Friday, August 7, 2015

Day 10 -- Arrival to Limay / San Juan de Limay

Already mixed feelings. We just traveled back in time. Limay is much different than Esteli, more quiet, peaceful. More religious, conservative. We have to be more modest in dress in this town, Maria says, because the men cat call way more. The bus to Limay was suggestive of how different this place would be — a school bus packed with people. There were a few men who were riding the top of the bus because there was no room and also probably to make sure luggage stays put throughout the whole commute. I didn’t get to view much of the scenery on the way there because it was so packed, but we did see mountains and luscious rolling hills. The closer we got to the town, the more fat women made from marmolina we saw. The more I sensed the change in the way I was perceived, the more withdrawn I found myself becoming. Withdrawn and nervous. Life out here is way more raw. Definitely a culture shock, a change. Being introduced to new people this evening definitely made it somewhat apparent. Perhaps I’m being sensitive. We had a homemade dinner at Doña Nidia’s home. The food was amazing, but I feel tired and shy. I’m adjusting to these new surroundings. Emma asked me if I had trouble with new environments. I guess I do. Plus I don’t know how prepared I feel for this workshop I need to teach since there are no supply stores around here. this is the definition of a small town. The people are what make me nervous. I didn’t even want to interact with the animals. Interesting duality of conservation and taboo shit. Interesting how the most religiously devout places tend to have the most vices. I was sharing this thought with Aleks after our dinner meal. He brought up the interesting thought of when there is repression of some thing that is considered “demonic”, it shows up elsewhere in more sneaky, subtle ways. I think of catcalling when he says that. There was a little boy named Herty who for a moment showed Emma an adult cartoon video he was watching on a smartphone, most likely the only smartphone in the house. I’m being forced out of my comfort zone and it’s making me realize many things that make me look so foreign, como una extranjera. What I don’t like is all the staring, it makes me uncomfortable. The sounds out here are beautiful and perfect. We are sleeping outside tonight on tijeras until we meet with our host family tomorrow. Until tomorrow…this place is going to make me write a lot. 


Something that keeps coming to mind for me as we eat the food here is how fresh all the produce is. Passing a small market today we saw a basket of papayas as big as a baby, enough to each a fairly big family. In the U.S. the food is not as fresh. I remember an artist we ran into our first or second day in Estelíand as we were passing through the market with him, we saw some dragon fruit. I told him how much that fruit costs in the states, around $6-8, and he told me the fruit and produce in the states is not good. Because it is imported it is not as fresh. Almost all the food in the U.S. is processed in some way. Usually I am afraid to eat a lot of things in the U.S. because of all the articles you read and the documentaries you see talking about how much sugar or preservatives and other chemicals into food that keep it fresh longer or taste richer just so you will consume their product, and when it comes to the meats, injecting it with hormones & shit. I’m pretty aware of these things; my taste buds tend to be my strongest sense. But here, it feels safe to eat almost anything. Even eating the meat here is somewhat more tolerable (but not something I can keep up for long). The U.S. is also very wasteful in comparison to this country, which is concerned with maintaining their environment. There were many people I met who were interested in going to school to be a veterinarian or a natural scientists, pursuing some degree that involved maintaining the environment. There were mosaics glorifying the environment. Here it seems people have a relationship with their country that is healthy in comparison to the U. S.’s relationship with its land. A place that was once rich with resources gradually cluttered with stuff til the atmosphere changed. A profound disconnect created. For the sake of profit, natural green replaced with the synthetic version, in a different form. Marijuana: the only green that allows some gringos feel somewhat connected to themselves. I am an advocate of marijuana use, I just find it interesting that its usage has increased in certain areas where there is not as much nature present.

Day 7 -- Estelí, Las Mujeres Ambientalistas, the muralists

Didn’t get a chance to write yesterday because I was tired, but things happened. There are always things happening. We’ve been having Spanish classes in the morning since we arrived, from  8:30 am to noon, which has been in the past 2 days.  I notice myself getting more comfortable speaking Spanish the more I practice conversing with Emma and our Spanish teacher, Indira (which is the prettiest name in my opinion). Last night we visited the studio of the David Alfaro Siquieros Collective, where Maria led an exercise where we made drawings responding to the following questions:
*Who am I? 
*Who are we? 

The first was a drawing made by each person individually, which we then shared with one another in Spanish/English. Then we passed our drawings to the person on our left and responded to the second questions by drawing over the original, as a way to complete it. After taking time to do that, we hung all of them up on the wall to see what everyone did. It was interesting to see how everyone creatively approached completing the other’s drawing. We then proceeded to do a PowerPoint presentation of our work. I still have some anxieties about showing off mine because of the degree of vulnerability but I know they stem from being concerned about what other people think. Everyone else’s work — Maddie, Carrie, Emma — was awesome. I am working with such talented people on this trip and I am so grateful for it. I thanked Maria this morning for keeping a trip like this going strong for so many years so that we could all experience her country. I told her I couldn’t remember the last time I smiled this much so consistently; i’ve been smiling since the day I arrived. Twice for lunch we have gone to this all vegetarian / yoga + meditation center called Ananda. The food there is good, although my stomach hasn’t desired  much food lately because I’ve been stuffing it with so many new things. It’d be cool to come back once I’m a certified yoga instructor and teach classes there. Or better yet, have my yoga teacher training intensive in Estelí (actually it appears that the former might be better). As we were waiting for our food Maddie and I had a mini yoga / meditation session in one of the open rooms. It was humid and full of mosquitos but a peaceful place. It was a really nice session. She followed every gesture and pose I did; she let me lead her. Over Chinese food later she was telling me how much she loved doing yoga and meditation with me. She says that I breathe very well. That lady is so full of love <3 Today, after our Spanish classes we walked with our teachers to Las Mujeres Ambientalistas, a collective of women who make recycled paper goods. We saw some of their works —notebooks, posters of Che Guevara & Augusto C. Sandino, bookmarks, cards. They were simple and fun. I got a few things for my sister’s birthday / going-away-to-college things (sheesh, I can’t believe she’s in college now). I decided to do a watercolor workshop with my students when I arrive in Limay. I’ll show them a few techniques, even though I”m not sure what because the way I use watercolor is pretty free-form and intuitive. But I have plenty of watercolors and supplies  for a 3 hour class in it, and I was thinking of just having people paint what they see in front of them. Well see how it goes. A few more days til we are on our way to Limay. 

Day 5 -- Bobby and Frida’s birthday / Estelí

Learning more about the history of Nicaragua and its relationship to the US. Really affirms for me how shallow minded and ill-informed our country (wants to) make(s) its people. Those of us who are aware already know it is pretty damn corrupt but when you read up on the other side of the story, its history and see for yourself its political and economic influence on developing countries, especially those in its backyard, through actually being present in that country, it truly makes it more clear to you. There’s a charm to the simple way people live here, but I know it’s because I know they have no choice other than to live simply — at the most extreme degree in utmost scarcity — due to historic exploitation and borderline lack of resources in exchange for what it can provide to other economically/politically powerful places such as the U.S. We were passing by a bunch of colorful homes that looked similar to each other while driving through parts of Masaya and Managua, and i commented on how pretty they were for the simple fact that they were colorful. When making that comment to Maria, she told me that many of these homes were Nicaragua’s form of public housing; they just look drab without color so they were painted different blues, pinks, yellows, bright like the sun. Seven people tend to occupy one housing unit , which is usually the standard size of a family living in the barrio (can’t make certain assumptions like that without fact checking which I haven’t but I’m sure its around that number). When she told me that I felt pretty lame for making such a comment, for taking things at face value like that; for romanticizing the simple lifestyle many in this country have no choice but to live in, because I know comments like that come from a place of privilege. Many times on this trip I was wishing I knew how to “turn off” my privilege in some way. I am aware that I am far luckier than most in the world when it comes to privilege, and for that I have felt shame anytime I was whipping out my smartphone and avoided doing so in some areas. To me it seems like I am showing off my wealth to them. Sometimes while walking through these streets, I’m reminded of my desire to let go of all that I own of value and live among a poor family enduring below - poverty — level conditions for the sake of acquiring that knowledge which is transformative. My upbringing was very cushioned. When I’m reminded of the way the masses  — which usually tends to be people of color, indigenous looking people — live, I feel a combination of shame and gratitude. Or shame for feeling great. My heart turns on and it activates my tear ducts.

America was funded upon the manipulation of other, among other vices, guised in the ideals of liberty  and democracy. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Never forget. Nunca olvides.

Day 4 -- Estelí, Managua, Mark Lester Lecture

Arrived in Estelí today. We rode the bus there. 

Clowning: a type of street performance done by Nicaraguan youth on buses (and streets maybe) for money. Two boys in makeup did it for some of our ride and they were so good, they had a strong presence. They recited their lines so quickly, almost too quickly for me to understand [at the time].

Prior to that we visited the Center for Global Education for a lecture on the history of Nicaragua by scholar Mark Lester. Very informative lecture. We are in the mountains  and it is so beautiful up here, the climate especially. The view on the way here was amazing. I tried reading but failed with the view of the rolling hills and rustic countryside out my window. In the evening we have tacos at a local spot and played free form version of pool. They were playing 80s music and the billiards room was full of testosterone.

Journal Entry Day 3: Managua (Independence Day in the U.S.)

Today we took a tour of el Museo Nacional de Managua. Outside of the museum still stands a beautiful church fenced off from public access because it is expected to collapse any day now. The museum tour was very informative. And it helped me realize my fascination with pottery and its connection to traditional, ritual, functionality. I was even more fascinated with the earliest interactions of the Spaniards with the indigenous groups of Nicaragua, or Central America in general. This fascination has been further emphasized with my newly acquired knowledge of the history of Nicaragua after attending a group lecture led by scholar Mark Lester. Imagining the incredible culture shock each group must have felt encountering each other. What would have the world been like today had the conquistadores not encountered the natives? Or if the natives had not mistaken the Spaniards for gods? How terrifying it must have been to foresee the end of your world, all because of one grave misunderstanding. There were questions one of the caciques asked one of the conquistadores, very deep questions about life and why things are the way they are and what the end of days would be like, believing that if they were gods they would be able to answer them. As the guide was telling the story I couldn't help but notice a painting hanging above us. It depicted a conquistador and a native in profile and opposite to one another, and in between them there was a tree that bore fruit. The native held the fruit and looked like he was communicating to the conquistador. It very much resembled the depiction of the ancient Biblical narrative Adam and Eve. I thought of the end of the world of the natives as similar to that story -- the end of innocence, wisdom, the end of pure unity with Mother Earth, and the beginning of humanity's demise with the arrival of colonization.

Continuing the tour I also discovered some new artists as well that are Nicaraguan. Some names include: Armando Morales, Patricia Belli, Raul Marin, June Beer, and Ernesto Cuadra. I will elaborate a little more on one of the more significant female artists, Patricia Belli, in a future blog post.

After the museum tour we went to a local bar to get lunch. There was so much testosterone in the air of that place (no surprise it's a bar) because FIFA was happening on TV. The whole world except for the U.S. seems to be into football (unless it's American football). Thoughts of how disconnected I feel from my roots have been crossing my mind a lot since I've been here, noticing it. It's been years since I've had to communicate in Spanish, since I've been to a Spanish speaking country. I have a lot of catching up with myself to do and slowly yet surely I am doing that while I'm here. I'm slowly cracking that hard American shell I've conditioned myself to adopt just to exist. How to reconnect with my Latin roots was one of my main concerns prior to this trip.

We were going to check out some art galleries in town but both were closed, so we retreated back to La Posada de Abuela and enjoy our last moments here before we leave tomorrow. Tried some ice cream in a flavor that according to Maria is a common favorite in Nicaragua, rum and raisin.  I keep feeling compelled to write in Spanish but I'm still working on my confidence in speaking it. I hate messing up, it brings me so much discomfort, at times insecurity. But I am getting better.

Day 2: Masaya, Lago Cocibolca, Granada

El Museo del Nacional Volcán Masaya. We visited that place today, saw many beautiful views, and swam in the largest body of water in Central America. Carrie and I swam from the shore of the restaurant we had lunch at to Monkey Island (Isla del Mono).

Our day started at 7 am with a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast of: fruta, huevos con queso y plátano (tostones they call them here) con café y jugito de naranja.

Our driver, Reinaldo, is awesome. He let me draw him this morning. Le gustó mi dibujo de él.
He drove us to the National Park of Volcán Masaya. Two were inactive: San Fernando y el otro me olvidó el nombre. One volcano, Santiago (!!!) is semi-active. We all rode horses up the mountain to see the view, and it was all incredible. So many photos taken. We all freed our nipples for el Volcán Masaya.

Virgins used to be sacrificed at the top of the crater, still smoking to this day. It used to be known as "La boca del Diablo" by the Spaniards when they first arrived into the country (one hiker we met joked, "now I can tell my mom that I've been to Hell." Cool story bro). By the time they arrived, they made the natives stop performing their sacrificial rituals. Supposedly the scent of sulfur there was strong near the crater, but I didn't smell it much.

After that we passed through Granada (which looks so much like Puerto Rico and parts of New Orleans if they had a baby in Central America) to meet a man who took us on a boat through the Lake of Nicaragua. There were many isletas that dotted the vast body of water, and many wealthy people owned property on them. They look like paradise to live on. Some places were for rent, some for sale. We stopped at la isla del mono to interact with monkeys that lived there. According to the driver of the boat, the owner of that island is a vet who brought those monkeys to the island, and they have been living there ever since. Many tourists visit that island in particular to see and feed the monkeys. We then docked at a small restaurant along the shore of the lake, where we ate fresh caught fish from that day. As we swam we saw sardines jumping from the water to catch flies hovering over the surface. We saw cranes perched and flying over the water to eat the sardines. The cycle of life around us, a perfect ecosystem. So much inspiration, so much green.

This country I want to call an island, is so peaceful. I love the laid-back nature of things, of people just living. My phone died twice trying to take pictures/videos & sharing them on social media (Instagram @irasantiii). The fish was delicious, served with fresh coconut water right out of the coconut, later cut up into chunks so that you could eat the meat inside. There were many moments I wanted to sit and draw for hours everything around me. That's what I foresaw for myself, the easy life I wanted -- place myself in environments that inspire me to create. To find land of my own and save up for and just spend my days painting. I feel like my work, my aesthetic, has been resonating very much with this place. I still have yet to paint and do yoga.

After visiting the islands via boat (una lancha), we hung out in Granada for 2 hours. We passed through a mini flea market while we were there. You got a sense of the poverty in this country through passing through this market -- the smells of horse and dirt, the rugged demeanor of the people trying to sell their goods to provide for their families, dirty stray dogs everywhere.  I remember when stray dogs used to scare me. They still do, kind of.

Mosquitos chewed up my left forearm.

I've been taking pictures of all the food I eat and now I know why my parents documented every detail of their trips when I was little.

After our time in Granada we returned to la posada de Abuela, where we were staying in Masaya. Maddie, Carrie, Emma and I all went skinny dipping under the full moon. When will there be another time like this? Never. When's the next time I'll come back here? Who knows. Hopefully very soon.


Dancing in Bluefields was very nice. I love to dance and now there is reggae inside my heart. Starting when the RASTA boy in the restaurant handed over his dear necklace and heart to me and said RASTA I felt the real reason to feel a pasta. There is a pot leaf tattoo and in my heart I am pasta.

RASTA. not pasta. But it is all one  we are all one.


it's not weird to be back because life is constant change. But Nicaragua has better food, weather, and flora.
I have diarrhea. <3

Had an amazing day. This week has been very magical and spiritual ~ (the whole trip has been- but we are at a point where we are so connected. Ira, Emma, Carrie, and I are growing so much and I love them so so soso so sosososososooo much from day 1 but now it's like, I have interwoven with them in a way that is forever.

I am very grateful for the opportunities that granted me the chance to come here. I am thankful that Maria Gabriela organized and invited us here. Everything happens for a reason, the universe is driving us. It is really special to be four women on a journey together because though this is a moment in our own individual spiritual paths, we are very powerful and being around three magical vibrant and very unique women is incredibly powerful.

Last night I struggled to explain my independent project, but I very solidly know that it is an amorphous and indefinite creature extending from myself.
     I am here as my AUTHENTIC SELF and I am learning so much.

Today we went to the nature reserve this morning. I felt immediately refreshed. Being in plants and bamboo meditating and walking barefoot among the tropical plant and animal life is so natural. It brings me closer in tune to the frequency of peace and love that I try always to radiate. We ate breakfast which was delicious bread and brie and cucumber and tomato, and yogurt with honey. We rode on the bed of a truck to this mountain which was INSANE. So vast and grand and mountains and rainforest and cows everywhere rocks. I flew around and sprinted down hills and we ate fruits. We got to the house beyond these fences of triangles that stood black against a blue sky and mountains and trees and lush fields of green tropical grass. This world is so fertile and magnificent. We are in paradise. We got to this house and a woman came out and greeted us with kisses and loving eyes. Two pink piggies perfectly played, though we pined for their freedom from the shit covered cage that confined their soft bodies and forced them to grow to the size of man's dinner and a shit covered trough.
Soon an old man withered with work came out of his house and abounded with quirk and his hair was white and flew from his face in a fluffy explosion that exuded gentle grace. He gave us a notepad, requested our names, invited us to take fruits from the graves of great giants he showed how he worked he had dreamed that god told his human form to carve stone. He shared many poems and abounded with light he was godly and glorious and humble and sleight. We walked through the forest a tropical tome of love and abundance it was his natural home. There were pineapples growing from bushes in the ground he would reach and grab a couple to pass around there were banana trees teeming with fruit, 30 feet high, red and black, silky vortex .
    We climbed this mountain with carved stone murals and beings . I can't explain how incredible it was it was very very very sacred and magical n we sat out on this mountain of carved stone on a mountain side and saw the world. I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS MAGIC INSIDE OF ME AND I AM IN LOVE WITH NICARAGUA.


Twin flames. A spirit lady told me I'd be introduced to my twin flame in the "next 28 days." I met him and it was weird because my issues surfaced.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Root Chakra

At the end of our stay in Limay I got really sick. The day before last, I wasn't feeling excellent but we went to the river and I wanted to go. On the walk there I vomited and diarrhead. At the river I was okay and had fun climbing rocks and talking to Mario and eating cucumbers and splashing around, but I started to feel sick again. We went to the ceramic women's studio to pick up our beads and I made a bracelet which I gave to Ken and a necklace which afterwards became a gift to Rosa. I walked home earlier than some others because it was taking a long time and I was feeling really sick. We went to Dona Nedia's but I couldn't eat. She gave me a lemon juice and salt elixir which maybe helped. I got home and Idalia was suffering from dolor in her head. We were sick together and Rosa took care of us... Sweet goddess. I played a little with Juliana who I love so so so sosososososososo much. They gave me some medicines and stuff but I felt bad. I had a fever at points and was really sick. I fell asleep for a while but was woken up by Rosa and she told me I was very hot and she looked really concerned and tried to feed me. I was very dehydrated feeling and hadn't eaten all day and had just woken up so I was a little disoriented and Rosa and Idalia speak very fast spanish so I never really understood them anyway but I was especially slow at this time. They try to feed me plantain chips which are covered in salt and I had a large canker sore in my mouth so it really hurt to eat these and I was thirsty with limited water so that was challenging and I didn't want to eat the chips. I asked if there was a tortilla so I ate two tortillas but as this is happening Rosa and Idalia are very concerned and start asking about hospitals and my fever and if I need a hospital and I'm like uhhhhh I can't understand no entiendo blah but so sick. At this point I'm like, hey I need Maria because I can't even talk to a doctor if I get there. They tell me Maria is at Oscar's so Juliana and Idalia start walking me and I'm dizzy and delirious. We get to Oscar's and I see Carrie and I'm like hello I need Maria. I walk to the back and there is our whole group and their host parents and Noel and Willford and Klifford and Mariela and Fabiola and Wilfredo etc etc. I sit in a seat and am just like okay. 
The next morning I'm fed some constipators and put on a bus where thankfully I fall asleep for the duration of the ride. When in Estelli, I go to see a doctor. He tells me I'm dehydrated and orders for a blood and poop test. I am constipated and cannot poop, but I stick my vain out for the lady and have the quickest easiest most painless blood sample retrieval withdrawal of my life. It's ready in like ten minutes but I pay and return the next day. I bring my caca and the results are ready in twenty minutes. I have no parasites but an abundance of bacteria swarms my system. Ugh. I start taking some meds.

At this time we are familiarizing ourselves with some Spiritual Skaters in the city. Emma meets an amazing and mystical man named Techi and through him a crew of love. I am feeling better in a day and join her at the skate palace. I karaoke with them and ride crosslegged on the front of a board while we zip through the city. 
The next day though, I go to Cafe Luz with Techi, Emma, and a Californian Mexican boarder named Jordan. We start talking about Holistic medicine and he teaches me that it is just changing your frequencies to attract certain things you need to get more balanced. Ohhhh makes sense!!!!! He asks if I've been sick recently/when the last time I was sick was because it's all just related to your chakras and energy and I tell him about my upset tummy. He says that's my root chakra. I realize he is very right. (I'm pretty sure this is after the gallery show which was fine but left me feeling very very crazy and energetic and I had to leave in the end because I was so whoaooooaoooooooo crazyyyyyyyy)

The next day, our final night in Estelli, I go to Cafe Luz with Emma, Techi, Eduard, Mario, Jordan, and Ira. Emma and Eduard go do art elsewhere while I sit with the rest. Earlier that day I'd asked Carrie, Ira, and Emma to perform reiki on my stomach and root chakra. As I'm sitting there in Cafe Luz, I see a woman performing reiki on a man's head at the table next to us. I leave for a bit to see Emma and Eduard and when I come back the man and woman are sitting at our table with us and more people who had joined. I sit at the empty seat which is next to the man and woman. We are talking, they are Sandra and Jean-Pierre and they are from Ireland and Belgium and they have a farm in Nicaragua. She looks at me and says that my root chakra is troubled. She tells me all my energy is up here, and indicates my crown and third eye chakras (which makes sense that is why I'd been airy and floaty and wowowoowowooooooo). She says "You need to be grounded, it's all in the feet. Your energy is all up here which can be dangerous, you need protection when you're like this. The city makes you crazy. You need to be in nature. Dance barefoot in blue fields. " She then rubs my feet and gives them energy healing for a long time. She tells me I'm a healer and that I'll come back and live at their farm one day and I'll be doing her feet. She says I need to wake up for sunrise and do dirt-dances by sticking my fingers in the dirt. They teach me about how the Romans created the deserts of North Africa with their farming and she says we can't heal the earth but we can stop the deserts. She tells me it may seem boring but I need to work on my root chakra for the next few years. Like a musician practicing a single note I need to practice this rooting. 


I taught a workshop lesson on mask making. I expected that it would be pretty libre and unstructured. It was very successful!!!!!!!
There were gems and google eyes and pipe cleaners and paint and markers and comic books for collage and everyone just had at it.

Prior to the lesson, I'd made a mask of my own and found it incredibly satisfying and fun and freeing. When I wore it, all inhibitions slid away (everything was just fun and giggles.)
The sunday before the monday lesson, Ira and I stayed in Maria and Aleks's castle. They left for a hike so we locked ourselves in their grassy tropical outdoor casa and got naked! Ira made a mask and we took nude pictures on their beds "scissors" with the masks on. (Just kidding !!!! hahahahaha !!) we ran around their property and took pics.

Everyone loved making masks so much (I was excited by how creative everyone got and how different each mask was) that I was invited to teach the lesson at the elementary school. Wow!

The next day, Alvaro, Ken, and I went to the school with materials and "taught" again. Both times were not really teaching so much as experiencing and learning. I placed all the materials on a table at the front of the classroom because all the students were sitting at little desks facing the front. Alvaro was the interpreter though this environment called more for gesturing than speaking with an interpreter because it was higher energy and less focused. The teachers sat at the back and it was fully my lesson. Ken and Alvaro put the masks I'd cut out in front of each student and we had them sign their names. Alvaro interpreted their needs and told all the students to come up based on their rows to get materials. Soon it was a free for all. I wandered around with my mask on and gave people thumbs up's and materials they asked for, but it was really a process of creation for the students. I admired how they grouped up, some of them on the floor, and some turning their desks into a small circle. That was something I learned: to have them turn desks into circles for better sharing materials.... Very inspiring. Right after we started they announced recess. Every student stayed to work though and others joined. Afterwards there were no materials left. It was like a pack of hungry wolves eating a few birds and bunnies. I was impressed by the way each student who had finished helped to pick up trash from the floor and return their materials though I didn't care if they kept them or not. Even one of the teachers, Herty's grandmother, made a mask. In the end we took a group picture. Ken suggested I get everyone riled up so I hopped up and started making loud noises and inviting students to stand up and run around the group which was huddled together and we shouted things. Very fun.

As we left, more students who had been watching outside followed us and asked to make masks. A young boy said he wanted a mask so I handed him mine.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

During my time in Limay I observed some of the hardest working individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Oscar works six out of the seven days, from morning until night in the Marmolina studio. Xiomar gets up at six every morning to milk the cows and then spends the rest of his day taking care of the animals and taking on the responsibilities of another parent in the house. Dona Nidia cooks all day to feed us delicious, traditionally Nicaraguan meals while taking care of her daughter, granddaughters, great-grandchildren and the rest of her family in the house whose relation I am not quite sure of. The other day we went to the ceramicists’ house to watch how they dye the red clay beads black. The process involves placing the beads in a pan over a hot fire, and then covering the beads with cedar chips that are then set aflame. The one of the ceramicists (sadly whose name I do not know, but she appears to be the leader) stirs the flaming chips in with the beads. The small room where this takes place is fills with a thin layer of smoke, but by the fire the smoke is much more dense. She keeps stirring the beads, now with a handkerchief with a crossbones pattern around her face. I can’t image how damaging it can be to your lungs, and how much these women end up sacrificing for their work. They are sometimes unable to work because of the high cost of importing the clay they work with. These humans all work so hard to live quite simply, and their positivity radiates through out the community. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015



I went with Xiomar to milk cows today.

We rode bikes. Carrie was sleeping and Emma didn’t come so it was just the two of us.
The bike ride is so beautiful. Everything here is beautiful

We got to the farm after about 5 minutes of riding across gorgeous dirt roads and rocks.

I see all the babies in one area. Xiomar calls to me and I follow him over to a gated pasture where there are mothers and a ~white horse with a third eye triangle. Xiomar opens their ‘pen’ where they are held and they sprint quickly through a path to the area next to their penned up babies. They immediately are standing across from their children, and it’s very easy to know who birthed who because of the overwhelming love they are showing to each other even across a fence. Xiomar and his cousin begin to open the gate, allowing only two babies into the milking area at a time. They run to their mothers who welcome them and turn to face the men, sheltering their humiliated and vulnerable offspring as much as they can. The hungry babies are busy sucking their mommy’s breasts, enjoying the foamy cream that is made to nurture their growing bodies. Quickly, they are roped around the neck and tied to the front legs of their moms.  I find this very intense. Screaming and crying out, trying to reach the utters where their food is, the babies wrassle against their bonds. At this point, Xiomar and his uncle are milking the moms, while their children watch, horrified and wide eyed and screaming. I’m beginning to cry at this point. The horse, who at first will not face me, and if I come near turns his entire body away from me, is beginning to say some what of ‘watch, do you see?” I look at the mom and child Xiomar is milking. She stands there, her screaming infant tethered to her leg while a human squeezes her breasts for the milk the baby needs. She is soothing and nuzzling her baby, calming it as much as can be done. The whole situation is full of love and agony. I come up to her face. She is literally crying. Tears stream out of her eyes. I touch her and soothe her, although the process is more of an empathic sharing of pain. I cry with her. She kisses me with her tongue and asks me to soothe her child. I rub its back and send love. This whole time, I feel very calm inside. I feel love inside. But there is pain and horrendous suffering around me and it is flowing through me causing tears. I watch and cry while this process of control and exploitation happens all around me. I say a mantra everyday to Violet Fire, and I had recited most of it on my walk to Xiomar’s this morning. Standing near the horse, I say the rest very quietly. I’m saying this beautiful mantra and beginning to feel warmth and tenderness from the horse. A calf, the one who I had soothed, comes up to me and sniffs my hand, very nervous. If I move, she has a very fearful reaction. I stand still with my palms open and finish the mantra. I hum quietly and feel very soothed and connected to the animals around me. The calf licks me.

This procession of babies and mothers yearning from opposite sides of the fence while their captors allow two at a time for milking, continues. I watch along with all the other babies and mothers. The horse seems a silky guardian to the women, though she can not do anything to stop the suffering. She, the other mothers, the waiting children, and I are all witnesses to a horrendous exhibit of human cruelty that is passed off as a normal and acceptable behavior to everyone. (Xiomar looks at me a few times, though he doens’t understand or ask why I am crying.) 

 I meditate, sitting on the ground in the small pasture. Humming quietly, am one with the universe. When I look up, many cows are gathered around me, looking at me, sensing my empathy. The babies are curious and come a little closer. The universe is so full in this moment. I am in  a state of fullness. When turmulous things are happening, I feel so calm inside. Emotions flow through me and tears stream down my cheeks, boogers from my nose, but inside I am love and extreme peace. This authentic self brings joy to every aspect of my being and allows me to feel the love beneath suffering. Mothers tend to their children as the milking finishes and the families lick each other lovingly. There is a baby with a branch over his head, and this child is the last to be allowed to its mother. REunited, it awkwardly drinks, despite the large wooden choker strangling it. I cry a lot and meditate, as the other families and I watch, full of presence in this moment.

The seperation of a mother and her child is evil. The possession of a living creature is empty and cruel. What meaning does life have if we ignore it? Love each other. This extends to all life. 

When I leave the pasture, the mothers and babies are still together. It feels very silent when I step out of the gate and onto the bike. I cannot speak. 

I don’t understand how people don’t understand this. It is not hard to look beyond the state of conditioning. We know how messed up all these things are so can’t we look further and realize it is allllllll messed up? If millions of people were silent participants in Nazi concentration camps, mass-genocides of many nations and Indigenous peoples, and slavery that still permeates  and haunts (United States) our government and people, how is it so easy to ignore that this is a pattern of behavior that is playing out everywhere all the time. We cannot have “pets” and “food animals.” These are living beings here to sleep and eat and live as we (humans) are. Nothing is lesser or greater and just because we have developed a certain way doesn’t mean anything. These creatures around our humanrace have developed in their own ways. We are here to take care of life and instead we are destroying it and causing innumerable suffering. Inside we are all the universe. Let go of this idea that we are cogs in a machine. Each one of us is the universe each one of us is a magical and spiritual being of love and light and if we don’t protect the earth we will allow those who deny the truth to destroy it. Many people don’t want to face the truth. People try to brainwash you and you are brainwashing yourself when you don’t accept your full power. Be a being of light, look past your desires and your conditioning. You don’t need these addictions that give you temporary satisfaction you need to be gods of life. Love the universe and KNOW it is trying so hard to protect you and show you love just let go of fear and trust it. Don’t fight the good inside of you. 

Host Family

I sit right now on a Hammock playing soft flow love music while a friend hangs laundry. I am very very loved here and lucky to be in such a happy household. I met Rosa and Idalia and Julyana yesterday. Idalia and Julyana were at the ceramic workshop with us where we played with clay and hiked around beautiful rocky dirt jungle paths and went to the Rio!!!!
This is the most magical heaven I’ve ever been!!!! to.
Love it here. 
I am so so lucky to be here ~~~~

Every kid attacks with overflowing bliss and has millions of stars shining from their happy eyes ugh love them so much. 

I played ball and tire jumps and tree climbs and spinning stuff with some happy jumping niños yesterday. There is a fire near me. I am sitting in a hammock listening to music while July runs around and baby chicks and chickens flock all over. The trees are unspeakably kind and delightful and handsome. 

doggies slumber nearby. Horses roam the streets. 

I jumped all over rocks yesterday by her majesty river. 

Every single moment here is SPARKLAIGN  i am so happy and in love with Nicaragua. This jungle tropical paradise where people are happy and children play all day and communities take care of each other and animals run free. 

I did see a bird i wanted to free yesterday. cages are evil!!!!! But happiness permeates every molecule of life.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Wonderful things happened in Limay. To start, I succesfully milked a cow, and I started sketching on my own for no reason but just because for the first time since high school, woah! It's hard not to be tickled by that creative itch in a place as beautiful as Limay. This small humble town is home to some of the friendliest strangers I've met. It is custom to say "Buenas" or "Adios" in passing, which, for someone who grew up in the suburbs of New York City, is remarkably friendly. But after spending time with my host family, and working with the youth (who were so much more mature I feel strange calling them youth) it became clear to me that friendly openness is a part of their culture. Although there is a language barrier, that barrier disappears when creating art together in an environment where the language is simply visual. Teaching my cyanotype lesson was initially extremely nerve wracking, as I feel pretty self-conscious when speaking infront of a crowd, but once the students started working on their prints it brought me so much ease and happiness to see how creative they all were in their process and use of the materials.

Oscar and Xiomar made me feel so welcome in their home, always striking up conversation even thought I sadly do not speak very much spanish, they helped me learn more words or took the time to correct me when I said something incorrectly. I really enjoyed working with Oscar in the marmolina studio. It was great to learn the different tools and methods of creating a work out of a solid form, and watching Oscar's hands make it look so easy when at times it was a delightfully challenging. Not only do I have the honor of living with an incredibly interesting and talented sculptor, but Xiomar is an incredible cook! The other day he made chicken soup, with one of their chickens and onions, yuca, tomato, plantains, mmm muy rica. Angeles also made the most delicious fried chicken the other night, no breading, just with the skin still on rubbed in some delicious melange of spices and popped into a pan of hot oil.

It has been very interesting cohabiting with chickens! Living with the animals that we end up milking, or eating, is making me feel more sensitive about knowing where our meat comes from, and treating those animals with a bit more compassion. Sometimes the chickens will walk into my room and just kind of hangout, and every morning they are my alarm clock. Sometimes the call of the rooster actually sounds a bit terrifying, like a sea lion with a serious case of laryngitis, but it is refreshing to wake up to the natural sounds of daily life in Limay.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Bienvenidas A Tu Casa

A noche pasada we met our host families for the first time over some freshly cooked nacatamales by Doniá Nidia. As a “get to know su nombre" excercise, we passed around a football (an american football, no futbal, which I found to be ironic as an american in a foreign country, especially considering our invasive political history in Nicaragua). It is both fascinating and amusing how beautiful spanish names morph so easily into treacherous tongue twisters for beginner spanish speakers such as myself, always a little fearful I am going to say something innapropriate by accident.

My host family consists of Oscar, the father/head of the household and leader of the Marmalina soap stone carving workshops, his son Xiomarn who’s 20, and his daughters Cesia and Angeles who are 15 and 11. Cesia reminded me of my step-sister Olivia, maybe because they are the same age but they share the same sweet smile. Maria organized an exercise with our host families where we were supposed to draw an hybrid-animal that represented our family. Oscar drew an ant with wings, walking on a leaf with a rock on its head, to symbolize that they are a family of hardworkers who depend on nature for survival.

Once we got to Oscar’s house, he opened the door and his arms and said “Bienvenidas a tu casa!”.
I am beyond happy to feel at so at home in a beautiful country far away from where I originate.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I love everyone.

We skinny dipped in the moonlight and I ran naked behind a hospital (jk). .... ?

Yesterday when I said "Me gusta tu camisa" to a little angel in the burrito haven, MILLIE (my preciosa princessa) told me that it's actually considered quite creepy and weird for 'gringas' to talk to people's children and to not do it.....

While eating with our poco groupo.... This rastafarian GODDDD was playing guitar and his musica made me sing along bc it was floating into my heart. He had two bonita amigas singing with him. Was a harmonic and melodious stream of delicious love making and I cheered for him and was very very triste when he finished after 3 or four fantastica classicas. He asked for donations, and I didn't have my wallet. Looking in my purse (which had receipts, and a smelly toy, and a blue tile I found in Managua in front of the Museum _________ and church that is not eager to be entered because of the massive destruction of the gargantuan earthquakes of the past. I kissed the blue tile, hoped it was okay, and gave it to him. He said ''''' in español""""" that he didn't need anything else and loved it and then hE GAVE ME HIS RASTARASTARASTAFARI NECKLACE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I cried with joy and we hugged so tightly and was so SWEET AND LOVING OMGGGAGAGAGAGGGAG made my heart sing and parade for RAstaFari!!!! Peace. I love him.

I appreciate these magical individuals. It's easy to sway a little as my spiritual fairway is windy/// breezy but all these fairy kings and queens are there to sprinkle glitter on me.

Ananda is a restaurant next to the Collectivo de Muralistas and center where Julio and the muralists work. There's music class n dance classes there too.

At Ananda there is only vegetarian food. There are pictures of a guru and a meditation room which is so beautiful. The lady who works there is <3 a sugar cane princess with big smile and sweet sweet she makes me feel love in every direction. (I feel like that always anyways fun.)

I'm having a really lovely time in Nicaragua. There is a lot of economic sorrow occurring everywhere, and this is in part due to the presence my USA has played in the world. Despite the suffering, people are very hopeful and kind. I love meeting these bright and happy babies and learning from them. I'm so grateful for Maria's work on this trip and making it all happen. I'm grateful for the companionship of Aleks, Emma, Ira, and Carriecarrrri. We are all balancing each other out and it's funny. I think that the world needs only the love and kindness and peace we all exude when we are most ourselves. I need to MEDITATE immediately. I've been ''''' slacking'''' and it's definitely noticeable for me. But despite it I know how loving and beautiful and magical I am. Truly the most I can do for anyone in the world is share kindness and not reflect on negativity. Nothing can change if we don't do it ourselves. I need to meditate. That is my priority now. I have a lot of diarrhea but I see hearts when I poop so I know it's ok.


Que es, l'amour?
Langue es un barrier aquí .
    Perro no es una barreir si a person removes it.
Cannot love dissect the words?

        I dream of a rainbow universe where we touch each other directly. Our eyes communicate and we are speaking with episodes of expression!!!!!!!! There is no darn need to muddle our fuel with water and words are the little little energy bursts that can help or harm. I saw a little girl riding on a boat. But I can't tell that story. There is only love and love is inside us. We can look with our hearts or we can look with our minds ..... Which do u prefer?

              I want love ..... But I AM love. So I have it!!!!!!!!!! HEHEHEHEHEHEH ...... :) I will play with my friends and my freakys for today.

Who is David Alfaro Siqueiros?

Here in Esteli, the Muralist Collective David Alfaro Siqueiros, is a well-known group of men and women who paint beautiful figurative and narrative images about social campaigns and messages for public awareness. Yesterday, Julio Moreno, led a tour with us through the halls of the Emergency room of the city. Impressive floor-to-ceiling paintings of women's public health care system told stories of marvelous midwives, work by female doctors, and mobile healthcare vans that take the healthcare system to rural areas of Esteli. While I knew the style and mission of the Muralist Collective, I realized I still didn't know much about the Mexican muralist who they're named after, David Alfaro Siqueiros. Only earlier this year, I saw this master's work for the first time at the MOMA in NYC.

Siqueiros is a respected founder of the Muralist Movement with Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco; otherwise known as "Los Tres Grandes." Growing up during the Mexican Revolution, Siqueiros was a privileged college student and questioned the role of art, criticized the Mexican government, and defended the rights of the indigenous and the poor through his writings, art and massive murals like the one above.

For over 150 years, Siqueiros has shaped the philosophy on the role of art, artists, the state, and of the bourgeoisie. In the mural above, I am thinking about yesterday's assignment that I gave during our exchange with the muralists: to draw a section of Esteli's finest murals in the hospital and create a corresponding mural that would face it. In the image above, I think of my home in Baltimore and see Freddie Gray's broken body, help up by the Black community of Sandtown, West Baltimore. I see his family and friends carrying him in honor of his life as a funeral procession as well as a protest to police brutality. Towards the back of the protestors, I see faces becoming whiter and browner, representing the myriad voices of others who stood up for his life and the lives of countless victims. I see the support of the entire country, the widespread campaign against killer cops.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Nicaragua Journal Entry, Day 1: Arrival

I flew in from Baltimore into Augusto C. Sandino airport on the 2nd of July. I met up with Maria, Aleks, Carrie, Emma, and was introduced to a Nicaraguan native named Wilfredo who I believe has family in Limay but I'm not sure (can't remember). We drove around Managua to get a sense of place. It is simple, casual, the kind of lifestyle I feel comfortable living. While passing through I kept having flashbacks to memories of passing through parts of Puerto Rico. Maddie was supposed to meet up with us at the airport also but she missed her flight. She's on her way her now, as it is dark and everyone is heading to bed. I lay in bed in me and Emma's cabaña, writing, indulging in my thoughts on how I miss my love at home, how badly I wish he was here experiencing this paradise with me, as we were enjoying the local beer and swimming in Lake Apoyo, the scenery of the mountains surrounding us. From where we were you could see the mountains we will be hiking tomorrow. I wish he was here for that as well. I meditated among the sounds of the bugs and in the peaceful darkness, with my crystal quartz, and I imagined my love in his bed, thinking of me as I thought of him.

11 years later

I first traveled to Nicaragua with Aleks as volunteers in 2004 and my life has never been the same. I discovered friend for life. Eleven years later, our partnerships and social artwork is fulfilling, inpsiring, and valued. We are honored to bring new artists into our work with the most spectacular, historical, collaborative, and beautiful country in the world.