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One year from now....

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I hesitated to write this blog because it can be yet another way to be on the computer INSTEAD of "on the mat" or with the free weights or on my bicycle. But It will be short-and-sweet.

I'm pushin' 150 lbs. and that's scary...and moves me toward that "out-of-control" feeling that I dread so. I'm afraid I've been sliding down a slippery slope ever since returning from Ecuador, and not just in terms of food and exercise, but generally feeling lethargic and vacillating and unproductive. I have had this tendency for many years, and have always had to fight it...and the fight goes on!

I am using various strategies~~

~ specific achievable steps in terms of movement, which I will track

~ tracking ALL food

~ limiting computer time (working on a strategy here, it's harder than it sounds -- for me)

~ reading _Enough! A Buddhist Approach to Finding Release from Addictive Patterns_ by Chonyi Taylor, which I think hones in on the root cause of much of my dysfunctional behavior

~ practice daily gratitude, posting in the two communities if possible

I know it's up to change my mind/behavior to change my life.

And I also know that self-blame and self-judgment are counter-productive.

Today is DAY ONE, the first day of the rest of my life.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARYANNB25 7/12/2013 7:11PM

    Thank you for sharing. emoticon

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BUNNYCATS 6/28/2013 9:58AM

    I can really relate to this blog. Thank you for taking the time to post. I struggle with the same problems. Thanks for being my tagged friend and mentor.

“Love yourself—accept yourself—forgive yourself—and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.” ~Leo F. Buscaglia

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DOR2BFIT 6/27/2013 11:01AM

    Just what I need right now. Starting again... today! emoticon

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SUNPANTHER 6/9/2013 5:00AM

    Love, love love to you. xxx

Little steps add up.

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BILLB000 5/28/2013 10:24AM

    Wonderful perspective. You are sooo right. Starts with awareness. Then a plan. Remember it is ok to start anywhere. And at your pace. I have never been away for 3 months, but I have made many trips into Central America, and I found when I come back it takes weeks to re -acclimate myself. Returning always seems a bit of a let down for some reason. Be kind to yourself.

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KANOE10 5/27/2013 10:38AM

    I love your posts. I like your body hears what your mind says.
Today is a wonderful new day. I hope you have a great day and get back on track.


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WATERMELLEN 5/27/2013 9:08AM

    Just love that idea that your body hears what your mind says . . . of course it does! So gotta get my mind saying different stuff pronto!

I do believe that we never reach a place where this is done -- it's constant vigilance, much like nutrition tracking -- but has to do with the nutrition for the soul instead.

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ASHERAH38 5/23/2013 5:03AM

    A thoughtful and heartfelt blog Maha. Love the wonderful graphics and sayings. I so hear you.


~ Ubarikiwe (Blessed be)

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FRANCESCANAZ 5/21/2013 6:16PM

    emoticon mi amiga. I know you can!

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ABURRIS2 5/21/2013 12:53PM

    Right with you, my friend. I would echo many of the lovely comments here, especially to be gentle in your determination.
Love to you,

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SUSANNAH31 5/20/2013 4:34PM

    I think a little lethargy is almost to be expected as a letdown after that wonderful trip you took -- and especially after all that time you spent with your friends.

Whenever I return from a long-planned-for special adventure, my daily life can seem a little ho-hum by comparison.
And I usually resist getting back into the groove.

Your strategies sound as if they will do the trick, though. Tracking food and feeling grateful, as well as reading about ways to change behaviors should be very helpful. They will help you up and off of that slippery slope.

Then, maybe you want to start planning your next adventure for after graduation.....


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NATNOEL 5/18/2013 3:32PM

    I just love these...thank you !!

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MRSKATEDUVALL 5/18/2013 2:53PM

    thank you for the words to think about

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2WHEELEDSHARON 5/18/2013 2:35PM

    Welcome to the new home of your beautiful self!

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BECOMINGONE 5/18/2013 11:15AM

    On dear, sweet Maha ....

Words to live by ...


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MTRACHEL 5/17/2013 9:42PM

    Just sending love your way. I've learned so much for Buddhist teaching about habits and watering the seeds of what you want to grow. Sounds like you are.

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RIDMYCOCOON 5/17/2013 7:50PM

    Delicious morsels of thought! emoticon Yum-Yum!!

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PEACEFULONE 5/17/2013 6:31PM

    Dear Maha, Thank you so much for this beautiful blog! You are one special lady and you have enriched my life in many ways. Many thanks my friend! Elaine

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FARRAH511 5/17/2013 4:37PM

    Thanks for sharing

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HIPPICHICK1 5/17/2013 10:47AM

    I know that slippery slope. I think the thing that got me off of it was going on that cleanse. Not only did it clear up some physical discomforts but it cleared my head too!
Keep on keeping on!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SAVOY1 5/17/2013 9:07AM

    Dear Maha - yes, yes, yes, & yes! We're all on this same journey with you, ...learning to loving ourselves and embracing our own imperfections the same way we do in others and in nature, while striving to be our best, happiest, healthiest selves.

In solidarity~

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JESPAH 5/17/2013 8:51AM

    What you do will be right. I am sure of it.

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SCOOTER4263 5/17/2013 7:36AM

    Lovely,Maha. I have complete faith that you can get yourself back to where you want to be. I'll be looking up that title, too.

There! They have it on hold for me at the library.

Comment edited on: 5/17/2013 7:39:18 AM

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GOANNA2 5/17/2013 4:55AM

    Thanks for another wonderful and full of insight
blog. I hear you loud and clear. I am finding that
I am also feeling lethargic and know I have to push
myself to get motivated. I am doing small baby steps.
Thanks for always giving me something to look
into and follow through. I love all the quotes.
Have a great weekend. emoticon

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JUST_BREATHE08 5/17/2013 3:27AM

    emoticon Blog Maha... emoticon so much for sharing.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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_VALEO_ 5/16/2013 4:08PM

    We live in a society where lethargy or laziness is not accepted. Sometimes it is good for the mind and body to do NOTHING, to resist this guilt. You lived to the fullest since the beginning of the year, you might need to "digest" all that.

That said, I am with you for all the points mentionned; I could make them mine.

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SNOWYOGA 5/16/2013 2:59PM

    Thank you I like your blog, and also what your friends had to say, and it makes me feel like not worrying about doing all these other things (computer, and other distractions) And focus on getting done what I need to get back to me (health, exercise and eating, mind and body) Thanks again

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JENSTRESS 5/16/2013 2:38PM

    One day, a few days after seeing the post, "A year from now you will wish you had started today," I felt like just giving up. I was focused so much on how far I still have to go, rather than how far I have come. Not even along the weight loss lines, but the positive life changes I am making!!!

Then I realized that not only would I be at (or surpassed) my goals in a year, but that "I will never get to where I want to be by staying where I am." There is much that I can do, and I will feel like giving up more than once, but the time will pass whether I have committed myself to this change or not. Let's make it good time...

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SLASALLE 5/16/2013 2:36PM

    Oh Dear One - it is good to see you acknowledge that self-blame and self-judgment are counter-productive. You've got it going is so many ways, yet, you are not perfect? (imagine that!!!)

Your plan is a good one. Beth totally struggles with logging also. I, on the other hand, rather enjoy it. How weird is that? I think it's a detail-minded Virgo thang!!!

As you know from MY blog, I'm in the middle of a 2-week trial with The Spark Solution. I'm trying VERY hard to NOT weigh myself until the end of the two weeks. I've been doing GREAT on the eating part, and OK on the exercise. I think maybe with the heat the other day, I've been in kind of a slump.

Am still hoping to do my "research" tomorrow. Haven't made it yet. Soon ...

Be kind to yourself, my friend ...


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DDOORN 5/16/2013 2:22PM

    Great thoughts and HIGH applause for your efforts...have been trying to rally myself as well. No longer staying in the "bubble" and opening the door to cycling quickly leads to thoughts of "uh-oh, how am I going to lug these extra pounds up over those toughest of hills I know that await me in the Finger Lakes and everywhere else?" That fear has been a motivator. And NOTHING beats "tracking ALL food" IMHO...! :-) And that has always been and probably always WILL be the most difficult challenge for me to meet. Nothing works better for me than this.

The book sounds interesting...I'll toss it on my list for those days way off in the future when I have TIME to! Here's another quote from my SP signature: "You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." --- Buddha

Another thought still on the back burner but there nonetheless:




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Endings...and beginnings, Part 2 (#8, Ecuador, 2013)

Monday, April 22, 2013

As I get increasingly enmeshed with *this* altered state since returning from Ecuador March 19, the vividness of the experiences blur slightly and the matters that I just *had* to attend to have diminished in importance just a bit. But I continue to persist in pursuing the dreams that spawned during this odyssey (odyssey: a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences, hardships; any long eventful journey).

In this last Ecuador blog I would like to share a few photos from my day-trips to Podocarpus National Park and Vilcabamba, as well as musing a bit, as I move forward into spring and summer in the good ol' U.S. of A.!

Podocarpus National Park occupies 360,000 acres in the low "V" of southern Ecuador, near its border with Peru (I reside one hour from the northern border with Colombia) and is the only protected area in southern Ecuador. The park is important for conservation, according to The Nature Conservancy, because of its high concentration of endemic species. The elevation generally varies from 6560 ft. to 9840 ft. Podocarpus takes its name from having the country's largest contingent of the Podocarpus or romerillo tree, the only conifer native to Ecuador.

Gonzalo, the noble taxista. I paid him $10 round trip upon arriving to the park (for the one+ hour round trip on a partially horrible unpaved road with potholes). We agreed that he would return for me in four hours, at 4:30pm, before the park locked the gates at 5:00pm. I implicitly trusted this man I got to know during the drive there, and knew he would be there as he promised...and he was! Good thing too, because the park is very remote and I would have been royally stranded otherwise. I ran into people only twice on the trail!

In a mindless moment as I left the hotel, I forgot to change my shoes and put on the much more appropriate hiking boots! This was after just a couple minutes of walking...already lots of mud splattered on my feet and sandals, which you really can't see, aka "Before." Too bad I didn't take an "After" photo!

The trail is generally well maintained.

Some parts of the trail are quite steep, and squishy with mud 1-2" deep, which made it quite *sucky* lol! After my initial horror, it got to be fun, though my sandals were trashed and it took me days to wash off the mud, which actually stained my feet and calves (seriously!).

Because of some recent severe storms there was also the occasional tree over the trail, although the worst problems had been cleared.

Lots of bamboo stands along the way.

And lots of moss too.

Air plants (genus tilandsia, the bromiliad family) galore!

One of the trails I loved in a full-on rainforest. The 20 min. is a joke...with the condition of the trail, it took three times that, but it was SO worth it. It reminds me so much of portions of the Kalalau trail In Kauai.

This beautiful, delicate little butterfly felt like my guide, as it hovered about and ahead of me, disappearing and suddenly reappearing, for probably 1/3 of the hike. It was quite magical!

Om my! I have way too many panoramic shots to post. I took one series of 12 moving the camera from left to right across the vista at one point high on the trail, so I'll post those 12, the first being far left and the last being far right:


Dusk as I near the trail head, and with this I leave Podocarpus. The next day was a day trip to Vilcabamba, a 45 min. ride in a taxi co-op from Loja.

Once again passing the entrance to Podocarpus, I continue to Vilcabamba. The valley (bamba, aka pampa) is overlooked by a mountain called Mandango, the Sleeping Inca, whose presence is said to protect the area from earthquakes and other natural disasters. The etymology of "Vilcabamba" apparently derives from "huilco pamba" (in Quichua, the Incan language, still heavily used by the Otavalan Indians where I live in northern Ecuador). Huilco denotes the sacred trees that inhabit the region and pamba is a word meaning “a plain.”

An interesting and unique village, with a controversial reputation for extreme longevity, Vilcabamba has often been cited as an area with the oldest inhabitants in the world. The claim has been called into question in recent years, though.

In any case, it is a beautiful with an abundance of agriculture, and this particular equatorial sub-area is said to have fruit, roots and herbs that offer some of the strongest anti-oxidant protection in the world.

The community has an overabundance of ex-pats from many countries, as well as an alive-and-well alternative community. For that reason, I easily found a vegan restaurant, owned by an American woman. I shared a table with Mia, a healer from Thailand. We enjoyed an exquisite lunch and delightful conversation. After lunch she took me to a bakery owned by a French couple, where I bought a delicious chocolate croissant. We had an espresso at another cafe on the plaza and then parted ways.

Concluding my day in Vilcambamba and my tenure in Ecuador are miscellaneous photos of my afternoon in the village, posted in order taken:

As I attend to the realities that confront me, my spirit whispers dreams to my heart that I am beginning to quietly explore -- as always, being called to...

I do not take for granted the freedom which offers me the joy unique to travel -- I never tire of strange places and new faces. Dear friend Don Doorn made reference to a musical hero of ours in his early blog comment, so for me it feels very fitting to close this Ecuador chapter with Richie Havens' legendary clarion call:

Richie Havens opening Woodstock in 1969
RIP, January 21, 1941-April 22, 2013

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ME_HERE_NOW 5/9/2013 12:47PM

    i love your adventurous spirit, how you meet new people and make new connections, how you go out in the wilderness alone, travel far and wide. i feel like you are light years ahead in your spiritual development, it is truly an inspiration to me that makes me want to open up and enjoy the world & give things a chance instead of staying curled inside myself 'protecting' myself. i have a fondness for butterflies who flit along with me on walks as well ;) i look fwd to reading more of your life's adventures! man oh man, i'd love to write down the story of your life!

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SLASALLE 5/8/2013 5:56PM

    I know how much time it took you to upload all these photos along with descriptions, thoughts, feelings and all such things. Truly beautiful journey, my friend. As always, thank you for taking the time to share this incredible piece of the world.


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ABURRIS2 5/6/2013 10:00PM

    You are a wonder! Thank you for sharing the beauty of this adventure.

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PEACEFULONE 5/4/2013 10:49PM

    Reading about your travels is always a treat! Thank you for sharing!

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MTRACHEL 5/4/2013 10:31PM

    I'm thinking that the whole walk in the mud is a metaphor for so much about your trip ( and your future wanderings) ..trusting that you've started in the right place and that someone will be waiting for you when the journey is done. Deep gratitude to you for sharing all of this!

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DOR2BFIT 5/4/2013 8:28PM

    You are a true adventurer! Love this: "my spirit has started again to whisper things to my heart that I am beginning to quietly explore, radical though these messages are, as always calling me to... Follow your bliss...!"
emoticon emoticon

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GOANNA2 5/4/2013 8:20PM

    Thank you Maha. Enjoy the yoga.
I love the song - took me back to the 60's.
Namaste! emoticon

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SOULFISH80 5/3/2013 5:23PM

    Your travels are so inspiring!!!!

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CMRAND54 4/23/2013 8:49PM


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DDOORN 4/23/2013 4:31PM


Check out song # 6 from this unique, superb gathering:

Listening to Richie Havens all day...RIP Richie, such a fine performer and human being!


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JESPAH 4/23/2013 10:17AM


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KALIGIRL 4/23/2013 8:17AM

    Here's to letting living life get in the way!

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JUST_BREATHE08 4/23/2013 12:51AM

    Looking forward to more. emoticon


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GOANNA2 4/23/2013 12:37AM

    Waiting with bated breath Maha.
Have a woderful yoga session. emoticon

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GETSTRONGRRR 4/22/2013 8:45PM

    I can't believe you left us hanging in such suspense!!!

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SNOWYOGA 4/22/2013 6:31PM

    Thank you emoticon It's like having a vacation thought you! Can't wait to see, hear more emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 4/22/2013 6:05PM

    Looking forward to more!!

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HIPPICHICK1 4/22/2013 5:54PM

    Yay for Yoga!!

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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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CMRAND54 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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