Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The plan

I just spent over 7 months working 7 days a week penciling, inking, shading, and letting my first graphic novel. And in the midst of the whole crazy process I decided I needed to line up an adventure at the end of this journey...something to look forward to.

So I decided to go to Peru.

Why? I've always wanted to visit Machu Picchu and loved pre-Colombian fact, one of the first carton characters I invented was a llama. And Peru is surprisingly affordable. So I impulsively bought a plane ticket without a second thought. This was my plan...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mr. Duck's travel log

Mr. Duck has been my travel companion abroad for 9 years now, and in each new country he gets pictures with all the sights! You can also check out our other travel adventures in Iceland 2009, Spain/Portugal/Scotland 2009, and Turkey 2008. I've been slowly working on setting up a separate blog with all my postings from Ghana 2007, but so far I just have the Mr Duck posting up.

Here are Mr Duck's pics from our trip around Peru...

Machu Picchu

Meeting llamas

Hot springs of Aguas Calientes

San Pedro cactus

Cusco'sPlaza De Armas

Drinking coco leaf tea

Arequipa's Plaza de Armas

Monastery in Arequipa

Drinking chicha (corn beer)

Arequipa countryside

Meeting sheep

Lima's coastline

Lima's Plaza de Armas

Drinking a pisco sour (grape brandy)

Illuminated fountains in Lima


Here's a short video I made of scenes from my trip...


It's only on vacation that I allow myself to indulge in really time-consuming-labor-intensive artwork, hence I spent hours on each of these ink drawings in my sketchbook! (Click to see larger)

This one was made on site at Machu Picchu...


This drawing was based on the terraces you see all over the countryside...


And this last one was based on a photo from my my San Pedro fueled hike...


Machu Picchu

The train from Ollantaytambo (which is an hour or two from Cusco) to Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes, which is the town just outside Machu Picchu

Hot springs

And finally...Machu Picchu!

And I met llamas!

After all that hiking around...

San Pedro Cactus Ceremony

While in Cucso, I took part in a San Pedro cactus ceremony through La Casa de La Gringa, which is run by Lesley Myburgh. She was recommended to me by friends in New York, so I knew that the whole experience would be very safe and positive.

San Pedro cactus contains a psychedelic substance (mescaline) that has been used ritually for at least two thousand years in South America, as a sacred drug and as a shamanic medicine. I have never tried any sort of mind altering substance before, so I was very intrigued.

We went to Lesley's beautiful home just outside of Cusco, further up into the mountains. There were 3 others taking part in the ceremony with our shaman Michael leading us through the whole day. I felt the effects of the San Pedro for at least 12 hours.

Beforehand, we each talked about our intentions while chewing coco leaves...I was looking to reflect on my own issue of keeping myself so closed off from others. Then we each drank a glass of the cactus (which was boiled for 10 hours) in a lovely little ceremony led by Michael and his mesa (cloth altar), sacred objects, and smoke. The taste wasn't bad, it was the slimey texture that made it unpleasant. Those are lemon candies on the tray for the aftertaste, and tissue in case someone threw up.

So how did people react? Well, one woman felt very nauseous and threw up multiple times after the 40-minute mark. (It took 40 minutes for it to be absorbed into your system) She felt nauseous the rest of the day and was still and silent, deep in her own thoughts. One man threw up once after a couple hours but otherwise felt fine, he was also quiet and very much in his own thoughts. Then the next woman in our group had no nausea or vomiting, and was much more active and talkative. Very upbeat. Finally, there was me. I vomited after an hour or so but otherwise felt wonderful! I spent long periods indulging in quiet personal reflection/meditation but I also spent much of the time connecting with the world/people around me.

And how did it feel for me? It was like looking at the world though Van Gogh's eyes where everything is radiating beauty: colors and light looked brighter and more vibrant, quite alive. I just wanted to be close to the earth: feel my whole body connecting with the ground, the sun on my skin, appreciatively hungrily looking at everything around me. I simply felt connected and in love with everything, everyone, every part of myself. It was wonderfully overwhelming.

A few hours in, Drina and I were in an exploratory/talkative mood while the other two attendees were seeking peaceful silence. So Michael led the two of us out into the countryside for a hike. I had never seen a landscape quite as beautiful!

In the evening we ate a homemade dinner together while watching the sun set...

No taxi would come give us a ride, so we walked all the way back into Cusco. Which was better, really.

I didn't sleep a wink that night, my mind and my heart were simply racing. (But it wasn't unpleasant in the slightest)

I shot some random video clips during the afternoon...