So...to recap Pt. 1. I had ME all my 20's, no cure and no sense that God gave a XXXX about me. Fast forward to being in my early 30's and health had improved considerably...even if my life was proceeding like a car with a blind driver...

By 2005 I had improved so much that I was able to travel to La Paz overland from Brazil. Our 4 month back packing trip involved taking my healing and meditation skills on tour to New York, Southern Brasil, Bolivia and some of Peru. There was no healing in New York, but a lot of pastries and sightseeing. This was some improvement!

Was I completely cured? Totally well? Looking back from the perspective of someone who is now more sick than well, the answer to both questions, is a definite 'no'. I was residing in that space well known to long term ME sufferers- I was in Denial.

Even during my best years, I was habitually sick, having infections and viruses that wouldn't heal, and constantly having to take to my bed, taking pain killers every day, and falling asleep on any transport I went on. Our trip with its 12 or 16 hour bus journeys, was in a sense, less problematic than working a regular job, as we had many days and some weeks of noodling around in cafes, writing our diaries, and resting our bums on bus seats, in between sight seeing. I meditated, and healed myself...and of course repeatedly pushed myself my body beyond what it could do...
The beautiful city of La Paz, which is built at the base of the altiplano mountains....which explains why you get altitude sickness there. BTW: the symptoms are not dissimilar to ME symptoms...and the cure is Coca Tea. I am not sure if this stuff is legal or not, but a pot of this tea completely sorted me out!

We had chosen South America in order that we might see Matchu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, in Peru- which indeed we did, but we also saw so many amazing things in Bolivia and Brazil as well. We were both very esoterically minded, and had anticipated some of the many left- of- centre people and situations we encountered.

I was stronger, but my head was a mess- I was supposed to be a woman in her thirties, but my brain and heart had spent a decade frozen by illness, and I felt the painful lack of a sense of purpose. I hoped to find answers on our travels. 

We stayed in Minas Gerais, in Brazil, a town that mines and sells healing crystals, and visited a disused gold-mine. If you are reading this and thinking: ' Lucky cow!'- you are right, MOO! I am incredibly lucky to have been able to do all that, and writing this from my bed, I don't take that for granted.

An Amethyst 'Cathedral' from Minas Gerais. Amethyst has many healing properties as well as being really beautiful.

The city of La Paz, Bolivia is memorable to me for three main reasons: it is the place where, for the first and only time, I had altitude sickness. It is where my friend and I were caught up in civil unrest and had several 'hairy' moments...

...AND, it is the place where I first acknowledged for the first time that I wanted and NEEDED to have a faith!

This is a little painting I did of 'Betty' and her baby. Betty is a little doll I bought from The Witches Market, in La Paz, where you could buy spells. I have no idea what qualities she possesses, but she certainly makes me smile, and remember my travels.

 It was during the end of our trip that my friend and I were caught up in a national strike...and the resulting unrest. On our second time of entering the city our bus was intercepted by strikers, and the passengers forced to each pay a bribe. We paid up, were driven another 100 yards.. and were stopped again and tipped out into the vast planes of the Altiplano, miles from the city.

The Altiplano outside La Paz. Miles of flat countryside.

We ended up walking through the barricades of burning tyres, accompanied by Llamas ( the animals not the spiritual leaders). To say it was scary is an understatement. We were told that even if we were capable of walking the many miles into the city centre, the strikers would not let us pass .. in the end we entered La Paz lying in the back of a pick-up truck hidden under blankets! 

In South America we many things I had never done before including spending a lot of time in churches. We visited Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, many times to enjoy the stillness.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace- one of many churches that we visited over 4 months. Churches were our havens to get out of the sun, to take the weight off our feet, look at our Rough Guides, or to meditate. Many of them have impressive architecture.

 It is a huge neoclassical cathedral, and as well as welcoming tourists, attracted many of the locals. It was there that I encountered so many Bolivians praying unashamedly and often desperately, weeping and wringing their hands as they prayed.  As I saw their hope, it was as if a light suddenly shone into my own emptiness, and in that moment I offered up my own heartfelt prayer:' Lord, please give ME that Faith.'

This was a pivotal moment for me, a sign that I was ready for everything to change once again...and some of it would be difficult, but it was all going to bring me closer to God.

TO BE CONTINUED...Next time: Part 3- Milan, Italy...and the return of Art!

We eventually did get out of Bolivia, but 'Denial' would be a harder place for me to leave.



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