Friday, January 21, 2011
Though the Argentines don’t necessarily consider the Sierras proper mountains (when compared with the ever-imposing Andes), to me the Sierras emanate an enormous power implicit in these stoic forces of nature. Here in the Traslasierra about 190 km outside the city of Cordoba in the province of the same name, the particular energy the Sierras emanate is palpable, perhaps from their mineral content, by the fact that they inhabit a micro-climate, or by the deep indigenous history that gives them human context.
My friend Helen and I sit at night in awe, hypnotized by the plethora of stars that make up the southern hemisphere. We think we are seeing every single one and that they are literally falling into our laps. The Milky Way has never been as pronounced, and we are determined to discover exactly which constellations are before us. Over by the horizon are the twinkling, celestial-seeming lights of a distant village, creating an additional magic to the night sky. The early morning and early evening brings a deafening sound of crickets, making it hard to focus on anything else – which to me is fine as I am keen on discovering more keys to getting out of mind and more into sensation and feeling.
Days are a total obliteration of thought as the deep summer sun runs its rays over our bodies, making reading possible only in the shade of the hammock. A steady dazzle of bird and insect sounds is everywhere… another kind of traffic noise, but oh so easy to absorb.
Staying at our friend Jose’s hand-built home, all rustic stone and wood with well attended flowers and trees all around, we are way up high above the pueblos below. This is my second visit to the region, but a new experience, staying so far away from civilization. We rely on Jose to take us up and down the mountain in his jeep.
We have our favorite haunts: a tiny little place off the main square, frequented by locals for delicious and inexpensive pizza or pasta, a lovely shop for browsing hand made pottery, wooden bowls and furniture, woven items, and soaps, and the local jeweler with his inventions in silver and semi-precious stones. In a nearby pueblo down the road, there is our favorite café where we can have a blend of herbal teas from the region and a basketful of tostadas with homemade dulce de leche. Here there is Internet, which calls to me as much as I try and stay away. It is not easy to disconnect, though this is the true theme of the voyage.
In the mountains, I have made a commitment to implementing the rituals that make for more permanent habits, regardless of locale. I will take these rituals as I take my food: for their cleansing, energizing properties; for their ability to dissolve the pressures of the mind; for their ability to re-caibrate the body and spirit.
To disconnect does not mean to go on idle, to be lazy, to tune out. For me, disconnecting means taking time away from routine in order to recharge. This means a daily ritual of breathing exercises along with meditation. Here in the Sierras, I can find my spot under mountains and sky and take my time in harmony with the rest of nature to create my grounding for the day.
At home, in the middle of a busy city, I do the same. With the vision of big nature in my mind’s eye, I imagine that I am still in the Sierra’s… with the magnetism of the mountains holding me tight as I melt into my best self.