I know, I know, its been like almost four months since you’ve heard from me here. I’ve been tweeting and all that, but there’s nothing quite like a good and informative blog post. Before we get to the nitty gritty here’s a few quick excuses and insights into why its been so long:
First, I was traveling.
I spent about two weeks in Peru over the holidays. Seriously, that place is bad ass. As you can tell by the title of this post I got plenty of pics and stories to share, so hang in there.
Second, I ditched my day job.
Many of you who know me personally know that I was employed by the powerful and once bigger than OZ company known as Apple inc. Well, I have moved beyond the life of being a software trainer and now have fully engrossed myself in music and art. Its nice to be able to say you support yourself doing the things you love. That being said its been kind of bumpy ride getting situated in my new lifestyle, and making sure I have some sort of daily income.
Third, I moved.
Without the chains of having to be somewhere everyday and adhering to somebody else’s schedule I have left New York City. I am in the big CT (that’s Connecticut) far away from noise pollution and pigeons. Instead I got starry nights and Hawks perched on the tree outside my bedroom. Ahhhhhh, peace. I have to say I do miss all the delivery options though.
Fourth, I stopped caring ;)
Not about all you guys, or my work, or my music. In general I was just bogged down and need sometime away from writing. In other words I had some more pertinent things on my plate. I’ve been working on some new music and a few collaborations. I’ve been editing about 2,000 RAW photos from Peru, and of course had to take a few snowboarding getaways while the snow was still falling. But I’m back now.
Ha, so there! I’m actually excited to be in front of my computer with a cup of Coca tea (an Andean specialty) ready to share some stories with you guys. So here are a few highlights from Peru along with some pics. I’ll get a whole gallery up ASAP with all the Peru pics.
Peru - Your Unexpected Paradise.
There is something to be said about getting out of your current comfort zone. You never know when the life your living may be an inferior alternative to other options out there. After all breaking routines, as small as they my be, is what keeps endorphins pumping strong and serotonin levels high. Change certainly is the spice of life, and venturing into daunting unknowns can be our most insightful and rewarding moments in life. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to travel, and I’m not talking about a little weekend road trip.
Those are relaxing and insightful, but I'm talking more about spinning the globe, letting your finger rest on a random location, and saying "fuck it, lets go there."
Ok I get it, easier said than done right? As you start to think about traveling abroad the obstacles start piling up. First you gotta manage the costs and stay on a budget, then you gotta worry about navigating a landscape where you might not know the language or cultural norms, and third, and probably the hardest, you have to break your routine and delay the rest of your life for a period of time.
December 30th, 2012
As I write this I am sitting in the airport in Juliaca, Peru. I've spent the last week or so seeing Inca ruins, trekking through cities at 11,000 feet, and spending time with the locals of Lake Titicaca. That might sound expensive to you, and I can tell you it ain't cheap. Here’s the thing you have to remember though: once you’ve reached your destination you forget about how much you’ve spent. You fall into a state of bliss in which you are proud of yourself for making such an adventurous but sound decision. Your daily activities run to the top of your internal checklist, and cost gives way to value. Even after you return home the memories and pictures you’ve created will stay with you forever. Remember money is temporary, memories are permanent. Studies continue to show that it isn’t money that makes us happy anyways, but rather how we spend the money we earn. And don’t spend it on a new pair of shoes or something material for yourself. The absolute best way to spend your money is to spend it on somebody you love or to travel. Seriously, think about it.
Even with the exorbitant airline fees and a few nice hotels, life in Peru is ridiculously cheap. A dinner for four with drinks costs about the same as a take out lunch for one in New York City. So once we get past the cost of traveling we can focus on the more pressing issues. To get the best experience out of any foreign excursion you must have some proficiency in the local tongue, and I’m limiting the use of the tongue to formulating words and sentences. Yes, you must have some basic skills of the local language, but also an understanding of the cuisine, the cultural traditions and histories, and some of the art and music of the area. Do your research but don’t feel overwhelmed. My Spanish is high school level at best, but the people of Peru have been more than welcoming. As long as I have tried to speak their language they’ve been appreciative and always willing to politely correct mistakes. Be open to conversing with people even if you know that some awkward pauses and blank stares are gonna come out of it. You’ll be shocked at how fast you learn, and upon returning home you will be exponentially more cultured.
The hardest thing for me to swallow when I booked the trip was taking two weeks away from my guitar, my studio, and the fear of falling behind with my work. Now as I reflect on those emotions I find it hard not to laugh at myself. The time I spent away from my work has cleared my head and given me a new perspective on what I need to do when I get back. I have been inspired, and for a musician or artist that is truly priceless. I have some amazing photos and memories to look back on, and have had insights into the workings of my mind that would have been impossible without experiencing life in Peru. Contrary to the popular expression, life will not go on without you. It’s your life and you make of it what you will. Things won’t seem that different when you return even though it might take a week or so to get you mind back into daily routine mode.
Looking Back - January 13th, 2013
If you've made it this far then something I wrote must have connected with you, or you’re wondering "what the fuck happened to Pete, and is he going to return by the end of this blog post?" Well the answer to that question is a probably not. Peru has changed me and it will definitely change you. As I've aged I have become more of a spiritual person. I don't believe in God with a capital “G” or any of that bullshit. I try to ask questions of the universe and come up with some sort of logical way of thinking. Too much of this world is unexplainable which is why I call myself a spiritual person. You must have faith in something, but following a dogma or a pre-determined way of thinking is for the weak. In fact it can be crippling to society. (Now that I've definitely lost half of my remaining readers I'll continue.)
To become more connected with my world I constantly try to listen to my ego and keep it in check. I am only successful at this some of the time, but Peru had a way of making my ego tremble in its beauty, and open up my consciousness to a whole new level of spirituality.
Lets just start with something simple like the landscape and climate. As subtle as it might be, letting your body experience different temperatures, humidity levels, and air pressure can do wacky things for your brain. For the most part Peru has extremely dry air compared to the ever-moist Northeastern United States. This changes the way your whole body sweats and absorbs liquids, and that change in your biochemistry has an effect on your mood and perspective. It helps you realize we are merely animals on this planet and we’re all slaves to our environment. The Temperature was a constant 67-77 degrees Fahrenheit by the desert coast, and was a comfortable 50-67 degrees in the mountains. Being situated very close to the equator allows Peru to have these fixed climates, but because of wild changes in elevation and ocean currents you find some microclimates. For example when traveling to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu we found ourselves in a dense cloud forrest. Think of the Pacific Northwest but 10-20 degrees warmer and about 8,000 feet higher in elevation. There’s a reason they call it cloud forrest. You literally feel like you’re walking through the sky. Not to mention that the plant and wildlife is unique because you’re sitting at about 9,000-10,000 feet. I could almost feel the synapses in my brain firing like a drunken NRA member as they were trying to understand this new climate. The altitude is another thing that was constantly on my mind. This is probably more to do with the fact that I couldn’t breathe than some weird subconscious thing going on, but I think the altitude effected my whole life-force.
The air pressure at 12,000 feet is about 20 percent of what we’re used to at sea level, so that makes it much harder to inhale the amount of Oxygen our bodies are used to. This can make you feverish, give you headaches, and severe shortness of breath. Oxygen is this amazing molecule that keeps us alive but also is slowly killing us breath by breath. Oxygen is what causes life on Earth to age, deteriorate, and eventually die. Ever wonder why people are so obsessed with antioxidants? Experiencing the city of Puno and Lake Titicaca, which are 12,000-13,000 feet, makes you really appreciate the drug-like qualities of Oxygen. I’ll be honest, It was so hard to breathe at some points that the awesomeness of what we were experiencing was diminished a little, but the locals had their remedies. We drank “mate de coca” as our elixir. Coca is the plant used in the production of cocaine, and its leaves can be made into tea which have real medicinal qualities. The coca tea curbs altitude sickness and gives you the jolt of a strong cup of coffee. This helped all of us to stay on task with our hikes and adventures. What’s really crazy is the people that are used to high altitude and lower levels of Oxygen age slower and experience life on almost a different plane of time. Things actually start to feel slower and days seem longer the more you spend time at elevation. The lack of Oxygen also contributed to some of the wildest dreams I’ve ever had. Ever been in a pirate ship time machine while flying through the multiverse while carrying on a conversation with your pet unicorn llama? I swear, it was wilder and more vivid than any Acid trip I’ve had. If that doesn’t make you more spiritual than you’re lying to yourself.
The Sights and Sounds - February 15th, 2013
My memories are still fresh but as I continue to siphon through these pictures I am becoming more and more amazed. The highlights of Peru were Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the museums of Lima, and the cuisine and architecture of Cuzco. Machu Picchu is flat out the most beautiful place I have seen on this planet. Lake Titicaca feels like a fresh water ocean in the middle of a prehistoric mining landscape. The water was made of glass and the clouds were balls of silk string stapled onto bright blue poster board.
The city of Cuzco was laden with pre-Inca ruins, a mind boggling cathedral, and architecture that has evolved slowly over 1,000 years. Not to mention the most generous people who just want to serve you the best food you’ve ever had. That’s why it’s the unexpected paradise. When we think of paradise its always the white sand beach, clear water, and a palm tree perfectly contoured to provide the right amount of shade. Well fuck that. Not really, but paradise doesn’t have to be that. Paradise is a state of mind that is created by your surroundings. Paradise is not just a place. It is defined by the people you’re with, you’re disposition, and the landscape. Peru puts all these things together in the most complete package I have ever experienced, hence, creating my ultimate paradise.
You may find your ultimate paradise resides on a different plane of consciousness or a different latitude line, but I strongly urge you to go find it. Be adventurous and open minded. in the end Peru may not even be my ultimate paradise. I may not have discovered it yet, but by visiting Peru I gained more insight into what my paradise does look like. I have become better at making myself happy, and dealing with difficult decisions. Call me a hippy or what not, but at least I am closer to finding peace with myself.