Archive for July, 2009

Peru’09 Program A Success

Peru'09 Group in Cuzco

Peru'09 Group in Cuzco with Chimu Inka

Facilitators Guillermo Seminario and Randy Richards are back in Cusco after leading a truly unique 14-day program.  “We set out to offer something that connects our participants with the culture, the people and land of Peru, and we did it” says Richards.  MSI’s programs and mission are inspired from both: a) Outward Bound experiential education programs, where participants practice community building, self-reliance, compassion and “stretching out of their comfort zones”, and b) a holistic learning center such as the Omega Institute in Reinbeck, NY. However our version of a “holistic learning center” is mobile.

R & G all decked out on the Peruvian coast

R & G all decked out on the Peruvian coast

The program went off without a hitch, and the participants left feeling like they not only learned immensely about Peru, its people and history, but also something about themselves.  The image at right is the group with Guillermo Seminario and fellow band members at the Rettama Restaurant in Cuzco. Guillermo took time off from the band in order to co-facilitate the trip.

Stay tuned – Since Randall didn’t have time to do journal entries while on the program, expect to see details on the program’s stop-overs in upcoming entries. These will be posted on (roughly) a daily basis starting tomorrow. We will cover elements of the program the exemplify the tenets of MSI.

The Enigma of the Nazca Lines


The Enigma of the Nazca Lines
By Amanda Richards

Trapezoid Designs

Trapezoid Designs

Peru is an incredibly beautiful, diverse and historically rich country. The Peruvian people are an upbeat, warm and friendly culture, with a sense of optimism. The country is a magical place, considered the spiritual center of the Americas. Cusco, the outlying Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu all have a special feeling to which no picture can do justice, not to mention the physical beauty of the land and the warmth of its people.
The Mountain Spirit Peru ’09 program is in its 11th day and the group are in Ica, having spent the day at the famous Nazca Lines. The Nazca Lines are an enigma. No one has proof who built them or why.
I came across a great article by Holly Hayes on her website
Writes Hayes, “The Nazca Lines are giant sketches drawn in the desert of western Peru by ancient peoples. The drawings were created on such a large scale is such that the shapes can be readily discerned only from the air, leading to a variety of theories about their purpose.”
 “Since their discovery, the Nazca Lines have inspired fantastic explanations from ancient gods, a landing strip for returning aliens, a celestial calendar created by the ancient Nazca civilization — putting the creation of the lines between 200 BC and 600 AD, used for rituals probably related to astronomy, to confirm the ayllus or clans who made up the population and to determine through ritual their economic functions held up by reciprocity and redistribution, or a map of underground water supplies. To read the rest of this article on Hayes’s website click here.

Cultural Immersion, The Creative Way


By Amanda Richards

Machu Picchu

The Mountain Spirit Peru 2009 cultural immersion trip is already into Day 4 of the exciting program. The group  of 7 clients with Randy Richards and Guillermo Seminario as their facilitators,  are currently at Ollantaytambo, staying with Anna Sequiros and her family. Today is a day to learn more about local customs, sustainable agriculture, women’s issues and visit the local school. The group will also help prepare their own meal, which for some will include preparing and eating guinea pig – a national dish of Peru. Tomorrow they will set off for Machu Picchu and discover more about the richness of the Inca Empire. An excellent book to learn more about the ruins is by Peter Frost, ‘Exploring Cusco’.

I am here in Cusco, my fourth day in Peru. Randy has always spoken so fondly of the Peruvian people and I am experiencing what he means.The people are so open and gentle and kind, its a delight to be here. The group will be back in Cusco on Saturday and we will spend some time with the very special Chimu Inkas – Guillermo, Mario and WachChimu Inkasi.

The Earth is Hiring


Commencement Address to the Class of 2009
University of Portland, May 3rd, 2009
By Paul Hawken

Help Wanted: Good Custodians

Help Wanted: Good Custodians

When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” Boy, no pressure there.

But let’s begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation – but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement.

Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades. (more…)

The American Bedouin


Reconnecting with a Mentor
By R. Richards, MSI Founder

Screen Shot of "American Bedouin"

Screen Shot of "American Bedouin"

According to an excellent 2007 Aljazeera Feature video, Erga Rehns  has been living the life of a Bedouin in the desert with the Bedouin tribes of Wadi Rum  for seven years. I’m not sure if she still does though. I’ll have to do more research in order to contact her again. The last, (and first) time I saw her in person was in 1981, when we first met at her little art studio and home in Obidos, Portugal.

Some people are lucky enough to be a primed for a turning point in their young lives, and come across just the right person at the right time that poses questions, and challenges one’s view of the world – who plants the seed for a paradigm shift. Most people aren’t’ aware they’re ready for that change, until years later, when they realize the shift was primed by those mentors. (more…)

The Rules…


The Rules for Being Human
I’ve used this reading in the wilderness for programs when the participants were having a particularly difficult time adjusting to the wilderness or the circumstances presented to them at the time.   It’s also had a place on my refrigerator over the years. I don’t recall the author.

Meditating in Ecuador

Meditating in Ecuador

1. You will receive a body.
You may like it or hate it but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.
2. You will learn lessons.
You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irreveleant and stupid.
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.
Growth is a process of trial and error, experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.” (more…)