Thursday, August 31, 2006

Now in Palenque, in Chiapas State in the Yucantan Peninsula of Mexico. It is one of the many archeaological sites of the Mayan people, and is amazing to be in a dense steamy jungle with masses of buildings excavated, and masses more still hidden by the jungle. Today we explored the ruins and walked into the jungle, seeing howler monkeys in the trees, hummingbirds, toucans, spiders, lizards and lovely water falls, mahogony trees being strangled by ficus, just like other places.

Yesterday I went to some water falls nearby, huge rivers and lots of cascading falls, warmish strong flowing water. At one place we took a log raft across the river, only 4 of the group of 10 or more were willing to cross the river like this.

We went out to a fire show, thought I was back in Byron, a place called El Panchan, a bit of a place for alternatives near Palenque, also heard some great music, lovely latino songs and love ballads, with carribean influence.

Tonight I go by bus to Merida down south, fly out early next morning for Arizona. Everything is going well. There was a huge storm last night and thunder like I have never heard before, not like the rolling tanks in the sky but cracking sharp and as if it was tearing through the jungle and whipping up the hills and searching for something. I was staying in a jungle lodge very close to the ruins at Palenque. What amazing constructions and use of power, labour and beliefs. Till Arizona, Deidre

Monday, August 28, 2006


Greetings from San Cristobal de las casas

Hi everyone, have left Oaxaca and now in San Cristobal de las casas in Chiapas State and heading for Palenque tomorrow for a couple of nights and then down the coast. All is well, it is amazing here, Oaxaca was sad to leave, in spite of the trouble there, so many warm and polite and welcoming people. Today Went up into the hills and visited a church and saw some weavers, it is all so amazing, will add photos later. The church had the traditional shamans and rituals going on, with the facade of catholicism, it was so incredibly moving to see the candles lit in blocks of light and people attending to them, they represent offering tortillas (food) to the Gods. They regard the christian saints as their ancestors. The blue Mayan cross is so pantheistic and has beautiful meaning and is higher than all the saints in the churches. Coloured plastic flags high in the sky anchored to the steeple and fixed to sacred Saber trees, flapping in the breeze sounding like some beautiful cracking sails of a ship. Much music, some dancing and many people in the plaza. Hasta lluego, Deidre

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Sunday from Oaxaca

Today is a relative day of rest after a busy training schedule. There have been some earthquakes, but everything is OK, I just thought I was dizzy. Here in Oaxaca there is civil unrest and the other night again, someone was killed. We are staying near the Zocalo (square) where the people are camped and protesting, but we foreigners are safe. On Friday night we went to a guitar recital, classical, Scarlatti and then
various classical Spanish composers, sitting in a beautiful rendered adobe enclosure, minimalist construction, beautiful lines, cream walls, one very low wide arch lit behind the guitarist, the sky above open and blue, going to dark and stars as the performance went on, in the background outside our place, some streets away voices, shouting and police sirens, then quiet and then again. It is quite strange and I was glad it was not a communist war and we were not the burgeoise sitting in a cultural event fearing for our safety.

I also struggle with imperialist travel attitudes and on occasion have achieved a more equitable travel style catching the metro (train), local buses and some little VW taxis is at least a concession to this, even in spite of the robbery. Unless you take the transport of the people of the country occasionally, then you cannot appreciate the crowds, the faces of people travelling to work, the grumpy, intolerant bus conductors, the friendliness of local men and women struggling with shopping bags, the diversity of social status and the ability to notice how these impact on peoples behaviour.

If I do the total turista trip I will have missed the country. Today I was at a market and would have stayed longer if possible, it was a local food and shopping market and there are so many small men, women and children coming from outlying villages to buy food and odds and ends. The women are small, brown skinned, often with bandy legs and a kind of swaying kind of walk, their hair braided in two plaits with coloured ribbons braided in, sometimes wound to the top of their head, sometimes haning to their waist. They wear colourful colours, hot pink, bright blue, reds, yellows and all kinds of embroideries on their blouses and shawls. They dress according to region and there are such an amazing array of local dress.
I was happy to be having chats with stall holders in spanish when buying bits
and pieces.

I have been to some amazing places and need time to be quiet and take it in, feeling full up of impressions. One place yesterday, ancient, so still, quiet, such dignified energy. I did not really want to leave, eagles soaring, birds hopping about entrances to tombs, no tourists except us, no guides, not much man made except the amazing edifices. An old old world. Pictures to follow


Waiting for a bus after ours broke down and the steep winding mountain road to Oaxaca


At the Catedral de Virgen de Guadalupe and Teotihuacan

Friday, August 18, 2006


Teotihuacan - North of Mexico City

I spent a day on a tour around Mexico City beginning at a place called Tlatlolco, an old market meeting place for pre-hispanic peoples and on the pathway of the old walkways and paths and river systems now covered over with concrete and buildings. The Franciscans built a church near this place, a tall but plain edifice which in effect dominates the lower lying structures of the ancient monuments. The plaza more recently constructed and used for a meeting of 200,000 people, many of them students in 1968 seems to share a history of bloodshed with the ancient monuments nearby, but on a much larger and less ceremonial scale.

Next to the Catedral of the Virgen de Guadalupe, where a man saw a vision of the virgin and she is more or less the patron saint of Mexico and this place is where many people make pilgrimage to. It was filled with people from all parts, judging by their clothing.

Our guide Monica provided an account of how catholicism engaged the indigenous peoples' interest by various means, symbols and instruction and gradually displaced the older beliefs by incorporating some of their meanings such as the flower insignia on the robes of the virgin which is the ancient symbol of the 4 elements with the birth of humanity in the centre.
In spite of this a candle from FDB's in Ocean Shores was offered as a votive at the shrine and the mother earth invoked in whatever form she manifests.

We then went to the site of Teotihuacan and spent the afternoon walking around this site, climbing to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun and the Moon and joining with others in delighted breathlessness as we all made it to the top.

Walking along the extensive site and looking back to the afternoon storm clouds and a bolt of lightning descened from the sky to the pyramid and feeling the elements and the soaking rain and the presence of the ancestors.

Drank pulque, mezcal and tequila and saw how it is taken from the centre of the maguey cactus and fermented.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


oops photos from Venice Beach Los Angeles

Wrong order but here they are


Mexico City and surrounds

In Mexico City, had an exciting introduction getting my wallet taken on the crowded train in the first hours in Mexico, visiting the studios of Fridha Kahlo and Diego Rivera, going to sacred places and I will write more and post more pictures soon.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Los Angeles and Mexico City

Arrived in Los Angeles exactly the same day and minute I left Brisbane. Went by bus to Venice Beach, 8 or 10kms south of the airport and the site of a short film Life Not Death in Venice, by one of the cultural anthropologists who strongly influenced narrative practices. I could not recognise the building from the film but the beach and the paths were familiar. The ocean was beautiful and the light golden as I watched the setting sun and the buildings began to shine and their colours brighten. It is such a friendly place, a cool looking black hip hop dude with scarf and cap, smooth black skin and dark almond shaped eyes tried to sell me a CD, when I said I did not want to buy any music today he looked me in the eyes and paused for a while and then said 'thank you for talking to me'. It was a soft moment.

Sat around and chatted with a few different people, Andreas, a Mexican away from his homeland running a little cantina was pleased with my attempt to speak spanish and would not let me pay for my coffee.

Met up with a couple from the US and we went for drinks and back to the airport. A short flight to Mexico City arriving before dawn, plenty of practice with espanol. Caught a train and was robbed of my wallet with all the cards, a tired and silly early morning, not thinking, dreamy state and a huge crush of people on the metro, not a good experience but a good learning one. Everything now OK and had other secure money elsewhere, the person had a good spending spree in the hour or two before I got through to report it lost.

Mexico City is interesting and today I went to Frida Kahlo and Diego Riveras' studios in San Angel. I could hardly bear the mixture of excitement, emotion and calm from being in such an exquisite building, the space, openess, proportions, light, the curves and straight lines, it was something else. It was not a place which held their works but their collections, pre hispanic ceramic figures and other sculptures by Carlos Bracho. The garden was a mass of cacti, the tall cereus peruvianus types forming a fence like structure outside,and a lovely backdrop for the fleshier, fatter rounder types. Even the gate is beautiful.

Tomorrow I go toTeotihuacan pyramids, to take a candle from FDB's Ocean Shores to the shrine of the Virgen de Guadalupe, and a few other city sights before leaving for Oaxaca on Saturday.

I will post more photos when I can access the computers with the program for loading photos. Tomorrow more adventures. Hasta lluego amigos Deidre

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Still Leaving Home.....

Hamishs' farewell to LA and some work mates being cheeky for the new camera.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Leaving Home

Going away, doing new things, travelling or having adventures means so much when I feel so supported by home, friends, family, workmates, wildlife, the land and sea. Here are some photos of those who contribute to my sense of belonging and help me to forge into unknown territories.

Walking out the door maybe my reptile friend has come to say goodbye, I wonder if he is the same tiny one rescued from being eaten by birds in the bush, and given to me to caretake. He only lasted a few hours in the house I made him from a cardboard box with cut-out windows and doors and plastic lids with water and mealy worms to eat. He found his freedom and I wonder if he has come back to show me how grown up he has become and wish me well in strange lands like he must have encountered when he came to my place.

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