Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Visit to Guapotá

The view from Marylandia, a Catholic retreat in Guapota.
I first heard about Guapota (pronounced whoa-poh-tah) only a few days before the trip was taking place. A busload of people from Barichara were going to visit the priest who was formerly in Barichara, Fr. Leonardo.
Eglise of Guapota with park below.

According to Fr. Leonardo, Guapota was established about 200 years ago and the church was built about the same time. The front portion of the church needed replacement, so it is not the same age as the rest of it. Built with local stone and brick, what I noticed first is the arches throughout the church and the priest's residence. The church is high on the hill overlooking the village, with a park in front, and some lovely old trees preserved to give dense shade from the hot sun.

The beautiful arches inside the church
 are created with local
stone and brick. Simple but really lovely.
We were blessed with a lovely sunny day, at least until after 5, when the clouds began to look threatening, but it never rained. That was a good thing because the road to Guapota is under construction after serious water damage earlier and more rain would have meant some serious travel challenges for our bus. The workers are installing drainage ditches and eventually the road will be re-paved, but right now it is a mix of paved and unpaved roadway.
Coffee beans are spread out on the sidewalk
to dry and once dried are bagged up (see the
bags behind the metal fence) and sent off
to be roasted. Then shipped worldwide.

This is not just a 'one-horse' town, but this was one of
the several I saw; few mules even though this is Juan
Valdez coffee-raising country.
You can learn more about this village from their website if you want to visit Guapota.  (It is written in Spanish, but if you go on Google you can get it translated.) Located southwest of Socorro just off the road to Oiba (and Bogota) and about half an hour's drive in from that highway, the major industries here are the production of sugar cane, cacao (cocoa for chocolate), and coffee. We saw a lot of coffee beans drying in the sunshine.

As it was also the week before voting for various state and local candidates (voting takes place on Sunday, Oct. 30 in Colombia to avoid losing workers from their tasks, it seems) there was a lot of loud music from each of the candidate's offices or vehicles reverberating off the stone streets and walls.

Some of the research I did about the village shows a population of less than 1,000 people, but I am not sure of that information. There is a new hospital, a home for the grandmothers and grandfathers to be cared for, and there is transportation service between Socorro and Guapota several times during the morning and afternoon. Clearly with only one road in and out of Guapota and a strong police presence, outsiders are noticed immediately. But typical Colombian hospitality is still in evidence and it makes a nice day trip.
Another view toward the Andes in Guapota.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Feria XXXIV Barichara!

We've had a lot of days that start like this with low clouds,
and misty or rainy until almost mid-day. But this is the
beginning of the rainy season, so no surprise!
It's time for the fair/feria! It started officially Friday night with the presentation of the candidates for the position of Queen of Barichara, a decision that will be rendered after the parade today (Sunday). Each of the communities (vedettas) will have a representative - 13! - so there will be 13 floats to judge - a tough job for the Mayor's committee.

The band from Villanueva put on a terrific and well
coordinated drill//dance performance.
And also on Friday was the presentation of the bands competing for the top slot. My vote was for either Villaneuva or Socorro and the judges seemed to like Socorro's big brass sound and slightly more professional presenting. I have to admit their on-time, precision drill team show was exceptional!

Our choral three-song show went off without a hitch at the Opening Ceremonies Friday evening and we got a few big praises which was definitely an improvement over our last showing... progress. There will be a YouTube video to see one of these days, and I will give you the link when I get it.
Last year they had a very good Simon Bolivar float; but
one thing they should do earlier is close the streets to cars.

The weather has played its own role in the festivities as the tourism impact has been quite a bit smaller than last year with flooding and mudslides and other rain effects - especially between here and Bucaramanga - causing people to make other choices. Also there is a feria in San Gil and in Pinchote this weekend, so that is causing a reduction, too.
The cathedral float is usually near the end of the parade.

But we look forward to the parade of the communities and pray for sunshine later on as it has been drizzly, misty and damp so far today!

UPDATE: We had a break in the clouds and while it was about the same as last year, at least it did not rain heavily during the afternoon at all. There were, according to several reports, over 35 floats and this year the neighboring city of Villanueva joined in along with the other one, Guane. This made for a lively afternoon with lots of people cheering for their friends and family in and about their particular entry.

I love seeing the creativity offered up and
this float was called "Myths and Legends."
Aren't these little children precious in their costumes?

This truck was completely covered with
greenery so I couldn't get a good shot of
the vedetta candidate.

This vedatta grows a lot of corn and had the winner for the
'Queen of Barichara' last year, I think.
The children on the 'kid floats' were so cute in their birds and bees and flower costumes, and so many of the floats were incredibly creative and colorful; it would have been hard for me to choose the best one. Aside from the 13 candidate floats, there were others from local businesses, community services, the Colombian equivalent of 4-H and the church. I have to say that overall I think the effort was much better than last year's and it definitely was bigger!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Healing How To.. from The Intenders

The Mot-Mot eats bugs; lots of them!
Many of you have experienced a message from me, some even in person, which goes something like this: "I (or we) are intending _(fill in the the blank with a positive present voice statement)_ for the Highest and Best Good of All Concerned, so be it and SO IT IS!" And I usually add a "Whoooooooooo!" or an "Amen!" at the end in order to make sure the Universe knows I want to be heard.

This was partially learned from a group called The Intenders of the Highest Good, and some of it came from other sources, including my grandmother, Elsa, who believed strongly in the power of the mind. Long ago I used to annoy my children when I would wave my arms in a circle and call out "White Lights!" as they were leaving the house or the car or getting on an airplane. It was my early effort at communicating a blessing, a thought of protection for them, seeing them in their Highest Light of Protection and Good.

Orange blossoms have the most wonderful scent!
When I started this blog, one of my personal objectives was to be a cheerleader for those with MM and to use intentions in that sideline position. It has been gratifying to hear back from some people that they have appreciated my expression of commitment to their well-being. But I am the one who has realized great benefits from my almost daily 'meditations' of healing messages.

I joined an Intenders group in St. Augustine, FL, almost a decade ago, after being trained as a Reiki Master, and have learned a lot during that time about the effects of energy and especially as it relates to healing. And I am still a student. I am learning how water and food can affect that energy, but the mind is a powerful tool as well.

This is not to say that just because you are 'thinking positive thoughts' that you will overcome a health issue, nor is one to blame for an illness or condition because of not having uplifting thoughts. But I do personally believe that focus of thought is part of the equation of healing. So to help explain what I mean, I want to offer a message recently delivered from Tony Burroughs, a co-founder of The Intenders, which says it so much better than I can.

This is a Utah sunset shot I captured last year.
The following doc comes from a recent Intenders Newsletter. It says a great deal about what we stand for and where we’re see ourselves headed in the way we act toward each other.  We've received so many favorable comments on it that we thought we would share it with those of you in The Intenders Facebook Founders Circle.  It’s called Healing: A How To . . .

"Teach no one that he is what you would not want to be." This line comes from A Course in Miracles and it is worth rereading a time or two until you understand it because it says so much to those who are intending to make a happier, healthier life for themselves. Indeed, these few words hold a key to discerning and dispelling all that we have been taught about sicknesses, defense, money and almost everything we believe in.

For when we look closely we realize that we have been taught how to get sick, how to defend ourselves against enemies unseen, how to manifest lack and limitation, how to act in conformance with all that our society deems proper and just. Fortunately, people are waking up now and we're beginning to ask ourselves: "Are these things we have been taught continuing to serve us? Would the people who taught us (and continue to teach us) to believe in disease, defense, and destitution want to be experiencing these things for themselves?" It's very doubtful.

At this point we can stop and play the Blame Game (as so many of us have done in the past), or we can take a new tack. We can begin to reexamine all the old beliefs we were taught, discard those that are making us sick or unhappy, and we can make use of another line from The Course which says, "When a brother behaves insanely, you can heal him only by perceiving the sanity in him."

We in the Intenders would say that we see him in his Highest Light. We see his Perfection, his Divine Essence, his Spirit Self - and in doing so something quite magical - a transformation - begins to happen. He picks up on what we're doing and he contemplates a change in his behavior. No longer will he teach that which he would not want for himself. Now he's taken the first step in healing wounds he's carried with him from way back.

This is what is happening all around us these days. In the midst of seemingly relentless chaos, more and more people are holding the template of the Highest Light. We're seeing everyone and everything in its Highest, Sanest, Most Joyful State of Being, and, as a result, we're having a profound effect on the world we live in. We're healing it. We're healing it all - and here's the best part: That's exactly what we need to be doing in order to heal our own wounds from way back.
Tony Burroughs

Bougainvilla grows everywhere here.
Early on in my Reiki training, we learned that when we are healing others, we are healing ourselves as well. That isn't why I started doing Reiki, but it has been a wonderful adjunct to my practice. Reading "A Course in Miracles" daily for one year was another way to come to a greater understanding of how my early 'training' has affected all my life. 

Clearly I am no saint, nor am I about to claim to be The Healer. I am merely the conduit, the plastic pipe through which the energy and the message flows. I wanted to share this message so that others might join in this flow, this wonderful possible effect of healing it all... and for all of us to be in our Highest Light for the highest and best good of all concerned.... so be it and so it is.... whooooooooooo!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cats in the Rafters

Ultimo got down off the beam too quickly.
Having an 'open' house leaves lots of options for cats...
Sombra or Shadow - she lives up to her name, darting
about, especially if there are strangers around. She is a
one-woman cat, and lives in the shadows herself.
Here's a change of pace from the sadness of remembering a disaster and the seriousness of saving the planet. I have been enjoying the funny things that cats do; whether to amuse us (a presumptive assumption on my part) or to satisfy something within themselves (more likely), and I have been taking pictures of the 'Loaner Cat,' who eventually became a permanent installation and acquired the name Ultimo and the 'Rescue Cat,' known alternately by her Spanish name Sombra, or her English name, Shadow. What is interesting is that she comes to either name; she doesn't seem to have a preference.

Ultimo is a talker. It must be the Siamese or Himalayan
genes and he's not shy about voicing his opinions on any
subject, including politics. If the TV is on, he will complain
about the news rigorously. 
Ultimo has had his little surgery. The vet said she only cut one because there is a new theory that giving male cats some hormones keeps them healthier overall.  So while he doesn't seem to have the drive to wander, he does call out a lot at night, especially when the moon is full. It is apparent that he has some Siamese or Himalayan background with his markings and his desire to have conversation with me, especially in the morning when he comes to wake me up. He is stubborn about where he likes to sleep - and annoyed when he gets disturbed.

Sombra will be having an operation in a couple of weeks as I think there are too many unaltered cats here and too many kittens that get dumped and I know it is healthier for her to not get caught up in that cycle.

The first Colombian cat was sweet Pasqual, and he was a good introduction to Scott, the dog, who up until that moment hated cats. Pasqual taught Scott that cats can be friends so when Ultimo showed up, Scott was less resistant. Ultimo must have learned from Pasqual even in the short time he was around how to get along with a dog. Just yesterday I watched Ultimo play with Scott's tail and he simply laid there and let it happen.

This cat, really more kittenish it seemed, was hungry. It just
appeared one day, yowling and insistent. Ultimo was willing
to give up and let it eat, but Sombra had another position.
Sombra was not welcoming, and would not bend on this. So
I found a finca that needed a cat and this little female was
transported to her new home. I hope she's happy there. She
was very pretty indeed, and had lovely fur.
But Sombra doesn't like dogs and swears all the time when Scott is around... "Hsssssst! Shhhhhhhhhhh!" Not at all the way to endear herself, so there is no tolerance on either side, sadly. She has more 'wild' in her than domesticated, I think, as she is an avid hunter and that means bugs, moths, lizards and birds. So far she hasn't caught any of the wild birds that come to the birdbath, but she scares them away. At night she is on the prowl, and the giant moths are her greatest delight for chasing.

She also doesn't like strangers, and that means anyone but me - not the owner of Scott, not the gardener, not visitors whether day or night. She particularly dislikes interlopers of the cat persuasion. She ups and disappears or if food is involved, she stands her ground about her 'welcome'. But she is devoted to me and comes and lies on top of me whenever I am stopped and sitting down or on the bed. She is incredibly affectionate and will gently tap my nose in the morning when I'm asleep to wake me up after Ultimo has announced it is time to get up.

Sombra also loves, loves, loves potato chips. If I am eating some, she comes and tries to grab a chip from me. Then she sits and waits for me to get the hint and give her a piece.

Ultimo is the pacifist. He will back off from the food if Sombra pushes in, he lets her have first position on the bed, and he also welcomes her cleaning of him and is a fair-exchanger. He also loves watching the wild birds come to the birdbath and will simply continue his lie-down, enjoying the diversion and color.

A potted cat....
What is this? It's a cat-a-one-tail?
One thing that amazes me about Ultimo is the places that he chooses for sleeping/napping. He doesn't seem to mind lying on the coffee table, even when there are books and ceramic pieces strategically placed to discourage him. He simply winds himself around the hard objects until he finds a comfortable spot and dozes happily. Look at this recent shot of him in another s-pot.

Another view of Barichara and the cathedral from a higher elevation, not
far from my casa. Taken this morning on a walk... lovely day!
Anyone who has animals knows how quickly they integrate into the family, and how one day you look around and wonder what you did before they were there.