This experience would have never happened if it wasn’t for friend and fellow traveler Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic. We were having a chat one day while I was in Lima and she told me I had to visit Eco Truly Park, a Hare Krishna community outside Lima.
As I began to explain that it wasn’t really my thing, she uttered the few words I can never pass up. She said, “C’mon you should do something different, it will be a very unique type of adventure.”
She knew just what to say. I was sold.
I left Lima 2 days later and ended up spending almost a week at the Eco Truly Park, volunteering for room and board as I learned about the Hare Krishna religion, ate like a vegetarian and entertained everyone with my terrible yoga ability.
I expected to feel completely out of place when I arrived. I expected monks and hippies to coach me on how to become a believer in Hare Krishna. I expected weird food, long days and awkward conversations.
It was nothing like I expected.
As soon as I arrived at the park workers and volunteers alike welcomed me with open arms and made me feel surprisingly comfortable in a very out-of-box situation. People explained to me what Hare Krishna was all about and I asked a ton of questions, but they never tried to convince me of anything.
I never felt pressured into believing anything they taught.
Also, the food was delicious! This was the longest I’ve ever gone without eating meat and it wasn’t as painful as I imagined. We had big bowls of fruit, yogurt and oats for breakfast, fresh salads, rice and beans for lunch, and really good pizza, pasta or veggie creation for dinner. Most of the ingredients came from within the park’s garden so everything was incredibly fresh.
The strawberries were also in season, so I think I ate my weight in those.
Our days were structured without feeling stressed. While many of the other volunteers joined the monks before sunrise each day to pray, sing and chant, I slept through that and joined them after for yoga class before breakfast.
Yoga is one of those things that I would love to make a habit of. It was a great start to the day, although I definitely scared some people with all my sweating and moaning as I tried to touch my toes.
After breakfast we divided up the daily chores and worked until lunch. Tasks included painting, gardening, kitchen maintenance and food prep. I stuck with the outdoor jobs and enjoyed myself with some much-needed manual labor.
My afternoons were free to wander along the adjoining beach, read, nap and just enjoy the peace and serenity of the place. One afternoon a volunteer from California taught a couples yoga class, which was fun, although some of the moves felt a little inappropriate for a place that believes in abstinence.
In the evenings, before dinner, I would join community members and volunteers in the temple for nightly prayer. It was really interesting to witness all their traditions and the songs were super chill and relaxing. It provided a great opportunity to think about and reflect on all things in my life.
One of the things I was most captivated by during my stay at the Eco Truly Park was the Trulys themselves. The cone like buildings that cover the property are architectural genius. Not only are they earthquake proof and heat regulating, but they also provide great acoustics and have incredible spiritual significance (no corners for energy to get stuck in). They were fascinating.
The few days I spent at the Hare Krishna community were some of the most relaxing and refreshing I’ve had in a long time. I recharged the travel battery while disconnecting from everything.
I don’t know if I’ll become a full-fledged Hare Krishna follower anytime soon but as a result of this experience I’ve added a few of their guiding principles into my everyday life.
More Info: Volunteer at the Eco Truly Park
Read Ayngelina’s Take: What You Can Learn from the Hare Krishnas