The end of the road.

Trip Start Oct 28, 2005
Trip End Jun 23, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Saturday, June 24, 2006

Well, this is definitely not what I had planned for my final entry. I'm at home in Austin sooner than planned, in a neck brace. Yep, in a neck brace. On my last adventure in Peru, I managed to fracture my spine in 3 places.

Here's the story of what happened...

It was a stunning sunny afternoon in the desert of Huacachina, Peru, where I went sand boarding with Jo and a group of about 40 tourists...I was about 30 minutes (by dune buggy) out in the desert and at the 4th spot for sand boarding. The dune was really big - I'm guessing 150+ meters tall, and very steep. Deciding I didn't want to risk injuring my knee, rather than standing on the board (similar to a snowboard), I chose to sit down. I wish I had known that sitting down is the definitely the fastest option, so before I knew it I was racing down the huge dune, which I thought was OK because at the bottom, the dune flattened out, then there was a small hill, where I thought I would slow down.

Anyway, as I got closer to the bottom,(I have a new appreciation for the phrase "break-neck speed"), I realized that the sand changed, and became quite densely packed, so I think I tensed up - I must have known that I was going to crash. I first hit my head on the left side, when my sunglasses smashed against my face. From there I tumbled and came to rest on my back. They asked me if I could sit up, and there was absolutely no way - I wanted to stay still for at least a few minutes. Then, I heard chatter and screams - another girl lost control of her board and was heading straight towards me. I was aware enough to lift my arms and protect my head, and another guy stopped most of her impact with his leg, but she ran into me - her board hitting the right side of my head with quite a force.

The impact didn't seem to hurt anywhere other than my head, and after another few minutes, they wanted to see if I could sit up, since they had to get me out of the desert to see a doctor. I told them to use a sand-board to keep my back and neck in alignment while I sat up, and when I did, I felt very dizzy at first, but after a few minutes was OK. So, using the board they helped me stand up...but as soon as I was vertical, I felt sick and my vision and hearing started to go foggy. They laid me back down again and I told them I would have to be carried out on the sand-board. I was carried back to the dune buggy and had 2 people holding me against the board to minimize the huge bumps - we had to drive at decent speed over huge dunes to get out of the desert.

I was taken to the nearest emergency room in Ica, where I was given pain medication and had x-rays. The doctor told me the x-rays were fine and asked me to stand up and walk out... despite my request, the cuts on my face and hand weren't even cleansed or disinfected....not ideal medical care. At this point i wanted to change my flights to head straight home, but didnt really have too much time, so decided i would keep my flights to mexico city and from there decide what to do next.

So we bussed to lima the following day, then from there lima I traveled 20+ hours to get to Mexico City (via Santiago), where I was detained by mexican immigration because of the cuts & bruises on my swollen face. Then i was told i didnt look like my passport photo - genious, those mexican policemen!. Anyway, the next day in Mexico, i wasnt feeling any better, so i swallowed any remaining pride i had and called my mom and told her i was coming home.

Over the last few days, Ive seen several doctors, had xrays, MRI's etc, and today it was confirmed that I have 3 fractures (1 in my neck and 2 in my thoracic spine) and will be in a back & neck brace for at least the next 2 months, then will have a few months of rehab to get my strength back again.

So, here I am...writing my final blog...I had already started thinking about how i wanted to write this last entry but unfortunately im not in the space i thought i would be. But, the lessons learned and experiences gained along my incredible journey havent changed, so perhaps this experience is to ensure I truly take them to heart....

I dont know whats next for me...other than lots of rest and reading for the next few months. One of my major projects will be to sift through all my photos from my trip, so before too long, I'll post some of them for you all to see.

I guess thats all from me ...its all my tired little brain can manage tonight. So ciao, goodbye, namaste.... with lots of love and smiles, as always...

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jjuan on

Get well soon
Hola Cass

It´s a pitty you had that nasty accident. Please take care and get well soon. I´ll miss your blog about travel. Please, use your pink glasses and see this as an opportunity for further relaxation. You´ll be traveling extensively very soon. It´s part of your DNA...

Regards from sunny Spain

taiprecious on

Healing Energy Raining Upon You & Taoist Standing
Aloha Cassandra,

If I was there... I would have sandboarded right along side you! That's an awesome adventure and awesome way to go! So happy you didn't go! Things could be much worse... Well enough bright side... I imagined the moments of your accident and... oooowwwwwwwwWW! I hope things heal quickly. I injured my spine in Hawaii a few years back from the impact of bridge jumping... couldn't move for a day and hurt for months... Tai Chi helped it heal completely. I imagine there will be a lot of pain in you. I discovered pain to be an amazing phenomenon... if just labled pain and ignored, pain just sucks... sucks our energy. But if we give the pain our full awareness... totally fill the sensations with our awarenss... the sensations lead deeper and deeper into full and amazing experiences... that might even communicate to one... that can lead one through healing and guide one to move in certain ways or feel certain things that will speed healing. In healing the spine, I've found the same principles to be true as our yoga principles... to lengthen the spine... which allows circulation, flow, and all the bodies healing modalities to flow to the injured parts.

A simple way to lengthen the spine is Tai Chi's fooundational practice of standing meditation. Stand, relax the knees, relax the feet into the ground. All the weight of the body sinks down through the feet into the earth. The weight is distributed evenly across the soles of the feet. The pelvis is tucked in so that there is no arch in the back, the back is completely flat (check with your hands). The coccyx sinks down toward the earth as if there's a heavy weight hanging from it. Imagine there is a golden thread gently pulling the head toward the heavens. Continue awareness of the coccyx sinking down , the head floating up. This will gently stretch the spine. The shoulders relax down. This practice can be done whenver standing, though formal practice is necessary to ground the practice within us. When you have time... a few minutes to hours... this is a great healing practice for the spine... just keep getting taller and taller... there is no limit to how tall you can be, and the taller you get, the more the spine opens up for healing prana/chi to flow through and elevate one's conciousness!!! Maybe the accident is a pity...??? or maybe it's just another opportunity for intense internal study... there are great universes within and without... examining the universe within is no less rewarding than adventuring without... the pity of this situation would be to lable it as a painful one and cease to explore the infinitude within that is beckoning.

During the period leading up to my spinal injury, I spent a few weeks doing six hours a day of the above standing meditation in 2 hour sets. with the motive to not voluntarily move. I would set the time for the session and then attempt to not move voluntarily until the session was up. To relax all down to the earth and extend all toward the heavens. In my whole life, these few weeks were the most interesting and powerful I've ever had... I began experiencing wisdom and power I had only read about in the great books. Unfortunately those left me when I ceased the intense practice.

Wow,... I've inspired myself to go practice... let me know how it goes. As always I'm so happy to share in your experiences and am wishing you quick and complete recovery at quantum speeds of light!

Love, Precious

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