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.