Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Planets, dreams & the unexpected visitor

Quotes - Pinterest board

I've heard a lot this year: "I love that you're so independent and don't need anyone." It's a blessing and a curse to be lumped into that sentence. I'm glad that I inspire independence and yet it always makes me sad when my friends don't think I need them. I may be head strong in solving my own problems and going on my own trail without consulting anyone, but the cliche is true, no man is an Island, or Woman.

While my cousin was here I took a bad fall and hurt my foot. I was glad to have him around to help with things here and there. After saying goodbye to my cousin and other visitors I realized just how isolated I have made myself. Sure, there are people around but they're working, we can't just sit and have a coffee where they tell me intricate details about their lives. I have enjoyed my hermit styles but I'm ready to be reintegrated. I'm thankful everyday for the communication powers of the internet. It's the way I can connect with my friends and have great long talks over skype, quick notes in g-chat, sharing silly things on facebook. I was just chatting with Jenn when I realized that without the internet and technology, I wouldn't have been able to live so immersed in nature for six months, I would not have come across the house sitting opportunity out in the rainforest.

So, I've been mopey this past week! With the foot, and the constant rain, I've felt the guilt of not being a good "dog" mom. I haven't taken the pups on any good walks and haven't been able to roughhouse with them. I was finally open to some company. When I consciously have a daydream and make a shift in my mind, I feel my whole world shift, like I've sat down and said 'yes' wholeheartedly to something, so then I can direct myself to that new idea. I'll try to explain...

Let's Get Going - Pinterest board
Sitting at the table with my foot up drinking a tea, I started imagining having tea with someone beside me. Someone specific that I haven't spent a full 24hrs with since I was 16. Someone who occasionally makes me tear my hair out but is my best match at Scrabble. Someone who I love dearly, always have hope for, but may be tempted to throw in the back pond with caimans. 

As I was talking to my cousin, looking out at the white sandy beach, and at dogs that I consider kids, I remembered a strange dream during a period of nine months when this person and I weren't speaking to each other. In the dream I'm living with my family on a white sandy beach, and said person just shows up one day, and we stand there staring at each other. I have to decide
if I'm gong to let them in. After a long discussion, "I would let them in now" I confess to my cousin. To everyone's surprise, two days later that someone announced a ticket bought, and a visit set. When I told my cousin the arrival dates he explained the planetary significance of Wednesday November 28th, it's the day of a full moon and the last lunar eclipse of the year, a time for radical changes, new opportunities and the opening of new paths.

I really enjoyed this quote that I found: Venus, Mercury, Saturn and the North Node are in Scorpio during the Gemini Eclipse. Reminding us that as we emerge out of Scorpio’s ashes of the past. We are processing pain, trust issues and betrayals. Yet, these negative emotions will fade into the mist with no lingering memories. As we move higher in vibration. We will be free from these ancient haunting happenings.

Also, in line with the having enough of being a content hermit, I've started dating someone! My last actual relationship wasn't since living in Toronto, and it ended in a way that left me pretty crushed. So, Here's to emerging out of the ashes of the past, being fiercely independent, while absolutely needing the wonderful people that have come into my life. 

Gift Ideas - Pinterest board

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Waiting for the Witch

I had a wonderful bunch of visitors the past two weeks who all left on Thursday. Once again I'm left to my own devices, which had me remembering a funny story...

Upon coming to this great big 'house' in Panama I was asked only a few questions by the local Ngobe people. The most reoccurring from the women was bluntly put,
"Do you have a husband?"
"Do you live with your mom?"
They pressed on, "You don't live with your mom or a husband?"
"Oh, Samantha..." One woman said 'tsk'-ing and shaking her head.
She looked at me quite seriously and said, "I would be scared living in a great big house all by myself."
It was the day before I was to be all alone, so I was a little taken aback. With the neighbors very close and workers coming every day, this is the most people I've been around consistently in three months. I worried for a moment that maybe there was a risk factor I had overlooked...
"Well I have Angus and Bella" I said, referring to the dogs, who are well feared. "Why would you be scared? Just because it's so big?"
"Yes. You know what happens to people who live in a big house all by themselves..."
I shook my head 'no', as I thought about gluttony, and images of people living in L.A. in big mansions. She broke my daydream with, "You have to be very careful, because of the witch"
I did my best not to smile, as I imagined the witch from Beauty and the Beast knocking on mansion's all over the world. I was also careful not to mention that my friends and family often affectionately refer to me as a witch. If there was a witch in the village I certainly would love to meet her, but perhaps I didn't understand.
"Is she a spirit, a ghost, a real person?"
"Oh, she's a real person."
"Can I meet her? Can you tell me where she lives?"
"No no no. Oh, Samantha" More 'tsk'-ing and head shaking.
"...Have you seen her?"
"No! If you see her, she will kill you"
"Oh..." I said, thinking on my vampire, werewolf and zombie apocalypse safety measures.
"Is there anything I can do?"
"Yes, you need a #&)x!."
I was positive I was miss-translating. The clarification of what she was saying went back and forth for a long while, until I went into the kitchen and got a fork.  It couldn't possibly be as simple as a dinner fork, but it was.
"What does the fork do to the witch?" I asked.
"It takes away all her powers"
"So then I can have a nice chat with her? Once her power is gone?"
"Oh, Samantha" She said, again 'tsk'-ing and shaking her head.

I'm happy to report that I have managed more than a month without a witch sighting. It used to startle me, especially in the city when things moved out of the corner of my eye, but there are just so many things moving here, all the time, you just have to relax because its probably a bat, a bird, a leaf, a gecko, or a bug you'd rather not acknowledge. The witch could be here a week trying to sneak up on me and I might just brush her off. 'Oh, that's probably just a monkey' I'll say to myself. So even though all my visitors have left and I'm alone again, don't worry, I have a fork.


I love learning about the different superstitions all over the world (I think it steams from being born on a Friday the 13th). We continued talking and I was having difficulty explaining what a superstition was, so we talked about other different beliefs around here. For example, if your tooth falls out while you're sleeping it means a relative has died. When I told them about the tooth fairy I think they felt a little gypped, and then they really wanted to know more about North America. If you have any superstitions about bats please send them my way.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dinner, a show of the cycle of life

Friday was a day with all sorts of visitors; A little girl selling bread for 25cents, people from the neighborhood coming to walk the back path, and a fisherman. A fisherman that reeled in a good catch of fish pulled up in his cayuco (a hollowed out tree that looks like a longer canoe). "$1.50/pound" I was told by the workers, who where buying their dinner from him. Seabastian pulled out a good tuna from the bunch and it was gutted right there in the water at the side of the cayuco. I looked at Seabastian and asked "You're helping me cut it, right?". I've never actually cooked fish on my own before. One of the great things about becoming vegetarian when you're younger, all meals are meat free and easy, no need to worry about under-cooking and causing various food poisoning. So, there we were in the kitchen, him slicing the tuna into two fillets. I commented on how pretty the fish looked, "Ai, que bonito" "Es porque se llama bonito. Tambien dice tuna". After the fillets were in a deep dish, the head, spine, and tail had another destination. We walked out towards the back of the property to the freshwater pond. "This goes to the caimans" he said, then threw the bloody remains into the pond, "Shhhhh, wait"he instructed. We stood there looking, me not quite sure I wanted to see what was to happen next. A Caiman quickly came out of his space and I got to watch as it slowly swam towards the fresh food. Dipping itself under the water to find its catch, it's long tail peaked out. I had seen the smaller ones before but never one this big. We just stood their on the very edge of the pond as the fish remains dangled from it's mouth. "You're sure they don't come out of the water?" I asked again.
"They just eat birds that land in the pond and maybe come out at night, maybe"
"But they don't eat humans?"
"Not that I've heard, not the ones here"
The caiman retreated to its home in the back of the pond. The cycle of life has a higher turnover rate in the jungle. I loved that no part of the fish was wasted. I looked up five tuna recipes and adapted one to what I had and knew I liked. I still had some cayanne pepper (A spice I travel with because I hate to be without) which I added to the garlic, onions and coconut oil. When it was time for dinner I put the fillets in a frying pan, three to four minutes each side and it was awesome! I made fish! It's the first time I've eaten every morsel of fish that's on a plate not made by my Abuela. Dinner was really an experience, buying a fish just recently caught from the fisherman, my waste getting happily eaten by another animal and then eating my piece within a few hours of cutting it up. I'm sure I'll be making more fish while I'm out here, especially when it comes fresh right to my "door".

Thursday, November 15, 2012

One quarter down! - happy 25th Birthday to me

'Sam the blue blob' - Photo courtesy of Tom K
Go figure! White donkey and Black sheep in the same field! Nov 13,  2011
That's me last year on my birthday, unfortunately that's probably not even the most ridiculous photo of me. Below the blue blob is a field with a white donkey and a black sheep! I've cropped myself out of that photo but trust me I fit right in. On my birthday last year I continued on the Camino de Santiago from Finestere to Muxia, it was a beautiful walk and ended at a beach. This year was spent at a warmer beach (with no walking through unexpected bog water, score!) I played in the waves and attempted some snorkeling, my cousin helped make the day special and I sure do feel more older. Below is a song I enjoyed a lot the day of my birthday, it was definitely a day of reflection on the past year, what a trip it's been!

I was really beaming from all the great birthday wishes I received this year, it really felt like I was in a big spotlight of love. So thanks to everyone; especially Kates for the most ridiculous video ever, I felt like a cat and miracle; and my aunt Monica who always sends me a wonderful heartfelt note. Thanks for reading! xoxo

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 8th

When I knew I was staying in Panama with ample room for visitors I sent out an invitation to my family members hoping a few would be able to take time out of their busy lives and come for a visit.

My cousin Manolo was up for the trip and as I had visited him in January I was really excited to be his host. Since he was coming from Spain and mentioned he'd be stopping in Almuñecar, I asked him to bring a small shoe box with him that I had left at my Abuela's house. When I had left Almuñecar for Paris I had no idea how long I was going for and I had some Camino tokens that I wanted to keep well preserved.

Well he arrived in Bocas today, November 8th, and I picked him up at the airport and brought him to my home here in Panama. Before we had dinner he brought out the box. I got tears in my eyes as I had thought I'd find a few shells but also found my camino passports. When you walk the camino you have a passport stamped at every Albergue where you spend the night. As I flipped through, November 8th had a very special stamp: Santiago. They don't call it Camino de Santiago for nothing, that is the destination for most pilgrims. I had finished my camino a year ago today and was reunited with the most momentous part an exact year later. It's hard to believe that a flimsy piece of paper with ink stamps could make me feel so much.

A special heart felt thanks to Tom and Mike, there was a day I wasn't sure if I'd continue and you saw me through to the very end. You are both very much in my heart and I like to wonder what part of your camino's you're on now. For the rest that I was fortunate enough to walk with for a day, a week, an hour, you made it one of the best journeys I've ever taken. I so look forward to doing it again and have someone very special in mind to do it with, my grandfather. After reading my posts he said he'd be interested in doing it with me sometime and I hope 'sometime' is sometime soon.

After a big hug of thanks to Manolo and a light supper we headed out to the dock and thankfully the bio-luminescence were there to welcome him to the neighborhood. If you have any questions about the camino, don't hesitate to ask as I love reliving it and giving suggestions. If you're on the camino now, take the alternate route to Burgos!

Buen Camino! and COOoooooEEEeeeee!
The morning of November 8th and the imminent Santiago arrival!!

We had stayed in an Albergue just a few Km away so we could watch the sun
come up but really we wanted an excuse to draw out the camino as long as possible!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The day the Kobo died

I am very sad to report that my electronics are on the fritz due to the high levels of humidity that come with living in the rain forest. Specifically my Kobo. Don't worry my baby (laptop) is in fine shape. I didn't want to admit it especially when I've just accumulated a collection of hundreds of books but it's true, my Kobo is not responding. I've tried putting it in a bag of rice, restarting it, plugging it in, but it seems I have put it through a tough fourteen months of overuse and varying climates. Thankfully I have a great collection of books here and have adjusted my 'to read' list accordingly. Something I do in the first week of living somewhere new is organize the bookshelf, usually alphabetically (with foreign, cookbooks and travel books separate) so I get myself well acquainted with the available library. Sadly though all my favorites are locked into the computer screen. This is really a huge loss for me, I love books and an e-reader is the easiest way for me to carry hundreds around without breaking my back. I even made a fun cover for it that also is not looking so great due to the continual humidity. I've been a fan of making Haiku's lately so here's one
for My Dear Kobo,

So much joy you gave
In my palm you held all words
Wont give up on you


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Heart Thoughts by Louise L. Hay

This is the prettiest book I've read. It's filled with colour, swirly designs and flowers. I picked it up in Paris and have been happy to bring it along to Panama. It's really like a hug and a positive reboot if you're in need of one. One page that's dogeared is the 
freedom page: "You can choose to be that part of your spirit that is totally free. If you can be free in one area, you can be free in many areas. Be willing to be free." 'Learning to be Free' has been my theme for the year. This book reaffirmed a lot of the things I had already learned at TAC but as Louse Hay often says "The work you are doing on yourself is not a goal, it is a process- a lifetime process." It's always good to have an influence to remind you not to 'should' all over yourself, be kind to yourself no matter what stage you're at. You are the only person with yourself 24/7-forever so you better learn how to be nice or it's going to be a tough going. If you don't have very positive self talk there's no better time to start than now. This is one of many methods to get there. The first time I heard about looking at yourself in the mirror and saying "I love myself" was probably Brian Tracy sales techniques. Sometimes that's a big leap but starting with "I like myself" is doable. That little whisper of words can start to change a lot of things, starting with taking less crap from people, having more confidence, or generally feeling better. It's a long process but so far a worthwhile one for me. Even if you think words of affirmation are not high on your list of needs I invite you to speak more positively to yourself and those you love.