Life on a coffee plantation… Quillabamba, Peru

Mastery Path March 26, 2014 1
Life on a coffee plantation… Quillabamba, Peru


I spend the whole of the month of February on a coffee plantation in the higher jungle, 9 km from the town of Quillabamba.  Being without phone and internet was a blessing as I read many books on my iPad when the sun went down. I’d go into the town on Saturdays and stay in a hotel for the night, returning the following day and trekking for 90 mins up the mountain. I was blessed with dry weather on those treks for which I was very grateful – when it rains, you certainly know about it!

Rosa’s Passing and Funeral

photo11debraI returned as usual on Sunday 23 February, feeling at one with the beautiful nature all around me and feeling like I was experiencing heaven on earth.  I stopped to connect with the plants, butterflies, river, trees … in fact everything that caught my eye.  It took me a lot longer than normal and I arrived at the house just before sunset.  I found myself locked out of the sleeping quarters so I waited in the kitchen for three hours then Gladys and Berny returned armed with medical supplies as Rosa (Glady’s 88 yr old mother) had taken a turn for the worse.  As Gladys and I were setting up an oxygen tank, Rosa stopped breathing and peacefully passed away with us by her bedside.  After Gladys had come to terms with the passing of her mother and we’d had a brew, we prepared Rosa’s body and dressed her in the beautiful white dress and veil that she’d worn at her wedding over fifty five years earlier.

photo10debraThe following evening the house was transformed into a chapel of rest and Rosa was laid in a beautiful white coffin.  On Tuesday, 25 February, I hosted the 14 guests who came to attend the burial, preparing food and making drinks whilst Gladys was in town finalising the paperwork and arrangements.  When Gladys returned late afternoon, we had a short ceremony then Rosa was buried in a plot in the grounds next to her husband who had died just four months earlier.  We all sat around amongst the coffee plants whilst the guys took it in turns to cover the coffin with the earth that Berny had spent hours digging out. This was very different to other funerals I’d attended and not a tear was shed.  We shared snacks and drinks and I took lots of photos for Gladys as we celebrated Rosa’s life and her passing, for now she was at peace after six months of being immobile and her health gradually deteriorating.

What an honour it was to be of service during my month in the jungle.  What an honour it was to be there at Rosa’s passing and preparing her for her final resting place.  And what a Rite of Passage it was for me for the 25th February was also my birthday. After all the guests had left, Gladys presented me with a birthday cake and she sang Happy Birthday to me, accompanied by Berny on an electric keyboard.  It’s certainly a birthday I will never forget, and the experience of a lifetime living with an indigenous family and appreciating a different culture.  I feel truly blessed.


photo8debraI stayed on the coffee plantation until 1 March then knew that the time had come for me to move on.  My work felt complete there.  I was fortunate to be leaving on a Saturday, one of only three days when a collective truck makes a return trip up the mountain.  I packed my bag and Berny kindly carried it for me, through the river and to the top of the hill where I waited half an hour in the blazing sun for the truck to pass by.  It was a relief to sit in the front with the driver, sheltered from the sun and to escape the mosquitos which were feasting on my face in the absence of exposed skin to keep them away.  I spent a couple of days chilling out in Quillabamba, visiting the beautiful Olympic sized swimming pool at Sambaray which was set in a gorgeous location surrounded by mountains and with a big river passing through the grounds.  What a luxury it was to swim in the warm water then dry off on a sunbed taking in the rays from the sun.  It was a lovely end to another chapter of my travels for I’d decided to leave the next day.

Journey from Quillabamba to Ollantaytambo

ambulance-with-GladysThe journey by collective mini-bus from Quillabamba to the Sacred Valley was nothing short of spectacular, only equalled by driving through the mountains of Switzerland two years earlier.  I’d booked the front seat and had my camera pointing out of the window for much of the 3.5 hr journey to capture the jaw dropping scenery which my photos do not do justice to.  The road surface changed frequently from tarmac, to dirt paths, to rocky bumpy roads, then mountain passes with streams crossing the road. The road is dangerous in bad weather with landslides and sheer drops down the mountain side resulting in many deaths marked by crosses and flowers by the side of the road. I reflected on the 7 hour journey from Cusco to Quillabamba a month earlier in the rain and fog when I sat in the back of an ambulance with Gladys and Rosa and was thankful that I couldn’t see the roads through the frosted glass!  The time passed surprisingly quickly and I was dropped off in the Plaza Mayor in the centre of the village.


I’d asked for guidance on where to stay and as I put on my backpack, noticed that I was standing right outside the Hostel Plaza so went in to enquire about prices.  After a bit of negotiating, we agreed on £5 a night for a lovely room with private bathroom and wifi which I’ve now renegotiated to £3.50 as I’m staying long term. I visited this beautiful village last October when I went on my five day trek over the Andes and knew I’d like to spend more time here – it’s so picturesque and the village layout is the same as in Inca times.  Ollayantaytambo dates back to the late 15th century and has the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America.  I love just hanging out here, reading and having lots of quiet time to read, basking in the sun and soaking up the beautiful energy of the Sacred Valley.  I’ve been visiting places of interest around the town and eat street food at the local market very cheaply.

Pinkuylluna Mountain

I decided one lovely morning to climb the mountain opposite my hostel, intending to explore the storehouses built by the Incas to store their grains and provisions. It didn’t take long to hike up there from the Plaza, although the route was very steep and two hands were needed in places.  I then decided to continue to the top of the mountain which took a further two hours and was very hairy in places as I kept losing the path which was overgrown in many places. I hadn’t bargained on rock climbing but had my good walking boots on and felt safe until I found myself perched on a precipice unsure of where to go next. I recorded a video on my iPad just in case I fell down the sheer drop to either side of me, then prayed for guidance and asked to be kept safe.  I edged over the rock and down to a ledge where I spotted the path again so carefully made my way over to it and gave thanks.  I continued up the mountain, occasionally stopping to admire the view, to take photos, or to remove cactus thorns from my hands and trousers. I reached the top 2.5 hrs after leaving the plaza and marvelled at the views over the valley and the temple on the opposite mountain which looked so small from my perspective. The climb was definitely worth the effort although upon reflection, would have been safer with another person there in case anything had happened.  I was surprised to see two butterflies dancing around at the top as I didn’t expect them to fly so high. I meditated for a while and connected with the ancestors of the sacred land then made my way back down, losing my footing only once on the loose stones which sometimes resembled walking on marbles.  Back at my hostel, talking my boots off gave instant relief to a big blister which took a week to heal, and some teenage girls from the USA here on a school trip kindly removed the cactus thorns embedded in my hands with tweezers.

Pumamarka Ruins

Last week, I hired a guide and went on a horse ride to Pumamarka, 7 km from Ollantaytambo located on top of a hill at an altitude of 3600 metres. We made our way there via an Inca Trail which was fabulous to experience – very picturesque and steep as we made our way up and along a hillside. Mario, my 65 year old guide, was very fit and walked behind my horse Anna, encouraging her to continue by using a stick until I asked him to stop hitting her.  When we arrived at the ruins, Mario gave me a guided tour and then I meditated under a tree growing out of a rock which fascinated me. I felt myself surrounded by Inca warriors who had died there so I sent them light and surrounded the whole site in a bubble of light. The views are beautiful and the bit of rain we had didn’t detract from the experience.  I felt very peaceful and enjoyed being there.

Pumamarka was a defensive bastion located in a strategic site which controlled foot traffic and distributed water through a stone canal. When viewed from the highest part of the mountain, it is supposed to closely resemble a puma.  An interesting site to visit and a thoroughly enjoyable 4.5 hr round trip, although I was a tad saddle sore the following day!

Ollantaytambo Temple

michI visited the temple last October but didn’t have much time to spend there so decided to return on 16 March, the day of the full moon. Fortunately there were hardly any tourists there and I spent a wonderful 3.5 hours taking my time to meander around the site, taking in the energy and capturing some great photos. How on earth the Incas built these huge stone walls with no mortar and perfectly cut angles which fit together like jigsaw puzzles is beyond comprehension, not to mention how they transported the huge monoliths up the mountain … it’s mind boggling!  I spent time by the Temple of the Condor where I meditated then did a fire ceremony, offering up my intentions to the Universe.  As I was leaving, I noticed that hoards of tourists were now pouring into the site and I felt very blessed to have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time undisturbed.

What Next?

I’m feeling drawn to go back to Machu Picchu and would like to be there around 20 March which is the Autumnal Equinox in Peru and the Spring Equinox in the UK.  I will probably stay in that area for a few days then decide what to do after that.

I will be thinking about you all and tuning in on Wednesday 2 April at the Mastery Path event.  I’m sure that many of you will have miracles that you want to manifest.  Vernon is a world class speaker and we are honoured to host him at Mastery Path for a second time.  Please book your place straight away if you intend to go as the room was packed to capacity last year.  It will be a huge help to me if you book early as I’m working on the event from Peru and want to be able to provide the information for Dave Binder the day before due to time differences.

Thank you all for your continued support.  It’s great being able to communicate with you via social media whilst I’m away and I’ve started to upload photos of my travels to Instagram so you can now connect with me there too.

Love and blessings
Debra (((( x ))))

PS   BOOK TODAY to secure your place.  Thank you!

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