This yatchak explained there was one unoccupied valley where no westerner or outsider had ever been. He was a protector of this valley and kept it carefully guarded. But part of his prophesy was that when the time was right he was to take Westerners to open this valley to the rest of the world. He said his spirits had guided him toto invite my wife, Merri, and me as the first Westerners in this valley.
I had no idea then how special this valley was. Only later did I learn even in colonial times the Spanish had heard of this valley and believed it contained the fountain of youth. The valley is considered a spiritual center for the people in the Andes. The Spanish had wanted to go to the valley but the natives would not reveal its location. Rather than disclose information on this valley, hundreds accepted enslavement, torture and even death.
This was to be the first time these protectors had ever taken an outsider into the valley. We did not know this when Merri and I arrived with several friends we had invited to accompany us (two are medical doctors who are studying longevity) and one was our friend Jay Glaser M.D., a Harvard trained Doctor who specializes in Ayurveda (the healing science of India). He (along with Dr. Deepak Chopra) was medical director of the Maharishi Ayurvedic Health Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts. I had learned that the root of the Andean language Quichua was Sanskrit and wanted Jay to help me see how similar Andean healing was to Ayurveda. (We discovered many of the words and healing methods are identical or similar.) For example the valley is pronounced “Yanganatis” which means repeated sacred action. The Sanskrit word for this is “Yagya”. They both describe a medicinal plant as “Datura” and use it for healing in similar ways.
Eleven villages held a special meeting of the protectors to perform a rite of permission. Only then did we discover that even Ecuadorians had never been allowed to know the location of this valley. Only the healers and spiritual leaders of the Andes went there.
We started our journey at 4:30 a.m. riding into the mountains to a hiking point with six llamas that would carry our food, two young boys to herd the llamas, a cook, Taita Yatchak, his son and daughter.
We began hiking at about 10,500 feet, tramping through deep Alpine marsh for six hours as we ascended to 14,000 feet. Here we drank from the head waters of the Amazon Basin, held a ceremony to celebrate our entry and then descended straight down (4,000′) a hidden mud animal trail for three hours into a virtually impenetrable cloud forest, ripped by thorns, cut by razor grass, soaked, and caked in mud.
By the time we arrived in the valley, it was just minutes before dark. We were fatigued by the high altitude, bone weary from our packs, every muscle aching from fighting all day with the sucking mud (which had regularly pulled off our boots).
We stayed in a floorless, leaky thatch hut, sleeping on dirt, no heat except the cooking fire, no running water, nothing. The next morning, to our surprise we all felt wonderful! We explored the valley, which is perpetually wrapped in mist and fog. We swam in small icy, deep blue lagoons and did ancient exercises while Taita Yatchak talked with us. We were continually cold, wet, dirty and cramped-all 12 of us in this tiny hut with its earthen floor.
I cannot describe how we felt except to say none of us had ever had so much fun. There is something about the valley I cannot yet explain. Even at times when we were really worried about some of the party who had gone into shock from fatigue, there was never a moment of regret.
We discovered a magical quality to this Sacred Valley and after our return have found powerful emotional and physical evolutions happening to all of us. Merri and I, along with the others, feel physically stronger, more alert, more positive, more active and yet more serene than ever before in our lives. My body shape changed and I became much trimmer and stronger (though my weight remained the same).
Because of this remarkable journey which the Taita Yatchaks saw as an initiation for all the West to fly with the Andeans we are now able to share many Andean health secrets that have been hidden for 500 years with those to those seeking health and those who want to learn the spiritual value of this valley.
The Andean system of longevity is based on foundations of diet exercise and consciousness. Imbalances are dealt with through herbs, roots, saps and a cornucopia of other botanicals, bee sting acupuncture, hot spring and mud therapy, steam therapy and aura balancing with feathers, smoke and sound.
Our life has changed because of what we have learned. We have lost weight though we were not by any means overweight) and our bodies have shaped up wonderfully. In our mid 50s we have bounding energy. Our children, twenty to thirty years younger, often have trouble keeping up. More important we feel good every single day. This is good because the best way to assure a healthy future is to be happy and healthy today!
I highly encourage anyone interested in natural ways of attaining higher degrees of health and greater longevity to visit Ecuador, enjoy the beauty of this great Andean nation and learn from its history and people the different ways they use for better health. Few of us living in our fast paced Western world will become Taita Yatchaks or even use all the deep knowledge we gain.
Yet you’ll enjoy the journey and even using part of their deep wisdom can make your life, brighter, happier and healthier in many ways. For details on a special health and longevity trip to Ecuador that Merri and I are conducting with Health Science Institute and Dr. Jay Glaser go to https://www.garyascott.com/courses/.