Before entering the doorway, I stepped over a horseshoe embedded in the mud. In Peru, the horseshoe represents all the problems that we do not want to bring indoors. Walking into the house, I immediately noticed guinea pigs in the corner. After the shock of seeing around eighty guinea pigs unconfined I noticed the simplicity of life around me. My tour guide Fernando handed me some alfalfa and I began to feed them. Some were babies, some were pregnant and others were just plain fat. They were squeaking with a high pitched voice and living in their own urine and feces. Is it possible to see beauty amongst so much chaos, I ask myself? This is the exact place I embark on my spiritual experience. Ollantaytambo is a town built on love and minimalism, where the people live off the land.
Looking further around the house remembering the “The Last Supper” painting I saw earlier that day in a church, on a huge plate a guinea pig lies for the final dish. As cute and cuddly the furry friends are, guinea pig is a diet staple in Peru. Wafting around me were smells of fresh baked goods and stew, the woman of the house was home cooking. Her oven was made of stone as she cooked from a caldron; much like a witch on Halloween. However, she wasn’t trying to poison anyone; she was cooking with love and food she raised. She was happy; there was a glow about her that was unfamiliar to me. Glancing around the home I noticed an old fashion sewing machine, and a small bed, where several family members sleep. There was one window, no screen, just a hole in the wall. A perfect beam of light shines through, as if God is blessing the home. In this area of Peru the people believe that if you want to see the sun, you go outside. This is why there was only one window; they promote health by moving your body into the outdoors.
This home was special. Looking around, continuing to soak up understanding of the culture further. I noticed three decaying skulls in a cut-out in the wall. Around the skulls were many figures and decorations. This area of the home appeared to be an alter or a place of meditation. A sense of hope surrounded a candle, a paper doll; with a cigarette hanging out his mouth, and dried flowers. The skulls were ancestors, family members who built this town to be what it is today. They pray to them daily and celebrate their history. Without a smell the skulls were black and decaying. The bones were clean without flesh. Inspired, I felt like dropping to my knees and praying. What culture, I thought. I began to cry, not out of sadness but happiness. Wanting what the people of this town have. Simplicity, love, culture, and history; everything I saw was pure beauty.
Walking back over the horseshoe on the way out and seeing the tall everlasting mountains, I exhale. Green was the only color in sight as the sun drenched the sacred mountains. Feeling overwhelmed, like I was somewhere else, not Ollantaytambo but a different plane of existence. Thinking I was walking on clouds, having a sad sense that my life in the States was false. We check the internet for crazy YouTube artistry and in some parts of Peru they paint pictures from natural berries. We buy our clothes at the store and they produce the clothes on their back. If only life could be this simple, to live off of what we had and not want more. I ask again, is it possible to see beauty amongst so much chaos? The answer is yes.