It took me six months to put down some words about my trip to Bolivian Andes. The purpose of the trip was to experience living with the locals and to learn the basics of the Andean view on the Universe. The old knowledge is still preserved as it has been passed on mouth to mouth by local shamans and healers. The trip was a mixture of trekking and pilgrimage but on a whole it was an extraordinary learning experience and adventure outside of the tourist routes.

We have visited La Paz, the highest capital city in the world (approx. 3,650 m), sacred places such as Tiwanaku and Puma Punku, we were given a lecture on sacred geometry of the old temples and the North sky, we walked on the Inca’s trail El Choro which ends at the elevation of approx. 5.000m, we visited the Titicaca lake, the isle of Sun & the Isle of Moon and, eventually, we ended up in the homeland of Kallawaya.

La Cumbre mountain, 5.000 m and our mulesPicture: La Cumbre mountain, 5.000 m and our mules

Kallawayas are thought to have been the naturopathic healers for Inca Kings, they were travelling through the Andean mountain valleys and highland plateaus in search of traditional herbs. They have their own family language, which has been handed down from father to son. One of such healers is Don Avrelio who lives a modest life in a small village with his wife and four children. They are vegetarians, including the dog.

He showed us some of the original rituals and took us to the Earth’s garden saying: “Look around and on the floor. You walk on the medicine.” Before he picked any herb, he and his wife asked the spirits for permission and thanked the Earth for the medicine it provides for us. “We must respect the Nature” he says. The reciprocity is one of the most important principles of the Andean perception of the World. It is the Universal law, which states that the life is perfect and that everything is related. Nothing is for granted and nothing is unimportant as everything is connected and supported in this relation.

Don Avrelio and his wife Justina preparing for the RitualPicture: Don Avrelio and his wife Justina preparing for the Ritual

The physical level is the mirror of the invisible, subconscious level. If we change something in the invisible world it will be seen in the physical world.

They have a circular perception of time whereas we percieve time as it would be running into the future. They believe in cyclicality – everything returns. They believe in balance and harmony whilst our life is full of hierarchy and competition. They respect diversity and nature. They believe that everything complements as everthing has its role and that everyhting is alive. Their centre is their community with which they feel connected.

The word Ayllu (community) comes from awareness that I do not exist as an individual like “you” and “me”, but as “WE”. So, this is the first word a baby is thought. In Andean community everyone is responsible for the welfare of the whole community. One is aware that it is not enough if “I am” fine as one can rest when everybody is fine.

So, how can one start to live in a harmony and consciously know that we are all One and that everything is important?

They say that we need to find ways to connect with Nature where we can start to feel our place in the process of life. We have to find connection with others: friends, neighbours, work colleagues, strangers; even animals and plants, earth, water, objects, etc. are of equal importance.

The interest in others and world around us unlocks the shell of our heart.