Thursday, August 31, 2006

a new 17 inch monitor makes me see everything differently. digital photography will be completely different. the dusty old 13 inch fatscreen was a gift from a friend that carried me through the failure of my laptop monitor's screen. the laptop got replaced by a real computer a while ago...i finally caved into material desire and got this.

(this picture is of the old monitor.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


i've been mulling over the human vulnerability to the notion of a hero. our modern cynicism has crusted it over...and we back away from anyone who takes a stand, believes strongly in an ideal, or even just says something with conviction.

as a child of this generation, i do the same.

but underneath that there is something else. you can catch glimpses of hope and longing on the faces of those who watch...if they aren't guarding themselves...but you must be quick, for the moment passes and they quickly lose hope in the would-be messiah. the legend: a person of character who can be trusted completely--does he even exist?

we may speak our scepticism loudly--but in the silent pauses there is evidence to the contrary. we do want a hero, and we are looking for him, all the time.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

a seattle kind of day

i spent the day with a friend who lived in seattle, among other places. today was rainy, umbrella weather as we walked to the bookstore in search of a book. we also spotted this:

Monday, August 21, 2006

my latest obsession... to live very naturally: free of unnecessary complications, chemicals, and products. doing some research and reading a wonderful italian cookbook inspired me further. now, i am simplifying my kitchen, eliminating products with too many unrecognizable products added. i'm trying to go back to a simpler time, trying to go low-tech.

the italian cookbook reinforced what has been at the edge of my consciousness for a while: avoid the supermarket, buy locally grown when possible, eat pure products, avoid additives, preservatives, pesticides, hormones. it's not only healthier, it's yummier and better for the world and the community.

the amazing thing is that i actually managed to get almost everything i wanted fairly close to home, without stepping into a supermarket. it's fun to shop in ethnic stores and try to read russian or italian (i don't try chinese). in the asian store i watched as a hispanic-looking employee unlocked the knife case for two guys who seemed to be polish. i got a knife too.

the diversity is so good. [oh! i also found an african restaurant (nigerian) not too far away.]

the israeli tomatoes actually smell the way tomatoes smell when you are in a vegetable garden--so fragrant!

the ginger honey is going to be my new favorite thing, i just know it.

i found cage-free eggs for 99 cents per dozen!

my best moment was the last thing i bought. when i checked the ingredients on the russian butter, it merely said: cream. ahhh.

click here to see photos of my new religion.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

peru photographs

click here to visit my favorite photos from the trip.

almost home

the plane touched down here wednesday morning. amazingly, i slept most of the night. usually i can't at all, but i was so tired that not long after i rested my head back i was wondering what that bright light was coming in the eastern windows.

my apartment isn't mine again until today. s.'s hospitality has been wonderful.

it's weird to be back in the u.s., where things are simultaneously organized, civilized, sanitized, and annoyingly complicated. when i went out to buy a white t-shirt, i ended up driving for about an hour because i went to the wrong mall and the highways were not cooperating. simple task, nightmare of roads.

i'm sure once i'm back in my own place, my own neighborhood, my own roads--i'll be home, finally. the memory of my latin american roots will fade once again.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

alex's house

so the trip winds down here, in the suburbs of lima, in a non-descript 4 story house where alex lives with his extended family.

the solo stay in arequipa was fabulously indulgent, shopping, eating, shopping and eating...not to mention extended reading and thinking about my life and its direction....and lots of fun conversations with local shop keepers. i was actually writing a detailed account of it 2 days ago when the power went out, so that was the end of that.

anyway, it´s fun to stay with a peruvian family and get the real experience. yesterday, a friend of alex's drove he & i out to a very shabby, unbelievably poor neighborhood perched in the sand dunes on the coast north of lima. we met, among others, a single mom whose husband brought her there and abandoned her. her only source of income for she and her 2 teenage sons is selling candy on buses. her knees are very arthritic and climbing up and down is very painful. when i looked at her legs i saw a lot of varicose veins as well, which i believe are quite painful too.

her teenage sons have the typical preoccupation with being cool. it is likely that they don´t appreciate the struggle their mother has to support them.

alex´s project wants to bring basic meals to 50 of the poorest kids in the community 2 days a week. well, they actually signed of 80 of them. yesterday i brought my camera and took pictures of a lot of kids so that they could get sponsors. apparently alex has some connections in spain that want to sponsor.

today i am hoping we get out and go buy oatmeal for the meal project. i actually wanted to buy books for the kids so that they can do their homework. maybe that can happen too. apparently the teacher assigns homework but the kids don´t have textbooks and so unless they can borrow them from a library (non-existent) or purchase photocopies (at 50 cents per page) they are stuck. it would be great to buy a few of each book so they could have that resource.

the cool thing about alex's project is that it is a tiny organization so very little money gets wasted on bureaucratic stuff. alex has a job and supports himself.

well, more on that later.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Splendor Falls

from The Princess

The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes dying, dying, dying.

O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes dying, dying, dying.

O love they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field, or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow forever and forever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

arequipa, peru

after two days of bussing, i arrived here last night, with legs twitching with unhappiness at being cooped up.

travelling solo has suited me fine, especially with my big stash of reading material. however it was a nice break to travel the last leg of the journey (of a 13 hour trip) with a young german guy. i thought he´d be annoying, but we actually had a lot of fun talking. the bus showed the movie "finding private ryan" and it was really cool to hear tom hanks speaking spanish fluently.

i switched hotels this morning. my new hotel doesn´t have a private bathroom, but it has amazing views of the volcano and the mountains that surround arequipa, and closer by, the mysterious convento that used to be very, very secretive. i´m sure i´ll have more to say about it after i explore it at length tomorrow.

it feels very luxurious to not plan to go do anything outside the city; just chill and eat meals and walk around and shop and see the lovely buildings. today i happened onto a restaurant that had old colonial architecture juxtaposed with a classic rock theme. since my schedule is all confused, i was lunching at 11:30 and got to chat with the mother of the chef. she was quite pleased when i told her the chicken in almond and peanut sauce was delicious. her son went to chef school in lima, she told me, proudly. i asked her how to make it and she gave me detailed instructions, which i wrote in my journal. then she said, if you have a special request, he could make it for tomorrow's lunch. but--i´m too ignorant of the local cuisine to know what to request. i said, i'll come back--i'm sure whatever he makes will be good.

then--she brought me a rocoto relleno (stuffed hot pepper), just for fun, and for free. i was already stuffed but it was delicious.

what i really want to know about arequipa is if there are any mario vargas llosa sites for me to make a pilgrimage to.

but back to my inability to ask for something interesting for tomorrow's lunch: it reminded me of my life, and my wants in life. when i look back on the best events or relationships in my life, they almost never were things that i was actively looking for or even knew enough to desire. they were surprises, gifts. so here's to the big chef: "I´m sure whatever you make will be good."

Saturday, August 05, 2006

mind travel

i{ve had thoughts, too. i{m hoping that the rest of my trip is full of them. recent developments mean that the last 10 days or so of the trip will be solo.

fortunately, lots of books will go with me...and ideas are swirling quite madly lately.

s. decided to go home early...someone needed her, and also: she was tired and sick of being sick. so plans changed. it{s ok. i{m glad she is back in the heat and i get to be cold a little longer.

when your mind is bursting with connections, ideas, possibilities, and you can{t find the time or the means to satisfy your curiosity because the only way to do it would be to read 10 books at once...that's a kind of euphoria.