After a decade, I’ve learned that travel isn’t about what you take away,
but what you leave behind. BY LISA RUEFF
KATE HOLSTEIN (OPPOSITE); SUZA SCALORA
If you told me a few years ago I’d be working on a humanitarian venture with English business magnate Richard Branson and leading a philanthropic journey with Queen Noor of Jordan, I’d have thought you off your rocker. At age 40, I had precious few celebrity contacts and was feeling burned out after teaching
yoga for the past 10 years, although I did enjoy leading yoga groups on
adventure tours through my Sausalito-based company yoga Ventures.
the big change began after I met a kindred spirit named Gina Murdock,
a yoga teacher living in Aspen, and we decided to plan a yoga-based
humanitarian service trip to the legendary Machu Picchu.
In my wildest dreams, I never imagined a little more than a year
later we’d be in the heart of the British Virgin Islands on Branson’s own
Necker Island, raising our glasses with the man himself in the luxury
retreat he purchased at a stunningly low price in 1978. Here’s how this
life-altering series of events unfolded.
In october 2011 Murdock and I led our first service-based yoga trip
together to Peru. We both had always wanted to visit Machu Picchu and
had heard intriguing stories about the Sacred Valley. We gathered 15
participants and set out for the breathtaking country.
trip highlights included a visit to Cusco, a picturesque town near
the urubamba Valley in the Andes Mountains situated at more than
11,000 feet, where we explored cobblestone streets, historic sites and
sacred ruins. We also spent time in the elaborate Chakra Gardens
— each of the seven gardens is designed to correspond to the seven
chakras of the human body — in the Sacred Valley and ventured on to
the City of the Incas, Machu Picchu.
While in the Sacred Valley we took the group to the Casa de
Milagros orphanage, where we provided children with supplies
and clothes. the children loved to be held and played with, and our