Exploring New Horizons

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.

Cosanga area landscape

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

Closures at the Cemetery


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Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve. – Earl Grollman

Jama Ecuador – There was something in his eyes, or perhaps in his voice when Marcos spoke to me on the busy street corner.  He had never asked me for anything except for an exchange of smiles during the many years I’ve known him. I knew little about his personal life; he was the smiling person who helped in his sister’s store, who sold colas and ice cream at the corner, and who made New Year effigies to sell during the final week of each year.

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Marcos Cevallos crossing the street – From once upon a time years before the earthquake…

I knew he had lost famiy in the earthquake, but I knew few details.   When he spoke to me in the street, he was worried about his 12-year old son and  mentioned a lack of money for food.  Planning to be out of town for a few days, I promised to return on Saturday.  Over those next few days, I often reflected on his somber tone;  I thought of Phil Colin’s song, Another Day in Paradise.   How difficult it must be for someone like Marcos to ask, ‘Sir, Can you help me?’    I’m glad he found the faith and comfort to approach me.

When I returned on Saturday, finding Marcos was no easy task on the weekend of Ecuador’s Presidential elections; I was determined to follow through with my promise and found him one day after the elections when the mass of people had gone home.    A friend tended the ice-cream box  while Marcos shared the story of losing his wife and three children during the earthquake.   See: The End of the World.

He invited me to go to the cemetery the next morning..
Continue reading



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“I thought it was the end of the world,”  – Marcos Cevallos

Jama, Ecuador – When people  share their stories of the 7.8 earthquake that struck 10 months ago, many use the same description as Marcos: “I thought it was the end of the world.”

With no electricity, there were few options for connecting the desecrated zones with the outside world.   Many kept cyber vigils in hopes of gleaning tidbits of information and passing that information to others.   News reports illustrated the devastation and provided interviews with people who survived the terremoto.   Many people from around the world met Marcos via the following news clip, beginning at minute 2:20: Continue reading

Private Sanctuaries


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“…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. ‘

The buildings are gone, but spirit remains....

Almost sunset – the buildings are gone, but spirit remains….

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.


Just to the right of the entrance.. Seven people who shared the same day of death: April 16, 2016

Just to the right of the entrance, seven people share the same day of death: April 16, 2016.  Four of those were Marcos’ wife and three of their four children.

Continue reading

Resilience – Ten Month Anniversary of Ecuador’s 7.8 Earthquake – Part Two


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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.


8 am Harvest Underway…






This Snowy Egret swallowed this entire fish in a few gulps!


The landscape frames haunting beauty in one view and a devastated community in another.

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

Resilience – Ten Month Anniversary of Ecuador’s 7.8 Earthquake – Part One


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The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance. – Jodi Picoult

Jama Ecuador – Every so often, void of pomp and circumstance, a large truck backs onto the eastern end of a small vacant block and unloads organized piles of boards, bamboo and roofing materials. The truck then drives away.

In December I witnessed this for the first time and noticed random clusters of people loading the materials into smaller trucks. One of the people watching over this process was one of Chana’s sons. I approached him, gave my condolences regarding his mother’s death (See Angels Watching over Us) and asked about the mystery event. He told me that a church from another area was the benefactor of these ‘kit houses’ – donated to those in the campo/country who were receiving no help. Feeling a bit like an intruder, I refrained from sticking my camera into the lives of strangers.  With patience, I hoped to learn more when a more-appropriate time presented itself.




We are stronger than we think. We have emotional, spiritual and even physical resources at our disposal. We may get knocked down, but we don’t have to stay down.”  – Steve Goodier

This month, my first time back since the December visit, I was again walking past when a truck unloaded another cluster of kit houses. I felt stronger, more ‘entitled’ to learn more in order to share this story with a larger audience. I took a few photos from the far side of the block then cautiously approached from a corner tangent.

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“Leeee-SAH!” someone called from a mototaxi that was parked near one of the stacks of supplies. I waved, aimed my camera in that direction and wondered who was greeting me with obvious affection… I looked at the lady standing near a stack and thought, “I’ve never seen this lady before..” I smiled,  asked her name, permission to take her photo and closed the gap between the taxi and me.


Her name is Iliana, and she lives about 10 kilometers ‘up the coastline.


“Leeeee-SAH!” exclaimed a second person, one with an armload of boards. He stretched one of his long spindly arms with a heartfelt greeting. Ah.. the puzzle pieces were falling in place. His brother and father and I have many ties through various people. I think that the brother Carlos was in the room long ago when a mouse ran in my direction, and I screamed and flat jumped high onto a chair!  They later commented, ‘You screamed like a girl.”


After a heart-warming reunion with the cluster of happy people, I was invited to go to the site where the house would be built.  Yes, Giddyup!  Let’s finish loading this truck and roll forward! Continue reading

The Ten Month Anniversary of Ecuador’s 7.8 Earthquake




Minutes from Jama – A Serene Respite from the Earthquake Recovery Efforts.

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.”

“The earthquake was presaged by a magnitude 4.8 foreshock eleven minutes before the main quake struck,[19] and followed by over fifty-five aftershocks in the first twenty-four hours.” — Wilkipedia


“We will never lose hope.”

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.



Do You Truly Know Your Neighbors?


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Jama Ecuador - Little-dog Candy barked and barked and barked at the Gringita, to the family's amusement....

Jama Ecuador – Little-dog Candy barked and barked and barked at the Gringita, to the family’s amusement….

 “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!

After meeting this gentleman, I was invited to the back of the house, where water was stored in a bucket, they cooked on an old tree stump yet had dignity and strong spirit. he showed me a snake skin, and we discussed a little snake that they call a 'bejuco' becuase it looks like a litte vine..

After meeting this gentleman, I was invited to the back of the house, where water was stored in a bucket;  they cooked on an old tree stump Even though the earthquake stripped them of their belongings, it did not rob them of their dignity and strong spirit.  He showed me this snake skin, and we discussed a little snake locally called, ‘.___-bejuco’ becuase it looks like a litte bejuco/vine.

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.

After visiting the family with the dog, and the family that cooked on the tree stump, I saw this person across the street. With a pinch of guilt, I 'only' waved, but plan to go visit this person soon.

After visiting the family with the dog, and the family that cooked on the tree stump, I saw this person across the street. With a pinch of guilt, I ‘only’ waved, but plan to go visit this person soon.

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

Happy Flowers!




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

Hobbling Along


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“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

Even the tin roof and nails came with the donated house!

Even the tin roof and nails came with the donated house!

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!
Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Whimsical Endemic Species


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Endemics at the Artist's Nest --- Acrylic

Endemics at the Artist’s Nest — Acrylic

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.”  Steve Jobs

With great pleasure, I’d like to introduce you to seven new feathered friends that have given me great joy!   They can definitely be classified as ‘endemic” and are quite rare;  they thrive in a very petite ecosystem in Mindo Ecuador.

Only one of these hybrid species has a name;  the Purple-crested Puffball might be petite, but it is a bundle of perpetual energy.   The rest are waiting for names, and I hope that some of you will help with suggestions!

This little stinker started it all! The original plan was for a simple design of whimsical hummingbirds. The firstborn insisted it was worthy of a life of glamour!

1.  This little blue and green stinker started it all! The original plan was for a simple design of whimsical cartoon hummingbirds spaced along a straight limb.   Simple.  Fast.  The firstborn quickly morphed from a basic shape with colors to a perky bird in a sparkling costume!     2. The little bird that anchors the corner has the body of a sparrow, and a beak designed for a special yet-to-be-created flower!

Continue reading

Timeout for Art? – What if there were no ‘Arts?’


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My life-long friend the pencil!

My life-long friend the pencil!

“Art is the signature of civilizations.”- Beverly Sills

(Ecuador) Using my.yahoo.com as email provider home page, I view the most-recent emails, the 5 top news stories, news of Ecuador/Latin America,  weather stats for specific locations,  and science and arts stories.  The custom page provides a quick summary of the day’s pulse when I log onto the internet.

One column features amazing works of art, and whenever possible I follow that link and savor Lines & Color’s ‘Eye Candy’...  This week featured a black rectangle to illustrate a more-serious post.     Please take time to read Charley Parker’s  Lines & Colors Is On Strike Today

From Lines & Colors: “…Yes, it’s a small, mostly symbolic gesture, but so are the recently announced plans by the incoming administration to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting…”

This AMAZING group of students repeated every sentence I spoke!

Museo Portoviejo – Ecuador – This AMAZING group of students repeated every sentence I spoke in English!

I pondered how to share my own thoughts regarding the importance the arts play in our world.   The best option seems to illustrate with images from old posts, where art played a large role in bringing people together while introducing them to the magic of self discovery.

We’ll start in Jama Ecuador, where locals are still recovering from the earthquake.  I am not sure if this tree is still there, but in the past, the whimsical art continued to smile at those who considered looking up…. Continue reading

Eye to Eye = Soul to Soul


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(Another photo follows at the bottom of this page.)

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.’

CONNECTION – By Kris Cunningham

“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.

Capes of a Different Color - Acrylic by Lisa Brunetti

Holy Week/Quito Ecuador – “Capes of a Different Color” – Acrylic

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

Timeout for Art when there is no Timeout for Art!


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(Accidental swirl while taking a photo!)

(Accidental swirl while taking a photo!)

“…I transferred one large and four small framed paintings to the closet in my bedroom, so I would have room to move. I pulled out painted papers. I sifted through bins and bowls full of scraps. I started shuffling things around. I felt myself grinning…”  Cindy Rickgers – Timeout for Art – Jan. 19, 2017

I don’t think she’s missed one week; dear Cindy, hands full with responsibilities and obligations, finds time week after week after week to post a Timeout for Art.  She often apologizes for lack of material, but she always dedicates a “Timeout” for art every Thursday.    Thank you Cindy!  You inspire me more than you’ll ever realize!

Remember this mosaic in progress?

Remember this mosaic in progress?

My hands have been full with the ‘stairway’ project, and today I am typing with dried varnish on my fingertips.   As soon as this is published, I’ll brush a second coat on the floor.    Are you curious to see the progress?! Continue reading

“Good Game!”


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December 2016 – Mindo Ecuador – End of School Event for the Holiday Break

(Ecuador) – About year ago when my friend Barbara was visiting, we drove to town once or twice each week, checked internet, bought supplies then returned to my friends’ Rio Cinto property. We opened pages of interest while on the internet and then read them offline when time permitted. In the serene first hours of the morning while sitting on the front deck, I sometimes broke the silence to read something of interest to her, or she read something to me. When I read the following (below), she listened patiently and then stated, “I’d like to have that read at my funeral. Who wrote that?”


Rio Cinto/Mindo Ecuador – View from the deck

“I did,” I smiled, and told her that I’d written it while sick with dengue and chikungunya; though I did not fear I might be dying, these words tumbled out one day as if dictated by a higher source.

Most every time I pondered sharing this, someone died or there was a horrific disaster, and the timing seemed wrong.  It seems like the right time, and I look forward to your feedback.     Lisa



“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.” Kahlil Gibran

Rest in Peace… A tribute opened with those RIP words, and I pondered that saying and quickly morphed to my own obituary and thought, May they say about me, Continue reading

No Mistakes – Only Lessons


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“You will fail many times but in failing you’ll learn and in learning you’ll find your way. Remember, there are no mistakes in life but only lessons, and lessons will keep on repeating until learned.”  Paulo Coelho


I’ve been quiet, but that might mean that I’ve been busy!  Are you curious?!


Mindo Ecuador – The tragedy of last year’s earthquake has had an unusual effect on me;  my patience and tolerance, thanks to several challenging lessons, have strengthened.   A project-in-progress for the ‘Artist’s Nest’ has tested that statement!

Two local workers have been helping with a 3-day project that has stretched into eight.   If I sweep the sawdust and debris five times, there’s always a sixth, and most likely a seventh, though at the end of the day these two sweet workers clean the entire area well before leaving.


When I grab the broom to sweep the steps yet again, I find that I don’t sigh and say to myself, “Again…” or get frustrated at redundant tasks.  I think, “What those people who have no home would do to have this problem!”       In addition to lessons learned via my nephew Don, “While the Worlld Outside My Window Goes Insane”   , I think of those on the Pacific coast that lost so much, and I ‘Let it go’ instantly.


Whoosh!  Gone.  Not worth it.  That post (above) connects me back via the photo tribute to Don;   with 124 comments, it’s surely one of the most popular ones for inspiration.

And the lack of stress and frustration is genuine! There’s no psyching myself into trying to dump the stress; it’s never allowed residence or even a Timeout Corner as each day brings new surprises.


Measure twice – cut once. I watched as they measured, stated outloud the measurement, then the apprentice went outside to cut the section. He returned and —- “Whoops…”  he cut it at ’06’ instead of ’16.’  No problem – he learned an easy lesson! They lengthened it with a second section and wired the two together.

The workers are so kind and sweet, and Perejil (a nickname) does amazing work.  He’s very patient and goes to great details, so the work has taken longer than expected.   It’s worth the extra days, and in the story of my day, my week, my life, what is important is the quality of each day — and each day as been crammed with positive experiences.

Are you curious to see the project in progress?  Put on your hard hat, as there’s no hand rail, the main reason this project began! Continue reading

Starting Fresh While Honoring the Old


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Quito- Ready-made effigies for sale for the New Year's Eve tradition.

Quito- Ready-made effigies for sale for the New Year’s Eve tradition.

As people around the world honor customs to welcome the new year, I now realize how easy it is to get caught up in festivities while forgetting those who are recovering from somber challenges.   Those people are surely anxious to say “Farewell” to the old year and embrace the new one with hopes for better times.

The word ‘resilient’ has popped up several times in the past week, and I know of no others more resilient than those on Ecuador’s coast who are still recovering from the April 16 earthquake.

End of day break along the cleared banks of Rio Jama. Across the river, a collectivo taxi truck transports people to nearby El Matal.

Dec. 2016 – End-of-day break along the cleared banks of Rio Jama. Across the river, a collectivo taxi truck transports people to nearby El Matal.

The following footage is from a security camera at a cyber cafe in Canoa, Ecuador on April 16, at the moment the earthquake shocked the people of the area and blanketed the coastal-struck zone in darkness.  Canoa is one of many towns between Bahia de Caraquezand Pedernales that received extensive damage from the terremoto.  (Jama is located about midway between the two areas.) Continue reading

Christmas Colors from Ecuador


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Would you believe that Santa found my GPS location?  I tried to outsmart him and went from the coast to the cloud forest and then to Quito – all in one week!   Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!  His elves gathered an amazing assortment of special items including new acrylic paints, REAL drawing pencils, an earthquake-relief T-shirt, chocolates — it’s a miracle,as I am still baffled to how all of those items – and more – fit in one surprise stocking!…

Thanks, Papa Noel y Elves! (— or do duendes help Papa Noel in South America?)


Merry Christmas to All!



Wisdom 101 – Jama Ecuador


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Christmas Tree Decorations — Entrance to Hostal Palo Santo (Jama Ecuador)

“Suffering is part of our training program for becoming wise.”  Ram Dass

(Jama Ecuador) After traveling for 5 or more hours, I recently reached Jama in the late afternoon.  Palo Santo Cafe was closed, but someone was inside – preparing for the night.  I knocked on the door and asked if I could use the internet – to send a smoke signal that I’d reached my destination for the day.   “Of course,” lovely Karen smiled as she opened the door and invited me inside.  “Stay as long as you’d like…”

Luchy's girlfriend, Karen...

Luchy’s girlfriend, Karen…

I sat at a table and quickly vanished into cyberworld while they worked in the kitchen.   Just as I was packing my things to leave, young Jesus – Luchy’s nephew, motioned for me to stay.  He pointed to three coffee cups on the counter and whispered, “Shhhhh…”     Smiling, I unpacked the computer and played my role in the coffee break surprise..   Yet ten minutes later, the cups of not-so steaming coffee were still sitting there, and I thought perhaps I misunderstood.   About that time Luchy and Karen emerged from the kitchen with hot ham and cheese sandwiches for everyone!


Jesus, Luchy's nephew, often helps (with a huge heart and grand smile) at the restaurant.

Jesus, Luchy’s nephew, often helps (with a huge heart and grand smile) at the restaurant.  He prepared the cafe con leche, garnished with an artful swirl on the surface!

These palms line the front of Palo Santo...

These palms line the front of Palo Santo…

I camped at their hostal this past trip and enjoyed more quality time not only with the family, but with many of the locals as well.   One night when I was walking from their restaurant to the hostal (2 blocks) someone called my name.  It was a friend I’d not seen in over a year.  She and her four precious children are living in one of the tent communities.  She looked great and seemed happy, and we both enjoyed the 10-pm exchange on the almost-deserted street.

From better times - before the earthquake

Photo from better times – before the earthquake

“When someone feels particularly isolated or in pain, we don’t need a great deal of information in order to come to his or her aid.”  Ram Dass

Tent Community between Jama and Playa El Matal (Ecuador)

Tent Community between Jama and Playa El Matal (Ecuador)

Another day when going to buy 'takeout' encebollado for breakfast, another person called, "Lisa!" Many times as they share their stories, they release a bit of their noble and very privte pain. It is true that tears are the escape valve for the heart.

Another day when I was buying ‘takeout’ encebollado for breakfast, someone on the street called, “Lisa!”    Many times as they share their stories, they release a bit of their noble and very private pain. It is true that tears are the escape valve for the heart.

Continue reading

Timeout for Art? Siempre-Always!



Acrylic on Fabric -

Acrylic on Fabric –

There is no surer method of evading the world than by following Art, and no surer method of linking oneself to it than by Art. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

An online ‘special preview’ approaches for all of you who have patiently endured my erratic postings.  My hands have been full with lots of tasks – many of them have been highly-creative ones!   I’ve not had time for full-time painting, but you’ve earned a sneak peek!

Sometimes it’s easy to go into an intense focus, and studies seem to shine best against a stark background.  The butterflies above illustrate when ‘all is calm’ in Zeebra’s life. Other times when distractions nudge me out of focus, I switch to a totally-different style — one that makes me smile and demands a different approach.  An old Artist’s Statement of mine stated, “Two people live inside of me…”  Here’s a sample of that second person: Continue reading

…Delicate and Fleeting as a Life in the Universe…


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Selenicereus megalanthus, better known as ‘Dragon Fruit’ – or ‘Pitahaya’ in Ecuador.

“And I think of the night-blooming cereus, a plant that looks like a leathery weed most of the year.


But for one night each summer its flower opens to reveal silky white petals, which encircle yellow lacelike threads,


and another whole flower like a tiny sea anemone within the outer flower.

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By morning, the flower has shriveled. One night of the year, as delicate and fleeting as a life in the universe.” —Alan Lightman – The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew


Mindo Ecuador –  Dec. 01, 2016  (Rabbit-rabbit!)

Yesterday morning my friend Clemencia emailed to say, “We are having some flowering in the pitahaya, if you would like to come tonight… if you want to invite Cynthia, please do; she wanted to see the flowers too. It is not a big flowering, but the nights have been beautiful so even with a few it will be nice.” Continue reading

Hurricanes & Earthquakes?


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(Mindo Ecuador) Dedicated artists continue working on murals….

” …heavy rain induces thousands of landslides and severe erosion, which removes ground material from the Earth’s surface, releasing the stress load and encouraging movement along faults … the reduced load (can) unclamp the faults, which can promote an earthquake.”  – Shimon Wdowinski, associate research professor at the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Several days ago as Otto began creeping toward Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, I remembered noting that strong earthquakes seem connected not only to full and new moons, but also to Hurricanes and periods of heavy rains.   Doing a bit of homework, I opened two sites that discussed the earthquake-hurricane connection.

Working by phone and flashlight!

Working by phone and flashlight!

Working late with the mural-painting projects, I intended to read the stories with more focus when I had more time; the page was still on the screen when the 7.0+ quake hit El Salvador.

Here’s the link if anyone’s interested in post-turkey dinner reading material:  Hurricanes-Typhoons May Trigger Earthquakes.

Meanwhile, many are watching Otto’s trek across southern Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica.   May all of you have a safe evening.

Is anyone ready to stop for the day?!


A-typical Thanksgivings


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Tent Community between Jama and Playa El Matal (Ecuador)

Tent Community between Jama and Playa El Matal (Ecuador)

Greetings to all on this USA day of Thanksgiving.    In strong contrast to those affected by world-wide unstable weather, I spent the early morning helping with finishing touches on a mural-painting “minga” near Mindo’s central park.   Students, teachers and artists worked in easy harmony over the past few days while all-but perfect sunny skies smiled upon us.

p1020190-mindo-murals-wed-day-2-small p1020290-mindo-murals-wed-day-2-sisters-small


Although the experience filled me with gratitude for these lovely people who embrace foreigners into their culture, my thoughts have also been tweaked to equally-loving people in Central America who are and will be affected by Otto’s late-November visit to the area. Continue reading

Late-November Otto & Central America


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Thinking of all of you that are affected by Otto’s late-November surprise.

When I scan maps of Central America, I always spot that large Lake Nicaragua- Cocibolca (Ometepe is home to Debbie and Ron, who – ironically- were in New Zealand and experienced the recent 7.8 earthquake…)  Then I look due south to find the Nicoya Penisula where many of my friends live…. and now due east to Barra Colorado on the north-east border with Nicaragua, where my friend Dan has Rio Colorado Lodge.   Hang in there everyone…  Many will be watching from afar.

Kris out of Panama posted an update on weather in the David area. ‘Otto is Soaking Us”

(To anyone with internet there, updates are appreciated…)

Lessons to all:  Keep your homes well stocked – disasters seem to be surprising people world wide….


Jama Ecuador – Before & After


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“Wherever there are birds, there is hope.”
― Mehmet Murat ildan


Jama, Ecuador –  Arriving in Jama just before dark, I was happy to see Luchy Cevallos unloading items from his car at Palo Santo Cafe.  “Lisa!!” he smiled, “Come in and have a cafe!”   I accepted on the condition that I share the tasks before they opened at 7.     He also prepared a pizza that we shared, and then he dashed to the cabanas to prepare #3 for me to spend the night.  Yay!

Business was brisk, and I suspected that each dime would help with repairs on his hostal.   When I left at ten, people were still visiting while enjoying good food at a very fair price.

I also took photos to compare before and after, so here’s an ‘after’ photo taken in front of Palo Santo…

Jama - in front of Palo Santo Cafe - Nov 2016 What's missing?

Jama – in front of Palo Santo Cafe – Nov 2016 What’s missing?

Compare the photo above with one taken a few years earlier:

Jama Before -

Jama Before –

More before/after comparasons:


Jama before – (Wear White for Peace)

Jama after earthquake – Luchy’s brother’s house is gone (to the right) as is a two-story house to the left…

Turning back time to 2008:  How well I remember walking the lazy streets of Jama as if I’d stepped into a time warp from my childhood.  Cowboys nudged their cattle along the streets at the end of the day.     The town slowly changed over the past seven years, but the April 16th earthquake turned Jama and neighboring areas upside down.

Many have shared their stories.

“…It began like the usual earthquakes – starting slowly, and we became aware – Earthquake – and assumed it would be finished in a few seconds. But it didn’t, and the slow subtle start sort of tricked us…   I was in the street outside my house when it happened… first it wasn’t scary – it was like a normal earthquake and then it got stronger. One house fell and then another and another… and I looked at our house and thought, “Please don’t fall…” – and it didn’t….   A few more minutes, and I think the house would have fallen down.”
Continue reading

Weather, Extinctions and Round-the-World Deforestations


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Ecuador's Powerful Woodpecker closely resembles North America's lost Ivorybill. Will mankind learn that preserving and restoring the habitat has reached critical importance?

Ecuador’s Powerful Woodpecker (Campephilus pollens) resembles North America’s possibly-extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker.  What will it take to awaken mankind that preserving and restoring the habitat has reached critical importance?

” The ivory-bill is so iconic: big, beautiful, mysterious—a symbol of everything that’s gone wrong with our relationship to the environment. I thought if someone could just locate an ivory-bill, could prove that this remarkable species still exists, it would be the most hopeful event imaginable. We would have one final chance to save this bird and the bottomland swamp forests it needs to survive.”  From Surfbirds.com – interview with Tim Gallagher, author of The Grail Bird.

While working, I noted a new bird sound and was rewarded by seeing this magnificent woodpecker!

While working, I  was rewarded by first hearing and then seeing this magnificent Powerful Woodpecker!

“Earth’s population of wild vertebrates — all mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish — declined 58 percent from 1970 to 2012. (That’s up from 52 percent in the 2014 report, which spanned 1970 to 2010.) In other words, the total number of wild animals with backbones has fallen by more than half within one human lifetime.”   Russell McClendon – Mother Nature Network (Oct 27/2016)

Mindo Ecuador –   Something happened last month that had a profound effect on me.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach it, how to share it with you – with those who might be interested – but even more for those who are not. Continue reading

Art? My Mother Didn’t Tell Me about Art…


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Detail/ Tres Manos Copyright Lisa Brunetti

Detail/ Tres Manos Copyright Lisa Brunetti 2012

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” – Mary Lou Cook

Once upon a time, long long ago, a precious four-year old burst into tears when the art teacher stepped into his classroom on the second week of school.   “Art?” little Sam whimpered, “My mother didn’t tell me about art….”   He cried and cried and eventually stopped — about the time class was over for the day.

Students love to inspect my basket of art materials...

Students loved inspecting my basket of art materials…

A week passed, and I again disrupted his normal routine, and he cried again.. Not so much, but my presence made him uncomfortable…  He cried during the first part of class, but then calmed.  I think by the third week he accepted this strange interuption and in another month, he embraced the concept of art and all of the surprises that the art teacher shared with his four-year old peers.   I often said that teaching those four-year olds was a bit like jugging one too many balls; their attention spans were short, so I tried to provide many options each week to hold their interests …

P1690292 water BALLS gye malecon

Four years later when that same cluster of students was drawing one of their classmates who sat in one lone chair in the middle of the room, I silently marveled, “Wow.. they are getting a likeness, not just an icon, and they probably should not have the skills to do this at this age – but no one has told them that they couldn’t… and Mrs. B believes in them – therefore they did it – and did it well!” Continue reading

Latitude Zero and Holding


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Hola Ground Control, this is Zeebra on the Magic Carpet, presently in a Holding Pattern over Latitude Zero, though we are veering slightly north and slightly south.  Skies have been clear with no turbulence, and presently we have one passenger who seems to be content with her travels so far.

Marie balanced the egg with record speed!

Marie balanced the egg with record speed!

Maintaining zero turbulence at Latitude Zero has required a bit of focus, so I will divert my attention back to my passenger and continue searching for unique destinations for her Cloud Forest experience.

We dropped in to experience the magic of Angel Paz and his feathered friends' private performances.

We dropped in to experience the magic of Angel Paz and his feathered friends’ private performances.

Would you like to see a bit of what we’ve done so far?

Continue reading

Did you Miss the Mindo Bird Fair? (Oct. 08)


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Sandra Patino - (Bird of Paradise Tours/Mindo Ecuador)

Sandra  Patiño – (Bird of Paradise Tours/Mindo Ecuador)

(Mindo/Pichincha/Ecuador) -Observing the day of October 08 to acknowledge our feathered neighbors on this planet, the Mindo Bird Guide Association (Asociación de Guías Naturalistas de Mindo) partnered with local, national and international sponsors and hosted their second Bird Fair.   Of course I jumped at the opportunity to participate, starting at dawn yesterday, October 08!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarly-birders gathered for a dawn bird trek, and depending on which birds we hoped to see, our groups split in different directions.    I shadowed my friend Sandra Patiño, who guided us along a high ridge where hummingbirds, barbets and toucanets shared the spotlight while toucans and pygmy tyrants provided the live soundtrack! Continue reading

ArtAZ-Surprise Quito


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P1680845 paints in squeeze bottles i can do this

Follow the link below to view the paintings submitted for the SURPRISE Quito benefit that opens on the 22nd of this month….Can you figure out which painting is mine?

Surprise Quito – Benefit

From their website: SURPRISE Quito, artAZ’s inaugural benefit exhibition for the support of Desafio Ecuador’s work for the relief of the Ecuador earthquake victims, will open at Galeria Artik, between 22-24 September 2016. A

There is still time for any artist in Ecuador to submit a 20 x 25 (8 x 10) painting – just remember to sign it on the back so the creator remains a surprise…   The link above gives the info for submitting the image via email and also for details for sending the art to Quito asap!

The weeks continue to be busy, and the new owners of the property will arrive at the end of this month!

Signing off til later this week,


Timeout for Ballet?


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“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.” – Mary Oliver

A small poster in dramatic reds and blacks caught my attention last weekend; a stunning photo showcased a cluster of performers for the National Ballet, scheduled to perform on Tuesday September 6th. Taped to the door of the closed tourism office, the poster radiated a mystical allure. “Lazos de Tierra – Fiesta en el Mar” – A Free Event – Ballet Nacional de Ecuador.”
“Oh well,” I mused, “It would be nice to attend, though I don’t plan to go to Quito.”

Before resuming my errands, I decided to check the fine print for the location. Otavalo and Cuenca often have cultural events, and I was curious about what city would be hosting the performance.

Mindo! A ballet in petite Mindo?

I looked again to be sure I had read it correctly.

Yes, the National Ballet would be performing on Tuesday night! I enthusiastically passed the information to friends, and they seemed as surprised as I!

……. Fast forward to “Hora:  19:30 — Martes 6 de Septiembre”…..

Since my camera does not work well in low light, I wasn’t expecting to take many photos. Cynthia pointed out that the entire front row of chairs was basically empty, so we scampered forward and claimed a prime vantage point!!!

The curtain rose in almost total darkness, and the audience peered with collective expectations. As the lighting increased, the darkened forms of dancers began to rise from prone positions. I groped for my camera and managed to get a few blurred shots. The scene quickly morphed to full throttle, and as dramatic lighting showcased these talented dancers in stunning costumes, the camera performed quite well!

(A grayscale version of the top image is a bit easier to decipher...)

(A grayscale version of the top image is a bit easier to decipher…)

What follows is a pictorial summary of the event.

Ladies and gentlemen – please take your seats; the lights have dimmed!   Enjoy the show! Continue reading

Esperanza – Hope


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Manos Arrrrriba!

“Manos Arrrrriba!”        Esperanza – Hope. Without hope, people’s souls would atrophy. My friends and I witnessed esperanza in most every place we stopped.

Jama-El Matal (Manabi Province) Ecuador

Having just returned from a visit to the coast (Jama) where the earthquake turned my friends’ worlds upside down then slammed them to the ground, I would like to share what burns strongest in my mind and soul. Yes, some friends cried when they shared their stories, but their tears also released a bit of grief.  More than tears, I saw smiles. Proud brave smiles that burned as bright and strong as the brilliant sunlight on their altered landscape.


Esperanza – Hope. Without hope, people’s souls would atrophy. My friends and I witnessed esperanza in most every place we stopped.

A buzz of activity kept the center of town in perpetual motion. A steady stream of people puchased ten-cent servings  of fresh rolls at the open-air panaderia, relocated only a slight distance from its original place on the block. The vegetable vendor location shadowed the panaderia, just like it did before the earthquake, and a second one held its usual spot on the other side of the one-way street. There was comfort in walking up to the glass-fronted bakery counter and requesting caramel-colored cubes of banana bread for my travel companions and me – and oh yes, delicate rolls of chocolate bread and — ‘look at those fresh orbs of bread that are still cooling – we’ll take some of those too.’ Continue reading

Enduring Difficult Times


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Earthquake-damaged Manabi Province ahead.

Earthquake-damaged Manabi Province ahead.

“We warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how.”    Paulo Coelho- The Alchemist

Manabi Province/Jama Ecuador

Friends Cynthia, Luis and Pedro agreed to make a very-fast trip with me to the coast on Tuesday to check on Casa Loca, to visit with friends who are enduring difficult times in the Jama area, and to listen to what’s in their minds and hearts.  We hoped to return to Mindo with a better idea of what was needed and share that information with others who might be able to help.    Leaving before sunrise, I reached my first road block only a few minutes after leaving the property!

(Pardon me, but who has the right-of-way when cattle are still sleeping?)

(Pardon me, but who has the right-of-way when cattle are still sleeping?)

Five or six cows were sleeping in the road; several reluctantly moved out of the way after I rolled closer and closer while blowing the horn.  Others played ‘possum and remained in place.   After five or more minutes, I got out of the truck and found a remnant of a tree limb. I whacked several of the stubborn cows on their rumps and demanded, ‘Get up!’

Some were compliant and eventually ambled to the side.

Some were compliant and eventually ambled to the side.

They obeyed!

My friends were ready when I reached Mindo, and our first stop was about an hour later near the town of San Vicente Maldonado.   Peter had recently attended a 2-week appreticeship at Cenba, a bamboo processing center that produces an alternative to using lumber from trees. The stop was an eye-opener for Cynthia and me!

Cemba - What's behind the gate?

Cemba – What’s behind the gate?

Continue reading

Sign Sign Everywhere a Sign!


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Have a seat!

Have a seat!

Ecuador – A few weekends ago while in Riobamba, I noted a simple-yet attractive sign inside a small cafe across the street from my hostal. White chalk on a large blackboard, it nudged the reader to take a seat. Perky hummingbirds hovered around the letters while whimsical lightbulbs illustrated the decor. How could one not stop and give them a little business?


The petite cafe was well scrubbed and inviting, and a soundtrack of unobtrusive music added to the atmosphere. The sign made me smile as I sipped what might have been the worst moccachino I’ve ever had as I waited on friends! The grilled cheese sandwich, however, was well made, and the owners were kind and attentive. In time, they’ll work out a better option for the coffee; my entire breakfast was an whopping three dollars! I marvel and often wonder how Ecuadorian restauranteurs can survive on such low prices!

Working on photos, I realized the growing number of images I have taken of signs. Here are a few that might make you smile: Continue reading