April 21, 2010 Urubamba-Sacred Valley of the Incas

Today, I visited the two Safe Haven’s teachers and sisters, Adriana and Dina. Adriana’s busy schedule hasn’t permitted an earlier meeting. She is studying for her master’s degree, in addition to carrying the full financial load of the family, for her mother, brother, and sister. Dina, her younger sister, just gave birth (via emergency C-Section) to her first child and is unable to work yet. Read more



Sunday, April 18 Early this morning I traveled from Yucay to Qotohuicho in the Sacred Valley, to meet Pelayo, an old friend whose character I respect, and also as a ceramic artisan and karate instructor. The agenda had been pre-set Friday eve. We were going to design a plan for ceramic workshops for the children of the Safe Haven.

While I was waiting outside in the yard for him, I looked around at my surroundings:  a couple of adobe structures, dirt floors, bee hives full of activity, a laundry line full of clothes drying with the radiant and powerful sun. As I pulled out my laptop, I realized what finally brought me to this particular place. I had the assurance that what will transpire today has the potential to change many lives. At that very moment I felt connected to the hand that wrote all, in silent prayer without words or pleas.

Within a couple of hours we had laid out an ambitious but simple plan, which will start before my departure on May 12. The plan, not only will explore the children’s artistic abilities, but will provide them with life skills they could tap into in the future.

Pelayo is raising his three children alone. His needs seem beyond my comprehension. Giving him just money would be an insult to his character, but offering him an opportunity to work together in a larger purpose, will give him life.

As I was leaving this humble but nurturing environment, I looked at the distant mountain, the Nevado Chicón. It reminded me of the encounter in the spring of 2003 when I became lost during a hiking adventure that changed me forever and turned a visiting observer into a man on a mission to bring positive change into lives of people in the sacred valley.



 While traveling solo in Cusco, Peru, in the fall of 2008, I experienced a period of loneliness like never before. I felt that a companion was missing to share the joy, excitement, compassion, and adrenaline rush of the adventure. A traveling partner who could feel, taste, and experience the profound significance of my heart for the journey. My heart ached, was weak, and confused. I was longing for intimacy.  In a frightening moment of loneliness and desperation I started to read ‘Never Alone’ by Joseph F. Girzone. I had tossed the book in the bag at the last minute while packing at home in Oregon before the long trip began; the title had intrigued me.  The content of the book’s dedication provided a deep relief to my heart’s loneliness:

“I dedicate this book to my Friend who is always by my side and in my heart, who is never far when I am lonely and confused, who always gives peace to my soul when I am troubled and frightened, and fearful of the future. I share with Him my deepest secrets, my joys, my sorrow, my accomplishments, my shame. He always understands. He never accuses or criticizes, but often suggests a different way of doing things. When He does, He inevitable prepares the way so it is not as impossible as I thought it might be. Over the years I have learned to trust Him. It was not easy. I thought that in following Him I would have to give up all the fun in my life, but I found that He was all the Source of all joy and adventure, and, indeed, He turned my life into a great adventure at a time when I thought it was about to come to an end. I would like to suggest that He could become your friend, too, if you would like Him to be. Do not be afraid; He will respect your freedom and independence more than anyone you have ever met, because He created you to be free. He just wants more than anything that you will accept Him as your friend. If you do, I can promise you, you will never be alone.”

 Although I may be surrounded by people who genuinely appreciate, respect, and love me; there are periods of time when I am, and will, be alone, and sometimes filled with thoughts of confusion. I have carried this book with me on my trips since then as a constant reminder of its significance and lesson learned. The profound intimacy that I share with Him is not humanly possible or experienced; no matter how much I deeply treasure and love people.

                                                 Alone I came into the world,

                                                 Alone with my thoughts I live,

                                                 Alone with my thoughts I grow,

                                                 Alone with my thoughts I die,

                                                 But I will never be alone.

                                                                          Composed by José in an ‘alone’ moment.

 José, live from the Sacred Valley



 I woke up more rested this morning and a bit anxious as I lay in bed for a while. I couldn’t understand the feelings of emptiness I was experiencing.

I finished reading ‘The Alchemist’, by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho; the story of a Spanish shepherd boy who had a dream of finding a treasure at the pyramids of Egypt. A gypsy woman and a king advised him to pursue it in order “to realize one’s destiny’s only obligation”.

 What resonated for me in the final chapter:  “The boy turned to the hand that wrote all. As he did so, he sensed that the universe had fallen silent, and he decided not to speak.  A current of love rushed from his heart, and the boy began to pray. It was a prayer that he had never said before, because it was a prayer without words or pleas.”

 As I walked around Betty’s Pashnawasy’s yard, I stopped in silent prayer. I became absorbed with the activity that surrounded me:  chickens and ducks pecking for bugs, apples lying on the ground from the trees above, guinea pigs full of activity. Once I stopped to appreciate the beauty around me, my heart became more serene and peaceful.

 This morning I realized I did not have to react to my heart’s anxiousness in a confused manner, but to be aware that the feeling of emptiness was because I was starting the day with a blank canvas that waits to be painted. I first needed to be connected to the hand that wrote all, in silent prayer without words or pleas. My heart’s brush strokes to life my canvas from the day’s activities.

 Jose, live from the Sacred Valley