We would be taking out the Ibis, Kristine and I, and following the left bank of this massive lake in search of the Shaman.    Rafa paddled the Day Tripper 10, and Nick had a Journey 14.       We cruised around the lake and after about an hour or so stopped to ask a local guy, complete with dive mask, for information.   He was a smiley, happy, VERY friendly guy.   I was super impressed with him immediately.   We asked him what he was diving for, and he told us “snails”.   They make a “cocktail” out of them as well.      He asked Rafa for a ride and it just so happened that we had the boat of choice for picking up hitchhikers!   The Day  Tripper is like the “pick up truck” of kayaks.  Huge open cockpit, super stable, and handles a large capacity.    Toto was this guys’ nickname, Jose’ his real name.     Toto got in and sat backwards, facing Rafa and they slowly paddled out chatting along,  Toto with his permanent big smile on his face.    He said he knew of a place where a Shaman priest lived along the lake in a hut.      Kristine and I paddled ahead as a massive rain storm was brewing and the other side of the lake was engulfed in rain and it was moving our way.    We anticipated a wet rest of the day.    There was a big stand of trees in the water that had a very dense canopy and were very majestic, like the “old south” looking at a plantation.   Kristine and I paddled under them as we waited for Nick and Rafa and hung out.     It looked like the rain was a few minutes from hitting us when Nick arrived and announced that he didn’t think it would rain on us.    Sure enough, the rain just never came.  It blew past just past the middle of the lake but never on us.    The sun popped out again.  When Rafa showed up it appeared that we were in the right spot as this is where the Shaman priest lived.     Best described by Rafa, the concept of the Shaman priest is like a “male witch” but 100% positive energy, the opposite of what a “witch” is, a negative energy and bad vibe person.     They are born into it and only this family can practice.  It is an old Turkish area religion and the professional priests are said to be able to speak with the gods and have many powers.   We were there to be “rid of bad spirits” and to start the 2012 year off with good energy and vibes.    Anyone can go to a professional Shaman priest and get “cleansed”  and it sounded like a good experience for us to do.    We landed our boats and walked up to a hut, with snail shell curtains at the stick gate.     A nice lady with some mud on her face (like beauty mud) greeted us and rafa talked to her.  She does facials and sells a special mud… OK,  I am in.  We all decided to go for it and get one.     One of the ladies came with a wooden bowl, while another was cooking over a small fire, and a little boy was running around.  There was on man there, who was in on the conversation and watching us get mud smeared on our faces by the lady at the river’s edge.      It turned out that he was the Shaman priest!   He invited us into their little compound, which was made of an outdoor kitchen, some stumps and plank benches, and a little stick hut for a house, and another one that was his Shaman temple (5’x5’ hut).      Kristine went into the hut first, invited by him.   He came out and got one of those little bowls with smoking embers in it and brought it into the hut.     They were in there for about 5 minutes before he invited Rafa to come and translate his “reading” for Kristine.    We were all curious as she came out… “what happened in there”?     Kristine gave us the quick lowdown, but only on her “reading” which is where he lets her know how her health is, what to expect, and some key points about her life.    These things can rattle you if you put any stock in the words and concepts they present, even a little stock.    For Kristine, she is surrounded by good people (I liked hearing that, of course),  will live a long life,  needs to take care of her head and eyes or they will be sick,    and is a good liar.    Hmmm…  Kristine doesn’t lie, but we always said she would make a great lawyer as nobody can argue a point like her, true or not.     It is the little out of the blue things like that, that get you…      Rafa was next…     he went in and came out in 10 minutes…      One of the things he was told was that he has two loves, two women… he wondered who the other one was…     Rafa is one of those people who knows how to take the good out of any situation, and truly allow himself to participate and be a part of his surroundings, without judgment.    This can be tough for some people, as we are participating in something that is religious in nature, and just participating could be considered to be going against your own church, depending upon your religion and beliefs.       Rafa described his experience like this… “I feel good knowing that my bad energies have been lifted from me by the Shaman, and that I am going into a new year, fresh, with good vibes, and good energies.”    That is the spirit that makes such an experience add to your life in a positive way.

 

I was next.   I walked in, pulling the ragged cloth curtain to the side, wondering what was in the little hut, and what the Shaman was going to do.    He smiled at me and asked me to close my eyes and  hold out my hands.   I quickly looked around.  About 10 candles,  a small table, and some herbs, lotion, and a picture of Jesus, or his likeness.      I closed my eyes, held out my hands and some cold water was sprayed on my palms and something heavy placed in them.    He blew hard on my neck, and sprayed something on my neck and then began brushing and hitting my body with a switch made of some kind of plant/vine.     This ritual went on for a couple of minutes before I started feeling hot air around me and I assume it was the burning embers.   My face, my neck, my arms, all felt the heat.      He asked me to open my eyes and took the candle from my hands (that is what he placed in them)    He looked at my palms in the candlelight and begin to “read” them.     The first thing from his mouth was that “You are successful in business”.   Interesting; as nobody has talked to him about me or JK, or anything else.       He said I was carrying some bad energy but it was gone;  That I have a lot of love in my life, and that I have two women who would die of love for me.  (Kristine and Emily, I assume), and that I have stress in my eyes and neck.      Hmmm…       He smiled and motioned me to the door,  I was done, it was time for Nick.     Nick had a similar experience, but different specifics.      We all enjoyed the time where a complete stranger was very interested in our physical and spiritual well being and the experience was relaxing and unique.     We still had mud on our faces from the nice lady, who was now cooking up today’s catch of little fish (big minnows, or small bluegill types) by frying them over a little campfire in a wok type of pan.     They were getting ready for lunch.      Toto was still hanging out and I got him out paddling the Day Tripper by himself.  He was having a good time; big smiles.

 

We got back into our kayaks and paddled Toto back to where his worldly belonging were stashed in a small plastic bag.   Two or three shirts, a dive mask, and maybe some shoes.     We all washed the mud off our faces in the on the little beach before heading back to where we started, a hour or so paddle back.      Along the way back we ran into several trees that were covered with the bird, called the Ibis.    What a cool concept, viewing the Ibis from the Ibis.     Kristine and I could paddle up close as the Ibis is a very quiet paddling boat, fast, glides well, and stable for taking photos.    We paddled past a couple of restaurants on stilts as we got in close to the city center and a new pier that they are working on.     We rounded the last bend and saw our hotel from the boat.    The total trip was only about 4 hours, but was filled with new experiences.      We were both smiling ear to ear and fired up for our next meal.

 

When we got back to the hotel they were already preparing dinner.    I had the chicken tacos.    There is something about the Mexicans, when it comes to making great food.   Tex/Mex is good,  true Mexican food is amazing, I think.   The sauces and meats are unique in their preparation.   The tortillas made fresh moments ago.    The vegetables are fresh from the area in most cases, as is the meat and dairy.    The seafood is fresh locally as well and it is clear what is in abundance in each area we go to based on what they are serving.      In this case it is chicken tacos.    With random free range chickens running around, I don’t think these are from far away.

 

After eating we headed back to the city of Veracruz and checked back into the Balaju hotel.   It was a 4 hour drive and we got in late.

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