Quechuan Wedding Crashing…

On Sunday I went to the lake again for paddling. I took it very easy as I had not eaten in 7 days but still managed to have a great time and plenty of energy. We had paddle lessons, yoga, acro yoga, indo board and abundant, brilliant sunshine! The sun is so precious here. When it is shining, it warms up so much you can paddle in a bikini. (and rash top for sun protection. I have been burnt twice now.) When it is not, the temperature plummets to almost freezing temperatures in the morning. It is dramatic, but I finally think I am getting used to it.  You really learn to cherish and appreciate sunshine in a place like this.

As we were leaving the lake, we stopped to say hello to a party of rather intoxicated people sitting around a mountain of elaborate gifts. Turns out this was the wedding party from the previous morning’s ceremony still going strong. What ensued is one of those experiences you couldn’t make up if you tried. We were beckoned to sit and each of us handed a rather large bottle of the local beer, Cusquena. My declinations were promptly shhhed by my friend Lolo who told me I must graciously accept.  I was informed how offensive it would be if I did not drink. (even though I was still going on nothing but a few pieces of fruit and juice as it was my day to break the 7-day fast) She then spent the rest of the evening explaining and translating all of the interesting Quechaun wedding customs. (which for the longest time I understood them saying “costumes” and was so confused)  Alvaro had been an honored guest, a godfather of the wedding they called it, for bringing paddling and swimming lessons to the children of the local community. He had snuck out in the afternoon for fear of the multi-day drinking fest that was to take place. Turns out that was a big mistake and almost cost him exile from the ‘family.’ So it was a good thing we stopped in to say hello as Alvaro had some catching up to do, drinking that is. When we arrived they were in the middle of a ‘costume’ involving everyone pouring beer into two pee-pots, yes ones usually reserved for urinating in, which the bride and groom must then drink the entirety of otherwise their marriage it doomed. After that the ‘buckets’ get passed on to honored guests and family members. Guess who had to drink two of them! haha. poor Alvaro.  The rest of us entertained ourselves by graciously accepting more beer, more toasts, not one but two meals, (two fo us were vegan and these were not vegan meals) and of course offers to dance. I was told I could not turn anything down otherwise I would greatly offend them. You can see where this is going. We had a great time and besides possibly the worst way to break a fast ever, I learned a lot about Quechuan weddings in an experience as authentic as it can possibly get.

The ride home proved even more entertaining as we hitched a lift in the back of a delivery truck. You know, like in the cargo hold. Stuffed in there with many others, families included, I seriously felt like the first scene in Men in Black where all the aliens are hiding in the back of the truck before they get pulled over and searched. So funny.


My 7-day cleanse…

Wow. Wow. Wow. What an incredible, expansive, healing, and heart-warming journey. It wasn’t the easiest thing I have ever done, but certainly worth every moment. I feel open, abundant, connected, peaceful, and eternally grateful. For 7 days I had nothing but one glass of juice in the morning; yoga, meditation, discussions, support, encouragement; one bowl of vegetable broth in the evening, and rest. We also participated in a liver flush, energy work, and two sacred plant ceremonies of Ayahuasca.

For the first 4 days, I was in agony. Wrecked by stomach cramps, hunger, and fear, my mind was an emotional roller coaster. I hardly made it out of bed and though my soul knew this was exactly where I needed to be and that all of these symptoms only meant that the process was working, I fought the urge to run away (and eat) several times. I am extremely happy that I stayed.

I signed up for the retreat as a literal “reset button” for the beginning of my 3 month journey in Peru. What I have achieved is so much more. I feel as if everything I came seeking on this quest has already presented itself to me and I can simply sit back and enjoy the next months in bliss. In actuality I know that it was right there the whole time. Everything we need, everything that the universe provides, all the energy, information, love, and peace that a person needs is available to them anywhere and always. If only we know how to be open. Be present. Live in the moment. Ask. The truth is there. It is simple and oh so beautiful.

In this modern world in which we live, we have become so disconnected from the divine path that is laid out before us, we struggle and resist against the natural flow of nature causing ourselves pain and suffering. My head had become clouded and my heart weak. Sometimes all we need is a gentle reminder. And sometimes (of course for me the extremist) an entire week of fasting does the trick. 😉

I feel healed. I feel open. I feel patient. I feel present. My head is more clear, my body more at ease, and my soul more nourished than I have let myself be in a very long time. I feel deep deep gratitude for EVERY moment of life.

The two sacred plant ceremonies, although completely optional if one were to be interested in something like this, (I highly reccomend it) were instramental in my healing process. The medicine or “Mother Ayahuasca” as she is lovingly referred to by followers and drinker around the world, was an experience like none I have had before and really even if I tried to describe it, it wouldn’t feel quite right. In a few words, it was like being plugged in; receiving a “download” from the Universe. It was not at all always the most pleasant experience. In fact my first was 24 hours of hell, but even that was an absolutely necessary part of my process teeming with deep seated teachings of which it will take life times to fully understand.
In conclusion:

I am gratitude

I am bliss

(I am extremely skinny and I can’t wait to start paddling and exercising again)

I love you.

Gracias Gracias Gracias Gracias Gracias.

livelifelit.com sacredvalleytribe.com

Cusco… week One

Gosh, where to start…

I guess day 2…

I woke up to freezing temperature in the morning and it took a while to get out of bed. Eventually I took the blankets with me until I warmed up. The nice thing is once the sun comes out, the temperature begins to rise dramatically. By midday it feels like 70f. I am definately not used to this change in temperature daily.

I spent the morning walking around the city and getting myself aquatinted with its stone walls and cobbled streets taking lots of awesome pictures which I can’t put up yet because of technical difficulties. I am happy to not be traveling with a computer, but the 4 year old iPhone with a cracked screen and oil smudges just isn’t cutting it, Oh well.

The central part of Cuzco is just gorgeous! with a mix of old Incan and Spanish architecture, elaborate stone cathedrals, alley ways, cut throughs, colorful vendors selling textiles and handicrafts, all surrounded by towering, green  mountains.

In the afternoon I visited the San Pedro Market, a large covered market selling just about anything one might need. You know the kind of place crowded, dirty, loud, cheap, and endlessly entertaining. I bought some fruits, veggies, and nuts as provisions for camping.  The full moon was due to rise at 7 and we planned a camping trip to the lake where we paddlle.

That night was simply magical, bloody cold, but magical. We cooked on the fire for dinner and for warmth and  then paddled out on to the glassy lake as the moon rose over the mountains. We could see the reflection of the stars on the water and the glow of the glaciers lit up by the moonlight all around.

In the morning I had a glorious sunrise yoga session and devotion to the mountains then took my new Mistral 10’5″ adventure board out for its first real test run. We paddled 8km around the circumference of the lake. This was also my first real test of physical exertion sinse arriving at 12000ft. I felt slow, but great.  Turns out Alvaro is a tough coach. He likes to push people which is good, and was already correcting my paddling technique as I tried to keep up with his race board on my inflatable. 🙂

I am very happy with it so far, and everyone who has seen or felt the new lightweight construction of it is super jelous. They want to know how to get their hands on some of these boards for out here. They are perfect for the mountains as traveling light is essencial.
Back on shore preparations began for the Pachamanca. This is a traditional style of cooking from this area where the food is baked in an earth oven. First, in the morning a fire is built and stones are heated up by the fire. Then the hot stones go in to the ground followed by LOTS of food. In this case it was 4 different kinds of meat, 4 different kinds of potatoes, plantains, fava beans, cheese, and more that I can’t even remember. Then all the food is burried in heaps of herbs and more stones.  It cooks like this in the ground for an hour or so. The whole process taking most of the day. In the afternoon we had a feast! All the different foods are pulled out by hand and placed in clay bowls. Then  it’s traditional to sit in a circle around the fire and eat with your hands. It is an event for the whole community and no one goes un-fed. Actually my favorite dish was the dipping sauce of fresh puréed herbs that seemed to go well with everything. So much flavor! And the preparation that went in to this meal was an honor to watch. I felt so blessed to be invited. It seemed everyone sitting around the fire felt the same way. Huge smiles and an aura of gratitude permeated the scene.

Afterwards I returned to my hostel in Cusco very much exhausted and not feeling so well. That night I had a sunburn, fever, nausea and the usual headache. I managed to get a bit of sleep and felt much better in the morning.

Day 4…
I woke in the morning feeling much better than the night before and decided to go for a run. I managed a slow 5 miles and felt pretty god about the whole “altitude” thing. Afterwards was a nice yoga session and then more touring in Cusco city.
I went to the Temple of the Sun, the most important temple of the Incan empire dedicated to the god of the sun.
Then I visited the Inca Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Coca Museum.  All very interesting stuff. I love museums, but they are not as much fun to visit alone. I find I don’t have a lot of patience and just sort of breeze through. Still an incredible day. I went to bed that night once again head aching and totally exhausted.
On Sunday I went with Alvaro and a group of guests/friends to the lake for a day of yoga and paddling. I was to meet and teach his team of local paddlers from the surrounding community while he took the others on a tour. Only 3 kids showed up, but it was still very exciting and challenging for me to work with them on some techniques and race training. Challenging mostly because we don’t speak the same language. Although I think I will learn how to speak “paddle Spanish” pretty quickly if I continue doing this. SupCusco.com

Once again my lightweight board was a hit. Everyone wanted to try it. And my 3 piece carbon paddle too. Lucky Lucky girl! Now how do I get these boards to Peru?…
Aftewards I hopped on a bus that took a beautiful route around the Sacred Valley to the town of Pisac where I am now for the start of my week-long fasting and healing retreat complete with yoga, meditation, cleansing therapies, and ayahuasca. Livelifelit.
I wouldn’t expect to hear from me until the end.



Day One in Peru…

I arrived in Cusco at 9:30am after a rather awesome overnight flight. This woman asked if she could trade seats with me and seeing as I was flying alone I said “si, no problema.” Not only was my new seat by the window, but it was some sort of extra-leg room seat with a reclining foot rest. Score! I slept the whole 5 hour flight.
My airport pickup from the hostel was a no show, but I was able to easily get a cab for the same price. He didn’t quite know where I was going, but we made the best of it and I got a pretty good tour of the city whilst driving in circles. Eventually we got out of the car and found the place tucked down a little alley way only 2 minutes walking distance from city central. Perfect. The shower was warm (enough) and as soon as I find the light switch I will have everything I need. So far it is just me in a 3 bed female dorm.
The rest of my day was a whirlwind of fantastic proportions!
I met up with my local SUPing contact, Alvaro, for lunch and we went to one of the many vegan restaurants in town. (How cool is that? I didn’t even expect Peruvians to know what vegan was. Oops) As we were finishing, he remembered a wine tasting appointment for a new brand in his restaurant and had to run so quickly he invited me to run along with. Feeling dressed rather inappropriately, my cover was to be that I was a new waitress. Well, after the “buenos tardeses” and “mucho gustos” my terrible Spanish was apparent quite quickly. No one seemed to mind and I got to sit in on a tasting of the finest wine that Peru has to offer, Santiago Quierolo Vineyards Intipalka collection. Lucky lucky girl.
After we took a drive to the Lake where Alvaro runs his paddling tours. It was so beautiful we couldn’t resist launching our boards and I got a tour myself as the sun was setting behind the 5 surrounding Andean glaciers. magic. It was cold and I paddled in a wetsuit for the first time in years, but the backdrop was unlike any I had paddled in before.
Back on shore a local Quechuan family beckoned us in for hot drinks, fresh homemade cheese and bread. With a permanent, contented smile on her face, the woman patiently answered my questions about the mountain of dried herbs on the floor and the different food she was preparing. Apparently they have over 2500 varieties of potato in this region. Wow.
On the ride home I ‘hit the wall’ as the expression goes. So far the altitude has brought only a dull headache when I forget to breath deeply and didn’t really slow down my paddling at all. But I did feel extremely exhausted and went straight to bed at 9 with no dinner.
Oh yes, by the way, I am at 3,700meters elevation or just over 12,000ft.

Florida Keys to Flamingo Down-Winder and My First Crossing!


Team PADDLE! at it again! doing what we do best….

Yesterday Team PADDLE! The Florida Keys embarked on an epic voyage. 30nm from Islamorada through the Everglades National Park to Flamingo .

We left the shop at sunrise. and Oh what a beautiful morning it was!


nice and cool after my first ‘dip’ aka fall

On ‘board’ for the trip was Paddle! owner Scott Baste for his 3rd Flamingo crossing; Joey Roberts on his second time across and myself as the first female to make the trip.

The winds were perfect! 15-20kts E-SE blowing us straight there. The first 14 miles were nothing but surfing Florida Bay bumps. And if you are from Florida, especially the Keys, then any kind of waves in these waters is just an incredible feeling! Both Joe and myself are Florida Keys Natives, born and raised. We were having a BLAST! Seriously the best time I have ever had on a paddleboard. In just 3 hours we were half way to our destination and headed in to the flats and Everglasdes back country.

Our first stop at a no-name Key. Checking the course

Our first stop at a no-name Key. Checking the course


We saw so much Wildlife! Egrets, Herons, Pelicans, Cormorants, Ospreys, Red Fish, Snook, Reef sharks, Bull sharks, Nurse Sharks, String Rays, Crabs, Turtle, “pretty much everything” as Joe so aptly promised.


check out these cassiopeas!


My camera battery died half way unfortunately, so photos are scares. I will try and edit a video, but at the moment I don’t have any editing software.

We took a rather large deviation from the rhumb line as you can see on the chart so that we could stop at the Shark Point chickee, one of only two back country camping platforms in the Everglades Florida Bay. We set up our hammocks and took a long and well-deserved lunch break.

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hammocks up at Shark Point Chickee for lunch

At this Point we were only 8 miles from our destination and could in fact see the Flamingo Tower. Hooray!

The last several miles were mostly pulling and polling through sea grass in less than 1 ft. of water, but still heading down-wind. Joe even tried to set sail with half of his hammock flying in the breeze, but was unfortunately not able to steer well enough to make it last.

We made it! The trip took us a total of 10 hours. 8 of which were paddling time. A distance of 30nm. Go Team PADDLE! Thanks for making the trip with me. I love you guys and am going to miss you so very very much!!!


17th Annual Key West Paddleboard Classic…

Thoughts on how being a Yogi-Raw-Vegan helped me to my first 12-mile finish line…

Last weekend I participated in the 17th Annual Key West Paddleboard Classic Race, a 12-mile race around the island of Key West. What Fun!!! I am new to the Sport of Stand-Up-Paddle (SUP) racing and this was only my second race ever. WHAT FUN!!!

Here is my recap of that Epic Day…

Saturday Morning I awoke to a drizzling rain and butterflies in the belly. As a sun-gazer, I usually start my day with sunrise gratitude mediation. Well, there was no sun to be seen and so many race-day thoughts buzzing around in my mind, forget about meditation. I know this is when one needs it the most, so I gave it a shot, set a quick intention, and rushed off to the beach.

For breakfast I had Chia seeds soaked in fresh coconut water that my dad helped me harvest and open the night before and several home-made raw energy and protein cookies. YUM! All week leading up to the race, I had totally cleared out my diet of pretty much anything but superfoods. Some call me extreme. I say I am passionate. 🙂

Down on the beach excitement was growing as the moments were closing to the race. My biggest dilemma was where and how to carry my energy gel for the race. I predicted I would take between 3 and 3.5 hours to finish, so I needed to carry some form or nourishment with me. But paddling is not like a running race where your hands are free to grab a quick snack on the go. One hand for one second is about as much of a time loss that I wanted to give myself for re-fueling. After several placements around the body including, the straps of my hydration pack and inside my bikini top, I decided to store them already opened, upright, inside my bathing suit bottoms. This was a mistake. Almost immediately goo started going everywhere but it was too late to fix as the race was about to begin and I needed to paddle out to the start.

An observation about the start for anyone who may be reading this who was actually at or part of the race…I noticed that what seemed like more than half of the racers were lined up outside of the actual start line, giving themselves a distinct advantage to the wind angle at the start. I also noticed than a large number of people were creeping way ahead of the start line so that by the time the whistle actually blew, they were a several board lengths ahead. I know there is not much to be done about this as, how do you penalize half of the fleet? (well in a sailing regatta you re-start everyone) And at the same time I like the fact that we still have a laid-back vibe about paddle racing as opposed to some sports with entire volumes of racing rules. (like sailing) But, I don’t like to see people taking advantage of things because that is exactly the mind-set that necessitates rules to start being made.  I know I am new to racing. This is just my two cents.

The Race itself was awesome! We paddled clock-wise around the Island. Starting and finishing at Higgs Beach. The paddlers got spread out pretty quickly as the first mile or so was open water and very rough. I lost count of how many times I fell and all of my silly preparations and frets about not wanting to waste seconds opening or finding gels went right out the window as I had lost half of them by the third fall. At least all of the sticky stuff running down my legs was washed off. 😉  At this point I thought I was way behind where I had wanted to be, that for sure no one had fallen as much as me. Haha. Little did I know I was actually doing quite well. Anyway, I paddled on…

On the back side of the island things calmed down considerably. Besides 90% of the race being cross-winds, which are my least favorite, this 6 or so miles went by fairly quickly. I was able to hold my position in the fleet until around mile 7 or 8 on the second diagonal leg headed towards Cow Key Cut. (the northern end of Key West) At this point geometry, (I think I took a more direct route) endurance, or perhaps my meditation practice began to pay off. I slowly started to pass people.

This is the leg of the race I have heard a lot of people say they began to breakdown. Instead of giving in to exhaustion, I began to meditate. I looked to the sun for energy. I asked to be tapped in to all the energy of the universe knowing that everything I need is provided for me, including abundant energy. I asked for everyone in the race to receive that energy, that we all would finish the full 12 miles with our best time possible. Then I began my mantra. With each stroke for  the next 3 miles (until about mile 10, where it is all just a blur) I said the words “I love you.” Sometimes in my head. Sometimes out loud. Most of the times directed at the person I was busy passing. I firmly believe in the power of positive energy.

When we entered Cow Key Channel, the wind and current were against us. I pulled as far to the Key West side of the channel as I could to get out of the current and soon joined a 4-woman drafting train. This was very helpful taking turns ‘pulling’ each other up-wind as fast as possible. (whoever you women were, especially the one in pig tails with the neon yellow pants, thank you! you were awesome!)

The last hour was pretty much every paddler’s worst nightmare. 2-3 miles of chaotic wind chop made trying to stay on your board like riding a bucking bronco. This time around I was prepared. I realized my mistake in the beginning was trying to paddle to fast and not stabilizing enough. So for the last two miles I slowed my paddling way down, but I managed to stay on my board (almost) the whole time. I reminded myself not to tighten up too much or to fight against it, but to become one with the motion of one of my greatest loves in the whole world, the ocean. And at the very least to relax the tension in my face and jaw. This technique also paid off as I did not experience debilitating cramps as many people did towards then end.

I ended up finishing 49th over all out of over 200 paddlers. 16th over all on 12’6” boards. 7th over all in the women’s division. and 1st in my age group.

Not too bad for a first try. I sincerely hope to be back to try again next year! A HUGE thank you to LAZY DOG, Distressed Mullet, and everyone involved who helped put on such an AWESOME event!!!!!

And my “Sponsor” Paddle! the Florida Keys


– an after note – when I first started writing this I didn’t intend on the theme being a new-age approach to paddling, it just sort of came out that way. If you have any thoughts or questions about diet or the benefits of yoga in your SUP training, I am more than happy to answer and discuss.

In Gratitude,


Lake Titicaca Paddle Project

Here is the link to the Indiegogo Crowdfunding site I have been working on.

In November I will paddle the length of Lake Titicaca in an effort to raise funds for two Stand-up Paddle schools in Peru as well as raise awareness to pollution on Lake Titicaca and officially introduce the sport of Stand-up Paddle in to Bolivia!

Check it out!

Lake Titicaca Paddle Project

Lake Titicaca Paddle Project video


las sirenaspiuray clean uppiuray paddle