Gelassenheit: A German Lesson in Peru

 Mission: to be where I am.
Even in that ridiculous, deadly serious
role – I am the place
Where creation is working itself out.

– Thomas Tranströmer

As I feel the powers of “releasement” shaping my life this very day, I am compelled to share how in travel, opening myself up to infinite possibilities by simply being mentally available and open led to  most magical day. 
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Starting the morning as usual–backbend practice by the river in Urubamba, Peru : Urdhva danurasana and Eka pada viparita dandasana

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I am the sort who plans travel down to last mote of  detail: I’m talking spreadsheets of train times and back-up train times, restaurants listed by Michelin rating and chefs gastronomic ideology, time the sun sets and where to watch said sunset each night. This obsession with seemingly minuscule matters is not so much borne of a fear of amorphous days as it is rooted in the fear of missing something I’ve been dying to see, to feel, to taste, due to poor planning, even if I have learnt to find poetry in the disappointing moments of travel as de Botton urges in his compelling book, “The Art of Travel“. My trip to Peru in November 2013, and specifically the time spent in the Sacred Valley towns of Urubamba, Pisac and Ollantantambo, was one of the lesser delineated sojourns I’d embarked upon and  consequently, the visit was certainly a test of patience and will as many things did not go as planned. Yet, despite my blood temperature rising as a result of taxis not arriving at the precise hour they were supposed to, or finding out that the breakfast promised as part of my B&B reservation was but a myth, something quite special, and thoroughly incomparable happened on my trip: I discovered Gelassenheit.  Sure, sure, I know what it is to live in the moment and go with the flow, but  the sheer magic of the this Heideggerian concept of true Gelassenheit , of releasement, of the “the spirit of disponibilité [availability] before What-Is which permits us simply to let things be in whatever may be their uncertainty and their mystery,” was revealed to me in that special way that only seems to happen when one is far removed from the normalcy of one’s quotidien existence. With all the planning and obsessing in the world, I could never have choreographed an impromptu motorcycle ride —  offered by a kind and zealous stranger when my taxi was nowhere to be found — through the sacred valley of the Andes with (excuse the bromide) the wind in my hair as we bobbed and wove up the mountain to the ancient salt mines of Maras; I could not have scheduled this deus-ex-machina of a motorcycle rider punctuating our journey with a stop at a Chicha house no bigger than a closet or planned being poured a glass, overflowing with compassion, of the Peruvian drink by  a beautiful aged woman whose intricate wrinkle lines mesmerized me. I could not have prearranged the Inca ruins of Pisac being empty and all mine because I arrived later than anticipated specifically due to the aforementioned concatenation of events. Even the stress of communicating with benefactors when you have only two words in common, whether it means using your hands, Google translate or hell, drawing nazca lines in the sand, was dwarfed by such singular experiences. As I released into the  wind as we whizzed through busy streets and up picturesque inclines, I thought, “Here I am, falling deep into the flow and feeling of beauty, truly living and understanding the yogic concept of vairagya and the infinite possibilities that unfurl when one does not cling to the idea of a specific outcome” . These are the hashtagless moments that make it all worth it.
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Off to explore Urubamba by foot
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Restaurant Tunapa, a lovely converted home over looking the Urubamba river
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Making new llama friends at Restaurant Tunupa
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Walking through the town
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I wonder if the people who live here ever get used to their view
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And here is one of said people who live here, kindly offering me a ride and though I had never before ridden a motorcycle, I obliged
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An impromptu stop for Chicha
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A view of the Andes, en route to Maras
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The beautiful salt mines of Maras in the distance
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The salt-mines of Maras where one can source Peruvian Pink Salt
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“Be sure to taste the earth!’ my host Semilla had told me earlier in the day
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And after Maras, a taxi ride took me to the Inca Ruins of Pisac
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Leaping over the ruins at Pisac
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An early morning view of Urubamba the next day as I departed for Ollantantambo for the ultimate adventure
What I Wore: Zara floral jumpsuit, Hermes “Petit Duc” scarf (as belt), Prada Baroque Sunglasses, Zambian malachite bracelets, Office UK sandal flats, straw hat bought in Lima market, Balenciaga tote

About Natasha

Word- and dough-smith. Girl in search of "the illumination, that ecstatic flash, from which truth emerges".

2 comments

  1. Aya

    Glad you’re back. I missed reading your posts. Thanks for the new word and keep ’em coming!

  2. Julius

    I see you wearing that season 1 vaseline-on-lens filter. #yesgawd

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