7 April 2014. We are in Cyprus. We don’t know why. The Mystery offered us an opportunity and we said yes. Without any questions asked. That’s what we do these days. We just say yes. My sister is going to Australia for Christmas and suggested we come too so the whole family could be together. So we said yes. And so it goes. More and more we just say yes, and practice living intuitively. When we think of the cost of this jaunt to Cyprus it would have made much more sense to go back to the little casita in La Manzanilla. But that didn’t even occur to us. Don’s friend offered us his place in Cyprus so we said yes. Without any questions asked. And so we will find out what two months in Cyprus has to offer. There’s no sense of discord. We arrived last night. It is what is. We just had a hug and Don said ‘Here we are in Cyprus’ and I burst out laughing and said ‘I have no idea why’. Well, that’s to be discovered. The weather is lovely. The sun shines. The house is bright, comfortable, spacious and well equipped. We are lucky.
People ask us what our plans are. We don’t really have plans. We just say yes and in saying yes the Mystery tells us its plans.
Six months in South America was hard, harder than six months in India and South East Asia. Don had a story running that six months away was too much even though we’d been away for six months three times before. It’s just an old irrational mind story that would surface from time to time causing a kind of lethargy. The surfacing was probably related to altitude, which definitely causes lethargy and was one of the chief reasons for travel in South America feeling like hard work. We were at significant altitude for about six weeks, then down to sea level for a week, then back up to 4500 metres for 10 days, then down to sea level for 2 weeks then up again for a week, then down to sea level for a bit over a week then up again for two weeks. All this yo-yoing made it worse. We had no real health issues with altitude but it causes a kind of spaceyness, mild headaches at times, and mild nausea at times. Worst of all, for two generally fit and active people, was the loss of energy and stamina. We couldn’t be as active usual. We’d be out and about for a couple of hours and head exhausted back to the hotel. It was draining after a while. Plus the distances are vast – we were always figuring out how to get from A to B and then realize it would be thousands of kilometres, which was fine, just something to contend with. And then the cold. The further from the equator, or the higher up, the colder it gets. We were frequently freezing. And the Amazon is hot and humid beyond belief and the hiking there really really tough. Ha! All this is not a complaint. It’s a description of how it is there. We wouldn’t have missed one minute of it. I just wanted to explain how, for us anyway, it was harder travel than South East Asia and India.
From Don: Finally we’ve settled in at our friends’ villa on Cyprus and there’s time to write and rest and relax. I came out of South America feeling exhausted and unwell: just too many days on the road and too much doing, doing, doing. It’s not that I have any complaints about what we did, because I, just as much as Alison, did not want to miss out on the extraordinary things to be seen in South America, but the combination of the time in the hot and steamy Amazon jungle and then the go, go, go of the Galapagos cruise, coupled with a recurring viral infection, left me depleted of energy by the time we were through. So now we have time to recover and get fully healthy again before we set off on our next big adventure. I wouldn’t change this life for anything: I feel more alive than I’ve ever been, and am seeing and experiencing the world in ways I never expected to be able to see or experience it. It’s time to get well so that I can appreciate what I have more fully.
Back to Alison: And now here we are in lovely sunny Cyprus for two months. How sweet is that. The perfect place to recover. I know for sure we’ll think twice about heading up to any serious altitude again, though I’d love to go to Nepal and Tibet one day.
I’m maybe half way through sharing the odyssey of South America. There are eight or ten more posts to come – the spectacular Candelaria Festival deserves at least two posts, plus two for our foray into the Amazon, and two for the incomparable Galapagos Islands, and then there’s the three weeks in Ecuador (Quito, Otavalo, Cotapaxi, Cuenca, Cañar). And the next post – Lima.
8 April 2014. Sleeping sleeping sleeping. Almost all day yesterday, all night the night before, all night last night. I don’t want to do anything but sleep. I even slept on the plane – a first for many years. I keep hearing the words ‘let yourself go’ and so I do. There’s the pull to ‘get back to normal’ but it’s not strong enough.
I dreamed of being on a bus with Don travelling somewhere. We stopped for a bathroom break and I went into the café and there was a man with a gun there. I got back on the bus and he followed and stayed on the full bus keeping us all there while his accomplices robbed the café and store. He seemed very gentle and affable, but he had the gun. Then they left and I saw him crawling off into the bush after his buddies, crawling under brambles that made his movement slower and didn’t hide him at all. I had not been afraid, just aware of having to be still, to not move, since he had the gun. Then Don said he wanted out of this place – all dry and dusty and unappealing, and the ‘hotel’ rooms very basic, and not very comfortable. Then he changed his mind, but I didn’t want to stay so we argued. We didn’t really know where we were, and looked at some old hand drawn maps I had that would get us back to a place where an ex-boyfriend was, in ‘Russia’. I said we’d never been to ‘Russia’ and Don had to remind me again that the place where the ex-boyfriend was was in ‘Russia’. Anyway we decided we definitely didn’t want to go back there. And that what we needed was to get a map – to find out where we were, and to decide where we wanted to go.
I think the dream pretty much speaks for itself. There’s an internal man with a gun to make sure I stop what I’ve been doing, and we don’t want to go back to the past, but we need a map to find out, metaphorically and literally, where we are now and where to go next.
It’s an amazing life, being continually peripatetic, and homeless, and one which, even after 2 ½ years we’re still learning from, and getting used to. There’s times the heart yearns for a home, and stability, and I know Don still feels a strong pull to be in Vancouver and grieved leaving after our brief stop there between South America and Cyprus. At the same time, what we’re doing feels so very right, so exactly what’s wanted, that we continue. We’ve learned so much about ourselves, and about life, and have more yet to learn, or perhaps I should say more to embody. It’s one thing to recognise something about what life is, it’s another thing to embody it, to live it. And so we continue.
My shoulder hurts so bad – I say it’s from over-use on the computer, but maybe it’s not only that. Maybe there’s some other message. Stop. Just stop.
9 April 2014. When we had a home there was the appearance of a safe stable life. Both internally and externally we appeared to live in a safe comfortable environment. And we took it for granted. It doesn’t mean that things couldn’t go wrong, that we wouldn’t be suddenly hit with some tragedy – an incurable disease, or an earthquake, or a car accident, but most of the time we lived in, and took for granted, a safe comfortable stable environment, and it gave an internal sense of security. It doesn’t matter that it’s illusory; the inner sense of security is there arising from the apparent outer stability of a fixed address, a home. It appeared that all our ducks were in a row, and we worked hard to make sure they all stayed in a row.
Without a home, there are no ducks in a row. As Don says the ducks are all out there swimming around looking for the next thing. There’s none of the inner sense of security that comes with being in a fixed place that stays there day after day, that we stay in day after day. So there’s a continual need for letting go and trusting, a continual need for surrender and presence, because we never know what’s coming next, what home, what accommodation, what location. There’s a constant need for making decisions about those things, and how to get there, and trusting those decisions, trusting ourselves, trusting our intuition, trusting life.
This is why my hip joints hurt. It has nothing to do with age or arthritis (which is where the mind wants to go with it) since none of my other joints hurt, except my knees from time to time. None. It’s only the hips and knees, and the hips are to do with moving forward, and the knees are to do with being flexible in that movement. And we’re always moving forward. Always moving into the unknown. Everyone is, but for us it’s continually externally obvious. And clearly there’s been a building unconscious anxiety about this – always having to trust, always having to surrender. And my right hip especially is painful because this life style, more than anything is about having to live intuitively, having to live in a surrendered state, having to dwell in presence because that is the only place that is constant, and above all about having to trust. Nothing external is constant. There’s none of the sense of security that comes with having an external apparently stable and safe place to live. There are no ducks in a row. There is only movement, and trusting, or trying to trust, or telling ourselves that we trust, that it’s the ‘right’ movement. This is the embodying that’s being required of us – to live so deeply in trust and presence that there is no conscious, or unconscious, anxiety that the truth is there are never any ducks in a row.
11 April 2014. I’ve been writing about my sore hip(s) since we were in Mexico a year ago. I view the body as a hologram, and a reflection of beliefs (which are often unconscious) and unfelt emotions. It’s important for me to recognize what the body is trying to tell me whenever dis-ease occurs, and to feel the feelings associated with the pain. I also know that I hold some conditioned limiting beliefs about ageing that need to be addressed.
And yet . . . . . . . . . . after having written this, and slept on it, and pondered it, I find myself so tired of it all. It all sounds a bit like moaning. Get over it already. Move on. Enough. We live an incredibly blessed life. So I do a little inner exploration, vent a little, and then return to gratitude for the life we’ve been given.
Photo of the day: Street musician, San Telmo Market, Buenos Aires
All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.