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Endings...and beginnings, Part 1 (#7, Ecuador, 2013)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Every door is another passage, another boundary we have to go beyond.
We sometimes step, sometimes stumble, and other times we are pulled into the territory of the Crone when the need for a deeper, larger understanding of our most meaningful path can no longer be denied -- when the gifts hidden in our challenges must be brought forth.
-- Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The little fairy bedroom in my home-away-from-home:

View from the doorway of the tiny little bedroom Adelaida and Amrita prepared, welcoming me with flowers and signs and pictures, and other gifts. I spent a lot of time sitting at the little desk gazing out the window into the lovely wooded wildness.

View of my bedroom from the desk. Thanks to the generosity of neighbors Casandra and Julian, I had a very comfortable bed, which was also the spot of my morning sitting practice
Contemplating which photos and mental impressions to share in this final blog focused upon my sojourn in Ecuador, I am reminded of the many important images and people who were not captured digitally...and of course, many, many more were NOT than WERE. One might even say that in most cases the most meaningful occasions were not, because one's attention is so intimately focused upon the moment, without nary a thought of taking a picture until afterward, or something is seen in passing when the camera is not at-hand. As I sit here in reverie, I'm playing the McCoy Tyner Trio project, "Infinity," which takes me back to San Francisco and North Beach and Keystone Korner, where I heard so many jazz greats many, many moons ago...deep impressions, no photos.

And so I begin this last offering where I left Cuenca.

I made a day trip from Cuenca to the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador, Ingapirca ("Inca wall" in Quecha, the language of the indigenous population, still alive-and-well and now even instructed in some schools), a town in Cañar Province, named after the Inca palace and temple site.

The most significant building is the temple of the sun, an elliptically shaped building constructed around a large rock. The building is constructed in the Incan way without mortar in most of the complex.

The stones were carefully chiseled and fashioned to fit together perfectly. The temple of the sun was positioned so that on the solstices, at exactly the right time of day, sunlight would fall through the center of the doorway of the small chamber at the top of the temple.

Jorge guided us four "girls" through the ruins. Fluent in Spanish and English, he seems to be a student of these ruins and is particularly knowledgable about them. Here we are at the Temple of the Sun.

It was C-O-L-D and windy there (10,600' elevation), significantly colder than in Cuenca (about 1,600' higher). Luckily the *young thangs* were accustomed to it, being from Wisconsin. They're attending an immersion program in Spanish in Quito, and traveled to Cuenca and environs for the weekend.

I'm standing near where Jorge was standing in the last photo

"I hear you knocking, but you can't come in."

The Incas were not the first inhabitants of Ingapirca. It had long been settled by the Cañari indigenous people, who called it Hatun Cañar, and it dates back to 1000-1500AD. After the King of the Incas died in Peru, the oldest son took over the kingdom. They lived together peaceably (will wonders never cease LOL), each acting out their individual indigenous cultures.

They worshiped the Sun and Moon and tried to be as close to their gods as possible. They felt that this place of substantial elevation was where the gods had led them, regardless of the climate.

Arriving by taxi to the outskirts of Cuenca.

Because the three young women had "scored" a ride back to Cuenca in a taxi for less than the other fares(!), I also "scored" since the driver was willing and able to carry me as well, which meant getting back in half the time that the three modes of public transport going there had necessitated, in just over one hour, vs. around 2.5 hours!
The final leg of this journey took me to the province of Loja, which shares a border with Peru.

The ostensible five+ hours bus ride from Cuenca to Loja was significantly lengthened by some unsought-after drama, when the bus driver clipped off the corner of the roof of an old building, trying to negotiate a corner driving through the narrow streets of Saraguro. The problem is that he (apparently) attempted a "hit-and-run," but the police came from a different direction and blocked the road, then escorted the bus back to the village to "deal" with the incident.

I was especially drawn to the provincial capitol city of Loja. With a population of about 200,000, it is situated about 6800 ft above sea level and has a delightfully mild Andean climate, ranging between 60 and 86 degrees F. Art and music are alive-and-well there; I found people there in general to be open and spirited -- perhaps being home to two major universities has something to do with it, and it was amazing how easy it was to find healthy, organic, vegetarian food.

I'll begin with a crazy potpouri of photos of the city, some with captions, others self-explanatory.

Loja City Gates

An exceptional exhibit of women's art sponsored by the province

Sunset over Loja

Church of San Francisco, built in 1548

There are always stands just outside the church doors, with sellers of religious paraphernalia; could this be a philosophical discussion regarding free will (LOL)?

This initially struck me as funny, this health clinic housed in the church complex (as though Jesus would perhaps have more power to heal here). Commenting to a passing pedestrian, I learned that it is a free clinic, administered by the Franciscan monks....

(The clinic is across the street from Cafe Quilanga...hmmmm...why, oh why, am I so taken by a church named "San Francisco" -- hmmmm...? And could this fortunate thing have anything to do with the serendipity of meeting dear Wilma?)

I love this window of San Francisco above the elementary school on one side of the church

The church plaza features a monument to Alonso de Mercadillo, founder of the city.
Now on to a sweet serendipity within the Lojano odyssey. Wandering the streets of the city I came upon this small, humble cafe, and was struck by a sign regarding organic coffee from Quilanga (a district of Loja, known for coffee production):

Upon further exploration I noticed that they specialized in freshly extracted vegetable or fruit juices, so, in addition to buying coffee beans for me and Adelaida, I decided to order a beet, carrot, parsley juice! And that's how I met Wilma...

...and her delightful young neighbor, Hugo, a "modisto" (designs and makes clothing, also repair and alteration), who helps Wilma in the kitchen, when he is not down the street in the shop helping his wife

Here they are, with Hugo demonstrating the "poncho" used by the coffee pickers in Quilanga to deposit the beans as they harvest them; the machine she uses to grind the beans once she has peeled and roasted them is at Wilma's left

I deeply enjoyed meeting Wilma . We had some delightful conversations, during which I found that she attended university and hopes to return to finish a degree in natural medicine. I have a feeling that it is not the last time I will see her!
Oh my! I think the Botanical Gardens, Podocarpus National Park, and Vilcabamba will have to be "housed" in their very own blog! I'll call it Endings...and beginnings, Part 2, (#8, Ecuador, 2013).


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRACTALMYTH 4/15/2013 6:53AM

    Such wonderful adventures :)

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SNOWYOGA 4/10/2013 11:35AM

    Thank you so much for sharing your amazing trip and the pictures also are wow!

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SUSANNAH31 4/9/2013 4:02PM

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and your photos on your trip of a lifetime. Being out of control is fun!


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SOULFISH80 4/9/2013 2:26PM

    So much warmth and feeling in these words and pics. What a joy. Looks and sounds as if most of the trip was healing, and filled with wonderful places, and amazing people. So glad you are sharing it all with us. How are you doing now? Hope all is settling good for you, now that you are back in the states.

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    I see they have the statue I posed for...LOL.
Lovely pictures.

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JUST_BREATHE08 4/7/2013 1:00AM

    Maha.....You are an Amazing woman!! emoticon

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NONIE_C 4/3/2013 7:18PM

    Thank you so much for sharing stories and images from your amazing journey. I have insatiable wanderlust and I even love to wander vicariously. What a smorgasbord of visual delights you've provided!!!
Please keep them coming emoticon

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SLASALLE 4/3/2013 6:03PM

    So what if you're out of control? Who cares? Certainly not me, as I'm also enjoying each and every bit of it ... xoxoxo

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BESTJUDY 4/3/2013 10:30AM

    Love your blog ... love your pictures ... love your descriptions of Ecuador, and love your spirit! emoticon

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GOANNA2 4/3/2013 9:51AM

    You are the eternal wanderer. I love going with
you on your journeys. Thank you for sharing the
wonderful pictures. Namaste! emoticon

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FLORIDASUN 4/3/2013 8:17AM

    Ahhhh I love the wanderer in you! You are akin to my own yearnings to see the entire world and all it's beauty! What is your favorite city in Ecuador? I've long heard of the kindness of it's people and you can certainly see that shining through their eyes and spirit. I LOVE the colorfulness that they bring into their homes and clothing..I just couldn't exist without color. Long may you visit your beautiful Ecuador and long may you share it with all our sparkling friends...we LOVE it and we LOVE you for introducing us to your home away from home! emoticon emoticon

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JESPAH 4/1/2013 1:24PM

    You are outta control!! :)

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MISS_VIV 4/1/2013 12:53PM

    You are a totally awesome woman. I am so proud to be among your friends.. So thankful for your sharing this trip and a touch of all that you enjoyed on this journey. I look forward to seeing more . . . . more..... love that you are temporarily out of control.


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KALIGIRL 4/1/2013 11:01AM

    You are indeed, but we're loving it!

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WATERMELLEN 3/31/2013 4:35PM

    So delightful when you are "out of control": it should happen more often. Love that sculpture of the whimsical woman!!

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BECOMINGONE 3/31/2013 3:07PM

    That's why I don't even take a camera most times ... see you this weekend.

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DOR2BFIT 3/29/2013 6:02PM

    STILL not done? emoticon

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JESPAH 3/29/2013 12:05PM

    Your memory has enough film in it.

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HIPPICHICK1 3/29/2013 9:29AM

    Maybe that is why I usually forget to take photos - my attention was so focused that I did not think of it!

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KALIGIRL 3/29/2013 8:44AM

    No emoticoning - fabulous photos - I will return emoticon

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ME_HERE_NOW 3/29/2013 12:52AM

    just wanted to drop by and say how much i love your photos and stories from your adventures, then saw this post and am now eagerly awaiting the rest! thanks for being amazing!

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MTRACHEL 3/29/2013 12:09AM

    What a wonderful journey. I have enjoyed every word and photo of it and look forward to all that you have to say.

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DDOORN 3/28/2013 6:48PM

    Tricky stuff, and often why I slide through memorable experiences without a thought as to taking a picture!

I'm just so pleased for all the WONDER you've been able to absorb with your travels! :-)


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DOR2BFIT 3/28/2013 5:27PM

    emoticon What a wonderful trip! emoticon

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On the road in Ecuador (#6, Ecuador, 2013)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A hundred blossoming white lotus flowers
for you,
a Buddha-to-be.

Please substitute
"A bouquet of blossoming salmon-hued gladioli"
for the lotus flowers.
I spent two weeks solo on the road traveling by bus -- getting to know portions of southern Ecuador and, of course, many amazing people and more aspects of myself and my Self as well -- first to Ambato for one night, then Riobamba for three nights, Cuenca for four nights and Loja for three nights (I really wanted to stay longer in Loja, but the time for my return to the USA was drawing close). Except for the trip from Ambato to Riobamba, the bus rides also each took a day.

These maps will give you some perspective of my journey -- which began near Ibarra (where I stay with Adelaida and Amrita) one hour from the border with Colombia, tripping first to Ambato, Riobamba, Cuenca, and then Loja, city and province, which shares a border with Peru:

I started in Imbabura province (#11);
+six hours by bus got me to Ambato, in Tungurahua province (23);
then to Riobamba in Chimborazo (5);
Cuenca in Azuay was next (1)
and finally to Loja, the capitol of Loja province (12).
Vilcabamba is also in Loja.

Quito is the capitol of Ecuador, in Pichincha province (19).


On the bus to Ambato...the young ayudante giving me the peace sign

The high school, Colegio Instituto Tecnológico Superior Bolivar, in Ambato celebrated its 150th anniversary of instruction in 2011!

Looking at the school from the main plaza

An old curmudgeon who bakes wonderful pastries and breads early in the morning and comes to the plaza to sell them

The main plaza:

Librería Futuro, a wonderful little bookstore across from the plaza, specializing in South American writers

A couple more shots of downtown Ambato:


Bus driver and ayudante, leaving Ambato and headed to Riobamba

Loveliness personified

#1 find lodging. Check. #2 find food. Check: El Rey del Burrito -- delicious Mexican food in the middle of Ecuador, thanks to Lonely Planet's online help!

This lovely Ecuadorian woman owns El Rey. A Mexican friend taught her to make Mexican food, INCLUDING tortillas, many years ago. BTW, the cuisine of Ecuador bears almost no resemblance to that of México.

Her cute husband. Aren't the murals marvelous in this wonderful space!

I'm in heaven! I ate here twice...very impressed with the freshness and quality of the food.

Making corn tortillas in the kitchen (they also make flour tortillas)

Watching a zumba class from my room (right, "watching")

Managed to capture an indigenous group from San Juan resting by the side of the road during a long walk

More photos from my walk:

An indigenous woman, the cow herder

Can you see snow-peaked Chimborazo (20,564 ft) in the background? The province is named for the exquisite mountain, which reaches the Earth's closest point to the sun, due to the equatorial bulge resulting from Earth's rotation!

More on the Andes from Wikipedia: The Andes is the longest continental mountain range in the world, a range of highlands along the western coast of South America. It is about 4,300 mi. long and of an average height of about 13,000 ft. The Andes extend from north to south through seven South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated by intermediate depressions. The Andes is the location of several high plateaux – some of which host major cities such as Quito, Bogotá, Arequipa, Medellín, Sucre, and La Paz. The Altiplano plateau is the world's second-highest plateau following the Tibetan plateau.

The Andes range is the world's highest mountain range outside of Asia. The highest peak, Mount Aconcagua, in Argentina, rises to an elevation of about 22,841 ft.


You can see most of the "Cuenca" sign below the ayudante's hand. Isn't the broom truck uber cool!

More photos on the road to Cuenca. Lovin' the way the church tower captures the eye in the center of the unknown village in the distance.

This lovely young woman, Sirena, with whom I shared a seat and spoke to at length, allowed me to take a photo of her before we parted company

Spotted an indigenous woman out the window, passing through another village

Marta, owner of La Casa Cuencana, welcomes me to my favorite hostel of the trip, where I paid $12/night for a lovely room with a private bath and use of the kitchen. Spirit, another lodger there, bought the beautiful gladiolas for the dining room table.

Here's a shot of Spirit in front of the hostel. He bought more flowers to take with him to , when he left to facilitate a program on Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now there. That's Marta again, smiling by the door.

Taken at a Dutch bakery in Cuenca...we enjoyed getting errands run and cruising the city together one morning.

A few shots of Cuenca, a lovely colonial city:

This is Maha Mama, your friendly blogger-on-the-move, groggy with blogging, with a special PSA: I have decided to create one additional blog, instead of this one becoming the longest blog in the history of blogging...LOL!

The final FINAL Ecuador blog #7 will include looks at the Ingapirca ruins, Loja, Podocarpus National Park, Vilcabamba, and my final musings about this pilgrimage. Stay tuned!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUST_BREATHE08 4/7/2013 12:58AM

    emoticon emoticon so much for sharing. Wonderful and beautiful pictures! emoticon

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GIANTPANDA 3/28/2013 7:09PM

    Great photos! I saw Cuenca, Quito, and several other places nearly 30 years ago. My husband and I want to visit again some day. I'll always remember the sight of women washing colorful clothes in the river there.

Thank you for sharing!

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SOULFISH80 3/28/2013 6:42PM

    Phenomenal. My heart swells with joy over these shots, the faces, architecture, the feeling in your words and pics. It looks to have been a marvelous journey. I feel that your spirit is full from your travels, and that your heart is living with the pure joy of all you experienced. I am very excited for when today's blog is finished!!! Must see what happened next! Thank you, what a joy. Lovely, completely and utterly.

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_VALEO_ 3/28/2013 5:47PM

    Love to see all the persons that you met. What a trip! emoticon

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GOANNA2 3/28/2013 7:24AM

    Maha, you amaze me dear lady. I so love your
pictorial blog and I feel as though I am right beside
you on your journey, I am staying in tune waiting
for the next instalment. Happy Easter. emoticon

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ME_HERE_NOW 3/27/2013 6:23PM

    love seeing and sharing in your adventures! you have such a beautiful way about you :)

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DDOORN 3/27/2013 11:57AM

    Thank you for being our personal tour guide through such a beautiful country and wonderful people! :-)


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2WHEELEDSHARON 3/26/2013 9:36PM

    This makes me so happy for you. Fly, bus, walk, do your Maha Mama thing!

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SUSANNAH31 3/26/2013 2:08PM

    Thanks for the fabulous photos; I'm looking forward to the next installment.

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SAVOY1 3/26/2013 1:42PM

    On the edge of my seat...I am "seeing" so much of Ecuador these days, I think it's on my bucket list now...

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SLASALLE 3/26/2013 12:27PM

    Staying tuned ...

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JESPAH 3/26/2013 11:31AM

    I am staying tuned.

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KALIGIRL 3/26/2013 8:49AM

    Will DEFINITELY stay tuned!

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DOKEYOKEY 3/25/2013 5:47PM

    What a wonderful adventure!

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FRANCESCANAZ 3/25/2013 5:35PM

    Gracias por compartir mi amiga. How I wish you could visit my Spanish classes!

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HIPPICHICK1 3/25/2013 11:44AM

    Fabulous photos! I can't wait to see more.

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KALIGIRL 3/25/2013 8:56AM

    Maha - how wonderful and how BRAVE you are - solo is HUGE, but I guess I should have figured.

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GIRLINBRAZIL 3/25/2013 5:53AM

    Beautiful photos especially the one with you and the little fellow.

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PUDLECRAZY 3/24/2013 8:47PM

    You are so intrepid! I wish I could have joined you on this trip.

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SLASALLE 3/24/2013 8:20PM

    Installment numero uno is delicious, of course. Can't wait for more. I, too, enjoy vicarious travels!! Maybe one day ... it's an area I have certainly wanted to spend some time in. If you decide to move there, you'll likely have company at some point, for sure!!!

Adelaida, Germaine (?) and Amrita's home is near Quito; yes?


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    Thanks for this vicarious world travel. And, a happy belated birthday, Maha! Traveling Mercies.

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GETSTRONGRRR 3/24/2013 6:27PM

    Very nice...looking forward to more.

My only trip to Ecuador was many years ago to Guayaquil, 1993 I think it was. I was fascinated to see very cool and lazy looking iguanas just hanging out on the trees in the don't see that too often in the States!

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CARRAND 3/24/2013 5:40PM

    Love the photos!

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SAVOY1 3/24/2013 5:31PM

    Beautiful! emoticon

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FARRAH511 3/24/2013 4:25PM


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MISS_VIV 3/24/2013 4:16PM

    An awesome beginning - - enjoy the pictures and following you on the map. What a fun journey. Awaiting more pics as they are available. emoticon

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71 years on the planet...REALLY??? (#5, Ecuador, 2013)

Saturday, March 02, 2013

What they say is true...aging is like a snowball gathering speed as it rolls down the hill...incredible how the years are whirling by these days!!! It is said that youth is wasted on the young...and in my case, that was definitely true. How about you?

I'm a little late with this birthday was February 23, 1942 that I entered the planet for this round. Carlos and Yolanda invited us to their lovely cottage and finca (farm) above Ibarra. Adelaida, Amrita and I celebrated my personal new year there.

Carlos on the land, tending to his humungous garden.

Yolanda pausing in the kitchen during lunch preparation

Their phenomenal property is in a part of the Salinas area called Milagro de la Concepcion -- beautiful tropical and lush landscape. What follows are photos of the property, just the tip of the iceberg of the garden's riches, and the incredible surrounding valley it is tucked into:

Adelaida with coffee in-hand, the tomato-colored water catchment tower in view

We harvested MANY are more, still to ripen

A type of winter squash, with its lovely flower

Blackberries! We harvested many and ate for breakfast with yogurt

Mangoes ripening on a young tree, its first harvest in-process

Amrita has an aguacate (avocado) in one hand and guayabas (guavas) in the other; we also picked various varieties of lettuce for lunch salad

Adelaida clowning with a chirimoya, still ripening on the tree; we were gifted with a huge bag full of the spectacularly delicious fruit, dear to the Inca royalty of ancient South America

Me of little hair playing with Amrita's abundant and beautiful mane!

A local resident, hauling water from a spring where we frolicked and bathed in the small pool and waterfall (I have some X-rated photos of us sans-ropa!)

Another local with his burro, headed up the mountain to harvest frijoles (beans)

Looking into the valley with the tiny village center in-view

A close-up of the village center, with the old church

Ahhh...such beauty!

Adelaida taking a photo of the birthday lunch

Adelaida's birthday "card", wedged within the outer husk of a banana plant and filled with flowers and her love note to me.

One view of the exquisite antique shawl Adelaida gifted me, the embroidery of course done by hand.

Another view...all the fringe is knotted and sewn by hand. The fabric is a wonderful quality of cotton/wool.

The day after my birthday we had lunch with dear friends Sandra, Micaela and Roger. Here are a few photos of that wonderful gathering:

Roger, Sandra, Micaela at their home

Sandra, the master chef, prepared a veritable feast for "my" day!

Reading all the wonderful FB and other birthday wishes on Micaela's laptop

Blowing out the candle after the riquisimo lunch prepared with love by Sandra

Rosco-the-dog enjoying the beautiful skirt and blouse Sandra, Roger, and Micaela gave me (taken the following day "at home")

Close-up detail of blouse

Dear friends Micaela, Sandra, Adelaida, and Amrita on after-lunch walk

Me'n my hermana latina, Adelaida (my earrings are a birthday present made for me by my friend Helena, with seeds from the Amazon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

STILLPOINT 6/6/2013 8:39PM

    A very tardy but heartfelt happy birthday. You look fabulous and happy. Blessings to you dear one.

We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing? ¯ Swami Satchidananda


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LOPEYP 3/28/2013 8:20PM

    emoticon What a lovely celebration and gift from your friends and family.

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GIANTPANDA 3/28/2013 7:12PM

    Happy birthday! What wonderful photos and what tremendous friends!

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_VALEO_ 3/28/2013 5:34PM

    Happy belated birthday! You're 71 young... and wiser every year!
What a great place and great people to celebrate your entry to this world!

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FLORIDASUN 3/24/2013 9:36AM

    Wow...heaven really does exist on earth! emoticon What a beautiful beautiful place. And the fact that you have such a beautiful family of friendship there makes it all the MORE special! I'm soooo happy to see your happy! The shawl is stunning. A true gift of love and you look DAZZLING in that beautiful turquoise~y blue! I love to see that smile!

Happy, happy belated birthday my dear dear friend! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MTRACHEL 3/22/2013 12:06AM

    Love the photos and so glad you are on the planet to share this life. Happy Year to you.

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DAISY443 3/8/2013 1:37PM

    Happy, happy late birthday! What lovely presents!

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JUST_BREATHE08 3/7/2013 10:35PM

    Absolutely emoticon!! Thank you so much for sharing. The pictures are wonderful. emoticon & emoticon!!! Love you much!!

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DDOORN 3/3/2013 6:56PM

    Wow! I don't think you could've assembled a more beautiful way to celebrate your life! What a gorgeous place with even more gorgeous people to be with on your special day!

Thank you for sharing it with us!


Comment edited on: 3/3/2013 6:57:25 PM

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EARTHSEAME 3/3/2013 3:19PM

    Such a beautiful picture of your life! May the coming year bring you and your beloved friends much happiness.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BECOMINGONE 3/3/2013 2:17PM

    Thinking of you .... sending you love and light for the last weeks of your soujourn. Look forward to seeing you in Arkansas. What time/day does your flight arrive? If it doesn't conflict with work, I will be happy to pick you up at the airport and guess what? No snow!

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2WHEELEDSHARON 3/3/2013 12:23PM

    Maha, I'm SO happy you're there enjoying your family! Thank you for sharing the gorgeous photos. I have blackberries and yogurt at home, in which I'm going to stick a candle in today and sing Happy Birthday Maha!

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ME_HERE_NOW 3/3/2013 11:55AM

    beautiful people, gorgeous landscape, amazing clothes & creativity. happy birthday friend. you look so happy and wise! i hope i can say the same when i hit 71! thanks for sharing your adventure!!

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CRYSTALJEM 3/3/2013 11:35AM

    Belated happy birthday. Can't believe it's that time again! What a wonderful place to celebrate such a special occasion. Beautiful through and through. Namaste. CJ

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JESPAH 3/3/2013 10:48AM

    Wow, how fab!

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SIRIRADHA1 3/3/2013 10:48AM

    A birthday party in paradise! How wonderful!

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GENKI_WARRIOR 3/3/2013 9:47AM

    Love the pictures, as always. Thank you for taking time to share your odyssey with us! That shawl is gorgeous!!! I send you my love! Be safe and adventerous ;D

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    Your energy and spirit defy the calendar! emoticon

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BILL60 3/3/2013 9:29AM

    Feliz cumpleanos!!

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KALIGIRL 3/3/2013 7:27AM

    Wonderful blog - so happy for you!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PEACEFULONE 3/2/2013 11:59PM

    So very glad you had such a happy birthday with your friends. The scenery is gorgeous. Many continued blessings to you!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SLASALLE 3/2/2013 9:12PM

    Love, love, love all the pictures you share and so delighted that you had such a wonderful birthday. It truly looks like a piece of heaven there.


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ABURRIS2 3/2/2013 8:46PM

    Lovely, lovely! Thanks for the peek. Happy days...

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GOANNA2 3/2/2013 7:30PM

    Happy belated Birthday for the 23rd. I love
your pictures. I am in love with the place too.
Your shawl is so beautiful. Life is good and the
garden is amazing. So wonderful to have all this
fresh food at your fingertips. You are so lucky.

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FRANCESCANAZ 3/2/2013 7:15PM

    How beautiful! Feliz Cumpleanos mi amiga! emoticon

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BILLB000 3/2/2013 7:02PM

    Enjoy your photos and reports. Thanks for sharing. And remember......the year belongs to you!

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IMKFOX 3/2/2013 5:30PM

    Happy Birthday - so glad it was a happy one!

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 3/2/2013 4:56PM

That's a beautiful shawl and you look marvelous!

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FARRAH511 3/2/2013 4:46PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KATRINAKAT23 3/2/2013 4:19PM

  emoticon emoticon

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TXTOAD9970 3/2/2013 3:26PM


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Love (#4, Ecuador, 2013)

Friday, February 15, 2013

View of Rio Intag from terraza outside our room at Tierra & Sol Lodge, Intag, Ecuador

Aimless Love

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor's window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door --
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor --
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

~ Billy Collins ~
emoticon all its guises and forms, the very force of life as we know it, yet manifesting in the smallest, most homely, most subtle ways. Travel definitely helps me keep in touch with the reality of This Love.

With this, I am beginning the 4th pictoral blog in Ecuador.

Amrita, my god daughter, is on vacation between trimesters at school, so we traveled to a rainforest zone called Intag for 4 days..."we" being German, Amrita's dad, Adelaida, her mom, Kenisha and Josh (young adults here on university study abroad projects -- Adelaida is hosting them in their holme).

We rented a room for six for $40 per night in Intag at Tierra & Sol, a lovely lodge, and $7 each for three lovely meals per day(I broke my "flesh" fast and had some of the delicious trout from Rio Intag who I thanked for sacrificing their lives for our wellbeing). We also ate platanos (a type of banana, cooked in various exquisite ways), yuca (a potato-like tuber, which is prepared in many ways) and many other delicious delicacies.

More photos in Intag:

If you look at the first photo with the huge prominent rock on the other side of Rio Intag, this is the same rock Adelaida and German are waving from, taking in some sun. To get there, they crossed the bridge that you see further down among the photos.

Path from our room.

Kenisha at the gate to Tierra & Sol (you can see the "Sol" part of the sign)

The six of us at breakfast in the lodge -- from the left Joshua, Kenisha, Adelaida, German, Amrita, me

Kenisha and Adelaida

Kenisha and I heading up to a garden owned by Tierra & Sol of bananas, pineapples, coffee (Intag is known for their delicious beans), yuca, corn, etc.

Amrita heading up to the garden

Me, Joshua, Adelaida on a hike

Hanging out in the thermal pools

More hiking, crossing the Rio Intag

Amrita, Adelaida, German and I also went to another beautiful pueblo and area called Zuleta, where the indigenous women are known for their beautiful embroidery.

German is enjoying the wood furniture of an "artesano" in Zuleta

Adelaida and I

An imprompteau picnic in the country surrounding Zuleta (German took the photo)

Barriga llena, corazon contento (full stomach, happy heart).

A few miscellaneous photos:

Amrita and I heading out (watch out world!) The front house is owned by an American couple, Cassandra and Julian, who have started the first micro-brewery in Imbabura province in their B & B, Rio Blanco Bed & Brew. Ours is the back house.

Amrtia taking a juice break from helping mow the front yard

A nice fire going in the front room

Fanicita, a dear friend and very special woman, with a deep sense of service to others, modeling a hand-made hat

Kenisha, Amrita and me in the kitchen at home

Amrita and Joshua

Amrita's amazing hair, in a dressy style (Josh and Adelaida in the background)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GIANTPANDA 3/28/2013 7:14PM

    Wonderful! Namaste!

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_VALEO_ 3/28/2013 6:28PM

    I discern in your blogs, small pauses from your exhilarating adventures, small breaks allowing reflections while sharing with us.
Now and then, it is important to pause in our pursuit of happiness, and just be happy.
I can feel this happiness as if I was touching it. Like a small rock bouncing on water, joy, kindness and happiness bounce back on us, happy readers.

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FLORIDASUN 3/24/2013 9:42AM

    Such joy in simplicity...ahhhh! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SUSANNAH31 2/22/2013 1:31PM

    You look wonderful in these photos! You must be feeling the beauty of the area and the love of your friends. I am happy for you.

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HIPPICHICK1 2/18/2013 12:09PM


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    I love that poem too!
Looks like a wonderful time. The country is beautiful, la familia tambien!

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PEACEFULONE 2/17/2013 2:47AM

    Lovely to see what you are up to and to know that you are having such a great trip. Delightful poem. Thank you for sharing!

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GOANNA2 2/16/2013 7:47PM

    Dear Maha, I have missed you and always love
to hear from you. The countryside is so beautiful.
Good friends, good food - healthy life. I also love
the poem. Hugs to you my friend. emoticon

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2BMYOWN 2/16/2013 5:53PM

    Love it, Maha, happy travels!

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VEEJAY3 2/16/2013 2:18PM

    Well, you got me back over here with Billy Collins. I've missed you! And am so happy to see your happy face, and your traveling miracles.
Blessings on the road that unwinds before you!

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ABURRIS2 2/16/2013 11:41AM

    What beautiful country and beautiful friends! There is such a sense of ease and happiness emanating from these that is wonderful. I am glad for you! Thanks so much for sharing more of your life.

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JESPAH 2/16/2013 10:26AM

    Oh, I adored that poem!

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BILL60 2/16/2013 7:51AM

    Very nice!!

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DDOORN 2/15/2013 11:41PM

    So lovely to see how you have immersed yourself so thoroughly into the lives and world of the people of Ecuador!

Savor, savor, savor!


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CARRAND 2/15/2013 8:40PM

    Wonderful poem! I love Billy Collins.

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MTRACHEL 2/15/2013 8:33PM

    The world is all the more welcoming with you and Amrita walking into it.

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ME_HERE_NOW 2/15/2013 6:52PM

    keep enjoying your friends, nature, and good food! :)

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2WHEELEDSHARON 2/15/2013 5:05PM

    That poem and those pictures are blissful! Thank you for an amazing blog, Maha.

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GENKI_WARRIOR 2/15/2013 4:35PM

    OH that poem!! I dig it! It hits me right here!
Lovely photos; looking forward to more! so glad you're having a BLISSFUL time!!! Keep following THAT!

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FRANCESCANAZ 2/15/2013 4:23PM

    Oh how I love that poem...y tu mi amiga Hermosa. La vida es buenisima!

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    What a beautiful blog and photos. I love the poem too - thank you for sharing that. I was lucky enough to go to Quito and then to the Galapogos Islands. What an incredible part of the world you are in. We are enjoying it through you!

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SLASALLE 2/15/2013 12:30PM

    What beauty. I hope to someday see this piece of the world, when the time is right. In the meantime, your pictorials continue to keep that journey still in my mind, and as we know, "where attention goes, energy flows" ...


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CRYSTALJEM 2/15/2013 12:01PM


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KALIGIRL 2/15/2013 11:59AM

    Fabulous emoticon

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CHRISBEM 2/15/2013 11:57AM

    those pictures are beautiful

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The Universe (#3, Ecuador, 2013)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I emoticonthe Teachings as expressed by Eckhart Tolle!


Life continues to careen toward the Center in all its fierce beauty, and I'm holding on for dear life, mostly enjoying the ride.

I decided to post a few more miscellaneous photos for no particular reason, other than the fact that I'll be able enjoy the record of them many moons from now, and perhaps they will bring a smile to your face as well.

My very precocious and lovely teenage god daughter, Amrita, who displays with great flourish *all* the qualities of adolescence

A couple more photos of Adelaida from our hike this week (Amrita's engaging, bright mom -- no wonder Amrita's the way she is LOL)

Travelers from Oregon who arrived from San Agustin, Colombia and styed a few days before continuing their journey...old friends of Adelaida and German (Adelaida's partner, Amrita's dad, who is currently in San Agustin, Colombia)

Amrita, Adelaida and Donald examining the delicious lunch that we're about to eat, prepared for us by two of the young travelers. They're on the patio of the rustic home I normally stay in out in the country with Adelaida and Amrita

Imbabura Volcano (15,190'), for which the northern province I sojourn in is named. I took this photo one early morning from the terraza of the cottage I'm staying in while I cat sit. Can you see the famous heart which nature carved out of the far right side just above the shadow?

Speaking of the kitties --

Mother Suzie, foreground, and son Moonboy

Moonboy crawling through the window...the way they go in and out of the house

The back gardens (for some reason I didn't get any shots of the front gardens, different and also very lovely) that Suzie and Moonboy play in around the cottage (Cheryl is quite the gardener (I've been enjoying harvesting kale, her only vegetable among all the flowers) --

"Lemon tree very pretty...."

A nice spot for morning coffee (or up on the terraza)

I paid $2.25 for this fruit, each piece much larger than it appears in the photo -- three sweet papayas, three lucious mangoes, and one succulent avocado --


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_VALEO_ 3/28/2013 6:13PM

    I "pinned" your last picture (by Eckhart Tolle too?). It was exactly what I needed to read and to be remembered. Thanks for always helping me to count my rainbows through your experiences!

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FLORIDASUN 3/24/2013 9:46AM

    Looking at these beautiful pictures makes me feel so calm and appreciative for all the beauty that the world offers. The landscape is so peaceful and the beauty of friendship abounds! emoticon

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SOULFISH80 2/7/2013 6:58PM

    All I can say is WOW. What a lovely group of photos, showing the type of company you hold on your sojourn, looks and feels (I "feel" photos) wonderful, healing, peaceful and "family-like". I haven't checked in on your blogs in awhile and I see I've been missing a good deal. So very happy that you are sharing your joys with us. Thank you so very much.

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    The little girls is turning into a woman.
Very pretty.
It looks so peaceful there!

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XNANNY 1/25/2013 11:04PM

    emoticon the pictures. Thank you for sharing.

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BECOMINGONE 1/24/2013 8:18AM

    Hola, mi amiga! You are ever on my mind. Hope all is well with you.

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ME_HERE_NOW 1/23/2013 2:00PM

    friends, nature, kitties, fresh fruit, looks AMAZING!! :D

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FARRAH511 1/22/2013 8:35AM


Have a Marvelous Day!


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TEENY_BIKINI 1/21/2013 12:51PM


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JESPAH 1/20/2013 8:33PM

    Now is right on time! YEAH!

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SLASALLE 1/20/2013 12:46PM

    Looks like you're living the good life, my dear ... enjoy all that is now ... xoxoxo

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BILLB000 1/20/2013 11:39AM

    Really liking your photos and comments Maha. Thank you for continuing to post them. What an experience.

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GOANNA2 1/20/2013 5:52AM

    Beautiful Maha. I'm so glad you are enjoying
your time in Ecuador. emoticon

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BILL60 1/20/2013 5:39AM

    Very nice!!

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DDOORN 1/19/2013 10:59PM

    Beautiful slices of a wonderful world filled with special enlivening this must be for you! Thank you for sharing with us...

Tolle is someone I've overlooked so far...should read up on him soon.

Found a simple little line that made me smile:

Happiness is never stopping to think if you are. ~ Palmer Sondreal

I"m betting you're not stopping to think down Ecuador way: just reveling in NOW! :-)


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CARRAND 1/19/2013 7:19PM

    Beautiful pictures!

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WATERMELLEN 1/19/2013 7:08PM

    Great pictures! And now is indeed right on time . . .

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FRANCESCANAZ 1/19/2013 5:48PM

    Gracias por compartir Hermana. Imagino que tu espanol esta mejorando!

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HIPPICHICK1 1/19/2013 3:25PM

    Life is GOOD!! You are rockin' this one.
Fave pics: kittehs! I loves me some kittehs. Flowers too. Oh and the fruit! I'll bet it tastes as wonderful as it looks.

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SUSANSERENE 1/19/2013 12:59PM

    Life is so very good when you can live unfettered, exploring, discovering, renewing with no timetables or urgencies to attend to. Enjoy! You deserve the peace and beauty, Maha; you're living the blessing!

Namaste and Keep Sparkling! emoticon

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MTRACHEL 1/19/2013 12:06PM

    How lovely to see Ecuador this morning and the warm lives of your friends.

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KALIGIRL 1/19/2013 11:48AM

    Fabulous photos - thank you for sharing!

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SIRIRADHA1 1/19/2013 11:42AM

    So green and lush compared to what's outside my windows! I'm sure you're storing up wonderful memories!

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MISS_VIV 1/19/2013 11:13AM

    What a beautiful place to play. Enjoy the kale and the wonderful fruits so readily (?) available. It looks positively the best place in the world to be right now. The Susie cat, looks so much like one that is trying very hard to become my housemate........

Joy, joy..........enjoy emoticon

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