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three emails from someone 
12th-Dec-2006 05:17 am
hugs
Dear family and friends,

I am posting three emails from someone.

Love for the people,
-nc

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Quito....

HI EVERYONE !

For those of you who dont know, I have decided to head south for a month to check out Ecuador....to acclimate a bit before a permanent move....geographically, Quito is a lot like La Paz, Bolivia, a city high in the Andes, nestled in a valley surrounded by towering peaks. It´s quite a beautiful and dramatic setting...Quito is the second highest capital in the world, after La Paz, but no one cares about #2, in general...we give so much attention to #1 that the rest almost doesnt matter....anyway...despite the fact that Quito is just a few kilometers south of the Equator, it´s mean temperature is somewhere in the 50s (Fahrenheit)....usually 60´s during the day...sometimes sunny sometimes not, but rarely very hot or very cold...you can pick out the recently arrived gringos, like myself, who get sunburned because they feel ¨safe´because they are wearing a sweater.......

Quito is a typical sprawling large city anywhere, with an old colonial downtown, partially restored with tons of churches, some nice plazas, narrow streets, the Presidential quarters, the mixed bag of business people, students, tourists, lots and lots of various police, the "ìnformal" economy of street merchants selling everything under the sun, the shoe shine boys, beggars, newspaper vendors, at night the drunks and prostitutes, the taxis and buses and cars and trucks squeezing down impossibly small streets, school children darting through and around the taller people, in the Plaza Grande, the old men come out carefully attired in their suits and hats and leather gloves, stiff with dignity and fatigue, dreaming of other, simpler times perhaps....the colors...it is the anniversary of the founding of Quito so there are loads of Ecuadorian and Quito flags, yellows and reds and blues , the faces white and brown and black and everything in between..... hundreds of years of Spanish colonialism brought the white, slavery brought the black, and before any of that even existed there were the jet black hair and brown skin and dark eyes of the indigenous...now it is mostly a mix......

And then there are the lottery ticket sellers.......hundreds and hundreds of them.....I dont know what their commision is but it cant be very much, the tickets only go for a few cents, and the competition is intense.....a lot of the sellers are the indigenous, driven from their homes by the dollarization of Ecuador, by the oil companies, by a host of neo-liberal economic policies that has made it impossible to live, to eat, to breathe...they flock to the cities, hoping for a better life, and so many end up selling lottery tickets on the corners of a capital of a country that was imposed on them long ago, far from their homes, their land, their people, far from the graves of the ancestors, far from their holy places......the official currency of Ecuador is the US $$$$$$......in an attempt to hang on to a bit of dignity, Ecuador still has a few coins in circulation, but the crumpled bills in the hands of the people bear the likeness of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, and occasionally Andrew Jackson......

There isa bit of hope, tempered by the recent history of Ecuador, which has seen 6-7 Presidents in the last 10 years.....the President-elect Rafael Correa is promising big things to the people here; he crushed the billionaire Noboa in the recent election....Noboa, who has made his fortune on the backs of the poor and dispossessed, tried to sway the people with cash handouts, free wheelchairs....he was fond of sinking to his knees at his campaign stops, brandishing a Bible in one hand, swearing loudly that his only wish in life was to serve, to serve with humility the Ecuadorian people...no shame, no shame...this from a man whose net worth is over US$1 billion much of it the proceeds of banana sales......can you imagine how many bananas were involved ????? And Ecuador is a rich country, a huge oil exporting country..the riches have disappeared into the coffers of the international banks, into the black hole of Noboa´s businesses, into the accounts of the corrupt ruling classes, leaving the people even poorer than they were pre-oil discovery, but with a whole lot more problems......Correa has promised a revolution...we shall see....
Today, I left my wallet in a cafe, and went about my business, until i realized with sinking heart that that familiar feeling in my left jeans pocket was gone.....credit cards, MAC, license, phone numbers, $190, pictures....ugly !
I realized after a few minutes that the only time that morning i had taken it out was at the cafe, I headed that way, hoping but braced for the worst, the same girl was thgere as had been there ealier...I told her my problem, she just smiled and turned towards the fridge; she said she had run after me this morning as soon as she had realized, but couldnt catch me...she refused to take ANYTHING from me....I returned 20 minutes later as I was going out for the day and tried to press her to take $20 at least, which was a huge amount of money for her...she absolutely refused, said it was the only thing to do, the right thing, and she wouldnt hear of accepting anything at all.-....she cautioned me to be careful from now on, because, as she said " around here..."....it was so reassuring, so gratifying to realize that there are still people like her in the world,. and at the same time, I felt sad, because so many of these good people are so honest, they are honest to a fault...they can so easily fall victim to more manipulative types, who will strike deals and make promises, and year after year, it is only one side that holds up the deal.....in the meantime, their land, theiur wealth, their families are disappearing in front of their eyes, and they steadfastly hang on the the values they feel to be right, without realizing, perhaps, that the world is run by a different type of person...I remember the 1000+ treaties signed by the native Americans, every one of them broken by the colonists and the American government, paper after paper signed and ignored, each time the indigenous believing that THIS time would have to be the last time they would have to pick up and move.....

I´ll write more when I am motivated...I am off to the bus station to see about a ticket to the coast, the beach is calling me !


-someone

==========================================

Puerto Lopez was rolled up for the night when I finally arrived.---- this is an active fishing town, early to bed early to rise...there was one small "hotel" open, which was fine...i took a walk before llying down just to stretch my legs a bit...not much going on, a few sleepy dogs, a few non'.-fisherman types wandering around, I walked on the beach, a wide curving arc of moonlit sand, gently lapping waves, dozens of wooden boats dragged up on the sand.... very peaceful......In the morning it was something totally different......a flock of vultures circled high above the beach, the beach was swarming with fishermen and their boats, just in from 2 days out in the ocean, a small army of pickup trucks ready to take the catch to wherever the market was, a legion of strong armed fish wives, filleting, cleaning, organizing with a fluency that only comes with generations of experience....every size and type of fish imaginable is laid out there on the beach, or slipping over the rim of a large tub, or being dragged up the sand....manta rays swordfish (or sailfish, I cant tell the difference) hammerhead sharks, other sharks piles of gooey slidy slippery soon.-to-be seafood is cleaned, separated boxed bought and sold....one man is the local king, he has about 40 boats and 15 trucks, I am told, he watches over his little kingdom in a pressed shirt and faded jeans, a small wad of American dollars in his hands, admonishing, encouraging, occasionally berated, a sharp eye cast over his subjects, intent on maximizing profits, the profits of being a boat ownr in Pto. Lopez.....and your thoughts wnader to the life of the fishermen who are fighting a losing battle against the giant industrial trawlers who are ravaging the seas, sweeping clean the bottoms of the oceans with grim efficiency, putting in doubt the survival of both fish and marine life and fishermen, these blind wretched symbols of excess, groping in the depths of the oceans for anything that is alive, indiscriminate in its destruction, and then you hear that by 2040, most type of fish will be wiped out from the world´s oceans if present patterns continue and you begin to wonder what happened, it cant have been meant to be this way....how do you go so far to destroying the planet and hardly is an alarm even raised......

Pto. Lopez is also the jumping off point for a lot of whale watching tours, it seems humpback whales return to mate in significant numbers (there are hardly any left, but of those that remain, a lot return to Pto. Lopez and the surrounding waters)....that is mostly after July for 3 or 4 months, now there are limited tours to the islands where there are some secluded beaches and good snorkelling, one is told. Out of season, out of work guides occasionally come up to you to try to entice you to take a boat out with them, I decline..I wander down the road, which quickly turns from asphalt to dust to have some breakfast in a little enclave of green, a mini' jungle transplanted to the coast (this part of the coast is very dry, only scrubby vegetation is apparent)a European couple, passionate in their devotion to the whales of the area, have set up shop here and have built cabinas, a whale museum, and kind of a local center for conservation efforts. They irrigate their whole place, so it has bamboo, cactus, bouganvillea, lots of trees...really really nice....lots of flowers and dogs and big massive wooden gates and a dramatic entrance.....

=========================================

Montañita...

Heading south form Porto Lopez, there unfolds before you a tapestry of stunning beauty, beach after beach, rocky outcroppings thrusting their jaw into the ocean, crashing waves, dry deserty life followed by luxurious green, the bus winds and grinds down the coastal road, light, happy music, lots of carpet up front and stickers and a miniature hammock, stuffed animals a "woman only " sign for the seat opposite the driver......an easy hour ride down the coast, you are let off in the little surfing town of Montañita, which is now half populted by gringos of one sort or another...some surfers, some rasta types a lot of beards and jewlery for sale and beads and breakfst menus, deluze soy burger for $2.75, they slide down mighty easily when you are high, lots of sore throats, slow gaits and serious serious looks to go with the burned out smiles of the over done.....I dont smoke much in the States, but here, to paraphrase Spalding Gray, you feel like you have to, you ae almost disrespecting the place if you dont.......so I ask around and one man lads me to another, the first one is Argentine, I understand NOTHING of what he says, I am almost going to give up, but he gestures me to follow him, he may as well have ben Chinese, I understand no word he said, suppoedly it was spanish, but it was mumbled sotto voce, and in Argentine dialect...anyway we make out way down the street a bit, and he gestures to a guy trying to get a freebie juice from a vendor...we say a few words in Spanish, he points to a woman and suggests I talk to her, she starts asking me what do I speak in several languages, anyway, we choose French and she is asking me stuff but I dont know who she is and then he thinks I dont understand the french, so he starts translating her french back into english, but he is good in neither language, and I understand NOTHING...so we go back to Spanish and we decide to go to his house and they let me in, and the madness begins, they have three little adorable children who have been trailing behind them all the way down the street, they tumble into he room, a couple of fold out beds, a suitcase abttered in the cornr and old backpack, a rickety wooden table with a gas cooktop, a fridge with the handle falling off, a bathroom separated by a sheet at the far end, and shit dumped everywhere, a lonely pot on the stove, and then he digs in some back and takes out this packet of newsprint wrapped, duct tape sealed sticky stinky weed, she is just back from Colombia the day before, they have not slept in 2 days, she smuggles in weed and they sell it, amng other things, she rips off a huge handful I dont know ow much it is heavy and she tells me it is mine for $20, my God I couldnt smoke all that in a month, but I accept, he has aleady rolled one and is lighting up and we sit down and talk and he starts to talk in Spanish, some slang, some quick, some excruciatingly slow, he is a mixture of Huckleberry Finn and Oliver Twist.....he is a refugee from Colombia, from the wars, he wont go back, he lives wherever he can, they do all together as a family, and do whatever i taks to make some oney, whichoften involves weed sales...and he launches into an off again on again diatribe about being Colombian, and being himelf, and how people love him so much they hate him, for his freedom, for what he is, but or which they are not willing to sacifice anything to get.....he is fiercely proud of being colombian, he wears it as a badge of pride, and carries his cedula de identidad with pride....he goes on about how hard it is to be Colombian,and how easy it is to denounce one´s identity...so I get high and we make vague plans to meet later and I say goodbye and I know I will see them again soo and I walk back the 20 minuts down he beach to my room and I start to imagine myself caricatured, like they used to do down the Shore in Jersey or at the State Fairs and I think that they will give a a screwed up intense face, jaw juting, pasionate but a bit self righteous, and I am OK with that for now....then I get back and rooll one for me and it is all over with a swinging singing descent into what is all around me....the waves and sky and beach and rocks and hammock and noie in the distance and the great feeling of calm and tranquility that comes over you and the esire to RELAX, but THEN THE GUILT SETS IN...and the prostate starts hurting and that great big computer of ours, of mine, the head start spiting out a list of all the things I SHOULD b doing, and how it isnt really a good idea to have fun.....there´sa lot of material here folks, the Ten Commandments and demons and priests and churches and mothers whispering to their children to behave and fathers pretending they dont know what is going on....and you hear all this but also the waves and you are thinking about the girl crossing theborder with her package of weed, and she tells me she is protected, and I wonder by what by whom is she talking about Homeland Security or a Saint for Travelers or something else.....she is part ecuadorian, part indegenous, she was thrown out of her house whereever that was when she was twelve and then ended up in Switzerland,,,and she has these three little beautiful children and this package full of sticky weed and eventually I fall asleep, and only a few mosquitoes bite me and then I wake up and yes

42 years ago I came screaming kicking laughing crying into this world, full of mucus and blood and not ready for what lay before me, here I am 42 years later and I am running on this beautiful beach and watching the pelicans, here are flocks of them here, not the solitary kingfishrs you see in pictures.....the beach and I run and run...yes, folks it is my BIRTHDAY, and besides my rotten teeth, I am happy, and I swim and wim and run and have a smoke and stat talking to the guy at the couner and he tells me to go up the hill to the santuary and then a Costa Rican, a Tico tells me the same and I will have great views so I eat and go, and ask a shot woman in a blue ress on the way up and she points m to it and it enter this building but first I top under the shade, and there are litle sheltrs from the sun with a bnch on the edge of a cliff, and on the other side, the cliffside of the bench are children 2 feet from the edge and they are throwing rocks down down, hundred sof feet down, and they are laughing and their mother is weary in the wun and she doesnt care or look and I can see for milesmiles and miles of beach and waves, miles of beach, and the ratiional Western part of me notices that if they slip they will fall hundreds of feet to their death, and the other part of me is happy that they are happy and can see that they are safe and fine...and there are a lot of people talking andit isnt clear where the church is, there is a sign no bathing suits, but I dont have one on so i go in and walk up and up and there is a two stage church like thing, but open to the air no walls.... and there is a mini amphitheatre and a lot of people there foir the views and for the chuchand for some sort of party, a lot of children and everyone is milling around and chatting and then it startys to shape up and I am amazed, there is no conrol, just everyone doing his thing, and some clowns, and some peop`le with big red plastic noses and then it starts but I am not thrown out because I dont belong they are oblivious to everything I dont have to prove my bona fides, there is no checklist, and then here is a wman who dances, can this be a Catholic Church ...it isnt the one I know there are clowns and Santa Claus no and a lot of children and painted faces and one of hem kneels down before the sow and ants to pay and others are filming with a vieo camera, and I am SMILING, it is nice to be here and there is a great ea breeze and a beautiful view and happy people...the whole Chuch is built on this little summit, this little rocky crag and looks like it will fall thousands of feet some day with the rocks the children are throwing, like some Grek Orthodox monstery wedged in the cracks of a cliff, but this one is not off limits to women, in fact it is MOSTLY women who are here....and I remember the way the Colombian guy ran his hands through his weed and tossed great pieces aside, his life and love for the bounty of nature, without being wasteful....I can not stop smiling, I am smiling even more than the Ecuadorian children at their Christmas feast....so i go down slowly back to my place to continue on with the craziness....

at some point it is nighttime and i am on the street and I head down to Jorge´s house and he is at the door when I get there and I go in....we talk and we smoke and we go out and it is dark and there is a crowd of people in the street and you think it is a fair or a wedding, but no it is about 50-60 people learning how to do what looks like a square dance..they are going through the moves, awkward couples on display....blocking the street having their own open air Fred Astaire dance class.......

at some point I am sitting on the sidewalk in front of a small grocery store with Jorge and later his wife and we are drinking beers...even I am drinking a beer, and then a second one, and I have smoked as well, so things feel differently than they usually do.......and at some point I am talking to his wife, whose name I cannot quite get, and she is telling me all sorts of things, she is mixed race, and her mother is full blooded Shuar, that they are a fierce people who were never conquered by the Spanish and they used to behead their enemies killled in war and shrink their heads, and this became popular and the Europeans wanted shrunken heads too and then we are talking about her people, who teach that life only begins at 60 those first few years are for life to give back to life, after that you decide your real mission and path in life and you start on that and you might need hundreds of years and she was going to live 300 or 400 and thehn she is telling me about how they met at the airport in Schipol, Amsterdam´s airport and she has bottles of some traditional concoction in 3 liter Coke bottles, which she claims are indestructible, and she is in front of customs and she has branches and leaves from this tree in her bag and her suitcase bursts open in front of customs the bottles roll out and there it is, she looks up and sees Jorge on line, he is leaving amesterdam as she is arriving and they lok at each other and knows that that is their partner, and start creating a story and wqeave their way out of the problems with customs and now they are alwasy together...then it is on to Henry Miller, and by this time, I am gone....unlike some people, who, when they smoke pot or that kind of thing, get an increase in clarity, energy, etc, I am the opposite....I have forgotten ALL of my Spanish, the only word >I can remember is Si, and that is it.....I say Si, Si, every few minutes to prove I am present, I dont know what they are thinking, but she is talking and moves on the Henry Miller, and do I like Henry Miller. She has apparently read everything Henry Miller ever wrote, she loved the way he gave up everything and just wanted aplace to write or something....I dont remember ANYTHING about Henry Miller and I confess as much...then it is on to Hawaii, and I am hearing about how tooth decay was unknown in Hawaii until the colonialists, eventually backed by the US military, introduced refined sugar ....she tells me there are documents to prove this was intentional my head is spinning, I am learning about American history from a Shuar woman in Ecuador _:;?????????????????we are back and forth I am hearing things about the culture, the cosmology of this people which is so radically different from anything I have ever heard, she explains why the West is slowly dying, we have a sick Mother she tells me, but Pachamama her Mother will save everything and at some point we are back and she is passed out on the bed and Jorge is up with a friend and they are heating up cocaione, he has made a little crack stove, and they are going at it and his wife is asleep`on the bed and the three gorgeous little naked babies are laying thier bright in the glare of an unshaded light and the one guy seated on the threshhold of the shower stall, and I am telling him I am not into coke, and he said that that is good, but for him, he does good things with it, he is a healer of the Left >Hand, he is a devil, but a good devil, and he gets the same result as the Healers of the Right Hand like the shamans, he just goes about things differently...and they are puffing furiously, and somewhere during the night I have heard about a magical liquid that is found only in the Amazon region, it is made from some tree or shrub or vine and that this causes an opening of the spirit and you can change yourself, it can effect your DNA, it will touch your very essence..........on and on head spinning, every mooring torn free slip streaming drifting recalling falling the sweet sound of the waves and the glazy glow of an Equatorian moon.
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