Musings, Inspirations, and Adventures


I intend this blog to be a safe and inspiring space for me to share and express myself intentionally and without the noise and not-so-fun side of social media. I also intend it to be a living, breathing, ongoing conversation. I welcome your thoughts, questions, and even your disagreements…let’s connect, share ideas, explore the world, and this thing called life together!

National Geographic Student Volunteer Rafting Trip

Marcito and Seth

Fourth of July weekend proved to be quite eventful at Casa de Milagros!

We were graced with a group of seventeen high-schoolers with a National Geographic Student volunteer group.  They arrived on Saturday and we spent most of the day putting them to work!  They helped garden, level out the back field, and taught the kids some photography skills.  My good friend Aiden came by on Saturday as well to put on an english class for the kids and some of the staff.  In the afternoon, Jorge and his dance group, the newly-dubbed “SkyWalkers” put on a performance for our guests that blew everyone away!  That evening after dinner, we had a party in celebration of our guests, and a few of our kids’ birthdays.  It was my first official Casa birthday party – and it was a blast!  I even got our shy little Illari to come out and blow out her candles ;-)

That night, Marie, Allen and their family welcomed their newest member – Asher Allen Patton into the world!  Born on the Fourth of July like a true Gringo! ;-)  Marie’s amazing mid-wife, Leonie, and her fabulous assistant, Kata, were sleeping in the volunteer quarters with me, so I had a clue what was going on as they raced out of the room at 3:00 AM and came back buzzing with excitement an hour and a half later.  Asher sure took his time, but he finally came and he is perfect. Best of all, Marie can take a break from being pregnant and soak in being a new baby’s mommy! ;-)

Me and the Kiddos geared up and ready to GO!

It was hard to leave Casa with a new-born in the midst, but the Nat Geo group had planned an incredible excursion for the kids on Sunday.  So we all boarded a bus early Sunday morning and headed out to Ollantaytambo for our very first rafting trip!  We got to take most of the kids, a few of the mamis and papis, and all of the Nat Geo volunteers.  I was slightly nervous, but mostly so excited to finally go river rafting – and down the Urubamba River with Inca ruins lining our path…incredible.  The kids had a blast, as did I, and we are so very thankful to our new friends for their hard work and generosity.  Best Fourth of July ever – topped off with some Peruvian fireworks courtesy of Allen ;-)

Click Here to see the Pics!

The Road to Abancay

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My crazy Irish friend, Aiden, decided we needed to take a road trip. So we decided to head out of Cusco and to the state of Apurimac, to the town of Abancay. I knew very little about this region of Peru, but Aiden had heard about some great ruins and a natural preserve that were supposed to be pretty cool.  So off we went…

The adventure started with us getting a bus ticket at the Cusco terminal – which has now been moved to very far outside of town…we finally found it, and got the last ticket for the day aboard a double decker tour bus.  We braced ourselves for an always-exciting bus ride through the Peruvian Andes. Despite the constant fear for my life – I couldn’t help but be in awe at the amazing beauty of the scenery. I had never driven so far out of Cusco – the ride was four hours of winding down the Andes and one visual splendor after another…

At one point near Abancay, Aiden tells me “I think this is it” and proceeds to tell the bus driver to let us out right there. I looked around, saw that we were in the middle of nowhere, and said, “are you kidding me??” He assured me he kinda knew where this thing was, so he grabbed my bag, and we hopped off the bus. As it drove off, and I realized I was in the middle of the Andes miles from the main town, I felt a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach.  So, off we went…

We began hiking down a path off the side of the road, and soon, began to see other signs of life, and a few actual human beings. We asked a local man if this was the road to Saiwite – and he kinda nodded yes. For those who haven’t been to the Andes, you will learn that when someone tells you “it’s just over there”…either it’s actually quite farther than that, they have no idea whatsoever, or they are just straight-up lying to you. So, we proceeded, and soon saw this amazing little boy with his llama. I fell in love with them both immediately, and took this great photo, that still doesn’t do them justice, but I think it’s pretty awesome.

After paying what we think was a park employee about 10 soles each to proceed, we see off in the distance this immense boulder. We walked up and couldn’t believe what we saw…this legendary Monolith of Saiwite was right in front of us…it was amazing.


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First Month in Cusco ~ Reflections Under the Moon

One month in Peru – first thoughts on paper…such a whirlwind…what’s new?

I am at Hanaq Pacha laying in my room, watching the fire dance in my own little fireplace, and listening to the cascading waterfalls that are seemingly all around me…Last night’s full moon is still full and bright – magically illuminating the endless clusters of stars in the sky.  This is a truly sacred, magical place.

Cusco is different this time around. I knew the honeymoon image of Cusco would make way to the reality, and that living here is quite different than visiting for a few days.

It’s been challenging to realize that this magical place also has its dark sides, and its never-ending contradictions. So much beauty and spirit, but the darkness can get to you if you let it…particularly after the frustration of having my cell phone and my wallet stolen.

However, I can honestly say that I still feel absolutely blessed to be here. I have to remind myself that this is a unique experience in so many ways. I have not lived outside of the United States since I was a very young girl, and this is my first time spending more than a few weeks in Peru as an adult. I wanted this, I manifested it, and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to support such an amazing organization.

The kids help remind me why I’m here, and they have been amazing. Will write more later – I think I’ll take a little moonlit stroll and soak in the moon’s energy for a bit…did I mention I am blessed? ;-)

Inti Raymi 2010

I have dreamed of being in Cusco for Inti Raymi for many years, and it is surreal that I am here now!  For those who don’t know, Inti Raymi, or “Festival of the Sun” is a week-long festival that culminates on the Winter Solstice, and marks the start of their new year.  The Inca worshipped the Sun as their main God, so both the summer and winter solstice were very important times of the year – in particular the winter.

Some facts according to Wikipedia:

“During the Inca Empire, the Inti Raymi was the most important of four ceremonies celebrated in Cusco, as related by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. The ceremony was also said to indicate the mythical origin of the Incas, lasting nine days of colorful dances and processions, as well as animal sacrifices to ensure a good cropping season. The last Inti Raymi with the Inca Emperor’s presence was carried out in 1535, after which the Spanish conquest and the Catholic Church suppressed it. Some natives participated in similar ceremonies in the years after, but it was completely prohibited in 1572 by the Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, who claimed it was a pagan ceremony opposed to the Catholic faith.

Since 1944, a theatrical representation of the Inti Raymi has been taking place at Sacsayhuamán (two km. from Cusco) on June 24 of each year, attracting thousands of tourists and local visitors.  In 1944, a historical reconstruction of the Inti Raymi was directed by Faustino Espinoza Navarro and indigenous actors. The first reconstruction was largely based on the chronicles of Garcilaso de la Vega and only referred to the religious ceremony.”

My fellow Board member and friend, Robin was with me throughout the week, and we woke up early on the 24th to take in the main event in the Plaza de Armas.  We sat our butts down on the very cold Cathedral steps for four hours so that we could get good seats to the performance.  As mentioned above, Inti Raymi is essentially a three act play that is performed across the city of Cusco.  Act I begins at 6:00 AM at Qoricancha, Act II begins around 11 AM in the Plaza de Armas, and Act III culminates at the top of Sacsayhuamán ruins overlooking the city.  Robin and I watched Act 2 and made the long uphill trek to Sacsayhuamán to catch the tail end of the Final Act.  The colors, the music, the dancing, and the energy were just…electric.  Yes, over the years the festival has become pretty “touristy” – but thankfully I have made many local friends, and have been able to learn about and participate in some of the more traditional festivities as well.  All in all – Inti Raymi 2010 was a fabulous, unforgettable experience!

You can see the rest of my Inti Raymi pics HERE.

Random Thoughts…

I’m back in Cusco ;-)  3 times in about a year and a half…pretty amazing.  Especially considering that I hadn’t been to Peru in 12 years just a year and a half ago…
This time is different for many reasons…much more purposeful, grounded and for a more substantial amount of time.  3 months will give me the opportunity to “dig in” and get a sense of what living here might be like – something important if I plan on doing so in the future.

What’s New – April 2010

Summer already?? Seems I was just writing you to wish you a Happy New Year and let you know about my upcoming trip to Peru…Well – my trip came and went…it was amazing as I knew it would be, and my life has shifted in many ways ever since…

After meeting the children and family at Casa de Milagros – I was more sure than ever before that I wanted to be a part of this cause for many years to come, and wanted to be of service in a bigger way. Unfortunately, we all suffered a major loss on February 20th when Mama Kia, the founder of the Casa, lost her battle with cancer. Her passing left many questions and even more to-do’s, which the Board has been consumed with over the last couple of months. In the days after, we were able to travel to Florida to be with Mama Kia’s biological children, and discuss with her daughter Marie what logistics need to be taken care of in order to keep the Casa running smoothly. Due to severe flooding in the Sacred Valley – the Casa sustained some structural damage, and the kids had to be evacuated to a mission in Cusco for almost two months. Thankfully they were very well taken care of, and are now back at home; with limited access due to the damage to parts of the home.

Needless to say – the Board and I have our work cut out for us. There are many administrative and operational projects on the Casa plate for the next few months. It was decided that I would return this summer for a few months to give support to Marie, assist with managing several projects, and be an on-the-ground liaison for the Board as we implement some new procedures and marketing objectives. I feel so honored, and incredibly blessed to be entrusted with this responsibility. Most of all, I just can’t wait to be back at Casa de Milagros and with the kids!

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to see my pics from last trip – you can see them here:

An Irish Blessing

Amidst the alcoholic Irish jokes – I received quite a beautiful little diddy…thought I might share:

May you always have…
Walls for the winds
A roof for the rain
Tea beside the fire
Laughter to cheer you
Those you love near you
And all your heart might desire.

Wishing you all a lovely and safe St Paddy’s…



I remember an old website my friend turned me on to a few years back called Daily Om. I received their daily words of enlightened thought for months, and then decided to unsubscribe…not because it wasn’t good content – but because I was in email overload, as most of us can relate to. Anyhow – just randomly thought of it today and decided to check out the day’s inspiration. Most appropriately, it was on the topic of forgiveness…a topic that has been front and center in my life over the past year. Definite food for thought…

“Daily Om”
April 14, 2010
An Empowered Perspective: Importance of Forgiveness

In order to forgive, we need to try and stop identifying ourselves with the suffering that was caused.

When someone has hurt us, consciously or unconsciously, one of the most difficult things we have to face in resolving the situation is the act of forgiveness. Sometimes it feels like it’s easier not to forgive and that the answer is to simply cut the person in question out of our lives. In some cases, ending the relationship may be the right thing to do, but even in that case, we will only be free if we have truly forgiven. If we harbor bitterness in our hearts against anyone, we only hurt ourselves because we are the ones harboring the bitterness. Choosing to forgive is choosing to alleviate ourselves of that burden, choosing to be free of the past, and choosing not to perceive ourselves as victims.

One of the reasons that forgiveness can be so challenging is that we feel we are condoning the actions of the person who caused our suffering, but this is a misunderstanding of what is required. In order to forgive, we simply need to get to a place where we are ready to stop identifying ourselves with the suffering that was caused us. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, and our forgiveness of others is an extension of our readiness to let go of our own pain. Getting to this point begins with fully accepting what has happened. Through this acceptance, we allow ourselves to feel and process our emotions.

It can be helpful to articulate our feelings in writing over a period of days or even weeks. As we allow ourselves to say what we need to say and ask for what we need to heal, we will find that this changes each day. It may be confusing, but it is a sign of progress. At times we may feel as if we are slogging uphill through dense mud and thick trees, getting nowhere. If we keep going, however, we will reach a summit and see clearly that we are finally free of the past. From here, we recognize that suffering comes from suffering, and compassion for those who have hurt us naturally arises, enhancing our new perspective.

Three people immediately came to mind. It’s been very difficult for me in life to know when to cut someone out of my life, vs. continue to try to make things better. I realize that most of the time the decision is made for me – some external force just forces us apart, or we just…drift… In the few instances where I make a clean break, it is usually extenuating circumstances. Today I realize how much pain and suffering I have caused myself by holding onto self-created anger and resentment.  I am not an angry person, and I want to let it go.

I want to forgive. I am open to forgiving. I forgive. I love.

Last Day of My 20’s…


Should I be out on the town?

Should I have a bunch of friends over drinking wine?

Should I be cataloging all of my experiences from this last decade of life??

So much pressure!! There’s definitely a poignant aspect to any new decade of life…makes you reassess; analyze what you’ve done with your life so far and what you still have to do.

For now, I’m going to get off the computer, join some friends, and have a fun time…after all, it’s my last night to be an irresponsible 20 something! ;-p

Happy Birthday to ME!! xoxo

Cusco Revisited…

One year later – returning to the land that filled me with so much inspiration and energy exactly one year ago. Many lessons on this trip, some still in the works and others coming through loud and clear. I am being gently and not-so-gently reminded that life is a continuous cycle of change and transition – it has to be – and those of us who try to hold onto moments will be consistently disillusioned and disappointed.

This is not the same Cusco of a year ago – just as I am not the same person. This trip was different for many reasons – both in purpose and in context. This was not a vacation; yet I have had great fun, met some wonderful people, and seen some amazing things.

Casa de Milagros was incredible. My heart has never felt so full of love, and so confident that I am doing exactly what I need to be doing with my life, and with my energy.

I will write more soon – for now, here are my pics:  Peru Pics – January, 2010

Claudia Miró

A journey of blogging, traveling, and creative living.

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