Friday, July 28, 2017

Reserved for Purpose
57 years of life on this earth has given me much reason to be grateful.  An amazing, loving and supportive family, a varied career doing things that I love, a comfortable place to live and so many wonderful and talented friends.  Life has been so interesting thus far.  (see other blog posts)
I'd like to make a reservation now please for a table for purpose.

For me - staying positive, humor, trying to manage a good attitude and most importantly knowing that love conquers all have been the foundations for feeling happiness, balance and purpose.
Don't get me wrong - I've had many many days, nights, experiences that were dark and depressing, deep black holes of fear and angst and loneliness....but have kept the faith that I'm here for a reason and life is a gift and lets live it fully.
"Hello Sunshine!"

As I ponder my life and the things that have brought me joy, challenged me and made me who I am, I feel compelled to express my sadness, disgust, anger and outrage over what is happening all around us from racism, bigotry and social injustice to the attack on basic morals and values from the people that have been elected as our leaders.
Elected.
People vote and say yes blindly to hate, evil and the denigration of humans.  This is not shocking to me -it has been happening since the dawn of time.  Greed, power, influence and worldly riches can lead people to do some weird twisted shit.
The newly elected crazy thing (too good of a word for him..)whose name is not to be spoken - is the most shameful and dare I say evil human (is he human?) that I have known in my lifetime as an adult.  The power that he is wielding most certainly should be stopped but it is being fed by the massive attention he receives. "Give him a chance?!" OH HELL NO.

Some of our society thinks his outrageous behavior is ok but then again some think it is ok that we have billboards in our cities and neighborhoods that promote guns and gun shows. One of the many insanities - promoting and celebrating a tool of violence, of torture, a weapon that hurts or kills an animal or a human.  Surely this is not what was intended as our purpose as humans.

This is why it is so important for us of like minds to stand up and fight the good fight.
Love must conquer this blatant siege.
We gotta look past the smoke screens being thrown up daily.
What does that mean?  How do we do this?  I ask myself everyday.
What I do is let my representatives know my position.  Make that phone call.  Send that email.
Stand up for justice for all.  Give a helping hand.
It is tiring.  It is a battle of the mind and heart and yet another thing to put attention to.
Good is always worth it.  Equality for all is always worth it.

When Obama ran and was elected - it was a dream come true for many.  Our hopes and visions for a leader with integrity, character, honor, charisma and a loving heart that could inspire and embrace was realized.  The Obamas were the absolute most refreshing and exhilarating leaders. Their philosophy was not only right on target with mine but took me to a whole new level of awareness and hope for all.  Barack and Michelle Obama's legacy will always be a solid and inspiring moment in the history of time.
I am so thankful to have been a witness to their service.

Boy has the pendulum swung.  Knew it was coming.  Like it was almost too good to be true.
But,  good - is always true.  Lets remember that.
Interesting - I have a cousin who predicted a good bit of all this situation a few years ago (we kind of thought he was nuts) and I'll be damned it he wasn't on the mark.  Who would have thought we would be in this freak out stage and wondering if this is the new normal?
IT IS NOT NORMAL AND WILL NEVER BE.

Finding a way to love people no matter their background, sexual orientation, color, religion, appearance or politics is important to me and a focus.
Does that come naturally for some and not others or is it taught?
As my friend Abou Sylla the griot would say - imitating George W Bush... "Its haaah wwok."

Is hate easier than love?  I really have no idea how people on the side of hate, violence and evil are compelled.  I am curious about it and I always believe there is more than one side of a story but then again - there is good and there is bad...sometimes it is just as simple as that.

Those of us on the side of love and good and justice will continue the good fight.
This is purpose to me.  Don't give up.  Put the Reserved

sign on the table.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Mom in Mexico

Kellane decided to travel to Mexico to do some volunteer work and see the Yucatán.
"Mom!  You should come!"  I had only been to Mexico once - 30 years ago to Cancun on my honeymoon.  My understanding was that Cancun - now being a major tourist destination had changed a great deal.
Kellane selected Mérida for her trip.  Mérida is the capitol of the Yucatán a good size city rich in culture and history.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mérida,_Yucatán



I thought - "How often is your daughter going to invite you to share an adventure?  and what the hell - I should go!"  I had frequent flyer points to get me there and started looking at prices of places to stay and realized it would be pretty cheap.  I booked a flight and started making arrangements.
Kellane was staying at a student house with several other volunteers and had made friends fast.  Her house was on the outskirts of town and required a bus (small van) to get there for just a few dollars.
I found a small boutique hotel in the historic district called Julamis on airB&B that looked and sounded perfect.  My expectations were exceeded with this lovely slice of heaven.
I arrived on November 12, 2015 and took a cab to the Julamis.  I'd been practicing on the plane how to give the address to the cab driver in Spanish.  I have a great Spanish accent but I can't speak but a few words and phrases.  This blond gringo got taken advantage of a couple of times because of that.....
It was hot as hell, like Columbia, SC in August hot. All of the uninviting facades fool you with their blandness and lack of curb appeal until you step through the door.  Alex, the owner of the hotel answered the doorbell and welcomed me in.  Kellane was to meet me there shortly.  The place was lovely. Beautiful tiles, cheery and bright, open air dining area, lanterns, stained glass, hand painted walls, clean and dancing with spirits of the past - it is over 200 years old.








Rooftop Lounge

















Alex showed me my room which had two beautiful beds, a sitting area and a large bathroom.  Outside of our door was a small balcony.  The room had a small frig that was stocked with water, soda and beer which he explained he restocked everyday at no cost. He gave me a map of the area and pointed out places to eat and see and then showed me the rooftop lounge area.  Another couple had just arrived - Sylvia and Micheal from Switzerland.  They were in "law enforcement" but on vacation.  Super nice, young and attractive couple.  They spoke good English. Alex showed us the rooftop and explained every evening at 6 there would be tequila on the roof.  "You can drink as much as you like!"  It was only 4:00 so "too early".  As I went back to my room to freshen up  I asked where I could get a cold bottle of white wine and he said he had a cabinet and he would bring one with glasses.  There was a small fee.  He said just ask anytime or I could get from cabinet at anytime and just pay later.
Kellane arrived shortly after.  It was so great to see her!  She looked great and tanned.  "I hope you are using suncreen!" was all I could think....She liked the hotel and was happy to be there.  There was a new air about her - an ease that comes with being in Mexico.  We caught up on her adventures and had a glass of wine on the balcony.  Her friends from the house wanted to come have dinner with us so we picked a place to meet.  Chiaya Maya.
At 6 we went to the rooftop and were joined by Sylvia and Micheal and I believe there was another German couple there as well that were friends of Alex.  We tried the 3 different tequilas that he had put out and remarked on which we favored.  We traded stories of our travels and our lives then left to meet her friends.
Kellane's friends from the volunteer house


Stone, José, Pepe, Miriam and Beth met us and we had a nice dinner and conversation.  They seem to all get along very well and spirits were high.  We then walked across the street to Plaza Santa Lucia where there was music and dancing and a good crowd of people. Every night  there was something happening in the plazas.   It had been a long day for me (I left at 4:30am) so the kids (I can't think of a better term - no offense) walked me back to the hotel and they went out.  By the way - everyone talked about how safe it is in Mérida and I felt completely comfortable there.  No thugs, murderers or rapists that I could see.........

November 13th 2015

Our host Alex Rudin (look him up) was a master chef in Switzerland and served us the most amazing breakfast each morning.  Fruit, croissants, muffins - one morning chocolate chip another - something w nuts,  another cinamon rolls,   a spicy red jam, good strong coffee, orange juice - unlike any I've tasted -  light, sweet - and also a different daily sumptuous egg dish.  Like - an egg souffle lightly wrapped in prosciutto topped with grilled asparagus.    He kept the coffee mugs full, would bring out the tray of hot bread for another round, discuss the days agenda and all of the guests would add into the conversation.  "Uxmal.  Oh yes it is the best...  If you want a great Yucatan meal - Chaiya Maya".  I mean!  We were pretty euphoric about his breakfast.  He was wonderfully attentive and made sure we had everything we wanted.

Alex Rudin






Kellane and I explored some of the historic buildings around the Centro Plaza - beautiful architecture, enormous murals of the Spanish Conquest in the Governor's building and then sat in the plaza in those funky white conversation chairs.  I think that may have been when she said she was thinking of joining the Peace Corp. 
We happened upon an antique shop and chatted with the son and mother of the shop.  He had been to Charleston and Goose Creek....I loved a poster she had on her door about a bizarre the next day and asked if I could buy it. 
She went and got another copy and rolled it up in a tube for me and gave it to me.  She said her daughter would be there selling Frida Kahlo things.





kitchen at the volunteer house

Common area and pool at volunteer house
We then took a van to Kellane's house - about a 20 minute ride.  As we got off it starting POURING rain and we had several blocks to walk so we were soaked when we got to her house.  Jose and Stone were sitting in the courtyard and Jose jumped up and got me a towel.  We hung out there for a bit, walked around the corner to get some lunch and waited for the rain to stop.  The vibe at the house was very chill and I could see how the students liked being there.  Simple, quiet and manageable.  It didn't stop raining and although Kellane resisted the idea of a cab ("MOM!  NO! thats what tourists do!")....Pepe helped us get a cab - I was ready to go back to town and to the comfort of our hotel.  
We heard the news of the attacks in Paris.  I was glad to be with my baby at the time...We had conversations about it with the guests at Julamis and had a shot (or 2)of tequila.   The kids came and met us at the hotel and we went to find a bar.  Hanging out with 20somethings was fun and interesting.  It was raining again.  
Nov. 14th
Uxmal - Mayan ruins was one of our outings.  It was threatening rain but we had an umbrella and a poncho.  Four of us got our own English speaking (with a thick Spanish accent) guide, very passionate about the Mayan history and was himself of Mayan decent.  It started pouring about half way through so we just ventured out on our own, climbed the extremely steep steps of the only pyramid you are allowed to climb at Uxmal... and explored the compound.  At some points it felt we had the compound to ourselves.  The spirits of the ancient past were thick and heavy even in the pouring rain.  I thought about what the ancient Mayans must have done when the weather turned severe.   We marveled at what the Mayans produced.  The intricate carvings, the massiveness of it all.

 





 Another day in Mérida with Kellane's friends.  

Santiago Bizzare
La Negrita
Centro Plaza

The plazas are wonderful central parks that are surrounded by usually a cathedral, important buildings, restaurants, bars and its where everyone goes to socialize.  Great place to people watch. There were many in Mérida.  At the Centro Plaza a college student came up to us looking for donations towards his education.  He was selling candy.  I asked what he was studying and he said "Music."  I said "What kind?"  he said "Opera"  I said - "Sing me a song and I'll give you a tip."  It startled him at first and then he said "OK."  He told us what he would sing and his voice was so wonderful and mature.  We were delighted!  I gave him a wad of pesos...

Music and dance are a deep part of the cultural fabric in this area.

We went back to the rooftop at Julamis with Miriam and Stone where we enjoyed tequila.  The kids then left and I hung out with Alex, his wife Mary, Indra and the German couple on the roof.  Indra lives in Cancun and I booked my last nights stay with her.

Another night Pepe and friends picked us up in his dad's car from a little Italian place on Montejo Blvd... we went to a German place, complete with Mexicans dressed in German attire.
Kellane and I check out of Julamis on Monday and headed to the bus station for our next destination. We almost missed our bus to Vallodolid and there were not a lot of options.  I was starting to feel like we were in the amazing race for a minute.  Kellane was very chill about it all and it was one of the many times I was thankful for her ability to speak Spanish.   After a 2 hour ride we searched for the room I had booked at the Santa Maria hostel. At about $12 a night it was very simple and quiet, was only a few blocks from the bus station and was nestled next to a small plaza and cathedral.  No AC, no towels and a small thin blanket on each single bed with a common kitchen area outside.  It kind of reminded me of what a nun must live like... Our hosts were a couple of old Mexican guys that didn't speak English. There were a few other guys (much younger than me) that were traveling the area also  at the hostel.
Lobby of Santa Maria Hostel, Valladolid
Cenote, Vallodolid
We checked in, went to drop off Kellane's laundry and headed for the cenote that was in the middle of town.  Beautiful cave with clear aqua water.  It was hot as hell so the water felt good  although I didn't like the little fish nipping at my feet.  I walked over to the plaza across from our hostel and heard music coming out of the church.  I went in to find a group of adults and children playing guitar and singing. It made me cry it was so pretty.

To get to our next location - Holbox (Holbosh) we had two options... one was for 5:30 am and the other for 11:3am the next morning.  5:30 was out because Kellane had taken her clothes to be washed and they would not be ready.  Holbox is a small sliver of an island off the tip of the Yucatán and getting there was like putting a puzzle together.  We had to take a ferry from Chaquila but we couldn't quite figure out how to get to Chaquila.  The bus didn't go there but we were told there is a transfer station.  Felt like the Amazing Race again... but with Kellane's Spanish, the map that I brought and GPS - we figured it out.
Our only night in Valladolid - we had mescal and dinner at one of the touristy places on the plaza, went back to the hostel and drank wine with the other travelers - hearing their tales, talking politics and the sometimes vast differences of places we come from.  Gun control was one topic.
We got the last two seats on the bus to El Ideal which we understood was the transfer station where we'd take another bus to Chaquila and catch the ferry.  We got to the transfer station and it was just a crossroad with several taxis waiting.  The taxi took about an hour, we hopped on the ferry and arrived on Holbox around 3ish.  Very picturesque, charming island - no paved roads but a vibrant main square with lots of shops, bars, al fresco dinning.   The transportation is golf carts and it was apparent there had been lots of rain - the dirt roads were flooded.  Our place was Casa Blatha - a "crunchy", natural, small B&B with a surreal view of the ocean and island with its own organic garden.  It sat a block off of the beach and was on the outskirts of the town.  Part of our ride there was on the beach and it was stunning.  Soft white sand, blue and teal clear water with no surf.  Lots of dogs.... not like wild pack dogs but dogs that looked happy and fed and tended to....
They call it "Dog Heaven".  
The young international staff were warm, knowledgeable and very laid back.  We were warned about the "vicious mosquitoes" after sunset.  We had repellent but it was not enough.... They unfortunately caused some misery on this leg of the trip but the island and the people were so nice that we had to just get over it.







The sunsets were amazing and everyone gathered on the beach to celebrate the beauty.  We also had a lovely spot on the rooftop of Casa Blatha for the sunset.   Lots of murals and art all over.


We rode horses one morning. The setting was extraordinary.   "Is this real?" was a common comment to each other.






Even with the mosquitos - we had a good time and it was very relaxing and absolutely gorgeous.
After 3 nights in Holbox, Kellane had to leave at 4:30am to catch the ferry to catch the bus back to Mérida.  I don't think either of us slept that night...I waved goodbye to her as she headed off in the taxi golf cart in the dark.  I left around noon and caught the ferry to catch the bus.  There were taxi drivers offering to drive to Cancun for cheap if you had 4 people.  I jumped on that and it took a little over 2 hours.  I think it cost about $30.
I arrived in Cancun and took a taxi to find Indra's house.  He took me to the wrong house but thankfully the nice woman that greeted me at the gate (and spoke English) knew Indra and pointed me in the right direction.  Indra met me with a smile and was serving lunch to her two boys Max and Salvador and their two friends.  We had homemade pizza and rice water.   My room was very comfortable and private, had AC and my private bath. YAY! (our rooms in Valladolid and Holbox had no AC only fans...it was hot)
Indra, Gerson and myself in Cancun
I took a short siesta and then Indra made us some vodka drinks.  We chatted about our lives and had lots in common.  Her friend Gerson came over with a bottle of wine and tales from a trip he had just taken.  He showed us his photos and told funny stories - he is sooo photogenic! - we LAUGHED so much and stayed at the kitchen table all night. It was a great time.
The next morning Indra had a pottery class that she takes twice a week and I invited myself to go along.  Her teacher agreed to take a new student so I worked on a bowl for about 3 hours along side three others and Indra.  Our teacher did not speak English but did know the word "No!" when giving me instructions.  Hopefully when it dries Indra will send it to me.
Indra was kind enough to drive me to the location in Cancun I had stayed 30 years ago - 1985 - so I could take a photo.  This is the lighthouse where the original photo below of me 30 years ago was taken....I got Kellane to pose in a similar way... I mean really - when will I ever get to put up this photo of me for any good reason except for this?!  I was 25 at the time.


I think back on the moment before I decided to take the trip - the moment that I felt like I wouldn't be able to do it - money, time, work, stamina ....I couldn't possibly make it happen.... Whew - I'm glad that thought was fleeting....
Traveling with my daughter was great - pushed me to do things that give me pause and challenged me to keep up the living of life!  


Monday, March 24, 2014

Music, Life and the IT thing

Sometimes, there are moments when you realize that this moment or this action or this engagement is why life is worth living. THIS moment is what makes me feel alive and good and fulfilled.
I have had this feeling over and over in my life - sometimes with months in between - sometimes with seconds in between.  Thank you universe.
Overwhelmingly those moments have been while listening to or playing music.
So interesting how music is what raises the endorphin levels to the preferable degree.
Marvin Chernoff and I would watch Jennifer Holliday sing "And I am telling you" from Dream Girls over and over and cry and weep and shake our heads in agreement that this was the best thing we have ever heard... playing West African music with some of the most talented and respected West African artists in the world... now that is magic to me, having Danielle Howle sit on my porch and write a song and sing as she writes..... And something I experienced this past weekend is playing West African music with really great and talented friends who know the music and for a couple of hours just set the soundtrack for a a perfect musical nirvana.    Thank you universe and thank you friends for being the conduit for one of my enchanting life moments.