Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dia de Campesino and the Feast of Corpus Christi

In the U.S. there is Father's Day on the first Sunday in June to celebrate the importance of Papa, but in Colombia it is the Dia de Camposino. This Day of the Peasant/Farmer is a day to celebrate the earth, the harvest and to thank God for all the blessings of being able to till the soil and provide a living for one's family.
300 horses and riders, of all ages, were on a four-day trip,
an annual event it seems, through four villages in Santander.

Recently, with all the flooding and loss of thousands of hectares of agricultural land, not to mention the livestock that perished in the rising waters, the peasant/farmer has had a very rough go of it. And the rainy season which is supposed to essentially quit at the end of May has continued on into much of June.

For some it's a family affair...
So it seemed that with a change in the weather, and the Catholic Church's celebration of The Feast of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) was a good time to really let loose. (The link has a wealth of information about this holiday.) Monday is a no-work day and many people have used this excuse to leave the cities and head into the country.

Today Barichara was filled up with people from all over Santander (and some from as far away as Bogota), in part to participate in a four-day horseback ride through four villages around the state. The ride started in Socorro on Saturday morning, I heard, and today people arrived on their horses from San Gil, (about 23 kilometers away) and took a break for a couple of hours. Then about 3 p.m. today 300 (!!) horses and riders headed off for Villaneuva where they will spend the night. Early on Monday morning, I've been told, they complete the circuit by arriving in Curiti, a small village closer to the city of San Gil.
Horses and riders are accompanied by armed military on
motos as well as some of the national calvary to ensure a
safe, secure journey across mountains and through villages.

Some of the hombres stopped at a 'tienda' (shop) to get
some supplies and to use their cell phones, it seems.
Men, women and children were on horseback and it was a thrilling sight to see them all parading down the stone streets of Barichara.  Some of the riders were carrying portable radios so the sounds of hoofs on the road were also accompanied by various local musical choices.

Those not on the ride were standing on the sidewalks watching, laughing, and enjoying the spectacle. I think I would like to find a way to do this ride next year!

I found this sweet poem about the campesinos which I wanted to share, and interspersed with the text are loads of pictures of horses, people, dogs, children and the sights of Barichara today. Hope you enjoy it all!

We are children of farming and the setting sun, 
Cultivate the earth with faith and submission, 
Sowing the grooves with enthusiasm and hope 
Found in his soul, messages of peace.
Riders leave Santa Barbara church and
head for Villaneuva, a village to the east.

We were born in the thickets of the gay mountain 
Among blossoms and fruit aromas blossom, 
The rivers that cross through the room; 
Dreams in their causes, they germinate well.
Birds throw us their songs in the wind 
And with his singing tone, love sonnets, 
Crossing valleys, cliffs conquer 
And in their nests built shrines of Eden.
Thus passed the days of yore, 
In agro fruitful peace and love 
The human beast never stained, 
Because it was God's temple and pantry.
Our old grandmother, died dreaming 
With its agro see again in green, 
In songbirds, flying through the sky 
And blossoms and fruits with blossom aromas.
Aranzazu - Caldas

And also in Spanish, how it was originally written:

Somos hijos del agro y del sol del poniente,
Cultivamos, la tierra con fe y sumisión,
Sembrando los surcos con ilusión y esperanza
Descubrimos, en su alma, mensajes de paz.
This is the road that also leads to La Loma
where I am living.
Nacimos, en las breñas de la alegre montaña,
Entre azahares y frutos con aromas en flor,
Los ríos que cruzan por toda la estancia;
En sus causes los sueños, germinan también.
Las aves nos lanzan sus trinos al viento, 
Y con su canto entonan, sonetos de amor,
Cruzando los valles, conquistan los riscos
Y en sus nidos construyen santuarios de edén.
Así transcurrieron los tiempos de antaño,
Con el agro fecundo de paz y de amor,
Las bestias humanas jamás lo mancharon,
Porque, era alacena y templo de Dios.
Nuestros viejos abuelos, murieron soñando 
Con ver nuevamente su agro en verdor, 
Con las aves canoras, surcando su cielo 
Y de azahares y frutos con aromas en flor.
Aranzazu - Caldas
That's me, standing on the corner on the right, wishing
I was on horseback, too - maybe next year?

The Case for Twitter

I don't actually know how many people are following (as in following on Twitter) the murder trial of the State of Florida v. Casey Marie Anthony in Orlando, Florida, but Twitter has allowed me to keep up via computer with what is happening in this sad story of a young toddler who went missing in June of 2008 and the subsequent trial that seems to have caught the attention of people all over the world.
Caylee Marie Anthony in a photo from her mother's cell
phone acquired from public records. 

My interest was piqued immediately on July 17, 2008, because I was living just three hours away. The news picked up the story that little Caylee Marie Anthony was last seen on June 16, 2008 in the company of her mother, Casey Marie Anthony in Orlando, Florida. For the following 31 days, "Tot Mom" (a label given to her by famed US TV host Nancy Grace) Casey had been shopping, partying, spending time with a new boyfriend, cooking for his roommates and renting movies. On July 16, 2008, Casey's mother, Cindy, found her at the boyfriend's apartment but was told that Caylee was with a nanny.

Later that night, back at her parent's home, Casey told a convoluted story about the nanny kidnapping Caylee and how she, Casey, had been spending the last month trying to find her. It wasn't long before the police were (finally!) involved, but it would be another six months before little Caylee's remains were found, in a palmetto swamp, only a short distance away from the family residence.

If you want to read all the details and timeline, the Orlando Sentinel has up-to-the-minute coverage also of this riveting saga of the selfish act of a young, attractive, single mother and her less-than-honest relatives who seem to be enabling her at every step of her life.

The point of bringing this up is that the social media, Twitter, has changed forever the way people communicate about everything. And Photobucket, where a relative of mine is working, has joined forces to make it easier to attach photos into 'tweets' (messages) making instant messaging with photos the easiest method possible for sharing news, and lots more. Just yesterday over 500,000 people were following the case online, according to the Orlando Sentinel's twitter writer. (I think that is what she is called, or maybe she's the 'tweeter.' I am only just learning about this.)

In those forward-thinking courthouses where people can use computers or Ipads or phones to tweet, instant information is passed on those who are waiting for the details. I read tweets from an Australian, a Canadian, several British subjects, and someone in Japan. Fascinating. And we all wanted to know how the prosecution team was faring against the defense presenting their witnesses.

I can tweet in real time between my rammed earth home in Colombia to an individual in a bamboo garden in Japan or share our conversation with someone in the outback of Australia (imagine kangaroos jumping across the road, now) providing the satellites are in place. Impressive.

How will this affect the justice system in the U.S.? The demand for instant access has been satisfied in one modern court room in Orange County, Florida and the media and the public will demand it in courts across the nation in the future. The judge who determines it will or will not be allowed in his or her courtroom will face a bright light of discovery and a need for better management of sidebars (Orange Country uses white noise to blank out bench conversations between attorneys and the judge.) and a tolerance for commentary that might go worldwide in seconds.

Even the attorneys - from both sides - were using Twitter to follow public opinion about the case, to get case law information from staff, and to even get tips from the followers about questions that might be asked of upcoming witnesses. (It didn't seem to improve the performance of defense attorney Jose Baez however.) No longer do you have to go to the Coliseum in Rome to watch the lions devour the Christians. You can join a Twitter group and follow the debacle from the office, your home, or even on your vacation.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cat Tales

Anyone with cats knows they can be a source of amusement, frustration and yes, worry. Losing the Amarillo cat was more than worrisome, it was flat-out distressing.

So I made the move some weeks after it was pretty clear that "Pasqual" was not going to return, and I accepted a 'rescue' kitten - delivered to me with two others in a cardboard box left at my gate. (The others went to a pet store in the next city from here.)

These three were really too young to leave their mother, but as with the
dogs in Colombia, kittens are not a high priority item and are often taken
from the mother too early.

Sombra/Shadow - bigger now - likes to sleep next to my
computer because of the heat it gives off.
This little sweetheart I named "Sombra" or "Shadow" because she is such a light color of grey. And recently she also disappeared. I was beginning to feel as if I wasn't supposed to have a cat of any color.

And so I wrote about it, and posted it here at Goodblogs, and although it's really quite a short story, it does have a good ending, which was a comfort to me.

Goodblogs is a place where people who want to try out their hand at writing for reward(s) can post a blog and see how it is received. With enough votes, one might actually receive something for it.

I hope you will check it out and if you like my story, please give me a vote of confidence.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Tree Grows in Barichara

A young boy stands in front of the tree he
planted two years ago when the Eco-Park
was first established.
A big issue for much of Colombia is that at one time a lot of trees that were native to the area were cut down and used for building, clearing land for agriculture or for cooking over a fire. As a result, there has been a serious de-forestation problem which has caused a tremendous amount of erosion and landslides that are plaguing the country today.

In an effort to start creating awareness of the need for native plants and trees, two local women in Barichara started the Eco-Park which now involves all the schools and the children in education about plants and trees and the insects and birds associated with them. At least twice a month the students come out to plant or tend their new plantings and with all the recent rain, everything is growing very well!

For example, the tree that is to your left as you are reading this was planted two years ago and it was shorter than the boy who is standing in front of it. As I understand it, he was also the one who planted it. I don't know the name of the tree as I am also being educated about them, but I have one in my yard and it drops huge leaves that curl up and become very good humus for the soil. They also provide a lot of shade, making the temperatures more bearable at high noon on hot, sunny days. In fact, the temperature difference between the sun and the shade can be as much as ten degrees!

On this particular day several of us were invited to walk the grounds of this new park to see what has been accomplished in two years. There are about 18 acres of land (9 hectares, I think) and most of it is covered with bushes and little trees. The interest has grown to include a number of adults as well, and now people donate native plants to be installed here.

Students from various schools have stuck up signs to indicate which plot belongs to their school and there is a sense of competition between some groups to have their trees surpass those of other groups. But what is the real benefit is that approximately 500 to 600 young people are now aware of the importance of trees in their life and with the continued efforts of only two women, this program will continue to provide both education and shade in Barichara.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fighting Dis-Ease by What We Eat and What We Don't

June's full moon is in Sagittarius and tonight, the 15th,
there will be a total eclipse lasting about 100 minutes.
A couple of the blogs I read about Multiple Myeloma offer some insight to this disease, and ways to live with it or fight it. In particular, Pat Killingsworth and his wife, Pat, offer several blogs on the subject of cancer, unfortunately due to personal experience. If you have stumbled onto mine for this reason, I hope you will click again to find the Multiple Myloma Blog and read Pat's entries. He is an endless researcher, one of several erudite MM bloggers, and easy to read.

My objective in taking on this subject today is that I do believe in the benefits of eating good, natural foods and I am (because of a certain cancer risk in my family) a proponent of curcumin and take it daily. I want to remain healthy and so I do also take supplements along with a daily fresh fruit, vegetable and some protein.

I have commented before that certain elements in our lives seem to be making a lot more people vulnerable to various varieties of this disease of cancer - key word "dis-ease." Stress is listed as a major contributor to heart disease. It is really disturbing that so many more people under the age of 50 are being diagnosed with MM, but I don't think stress of any kind is sufficiently toxic to cause dis-ease.

And it is not my intent to lay blame at the foot of the sufferer - already in anguish at feeling ill and perhaps powerless, this would be cruel. But I will ask these questions: Can we be certain that the water we drink is really safe? Do we really know what happens to the food we eat, before we eat it? What can we do to maximize healthy living before we face any kind of illness?

With all the threats of "Swine Flu," "Bird Flu" and just plain, but potentially deadly "Flu," we have to avoid the sugars (hidden as well as variations), sugar substitutes like aspertame and Splenda, which are horrendous liver limiters, are forbidden in other countries around the world!  Did you know that various flu viruses feed off sugar in the cells to proliferate? Getting off sugar is one of the hardest addictions because it is everywhere - but for your own good, start reading the labels...

Using a sugar-substitute is not the answer either. Did you know that aspertame is even in chewing gum now - both the sugar-free and NON sugar-free types! And aspertame does not leave the body easily - unless you know what to do - it creates a toxin that keeps building up and arresting the liver's function. Here is one solution I found: Dr. Janet Hull - you might want to take some time to read this link. Here is another recent (2012) link about a study of the effects of aspartame on the brain. If you are thinking drinking a can of diet soda can't be that bad - think again!
Here's what they found:
- 42 percent higher leukemia risk in men and women (pooled analysis)
- 102 percent higher multiple myeloma risk (in men only)
- 31 percent higher non-Hodgkin  lymphoma risk (in men only)
If you think switching to sugar-sweetened sodas is an improvement, it apparently is not. The soda ingredient is just generally bad for you.

A rare double rainbow awhile ago... hopeful only if one
is awaiting, and wanting, rain. We have had plenty.
I discussed once before the issues I have with water flouridation and how horrible it is for liver function as well. Since I have been living in South America, I have lost over 30 pounds! Part of it is due to eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and NEVER using a microwave for anything. And, to the best of my knowledge, the water in the local city is not flouridated at all.

For those of you who are using a microwave to heat up things, are you aware that those precious nutrients in the food you cooked before in the oven or on the stove are, once in the microwave oven,  being permanently altered by the microwaves? This is making the food or water (at best) hot stuff to eat and (at worst) changing the structure from nutritious to toxic for you.

Margaret on her blog reminds us regularly that using natural supplements, in most cases, enhances certain treatments for MM or the bones being attacked by MM. I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist, but I am aware that when we eat foods that are most closely connected to their origin (not in packaging with convoluted ingredient lists) we fare better.

In line with that, here is a recent list from the Environmental Working Group of the 15 best foods to eat because they are relatively free from pesticides: "Clean Fifteen" list: Onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, and mushrooms. NOTE: Margaret recently reported (June 9th) that asparagus is high in a certain enzyme that is not beneficial for those with certain cancers.
Items listed as being list of "dirty" produce are celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines (imported), grapes (imported), sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, and kale/collard greens because they are most likely covered with pesticides.

There are a couple of MM sufferers who have eschewed (pardon the pun) traditional chemotherapies and gone their own way to find a solution. Margaret spoke of one this last week who has accomplished huge success but has been tormented by various organizations for his claims. I have read of another who is taking taking PolyMva and has also achieved a kind of remission from what I can determine.

It is not my objective to foster false hopes. But I do continue to believe that organic foods along with quality supplements and other elements combined, especially the water we drink every day, can make a huge difference in our health. So I don't know if this has been helpful, but what I want on this day of the eclipse is to wish all my readers better health!