Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Two weeks later...

Once again, I find myself without enough time to do this post justice. It will be short, as I'm very tired and have an early morning tomorrow, and there's so much to say that I can't possibly say it all now.

The last two weeks have been spent on an 800-acre ranch of sub-tropical rainforest (it's the jungle, plain and simple) up an 8000-foot mountain. The ranch is surrounded by 7 peaks, some of which are pyramids that have been left untouched for centuries. A couple of days ago, we hiked up to two of the pyramids, blazing a trail with machetes (not me, but others) as we went. We left at approx 10 am and were back an hour or two after sunset, so it was quite the journey.

The land is beautiful. There are citrus trees of every kind imaginable growing all over the place, avocados, chayote (kind of a squash-like vegetable which grows on trees but sprouts roots when it falls to the ground so is the seed), coffee beans, bananas and plantains... it really is the bounty of Mother Earth like I've never imagined.

There's no electricity although there is some running water (cold, of course), so life is very simple. We cook on a fire in a little kitchen that is outside the house, but covered. The last week, from Jan 17-24, we participated in an event that had meals brought up so food was taken care of. Now, however, we've decided to stay on that land awhile longer (no idea how long, maybe days, maybe weeks, maybe longer?) so we're back to preparing our own food. We're in Tepic to pick up supplies - rice, beans, some produce, maybe some eggs - and heading back up.

The nights have been very cold and the hammocks, while very comfortable and convenient, don't offer protection from the cold air so it's been a bit of an adjustment. I bought a wool poncho (I can't wait to take a picture and send it, everyone should get one of these and I know just how to arrange that!) which helps enormously. Even so, I'm wishing I'd packed warmer clothes (not that I could have fit them into the backpack).

Now that the event is over and we are going to be living a very simple, quiet life for awhile (I think there will only be 5 of us up there), I hope to find more time for writing. So much seems to have happened since we got here that I haven't even been able to sort it all out in my own head and so am unprepared for writing about it. I hope to have more detail to share the next time we come into town. I also want to take some pictures of the land to share. It's sacred land, on Huichol territory, and a deeply spiritual, meditative place to be. You can feel the peace of the place the minute you arrive. In a time when famine has struck much of Mexico, it's also easy to understand the sacredness of such a bountiful place. There's enough food there to feed thousands, if only there were enough people to cultivate and harvest the food that's growing. Most of the fruit and vegetables fall to the ground and rot.

I wish I could write about everything all at once. I'm glad to be here. I've had an incredible two weeks and feel like a different person already. I've never felt healthier. Who knew a strictly vegetarian diet and not sitting behind a desk could make such a difference? Living outside is definitely a beautiful thing.

Of course, no matter how happy I am to be here, thoughts of friends and family at home are never far from my head and heart. I hope you are all happy and well and know that I'm thinking of you.

Till next time, whenever that may be...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mexico, day 2

Well, here I am. Safely arrived in Puerto Vallarta last night at about 5.00pm to a balmy 27C sunny evening. We caught a cab to a cheapish hotel, Hotel Azteca, about 350 pesos for the night. The room was small but had a fan and hot water, so we were happy. Had a lovely dinner at a local restaurant in the neighbourhood. We were out of the main tourist area, which was great. Breakfast this morning was even better. A very nice woman with a tiny shop made us Huevos Mexicana (i´m learning to eat eggs!) which was fantastic. The salsa was very picante (HOT!) but delish.

My compatriots are waiting outside the wee internet cafe in Tepic (about a 3 hour bus ride from PV) where I write this so it´ll be a short, and not quite so introspective (!) post as the previous ones. We are heading into the mountains tonight to a ranch, where we´ll spend a week or so in meditation. I´m really looking forward to the time to acclimatize and ground myself, preparing for the travels ahead. The water is clean, the food plentiful, and the people friendly. There will be a number of Mexican nationals there, providing me an excellent opportunity to practice my Spanish. I´m already practicing as much as possible. Last night Sam sent me out on several errands, armed with rehearsed phrases to practice on local shopkeepers and the hotel staff person. I´ve got a ways to go, but I´m determined to give it my best effort. With luck, I´ll be conversant in a few months.

It´s much cooler in Tepic than PV. I´m wearing the merino wool shirt (thanks J!) and hoodie I brought with me, and my vest is in easy reach. Glad I came prepared for cooler temperatures!

Time to go. Look for more in a week or so!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One week to go

As the departure date rapidly approaches, I find myself caught in a whirlwind of activity. Or to be more honest, I feel quite a lot like Pigpen from Peanuts... running around in a haze of dirt(chaos), madly trying to get things done but not entirely sure I've accomplished anything at all.

Today I checked off my list:
-travel insurance
-packing up the kitchen
-dry run at packing my backpack

And it feels like a million other things, yet for some reason, I can't actually identify them. Which is a bit scary, considering the state of my apartment (and my mind). With one week left to go - three days of which are visiting my parents in Victoria - I had hoped to be a little more organized than I am. I don't even have my new passport yet!

All that aside, however, I am becoming more excited about the adventure with each passing day. Nervous, too, without question, but after a good talk with a dear friend (thanks for dinner, SG!) tonight, I have affirmed for myself all the very good reasons I have for embarking on this journey.

"No plans for the trip after the first couple weeks? Isn't that a bit out of character for you?" she asked tonight. And yes, it does seem so, doesn't it? I'm not known for my wild spontaneity, I confess. But the lack of itinerary is part of what makes this trip so exciting for me.

The truth is, I don't actually care where I go or where I end up. If I decide I want to stay in the first place I land for the entire year, that's ok. This trip isn't-- as mentioned in my first post - about geography. It's about spirit. Wherever I go, I'll find myself.

I was just thinking about how to articulate what I'm looking for in this journey, and I discovered that I can't articulate it at all. I just know that I need to go. I have lost sight of what the meaning of my own life is here at home. I am tired. My work and activism no longer have the significance, the excitement, the sense of justice and purpose that they used to have. And so I am setting out to learn something new about the world and about myself.

With one week left to go - at this time next Wednesday, I'll be in Puerto Vallarta - I don't feel like I'm organized. But I do feel ready for whatever is to come.