Portoviejo/Manabi Province/Ecuador – Thanks to the magic of scheduling a post to be published at a specified date and time, this should reach you when the inauguration of Nomadas en Ecuador begins. What follows is my ‘Artist’s Statement’ written specifically for this event. Enjoy! Continue reading
Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador – One year ago I first visited this little coffee farm, inhabited by one family of five, one young married couple, the owner, three dogs, two cats, an always-changing number of free-range chickens, several squirrels, a micro-community of Howler monkeys – and thousands of birds. Rosa, a single ‘older lady,’ lives in her authentic campo house on several acres which this property surrounds. These lovely inhabitants of this ultra-petite community graciously allowed one artist to wean into their neighborhood.
Birthdays are quiet events, shared with the immediate neighbors. Period. No aunts, uncles, grandparents or friends from nearby towns are present for these lovely and quiet gatherings. Lovingly-prepared luncheons are served, and then the cake is presented to the person of honor. Conversations easily roll from random subject to random subject, and I always remark on how fast the pre-teens/teens are growing. The first gathering was for Melissa’s birthday in October.
Poza Honda/ManabiProvince Ecuador – Have any of you ever added images to Google Earth-Maps? It’s always been interesting to peruse those images and explore areas that we know well or to ‘cyber travel’ to new destinations without leaving home! The Satellite Image option helped me fine-tune my search for a new place to live, and reference images were very helpful.
This past week on Google Earth, I entered some GPS points for where I live – before passing them along for scientific reasons; almost immediately I hit a glitch. I could not find a place to type the coordinates. Perhaps that option is somewhere on the page, but I did not find it. Next I looked for my pinned images, and they were gone! In fact, there were no pinned images to anything on the map. Towns and places of interest were marked by name only. The letters were small and difficult to see – and my laptop has a large screen!
Eventually I found the image option, which on my windows browser showed in a long horizontal strip at the bottom of the page. There were photos from different areas, and mine could not be accessed until scrolling east on the map, leaving the house site out of view. After I selected and enlarged one of my ‘popular’ images, a little arrow-type bar zipped from the photo and pointed into the middle of the lake! Ha, I had to laugh – it was several kilometers from the right location and was obviously submerged at the bottom of the reservoir!
Unable to drag it back in place via the old system that worked well, I opened a new window and did a search which took me to a Google Earth/Maps forum. Oh my, demons must have firmly attached themselves to those who make decisions for Google Earth/Maps, and they have made a lovely mess of what was once a well-managed site.
I moved to another quadrant that I know well – the area around Jama, and I remembered that someone had posted a picture of a Royal Poinciana/Flamboyant. I was curious to see if it still marked the correct spot. In real life, the tree was within view of where I once lived near the mouth of Rio Jama.
There were zero photos of that area, but there were new ones from 2018 of the community of La Division. Checking various photos in the town a few kilometers inland, I discovered that the lovely flaming Poinciana tree had been magically transplanted to Jama! (Jama, still recovering from the earthquake, could actually use several dozen of those lovely trees!) Continue reading
“Good Morning,” I’d say, as I plunked down mugs of hot coffee in front of my regulars as soon as they came in the door. I knew the exceptions that wanted decaf or tea, instead. I knew who might order a little breakfast, after a couple cups of coffee. I knew who needed to get to work quickly, and who would sit for an hour or more. They were friends, sort of, though we only met over morning coffee, and mine was a position of servitude. They felt like family, all of us still groggy from sleep, making conversation in the early morning hours. – (Cindy Ricksgers)
Cindy Ricksgers’ ‘Good Morning’ post reminds us how two simple words have the power to brighten another’s day. The rest of Cindy’s ‘Good Morning’ post is HERE.
“Some days I wake up grumpy; other mornings I let him sleep.” (From a cocktail napkin)
When I lived in Costa Rica, the howler monkeys often slept in the canopy over the roof of my studio/casita. Some mornings they awakened quietly, and other mornings they began with pre-dawn guttural sounds that slowly increased into grumpy roars. On those ‘grumpy’ mornings I would go outside, gape up at them and smile as I replied in my heart-felt “Good Morning! BuenOs dias – Umph-umph-umph-umph!”
My attempts to mock their passive ‘we’re happy and content’ sounds seemed to pacify them. After five or so minutes of quiet time in their presence, I began my day and they began theirs! Like any living being, they just wanted to be acknowledged!
“…Smiling is infectious, You catch it like the flu. When someone smiled at me today I started smiling too. I passed around the corner And someone saw my grin. When he smiled I realised I’d passed it on to him. I thought about that smile Then I realised its worth… ” Enjoy Pommepal’s artful pairing of images to that poem! – Living in Paradise
My friend Francisca smiles when I walk into her tienda and state, “Good Morning -BuenOs dias!” and she repeats, “Gud morning!” It’s a ritual that gives us all a refreshing chuckle, especially when she is the one that laughs the most. Ah! The power of a smile!
Participants in this week’s WordPress theme helped wrap smiles around the world.
My friends remain in a holding pattern while taking shifts at the hospital. Even though the patient’s condition is still listed as critical, the doctors say that he is very strong and has an amazing will to live. The family is finding moments to smile, and at times they laugh. They send heart-felt thanks to many of you who are sending strong energy and prayers in their direction. Thanks, also, for your comments, which I’ve passed along while stating the many countries you represent.
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Off-Balanced – 3b: Into a state of surprise from the unexpected
Poza Honda Ecuador – Four times each year, the alignments of the earth and sun prompt me to reserve the day – or strategic hours – to observe the sun’s placement. These dates are more important to me than the first day of the new year.
Being attentive to the subtle rhythms and movements of our planet reminds me of how things change yet remain the same. It also reminds me of the importance of our planet, our own lives, and our responsibility to be good stewards of this amazing planet. In many areas, we are failing in the latter category.
In today’s quickly-changing world, it’s comforting to confirm that the sun is directly overhead at high noon during the March and September equinox dates. Just like a precisely-tuned clock, the sun continues its daily march until it reaches its June or December solstice date, pauses, then begins back-tracking toward the other hemisphere. Only twice a year does it visit the same spot, and I enjoy confirming that some things remain the same – no matter what else is happening on our planet!
Those noon shadows teach easy lessons, especially when someone asks, ‘Isn’t it always in the same place?”
“No,” I smile, and demonstrate the natural rhythms between our sun and planet.
The solar calendar at Casa Loca often puzzled first-time visitors, until they witnessed the sun’s ever-changing position on the western horizon.
This past week Melissa dropped in for a visit where I now live at Poza Honda. After swapping a few stories, she grew serious and gestured to the floor and asked what was the significance of the items on the floor. I had forgotten about the floor! Continue reading
A few days ago after a leisurely ‘Birding Walk,’ I noticed several citrus trees that were loaded with small mandarin oranges. I asked my neighbors why no one was picking them.
“They’re too sour,” Melissa said with a dramatic twist of her face; “Nobody likes them.”
“Seriously?” I marveled, “May I go pick some? I also would like to get a higher view of the trees where I saw a mystery bird.
The mystery bird was absent, but the Peruvian Pygmy Owl watched from overhead.
The cafe, cacao and citrus area offers a great view of the houses below. Moringa grows up here, as well as down near the house!
There were several ‘mandarina’ trees with the tiny little oranges. I sampled one, which was almost like eating an extra sour Lifesaver’s mandarin candy!
The worse my drawings were, the more beautiful did the originals appear. – John James Audubon
The above sketch, left in Casa Poza Honda’s guest book, seemed appropriate since the owl dropped in to say, “Welcome!” on my first visit to what would become my new home. This area has yet to be invaded by the snaking tentacles of telephone and broadband cables, which is a blessing, yet it has altered my ability to stay in touch with the outside world.
Since I take great comfort in complete immersion and solitude in nature, I have appreciated the opportunity to apply Thoreau’s attitude, ‘…to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach…’
This beautiful forest, a place to connect deeply with nature, supplies a perfect environment to study the flora and fauna. As soon as I am settled, I hope to present what affects me strongest via drawings and studies. That is not easily done when interacting with the world on a daily basis, so I am grateful to reclaim a life that gives me total focus without distractions.
Almost every morning is spent in complete silence as I merge with the rhythms of the natural surroundings. Before the daylight has wiped all traces of night from the scene, the Whooping Motmots can often be seen perched near the house. By 6:15, the Brown Wood Rails tip-toe into the yard on their predictable paths. Photos in such low light are always lacking, so I now watch quietly and appreciate their unique beauty.
After the first hour of absorbing, watching, listening, I usually venture outside and take an extremely-slow amble downhill. Continue reading
From Dictionary.com : Amble “verb (used without object), ambled, ambling.
1. to go at a slow, easy pace; stroll; saunter:
He ambled around the town.
2. (of a horse) to go at a slow pace with the legs moving in lateral pairs and usually having a four-beat rhythm.
3.an ambling gait.
4.a slow, easy walk or gentle pace.
“We ought to take outdoor walks, to refresh and raise our spirits by deep breathing in the open air.” — Seneca
In the past three weeks I’ve been from Ecuador to Costa Rica and back via a stopover in Panama to visit my friend Barb. These were quick-but-very rewarding visits that combined ‘business’ with pleasure. Comparing the three countries, I definitely give Costa Rica and Panama the top scores for quality of internet!
Panama wins on shopping opportunities as well as the dramatic skyline contest… Continue reading
“There is nothing to playing the organ. You only have to hit the right notes at the right time and the instrument plays itself.” – Johann Sebastian Bach
POR LA ESPERANZA – ‘de un Pueblo que se levanta’
18/08/2017 8:10 pm
Organista: Leisbert Moreno
Portoviejo – Manabi Province, Ecuador – Letty Quadrado, a dear friend from Jama and Portoviejo exclaimed, “Lisa! I live here, but you know more about where I live than I do! How did you know about this concert?”
With a smirk I replied, “A little inside information; the owner of the house I am renting is the person who has been repairing the organ for this concert!
I learned more over the past two days and stopped by the cathedral to meet the young maestro in person. He is not only dedicated to his music, but he has charisma as well!
So what inspired a young man from Portoviejo Ecuador to devote his life to the discipline and training to become an organista? The catalyst happened when he was a teenager; Leisbert’s father Pasqual Moreno played the organ in Portoviejo. When his father was sick and unable to play, Leisbert was the substitute!
The experience propelled him into new directions! Leisbert has been studying for three years in Roma/Rome and has also studied in Germany. He is the only professional ‘organista’ from Ecuador, and will be playing at 8:10 pm on Friday night/tonight in his home city of Portoviejo!
Friday night’s program – with Spanish titles – includes:
Leon Boellmann – “Suite Gothique”
Paul Barras – “Meditation Et. Cortege”
Johann Ludwig Krebs – “Tocata y fuga en la Menor”
Eugene Gigout – “Tocata en si Menor” Continue reading
Portoviejo/Manabi Province, Ecuador — Passing along information from Jurg, owner of Casa Posa Honda, who happens to also be the person who tunes the organ in Portoviejo’s Cathedral!
“It will be the first time for an Ecuadorian organista to play in Portoviejo.” – Jürg Arnet
Organ Concert: 18th of August, 20.00 – Portoviejo – Manabi Province – Ecuador
“Catedral Jesús el Buen Pastor, Alajuela, Portoviejo”
Cathedral –Google Maps
I hope to update with more details around the 15th or 16th.
See you there?!
“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” -Paulo Coelho
Manabi Province, Ecuador – Years ago when making the commuter flight from Quito in the Andes to Portoviejo on the Pacific coast, I often studied the landscape below. After marveling at the beauty of Chimborazo poking through the clouds, I wondered about the lower elevations as the plane prepared to land. A large body of water always intrigued me, and I assumed it was ‘never-never land’ – perhaps like the Darien Gap swamp between Panama and Colombia.
“A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
Several months ago, my friend Xiomara helped rekindled that interest when she mentioned she’d be working upriver from Portoviejo. Deciding to close the chapter of ‘Casa Loca,’ it was time to move forward, and many places held my interest. I had been combing the Province via Google maps in search of a quiet area with a good source of pure water – away from pollution and surrounded by natural forests. I did not want to make a temporary move, and I suspected that patience would be rewarded.
Scouting via Google Maps, I was disenchanted – and shocked – at the continued deforestation. Out of curiosity, I zoomed to the little hamlets where Xio would be working and was delighted to see that large body of water! We coordinated meeting when she traveled to the area, and while she was working, I scouted around, loved the extremely-peaceful vibe, and returned for a second day of exploring the area. The locals pointed me to the ‘Swiss cabanas’ which turned out to be so much more than simple structures! Continue reading
“I think the most important quality in a birdwatcher is a willingness to stand quietly and see what comes. Our everyday lives obscure a truth about existence – that at the heart of everything there lies a stillness and a light.”
― Lynn Thomson, Birding with Yeats: A Mother’s Memoir
My new home offers a serene immersion in nature; the birds – many of them new to me – stop by often, as if to pay proper respect to the newcomer. This post shares some of those birds – one species, if the ID is correct, appears to be quite special!
The RED LIST states:
Population: This is a poorly known species and no population estimates are available. It is considered generally uncommon.
Trend Justification: A moderately rapid and on-going population decline is suspected owing to habitat loss.”
And here is its range map: EBIRD-Orange Fronted Barbet
If you like birds, then scroll on down and meet more of the feathered members of the neighborhood!
“The Neighborhood’ is pictured below:
Home sweet home; this is the yen to Casa Loca, yet it also represents a total immersion in nature. It provides a perfect setting for the next chapter.
Look out the window:
“There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.” – Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion and Other Essays
There is an impressive buffer of natural and planted vegetation between the house and the lake. Would you like to walk down to explore the grounds with me? Perhaps we’ll see a few birds! Continue reading
“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse
“Happiness, not in another place but this place… not for another hour, but this hour.” – Walt Whitman
“Today: Soak in what’s real and what’s real is unhurried. The ground. The air. The exhale. The planted seed. The shift. The season.” – Victoria Erickson
- Manabi Ecuador – “Poco a poco” – little by little, I have been weaning away from Casa Loca. Last year’s earthquake altered the lives of many, and my choices and opportunities have been more abundant than many of the locals’ options. With no sense of urgency, I allowed my own internal GPS system to guide me to a new place to call home.
About a month ago, after first scouting an area via Google Maps, I drove along various country roads, exploring with an artist’s curiosity. Great impromptu moments greeted me at each stop, and though I cherished the moments, I knew there was a jewel of a place waiting to be discovered.
Yes, I am in the process of moving, poco a poco, and I will spend most of this week moving the more difficult-to-transport items. I will not be online often, but will be writing offline to share more information about the new area I will call “Home.” I look forward to sharing the stories!
Enjoy the random images taken in the past month. I should be back online tonight. Continue reading
“In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself.” -J. Krishnamurti
Quito Ecuador – This past week Miguel, owner of Hotel Andino, sent an email to warn me to expect ‘something different’ for my one-night stay. When I arrived, Miguel explained that they were full with an out-of-town group of business people, but there was one option. He seemed hesitant, and I said that I loved surprises –“… Show me the space!”
We went into the main part of the house, and I wondered where in the world an extra room could be, and then we stepped toward a petite door located beneath the staircase. Like a child, I grinned and waited for Miguel to open the door. Continue reading
With sudden alertness, Celeste snapped out of her dream, though she did not remember going to sleep. She opened her eyes and stared at the built-in bookcase near the bed.
“I don’t have a bookcase…” – from scribblings
There’s a magical arch sculpted through a red-hibiscus hedge…. Continue reading
“Haven’t seen people reading newspapers like they used to,” Amy stated in a recent post. – The World is a Book
The above image was taken the week before she published two photos of people reading in public areas. The comment thread supports that reading ‘hard copy’ is a vanishing art.
In contrast, here’s an image from last night’s San Pedro-San Pablo event on the Pacific Coast.
Jama Ecuador – Each week oversees the repair or slow destruction of earthquake-damaged buildings in the area. A few buildings worthy of saving now have stronger spines and will preside over the newbies. Some city blocks are almost empty, and one adjusts to seeing open skies where two-story buildings once stood. Some might see an empty lot, but many ‘ghost buildings’ still reside in the memories of many.
The old park in the center of town was razed, and a new ‘historic’ one will replace it. Less than two blocks away, a second much-larger park will have areas for strolling, sitting, exercise, skateboards, as well as providing public bathrooms and a little sandwich shop. Progress throughout town is slow, and the incoming and outgoing streets serve as dump sites for construction materials like gravel or sand or are littered with debris waiting to be hauled to a landfill.
One friend pointed to a well-built two-story house that appeared to have few structural problems. “See that little house in the back?” She pointed and then added, “They live there because they are too scared to live in the big house.” Continue reading
Jama Ecuador – My creative mind immediately painted the room’s interior walls with vibrant colors. In seconds, that easily-accessed area of my imagination organized what was inside, traveled to the market and returned with tossed-aside crates previously used for transporting fruits and vegetables. In another direction, my mind found discarded boards from construction projects, which could be altered to make shelves.
Click, click, click – My imagination zoomed with ideas. It would almost work for a temporary studio… But – wait… water.. .a sink… a bathroom.
“Perdon,” I asked with an awkward approach, “Do you have a bathroom? Water?” Continue reading
From the acoustic-friendly cushioned experience at Quito’s National Theater to a rustic sea-level setting on the beach at Bellavista/Don Juan, ArtesXManabi left a trail of beautiful memories. Please visit their website and facebook pages, and give them a ‘thumbs up’ for their kind and generous efforts. If you live in Ecuador, perhaps you can coax them to continue their show in your community!
The slideshows showcase the events, including one dance workshop – on the beach – with the children!
ArtesxManabi – Slideshows
Thank you, ArtesXManabi for your display of unconditional love for your fellow man.
“The earthquake was presaged by a magnitude 4.8 foreshock eleven minutes before the main quake struck, and followed by over fifty-five aftershocks in the first twenty-four hours.” – Wilkipedia
Jama/Manabi/Ecuador — This post is scheduled to be published on the one-year anniversary of the 4.8 earthquake that preceded the historic one that hit 11 minutes later. Imagine what it must have been like to wonder, “Did we just have an earthquake?” as the twilight faded into the night, and then be jolted into a nightmare that shattered the coastline.
This year, at 6:58 pm, the people of El Matal and Jama will release hand-made lanterns at the time the earthquake hit a year ago. I will witness the lantern release at El Matal and then attend the mass that follows in Jama.
Please join the sparrows in a moment of reflection, not only for those who are opening tender year-long wounds, but also in support for closing those wounds. May this also extend to all who are suffering worldwide, as love for our fellow man is greatly needed.
Below are images taken yesterday and last night at various events in honor of those affected in the Canton of Jama.
“Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed — chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. .” — John Muir
Sometimes a work of art ‘just happens’ as if some invisible hand guides the process. Everything aligns as if magically orchestrated.
Othertimes a work of art requires preparation and homework, which starts as a spacial gathering of information and honing that data until clarity guides the artist forward.
The Muir quote has always fired my imagination, and I pictured trees frowning in disgust or wide-eyed with fear of being felled or even timidly hiding and peering from behind rocky facades. While pondering ways to illustrate the quote, I began seeking out and studying the twisted growth of mature guava trees – cousins to crepe myrtles – to merge the illusion of limbs and antlers. Continue reading
With painting supplies, boots and flashlight already tucked into my bag, I’ll be Yachana bound soon!
“Boots? Raincoat? Flashlight?”
Yes, because I am a seasoned ‘Girl Scout’ and know to be prepared, especially if I’m returning to the gateway to the Amazon. This time I’ll be even closer than I was on last month’s trip to Cosanga!
You must be wonderning, “What is Yachana; where is Yachana?”
Don’t worry for even one second that I will be treading in uncharted or unsafe territories! Continue reading
QUITO, Ecuador – Life sometimes gives us sweet little packages wrapped in unique ways. Because I planned to visit Quito’s Casa de la Cultura regarding the ‘on hold’ exposition of my paintings, I reviewed their website last week: CASAdelaCULTURA
The ‘Events’ page mentioned a fundraiser for the coastal community of Don Juan, which is 10 kilometers from Jama in Manabi Province. Casa Loca is about half way between the two areas!
A fundraiser for the community of Don Juan? My imagination raced with possibilities as I tried to connect the WHERE with the WHO. Who inspired this, or was it a random and compassionate person or persons who visited Don Juan and realized they could use some support?
My plans were to be in Quito at Casa de la Cultura the same day the Las Artes por Manabí would be held at the National Theater! After the meetings – which went very well, I inquired about the event. Yes! It was scheduled for that night!
Friends Stephen and Xiomara joined me that evening, though we were not quite sure what we would be watching! We gladly paid our ten dollars to help support the Don Juan community in the canton of Jama.
The show, which showcases Andean Contemporary Arts, started around 8 pm. Enrique Males, a popular musician, has been creating melodies for 50 years and calls attention to ‘cultural respect.’
“…His songs remember famous people of Andes. For example, the indigenous general Rumiñahui (from spanish conquerors of Quito, 476 years before) or Mama Dolores Cacuango, a political figure of 80’s that talked about human rights, but from the thoughts and traditions of indigenous communities.
With all this context, the performance tries to remind the people to love Allpa-Mama (Mother Earth), to be at peace with themselves and with each other.
The connection with Don Juan’s people is the joy for life, the desire to improve and be more sensitive and creative, using Arts and our ancestral culture to be a big family, from the coast (Jama) to the Andes (Quito). ” – Sayri Wladimir Cabascango – Las Artes por Manabí
Like thrilled children, we sat toward the front of the National Theater and looked forward to the show.
“When we feel weak, we drop our heads on the shoulders of others. Don’t get mad when someone does that. Be honored. For that person trusted you enough to, even if subtly, ask you for help.”
― Lori Goodwin
Ecuador – There seems to be a running clock/calendar that keeps track of the days and months since the earthquake destroyed much of Ecuador’s central and northern coast. Each month when the calendar approaches ’16,’ I note the time and remember the 7.8 earthquake that hit just after 7 pm on April 16th. Does anyone ever get past that feeling of premonition – or wondering if it might hit again?
Mindo Ecuador – Garbed in raincoat and mud boots this past Saturday around dark, I trekked past Mindo’s Catholic Church on my way to the market. Through the whoosh-whoosh sound of my rain gear and the drizzle hitting the roofs and sidewalk, a stronger much-sweeter sound brought me to a halt.
“Is that a violin?” I wondered, then followed the beckoning music until I stood in the doorway of the church. The church was empty aside for one lone figure standing to the side near the front row. In formal attire, perfect posture and with violin at his chin, he seemed like a mirage. Or was he a life-sized poster? No, that was a real person standing there, and his music was pure and sweet.
Captivated, I listened for a very short time, and decided that my presence was most likely an intrusion. I bowed slightly and backed away, all the time wondering who was this person and why was he in this empty church? I resumed my trek, bought my token items and returned for one more discreet glance before going home.
A second person was peering inside, and this younger woman and I exchanged mystified expressions. Who was this person, and why was he there? Continue reading
“It was amazing what an hour with her sketchpad could do for her mood. She was sure that the lines she drew with her black marker were going to save her years of worry lines in the future.” ― Victoria Kahler, Their Friend Scarlet
Cosanga Ecuador – Napo Province – See Map
The Pachamama Birding Group also brought treats for the teacher… Really really really-nice treats! Watercolor paper! Brushes! Sharpie Markers – not used ones like at my drawing table, but brand-new ones with precise points!!!! But that’s for another post. Check below to see the view from the table where I took a 30-minute personal timeout for art:
… While the ladies were out birding, the two boys and I sat on the front porch for an impromptu art lesson.
Please join me as they experience a fresh pad of drawing paper while they discover the magic of a well-sharpened pencil. Continue reading
When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home. ~ Rumi
Ecuador’s Andes: Eastern Slope – Cosanga – Western Slope -Mindo — Having just returned from a ten-day trip to the eastern side of Ecuador, I chuckled when I read Judy Edwards‘ Thought For the Day, shared above.
My friend Susana had often mentioned their ‘little cabaña’ tucked in a quiet area somewhere on the ‘Eastern Slope” of the Andes in the Napo Province, gateway to the Amazon. Over the past year, she’s been fine-tuning details for a birding tour for a group of ladies from the USA and had asked if I’d help during their time at their Cabana El Aliso. The tour would start on March 1st in Quito, end on March 10th in Mindo, with lots of great experiences in between.
Of course! I would love to help! I looked forward to seeing their cabaña and the surrounding landscape, but first needed to take care of my life on the Pacific side. While in Jama, I received an email from Susana regarding plans for the week before the birding tour.
“…hopefully we can travel to la Cabaña El Aliso. How about Friday, Feb. 24th? This weekend (25-28) is Carnaval and I would like to spend these days in the Cabaña. Can you come with us.” – Continue reading
“…you should never have to watch your only children lowered in the ground — I mean you should never have to bury your own babies…” – (From the song Gravedigger ) – Dave Matthews Band
Jama Ecuador – Recently many people opened their doors and hearts and invited me into their private sanctuaries; they shared stories of the night of the earthquake and the days that followed. One person, Marcos Cevallos Mendoza, seemed more affected than most, and I was eager to find him again and listen to what he had to share. One person pointed me to one corner; another said, ‘No, I saw him about ten minutes ago near the new market. ‘
As I stopped at random places to ask for Marcos, heart-wrenching stories added more frayed threads to this town’s patchwork tapestry. Some suggested that I check the cemetery, which offered an instant solace from the reconstruction chaos in the center of town.
Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles. — Alex Karras
Jama Ecuador – Taking a timeout from the earthquake-recovery zone. I watched my friends harvest a shrimp pond about a kilometer from town. It seemed surreal to be surrounded by stunning landscapes under the influence of a pristine sunny morning while the nearby town provided little aesthetic beauty.
After harvest, my friends and I enjoyed a hearty brunch, said our “Goodbyes,” and I stopped to check the progress on the ‘kit’ house. Continue reading
February 16, 2017
Ten months ago, a subtle 4.8 ‘bump’ gave no fair warning of the 7.8 nightmare that would soon turn Ecuador’s northern coastline upside down. No one suspected that in ten minutes, they’d be scrambling for safety as the earth rolled in spasms and tossed people across rooms like a cat toying with a mouse. From Catholic News.com story about Jama, “The ground moved like waves on the ocean,” he recalls, while a pall of sulfurous-smelling haze rose over the town.”
Over the months, various people described that terrifying minute and its after effects:
“My sister was outside, and she wrapped her arms around a light pole and hung tight until it stopped.”
“From the upstairs window it looked very black to the north, and then the house started shaking. I ran to the kitchen and turned off the gas.” She choked back tears and told how the house rocked back and forth before starting to fall.
One man described how the earth pulled apart and a geyser of black water (?) shot skyward behind his shattered home.
“I don’t know how I got out alive. Things were falling, crashing, and I had to crawl…”
“I reached town, and everyone was gone. I did not know where they were.”
“There was a tsunami warning, but I first checked on my parents and then went to the hills. We spent the night on the hillside.”
“We swam across the river to get to town.”
“Thieves stole from the pharmacy after we left for the tsunami warning.”
“We were too scared to go back inside. We sat in the street until morning.”
“Look; I lost everything. I don’t have any clothes.” she frowned at her hand-made blouse and shrugged.
“Lee-sah!’ One person called from the far side of the street yesterday. A look of desperation bled through his attempted smile. This man with the perpetually-happy personality seemed broken; he explained that his family was still living in a tent, and he was concerned about providing food for them.
I’ve been working on posts to share stories of different people who have opened their hearts and invited me into their make-shift homes. Two posts will follow today, and more as time permits.
Thank you in advance for reading with an open and loving heart.
“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
How well do you know your neighbors; your neighborhood? If you live in a petite town, you probably know them on a personal level. Hopefully they are ‘good neighbors,’ ones who make you smile, and if they are lucky, your presence makes them smile as well! Once when visiting a friend in a larger city (in Mississippi) I asked about the next-door neighbors. He shrugged and said he didn’t know them. In disbelief I made some general exclamation but kept my stonger reaction in check. Just because a neighbor doesn’t extend the first token gesture — doesn’t mean that you cannot!
Challenging neighbors have sometimes dotted my past, but I eventually realized they had extreme personal burdens or wounds, which had nothing to do with me. By being neutral, many times I witnessed the softer side emerge. We as humans often don’t take time to consider how uncomfortable the other person’s shoes might be.
There are many people still in recovery mode on Ecuador’s earthquake-ravaged coastline. I’ve had time to walk slowly through neighborhoods and talk with friends, talk with strangers, and to marvel (and laugh) at children’s natural gift of inner joy. I realized that in good times we often don’t stop to exchange greetings with strangers, and in bad times, we’re so busy trying to survive, that we also forget that others are doing the same. In good times or in bad, we sometimes forget to take time to listen – truly listen… Continue reading
Jama Ecuador – This sweet token of affection was perched on my balcony this morning, and the Valentine’s Rabbit was still in sight on the grounds of Hostal Palo Santo!
She and her dear mother worked yesterday on arrangements for this special day. They set up in a little space near the center of town and graciouslly allowed me to take photos. Continue reading
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” ― Abraham H. Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being
Jama Ecuador – Lots of stories and images are in queue here on the Pacific coast. There’s a very special bird sighting – awaiting confirmation on its identity, and there are encouraging stories of those moving forward, poco a poco now ten months after the earthquake. The rains have been heavy, and many streets are more dirt than gravel, so mud boots are almost mandatory in some towns!
What follows is a ditty that will explain why future correspondence might be brief!
Kris Cunningham, who lives in the Republic of Panama, shared a ‘4-Minutes Experiment’ video that greatly affected me. Follow the link, open the video in the largest format possible, get still and very quiet, then select ‘play.’
“Do not judge—or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-4.
What surprised me were the negative comments on the video’s Youtube page. I pondered my own story, one of being embraced by the people of various Latin American countries. I did not have to prove my worth – they accepted me into their communities with amazing trust. Thank goodness they have not judged me based on negative PR regarding the USA, whether it’s caused by a single tourist or the military or our administration.
Sometimes we fill our days with too much chatter, when the best way for two people to communicate is eye to eye — or soul to soul. Continue reading