The Blog Comes Back to Life (and my traveling self does, too!)

It’s almost 88 degrees and as humid as it could possibly be at 4’oclock in the afternoon in the middle of a late January afternoon … quite the change from back home in Petaluma where it’s been raining, raining, raining and the kinda cold that convinced me to move to Hawaii all those years ago. Well, I’m certainly not in Petaluma anymore and far, far away from Hawaii, too!

It’s my first full day here in Cartagena, Colombia! 

As I was readying to leave, plenty of people asked me, “Why Colombia?” It’s a good question. Here’s my good answer: Colombia came onto my radar years ago when I took a several-month trip through Central America. That time, I started in Panama and made my way north to Honduras. When I was on the spectacular San Blas Islands in Panama, lots of people were headed south towards Cartagena or had just returned; and they were universally raving about how wonderful Cartagena and the Colombian people were – I should go, I should go! Since I had just started my trip, I didn’t want to change direction that quickly and dramatically, so I put it high on the list of ‘places to visit soon.’ 

Soon came and went, but I didn’t make it here. A relationship came and went, too, with someone not so accustomed to nor interested in this kind of traveling, and convincing him to come to a place like this was near impossible. So was staying in the relationship, but that took a while to figure out. More time passed and that meant not visiting Colombia. 

Then came last year, the relationship behind me; and I went to work on researching, planning and booking a two-month trip. I was going to Colombia! Another man came along, this time one I had long ago stopped dreaming was even possible. He was everything I ever imagined wanting in a man: open, real, deep, smart, present, sexy, awake, engaged, funny, sensitive, expressive, effusive, adoring, and over-the-top smitten with me. He’s a poet, for god’s sake! We fell madly, passionately, deeply in love. 

But my trip, my trip was already scheduled! He wouldn’t dare tell me not to go (“If that’s what makes you happy, I want you to go, I just can’t bear to be away from you for so long.”). I couldn’t bear it either, but I also knew I had to go. He understood. He too was a traveler. Maybe I’d shorten the trip. Even better, maybe he would meet me for some part of it. YES! I was still going to Colombia!

Then came, out of nowhere, his disappearance. Yeah, the man of my dreams left. Little explanation, many tears. He just couldn’t do it after all. The nightmare began. A day later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My world disintegrated. The least of my concerns, but still, I was very disappointed that Colombia wouldn’t happen after all. I spent that two months having radiation therapy instead. 

That was then. This is now. It’s been the hardest, darkest, most grueling year of my life. But I’m not here to talk about all that. I’m here now, without him and on this side of the cancer diagnosis, in Cartagena

I arrived in the late afternoon yesterday, almost dusk. It was a challenge at the Barranquilla airport and an instant immersion in being in a foreign place. First, I’m the only non-Colombian in sight and everyone knows it. The heat and humidity hit me like the wall of a furnace. I am far from complaining since I’ve been so damn cold, but I’m already dripping wet as I notice them sweat-free in their jeans and long-sleeved shirts. It takes some doing to find an ATM machine, not a cambio changer as I’ve already been warned about their bad airport exchange rates, but find it I do. My Charlie Schwab card does not work. Fortunately, the credit union one does. (I give myself a pat on the back for bringing them both.) With a pocketful of money, I head out to find my way to Cartagena. The taxi prices start ridiculously high. I know this game, I’m familiar with it, I even like it. I laugh and walk away, acting like I have an alternative. I don’t. Finally, after several conversations and walks around the airport, making myself only that much more noticeable and obvious in my foreigner status, a man helps me to get a taxi that will take me to the van that will take me to Cartagena for less than a quarter of the price. I call Charlie Schwab from the van and straighten all that out. I’m cruisin’ and feeling quite pleased with myself! 

I settle into my hotel, take a cool shower and a lovely walk in the neighborhood. I notice the hungry dogs, the skinny cats, the wheeled carts of strange sweets and tropical fruits, the men sitting, talking and drinking out of tiny plastic bags. I sip an ice-cold beer at an outdoor cafe and have a simple dinner. 

The woman in the parque on the bench next to me asks me if I am alone. “Sola?” Si. Yes. I am alone. And I am familiar with and reminded of this question and the surprise of local people since women my age traveling alone is such an oddity for them. I feel the loneliness tapping at me, wondering how different I might feel if I were here and in love, rather than here and yes, alone. I let myself feel it and I let it go. And it does go and I am grateful. I head ‘home’ to my room where I sleep and dream deeply and easily for the first night of my trip. 

I’m staying in the Barrio Getsemani, in a quiet, clean, simple hotel just outside the walled city. I’ve spent the morning and early afternoon today getting my 3rd world traveling legs on – walked until I could hardly walk anymore, ate fresh pineapple and watermelon for breakfast, a pollo empanada for a snack and yet more pollo, plantains and sopa de pescado for lunch. I sat in the tree-filled parques scattered around the city, gazed at flowing bougainvillea in every shade along ancient walls, delighted in the brightly-painted buildings, met the smiling Colombian faces with a smile of my own and practiced my rusty Spanish. 

Early in the day, a local man strikes up a conversation with me about Estados Unidos. “Ohhh, good place,” he says. “No,” I say. “Ahora, es terrible.” He points to a magazine stand with a photo of he-who-shall-not-be-named and says something about him being ‘my president.’ He doesn’t know what he’s said. A conversation ensues, mostly in Spanish. I say he’s not nor never will be my president. We speak of Obama and agree on how wonderful he was. (“Was?” Really? Does it have to be that tense?) He says, sadly, something about the wall this other guy wants to build. His dark face looks scared as he speaks. I am simultaneously thrilled to be speaking Spanish about something other than – ‘where is the bathroom’ and sickened that this is what we’re talking about. Again, I am experiencing the embarrassment of being an American. This time, though, there’s something about our dirty laundry being out there for everyone to see, especially after the dignity and grace of the Obama years. It’s an odd feeling that surfaces – this dirty family secret exposed that I don’t want anyone to know. And somehow him knowing, it being on a magazine cover here in a foreign city makes the nightmare all that more real. 

And yet … I am happy to be here right now. Just as I am. And to be writing on my long lost blog. 

And then, I go onto Facebook to let friends know about this blog and I’m greeted with a John O’Donohue poem:

BEGINNINGS

When the heart is ready for a fresh beginning, unforeseen things can emerge. And in a sense, this is exactly what a beginning does. It is an opening for surprises. Surrounding the intention and the act of beginning, there are always exciting possibilities. Such beginnings have their own mind, and they invite and unveil new gifts and arrivals in one’s life. Beginnings are new horizons that want to be seen; they are not regressions or repetitions. Somehow they win clearance and become fiercely free of the grip of the past. What is the new horizon in you that wants to be seen? 

What indeed are those new horizons? I am eager to explore and welcome them!

Thanks for reading! 
It would be lovely to know you stopped by, so say hi if you’re so inclined! 💜

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Posted in Colombia | 14 Comments

Welcome (Back) to Nicaragua

As we drove into Granada from the Managua airport yesterday, it was as if I never left this extraordinary country just over six months ago. It’s very rare for me to return to a place … I’ve done it internationally in only two places, both in Italy: My Manarola, which is scrawled so indelibly across my soul that I can’t help but return there over and over; and Venice, which calls me back to its canals and antiquity as if I am one of its own, which I have a feeling that I am, back from the courtesan days. But that’s another story for another time.

For now, as we drive on, with smoke billowing from the sides of the road where garbage is being burned, to the other side of the road where it is strewn amongst the cows grazing and the children playing, I am touched by my sense of familiarity with this place. The tropical flora and fauna and yes, that tropical heat, too – ahhhh, my body automatically takes a huge sigh of relief when I feel that steamy heat surround me. I may have Mediterranean roots, but the tropics have my heart.

And already, I’m learning something new from returning to a place once visited. Even as I look around, knowing clearly and obviously that I am very much in a foreign land, with its own culture and mores and language, there’s a sense of belonging and comfort that’s also available to me. I step right in speaking my learned-on-the-road Spanish that must sound ridiculous to the native speakers, but I make myself understood and that’s what matters. It’s sweet that I can direct the taxi driver to the blue house on Calle La Libertad, knowing exactly where we’re going. It’s sweet that I can point out the churches and the way to the lake and the yummy restaurant stops. And it’s super sweet to me that I sit writing this morning on the leather chaise lounge in the courtyard, where I sat many an hour before, drinking my morning tea from the same mug I used when I was here at Guillermo’s last time. Yes, I love that!

I love that we’re half a block from the city’s cathedral and Parque Centrale, where locals and visitors alike hang out, eat and stay cool under the huge trees that line the park. One block to a place with blind body workers offering massage for $12 an hour (I will be there later today for sure!). One block from Calle Calzada, the walking street where the open air restaurants open up after dark for the evening meal. Around the corner from the Spanish school where I will take daily Spanish lessons beginning this afternoon.

In the spring time, I arrived in Granada with a reservation at a Guest House that was undergoing renovation. They agreed I could arrive there, drop off my bags and go about finding another place. Sounded fine at the time, but another place was not so easy to locate. Everything was full, even at low season. I reluctantly agreed to the one room I could find at a nearby hostel. The young folks running the place were very welcoming and friendly, but the room was a dump. For $6, I agreed to take it after my full travel day, trusting I would find something else along the way. I unpacked immediately as is part of my arrival ritual and then headed out to explore. In less than ten minutes, I stumbled upon the sandwich board of “Room for Rent” outside Guillermo’s place and he happened to be walking by inside as I peeked in. What I saw then is where I sit right now: an old colonial house with a front room filled with white wicker furniture that opens to a huge square-shaped outside courtyard overflowing with tropical plants and foliage. In the back of the courtyard are the bedrooms, dining room and kitchen. The tall wooden-ceiling, tile-floored courtyard is filled with sitting areas of more wicker furniture, overstuffed leather couches and chairs, inviting hammocks, warm breezes wafting through and small birds flying around. I ran right back to the yucky place, packed my things back up in a hurry and moved right into Guillermo’s. I was home.

And now I’m home again. We’re all unpacked, settled in, the 5-gallon container of drinking water has been delivered and set up for us and we’ve been welcomed by Jenny and Marina, the two women working here while Guillermo is back in the US. And get this, there are no other guests here – we’ve got the whole place to ourselves! Okay then, I like it, I like it!

Ahhh, the courtyard!

Our bedroom has three very tall, double, dark wooden-door entrances and we open them all upon our arrival, letting the cross breeze cool us down. The fans help, too. No, no air conditioning and no hot water here – it’s the simple life here in Granada, just how I like it. I give Donna a tour of the house and we head out to explore the town, some on foot and some courtesy of the local one-hour, horse and carriage ride that takes us all over the city as dusk descends and the twinkling lights of Christmas trees from people’s homes attract our attention. It’s easy … everyone leaves their front doors wide open as they sit around talking together. There’s nowhere to go, there’s nothing to do; they’re just visiting with one another. And everyone’s house is wide open – we can’t help but look in and see that while their lives are simple and their furnishings basic, Christmas trees are everywhere.

After the whirlwind wildness that was the three-day stopover in Ft. Lauderdale to visit with cousin Stephen, this morning of rest and quiet is about as required as required could be. We went non-stop, eating and drinking, and partying and restaurant-ing, having psychic readings on the beach, taking a boat ride through the opulence that is the 1%’s lives and taking in all that life is in South Florida a` la the incredible generosity of dear cousin Stephen. Mostly what we did was reconnect as adults in ways that we’ve yet done together as cousins. And here’s the kicker:

This was the very best time I have spent with extended family in my entire adult life.

It’s true, there’s no hyperbole here. What made it so? Humor, of course, plenty of that. I laughed like I haven’t laughed in forever. And I got to be me, showing up as who I am and being seen and valued for that. I didn’t have to hide, I didn’t have to apologize, I didn’t have to make myself small or invisible or palatable to what is expected or preferred. And he did, too. There was room for all of us to be ourselves; and simply put, that’s not an experience I’ve known in my family. How do I say Thank You for that, Stephen?

Stephen also introduced me to his dear friend Naomi who came down from New York with him; his high school sweetheart with whom he has remained friends all these years. She and I enjoyed a most unexpected connection that delighted us both.

And then he brought me together with another of our cousins, Linda, daughter of my father’s brother – we walked into her house and as soon as our eyes met, tears flowed from both of them as we looked upon each other, dear childhood friends who hadn’t seen one another in over 30 years! Yet another over-the-top evening reminiscing, imbibing in gargantuan amounts of food and drink and meeting the next generation, two of her four amazing children! Young people who are funny and engaged and finding their ways just like we did.

At one point at her house, as we sat back down at the dining room table, this time for dessert, I looked around the table and saw not us sitting there, but the prior generation — our mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles, almost all of whom are gone now. It was as if their auras were floating above us, it’s as if we were sitting in their seats. And then I looked at Cayla and Colby, Linda’s two adult children, and they were sitting in the seats we had occupied all those years ago. And here I heard some of the adults saying the same things that those adults had said all those years ago. And here we were, engaging in the very same rituals our forebears had done, eating the very same kinds of food and carrying on traditions of connection that would have made our parents happy that we were choosing to do so. I’m not sure I can describe how clear this all was, but it’s as if I could see this entire familial process unfolding right there at Linda’s dining room table.

And now, although not so far away by air, far away from that table and from life in South Florida, I sit in a familiar city in a new country — Granada, Nicaragua. I’m mostly rested up after three days of hardly any sleep and now I’m ready to embrace this new leg of travel adventure.

This is a new one in another important way for me … this time my sister is traveling with me. We’ve never done this before and I’ve never traveled with someone else (except for a partner). Oh sure, I’ve taken vacations with others, but that’s something else entirely. I don’t feel like I’m on vacation and don’t feel like I have a life to even take a vacation from. I do what I think of as traveling, being on pilgrimage, on sojourn. It’s a different way to be out in the world for me and I’ve so appreciated my ability to step up and into the world and find home everywhere I go. But I’ve done that almost exclusively by myself. This is new for me and certainly new for my sister who hasn’t taken extended time off and generally hasn’t chosen to travel quite in the way I choose. So there are all kinds of opportunities and challenges and experiences ahead for us, individually and together. We shall see how we navigate those byways and find our ways into whole new worlds within us and around us.

Yes indeed, Welcome (Back) to Nicaragua! Let the mystery unfold, let it guide my way, let it show me what I need to know, what I need to hold on to and what I can let go of, and may I open with grace to what it has to teach me.

Now, it’s off to that cool shower, a walk, a meal and a massage and then my first day of one-on-one Spanish lessons!

Posted in Nicaragua | 6 Comments

Welcome Back to My Blog!

It’s like I almost forgot I had a blog. It’s like my life has almost been so full of living back here in the Bay Area that I’ve almost been too busy to focus here. But it’s not really true. It’s just that my attention has been elsewhere. True enough, life here in the Bay Area is rich and full and much denser than how I was living out on that remote island called Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Ohmigod, yes, life here is different: classes with Ann Randolph and Terri Tate and Body Tales and The Motion Institute and going to movies and concerts and theater (The Golden Gate Men’s Chorus, Chanticleer, Concert in the Redwoods, Concert for Peace, Jennifer Berezan and Nina Wise, the San Francisco Symphony, the Scottsboro Boys, and so many shows at the Marsh I can’t keep track) and playing in San Francisco and Oakland and Berkeley and Petaluma and Tiburon and Spirit Rock Meditation Center and friends, oh, my dear friends, and singing and performing with the Love Choir in Sebastopol and the Wings of Glory Gospel Choir in Petaluma and attending Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco (yes, me attending church service!) and the trails of Armstrong Redwoods and the Marin Headlands and the Sonoma Coast and Point Reyes and all over Sonoma County and the wineries, oh, the wineries and the Golden Gate Bridge … my god, after all these years, my breath still catches when I cross it … and still, yes still writing personal ads and going on dates, ever the optimist, ever the determined, patient one to find my beloved, and the Election, ohmigod, The Election to which I was riveted with results far beyond what many of us could have imagined and the recent reconnection after thirty years of no contact with a man from my youth who, as dear Mary phrased it, “loved me into being” and rocked my world all those years ago and who has turned my current world upside down and inside out and working, too, oh, I almost forgot, I’m working again in Hospice … all of that going on …  has put this blog somewhere on the wayyyyy back burner!

Even so, as I ready now to leave the Bay Area for the winter, I’ve been thinking more about returning here to the Blogosphere to write and reflect on what the last six months has been about for me. It is winter time after all; and even though I’m escaping to warmer climes, it’s time to go inward for reflection and digestion and here’s a fine place to do just that.

When I started this blog, it felt important to write, unedited, whatever I was so moved to write, and to let people see it. In all my years as a writer, I had never done that before. Most all of my writing had stayed private. I was fearful of others’ judgment or rejection. So I kept it mostly to myself.

This blog changed all that. I edited nothing, even when I knew what I was sharing was really “out there,” even when I knew some of my readers and friends were turned off or even stopped reading as a result of what they may have deemed over-sharing or TMI, even when one of my dearest friends hinted her caution at my revealing such raw and intimate details. Still, I kept up the exposure. I let myself be seen. Geez, I mean, it is the Internet, after all; there’s not much privacy in these parts. I was challenged to quiet the ever-present internal editor, critic and judge that I so easily projected onto others. I needed to let myself see myself and be seen by others and let go of the fear of rejection or the longing for approval. All of that external response be damned, I needed to find it inside. Don’t be fooled by the past tenses in those sentences … it’s not like the process with the critic is over; it’s an ongoing dance through life and through art. But the dance is well underway and I’m learning as I go to let go and be seen.

And now I’ve upped the ante even more. Now my creative journey has taken a different path, one I didn’t see coming. My focus has shifted in an utterly new and unexpected direction. Now I’m working on a solo performance piece (hence all these classes I’m taking) based in large part on the relationship with this extraordinary man from my youth and what it’s like relating to him now. What I’ve uncovered in the process is that this is one of the big love stories of my life. I never let myself fully acknowledge or own that since it was so short-lived and so unlikely to be deeply requited. But isn’t that exactly what makes for some of the most potent love stories ever?

There’s way more to say and share. This love story isn’t finished. Of that I am sure.

Stay tuned as I head south soon back to Nicaragua where there will be plenty of posts in the making!

Posted in Back in the Bay Area | Leave a comment

Last Stop … Roatan. Well, Not So fast …

I landed on Roatan just three days ago, sailing from Utila which was a fine journey, complete with one of those trampoline net things in the bow of the boat where I lounged for hours and fell into the most delicious sleep rocking on the waves. Woke up just in time to arrive mid-morning on this, Utila’s bigger and way more expensive sister.

As I am wont to do, though, I found the perfect place to land and worked out a great price for the week. I’m just a few steps from the beach, which I can see from my sweet little cabin and yet I’m under the somewhat cool shade of dense tropical foliage. My cabin has all I need – a double bed, a bedside table with a reading lamp, electrical outlets (you’d be surprised, not always so available and so very important for my electronic de-vices), shelves for my stuff so I’m not living out of my backpack, a bathroom, a frig, lots of windows, my own 5-gallon purified water supply (this is a big deal!), a lanai with table and chair and naturally, a hammock. Here I am: http://georphi.com/

For the first time in months, I even have a hot shower. Not that I need it since it’s about 127 degrees outside, but it does remind me that I haven’t had one since my first nights in Panama City back in March. I may spend my first full day in SF just luxuriating under a hot one.

This week is all about languid, luxurious lazing around … I’ve done my touring and going and seeing, now I’m simply soaking up the sun and the sea while I can. I know there will be no warm ocean for me for awhile, so I’m giving myself massive overdoses of it now. Maybe that will help keep me warm when I’m back in the chilly city by the bay.

On the back burner, but not so very far back because, after all, it’s less than a week now, I am also very aware of the massive threshold that it is to cross back over into the US after months away, especially coming from the 3rd World. It’s quite the segue and the pace of the Bay Area is always big energy to merge with. The ride home on the freeway from the airport alone is enough in and of itself.

And while Roatan is just fine, thank you very much, it doesn’t dazzle me, like Utila didn’t dazzle me either. Lots of tourists (and this is off-season, yikes, I’d hate to see it in high season), too many for my taste; and while I’ve heard great things about these islands, I think their glory days are in the past.

The reefs around the islands are where it’s all happening and they are truly the jewels of the area. Gorgeous, in healthy condition and the clarity of the water is amazing! But the towns, the islands, the beaches – more utilitarian than beautiful and nothing outstanding. The roads on both islands run right along the beach and they’re buzzing with motor bikes and mopeds and tuk-tuks and here on Roatan, vans and cars. Then at night it’s a boom-boom-boom party scene in all the bars and restaurants that line the streets. The constant noise and the lack of separation from the beach is not so interesting for me. And of course the beaches here are not so dazzling because it’s the reef everyone comes for.

But I know how to enjoy myself most anywhere I go and I figured that I could just stay here in Roatan for the balance of my time and enjoy the languid life of lazing about in the hammock, writing, reading and swimming. All was fine and I was fine with it.

But you can hear something’s coming, can’t you?

I think I was trying to convince myself that everything was fine and really, it was. But there was some low-level kind of dull flatness that surfaced and I wondered what it was about. Should I delve further into it? Should I let it be and let it run its course? I did a little of both and still it lingered.

And then that buzzing of the bee in my bonnet got louder and louder. I was fast asleep last night and was literally woken up by the incessant buzz. Hhmmm, I thought, what about that place near La Ceiba I was gonna go to? I still have time, I can still do it. But after I sent two emails to the guy, neither of which he returned, I let it go and decided to just settle in here. But I realized that was part of the problem, I was settling, but not in the best of ways.

So I got out of bed and figured one more email, I’ll send him one more email and see what happens. In minutes, he responded with apologies that his internet had been out. I’d like to come on Monday, I told him and he said, yes we have room for you. Then mistakenly, he said, see you tomorrow. I thought, maybe it wasn’t a mistake at all – hell, why not, I can go tomorrow and not wait until Monday- what am I waiting for?

So it’s now 1:30 in the morning and I’m packing everything up and suddenly, my plans have changed! One of the too-many-to-mention things I love about solo traveling.

Paradise Found, where I’m headed, is a place right on the beach and just outside of La Ceiba on the mainland of Honduras, that much closer to where I fly out on Friday morning. There I can soak in some local hot springs and play in the sea and the river and check out the local Garifuna community. And, I understand, it’s not inundated with these nasty sand flies (no-see-ums) which have eaten me alive during my time on these islands. My skin looks like a pin cushion, no matter the bug juice I’m lathering on all day every day. It’s a place way fancier than my normal standard and I decided ending the trip in some luxury (a/c, hot showers, the works!) is a fine gift to give to myself!

I didn’t see this one coming, but suddenly I feel all rested up enough to get just a little bit more exploring in before I’m back on familiar soil. So I’m ready to go, waiting here in the restaurant to take my leave on the 2 pm ferry and delighting in being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want … and so I am!

Posted in Honduras | Leave a comment

The May – December Phenomenon

The May – December Phenomenon

NSFW
(which is Internet-speak for way beyond PG
and maybe even R if sexually explicit isn’t your thing)

All teasing aside (please), I am most curious about this phenomenon that’s shown up in my life. First things first. No, I am not a “Cougar.” I find the term – while it engenders laughter – too simplistic, sexist, belittling, predatory-sounding and well … just not accurate.

I don’t seek young men out. Really I don’t. I swear I don’t (The lady doth protest too much – ? No, no, no, really!) And yet they keep showing up. Here I am trying to approach this topic with some seriousness and yet it still evokes shyness and the defense of playfulness in me. Yeah, there’s a way I’ve succumbed to the cultural taboo that’s turned into internalized shame of being with much younger men. All the more reason to take it on, reflect and write about it, yes?!

Before I go right into that, an aside that maybe isn’t an aside at all:

I swore in my younger days that when I heard about older women feeling invisible, I didn’t believe it. Can’t be, I thought. I’m not going to disappear. But I’ve learned that those women weren’t making anything up or making it happen to themselves. In our youth-centric, youth-focused, youth-obsessed culture, we menopausal and post-menopausal women really do go off the cultural radar. I’ve spoken with men my age, too, and some of them report the same thing. I’ve actually watched it happen on this trip. More than once, I’ve been waiting for transport and been standing next to or near a much younger woman. A man comes by and starts talking to her, completely unaware of my presence. It’s like my being there doesn’t even register for him. He literally doesn’t see me. I experienced it on my Southeast Asia trip, too. I walked through city or village or countryside and as happens just as commonly to me back in Hawaii, I am invisible. Like that man at the bus station, people don’t see me; or if they do see me, they don’t pay much mind or dismiss me as an older woman. Hhmmm, similar to how I’ve been trying to dismiss these young men? No, I don’t think so. Differently than that. But dismissive nonetheless.

And yet … and yet, there are some young men who are not so eager to dismiss me, even when I still try to dismiss them. Who are any of us to dismiss any other of us? How can we do so without diminishing ourselves in the process? How can we not at least give one another a chance at discovering who might be within that body, who might be living that life worth knowing about?

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

I’ve had more than my share of judgments about older men and young women (just ask my friend Jim) which were way triggered when I witnessed all the sex tourism in Southeast Asia. Rampant it was there and it was hard – really hard – for me to look with other than disdain at the aged, bald, big-bellied Western men walking around with young Asian teenagers on their arms. It’s not that I’m proud of the judgments nor do I believe that old, bald, big-bellied men don’t also deserve love and pleasure in their lives – we all do. It’s just that, it’s just that … yeah, well, what is it, exactly? Bringing up the Asia sex industry complexes the issue. While I do not subscribe to the notion that all sex workers are exploited nor do I believe they’re all doing sex work against their will, the issues in Asia are different. Truth is, many young teen women there are forced into those roles, often by their poor parents who need their help to support the family or need them to be gone because they can’t afford to support them. That’s a serious cultural issue and not one that I’m trying to get at right now. So let’s put that aside for this conversation.

Even if we bring it back to our own culture, still my judgments abound about the older man and younger woman syndrome. Or at least they have in the past. Now that this <ahem> circumstance seems to be showing up in my life, I’m learning to look those judgments square in the face and soften my hardened stance around them. No matter what comes of it in my life, I’m grateful to have the chance to challenge yet one more judgment I’m holding towards other people. Because while I may have many qualities within me, some of which are not on the sunniest side of life, hypocrisy is not one of them.

What I’ve found, surprisingly, shockingly, is that maybe, just maybe, what appeals to those older men in young women just may be some of the same qualities that I find so appealing in these young men who pursue me. Hhmmm, interesting indeed. Oh, I don’t know that I’m ‘sold’ on this thing; and of course, the wisdom, life experience and shared world views with my contemporaries are the very things that have always interested me in people my age and older. As the last born of my siblings (who are seven, nine and twelve years older than me), I’ve spent many years of my life surrounded with older people, first in my family, and then amongst my circle of chosen family.

But then something happened. Without realizing it, there was suddenly one and then – ohmigod – two generations of adults behind me in age, coming of age in a culture and at a time so very different from my own. Mostly I’ve stayed clear of them or haven’t had much opportunity for interaction. But then when paths would unexpectedly intersect, I often found myself delighted with their very different perspectives, their ease and agility in navigating this brave new world and their seemingly unquenchable curiosity.

And isn’t that, after all, just how we break down stereotypes and judgments? Isn’t that how we let go of cultural biases and unlearn the racism, sexism and homophobia? Don’t we learn the most when we directly expose ourselves to the very people we don’t know, rather than tacitly accept the cultural pabulum we’ve been fed? Isn’t that what’s been so effective in the gay rights movement, with certifiable homophobes suddenly transformed by finding out that all along, they had gay people in their midst – in their families and friendship circles and work communities – and that these gay people were just like any other people and they didn’t live up to any of those biases that had before remained unquestioned? Isn’t that some of the very reason I travel, to learn first hand about who people are, what their cultures are, separate from what I’ve been taught and read about in the media?

(Total aside – like here, right here in Honduras, the supposed Murder Capital of the World. Well, yes, it might be on the top of that list, but you wouldn’t know it by the people going about their lives just like we’re all going about our lives. I could no more tell you that it’s any different here than anywhere else I’ve ever traveled. Because it isn’t. And yet, I could have let that headline scare me or worse, let stop it from visiting. And wouldn’t that have been a shame.)

Okay, okay, back to this May – December thing. I was listening to some music on my long day of travel yesterday and one of the songs on my Iphone is “Sway,” performed by the Honoka’a Jazz Band. I first discovered them on a visit to Honoka’a as I walked by the theater and ventured in to their end-of-the-school-year concert. I was blown away with the talent, passion and incredible commitment of these young adults. Led by their extraordinary director, Gary Washburn (an accomplished musician in his own right and obviously gifted teacher), this group has received many top honors for their work and they’ve even performed on NPR’s, “At the Top,” amongst other achievements.

I remember well the young, local man featured as the singer of this song. He sashayed onto the stage decked out in a tuxedo, complete with fedora. The audience made up mostly of his peers went wild. He proceeded to sing, dance and yes, sway as he sang with a quality of presence that stunned me. And then, I had to admit, I was more than stunned, I was captivated by his energy, his youth, his vitality. Ohmigod, I was even attracted to him, I realized. A thought came through – How can he possibly sing of an experience he can hardly have yet had in his life? But I could think those thoughts all day and night; it didn’t stop him one bit from being able to sing with heartfelt expression. Not only him, but also the young, tantalizing woman who sang “Respect” and the entire band and other singers who belted out all their other phenomenal songs. It just shows you what inspiration, encouragement, belief in them and their own dedication can do to create gifted artists. I walked away from that performance impressed and yet also confounded by the attraction I felt toward this young man. But I didn’t give it much more of my reflection or attention at the time.

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And then along came Pomai. Pomai answered an ad I placed on the internet four years ago, soon after Rainer and I had split. I was 51. He was 21. When he told me his age, I tried to summarily dismiss him. He wouldn’t stand for it. Adamant, he was: “Just give me a chance. Just meet me, that’s all I’m asking.” And so I did. Pomai was a psychology major at UH, Hilo. He is also Hawaiian, his family going back generations on the Big Island. He regaled me with story telling of ancient Hawaiian myths as I laid my head in his lap. I was smitten. We engaged in stimulating conversation about psychology and culture and women and men and politics and well … everything. For my 52nd birthday, he gave me the gift of a sexual ritual/fantasy (complete with friends!) that I’d had for decades. He was smart, he was hilarious and he was, in his big, big body, enormously sexy. We had a sexual connection that was off-the-charts. This wasn’t a one-way, teacher-student relationship, mind you. Oh sure, he learned some things from me that he hadn’t yet experienced. But truth be told, so did I, so did I; and in a way I never would have imagined, such the experienced woman that I am. Yeah, right.

Pomai didn’t have an issue with our age difference, but I did. When we were out in public and he reached for my hand, I held back. Much as I tried to resist, he persisted. He wouldn’t let me hide. He called me out on my boldness, he demanded that I challenge the places of shame inside of me. He expected me to walk my talk. Yep, I was embarrassed to be seen with such a young man. I was embarrassed about what I imagined were the inevitable judgments about me preying on this young man; the judgments that were clearly my own.

I tried not to accept his determined invitation to his ‘Ohana’s Thanksgiving celebration, hosted by his mother who was younger than me. He wouldn’t have it. I had to come. I can’t remember a time when I was so nervous in anticipation of a holiday event. I felt her eyes lasering through me most of the evening and yet I wondered how much of that was her and how much of it was my own projection.

Pomai gave me so much love, so much attention and so much sexual satisfaction. And yet it was me who couldn’t maintain the relationship. It was me who couldn’t imagine how we could create a long-term partnership, the kind he wanted to create with me. We’re still friends, Pomai and me; but no, I just couldn’t manage the partnership thing.

Never will I forget how kind and caring he was when I returned to the island after my mother died. We ran into each other in Hilo. He took one look at me and said, “I think you need me to come over.” I could only smile at that sassy energy of his; that sureness of self I can’t quite figure out how’s he accomplished in his young years; that almost-arrogant, earnestness that really, I  couldn’t resist. So I didn’t. He came over. I told him I was in no place to be any kind of lover this night. “No need,” he said. “Tonight I’m here just for you.” And so he was. My erotic energy was so remote, so shut down in the midst of my grief and recovery from the often agonizing process of caring for my mother. It was the furthest thing from my mind. He was gentle and slow and stayed clear of genital focus or touch. For hours. He caressed me. He kissed my tear-drenched face. He held me as I sobbed. He was soft and he was present. And then, with no intention of mine or his, quietly, slowly, my body began to respond and to open. As my erotic energy awoke, it was me who asked him to take me in that direction. And so he did.

As we lay cuddled together in the midst of my post-orgasmic bliss, I whispered, “But, Pomai, it’s hard for me to accept all this attention and energy from you and not give to you in return.”

“Are you still talking? Why are you still talking? I thought you’d be asleep by now. Go to sleep, Christina. Everything’s fine.”

My heart melted with these words and with the release my body had experienced. With the comfort of his love and his body, my tears slowed. Then yes, finally, I stopped talking and fell asleep in his arms.

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Truth is, before Pomai showed up, there was another young man. I had almost forgotten. Many, many years ago. And even then, when I wasn’t so old (!), he was still really young. It happened as my marriage with David was crumbling, while my erotic energy was bursting out of my body like a rocket. Yes, like a rocket. It was a time of great tumult and utter confusion. Here I was in a marriage that worked in many, many ways. Ohyeah, we had our issues, but we loved each other and had created a life together that we loved, too. If only for that sexual dimension in which our compatibility floundered. I wrote it off, decided it was the price I paid for everything else and did what I could to keep Eros at bay. Until it would be kept away no longer. And in succumbing to its power, the marriage simply couldn’t survive.

In the midst of sexual exploration that had little grounded-ness, context or clarity, I met Baron. This was back in the day of chat rooms and it was there that we ‘met.’ He was in his twenties then and that, along with being a married woman, was taboo enough to make our connection so powerfully compelling. I was in Petaluma, he was in San Jose and without a car. We wanted to go to a sex club together in San Francisco. Ohmigod, as I write this, my breath catches as I viscerally recall the allure of this forbidden tryst. And the shame of it. Yes, I remember the shame, too. And while the shame was about being married and going to a sex club, it was also about being with a younger man. Yes, it was.

And it was that I loved my husband, too. I was not this kind of woman, who went around doing these kinds of things. And yet there I was, doing it. Granted, our marital problems were well underway by this time. Granted, he knew I wanted to explore, needed to explore, but he wanted no part of it, didn’t want to know anything about it, he said. We were of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy at the time. So he didn’t ask and I didn’t tell. Except for MK. I told her, in the midst of both my shame and excitement, I told her. And without judgment, she was right there, helping me to get dressed as I drove to San Jose (hardly on the way, mind you!) to go off to The Power Exchange in San Francisco with a 20-something year-old man! (My god, what our friendship has seen!).

Could I have had this experience with an older man? Maybe. But I didn’t. It was a young man. A young man who had been there before and was familiar with this world. He introduced me, taught me and showed me ways I knew nothing about. He wasn’t ashamed, he wasn’t worried. He was as excited to teach me as I was to learn, so thirsty I was to experience something, anything of the unknown dimensions in which I could learn about my erotic self, if only I had the chance to explore it. And so he gave me that chance and I took it. And the marriage, well, the marriage didn’t last. It couldn’t. Eros was simply too big for it.

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Since Pomai, other young men have responded to my ads, but generally, I have still summarily dismissed them. They’re too young, they’re too young. I can’t have a long-term partnership with someone in the morning of their lives when I’m in the afternoon/evening of mine. I’ve felt sure of this. So I’ve stuck with men my own age or older and yet still, that inner turmoil and shame lives on.

Now, here I am in Central America on The 9½ Week Trip. When I realized that was the length of it, I recalled the film and smiled. Ohhhh, if only that kind of luscious sensual/sexual energy could punctuate this trip, that would be grand! Yes, let that be the theme of this journey – 9½ weeks – woo hoo!

While that hasn’t quite been borne out, what has happened is the young man thing once again. There’s no getting away from addressing this issue, it seems.

In Panama, on a boat trip out to Cayo Zapatilla, the captain was a 20-something local man who took a liking to me immediately. I noticed but didn’t encourage him. As soon as we arrived on the island, I took off for a walk. The other tourists did the same. As I made my way back around to where we had landed, I saw the boat coming toward me and there he was. “What are you doing?” I asked. “Looking for you,” he smiled. And that was the beginning of the afternoon we spent together, laughing and splashing and swimming and ummm, yes, kissing and playing in the water together.

“I like you. I wanted to kiss you as soon as I saw you!”
“But I’m old,”
I said, “probably older than your mother.”
“It doesn’t matter. I like you.”

He was 26. Gorgeous, chiseled body. And crazy about me. He wanted to meet later and again tomorrow, show me around, he said. Uh-huh. But I planned to leave Bocas the next day and so I did. Our afternoon delight was enough. I thanked him and went on my way, grateful for the fun, but not able to go any further.

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Then it was Isla Ometepe in Nicaragua. Freddy at Monkey Island Hostal, one of the family members who ran the place. We found the words to express ourselves across the language barrier and somehow, we made ourselves understood. When I went off for a day of exploring, he said he’d miss me, he asked what would he do all day without me there to talk with. I tried to ignore his flirtatiousness, but later that evening, our eyes kept meeting, our looking at one another lasting just that little bit longer than it ‘should.’

I had arranged to take a few-hour kayak trip with his brother the next day. I was secretly disappointed that I wouldn’t be going with Freddy, but figured that was probably for the best. When it came time to leave, though, it was Freddy hauling the kayak down to the lake. He would be the one to go with me after all, he said, with a twinkle in his eye. Our morning began paddling out onto the lake with him telling me how excited he was to have this day together, how he’s wanted to kiss me for days. And then he reached over and did just that. He kissed me. I got all shy and giggly and resisted a bit. He moved away and apologized. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to do anything you don’t want to do. But I think you want to kiss me, too, don’t you?” He was right.

What is it with these young men and their self-assuredness? Is it simply young bravado? I don’t think so. I think that’s still my judgment talking. I think it’s the boldness of this green time – the ‘salad days” of our lives. Why shouldn’t they be bold? What do they possibly have to lose in the face of so much to gain? This quality, this willingness to go after what they want, to risk exposure, to say yes to life – this is how we all once were, how I still want to be. This is how life comes and greets us, when we go out and greet it.

What a day in the kayak we had! The trip that was to be a few hours turned into all day. We kayaked over the lake and into Rio Istian, into a private place that no one could see or hear us. We swam and we played and we frolicked. And there I surrendered to way more than his kisses. Gee, I’ve never had sex in a kayak before – I guess this old woman can be taught new things!

That evening, after the rest of the family were tucked into their beds, he came to my room, let himself in with his key and we cuddled and played some more. He practically begged me not to leave as I had planned to the next morning.

“Please, please, please stay. I don’t care how old you are. My heart, my heart, you’re in my heart now.”
“Oh, Freddy, I can’t, I can’t. I’ve got to go.”
“Then come back, come back to visit. Tell me you’ll come back to visit.”
“Ohhhhh, Freddy.”

Early morning came and in the pre-dawn hours, I took my leave, feeling almost like a thief sneaking off in the night. Sneaking off before he could talk me into staying.

Freddy is 23. His mother is younger than me, too. When I told him how crazy this was, how I was too old for him; he only smiled and said, “I don’t care how old you are. Yes, your body is old (gee, thanks a lot there, Freddy!), but your heart, your heart is young. That’s what matters.”

Freddy writes to me on Facebook almost every day. “Don’t forget me,” he says.“Please don’t forget me. My heart, my heart, he says, misses you.” Ohhhhh, Freddy.

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Enter Nick.

After my sadness dispelled over Miguel’s disappearance – determined as I am – I posted yet another ad on Bay Area CL. Many, many responded. (I know how to write a great ad, even if none have yet to manifest that one I’m looking for, whoever he may be.) I’m currently corresponding with a handful of them who offer some interesting prospects for my return.

Nick is amongst them. He’s playful, he’s smart, he’s funny, he’s engaging and he’s an awesome writer. (He had me with his writing alone from the very first email, seduced as I am by someone who knows how to play with words.) He’s inquisitive and flirtatious and respectful. He’s erudite and he’s sexy. He loves hiking and music and theater. (Yeah, I know, it’s a list not so dissimilar to ones I’ve described others with before. And yet, it’s true again.) And, he’s 24. Yep, his mother is younger than me, too.

Email exchanges have flurried across the waves daily. While I know better than to feed the fantasies of expectation before the actual meeting happens; I can’t quite help it, I’m excited. He’s only too eager to tell me how terribly excited he is for my return, too. And the age thing? “Oh, that doesn’t matter,” he says, “just makes our ability to bridge the gap all the more exciting! Susan Sarandon is dating someone thirty years her junior. If she can do it …” He would have to bring her up.

But … but … but … are you nuts???

“Christina,” he writes:

“I fear that my diction and prose have betrayed the fact that I am a young chicken. I’m significantly younger than your stated age of 55 (old enough to drink, not old enough to remember the Challenger Disaster), which may or may not be a problem for you. It isn’t for me, because I feel an initial kinship towards you that renders a chronological age difference useless for me. Whether we get a friendship out of this, something more adult and meaningful, or something in-between, I’m open to all of it.

I’ve found that my greatest rewards in life have all been born from decisions that required a huge level of reckless abandon, and I knew sort of intrinsically that replying to you would be throwing caution to the wind again. I sincerely hope I didn’t offend you and I apologize if I’ve made you feel uncomfortable. Truthfully. Now the question is, is there any paint left in your easel to brush on our canvas?”

Oh. My. God. That’s something akin to what I would say. Could I simply and summarily dismiss this young man? I don’t think so.

“Make a list of all the fun things you want to do this summer and we’ll barrel through them together,” he continues. He wants to drink red wine and eat great food and go hiking and camping and to concerts and music festivals. “Let’s go see Bonnie if we click. Hell, even if we don’t.”

“Bonnie Raitt? You know who Bonnie Raitt is?” But it’s not only a question. There it is again, that not-so-subtle dismissive energy showing itself. I can hear it in my tone. Yep, I can learn something here, I can learn something here. I can learn about the way I dismiss people in a way similar to the very way I feel and don’t want to be dismissed.

Of course I want to do all those things. Of course I want to share them with someone who’s available and fun and open and fresh. Someone who is eager for new experiences, excited to learn new things, to challenge cultural suppositions, and who is fearless, far from jaded and not yet so learned in the face of love’s and life’s inevitable betrayals. Yes, yes and yes, says Mrs. Robinson (that how’s he come to playfully refer to me now!).

And too, I can learn about the ways that I’m dismissing myself in this process. What I try to pass off as a thinly disguised joke but which is really self-deprecation and a way of thinking that I don’t want any part of.

“Why would you want me? Why not someone your own age?”
“Why the fuck
not?”
“I don’t have a 24-year old body, you know. I’ve got wrinkles and gravity, ohhh, what gravity has done … And no, I’m
not going to the roller disco with you!”
“Bodies and faces change, it’s what’s in your soul that matters.”

Can I show up for this? Will I show up for this? Fool I would be to walk away from this lovely young man.  Okay, Nick. Okay. I’ll “take you for a spin,” as you say.

And fuck that voice in my head saying: “He’s not a match for long term committed partnership, you know!”

“Oh, shut up! So what! Whatever happened to the ol’ Be Here Now business?!

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And hold on, I’m not done yet.

Along comes Brandon. I board the ferry yesterday to head on out here to Utila. I sit alone at one of the tables and dog-tired from a 12+ hour day of travel, I’m practically in a daze. A young local man approaches me and asks if I need anything.

“Need anything? What could I need on this boat?”
“Well, I don’t know, but whatever you need, you just let me know,” he says, with his eyes twinkling.
“Well, what have you got?” I say. Oops, there I go, inadvertently (uh-huh) feeding this exchange.
“I’ve got whatever you need.”

Brandon then sits down and for the rest of the trip, tells me all about himself, all the while throwing in flirtatious, playful remarks.

“Are you  flirting with me?” I ask.
“Well, yes I am. Is that okay with you?”

I don’t answer that, not directly anyway. But I keep talking with him, which is, I guess, an answer after all.

“Do you have any idea how old I am? I’m probably older than your mother!”
“I don’t care how old you are. I like older women. And I’d like to get to know you.”

And I realize then, that I’m going to have to retire the mother remark and come up with an entirely different approach. It’s just not working with these young men.

As I disembark, he’s right there helping people get off the boat. He takes my hand, gazes at me (yes, gazes at me with those deep dark chocolate brown eyes) and says, “I’ll look for you around town. I want to see you again.”

Brandon is 21 years old. His mother is 52.

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Okay, Universe. You’ve got my attention now. You’re obviously up to something with all these shenanigans; and yes, I can see there’s plenty for me to learn here, thank you very much. Maybe, just maybe I’ll give this young man Nick in San Francisco a whirl. It could be a fun whirl, and that could even be enough. But it could be way more than that. I just might be able to let go of yet another layer of shame I don’t need to be lugging around any longer. And that is what this younger man just might be able to teach me.

Besides, he says, we’re hardly May – December. He reckons we’re May – mid- November.

Posted in Honduras, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Art of the Siesta

I’ve been here in Central America long enough now, I think, to have learned a few things about local culture that cross the borders of all three countries I’ve visited – Panama, Nicaragua and now, Honduras. Oh, there’s plenty of “very important” cultural things to be learning, absorbing and reporting back on. Another time for all that, thank you.

Today I want to write about what I’ve learned about not only about how to survive in the heat and humidity; but also about moving through my days more slowly, leisurely and at a pace that is far, far away from the one we Westerners have called contemporary life; namely lazing about in hammocks and taking mid-day siestas. For someone who doesn’t follow much of a routine – while traveling nor at ‘home,’ (wherever that may be these days) – I’ve taken to the habit of The Afternoon Siesta. And here’s the most important thing I have to say about it: it’s not just for children anymore.

Here’s how my days tend to flow: up early – around six or seven – and out and about before the heat of the day settles in and bakes everyone to a crisp. I spend the morning walking, swimming, exploring – whether that be the town or nature, the nearby Mayan ruins while I’m here in Copan – and sometimes just aimless wandering, maybe my favorite of all. Once I’ve either had my fill or the sun has worn me out, it’s back to wherever I’m laying my head and I have a relax. A big relax. In almost every place, there have been hammocks in which to partake. They’re the place to be in mid-afternoon and I’ve taken my place amongst the locals who do exactly that. While I wouldn’t want to spend the night depending on them to give me my daily ration of quality sleep, they do me just fine for my mid-afternoon snooze.

Like yesterday, for example. I was up and out and back at the Copan ruins at 8 am, this time with two women who were also staying here at La Posada Belssy. They – like most tourists who float through this town – were here for just two days and they jumped at the chance to go to the ruins with me and hire a guide together. It was perfect for me, too, because it gave me a chance to split the cost and have a day of deeper understanding of the ruins after the day I spent on my own in quiet silence and reflection.

I wish I could post some pics not only of the extraordinary Mayan ruins, but of what is becoming my beloved hammock-lounging. But my internet connection here at this sweet, small, simple, family-run place is very slow, so photos are out of the question at the moment. I’ll be lucky to be able to get this posted.

The hammocks are all locally made, in beautiful, bright primary colors of soft, soft cotton. I shimmy myself in, find my spot and then here comes the relax. Dangling, being held and suspended, as the soft air drifts in and up and around and I move gently in the soft breeze. I watch the clouds overhead, feel the warm sun on my body and read whatever happens to be what’s got my attention these days. In no time, the Kindle is set aside and I drift off into sleep. Often they’re just little cat naps and yet I awaken so refreshed and delighted, finding myself at such a sense of ease and comfort. Yes, hammocks and afternoon siestas. I suggest you run right out and get one and try this on for size. It will change your life, I mean it.

As the pace of this trip is divinely filled with plenty of down time, I’ve carved out places almost everywhere to find my spot for The Afternoon Siesta. Oh, and let me clarify, it’s not all about sleeping, the AS; no, no, no. While napping has its place, it’s also simply time to just be. Time for digestion, reflection, writing, reading and looking at the innumerable and fantastic photos I’ve taken to record the trip. How is it we’ve come to fill our days with constantly doing, constantly moving, constantly producing, with such little expanse of time for just be-ing? Not to romanticize life here in the 3rd world, because their lives are far from easy; but you will find people here, everywhere, taking plenty of time to just be. I think we can learn a lot about that from them. And so I am.

I create just the right seating arrangement (when I venture out of the hammocks, that is), arrange some tea or other drinks; and with computer, camera and kindle nearby, I’ve found my spot! At Guillermo’s in Granada, I had the whole colonial house from which to choose – sometimes in my gargantuan bedroom, oft times somewhere in the plant-filled courtyard. Guillermo and I read poetry together, listened to music and shared laughter and talk of love and life and culture. And naturally, we lazed about in hammocks.

At Hotel Mariposa near Léon, it was poolside doing much of the same. There, with the intensity of the overwhelming heat, I was in and out of the pool every few minutes. And then, it was back to the hammock or to the rattan chairs.

Here at La Posada Belssy in Copan, it’s on the rooftop terrace that has an expansive view over the entire town and the verdant mountains beyond. A small pool, a kitchen and yes, of course, the hammock. This morning for the first time in months, it’s cool and I am enjoying the relief from the often stifling heat.

That early morning routine I thought I was settling into – well, such as I am, today I’ve already changed it. I thought I’d head out early once again, but I woke up late and decided to come on up to the terrace and do some writing and then I realized, hey today’s the day to flip the schedule. I think I’ll spend the entire morning and early afternoon up here – with more of the same, reading, writing and hammocking – and then do my thing in the afternoon. I love following the whims of my rhythms, having no schedule and having only myself with whom to consult on how to create my day. Ode to Freedom indeed!

Today I’ve watched the Outer Cape Chorale’s recent concert of Brahm’s Requiem on the internet (stunning, I tell you, stunning, with some of my favorite people, including the extraordinary director, the one and only Jon Arterton! – watch it here if you like: http://www.provincetowntv.org/2012/05/outer-cape-chorale-51112/), sent some emails and yep, you got it, had some hammock time. I couldn’t really imagine a much better way to spend a morning (well, sure, that, too; but that’s talk for another time).

Later, much later, it’s off to Los Sapos, some other nearby ruins where women play a prominent role (finally!) and then, it’s my last evening in Copan. I’ll head to Parque Central where the local people sit and chat, the children run around playing and I take it all in and have a chance to practice my Spanish with the very friendly folks who notice me as one of the few tourists within their midst.

Yes, I’ve found my stride on this trip, markedly different from a full itinerary of this and that and the other thing. I’ve had my share of sights and experiences and yet; I found that settling in and creating the simple, cozy comforts of home, resting and reflecting have been some of the highlights, too. Again I’ve learned the wisdom of listening to my body and letting it set the pace. Maybe it’s my time of life, too; oh yes, I’m sure it is. Jung, amongst many, many other great minds, speaks of the Stages of Life and as I move into my own afternoon and evening time, there are essential shifts which are required with which to meet this time.

“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.”
~ Carl Gustav Jung

Ah yes, the afternoon and evening of my life – there’s something to absorb and savor.

After almost a week here, I leave bright and early tomorrow morning (6 am!) and head  – YIPEEEEE! – back to the warm, luscious, turquoise waters of my beloved Caribbean sea! Guess, just guess what I’ll be doing there!

And then this, from MK as usual, who found yet another perfect quote:

You are not here to verify,
instruct yourself or inform curiosity
or carry report. You are here to kneel…
~ T. S. Eliot

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The Nicaragua / Honduras Border Crossing

Today I crossed the border from Nicaragua to Honduras, the final border crossing of the trip (besides the one back to the U.S., of course).

A 14-hour travel day!

A border crossing day, potentially fraught with all of what border crossing days can be fraught with.

And nothing happened.

Bienvenidos a Honduras!

The End.

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