The Peru diary: Last meal in Lima

Rosa Nautica restaurant

Rosa Nautica restaurant

Back to Lima, and to my favourite restaurant on the Pacific Ocean, Rosa Nautica, for lunch. It is the most amazing place, with excellent food, and a great atmosphere, with the waves lapping gently on the pier. As we ate lunch the whole reason for our journey came together, and we remembered what these girls had really come here for – to change the things that didn’t work in their lives, and initiate the things that could work. It’s not a magic wand but taking a trip like this is a powerful insight into your own psyche, and into what you could be doing to bring you happiness, fulfilment, and positivity.

Now back to my story about the alligator. Peter, the owner of the lodge in the Iquitos jungle, joined us for lunch. He asked if I had enjoyed the food at the lodge, and I replied that I was surprised to have seen alligator on the menu. I asked how long he’d had it in the river, because two of our group had also thought they’d spotted one when we were on our way to see the Bora Bora tribe (I’d told them it was probably a log).

He said ‘what do you mean?’ Then the light went on and he said, ‘oh my God’. Peter owns a reptile park in the jungle – and two years ago twenty alligators had escaped. He had assumed that they’d all been eaten by the locals – but no, they’d obviously found a new home. I couldn’t stop laughing – I was hysterical at the fact that he’d changed the whole ecosystem of that river without even realising.

It was a long flight home, but we hit the ground running the next day as Simply Healing was full of detoxers, new friends and old friends, and it felt a little bit like my ‘retirement’ had been a nice diversion – fun while it lasted! But watch this space, Peru could be a two-yearly regular trip…

Of course, we still have so many stories about Peru to share – look out for snippets on our blog soon.



The Peru diary: Back on the train to Cusco

Ancient and modern living side by side

Ancient and modern living side by side

Two and a half days in Cusco – the most amazing city that I think I’ve ever been to, that carries so much ancient culture and tradition that is kept alive by indigenous people and those that know how to integrate this tradition into people’s lives. Here I had half a day off to – believe it or not – get my hair done, and my nails done, and generally be pampered and find out what had been happening in Cusco for the last few years. I met old faces and was introduced to new ones.

My grandson, who was with us on the trip, told me he felt that Cusco was the right place to be, and I knew just what he meant. While here we spent two days with Pedro and his family. They have been part of my life for about 20 years. His youngest daughter, who is my goddaughter, has a photograph by her bedside of her and me when she was tiny, and I was very touched by how she still had that connection. We had great ceremonies with Pedro and his team, partly because he lives in the centre of one of the most powerful places in Cusco, Saksaywaman.

Cusco is also a very cosmopolitan city. And everybody agreed they all felt at home there – they loved it, and they shopped ‘til they dropped. The hotel doorman quickly picked up on who was who, and he would let me know who had gone in and who had gone out shopping (again!).

One young man who was selling jewellery on the street told me I had a very familiar face and I said I had been coming a long time. About an hour later, as I was on my way back to the hotel, he came up again and told me that he remembered my son Dean, who had travelled with me in the past. He reminded me that Dean had taken on board two young underage street traders that used to sell postcards and jewellery – he used to take them for food, and buy all of their stuff so that they could go home with some money. And this was one of those young men that Dean had befriended. And though he was still selling jewellery on the street, he was very smartly dressed, and his jewellery was good quality, and even better he had a big smile on his face. He told me he’s married with a child now.


The Peru diary: The train to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

My memory of my first train journey to Machu Picchu came flooding in to my mind as we sat on a modern train. In the olden days you’d be sat with the locals, with their chickens, parrots, livestock, domestics carrying bundles, and the general hustle and bustle of people getting around in a small space. Back then the station at Machu Picchu was where all the hotels, shops and restaurants were. One of the hotels I stayed in in the past was in the station, and I remembered powercuts and no hot water. But at the time I felt ‘this is how it is, get on with it’. So to get on this smart train in a first class carriage, I felt worlds away.

Our hotel, the pueblo, was set in the mountains, with the most beautiful orchid collection, wild birds and the lovely sound of the river. We dropped off our luggage and took the first available bus up to Machu Picchu temple. It’s always exciting for me to hear the comments when people first see it, as we walk round a tiny blind bend and there it is in full view, just out of nowhere. Over the years I’ve got to know a little track that leads to the most spectacular vista. Once we got there, Pedro and the tour guide took everybody off and I went to my special little places just to reconnect with this ancient site.

The photos the girls took were stunning. And they had a fire ceremony with Pedro by the crystal cave. With that fire they gave the spirit of the mountain all the emotional baggage that they don’t want to take up to the Sun Gate the next day. One of the group, Nicky, had a big birthday on the day we arrived at Machu Picchu. So that evening we had dinner, and the chef made her a lovely cake. She was in awe of her surroundings and all the things we’d been able to offer her for her day.

Next morning we were up at 6 and on the first bus up to Machu Picchu at 6.30, to walk to the Sun Gate with Pedro, who took us to some major ceremonial places on the way up and on the way back down. He gave the group a sense of what Machu Picchu has to offer to every traveller if only they open their minds to it, and their hearts to it – it’s life changing, empowering and great fun.


Ever is an unusual character, with an amazing shop in Aguas Calientes. He travels the world with ancient instruments that produce the most incredible sounds, and we were invited to share an experience with him as he played them. This music refines you, it retunes you and rebalances you. It does that by connecting with every aspect of you. The ancient sounds are primal to every human being and they enable us to switch from that everyday rat race that we live in to a place of peace and calm within (and that can’t be a bad thing).


The Peru diary: Cusco

This is why we had to get Pedro some proper shoes...

This is why we had to get Pedro some proper shoes…

So off with the shorts and sarongs, and off to Cusco with our hiking boots, ponchos and rucksacks, ready to visit the Sacred Valley and Pisac. Pedro the shaman told me he would be conducting the ceremony at the Pisac temple. But when I looked at his shoes I wondered how he was going to walk up the mountain without his normal walking boots. He said he’d left his boots by his bed, so there was nothing for it but to go to the market to get him some – and that was the start of the shopping. Everyone wants to shop in Peru, it’s the colours, the textiles – we all thought it would be nice to take something back to grey England that was warm and colourful.

We stayed in a different hotel in the Sacred Valley to the one I normally choose, and this one had the most incredible labyrinth and firepit for use in ceremonies. It made me very happy to see this incorporation of ancient culture into a modern day facility. We were the envy of other hotel guests as I had organised a fire ceremony for one of the nights. The indigenous staff that worked there made a point of placing offerings on the fire, which is traditional. This was the beginning of our Sacred Valley ceremonial journey to Machu Picchu.

By this time the girls had become good companions, supporting each other through their highs and lows. I lost track of the exclamations of delight as we visited temple complexes and ancient sacred sites that were off the beaten track, which always have something magical about them.

And there was so much laughter. For a change I asked the driver if he knew a different route back to the hotel and he said yes, over the mountain. Minutes later, having wound round and round in a spiral on this bumpy old mountain road I was beginning to think I’d done the wrong thing. And as we came round one very tight bend the bus stalled – right by the edge. A little voice in the back of the bus piped up, and my grandson said, ‘should we all move to the front of the bus at this point?’ At which we all absolutely cracked up laughing. The driver reassured us that it was OK, and sure enough off we went.


The Peru diary: Lima


Now the dust has settled, I’ve had time to get my thoughts together on my experience of taking a group on a healing journey to Peru recently. Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing my Peru diary, kicking off with Lima…


Have you noticed that there’s a certain smell to certain countries? There was definitely a familiar aroma when we landed in Lima, bringing back lots of old memories to me of the time when the airport was little more than a small building with a control tower. The first thing I noticed on arriving at this swish international airport was how clean and tidy everything was, how smart the cars were, and how happy everybody looked. Over the years I’d seen this country move from the worst poverty that I had ever encountered to prosperity, and I was really happy to see this transition.

Our Peru team: Edith and Eric, and our drivers and staff, had been waiting in the heat and as we came through the gates they were as delighted to see me as I was delighted to see them. And of course we had six years of chatter to catch up on so we were straight into our normal routine.

Our first port of call was Iquitos – the jungle, the Amazon River, the sounds, the smells, the excitement of the travellers. So much to show them, so much to tell them, but I felt it was best just to leave them for a while to absorb it all. On the way the driver decided to park the bus in a small dip and as my little legs couldn’t reach up everyone had great fun trying to hoist me on the bus. And with shrieks of laughter, the fun began.

When we reached the lodge, comments from the girls were ‘this is paradise’, ‘heavenly’, ‘amazing’. So I knew that they would feel comfortable in my little domain. Ayahuasca ceremonies were part of the detox. The group were asked to detox at least four days before they took part, and the whole process when they were there was about eating lightly and drinking lots of liquid. The ceremony was conducted by a man who I trust implicitly and have done for 24 years. He arrived from deep in the jungle to meet us. (How do you get in touch with a person like that? Well, in this modern world he’s got an email address)! He was happy to see us, happy to reconnect with me, and he told me that he had occasionally sent out a thought that one day I would come back. And here I was.

Meeting the Bora Bora tribe

Meeting the Bora Bora tribe

We had four days doing things in the jungle – fishing, walking, dancing with the Bora Bora tribe, finding out about medicinal herbs and plants, lazing in hammocks, swimming in the most amazing jungle pool, and visiting schools, seeing what we started working on years ago that is now established. Our first supper was alligator, to my surprise. In all the years I’d been going to Iquitos I’d never heard of alligator in this part of the river, and as they had some kayaks for the use of guests I was alarmed. So I made sure none of my group got into the kayaks, and this story unfolded on the very last day… stay tuned to find out what happened.