Just a lucky day, there we were, the White Rasta and I, up on the hillside above Ollantaytambo, Peru, doing the Bear Grylls thing, and we saw some lovely cacti. Gracias to Casa de Wow, Winn, Wow, Elder, and the whole wonderful community of Ollantaybambo, one of the most amazing places I have ever been.
A wonderful family who invited me into their home, and their lives, in Cuzco, Peru. The beauty queen is miss Raquel (la Vampira) , she had just competed in Miss Chiquitita Cuzco, her mom, Irma Gonzalo, is an accomplished artist, and folkloric singer “La Gatita del Folklorico” to Irma’s side is her lovely daughter Leslie AKA “Ester” or “La Vieja” also a dancer, and their dad, Sr Renato, also an amazing artist. Not in the photo is my buddy Tim Schouse, stepdad and husband of Irma. I spent about 6 weeks around Cuzco, and met this family on my second day. They befriended me, invited me to their home, shared food, parties, village festivals, and their lives with me. They are my dear friends, and I will see them again soon. I LOVE YOU GUYS. The world is large, but you can find small, wonderful places, filled with people who can touch your life.
Parque de los Deseos, Medellin Colombia, February 2011 “The Man Who Fell to Earth” was a movie in which David Bowie starred, and it was rated “R” and when I tried to buy a ticket, I found I was not old enough, so I will admit, I never saw said movie, but nonetheless, this is my interpretation, only 35 years later.
Lake Atitlan is one of my favorite places, I first went there in 1983, at the height of the civil war. I went back in 2005, and went to many of the same places as the previous trip. People were a lot happier, obviously, there was laughter in the air, and I was able to talk to folks without having them constantly looking over their shoulders. These girls are from the village of Santa Catarina. Atitlan is huge, with over a dozen villages all around it, but the terrain is really rugged, and the dress, and language developed quite differently. Though the people are all Mayan, there are many individual, mutually unintelliglible dialects spoken around the lake. A truly beautiful spot, ringed by volcanoes, and a lot of really nice people.
I have always been a volcano freak. Ever since my dinosaur phase, which every kid goes through, I have been fascinated by volcanoes, because in my dinosaur books, from the late 60’s , when the dinosaur tracks were still pretty fresh, the books all showed volcanoes going off in the background, as the dinosaurs cruised around the freshly made earth. I have a lot of good volcano stories, some really good ones, but in 2005, outside of Antigua, Guatemala, I took a “tour” to climb the active volcano Pacaya. It had spewed out a lot of stuff a couple of years earlier, and our guy pointed out where the most recent stuff had happened. Big cinder cone at the top, lots of sulfer in the air, standard volcano stuff. When we got to the top, we looked right into the smallish crater, which was diligently shooting out globs of 2000 degree (F) globs, which were landing not super far from us, maybe 100-150 meters from where we were. BUT, on the way down, almost back to the remnants of the forest, I looked back up, in the last traces of twilight (“Crepusculo, one of my favorite words in Spanish, Twilight, as Don Juan from the Castenada books said, “The Crack Between the Two Worlds.”) , Volcan Pacaya gave me a nice farewell, a perfect smoke ring. Nobody else in the group even noticed it, it was that fleeting, but it was one of those amazing moments in life, when you feel actually connected with the deepest part of things, and it was seemingly just for me. Gracias, Volcan Pacaya.