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After my previous retreat, and how positively life changing it was, I sat and pondered as the days went by and the second retreat was inching closer. “How I could somehow find my way into the upcoming group” I didn’t necessarily want to be a part of the entire retreat, but I did want to take a peak and see what this new group’s composition. How could I do it? How could I find my way onto the Shaman’s property and at least have a brief conversation or two with the new participants from around the world.

Hiding in the bushes was out. Simba would find me in an instant. Unlike the cutesy Disney lion, Simba is actually a hulking, sleek, black mass of muscle whose favorite past time is killing alpaca. He’d sniff me out with ease and I’d have a hard time explaining what I was doing.  Hmmm what else? I could always drop in and say hello, but I also didn’t want to impose on the other people’s experiences with my curiosity. Hmm….

I was at a loss. Ah well. I guess I should just be happy with the time I was allowed. My group was badass anyway, I didn’t necessarily need to try and further, or force, the experience.

It was a nice idea, but I resolved myself to putting the thought out of my mind.

…And then I was walking through town when Milagros (Shaman’s wife) and I happened to cross paths.

“Oh hello! I was looking for you!” she said with a smile I couldn’t place.

“Oshi…I didn’t do it”, was the first thing out of my mouth.

“Wha? No, I was curious what you were up to for the next six days. As you know, the next retreat is coming up, and I could use a hand with some of the food preparation in the mornings. If you’re free, and interested in working with the next retreat and making a little money on the side, think about it”

Think about it? I was already sold. Nevermind what I’d be doing, I gave her my word right then and there.

Once the initial excitement ebbed and the realization dawned upon me that I’d be responsible for the breakfast of about thirty hungry travelers, I was a bit taken back. Not too worried, but I did pause. I can DO anything, that’s easy, but I definitely wanted it to be up to her standards. She’s such a strong Peruvian woman; I know she wouldn’t accept anything less. I do respect her quite a bit too. Respect that budded from an initial intimidation actually…

So I was in. Now to find out what I’d actually be doing…

After a brief meeting at the house, I was responsible for two things: Granola and Milk production. Simple enough.

Now, the only minor complication to this venture, were the trips to the city. Most of the ingredients couldn’t be bought in the town I reside in, so I’d have to hop the bus to the city and acquire what I needed there.

Since the majority of my time has been spent in this tiny village, I haven’t quite gotten the lay of the city yet, and because of this, my brother offered to give me a hand navigating around. Unfortunately, we were pressed for time, and days escaped as they tend to do, and we ended up at the airport before we had a chance to case the city. As his familiar shape disappeared into the doors of the terminal, I sat in the passenger seat of the taxi and took a breath. This was all up to me now.

I had an idea of where to get these things, but I wasn’t 100% sure. Also my ingredients list was in Spanish, I translated most of it, but there were still a few I was having issue with. Challenge accepted.

Inside the bustling, dimly lit, bazaar that is the San Pedro market…

An hour and a half, and a handful of pissed-off-with-my-lack-of-spanish- and-long-list locals later, my bag was filled to the brim.  It wasn’t too bad, and I came away with a sense of accomplishment. I know people do this every day, and essentially all I did was grocery shop, but it felt good. This city venture had so many different variables to it that I unfortunately let warp and evolve into something rather formidable.

So to come away, successful, it felt like a real accomplishment against my anxiety. I also stabbed a dragon while I was in there if that adds some severity to the situation. Wasn’t gonna mention it before, but, whatever man.

Ingredients acquired.

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Time to MAKE! Well, not yet, the plan was to make everything morning of, so it would last longer (milk).

“But how do you MAKE milk!?!?!” was the resounding question from almost everyone I mentioned this venture to.

How!?! I’ll tell you!

First, fight the nut lady in the Market Arena for a kilo of Brazil nuts. One cup of nuts equals one liter of milk. Soak the nuts in water overnight.

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Rinse, and put the nuts in the blender. The ratio is one cup of nuts per 3 cups of water. You can go more or less depending on how thick you want it. Then pour the contents of the blender into a container, through a strainer.

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Strain all the liquid til you’re left with pulp, then give that pulp one HELL of a squeezin, til it’s dry, and repeat. (If you’re good, you can make a multitude of things with the pulp)

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The granola was simple enough. Heat all the ingredients, one by one, in a pan before combining it.

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Add honey throughout. Milagros said, “If you do it right, the entire thing should look like it’s moving. It should look alive” and dammit, IT WAS MOVING by the time I was done with it. I don’t know if Doctor Frankenstein sealed his victory with a jump kick, but if he didn’t, he missed out on a beautiful opportunity that I capitalized on.

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It’s moving if you look close enough

Sure I almost blew up the kitchen cause I didn’t know her stove had a top that needed to be lifted before cooking, but whatever. No one died. Unnecessary use of extra metal and glass anyway.

Over the six days I ended up making six batches of granola (Not sure what that amounts to in measurement, but I delivered it by the bucket full) and sixteen liters of milk.

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By the time I finished my multiple trips to the city, the previously pissed off locals were sending me smiles, and one of the guys even stopped overcharging me. I took that as a win.

AND! Not only did I get to mingle with the retreat when I delivered the product, like I originally desired, but people really, really enjoyed the food.  I received compliments like “There’s granola, and then there’s granola” and “Granola Jesus!” NOT MY WORDS! Words of the grateful and satisfied travelers!

“It’s good…it’s really good…!” she said as she went for a second spoonful. Milagros’ approval was the hurdle I had aimed for. And I jumped it! Deliciously…

Victory!

 Find San Pedro Market by foot

Make granola for the 30 people attending an ayahuasca retreat

Make milk from Brazil nuts

Kick back for a moment in Cusco and eat a peach in the shadow of the grand cathedral.

 

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