felt amazing. My body was really strong, fluid and light...really made me aware of how what we eat affects our bodies and how we feel.
So, at the end of the fast, ive taken away a lot of insight into myself, and how i want to live...hereŽs a bitof what i came up with....(another excerpt from my journal)
Love and laugh lots. Savour life - in every detail. Dont take it too seriously - play, enjoy, have fun. Be kind, courageous, gentle and extravagant. Dont do what you should do - do whats in your heart. Speak whats on your mind. Never, ever, try to be someone or something. Give thanks. Trust. Have Faith. Believe - in you, others, and the world. Make time for you and whatever is important to you. Be there for the people you love. Look fabulous. Eat well. Live creatively. Be active. Listen. Be present. Risk. Make changes. Have goals - write them down. Feel deeply, walk lightly. Help others. Touch. Smile at strangers. Look people in the eye. Breathe. Watch. Rest. Enjoy.
Now, im back in La Paz, and over the last few days have slowly been coming back to normal foods...and I just had my first coffee in weeks - heaven! (some things in life are just too good to give up!)