Category Archives: Living life.

Puno: The Living and the Dead

Founded in 1668  near a now defunct silver mine, and on the shore of Lake Titicaca, Puno sits at 12,500 feet. My faulty heart beat hard in my chest climbing up the hills to see the Chullpa Tombs of Sillustani-hell, it protested going up the stairs of the hostel.

The chullpas, huge stone towers cut into square, cylinder, and rectangular shapes that all fit snugly together, is where the Colla tribe buried their dead over 500 years ago.They have been plundered by grave robbers, tumbled by earthquakes, and defaced by tourists. However, they continue to stand as testament to their respect of the dead.  I get it. I take great pride in my family cemetery plot where the remains of  my beloved family lies in Foxburg, PA. although in comparison, our tomb stones are a bit understated.

Would you be interested in setting up house on a foundation of tortora reeds that rot continually, forcing you to move every 25 years or so? I didn’t think so. The small island, part of the Uros Floating Islands that  we visited was one of about 48 on Lake Titicaca. Three or four families, a  total of 26 people live there. I bought a hand-embroidered pillow case of Pachamama (mother earth), made by Maria, the matriarch of the clan. When I was paying her, the coin fell into the reeds causing us to dig among them to find it. Walking on the reeds, ones feet sink in am inch or two. I watched a toddler lurch and stumble, but he got to his destination without help.

The island was very small, less than a whole block in the US; the houses not much more than thatched roof huts. The tribe used to use reed boats exclusively , but out back, behind the houses were several motor boats that the kids were playing on when I was there. A puppy, that dared to poop in front of us tourists was isolated in one of them, looking longingly at the kids. Apparently most of the families only go the islands to meet the tourists, and live on solid land these days. Nevertheless, it’s fascinating history and gives one a clue to ‘back in the day.”

Taquile Island is a non-floating island, with an intricate pattern of terraced farming, fenced off by large rocks dug up on the land. It reminded me of Ireland and England.

The Aymara and Uros tribes have intermarried, causing the Uros language to fade out. We were given a demo of the hats the men wear. Similar to Christmas stockings complete with tassels, depending on if he is married or single, or needs a visor for the sun, it’s turned around on his head. Boy, it takes out the guessing for the girls, who wear long scarves around their hair but don’t cover their faces. They wear tons of petticoats under their skirts and intricately, handknit sweaters.

The guide books say Puno pales in comparison to the colonial beauty of Ariquipa and Cusco. Maybe so, but it beats them hands down for sheer friendliness. Saturday, I happened upon a festival in the plaza. It was not for tourists. The colors of the costumes dazzled under the bright blue sky and hot sun. Walking around taking photos, I was asked to danced, given a cup of beer, and asked questions about my country. Even the women who are usually shy and don’t want their photos taken, allowed me to take a few.

Hilda, the woman who owns Inka’s Rest Hostel could not have been friendlier or more accommodating. Within a day I felt a kinship with her. She suggested I move there, and teach English to her, he

Uros canoes

Uros canoes

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Taquile Island

Taquile Island

Huts: Uros Island

Huts: Uros Island

male heron

male heron

Uros Island

Uros Island

image imager 4 year old daughter, and the staff. It’s tempting. Having ceviche in a tiny restaurant, the owner came out to sit with me, to share lives.  That to me, is the point of travel.

 

Bilando, Gatos, y Amor

Lima is huge and complex. The poor are perched precariously in favelas on barren hills, and the wealthy over look the sea and live behind iron gates.

Facela

Favela

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For lunch today I had an Asian salad with grilled chicken breast and a delightful red wine at Tony Roma, on the malecon overlooking the beach where at least 50 surfers vied for the perfect wave. I could have been in Los Angeles. One of the parks along the malecon is Parque del Amor. And it was. Entwined bodies were openly, lovingly,  strewn about the grass, and cuddled together on the wall.

Sculpture of love.

Sculpture of love.

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The Flying Dog Hostel is in Miraflores, a neighborly section of the city, the center of which is Kennedy Park. Living in the park are an estimated 250 cats. I’m told they each have adopted parents who feed and care for them, and sometimes take them home for visits. Certainly they seem relaxed with the attention and affection they receive  from  tourists and residents alike.

Dancing in the park

Dancing in the park

On my way to lunch yesterday I saw a large crowd gathered around the sunken stage area, which turned out to be dancers. If I hadn’t been meeting someone, I would certainly have thrown myself into the dancing mass. Form wasn’t an issue, and it seemed that most folks danced with anyone who could move.

Dancing in the park.

Dancing in the park.

I’ve spent most of my time here researching my route to Cuzco, Lake Titticaca, Machu Picchu and then Chile, and purchasing the first of the bus tickets. Getting around has been fairly easy, but the bus rides are looong. Yikes.

 

Don’t Pee In The Water.

The Amacayacu lodge or headquarters sets in the confluence of the rios Mata Mata and Amazon. I was sitting on the front dock of the Amazon when some workers from the Mocaqua community docked their boat. Before going back to his roofing job, one of the young guys, took off his shirt and did a back flip into the Amazon. “Ahh,” I though, “I can swim here.” When I mentioned it to Tomas, he suggested I swim in the Mata Mata, by the boat dock, where the people who work here dock. “It’s also somewhat cleaner than the Amazon,” he added. “Fine by me,” I think, so I packed my bathing suit.

When I got here I asked Alejandro, one of the student geologists interning here if he ever swam there.”Yes. almost every day I swim. It’s beautiful. The water is warm on the top, but down under it is cool and refreshing. But, Rubi, it’s very important you don’t pee in the water.” “Why?” I asked reasonably. “It’s not good for you because of the fishes.” Ummm. I understand my pee might be not good for the fishes, but why not good for me? I pondered this. The following day I was in the kitchen with Pedro, another one of the students. “Pedro, what will happen if I pee in the water?”
“He looked at me with startling blue eyes.”It’s very bad because of the little fishes that can enter your body through the place where you pee.” Yikes.

Again I pondered. The practical side of me thinks this is something a mother would say to her kids to keep them from polluting the river, then I considered the many strange critters that live here: the piranha, fluorescent bugs, plants, and fungi, exotic insects, pink dolphins, even trees that are protected by pointy cudgels that strangle interlopers. This rainforest is a scene painted by the Brothers Grimm. If the wolf can eat the grandmother and dress in her clothes, there’s a pretty good chance a fish can enter the peeing place.

I will probably swim, but not laugh hard while I’m in the process, or sneeze.

Where’s the Carne?

Yesterday I woke up at seven o’clock to make sure everything was ready for my first trip alone to the park. The boat departure was 10 am. This is not a big deal, just the first time I’ve gone alone. At 8:30 Tomas took me, my backpack, and sack of groceries on his motorbike to the dock to buy the boat ticket. A conversation ensued with him and the clerk about the return. Apparently the person who sells the return tickets wasn’t there; then she short-changed him 5000 pesos for the ticket he bought. We left. “I’ll buy the return ticket and email the info to you,” he said.

Next, We went shopping in the market so I could buy fresh fruit. Still, we arrived at the boat(at least we assumed it my boat) an hour early. We hung out for a while by the boat than he decided to leave. I waited, my eye on the seat I wanted. A guy came to stow the passenger’s assorted stuff: backpacks, suitcases, boxes, bags on top of the boat. A few minutes later we boarded. The clerk came to check off names. Mine was called twice. I felt so special.

Finally, we were underway. But, instead of heading in the direction of the park, we went across the river and docked by three small navy boats. I’m thinking, “He’s delivering mail.” The driver got out, conversed, took something out of his pocket handed it over, and then we turned around. “Ah. Now we’re underway,” I think. Alas, to my surprise he headed into the small tributary and back to the dock! “Que pasa!” I say out loud to myself, and apparently to the woman sitting next to me. “Carne,” She says with a smile. “Carne?” “Si, carne.” We regrese para carne?” I ask. “ Si.” She smiled again. When the boat was secured a couple of guys carried a huge, obviously heavy, cooler container to the boat. Carne. They hefted it onto the roof. The boat backed up. Finally. We were off.

The ride was smooth, cool and picturesque. I took pictures of houses and boats along the way. At one of the thatched hotels on the riverbank, a gringo family of three got out. The carne went with them.

We were almost to the park when suddenly the boat lurched, and stopped. The driver muttered. (I was sitting behind him, a mutter is the same in any language) He tried the motor several times. Nada. He ran to the back to the boat, and pulled on things. Came back. Nada. Finally, he returned to the motor, took its top off, and found the problem. Something had apparently gotten wound around something. Whatever it was, he came back and said, “Ahora”. Now. Sure enough we were on our way again.

One of the qualities I hope to acquire here is the indomitable patience the people have. I’ve noticed it all over Latin America. Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s having been conquered by another country. Maybe it’s the Catholic dogma that one’s reward will be in heaven, so there’s no hurry to get there. What ever it is, in my opinion it’s healthier than expecting things to happen immediately. Life isn’t perfect, but most folks don’t anticipate instant gratification, exhibit road rage, stress and other byproducts of impatience and expectation.

Zancudo. Mosquito. Mosca

Each morning when I wake up here in the jungle, encased in netting that ostensibly has kept the mosquitoes outside during the night, I lie still and mentally do a body check. This doesn’t involve touching myself. That comes later when I’m applying the hydrocortisone cream. I’ve discovered if I am very still, I can sense the new bites before they itch, which, incidentally, doesn’t take long.

This morning it was my back. In spite of several applications of Deet poison on my clothes and my skin, each day, evening and before bed, I wake up with new welts. Some of them are very small; some are grande. Lying there, I ponder if one mosquito marched across my back, munching as it traversed the white skin, or were there several at different times, and each had made their own joyful discovery of the new untrammeled expanse? My friends here think probably the former.

Yesterday, I was lying down, reading before a nap, when I saw an offender trying unsuccessfully to find its way out of the enclosure. I smashed it. It’s body spewed bright red blood on the sheet covering a section as large as my ring fingernail. I understand that one example does not prove a theory, but it’s probably enough to apply for grant money for further studies.

When I crawled out of bed, and slipped into my shoes, I realized that my feet were itchy too. Ah, yes. Lumps and bumps scattered across the top of my arch and one under it. I’ve only been in the Amazon jungle a week, so I have not yet resigned myself to being under attack 24/7, but neither have I decided on my defense against the voracious bastards.

However, now I understand why the colonialists (who I used to hold in contempt) introduced new species to contain the spread of what they perceived to be undesirable or invasive in the new world. Of course it fucked up the balance of things, but, in this case, I’m thinking bats. Clearly there aren’t enough here. We need more. I read somewhere that in one night alone, a single bat can devour several times its weight in mosquitoes. That’s not enough. Not even close.

The Amazon: Doing Good

allegheny areal high wide shot

Allegheny River

I’m a river rat.  I grew up on the Allegheny River. I swam in it, fished with my grampa in it, and canoed on it. Most of all I watched it flow by our house. Sometimes it passed by gracefully, like a gauzy ball gown during a waltz;  occasionally it unleashed its fearsome might,  roaring past as if it were angry, in a terrible hurry.

 I loved that river. My  heart and soul was nourished by  its energy. My Mom taught me to be respectful,  “The river is beautiful, powerful, and dangerous,  but  without its  water nothing would  exist.” 

220px-Leticia-Houses

Houses in Leticia

Along both banks of the river were the  Allegheny Mountains. In spite of the scary Brothers Grimm stories,  my friends and I played in the forest. We built shacks and tree-houses, (ok all shacks), ate fresh raspberries, blueberries, and elderberries, and explored caves Indians might have  slept in.

 I loved those woods, too.  As a little kid, I knew, somehow, even though the critters that shared the forest with us kept themselves pretty much hidden, that they,  the deer, raccoons, wolves, bears, beavers, rabbits, and even the snakes…, were our neighbors-that we shared the resources. “Pay attention, you aren’t the only animal in the forest,” my mom would laugh.” cayman-tropical-rain-forest-amazon-alligator-gator-14159010

In August I will be going to live  for awhile in Leticia, Columbia, on the Amazon River. 250px-Colombia_-_Amazonas_-_Leticia.svgThe  Amazon River is the largest drainage system in the world! Its length is the equilivent of the distance from New York to Rome! The Amazon River basin is home to the largest rainforest on Earth! ON EARTH!

Amazon River & Basin

Amazon River & Basin

It’s size is roughly as big as the whole USA. Scientists say the rain forest is  ‘THE LUNGS OF OUR PLANET-without the rain forest,  the earth will die (or is dying) a slow death. We will die with it. The magnificent rain forest houses over half of the world’s species. Many folks aren’t being respectful, they apparently don’t understand that we all breathe the same air, with the same lungs.leticia boats on river

In Leticia, I’m going to be a small part of  Fundacion Entropika, a non-profit organization comprised of dedicated conservationists, that under the direction of Dr. Angela Maldonaldo, is fighting the good fight, for our planet, and those of us (all of us) who live here. 306px-Leticia

Entropika.org, ” works to contribute to the long-term conservation of tropical biodiversity by facilitating local community-led projects, establishing educational programs and research,  while working closely with the local indigenous prople.” And, much more.

Dr. Maldonado is a force. I met her last month at an IPPL conference, and immediately knew I wanted to work with this group of people who are dedicated to keeping the lungs of our earth clear, and  the habitat for the people, and other species of  animals, who call the Amazon home, safe. 

Listen to my mother. We need to be respectful. Without a healthy planet, without clean water, and forest’s oxygen, we are gonners.    amazon fishing   

         

 

My Friend, Virginia

Virginia and Kirk

Virginia and Kirk

I don’t know why she died, or how. I heard her neighbor found her dead,  in her tiny house at the end of the street, overlooking the hills of El Sobrante. She loved those hills.  I heard she was alone,  except for her dogs. One of them “a nasty little Chihauha you should adopt,” she told me, laughing, during our last conversation on the phone. ” He doesn’t  mean to be bad, he just had a bad time of it before I got him.  But, he is a pain in the ass.” For Virginia, dogs were companions, so maybe we shoudn’t think of her dying alone.

I met Virginia in San Francisco in 1979, at the  Holy City Zoo, a small, hole-in-the-wall comedy club on Clement Street. On any given night, you could hang out on the sidewalk with the likes of  Robin Williams, Dana Carvy,  and countless other comics who went on to become celebrities.

During the day, as we all  know, Virginia was a tireless advocate for animal rights. As the Western Coordinator for The Fund For Animals, her work was never finished. She was frequently in her office in Ft. Mason until the early morning , organizing legislative points to confront politicians with the following day in Sacramento. The office  was filled to the brim with piles of legislative stuff,  books, dusty animal related  retail products such as tee shirts, note cards,  and handmade jewelry donated to The Fund. The only comfortable place to sit was a  hairy couch, which one shared with her current dogs, rescues from dog hells: the street, short backyard chains, beatings, the kill pound-harder dog times.  A few assorted chairs were there for volunteers, and other visitors. And files-thousands of them. Virginia could produce files on any animal subject, tell you which bill and politicians to to vote for, books to read, documentaries to watch…anything and everything animal related. For almost a decade we  spent frequent nights there, smoking pot, drinking wine, and laughing while we sorted paper into piles that only made sense to her. 

The Fund paid Virginia  a pittance,  and no benefits, but she forged on,  year after year, decade after decade, fueled by passion for the animals who could not speak for themselves.

But, my friend, Virginia was far more complex than her composed, understated image projected. She was an artist. She surpassed being a triple threat; she could sing, dance, act, and write. A few evenings a week, (up to seven if she was in a community play) Virginia unleashed her artistic talent. Her comedy consisted of animal themed irony that she wrote herself and organized by subject in spiral notebooks. Her jokes didn’t kill, but got a steady stream of smiles, and a few laughs, but they were heartfelt, and her delivery was right on. And, she read for the blind. And,  did  radio theatre. “It was difficult to get used to, but now I really enjoy it.” she told me.

You couldn’t not like Virginia.  She was genuine. She was good and kind, and like her mom, Grace, she had no ego. Self wasn’t important to her. Her entire life was spent helping others. I admired that, and loved her.
 

Once, when I had moved to LA, Virginia called to tell me she would be spending a couple of weeks at a house in the San  Fernando Valley, going through the belongings of Camille, a woman who had died and left everything to the Fund. “Would you  like to help me?”

From the outside, Camille’s house looked like a regular three bedroom California ranch. Inside, it was an untamed, jungle of artifacts and precious documents that told the story of Camille and her husband, who had been comedians during vaudeville. Virginia, with more patience than I, sat on Camille’s sofa for hours reading sixty years of correspondence from people who had loved Camille. She discovered that Camille, who in her prime, had been a six foot tall, natural red head, gorgeous in every way. Plus, we were astonished to learn, for years she  had been the elegant woman in the flowing gown,  perched on neck of the the lead elephant in Ringling  Bros. Barnam and Bailey Circus.

Camille’s house was a trip through architectural decades, and journeys to other countries. One room of her house was the sewing room where she designed and sewed her own colorful costumes. The ‘pink’ room, with its neon pink wall, and combo 50’s/deco furniture, had been her husband’s, who had become an alcoholic and admittedly, according to the neighbors, had been of little help to Camille when she became ill.

As Virginia and I read, dug through stacks of magazines, and unearthed artifacts from over-stuffed closets, we both fell under Camille’s spell, and became her biggest fans. By the time we left, she had become our sister.

Virginia  and John Cantu, the bartender, maybe manager,  at the The Zoo,  became an item. John was a presence in the comedy scene. Swarthy, a salesman, and  masher par excellence, he told me once, “If I hit on 10 women, odds are I’ll get laid at least once.”  Most of the female comics  avoided him, at least in any intimate way, but Virginia saw something else in John, a gentleness and intelligence most of us didn’t notice. After they were no longer lovers, they were steadfast friends until John died an early death maybe fifteen  or so years ago.

During the seven years I lived in San Francisco, and when I visited her, Virginia and I frequented Bay Area piano bars.  I knew two or three old standards, and a couple of obscure Cole Porter songs; Virginia would produce  a fat binder filled with songs,  and the key she sang them in. She was partial to Patsy Cline. I swear, when she  sang Crazy,  it could have been Patsy up there singing her heart out.

We also played senior centers. Virginia, my daughters, Alice and Anna, who were not even teenagers yet, and a piano player she’d talked into accompanying us, would spend an afternoon every few months singing and tapping for the toughest  audiences I ever performed for. Virginia would sing songs most of the audience could relate to, and even knew the words to. They loved her.  I would do a few minutes of comedy, (that was frequently ignored, if not scorned), and  sing a couple more  songs. My daughter, Alice, played the flute, and Anna, my youngest, sang songs from the musical Annie.  Occasionally Virginia, Anna, and I would do a tap routine.

Virginia, Anna, and I all  took tap lessons from Jean Anderson, another eccentric woman with old-time show business connections in San  Francisco. When Anna landed a part in the USF production of ‘Annie’, Virginia and Jean helped her practice, and Virginia helped drive  her to rehearsals.

Virginia danced with Jean for years, in productions throughout the city. Several years ago, I sent Virginia some photos I had taken of her and Jean tapping in the Bandshell in Golden Gate Park. How I wish I had kept a few of them.

I will never forget a Gay Pride Parade that she convinced me to tap  in. We were dressed, well made up actually, as animals,(cats, dogs, bunnies, bears…).  We tapped along Castro Street to disco music that blared from someone’s boom box, smiling and waving. We hadn’t expected the music which threw our rehearsed routine way off, but we adjusted and danced with gusto the duration of the parade. After tapping on the asphalt for an hour,  my feet were blistered, and my legs so tired I could barely drive home. “We’ll have to think up something else for next year, she said, something that blends better with disco music,”  she laughed.

I spent the millennium New Year’s Eve with Virginia at a boring party somewhere in the East Bay with friends of hers who she said “were dull at any time. I can’t imagine why I’d think the world possibly ending would make them any more entertaining.”

We left early, taking the ice cream we’d brought to share, and parked by the lagoon in Berkeley, smoked a joint, ate the ice cream with a shared spoon,  and chastised ourselves for not going downtown to be with the masses, which was where we really wanted to be if the world was coming to an end.

When I decided to go on the road as a full time comic, I needed an answering service. Virginia suggested that her Mom, Grace, might be interested. Grace was as gracious, and kind as  Virginia, and possessed the same understated  wit I loved so much in my friend. Because of childhood polio she didn’t get out much, and had become the Animal Switchboard, a general  call center (her kitchen), for animal related concerns and questions.  When I asked her if she’d be interested, she said, “I’ll have to answer the phone, Animal Switchboard.”  “No problem, I answered, I am one.”  

So, for several years, Grace fielded calls from agents, boyfriends,  my children, and my mother,  who lived in Pennsylvania. If she didn’t know exactly where I was at the time,  she handled the issues in a motherly, yet professional way, making sure everyone felt satisfied.

Throughout the decades, where ever we happened to be,  Virginia and I would spent hours on the phone late at night, talking politics, comedy, and general blarney. Our reminiscing caused chortles of laughter, and our equal distain for radical conservatives, most especially the NRA, set our teeth gnashing.

Once or twice a year, when one or the other of us were on a road trip,  we managed to spend a few days together. Last fall she edited a small book of stories, Irish Mongrel Child, for me. Her edits were brutal. I was unhappy, and called her to work through the manuscript. Virginia, soothed my ruffled feathers,  and listened with understanding   to my concerns. Some of her edits were brilliant, others scrapped, our friendship solid.

After Cleveland Amory died, the Fund for Animals was run from NY, apparently by some young folks who had no clue how important  Virginia’s work and lobbying efforts were in California, but they continued to support her with a diminished budget. Virginia used what little money she had to keep her  gargantuan, and if you were an animal in CA, this is not an exaggeration, efforts going.

Her long-time friend,  Norman, who was a Canadian, twenty years her senior,  truly brilliant, eccentric, physicist, who worked with lasers, helped her keep a series of used cars functioning. Eventually, they moved into a house in El Sobrante together, and got married when he suffered a stroke. “I need to have executive power over his care,” she told me. A year or so later, she said, “Nobody has ever asked if we are married. Really, the medical profession doesn’t give a shit.”

Virginia continued to live in the house- a building that would have been condemned  if anyone had seen the inside. The back deck had long fallen off, the plumbing leaked, the floors and walls  were rotting.  Both of them were hoarders; but she was an organized one.

Virginia agonized over what to do with the contents of Norman’s numerous metal file cabinets. “Rent  a dumpster,” I suggested. “Let’s throw everything out.” “Oh, I couldn’t so that,” she admonished me.  “Some of it is very valuable scientific information.” And, true to her nature, she eventually found a man who valued it, and carted some of Norman’s stuff off. She moved a block away into a small, 900 sq ft. or so  house, with a view of the mountains she love so much.

As far as I know, Virginia was the only person concerned about her  brother, Larry, who is learning  challenged living in Oregon. He had been in San  Francisco until Virginia’s sister uprooted him, and spent  his considerable savings account which he had  saved year after year, working as a grocery clerk.  She apparently spent it, and now he lives alone  in a mobile home. If anyone knows where he is , I would like to contact him.

Eventually, The Fund was taken over by the Humane  Society of the US. I don’t remember  the political  justification, but I definitely remember her telling me that she had been let go with a paltry $7,000.00 severance pay-after decades of service in animal rights, and a warning not to  to divulge  the amount. She bought another used car, and continued her trips to Sacramento to lobby for PAC, the committee she founded, and kept the AnimalSwitchboard going.

For the last few years,  never having had much, Virginia  now lived in poverty. Her social security was under a thousand dollars a year, and her rent, I think she told me,  was over $800.00. She  counted on her food stamps to eat. We had several discussions about the conservative rights disregard for the poor; their idea that everyone worthwhile should be able to earn money.

When I saw her last fall, she gave me several past date New Yorker magazines she had gotten from the library. ” I like to come up with captions for the blank cartoon on the back page, but of course, someone gets to it before I do. I think mine are funnier sometimes, though,” she laughed. No doubt.

I always gave her fifty or sixty dollars,  and if I’d had any more to spare, I would have given it to her freely, but, I also live on a scant budget. Driving across the country to my daughter’s in SC, I  thought about what I could do to raise some money for her. I wrote to the  Ellen Degeneres show because they give cars and money away to those in need,  and I wrote a story about Animal Switchboard for the  San Francisco Chronicle that I hoped would generate some money to keep her, and it, going.  Nothing became of either.

 I’m not a religious person, but Virginia was Catholic. If there is a heaven, my friend is there- sharing her goodness from above. She is dancing, singing, laughing- making life better. I hope she finds my son, Kirk. They were great friends; both candidates for sainthood.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

imageimageDuring the summer of 2013 I traveled the Atlantic coast of Brazil. I began in Rio the same time that Papa the Pope was there, and during the manifestation: when the protests of the working class hit the streets.

Protestors in Rio

Protestors in Rio

On the way to Itaunas, they blocked the bridge in Santa Maria which forced those of us on the bus to meet each other and  I was  in Salvador when they blocked the streets. In Porto Seguro I met a few of the Paxatos Indians, who were almost extinguished by the greedy cattlemen who wanted their land. I sympathized with the protestors. Greed is taking over my country too; the rich are refusing to pay their share and forgetting that the chain is only as strong as the weakest link.   Still, In spite of all the protesting and frustrations in Brazil, the people were warm, helpful and very friendly; in spite of corporate greed and over development what remains of the forest and beaches is stunning and lush. I have friends there image, and I’m looking forward to returning.

Friends.

Friends.

 

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vibrant colors, time consuming, lovely vibrant colors, time consuming, lovely

Impending storm.  Stunning.

Impending storm. Stunning.

Third time is the charm.

Donkey cart on dunes.

Donkey cart on dunes.

 

So far I have lost three drafts, several photos, and have activated three themes on Word Press. I knew when I read a review that it was a site for A type brains it was not for me. Not ever close. I’m pretty sure I don’t have an A side to my brain. But, Blogger had let me down. Of the two other sites recommended on  PC Mag, one is already closed, the other I signed  up for took my  password and welcomed me, by name as if it knew me personally, to the site. First, though, before it let me in I had to go to my email and sign in with my new ‘handle’ and password. I did that. I was refused entrance. Apparently the info didn’t match. Within two minutes! Four days later I am still trying to post a blog on Word Press. It may be that I am not smart enough or, as my friend, Abby says, way too old, which in the world of technology is over twelve.

 

Paula, Grant, Peanut, Butter & Jelly at That Hostel (in the dog tent)

Paula, Grant, Peanut, Butter & Jelly at That Hostel (in the dog tent)

I left Rio in August after the manifestation protestors had been shunted off to jail, and Papa, had given his speech in a clearing that, rumor has it, over 100 old growth trees had been cut down specifically so he would have a safe place to expound his dogma. And then the rains came. image

I headed north along the Atlantic coast by bus. I traveled everywhere by bus. Brazil has big comfy Mercedes busses with working toilets. I found that buying a ticket, and finding the bus  was easy even w/o speaking Portuguese; but I do speak a bit of Spanish which usually made conversation  easier. 

Hanging out by the side of the road while the protesters block the bridge.

Hanging out by the side of the road while the protesters block the bridge.

 

On the way to Itaunas we encountered more protesters blocking the bridge we needed to cross. We got off the bus and hung out. I met Sebastian, from Argentina and Isabella, from Austria, who were staying at the same hostel I was-or would be when we got there and others who spoke some English. In Santa Maria a man who was undoubtedly in his cups boarded the bus and sat beside me. Disgruntled when I couldn’t carry on a conversation with him, he began to sing. Soft and low and on key he sang as if he were singing a lullaby to a baby. Big baby that I am, I fell asleep.