Cecilia Velástegui was born high up in the Andes mountains in Quito, Ecuador, where she spent her childhood. Although she now lives at sea level in Monarch Beach, California, she still has two friendly alpacas, Tupac and Khipus. Cecilia was raised in California and France, and has traveled extensively in over 50 countries. Her favorite country is always the most recent country she visited.
She received her graduate degree from the University of Southern California, and speaks four languages. She was a marriage and family therapist, but now she is a devoted writer. Cecilia is on the board of directors of several cultural and educational institutions.
High in the Andes Mountains on the legendary Inca Trail, four thirty-something professional women embark on an Ivy League hike to help them confront their online dating dependency, only to find themselves victims of a predator's ruse, and soon in a fight for their very lives. The women are eager to leave relationships behind for a while, but their intent to cast off their search for a soul mate falls by the wayside when handsome, magnetic Rodrigo, their hike leader, proves too mesmerizing to resist. Friend is pitted against friend as the women vie for Rodrigo's attentions. Rodrigo manipulates them into participating in a heinous ancient sacrifice that will guarantee the success of his megalomaniacal dreams. But unbeknownst to the hikers, they have been under the vigilant presence of Taki and Koyam, two elderly indigenous women who understand the danger the women are facing at the hands of Rodrigo.
What would you risk to relive the bliss?
In the affluent Los Feliz enclave of Los Angeles, five welathy seniors recall vivid memories of ancestors after Claire, a young massage therapist, uses her grandmother's speically blended, Amazonian, aromatherapy oil. The seniors' live-in caregivers, each with a rich history, are inevitably caught up in the drama as the past collides with the present.
The caregivers divulge details of the memories to Alma Ruiz, a pseudo-homeopath, amateur genealogist, and pathological liar. She conspires with Soledad to dupe the vulnerable seniors into paying them vast amounts for memory retrieval reenactments. Alma and Soledad's transgressions awaken the buried shamanistic sense of Octavio, a gifted gardener who immigrated to Los Angeles seeking revenge from the oil companies that dumped oil in the Shuar tribal lands of Amazonian Ecuador. He reacts instinctively to protect Claire and the susceptible seniors.
Traces of Bliss reveals how memory can travel through the blood, and how much we are willing to sacrifice for lost treasures from the past.
Modern-day human traffickers and art thieves extort a wealthy Laguna Beach, California, art collector, Paloma Zubiondo, by offering to release a young Ecuadorian sex slave in exchange for one of Paloma's treasured seventeenth-century Spanish Colonial paintings, purportedly a stolen painting of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. An epic tale of interwoven narratives that connects art theft and sex trafficking to the palpable triumphs and pathos of three historical indigo maidens: artist, Isabel Santiago from 1699 Ecuador; printing heiress, Maria de Rivera Calderon y Benavides from 1754 Mexico City; and social activist sentenced to San Quentin prison, Modesta Avila from 1889 San Juan Capistrano.