Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Given what's going on all around my own country...and the world, I pledge:
An original Dharma Comic by Leah Pearlman
A PLEDGE FOR GRATEFUL LIVING
-- Brother David Steindl-Rast
In thanksgiving for life, I pledge
to overcome the illusion of entitlement
by reminding myself that everything is gift
and, thus, to live gratefully.
In thanksgiving for life, I pledge
to overcome my greed,
that confuses wants with needs,
by trusting that enough for all our needs is given to us
and to share generously
what i so generously receive.
In thanksgiving for life, I pledge
to overcome apathy
by waking up to the opportunities
that a given moment offers me
and so to respond creatively to every situation.
In thanksgiving for life, I pledge
to overcome violence
by observing that fighting violence by violence
leads to more violence and death
and, thus, to foster life by acting non-violently.
In thanksgiving to life, i pledge
to overcome fear which is the root of all violence
by looking at whatever i fear as an opportunity
and, thus, courageously to lay the foundation
for a peaceful future.
The joy and satisfaction of Simple Gifts --
Monday, November 17, 2014
Thay, as Thich Nhat Hanh is affectionately known
As I move through the days, the importance of the counsel from many of my teachers was forcefully brought home last week with the news of beloved Thich Nhat Hanh's critical health condition.
As it is taught, our human birth is very rare and precious. Vipassana teacher Kamala Masters wrote, "If this is so -- and even if it isn’t -- I ask myself this question: Am I taking care to live my life in a way that honors this precious human birth and makes the best use of it?"
My intention is to be mindful -- with each moment, each person acknowledged, each occasion lived fully. With this awareness, I share more of the simple daily moments and events as I live it out here in this lovely part of the earth plane.
Bus transportation -- the essential mode, besides walking, for getting around locally and long-distance.
One of the many helpful bus drivers on my routes
Every bus has an assistant to collect fares
On our way to Quiroga
I was thrilled one day to see a camper similar in size and type to mine in "el centro" of Otavalo. OF COURSE, after noticing that there were people in it, I HAD to knock and talk to them.
Here are Lionel, Nelly, Anna, and Nils, a lovely French family who are traveling from Uruguay to the USA via the Pan-American highway over a year's period. They shipped their camper to Uruguay and thus began their life-changing and inspiring journey! (OH! between Lionel and Nelly is "mi comadre" (the mother of my god son, Santiago -- but that's a story for the next blog)!
Meet Nayibe, a lovely Colombian woman who has lived in Ecuador for almost a year. She worked at a stationary/internet store in Cotacachi, where I met her. Talkative me, I inquired one day about her particular busy-ness. She said this was her last day at work, that she had been granted asylum in Canada (because of an abusive husband in Colombia) and she was trying to find a suitcase because she and her 17-yr. old son were leaving in FIVE DAYS. I said I had one she could have, and so our acquaintance began deepening to a friendship.
After coffee in a local cafe the Saturday before her departure we went to an internet shop so that she was able to video chat with family and friends in Colombia before her departure. I'm so happy to have had the opportunity to get to know this wonderful person, and now to follow her progress in her new environment!
There's a small organic farmers' market each Saturday in my neighborhood. Here are some photos from one shopping day:
Going clockwise--bananas, two big bunches of chard, mandarins, lemons, apples, peaches and one big papaya in the middle -- all for under $7.
My morning kitchen ritual ALWAYS includes...grinding some Intag, Ecuador dark beans and brewing a cupa' cupa' in my stainless steel Italian coffee maker that I carted here
Sometimes I drink it black and sometimes with some "panela" which looks like brown sugar, but is actually unrefined whole cane sugar that I either buy in a brick and grate, or buy already grated and packaged.
Now off to the central plaza on a beautiful Sunday, Parque Simon Bolivar, where the church, Iglesia San Luis is located (as well as the main municipal building), where families stroll and gather.
An Otavalan Indian couple out for a Sunday stroll
"Rico coco! Rico coco!" A fellow from the coast peddling fresh coconut juice
A young Ecuadorian family posing for me, the children enjoying ice cream
Peddling fresh sugar cane to suck on
Members of an Otavalan Indian family enjoying the day
The uibiquitous single braid of the male Otavalan Indian, typically done each morning by wife or mother
Later on Sunday I visited Zulinda in her lovely home and we went out for lunch to "Rincon Otavalito" --
Zulinda giving the young Otavalan Indian her order
Afternoon entertainment too -- folk music from the Andes, with dad and three brothers playing and singing
Kamala Masters has written a beautifully articulated piece about the preciousness of our human birth:
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Here is the home of Adelaida and Amrita, out in the country between Otavalo and Quiroga -- ALL three (including the house!) welcoming me to this new adventure. I spent my first month here after my September 25th arrival.
Enjoying morning coffee with Adelaida on the back patio
My god daughter, Amrita, camera-shy these days, let me take this photo a few weeks ago
In the kitchen, with humitas in process (masa harina and corn, slowly steamed in a pot of water, a savory treat)
Adelaida manually grinding the corn
The balcony outside my upstairs room at Adelaida's, the neighbor's greenhouse in the background and the Tibetan prayer flags dear Diana sent to Adelaida in the foreground
Clothes drying on other side of the second floor balcony, which wraps completely around the house
Adelaida's neighbors Hugh and Colette and their lovely home and small hostal; you can see that they are a (very short) stone's throw from Adelaida's; they are AVID gardeners...AND she couldn't ask for better neighbors
From Adelaida's I moved into Otavalo town right next door to the University of Otavalo. Downstairs is the restaurant Hierba Buena and upstairs the four bedroom flat
Martha, the owner, is an experienced restauranter. She designed the house and restaurant to her specifications. Here she is with a traditional Ecuadorian dessert which she made, quimbolitos, a tamale-like steamed sweet cake wrapped in an achira leaf
Martha has four employees in the restaurant; here is Jacqueline, the senior kitchen assistant
Here is Maria Luz (the third kitchen staff, Luis, is new and I haven't gotten a photo of him yet)
(Yes, he is as amicable as he appears!)
Lino Pastor, a Colombian with Ecuadorian residence, has been restaurant administrator for Martha for several years
I asked a passerby to take a photo of me, walking (as usual) through a park to "el pueblo" which, in this case, would be Otavalo; more photos from my walk follow:
My friend Lucho, computer technician and owner of this small shop near the bus terminal in Otavalo where he does maintenance and repair, as well as having computers for public use
I have been going intermittantly to a (Chinese) doctor of Chinese medicine, who speaks halting Spanish and no English:
Poster in the office
Poster outside office listing all the ailments Chinese medicine can help with
Me during a session (I've been bothered by limitation in movement of my right upper arm); you can see some of the needles (with hook-ups on each to send an electrical impulse where the needle is placed)
Sooooooooo...a small glimpse of my life here, a little of this, a little of that. I spent today with my *other* god child, Santiago, a 17-year old Otavalan Indian. I'll treat you to photos of that encounter soon, after one more "days-in-the-life" blog.
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
We now return to our regular programming playing catch-up, so that I can begin sharing with you in the "present tense," here in Ecuador! And I believe this is last in the "catch-up" series -- my lovely, bittersweet stay with sister Dawn in her amazing condo in Pacifica (about 10 minutes from the airport, at least at 5:00am in the morning!)
The packing process was cumbersome and tedious and Dawn and her lovely housemate were long-suffering and generous about the mess. Of course, beyond that, Dawn was over-the-top helpful in too many ways to recount at this point -- counsel, trips for last-minute things in her car, free attendance at her wonderful yoga classes newdawnyoga.com/ , storage of *stuff* in her garage that wouldn't fit luggage weight requirements, handling the bookkeeping for contributions coming in for Amrita's education, taking me to the airport before dawn (no pun intended), etc.
And did I mention that Dawn was in the midst of chemotherapy for colon cancer...a "small" detail which did not deter this warrior woman from being SO present for me in SO many ways (I am thrilled to say that she has finally completed the chemo and is getting close to 100% "back in the saddle," currently as a senior teacher assisting her teacher with a yoga therapy training program as I write this.
Two days before the September 24 departure was gorgeous and Dawn and I walked down to the village (guess why it's called "Pacifica?") --
This is basically the view from Dawn's front room picture window
Dawn's neighbor and friend, Victor, took a few photos of us as we started the trek down the hill
Dear Dawn in all her glory!
Beauty on the trail
Getting closer to the pier
The day before departure was wearing on, packing and weighing (and re-weighing, ad naseum) of suitcases continued, and suddenly the phone rings. It's Jnani and Annie, announcing that they're heading over from San Francisco with food for dinner. It was a welcome relief, comic relief at that, from the heaviness of the task at-hand!
Dawn in the kitchen grating some cheese, as I recall
Jnani (left) and Annie at the table
These women are surely solving some of the world's problems (a huge wall mirror is at Jnani's back)
What a lovely send-off by three beautiful sisters, in addition to all the love and support and substantial assistance that was offered to me by my Bay Area and Sacramento family. To paraphrase HIPPICHICK , "It takes a village to get Maha ready. My village is pretty groovy!!"
One sister was sorely missed...Diana-in-Maui, who sent me these soft, warm, pretty flannel jammies for Ecuador nights. The amazing trip we had together in the Toyota Dolphin cruising up from San Diego to San Francisco in June *almost* made up for her absence.
Sunday, November 02, 2014
We now interrupt regular programming to bring you an out-of-order report because...well, it's TIME! Time to share how things are going with my 14-year old god daughter Amrita (whose quinceañera will be December 30!) in the new private school in Cotacachi, Ecuador, with smaller classes and ostensibly more personalized attention.
Amrita, who is extremely reticent about having her picture taken, acquiesced recently and let me take a couple shots.
In September, at the suggestion of a friend with whom I had shared a conversation I had with Amrita's mother Adelaida about her quandry in how to find a way for Amrita to go to this recommended institution to begin high school. I sent out an APB (All Points Bulletin -- lol) to many friends about the financial need -- a total, as it turns out, of about $1240+miscellaneous field trips and other costs, for the school year (there have already been many "extra" costs just in the first two months of school).
Extraordinarily, 19 friends gave generously, sending a total of $1538, which miraculously should provide for virtually all the financial needs for the year.
Amrita started out slightly academically challenged at the new school, which is more rigorous than her prior experience in school. But she's bright and is picking up as the semester wears on. I have no doubt that she will succeed, and do it well.
As for the school, both Adelaida and I are a bit disappointed in the quality of instruction, the experience of instructors and the resources available. In any case, it is an improvement over the alternative she was considering.
The sign outside the school says: UELL Unidad Educativa "Las Lomas" -- Bienvenidos -- Welcome -- Alli Shamushka ("Welcome" in Quechua, the native language of the Otavalan Indians); Las Lomas means "the hills" in Spanish
Parents and children heading in for an event on campus; campus building. As is apparent, the school is outside the madness of an urban setting, with space and beauty surrounding it.
Amrita's physics teacher agreed to pose for me,
...as did Amrita's mom, my dear friend Adelaida
Otavalan Indian woman in typical native garb among onlookers
Telltale braid of Otavalan Indian dad sitting in bleachers with daughter
Senior gymnists performing
Adelaida and Amrita join me in sending out a gigantic GRACIAS for the spirit of generosity demonstrated by all the friends who contributed to Amrita's schooling this year!
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