Back to the ´bamba tonight after a weekend excursion to a community a few hours to the south of Cuzco. We hiked a mountain, i got some laughs out of trying my Quetua, and we spent some quality time learning about ceramics in Raqchi. Joey even had Seinfield and No Country for Old Men, so we passed the night with DVDs and chocolate sandwhich cookies (which had a warning on them ¨do not expose to direct sunglight)

A wonderful Peruvian peasant (with an impossibly difficult name to remember) came with us on our tour. She taught me about the local plants and their medicianal values all the way to the top. This lady was out of control- carrying a good 40 pounds on her tiny back, in ancient sandles, literally running like a mountain goat up hills that took me an hour to summit.

 she also taught me some rural Peruvian health ¨secrets¨ which i am happy to share with you. Keep in mind the genunine sincerity and seriousness of the situation:

1) At high altitude, if you have headache, lung ache, back ache, are tired, are dizzy, are hungry…anything at all…simply smoke a cigarrette. They are simply a miracle drug. Do not, whatever you do, drink water. (i nearly died when she offered me, huffing and puffing, a smoke)  

2) If you do not have a cigarrette and feel dizzy, smell the sweat of your armpit (or the armpit of a companion if its easier)

3) If you feel like you might be dying rub your palm on your gential area and smell. (this was graciously accompanied by a demonstration)

4) Dont talk on your cell phone in the rain. last month her niece and 30 sheep were struck by lightening and killed because of this simple error.

The community is also apprently up in arms at the moment because the Peruvian government has banned childbirth in the home. it is now mandatory to give birth in a hospital. They community members are unhappy because clearly, this infringes on their shamanistic rituals and the ¨way its always been¨. I can see both sides, and its important to consider that child and maternal mortality in Perú was EXTREMELY high and required drastic measures. nothing is ever black and white… especially in Perú.

so my advice, dear western friends, grab a cig, smell your sweat (be it axillary or otherwise) and cuidate mucho. i have only a few weeks left on this side of the equator, hard to believe. stay in touch, hope this finds you healthy and happy. paz y amor, allegra