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She Adventures -- Travel 2000 Writing Competition

Polly Letofsky, Vail, Colorado, USA

Grand prize winner!


Her Sweat Lodge Challenge...

Thirty-eight year old Polly Letofsky left her home in Vail, Colorado, last August to embark on a four-year, 18,000-mile Walk Around The World. It's a personal challenge for Polly as well as an awareness campaign for Breast Cancer, a disease that affects women of all cultures. As Polly was walking with friend Sandra through the Indian Reservation near the Colorado-Arizona border, they met a Native American woman who invited them to her tribe's "Sweat" to share her culture. Polly writes...

Ute and I Sweating together...

I can handle this...Della is a very graceful, petite, Native American woman who treasures her culture and heritage. I was thrilled when she invited me to the family Sweat as a way to experience the Ute culture and accept a spiritual embrace as I walk around "Mother Earth."

The "Sweat," a sacred, spiritual event amongst the Ute people, involves a lot of sweating. That's all I knew. The sweat lodge is a small canvas dome with a center pit for the hot rocks and represents the womb of Mother Earth. Being very Anglo, I thought I could handle this just fine, after all, I sit in the steam room at the Athletic Club all the time!

We got dressed into thin, cotton dresses that resembled hospital gowns and were given an introduction as to what we might expect. As women we should sit with our knees covered. The sweat should last about an hour and a half, and if we start to feel claustrophobic we should put our faces to the earth where it's cooler.

Barefoot into the Sweat Lodge...

Hisssss....As the night began to fall and thunder growled in the background we were led outside barefoot towards the sweat lodge. We entered clockwise around the rocks and each took a seat on the dirt floor.

The men entered across from us followed by Junior, a warm man with deeply set eyes, a big mop of gray hair, and skin resembling soft leather. As he threw water on the rocks they would hissssssss, and that seemed to be the cue. One of the men rose, closed the flap to the outside world and the twelve of us were now alone in the womb of Mother Earth.

Will Polly make it? Click here to find out.



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