Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This Must Be a Sign...

I followed my friend Betty into the Hospice Haven to see if I could find a transistor or portable radio for someone in Barichara. No luck. But while I was waiting for her to finish paying for some little treasure she found, I overheard a young woman making a comment about Colombia.

My ears went on red alert and I immediately, without any thought of the consequence of eavesdropping, listened to her conversation. But it was the end part that made me just shiver.... "and I cannot wait to get back to Bogota!"

Friends know me to be very approachable and I also do a lot of "approaching," perhaps because of all the years in the newspaper and other media businesses I was in. "Excuse me, senora, I couldn't help overhearing you speaking about Colombia... and I am leaving for there in a short time..."She moved over to speak to me and interrupted, "When, when are you going?"
A path from the village of Barichara to the overlook to try and see
if we could see the Rio Suarez from there.

I told her I was aiming for the first week in December and heading to the north in the country, to Santander and Barichara. Her eyes got all misty and when I told her I loved her country, she turned to her friend and said, "See, here is someone who can tell you how beautiful my country is since you don't believe me."

I have invited her to come to this blog to read about my travels and see pictures of her beloved land... and as I was leaving I was pondering the little miracle of finding a Colombiana in a small town in Florida - do you think it was a sign?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Singing Again

The Barichara Chorus was rehearsing in this shot.
I was part of the choir at St. James Episcopal Church today and it was quite amusing to see the reactions of 'the regulars' as they came past the choir for their communion. More than a few did a double-take seeing me in the Alto section and it was  good to be singing again.

My connections in Barichara, the village in Colombia, report that rehearsals are continuing and I was sent some words for one of the songs I have to be ready to sing in a couple of weeks.

This week I will be re-packing my suitcases and checking to make sure I have all the promised items I was asked to bring back or that I will need in my little casa.

The church choir director, Dr Alfonso Levy, was not directing us this morning because he was put into hospital for various reasons. So he did not know that I was there for rehearsal on Tuesday or in church today. I decided to go and visit him this afternoon and got there just as his brother and sister-in-law were leaving. He was so overwhelmed that I was there that he got us both crying and I said I was going to have to leave if I was upsetting him. He replied, "Girl, I don't want to be anything but upset right now I am that glad to see you."

We talked about my Colombia 'choir' and how the director there noticed that I knew about correct breathing and immediately Dr. Levy relaxed and said, "You just have to watch for the commas," and I smiled and said I didn't know how to say that in Spanish yet, but I remembered his instruction about that and would learn the words so I can share his tip with the group there.

Before I left Dr. Levy for the day, I asked him if he wanted me to do Reiki on him again (as I had done once before with a critical health issue for him) and he said I should proceed "as usual,' which made us both laugh. So I have been doing Reiki on him at a distance and intending that these current health issues resolve themselves so that he can be up and around again.

The other half of the Barichara choral group at rehearsal.
It will be hard to leave here but I am still excited about my new adventures and plans and the only things I really am waiting on are my papers for the 'pensioner visa' which are being processed from all I can gather.

At any rate it was certainly pleasant to be singing again as there is something so very satisfying to be in a group making music together, and I know how hard it is for Dr. Levy to be lying in a bed and not doing that which he loves... Get well soon, my  friend.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Multiple Myeloma Takes Another One

I dedicate this sunset photo to Hamada
who, according to Susie, loved them.
The news from Susie that her beloved husband Hamada had passed away on November 23 from the consequences of Multiple Myeloma was no real surprise after her continuous updates of his failing kidneys, but it was still very sad news for those who have come to know her and the love of her life through her blog and her poetry.

It is also a horrible reminder that without aggressive and skilled medical intervention, this disease will show no mercy and will steal life long before that life should have ended. There was a notice on one of the MM sites that some people in the UK are putting forth an extra effort to educate the medical community about the symptoms of Multiple Myeloma since it is often mis-diagnosed, losing valuable time for the disease to gain a stronger position.

Reading other blogs often provides links to new information or theories which may bear fruit, for example "Riding the Wave" or "Margaret's Corner." I would not want to forget Phil Brabb's blog, MM for Dummies, and the efforts to fund-raise with Cancer Kickers, providing an inexpensive way to bring MM more into the public eye.

Education is something that should be happening world-wide since it appears that more and more individuals are facing this fight and at younger years (in MM for Dummies this week there is a story of a young woman in her 30's). I know I will continue to do what I can to educate those I meet about it, encouraging people to be more proactive in their discussions with their doctors and more than that, pushing them to eat healthier, more natural foods. I have also tried to get the message to President Obama that the government Veteran's Administration has not demonstrated compassionate care for our vets and in the U.S. there is a huge population of veterans suffering from MM.

This is no consolation for the wife of a man who loved her and who was well loved in return - nor will it bring him back. But perhaps those who are about to be diagnosed with MM or those who have recently been discovered to have it will take time to read the various blogs and make some educated decisions about their treatment so they can have a better chance at the remission that is sought after.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On my own again

Looking back over the past 15 months I realize I have traveled over (approximately) 45,000 miles (!!) by air, boat and car with Jey-hu - the most I have ever traveled with anyone. He said the same was true for him and we both agreed it has been "a most interesting adventure." No regrets.

We part as friends, in spite of the volatile circumstances that drove a wedge between us. And today I begin a new journey, heading toward Florida on my own from Texas - one of the flattest states in the U.S. I am certain - and then I will re-pack for my return to Colombia.

Cartegena, Colombia as seen from the tour boat "Alcatraz."
My journey has taken me back and forth across the U.S., seeing wonderful places and eating great food as well as giving me a new view of South America and its people. These past few months have been rich in color as well as texture, providing me with plenty of photos for my new phase of working on my art.

When I look only at my 'label list' on this blog, I realize that from A-Z I have traveled a rich road even though not always spending much money to do so. I have become more flexible about sleeping arrangements, more tolerant of delays, more understanding of the people who provide services and more willing to try something new. These almost 450 days have been a way for me to grow in ways I could never have predicted ahead of time. So truly there are no regrets... but it will seem strange to be on my own again.

Winding up the Washington Era

The last captured sunset over Puget Sound - see how
those high winter clouds stretch across the sky?
It was a time when things were incredibly uncertain, fluid and transitory as I tried to work out the details of getting my personal gear moved. One day I was going to ship it and the next I was ready to walk away from all of it In the end I decided it made sense to load it into the old Ford Explorer and drive it all the way back to Florida.

Jey-hu surprised me by offering to drive part of the way with me to make the trip more tolerable and to give us time to conclude the relationship amicably on this one last trip together.

It started out as a discussion about how I was going to make the trip and evolved into helping me pack the SUV as full as it ever has been. The original plan was to leave on Wednesday morning - very early. But the weather indicated that Snohomish Pass was going to be overwhelmed with 6-10 inches of snow that day, so we rushed our preparations and left on Tuesday night, about 8 p.m. We took turns driving over the pass in the very gusty winds and as the sun was coming up, we were well ahead of the coming storm and pretty darn tired.
Sunrise in Utah en route to Salt Lake City.
Somehow by taking turns driving and sleeping a couple of hours at a time we managed to get to Salt Lake City where an old and dear pair of friends now live.
My car at the Salt Lake City Information Center.

Grant and Ellie Mitchell, once from St. Augustine, FL,  have 'retired' and Grant was the one I wrote about having Frontal Lobe Dementia. Ellie cares for him with help from his children and local folks.

Once a successful real estate broker, Grant's focus now is on what is immediate. He likes to keep track of the time, remind Ellie to "hurry up" with dinner, and keep the leaves off the patio. Being with the two them is a reminder of the importance of the strength of a long and enduring love coupled with incredible patience on her part.

Grant enjoys his evening at the lake feeding the ducks.
Ellie drove us to share their regular evening journey of feeding the ducks and while there we saw the most glorious sunset.

It was as if God was pointing His finger to the skies and painting with it to remind of what is important.

So there I was, a car packed full of the few things I have left, on my way back to Florida with the man who lured me away helping me to leave. A most strange and wondrous place in time, with a magnificent and artful demonstration of Nature's creation. Wow.

Sunset on a small duck pond in Bountiful, Utah in November.
I am fortunate that I had the camera with me so that I can share this incredible beauty with my readers. Enjoy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Renting a house in Colombia

Just go around the corner and
you will see the entry - don't
bother to knock!
Once having located a house to rent, one of the requirements by this owner was to have someone who could 'vouch' for me as being someone who will honor the contract. I was fortunate that my friend at Corasoma was willing to take on that responsibility. Then one must appear in front of the notary and bring proof of identity, and be prepared to sign as well as imprint the index finger next to the signature along with the person vouching for you. In my case, the document was then sent on to the owner to sign and I will receive a notarized copy when that is completed.

See? This is the main entrance into the living area.
This is the view from the living room as if you were already in it. Can
I offer you a cup of tea? A gallieta (cookie) ? The kitchen is just in the
next room and I think I can hear the kettle whistling....
There is a formality insofar as the documentation goes, but I was allowed to move my personal items in before everything was completed based on the inherent trust that exists in this country - a pleasure to do business as a result. So before I left Barichara for Bogota I was moved in and the house will be waiting for my return in a few weeks.

Now I am back in Washington State closing out my life here and getting things sold, given away or packed up. I will be sorry to leave my wonderful Persian landlords behind as they have been incredibly generous in so many ways. Friends in Florida are waiting for me to come and celebrate the uniquely U.S. event of over-indulging in a large poultry dinner. Although I have seen turkeys roaming the roads of Colombia, I have never seen one being used for a meal. Interesting.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Exciting plans in the works...

In a few days I will be heading to Bogota to catch a flight back to the U.S. But this is just another step in my retirement plan as I have decided to make the leap and rent a small casa here in Barichara for a year to see how I like being a Colombiana.

I have met some wonderful, strong, creative women here who are very supportive of my choices and have helped me to find a safe place to park myself and my stuff. One of them is a Colombian Gestalt art teacher, another is a British medical doctor/archeologist/artist, another is an Austrian creative chef and instructor, one more is a French woman who started her own furniture business years ago here. And there are more who are part of the fabric of life in this vedeta (area). What is the thread between us all is our 'art.' And what I loved about Barichara at the first was the powerful creative energy that pulls us to this place to share and support each other.

I will always be grateful to Jey-hu for being the catalyst that brought me here. And for all the wonderful people at Corasoma who have been, and will continue to be, a part of the journey as well. (Click on the link for the English version, if you like.)

Jey-hu is returning to the U.S., but if he returns to Colombia, he will have his own choices to make about where to live. The trip to the northern coast with him was friendly, but reaffirmed that the gap has only widened between us. He is unwilling to invest himself in the local community and language, he really only wants to "see" it, take pictures of it, tell stories of it, but he is not a part of the picture or the story.

My desire is to immerse myself in this life... I have joined the local chorus, will be taking art classes when I return, am fully investing in learning the language so that I am truly conversant in Spanish the way I used to be in French. Making the choice to find a place to live and to move forward with my "pensioner visa" (retirement visa) paperwork is part of the process required to enjoy this new 'home'.

I tried to post a photo of the casa, but the uplink is too slow, so when I return to the U.S. I will share several photos of it and more of my plans.