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Follow your bliss

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I was just talking to a good friend this morning who is frustrated and sad and feeling alienated from self and family. Afterwards I began reflecting on how we can find that place of quietness within in spite of what's whirling outside of us. And one of my important teachers and heroes, Joseph Campbell, immediately came to mind. I read and reread a text of his that I have posted here at home. It is so powerful and full of guidance that I decided to share it with my special SparkFriends. Read and be inspired!

The divine manifestation is ubiquitous,
Only our eyes are not open to it.
Awe is what moves us forward.

Live from your own center.
The divine lives within you.
The separateness apparent in the world is secondary.
Beyond the world of opposites is an unseen,
but experienced, unity and identity in us all.

Today the planet is the only proper "in group."
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
but we can choose to live in joy.

You must return with the bliss and integrate it.
The return is seeing the radiance is everywhere.
The world is a match for us.
We are a match for the world.
The spirit is the bouquet of nature.

Sanctify the place you are in.
Follow your bliss....


More from Campbell:

When you follow your bliss
doors will open
where you would not have thought there would be doors;
and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else.


The way to find out about happiness
is to keep your mind on those moments
when you feel most happy,
when you are really happy--
not excited, not just thrilled,
but deeply happy.

This requires a little bit of self-analysis.
What is it that makes you happy?
Stay with it, no matter what people tell you.
This is what is called following your bliss.


If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are -- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.


Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 - October 30, 1987) was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience. His philosophy is often summarized by his phrase: "Follow your bliss."
(I highly recommend that you read the entire Wikipedia article, an excellent biographical summary of this erudite and charismatic everyman.)

I *met* Joe Campbell in 1989, when a special friend gave me the six-hour, The Power of Myth, set for Christmas (check it out below this paragraph). I was living at a yoga ashram at the time, and I would invite friends over for popcorn and one of the videos. We went on-and-on afterwards, talking about each one of them at-length. Great gift! Great memories! I have watched the programs countless times by now, and learn new things EVERY single time I watch them. I later had the privilege of seeing him do one of his multi-media presentations at the Palace of the Legion of Honor (a fine arts museum) in San Francisco. I now own more tapes, several of his books, the official biography (Joseph Campbell: A Fire in the Mind, by Stephen and Robin Larsen), and his Mythos tapes, narrated by Susan Sarandon.

This DVD has six one-hour interviews
and some great special features
(and I see it's available for $28.85).
s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1314721251&sr=1-1 Editorial Review:

"Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth is essential viewing for anyone old enough to appreciate its vital teachings. One of the greatest interviews ever recorded, this six-part, six-hour encounter between teacher- mythologist Campbell and student-journalist Bill Moyers (recorded in the two years preceding Campbell's death in 1988) covers a galaxy of topics related to Campbell's central themes: Mythology is humanity's universal method of seeking the transcendental, and "follow your bliss" is the timeless formula for spiritual satisfaction. Campbell himself is the embodiment of these themes, an erudite scholar and quintessential storyteller, recalling a wide spectrum of myths from throughout history (Japanese, Native American, Egyptian, Mayan, and many more) to illustrate humankind's eternal quest to grasp the mysteries of creation. Historical artifacts and illustrations bring these timeless stories to life."

More of his work:

, etc.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SOULFISH80 9/4/2011 11:22PM

    I have a few of his videos saved on netflix and haven't viewed them yet, now I will make it a priority. Thank you.

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KAKIPOPUP 9/4/2011 3:59PM

    emoticon back - so glad to see you again -

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2BMYOWN 9/2/2011 10:45PM

    LOTS to be said for following your bliss. I think it all comes down to that old saying, that you can never control what happens to you at any given time, but you CAN control how you choose to react to it. If you keep your own bliss alive in the midst of all the chaos, I'd say you've arrived! LOL

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RIDMYCOCOON 9/2/2011 11:22AM

    I will be digging into this. I am going to the library today to return some books. I will pick one of these up at once. I am so glad I read this before I left.

Thank You Thank You emoticon

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EOSTAR_45 8/31/2011 4:35PM

    Thanks! I so enjoyed this. I am checking with my local library to see if they have any of his works.

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    I love the words: "We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
but we can choose to live in joy" and "...doors will open
where you would not have thought there would be doors;
and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else."

The real world is full of sorrows, yet we can find joy in the midst of it! And because I am not you or anyone else, MY doors are there just for Mwa!
emoticonGreat reminders!

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DDOORN 8/31/2011 12:28PM

    A most timely share...had lost my way for a few days, but am re-grouping and Campbell's words are so helpful to remind me of what I already know, but life has a way of knocking our self-knowledge out of commission deer in the headlights!

Whew, good to be finding my way again!


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DARKTHOR 8/31/2011 11:13AM

    Thank you for this. I've added some of his videos to my Netflix cue, so I'll be checking them out in the future.

True beauty lies within us all. The more attuned we become with it, the more it shines through our eyes, our mouths and our very selves for others to be inspired to find their own inner beauty.

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JESPAH 8/31/2011 9:17AM


Didja know there's a song (it's an instrumental) called Follow Your Bliss? By, of all people, the B52s (as in, the folks who sang Rock Lobster and Love Shack).

Here 'tis, with some lovely nature photos:

By the way, I think one of the more important words in that three-word phrase is "YOUR". No one else's bliss. Just your own.

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SUNNY332 8/31/2011 8:49AM

    What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful.

- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

When I worked in Psychiatry, We often had groups on what makes someone really happy. Gyatso hit it on the nail here. Being useful helps us to lead full lives and be happy. Hope your friend reaches outside of herself to someone else who needs a hand up. Helping someone else always comes full circle. We can not help others without helping ourselves.

Be Blessed my friend! I am glad you are back!


Comment edited on: 8/31/2011 8:50:28 AM

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KALIGIRL 8/31/2011 8:39AM

    Here's to living from our center and remembering the divine within each of us.

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GENKI_WARRIOR 8/31/2011 3:05AM

    Thanks Maha xox

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SCHENPOSSIBLE 8/30/2011 11:27PM

    This really spoke to me. Oh you have no idea how bad I needed this tonight. Thanks for sharing this inspiring piece of work

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WATERMELLEN 8/30/2011 8:10PM

    Well of course I wanted to know more: and this is jam packed with wisdom and resources, thank you!!

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KELLEEH 8/30/2011 7:54PM

    Thanks for the info! I have read and enjoyed several of Joseph Campbell's books, but I do not have the DVD. Sounds great.

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SLASALLE 8/30/2011 5:12PM

    Maha is back!!! Thank you, my friend. So good to read your blogs again!!! xoxoxo

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PUDLECRAZY 8/30/2011 5:05PM

    Sigh, another lovely blog from Maha!

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DAISY443 8/30/2011 2:51PM

    "The way to find out about happiness
is to keep your mind on those moments
when you feel most happy,
when you are really happy--
not excited, not just thrilled,
but deeply happy. "
This explains something I have sometimes felt but could not understand. Thank you for sharing!

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LYNNANN43 8/30/2011 2:50PM

    Thanks for sharing, Maha! How beautiful. emoticon

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EMRANA 8/30/2011 1:03PM

  Lovely. I'd heard the first but not the second two, and they make my heart happy, knowing that I am moving closer to our ashram. OM Shanti.

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MENT2BE 8/30/2011 12:12PM

    Thanks for this BEAUTIFUL reminder!!!

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CATS_MEOW_0911 8/30/2011 12:11PM

    What a beautiful excerpt...I will have to read more of his writing. I especially love:

"What is it that makes you happy?
Stay with it, no matter what people tell you.
This is what is called following your bliss."

Thank you for sharing. Hope you don't mind me sharing your blog.

Comment edited on: 8/30/2011 12:13:52 PM

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GIANTPANDA 8/30/2011 12:09PM

    Thanks for posting this. What Joseph Campbell said about bliss is so moving and inspiring, especially when one hears the interview.

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Am I beautiful yet?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sister love -- Maha, Noreen, Trace (with dear Pickles)


Withdraw into yourself and look.
And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet,
act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful:

he cuts away here, he smooths there, he makes this line lighter,
this other purer, until a lovely face has grown from his work.

So do you also: cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked,
bring light to all that is overcast, labor to make all one glow or beauty
and never cease chiseling your statue,

until there shall shine out on you from it the godlike splendor of virtue,
until you see the perfect goodness
surely established in the stainless shrine.

~ Plotinus
204–270 CE
His metaphysical writings have inspired centuries of metaphysicians and mystics.

Georgia O'Keefe, a well-chiseled statue indeed!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

2BMYOWN 9/2/2011 10:40PM

    What an awesome blog, Maha, thanx for posting this! Sometimes we forget that REAL beauty has nothing at all to do with 'looks'.....

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GIANTPANDA 8/29/2011 4:26PM

    Thank you for this beautiful blog! It reminds me of the Navajo saying, "Walk in beauty." I saw a special recently where a teacher required all her music students to sing about seeing all the beauty inside themselves--even when others didn't. Truly inspiring!

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RIDMYCOCOON 8/29/2011 11:42AM

    Thank you for this. emoticon

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    Yes you are beautiful.

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SUNNY332 8/26/2011 6:18PM

    From one beautiful person to another. We must stick together!

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams. Ashley Smith

Sunny emoticon

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GIRLINBRAZIL 8/26/2011 6:19AM

    Lovely post! Thanks for the reminder to keep on working at it!

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FLORIDASUN 8/25/2011 11:44AM

    Yes...yes...yes...your beauty is the fresh sparkling skies, like the babbling brook vistas...yes, yes, yes...your heart is like a pure red rose, and your knowledge is like a forest my darling Maha are one of the MOSTEST beautiful friends I've ever been blessed to know!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

okay...and now you owe me a quarter! emoticon

no...seriously you know I mean this from the bottom of me heart! emoticon

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VEEJAY3 8/24/2011 8:01PM

    Hi Maha!!!!!

I've been on a journey without every leaving Colorado (my daughter got married August 12). You've traveled far for your journey ... and here we are, both back at the same time.

Both beautiful!!!!

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SLASALLE 8/24/2011 5:33PM

    You were beautiful long ago ...

I LOVE Georgia O'Keefe. Last fall on our trip to New Mexico, we had the pleasure to tour a small museum with lots of her work.


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GIRANIMAL 8/24/2011 3:55PM

    Perfectly lovely, oh-so-helpful reminder. Thanks, beautiful! emoticon

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    Glowing beauty you are! And I am chiseling away at mine - refining!

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KELLEEH 8/24/2011 11:47AM

    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing this!

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HIPPICHICK1 8/24/2011 10:28AM

    emoticon emoticon

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DDOORN 8/24/2011 8:56AM

    Beautiful reminder...just came across this one too: "You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."
--- Buddha

Great to hear from you, Maha!


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JESPAH 8/24/2011 8:45AM

    Ah hell - whatcha gotta say re beauty is (IMHO) -

been there, done that. ;)

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KALIGIRL 8/24/2011 8:29AM

    Here's to shining from the inside out!

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WATERMELLEN 8/24/2011 7:38AM

    Beautiful to have you back and blogging!! Plotinus still so fresh and new . . .

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PUDLECRAZY 8/24/2011 7:31AM

    You, my dear, are beautiful through and through!

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CRISPINI 8/24/2011 7:12AM

    Lovely! You and the quote!

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DAISY443 8/24/2011 4:08AM

    You are one of the truly beautiful people in every sense of the word! emoticon

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GOANNA2 8/24/2011 1:03AM

    emoticonYou are a gem.
Thanks for posting. emoticon

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JMARIES51 8/24/2011 12:44AM

    You are beyond beautiful. Happy to see you back at Spark.

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JUSTDUCKY1405 8/24/2011 12:08AM

    Thanks for sharing... I never thought of it quite like that. Makes perfect sense.

P.S. Great pic.

Comment edited on: 8/24/2011 12:09:11 AM

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MISS_VIV 8/24/2011 12:02AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Glorious Colombia...the adventure continues! #3

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

One never knows what a day will bring...and in my final weeks in South America what surfaced was a spur-of-the-moment idea among my family here and I to head to Colombia for my "last hurrah!"

Please enjoy my humble attempt to share this amazing experience with you. As usual, the blog will be replete with images and few words (a good balance I think). First two photos before leaving Ecuador:

A common scene...wife braiding husband's hair (Otavalan Indians)

German, Adelaida and I all dressed up, at the high school graduation party of a friend


We four went by bus from Otavalo, Ecuador to Pasto, Colombia where we spent the night July 30. The next morning we continued to the village of San Agustin via Mocoa, a city in the deparamento (like a state) of Putumayo, an exquisite land of lush landscape, rivers, waterfalls, thick with the clouds of rainforests. These photos don't even BEGIN to capture the beauty and grandeur!!!!!!

Coffee crop

See the tiny church through the window of the "buseta" (mini-van masquerading as a bus)?

Corn, a most important crop!

"We came from Mother Earth and from Her we live. We are all her guardians."

Photos in the village of Sibundoy, where we ate lunch --

And the journey through the Colombian rainforest continues --

German and I enjoying the moment during a stop to fix the transmission!

One of the three mountain passes we crossed!!!


"DANGER -- ROCK SLIDES" It's hard to describe this road/path cut into the side of the mountain with streams crossing it, hairpin curves, flooding which causes mud and rock slides, room for only one vechice often, etc.

Santiago, our able driver


Adelaida on the water-covered road with a lovely leaf

Oops! Luckily one of the passengers noticed that a suitcase fell off the roof rack....

Sunday night, July 31, upon our arrival to San Agustin, Adelaida had glorious dreams of water in all forms.

Here we are at "EL BATAN," a heritage house about 200 years old, with a museum inside where we stayed during our visit in San Agustin. The owner, a family friend of German and Adelaida, has owned this exquisite property for almost 30 years --

Samples of "batanes"displayed on the property, formed from rock, and used to grind nuts, seeds, coffee, grains, you-name-it!

More photos of El Batan, "la finca" (the farm) --

Dining room, that we never used. We either hung out and ate in the kitchen or outdoors in the glorious gardens


Adelaida is upstairs in the main house, spinning yarn. Mary, the owner, is a master spinner, weaver (note the looms in the photo, and knitter and has many heirloom pieces

Mary, the owner, is always on the move, maintaining and improving the property

A patio between buildings...the stairs go to the lovely upstairs room where Amrita and I slept

Photos of the great kitchen follow --

Amrita enjoying a cup of homemade soy milk

Since Mary's intention is to preserve the integrity of the original finca, the kitchen has a dirt floor and cuyes (guinea pigs) to keep the floor clean (they are also considered a delicacy in native cuisine)!

Adelaida, peeking over the side of the hammock

Fidelio, Mary's faithful helper, can be seen in the background

The orchid is Colombia's national flower. Mary has many varieties and this one especially appealed to me

Exquisite window detail

One of the many animal members of El Batan family

Heading to another friend's small finca

Coffee, an important crop in Huila, San Agustin's departamento

Getting closer to David's finca

We're arrived! David is an American from Oregon who loves Colombia and has lived here for many years. He recently bought this finca, where he lives with Marta, his Colombian wife

Lunch prep -- yucca (a potato-like tuber) and chachafrutos (like a huge bean), both delicious...yucca can be found in specialty grocers but chachafruto is unknown in the USA

Harvesting oranges on David's property

Que lujo -an electric orange juice to enjoy the fruits of our labor!

After lots of activity, an afternoon siesta

Back to life...Amrita and I in a guadua grove on David's property. Guadua is a type of bamboo used to make beautiful furniture and houses

These exquisite orchids welcomed us at the entrance of David's finca

Images and reflections on the road back to El Batan

Fidelio pounding off the coffee shells preparing to roast the beans

Skipping ahead several steps, Adelaida (an expert in the process) roasted the beans over the wood fire

Ahhhhhh...nothing like cafe colombiano! (Can you smell it???!!!)

Below are a few scenes in San Agustin, a very interesting village, with great archeological treasures associated with it (it is a United Nations World Heritage site)

Adelaida chatting with a young traveler from Chile. I bought one of the wonderful bracelets this "artesana" makes from recycled material

On another day Adelaida, Amrita and I visited an amazing woman in her finca. Margarita has worked in TV, theater, journalism and now as an artesana, making wonderful jewelry and other items from seeds, nuts and other things from nature and adding macrame or woven wire to her exquisite creations. She is married to an Italian man and travels there for several months each year. I have an offer to stay in her finca during her absence next year --

Main house

Lovely Margarita

Her studio

Our final week in Colombia is at Adelaida's family home. We left German and Amrita behind and spent the day getting from San Agustin to Cali, a major city of Colombia, departmento Valle. A very few photos of Adelaida's family and the environs of Cali follow --

Sadly, Colombia continues to be associated with guerilla activity. Truly I have had no sense of fear or stress at all here. These are young professional military men, who were on the bus with us for a ways. Their role is to maintain the peace in the jungle regions

Adelaida's brother William. We were celebrating his 44th birthday with him. He teaches Spanish literature in a Cali high school and would love to visit the USA (oh, and he's single and quite handsome as you can see!)

Adelaida's mom, back and center, brother Luis (50 yo) ton the right, William and Adelaida, left . Valentina manages the home with three bachelor sons and Luis is an electronics technician with an internet locale in the front of the house and also offers computer maintenance and repair.

With 42-year old Norbey, placing flowers on the grave of Valentina's mother

Adelaida's dear friend Frances, whose 18-year old son Daniel spent a week with us in Ecuador. He is out to explore South America and is currently on the coast of Ecuador working with some friends of Adelaida and German

The neighborhood where Adelaida's family lives

San Antonio, a Cali neighborhood Adelaida lived in while attending university --

Overlook of Cali from la Loma de San Antonio

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    great pics! what an amazing journey!

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GIRLINBRAZIL 9/3/2011 7:48AM

    What incredible photos! I want to go!

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GIANTPANDA 8/29/2011 4:29PM

    Wonderful photos and blog! It reminds me of a trip long ago to Peru and Ecuador, as well as another to Mexico.

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DARKTHOR 8/24/2011 8:37PM

    I forgot to mention... I grew up on yucca and just love the stuff. I wish it were more common in America, but it can certainly be found in stores that cater to hispanics.

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JMARIES51 8/24/2011 12:46AM

    Thank you for sharing your journey and pictures. I feel as if I was there.

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DARKTHOR 8/23/2011 8:53PM

    "We came from Mother Earth and from Her we live. We are all her guardians."


I am so happy for you, I feel richer just for having seen your pictures, I can hardly imagine how wealthy (in the way that counts) you must feel after having lived so much and shared so much. Thank you for sharing with us.

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MOOKBALL 8/16/2011 10:36PM

    Oh to be back in Colombia...thank you for sharing these photos of Pasto, Huila and Valle. I know you are having a wonderful time.

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PELESJEWEL 8/13/2011 11:45PM

    Maha, thank you for sharing the beauty of your journey! Wow, I am in awe of the orchids!

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2BMYOWN 8/12/2011 12:36PM

    Culture shock is the understatement of the year, Maha....I don't know HOW you could even bear to come back here, after being in such a wondrous place. Have a safe trip, sparky bud, and thank you for sharing so many of your adventures with us, the pics are absolutely beautiful.

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DOR2BFIT 8/12/2011 11:20AM

    Wonderful blog- the way of life seems so generous and open. I'm in love with that simple dining room that no one goes in! The scenery is so lush and beautiful. emoticon

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SUNNY332 8/12/2011 11:19AM

    Loved going on this journey with you - viewing the photos and reading each description. How wonderful! I enjoy the trip.
I know you are just having an absolutely wonderful time.

Hugs, Sunny

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KRISKECK 8/12/2011 5:16AM

    I always love your pics and your stories - thank you!

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SLASALLE 8/11/2011 9:37PM

    Ooooooo my goodness ... I just love traveling vicariously through the eyes and minds of dear friends ... xoxoxo

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CAROLISCIOUS 8/11/2011 6:12PM

    Thanks for sharing your journey!

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JESPAH 8/11/2011 8:42AM

    It continues to give me joy to see your travelogues. The people are SO beautiful.

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DAISY443 8/11/2011 3:21AM

    Incredible, thanks so much for sharing your joy!

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GOANNA2 8/11/2011 2:31AM

    As always, I enjoyed the journey with you.
Many thanks Maha. It is a beautiful indeed
and you are so blessed.

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PEACEFULONE 8/10/2011 11:48PM

    Beautiful! What great fun for us to share in your trip! Thanks so much!

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COLIBRI930 8/10/2011 10:29PM

    Splendid! Enjoyed the photos. Grounding and hopeful in seeing people who live closely to the earth and take care of pachamama.

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WATERMELLEN 8/10/2011 10:21PM

    What a treat to read this blog today. Thanks for all the glorious photos: almost feel like we got to go with you!!

Colombia. Coffee. My kind of place, clearly!! (The flowers, too: gorgeous!!)

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OUTDOORSDC 8/10/2011 9:08PM

    Completely connected to the earth. That's what these pictures felt like. Glad you had a good time, but even more glad that you're back. xoxo

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Thank you for sharing....Safe travels on your trip home!

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FRANCESCANAZ 8/10/2011 7:50PM

    Muchismas gracias amiga. Puedes visitar a mis clases y dar una presentacion a los alumnos????
Te amo, Francesca

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KATRINAKAT23 8/10/2011 7:43PM

  Beautiful pics!! Beautiful country and people that is for sure.

Thank you for sharing these.

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PUDLECRAZY 8/10/2011 6:35PM

    Wow - fabulous photos! What stunning beauty! You will certainly miss this when you come home.

Thank you so much for taking time to share all of these wonderful photos.



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MAZZYR 8/10/2011 6:25PM

    Oh Maha, thank you for sharing your trip with these beautiful photos. The orchids take my breath away. Lucky you for yet another travel adventure.

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COSMIC_ENERGY 8/10/2011 6:24PM

    No comment can do this justice. What a blessed adventure you are on! Life. Yes, a culture shock it will be. But you will have so much of that beautiful laid back energy from this trip to carry you through it.

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EMRANA 8/10/2011 6:18PM

  Wow!! I could go on and on about how awesome those photos are! I'll just say that if I were you, I'd already be making plans to go back to Margarita's finca next year! emoticon

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PENNYAN45 8/10/2011 6:14PM

    Thanks for taking us along on that trip with the beautiful vistas. Thanks also for taking us inside your friends' homes and sharing some of their lives with us. What a treasure!
I can't wait to hear and see more about your adventures this summer.

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IAM1WEVRY1 8/10/2011 6:06PM

    Thank you for sharing! hugs...

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GENKI_WARRIOR 8/10/2011 5:05PM

    AWESOME photos!! As always, thanks for sharing!
"We came from Mother Earth and from Her we live. We are all her guardians." = my new motto ;D

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CLAYKEEPER 8/10/2011 3:52PM

    Stay safe, my friend. Your adventure looks wonderful, many lovely memories made with gifts of love.... annette

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LKOPACK 8/10/2011 1:55PM

    What a fantastic trip and pictures. I was wondering if you made the trip this summer. Have fun and safe return. Look forward to seeing the pictures from the remainder of your adventure.

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MISS_VIV 8/10/2011 12:55PM

    O.M.G. What a journey.
How amazing to be able to do all that you are doing in a place so far away.

You are so blessed.


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DDOORN 8/10/2011 12:47PM

    How amazing it must be to immerse oneself into another culture the way that you've been doing...! It's hard for me to imagine ever being able to do something like that!


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KALIGIRL 8/10/2011 12:40PM

    Scary curves! Fabulous pictures - looking forward to the sequel.

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CATS_MEOW_0911 8/10/2011 12:04PM

    Looks amazing! Can't wait to see more...

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Ecuador: A Day-in-the-Life, #2

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Well, this has been a most interesting time here in the province of Imbabura, northern Ecuador in the foothills of the Andes...the first time I have experienced a "staycation." Instead of adventuring all over Ecuador and South America visiting new places, I have been enjoying simply being "in family" (at the home of Adelaida, German, and Amrita) with all that implies -- the warmth, love, mutual support, challenges, and difficulties of family.

In my remaining month, we may yet make a trip over to the Pacific Coast of Ecuador (Esmeraldas, Same, Mompiche) or into a nearby rainforest region (Intag, known for its coffee and for unique womens' cooperatives doing wonderful work), OR to San Agustin. Colombia -- all areas which are lovely and familiar to me from prior years of travel there.

I have not during this summer had any "revelations from on-high," any firm answers to what is next, or clear insights to light my way into the next chapter. Some known quantities are that I can complete the BA in Spanish in the next two semesters, finishing in May. And an interesting project-level job using my Spanish skills may be available to me upon my return to AR, and/or the option of substitute teaching, to help resolve my $ deficiency.

Back to "A Day-in-the-Life," I thought reporting some of the daily experiences here in Otavalo, in Cotacachi, and out in the country between the two towns where we live, via photos would be enjoyable for my friends here-and-there, so here they are --

My 13-year old god son (I was made "madrina" for his baptism), Santiago, recently completed confirmation in the Catholic Church. He has a "madrina" for this as well. Here are some photos of that event:

Approaching La Iglesia El Jordan

God mother Alexandra (who traveled from her home in France to be with Santiago) with Santiago after the confirmation

Alexandra's friend Sophie (who traveled with her), Santiago's mother Rosa, Alexandra, Santiago's sister-in-law, and Santiago, holding his new nephew.

At the altar in El Jordan


We made humitas last week at Fanny's house in Cotacachi. What a process, beginning with a type of mature corn, choclo maduro, 1) we peeled it off the cob, 2) ground the kernals, 3) made a mixture of the ground corn with eggs, cheese, oil, baking powder, water, 4) filled saved corn husks with the mixture, and 5) steamed them over a wood fire...very labor-intensive and VERY delicious! (In terms of cuisine, both Ecuador and Colombia are what I would call "corn cultures," using different types of it in many different dishes.) A favorite Colombian dish is arepas, a type of pancake formed from just the ground corn and cooked in a little oil as one would a pancake. We had them at home yesterday (German and Adelaida are originally from Colombia) with huevos pericos (scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions). Back to the humitas, here are some photos:

Some of the friends who came together -- dear Adelaida, god daughter Amrita barely visible, Fanny the hostess-with-the-mostest, Micaela (we're going to her high school graduation "bash" this Saturday)

Sandra, Micaela's mom and an old friend, having fun sporting make-believe earrings of hot peppers

A fuzzy photo of the discarded corncobs and husks

The corn kernals removed from the cobs, ready to be ground

Grinding the corn

Adding the ingredients to the corn mixture in the kitchen

Amrita, Fanny and Micaela busy filling the husks

A tray of humitas ready to steam

Watching Fanny placing humitas in the pot to steam

The pot over the fire with the humitas steaming. We sat outside the barn to peel the corn, and get it ready for steaming, then went into the kitchen to eat

Humitas wouldn't be complete without good coffee! Fanny making cafe destilado with a simple devise for making great coffee bien cargado (it's an oval cloth sewn at the top around a wire, with the ground coffee placed in the cloth and the hot water poured through it)

Some of us in the kitchen at the table enjoying the fruit of our labors

A humita, the red color on top of it being aji (red pepper sauce)


And finally, a few photos "at home" and other miscellany --

On a walk with Adelaida and Amrita on a lovely day

Amrita with her sweet little kitty, Tigre

The path from the road leading to the porch, which goes around the entire house

Their rambling rustic wood-and-brick home; my bedroom is on the second floor behind the colorful Tibetan prayer flags

A view of the kitchen through the brick arch

Frontroom in foreground with fireplace, kitchen in background

Plantanos verdes (green cooking bananas) hanging in the kitchen

In the yard with Adelaida and Sandra's parents, visiting from Quito

More visitors, Colombian friends, on a several thousand mile trip through South America


Mother and daughter (Amrita and Adelaida) walking to the school on graduation day

German, Amrita's dad, arriving to the Baha'i School on graduation day

Adelaida, Amrita's mom, who taught at the school

Adelaida and Lucia, another teacher who Adelaida had great respect and admiration for

Amrita returning to her seat after receiving special recognition from her teacher for being the best student in the sixth grade

German climbing the 50-year old beautiful avocado tree (at Fanny's house) to harvest fruit from it

Sandra left "holding the bag" (to put the harvested avos in)

A lovely sillouette of Adelaida, also up in the avo tree harvesting the fruit

Amrita, with an avo to add to the bag

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GENKI_WARRIOR 7/29/2011 9:32AM

    Avocados, humitas, red sauce--'nuff said!
(I--reluctantly--returned to Conway day before yesterday; today's Friday); spoke to the hermit : )
I miss Colorado and fresh produce.

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FLORIDASUN 7/28/2011 9:36PM

    Such an amazing adventure you live my darling Maha! I see the beauty in the simplicity of living without surplus of the unnecessary.

You have dear friends and I know that they love you as much as we all do.

I'm humbled by your open heart and sharing nature. I feel certain that you will receive the ephiany that you yearn for and that you will be right where you are supposed to be in happiness, health and most of all love!

Life is a journey isn't it...and WHAT a journey you...darling one have had and the joy is the BEST is yet to come!

Hug, hug...kiss, kiss! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 7/28/2011 9:38:01 PM

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RIDMYCOCOON 7/28/2011 4:42PM

    How true and honest this scene appears. I am touched by it's gentle and intimate view. Thank you very very much. I send great love to you and your family/friends.

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HIPPICHICK1 7/27/2011 12:33PM

    What a great journey! You have taken me with you by writing this blog and I appreciate it very much!!

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EMRANA 7/25/2011 9:31PM

  Such a magnificent collection of photos and experiences! Sounds like a beautiful time in a beautiful place. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Maha.


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EOSTAR_45 7/25/2011 11:27AM

    WOW! Thoroughly enjoyed it all!!

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MISS_VIV 7/24/2011 8:16PM

    I am so delighted to see your blog . . . I always enjoy hearing of your escapades and adventures. Talk with you soon.
Stay safe
Stay well


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FRACTALMYTH 7/24/2011 4:20PM

    Amazing :D what a wonderful insight into your journey :D Enjoy the remainder of your stay - as I know you will - and return home safely too!

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    So good to see some of your pics and hear of this experience with dear friends! I think sometimes the enlightening comes as we go! Hugs from across the mountains!

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REBCCA 7/23/2011 3:05PM

    I thank you for this wonderful blog. I thoroughly enjoyed it all! emoticon

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SLIMCHANCE5 7/23/2011 1:14PM

    Thanks for sharing your travels with us- at least we can "be there" through your writings and photos!

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WANT2CHNG17 7/23/2011 12:55PM

    Oh Maha, thank you for this wonderful peek into another culture...another world. How interesting!! What an experience! I'm so glad that you are enjoying your summer - Ecuador is beautiful!! Thanks for sharing!

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MAZZYR 7/23/2011 8:47AM

    Oh Maha, what a wonderful blog! Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures and your experiences.

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BECOMINGONE 7/22/2011 7:21PM

    Dear one, how wonderful to feel your presence. Can't wait to see you on your return and hear about your summer in person.


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FRANCESCANAZ 7/22/2011 7:10PM

    What a wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing amiga. emoticonFrancesca

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PEACEFULONE 7/22/2011 1:29PM

    Fabulous to read of your time in S.A. Continued blessings to you as you continue to bless so many others.

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KALIGIRL 7/22/2011 12:16PM

    Sounds like your options are open.
emoticonfor sharing the fabulous photos and wonderful experiences!

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2BMYOWN 7/22/2011 12:13PM

    Well, this was just plain wonderful, thank you for sharing this, Maha, we miss you but I'm glad you're having such a wonderful time!!!

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/22/2011 11:29AM

    Loved seeing this slice of life and celebration... thanks for sharing it.

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GINABUG 7/22/2011 10:21AM

    Maha -- Thanks so much for sharing these precious bits of daily life in Ecuador. I know that daily life anywhere would be much richer with your presence! These pictures make me yearn for more travel, more understanding of how people live and make their lives around the world, and remind me that I need to get back to studying my Spanish so I can more fully experience the cultures when I do go.

Thanks for taking the precious time to share these beautiful photos! I miss you and wish you the most wonderful time while there. I imagine it will be hard to return to the U.S. in some ways after living there so so long. But, we will be much richer for having you back!

Blessings to you!

Gina emoticon

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JESPAH 7/22/2011 8:49AM

    I look at Santiago (that name means Saint James, yes?) and I think -- it's the Bar Mitvzah boy! He looks so responsible. So does Amrita at her graduation. It just feels like the world will be all right, entrusted to their hands.

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AZIMAT 7/22/2011 7:16AM

    You are a dear to stay in touch. Thank you. if a picture is worth thousand words this was a wonderfully long blog. And fascinating thanks for sharing your life with ts so generously.

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    Alan and I were talking about you today! I mentioned how it had been so long, and that it would be another month or so before we could chat once again...musta known I was missing you. We would have been in Peru today, had we gone as planned, and I thank you for bringing South America to me!

And thank you for sharing these wonderful pics, and the details of your everyday life ther. I feel like I know the family well...and how Amrita has GROWN!

I pray continued blessings and safe travels in your life. Can't wait to hear all about your journey.

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CELLISTA1 7/22/2011 1:08AM

    How wonderful! Makes me want to pick up & go!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 7/22/2011 12:45AM

    That avocado tree looks amazing, Mahalakshmi! And you sound happy. Thank you for so many glimpses into your current life. I love the Tibetan flags outside your room. You spread love wherever you go.
And it sounds like a vision for the future is coming into focus, too.
Sending you blessings and hugs,

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COSMIC_ENERGY 7/22/2011 12:09AM

    Life is an adventure and I love being privvy to yours! Thanks you.

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CARRAND 7/21/2011 10:32PM


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CAROLISCIOUS 7/21/2011 10:03PM

    Life is so different there. Thanks for sharing.

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PUDLECRAZY 7/21/2011 10:00PM

    Wow, fabulous photos! It looks like you are having a lovely time and that the people you are spending it with are so happy to have you there.

When do you come back?

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COLIBRI930 7/21/2011 9:34PM

    Que bonita comida! El maz me perece rico. Gracias por poner las fotos desde tu viaje a Ecuador en tu blog. Chau.

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PENNYAN45 7/21/2011 8:01PM

    Thanks for the look inside your life with this family in Ecuador.
It looks as if you are having a wonderful time.
We can't wait for you to be back home again.


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GIANTPANDA 7/21/2011 6:55PM

    Wow! This awesome! I was in Ecuador a very long time ago, and now I know that my husband and I have to go back to visit very wonderful photos and a beautiful journey!

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DAISY443 7/21/2011 6:51PM

    I cannot find the words....

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DOR2BFIT 7/21/2011 6:37PM

    Looks like a wonderful time and a loving family. Loved seeing all of the photos! Take care.
Love, Dorothy emoticon

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GIRANIMAL 7/21/2011 5:54PM

    Lovely photos and stories -- thanks so much for sharing!

It sounds like you're having a perfect time. (And why wouldn't you be, since all is as it should be?) emoticon

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MARTY728 7/21/2011 3:26PM

    Thank you for sharing. This is wonderful!

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CLAYKEEPER 7/21/2011 2:33PM

    MAHA... what a wonderful experience. You are surrounded by loving friends, soak it all up ! There is so much joy in your photos...

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GIRLINBRAZIL 7/21/2011 2:33PM

    Glad to see how you are doing! That's just how I make my coffee over here in Brazil!


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DDOORN 7/21/2011 2:27PM

    Wonderful to hear from you Maha!

Looks like you are making many lovely connections during your journey and creating fertile ground for those "revelations"!

Till then, cheers to life with more aj!


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DAISY443 7/21/2011 1:33PM

    Maha, so glad to hear from you. I hope that for you that this experience will be its own "revelations from on-high" and your journey from this point on will reveal itself to you as time goes on. Lovely pictures of a lovely family! Happy travels!

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SLASALLE 7/21/2011 1:05PM

    The summer is not over yet, dear Maha. Keep your "open mind" to see what happens. I always enjoy your pictures and you sharing your journeys. Thank you so much.


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Inti Raymi, Celebration of Summer in the Foothills of the Andes, #1

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Greetings to all my SparkFriends far-and-near!

My arrival to "mi otra casa" has filled me with many amazing thoughts and soul-considerations. I have two months left in this investigation of the spirit, with the intention of seeing everything with "new eyes" like the beginner's mind that Suzuki Roshi speaks of in "Zen Mind Beginner's Mind." The thing that makes this trip challenging is that I wasn't able to leave my monkey-mind behind and thus the lessons continue unabated! But in many ways I have the feeling of coming home, of a comfort and rhythm of life that is fortifying and life-affirming.

Internet access is not easy here, not to mention creating a blog, but I've been thinking since arriving of sharing the traditional Incan celebration of Inti Raymi, the arrival of summer, here in Ecuador. The celebration is very strong in all of the Andean countries, especially Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

My 11-year old god daughter Amrita attends a wonderful private school, founded by the Baha'i faith, that teaches exquisite values along with "book learning." The rest of this blog will consist of photos from the school's celebration of Inti Raymi, an amazing event including a parade throughout central Otavalo with music and dancing and great joy.

This sculpture of the indigenous Otavalan Indians dancing greets you as you enter Otavalo

This is the motto of the Bahai school -- "Consider children as precious gems of inestimable value. Only education can uncover these treasures and allow humanity to benefit from them."

The following are photos as the students, from kindergarten through high school prepare for the parade through Otavalo

Me Cristina, originally from the Pacific coast of Ecuador, and her darling son, Manu

The blonde, Valerie, is young Baha'i woman from Alaska doing a year of service, teaching English in the school

Now the parade:

The musicians gather as the parade begins

A friend, Rocio, who teaches primary grades at the school; she was finishing her certification in the university when I was last here

Adelaida, who teaches in the high school, in the circle dance

My god daughter Amrita, in traditional indigeous costume

Another photo of Amrita, who at 11 years old is taller than her parents!

Unfortunately I didn't "score" a photo of German, my friend and Amrita's father. I will though to share!

Sending love and LIGHT from Ecuador!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GIANTPANDA 8/29/2011 4:30PM

    Wonderful photos from a beautiful day! Thank you!

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GOANNA2 7/23/2011 12:50PM

    Dearest Maha,
It is aways such a joy to read your blogs.
Thank you so much for sharing.
Lots of love
Anna emoticon

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FRACTALMYTH 7/18/2011 11:49PM

    Awesome :D

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COSMIC_ENERGY 7/16/2011 4:12PM

    Hope the adventure has been good to you. From this I'd say yes.

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FRANCESCANAZ 7/1/2011 1:27PM

    Hermosa! Bless & be blessed mi amiga. emoticon

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SWDOTB2 6/29/2011 8:21AM

    Sending you love...

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CARLI_MAE 6/25/2011 5:41PM

    Ciao, bella!

Reading your previous blog, "The Guest House" (you have no idea how much I needed to hear that one again), and now this one ... I have these hints that we are each experiencing similar challenges. Altho even with "monkey brain" tagging along, you seem to be faring far better than I in maintaining the peace ...

From the pictures, it seems it is not as warm there as I imagined???

AT is back from Russia ... I asked her a very important question ... "So could you see Sarah Palin's house from the Kremlin?" LOL


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    This is superb. I am happy to see you back in your element. Buena cosa.

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GOANNA2 6/24/2011 3:17PM

    Hellofrom Greece Maha.Thank you for sharing. I will try to poat some photos of my village.
Enjoy your time there.
Lots of love
Anna emoticon

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PENNYAN45 6/24/2011 12:38AM

    It is good to hear from you - and to learn of the culture you are visiting.
Thanks for the photos.
Keep enjoying yourself and taking good care of yourself.

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SLASALLE 6/23/2011 3:37PM

    I know how much time it takes to share these pictures - thank you, my dear. I LOVE seeing Ecuador through your eyes!!!


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FLORIDASUN 6/23/2011 7:59AM

    Ahhhh my darling Maha...thank you for going the extra mile to post these pics and share your journey. You will never know how helpful it is to me to see these beautiful pics as I explore what our own future will be. Will we stay in the States and continue to struggle...I don't know. We are at an age now where life should be easier. I'm hoping we will get over to Panama to visit our friends who have lived there now for almost four years. And you my dear friend have put a bug in my bonnet about just looks so peaceful!

Stay happy, stay relaxed and most of all know that you are loved greatly! emoticon emoticon

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KATRINAKAT23 6/22/2011 8:30PM

  Thank you for sharing your life experiences. I love the pics and commentary.

I hope you write again soon.

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GIRLINBRAZIL 6/22/2011 5:32PM

    Beautiful photos. So glad to hear about how your trip is going. It's a traditional folk festival time here in Brazil this week, St. John's.

Take care!


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GIRANIMAL 6/22/2011 5:32PM

    Beautiful! I mean it as the highest compliment when I say it consoles me to hear that even YOU struggle with leaving your monkey-mind behind!

Thanks so much for sharing. Please do continue to do so whenever you're able. Light and love! emoticon

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HIPPICHICK1 6/22/2011 5:00PM

    Lovely photos! Beautiful people! What a way to ring in mid-summer!

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MISS_VIV 6/22/2011 3:40PM

    Such a beautiful way to spend some of my time this afternoon... Loving every minute of your pictures and email with music.

Take care my friend. Kick your monkey to the curb, and enjoy the summer.

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FRANCESCANAZ 6/22/2011 2:36PM

    Great to read your blog and see all las caras bonitas. I was thinking of you last night in my Yoga class...I know I was supposed to concentrating on my breathing and shut off my monkey mind, but I was pensando en ti... emoticonFrancesca

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COSMIC_ENERGY 6/22/2011 2:23PM

    Wonderful and I echo STLRZGRRL - lovely to see it through your eyes! Give your monkey some bananas and send it on its way! Enjoying a summer of leisure and beach time is coming soon!

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    Enjoyed your photos so much. emoticonHave a wonderful time and keep that monkey-mind at bay!

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AZIMAT 6/22/2011 2:16PM

    Lovely, lovely, just like you!

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KALIGIRL 6/22/2011 12:30PM

    Wonderful photos - love the school motto!

"If I had influence with the good fairy, I would ask that her gift to each child be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life."

Rachel Carson (1907-1964); marine biologist and conservationist

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MAZZYR 6/22/2011 11:02AM

    Oh Maha, thank you for sharing your adventures. Your pictures are beautiful and your blog is so interesting.

Happy trails.


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KRISKECK 6/22/2011 10:07AM

    So lovely, thank you! Lifted my monkey-mind up out of the whirlpool!

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PEACEFULONE 6/22/2011 8:41AM

    Wonderful to hear and see a little of your trip. May your spirit be soothed and refreshed as you soak up the beauty of your surroundings dear Maha. Thank you for sharing.

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JESPAH 6/22/2011 8:01AM

    Everyone in your photos is sooooo beautiful.

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SUNNY332 6/22/2011 7:56AM

    Thank you, my friend, for taking us on the journey with you through your photos. I enjoyed the trip and I pray this time is everything you want it to be.

Hugs, Sunny

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VEEJAY3 6/22/2011 12:16AM

    Happy Summer Solstice!!!
Thanks for sharing your amazing travels, Maha!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 6/21/2011 11:57PM

    Happy Solstice, dear Mahalakshmi. Thank you for these glimpses into your life in Ecuador. The love you feel for this place and its people is palpable and comes through loud and clear in your blog. Glad to see you in the photos too.

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JUSTBIRDY 6/21/2011 10:02PM

    thank you for the update

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OUTDOORSDC 6/21/2011 9:56PM

    Gorgeous children. I'm so happy you have your travels, Maha.

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COLIBRI930 6/21/2011 9:53PM

    Fotos muy bonitas! Muchas gracias por compartirlas.

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TEENY_BIKINI 6/21/2011 9:52PM

    What an amazing blog! With amazing pictures.

Thank you.

Enjoy your otra casa. Hugs.

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EMRANA 6/21/2011 9:51PM

  Love and Light coming back at you from western Canada. OM Shanti.


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STLRZGRRL 6/21/2011 9:16PM

    SO COOL to see through your eyes, my Maha!!!!

Thankyou thankyou thankyou!!!!

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GIANTPANDA 6/21/2011 9:08PM

    So wonderful. I haven't been there in more than 20 years. Your photos show me it is time to go back!

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CARRAND 6/21/2011 8:06PM

    Wonderful pictures. Thank you.

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WATERMELLEN 6/21/2011 7:51PM

    This is such a treat, Maha -- gorgeous pictures, and a glimpse of a wonderful culture. Thank you!!

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SLASALLE 6/21/2011 5:52PM

    Thank you so much, my dear, for the time and effort required to share these amazing pictures with us. I'm so glad you're enjoying your celebration there. Amrita has certainly grown!!!


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DAISY443 6/21/2011 5:25PM

    See the smile on my face? Your wonderful pictures put it there. Thank you! emoticon

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DARKTHOR 6/21/2011 5:01PM

    The school's motto is one that every person should hold dear in their heart.

Thank you so much for sharing, I feel my day is richer for having shared in the things your eyes have seen.

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FRECKS96 6/21/2011 4:53PM

    Lovely!! Thank you for sharing. I am so happy that it made it there safely and are already enjoying your time. I'm looking forward to seeing more when you have the chance.

Take care!

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WANT2CHNG17 6/21/2011 4:42PM

    Oh Maha - thank you for sharing! What a beautiful blog/pictures/celebration/people!! I LOVE the motto of the school.

Thank you for letting us share in the wonder!
emoticon emoticon

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MISS_VIV 6/21/2011 4:39PM

    my precious sister - I am so trilled to share the celebration of summer with you and your friends.. (many miles apart but feeling much closer) How wonderful to hear from you.

Sweet thoughts for you and all that you love there. emoticon

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DOR2BFIT 6/21/2011 4:37PM

    Received, with delight! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DDOORN 6/21/2011 4:13PM

    Such wonderful pictures...! I SO appreciate being able to "travel" through your eyes and experiences as I highly doubt I'll ever have the occasion to set foot in South America!

Although I don't know much about Baha'i I've appreciated some of their philosophy as expressed through some of the songs of Seals & Crofts, as I know they followed this faith.

How great it is to hear from you!


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