I can still smell the sweetly spicy scent of the florida water that floated through the air in a fine mist and coated my bare skin. The prickles of chilly dampness that landed on my face, stomach and back were like tiny kisses from the divine herself, and the whole scene felt as if it were happening in slow motion, a surreal blur of excitement and nerves as I silently wondered if I had indeed been "cleaned" and what tale my body would tell in the coming days.
The Q'ero believe that when we die our bodies go to pachamama, our souls go to the stars, and our wisdom goes to the mountains. With reverence and devotion, they turn to the mountains, which they call apus, for guidance and grace along their sacred journeys. They believe that each one has a specific power and a breadth of knowledge to impart.