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Solo travel after divorce: the trip that healed my heart and changed my life forever


This is the story about my 1st visit to Peru in 1995 after a horrible divorce. That trip changed my life and since then, I’ve been back 10 times. Each time I come home very different than when I got there. I have transformational travel stories from the past 20 years that I’ve written. I keep thinking one day I’ll put them into a book but have not done that yet.

Machu Picchu Peru is like a fairy-tale place, enchanted, magical; shrouded in mystery, remote, alone, and breathtakingly beautiful. Perched high on a mountaintop in the Andes, it is the Tibet of the Americas. This lofty city eluded discovery until the Yale archeologist, Hiram Bingham, "stumbled" upon it in 1911.

Many Incan sacred sites were looted and destroyed by the Spanish when they conquered the Inca in 1532, but they never found Machu Picchu. Its isolation and difficult accessibility spared the Inca’s most sacred spiritual center from ravage and dishonor. Perhaps the spirits of the ancient ones hid this sacred place like a mysterious secret. Protecting her like a blessed virgin, unblemished and holy so that modern day travelers like me could experience the spell of her innocent beauty and the transformative power of a place so pure.

“I set the intention that this would be a spiritual, healing journey to Peru.”

I set the intention that this would be a spiritual, healing journey to Peru. Stressed out from the obligations of home and work, plus still feeling broken and wounded from a devastating divorce 7 years earlier, I was totally consumed by my outer life. My journey began in the Incan capital of Cusco, high in the Andes Mountains. This high altitude seemed to symbolize my "high superior attitude", my ego of looking "down" on others. Totally focused outside myself.

I wandered down cobblestone streets past filled with people and children leading llamas. Entering the Koricancha – Temple of the Sun, I was astounded by exquisite stonework, unsurpassed anywhere in the world. Immense stones fitted together so perfectly without mortar that the thinnest knife blade cannot be inserted between them. Placing my hands on these ancient walls I felt a tingling energy emanate from them. A shift from outer to inner had been triggered.

“Placing my hands on these ancient walls I felt a tingling energy emanate from them. A shift from outer to inner had been triggered.”

At the ceremonial center of Sacsaywaman, outside of Cusco, I made an offering of 3 cocoa leaves, representing love, work, and wisdom to the Pachamama, the Mother Earth. I noticed a small dark cave which seemed to invite me into the womb of Pachamama. Feeling my way along the wall I had to trust that I would be guided to an exit from the darkness. It seemed I had been lost in the darkness of my life for such a long time. Finally I emerge into the sunlight, symbolically feeling reborn as an innocent child knowing an inner cleansing process had begun.

At the waters of Tambo Machay, which represents male and female consciousness coming together, I allow the water to flow over my hands. I touch my forehead and lips with wet fingertips and focus on bringing my own male and female aspects into balance. Since my divorce my feminine self-had kept me feeling weak and powerless. It was time to call on my male energy for support in standing tall, strong and getting on with my life. Inner discord would surely block the flow of wisdom waiting for me on the rest of my journey.

“Life often puts obstacles in my way that appear to block my path but I do not have to let them stop me.”

Leaving Cusco, my descent to the Sacred Valley prompts me to focus on descending deeper within myself. The road twists and turns, sometimes offering spectacular vistas and then suddenly my view is blocked. Could this be a metaphor for my life, a series of emotional peaks and valleys? Often I resist the valleys of my experience finding them undesirable. But this fertile Sacred Valley, rich with crops, reminds me how "rich with revelation" my own emotional valleys can be if I relax and settle into them.

At the site of Ollantaytambo, I find enormous pink granite stones that have carvings of large Pumas, the Andean cat which represent the physical plane. Sacred rock altars, each specific to certain areas of the body, are said to energetically heal. Lying down on a huge stone, I feel a vibration run through my spine and I rest in a meditative state for a short time. For the rest of my journey I have no aches and pains and I literally……sleep like a rock.

The next morning I board the train that will take me to Machu Picchu. The beauty of the Andean scenery captivates me with majestic snow-capped peaks in the distance as the train moves into the edge of the tropical jungle. The flowing water of the river, filled with huge rocks seems to carry me forward, deeper into my own inner mystery. It dawns on me, the water does not recognize the huge rocks as obstacles, it easily glides over or around them; the river never stops moving forward. Life often puts obstacles in my way that appear to block my path but I do not have to let them stop me.

“I stopped breathing with my first glimpse of this magical place I had wanted to visit for so long. My eyes filled with tears as I sighed and relaxed; I felt like I had come home.”

Arriving at the small town of Aguas Calientes, I board the bus that will take me up the mountain to Machu Picchu and I am filled with excitement, anticipation, and deep emotion. The engine strains as the bus climbs up the steep twisting dirt road. Gazing out the window I feel the presence of the Apus, the mountain spirits, looking down on me. Below is a spectacular view of the Urubamba River, the Willkamayu or sacred river, winding its way between the majestic peaks of the Andes. The mountains standing before me feel like intelligent, aware beings that have been waiting for me to arrive.

As we rounded the last curve, I stopped breathing with my first glimpse of this magical place I had wanted to visit for so long. My eyes filled with tears as I sighed and relaxed; I felt like I had come home. This place, the Lost City of the Incas, the Crystal City in the clouds, had been silently speaking to me like an absentee friend and now it was time for us to be together.

Machu Picchu’s allure is its mystery, filling your head with question after question. Serenity washed over me as I strolled through maze like stone passageways and climbed inviting stone staircases revealing secret rooms. I climb the curving stairway to the Intiwatana, Hitching Post of the Sun and the highest point in Machu Picchu to have a short meditation. Afterward I continue to explore, visiting the Temple of the 3 Windows, the sacred Pachamama stone, and marveling at the circular stone architecture at the Temple of the Sun.

I view the long grass plaza where gatherings and ceremonies were held and I sense the presence of the ancient ones still there. The tall feminine mountain, Huyanu Picchu sits on one side of the plaza, and the masculine peak of Machu Picchu mountain sits at the other end. The smaller peak of the Putakusi, the place of balance, sits between them, drawing the male and female energies together in harmony. Peace is found when everything is in balance….Machu Picchu offers this healing message to me.

Time stops as remnants of discord churning inside me dissipate, leaving only complete love and acceptance. This magical place is truly alive; the stones speak silent messages, giving insight and clarity to my own inner questions. Sitting quietly in meditation is effortless. I don’t fidget and resist being with myself as I do at home. Confusion and cobwebs disappear, my thinking is so clear. Revelations and creative ideas pop into my awareness, never before have I felt so wise.

I sense I am not alone and feel a familiar presence, an invisible personal guide, a mentor, a teacher, escorting me to places in the Crystal City that have revelations to share with me. Trials and tribulations of the "outer" material world are released. Genuine wisdom and true reality is found inside me; it is from here I create what I experience in my outer life.

“I am reminded that life is not complicated; I'm the one who makes it so.”

I am reminded that life is not complicated; I'm the one who makes it so. The answers are inside of me if I just remember to look there. Machu Picchu has taken me to that inner place of healing and wholeness. These ancient stones feel like trusted friends, giving me feedback, reconnecting me with simple truths that I have been blinded too with outer distractions. Spirit Elders welcome me with open arms like a wayward child coming home for comfort and assurance. I sit with them in ancient temples of stone and feel a complete sense of inner peace.

My journey in Peru has healed my heart and filled my Spirit with a renewed life force that I bring home to my day to day life. I know this positive energy will ooze out of me like rich thick honey spreading its sweetness to all I come in contact with. I know I am connected to this mystical land by an invisible thread that will continue to pull me back again and again. Pachamama and the Apus have much more to teach this humble traveler. 

My advice for anyone going through a divorce: 

Get help and support if you need it. For some, a divorce is not such an emotionally debilitating experience as mine was. I found I could not rise above the pain, anger and confusion of what was happening. I became extremely depressed and realized I needed help. I went into therapy during the divorce process to help me deal with the reality, yes, this was happening to me. After the divorce was final, I found being in a weekly divorce support group tremendously helpful. Listening to the stories of what others had gone through as their marriage ended and being able to talk about mine, helped lift the heavy burden I was carrying. The healing takes time, but you will survive it.