It is June 2004.
I had just spend almost two days traveling from South Africa to Urubamba, the Sacred Village of the Inka in Peru.
Exhausted from flying, nervous and anxious about embarking on a vision quest and retreat with people I hardly knew, doing hikes in mountains the size I have never seen before…(and a fear of heights)…
My first memory is that of a young man with the most wide and welcoming smile as he opened the big thick wooden door in the white washed wall that created a safe sanctuary at the end of the village.
I immediately relaxed and felt that this is exactly as I imagined the Peruvian people to be.
He ushered me in, helping with my luggage and showing me the room I was sharing with two other women during the retreat.
A few minutes later he arrived with a warm cup of coca tea with a big lump of brown sugar in to help with the overpowering altitude headache and tiredness I was suddenly experiencing.
From that day and onward his presence and incredible knowledge of the Andean practices became my inspiration during not only that retreat, but also dealing with life itself.
Humberto held the relationships with the Quero and also the Shipipo who came to the retreat centre. He was the expert mountain guide and knew when it was safe to go and where. When everyone ignored me, he came to show a newcomer how to walk safely, finding balance on narrow mountain paths on the edges of cliffs.
Not only that, he knew how to find all the best ingredients in the town and cook the most incredibly nutritious Andean recipes. His chocolate cake was legendary, and was often served while sitting around a camp fire he made while we camped on the mountains.
In addition, he was an expert in creating the amazing Andean healing modalities while also taking care of all the ancestral teachings.
After dedicating his entire life to apprenticeship with the family he worked for, when I tried to contact Humberto, I discovered that he was now married, had children and taken to be a taxi driver in Cusco. Despite my best effort, his previous employers refuse to provide information about his whereabouts.
It is my mission to find Humberto, and thank and honour for what he did for me.
It is also my intention to shine a light on the often silent masters of indigenous wisdom, the porters and all those who make retreats happen but get very little acknowledgement.
I hope that some day people find him and have the opportunity to learn from him.
Humberto, if you find this, I hope you contact me. I can’t wait to bring friends to meet you.
Picture below: author with group on retreat in June 2006 with Humberto in photograph.