Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Napkin Story: Part 2

Napkin Story: Part 2 - Return of the Shaman!

Part 1 can be read here.

After we unload from the bus, we find ourselves in the town (village?) of Chivay. We walk from the bus station to the Plaza de Armas (main square), looking for a hotel. Chivay has several, so we decide to pick the one that promises "agua caliente" (hot water). MISTAKE NUMBER 1.

We soon find that 'hot' wasn't the best description of our shower. 'Tepid' or perhaps 'warm enough to get your hopes up, but ending in only a cold freeze on your dreams' would have been more fitting.

Normally, this would have been a great disappointment. However, we had heard that there were hot springs just outside town. And who needs a warm shower when you have a spa right down the road?! We had barely arrived, but it appeared to be time to move yet again.

Looking back, we probably could have walked to the springs. But we weren't sure where it was, and if we had asked directions we wouldn't have understood what was said anyway. So we decided to grab a mototaxi, an example of which is above. Basically, it is a rickshaw: as the mototaxi junket says,"imagine a motorbike. Then imagine a smaller one. Then cut it in half and stick a not terribly comfy sofa on the back."

Peruvian motos are usually personalized, with each driver picking the colors and decals that best express his personality. We picked the Spiderman moto (there was also a Superman moto, but everyone knows that Superman is a dick). This moto was flimsy even by moto standards; instead of a metal cabin with doors, we had plastic wrap with a picture of a smiling spiderman spilling out crazy curse words. As Carol notes, we were too cool for doors. MISTAKE NUMBER 2.

So after somehow conveying where we want to go, we zoom off in our little moto at a pace slightly faster than jogging. The trip is loud and bumpy, but not that unpleasant.


We round a corner and hit a car! Which is a really big deal when the only thing separating you from the car is plastic wrap. The moto driver starts to shake his fist and yell angry words ( much like the words coming out of the Spiderman on the side of the moto). We try to escape the moto but he won't let us get out, there is more yelling and finally he just drives away and leaves the scene. Yes, this is the only time I have been an accessory to a hit-and-run moto accident. Carol sums up the accident thus: "Obviously that nicely parked car on the side of the street was in the wrong place. Also, it was parked."

Thankfully, we were all fine. Well, not all of us; the moto was hurt and made pathetic and disgruntled noises the rest of the trip to the hot springs. But to be fair, we did actually make it to the hot spring, so we did get what we wanted. And after our long bus ride, crappy cold shower attempts, and near-death moto accident we really, really needed those hot springs.

The pools were pleasant, and we had a good time. We soaked up rare feelings of warmth in each pool, before we decided to end our visit by relaxing in the largest outdoor one. As we were swimming around (by swimming around I mean camped next to the hot water jet) a white blonde lady, probably early to mid 50's, came over and began to talk to us in English. Yea, we tend to be pretty obvious in a crowd. We did the obligatory where are you from, how do you like Peru, have you been to Machu Picchu. But then the conversation took a turn towards AWESOME.

The lady was apparently from New York and was traveling with a large group of wealthy, aging, white baby boomers. But this was not the normal sight-seeing tour group. It was a spiritual tour group. She had found a shaman, a real honest-to-goodness Peruvian shaman, and was following him around Peru on a tour of enlightenment. They happened to be currently in the Colca to see the condors and to do a 'fire ritual'. After telling us abut their trip so far, she unexpectedly invited us to join them, for they were about to start their hot spa healing ritual.

How could anyone pass up such an opportunity? If you find yourself saying 'I'd pass', then I suggest you reconsider your life choices.

So what was this hot spa healing ritual? Well, all of us got in a big circle in the pool, and started to do what appeared to be Tai Chi mixed with water aerobics. The Shaman was chanting mystical things, trying to heal us with the water. But Carol and I just flail around, feeling awkward. About the time that the shaman starts asking us to all splash water on our face (think of the parasites!), I see Carol begin to edge out of the circle. I back up too, and we slowly and politely make our way to the edge of the pool. We wave a little to our new friends, and then hurry off.

Was it worth it? Well, I don't think the ritual worked. Actually, I'm fairly positive we were shaman-cursed for leaving early (MISTAKE NUMBER 3). I battled parasites for the next 6 weeks, and Carol soon developed a cough that was from some mutant lovechild of swine flu and TB. Yea, it didn't work.

So ended day 1.

Travel review: The springs are actually really nice. The buildings are newer, and the whole complex includes several large outdoor pools and at least one indoor pool. These pools vary in temperature, from really warm to lightly heated. I remember the water being nice, although not as hot as my ideal. But then again, I'm cold blooded and could probably sit in molten lava before I felt I was 'too warm'. You also have changing rooms, nice bathrooms, lockers for rent, and massage rooms: all for a couple US dollars. I would highly suggest you visit.

To be continued....


  1. Also: what do you think of these colors? Like 'em or go back to the white?

  2. This is getting better and better

  3. We need more, we need more! When's the next chapter?!?!?

  4. Jon - Thanks. I am glad it is not getting worse and and worse. :)

    Dad- Patience is a virtue. The only virtue I like :P

  5. You could easily make this into a best-selling book! Just add in a divorce and you're SET!

  6. hahaha, talk a little about body image self help while I'm at it? I should consider this....