Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Arenal Volcano and Tikotu Hot Springs

Arenal Volcano is located in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.
There are several natural hot springs in the La Fortuna area of Costa Rica. Natural geothermal heat created by the Arenal Volcano is what creates the hot springs. The above photo was taken at Tikotu Hot Springs. It feels wonderful to have a hot soak after a busy day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rich Man Poor Man

Many years ago I met an Australian nurse living in a remote village in Bali, Indonesia. Her focus was giving medical attention to the local community. The village is among the poorest in Bali. She used her own money to buy supplies but, as time passed, she ran low on funds. She decided to do a fund raiser in hopes of receiving the money needed to carry on her work.

I heard about the fund raiser and decided to donate some pieces of jewelry I had made. I knew she needed as much help as she could get so I thought about other people who might be willing to give something for the auction.

Over a period of years I had bought thousands of dollars worth of sterling silver beads and pendants from a Balinese man in the village of Celuk. I decided to call on him and ask for a small donation for the auction. Whew, things did not go as I thought they would. When I approached him he gave me a one word answer…NO. I was stunned. This man had a lovely home and drove a new car. He is wealthy and had a thriving business. I just couldn’t believe he was so cold and uncaring. Needless to say I never bought from him again.

When I told my friend, who always helped me with my business when I was in Bali, what had happened he was sad to hear the news. He told me he would donate two bamboo bracelets inlaid with ebony and a bamboo dragonfly pendant also inlaid with ebony that he had strung on black cord.

In thinking about this situation it occurred to me that the so called rich man was actually poor. He had no compassion for his fellow man. He had many material trappings but his heart was closed and uncaring. If some natural disaster occurred and he lost his worldly goods he would be left an empty shell of a man.

My friend, on the other hand, has very little in the way of worldly goods. He and his family have food and shelter and an old motor bike. They sleep on mattresses laid on the floor. He earns money by doing wood carving and painting. Is he poor? No. He has natural God given gifts that allow him to earn a living, but more then that he has a warm heart. He is always willing to help others in whatever ways he can. He has a strong understanding of giving and receiving. He has great faith in the Hindu God’s he believes in. He is the most spiritual person I have ever met.

I learned many lessons during what I think of as the Bali years. This one is one of the most important. I learned what it really means to be rich and it has nothing to do with money!

Oh, the Australian woman is still in the mountains doing her work with the poor. What a special woman she is.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Horses and Harley's

Old ways and new ways of getting around in Ajijic.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Flag Day Birthday

Preparing to scatter the ashes

My favorite aunt died a couple years ago. Her birthday was June 14th, which also happens to be Flag Day. It is easy to remember the birth date of people born on a holiday. My aunt was in her late seventies when she died. She lived in Arizona and I had not seen her for over forty years. She wanted it that way. She made a decision to remove herself from our family for reasons that I have never fully understood but, over time, came to accept. I miss her.

She had grown up with a mentally and physically abusive father. She was married once but the marriage ended in divorce. It was then that she left the city she had lived in for her entire life and headed first to Texas then on to Arizona. She struggled with alcoholism for years but through AA she was clean and sober for the last 15 to 20 years of her life. I kept in touch with her by telephone and letters but she never wanted me to visit in person. I respected that even though I would have loved to spend time with her.

My sister and I went to Arizona together to clean up June's affairs and scatter her ashes. Her caregiver drove us to the area my aunt wanted to be scattered. June's best friend went with us and it was good to hear bits and pieces of the life she had created for herself in Arizona. She was well known in AA and had sponsored many people in their journey of recovery. She had good friends and a dog who loved her unconditionally. Life was good.

As I threw ashes into the wind on that cool sunny day I let myself relive so many wonderful memories of my life and times with Aunt Junie. Spending weekends with her at her lake house, swimming and skiing. She introduced me to my first love, you know, the one you never forget. She taught me how to drive a car. She taught me how to drive her fishing boat and how to head into waves so I wouldn't capsize. Lots of flashes of memory rushed through my mind and then the ashes were gone...all scattered.

Rest in peace dear Aunt Junie. You were loved and you live on in my heart.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Monkeys, Monkeys...Everywhere

It seemed as though everywhere we looked we saw monkeys in the Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica. The howlers were noisy and the whitefaced and spider monkeys were cute as can be. These little guys liked people and were not afraid at all.

Just hangin' around outside the open air restaurant of the hotel where we stayed in Quepos

Too cute!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bali Kids

There is a village in east Bali called Amed. Amed is on the coast and fishing is the main source of income for the villagers. It is a very poor community but the people are warm and gracious. The fishing boats are quite colorful and are built in the outrigger style. I never seemed to be awake in the predawn hours when the fishermen left but I would see them in the late afternoon when they returned with their catch of the day. It took quite an effort to pull the heavy wooden boats up on the beach each evening but everyone helped each other until all the boats were secured for the night.

One day I decided to eat lunch at a small outdoor cafe located on the beach. I was lost in thought when I heard some commotion near by. I turned to see what was happening. It was a very touching sight that remains a fond memory. What I saw was a group of young children in their tattered clothes caring an empty shampoo bottle that they had filled with some of the wildflowers growing nearby. They were filled with pure joy as each had one hand on the bottle as they went in search of their mom. The smiles were adorable and mom was overjoyed to receive such a special gift.

I don’t know exactly why that scene has stayed in my mind for the past fifteen years. I think it was the purity and simplicity of it. The best things in life are free comes to mind. These little kids did not have any material possessions. No clothes with designer labels, no expensive toys, no high tech gizmos, not even shoes. What they had was so much more valuable. They had a strong sense of family and community. They had positive feelings of belonging. They had love for each other and an inner peace and joy that shone brightly through their eyes. They had the best things that money can not buy. Lucky kiddos!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Florida Soft Shelled Turtle

This big old Florida soft shelled turtle was out in the yard a couple days ago. He had crossed over the road and onto the sidewalk before heading to a creek near by. He was taking his time and was not at all concerned with me getting close enough to take these photos.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Butterflies in Costa Rica

Butterfly flitting from tree to tree
She tastes a bit of this
She tastes a bit of that
Flys away then comes back.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Art And Owls In Ajijic

I enjoy going to outdoor functions in Ajijic, especially when they take place on beautiful sunny days and are held at the Lake Chapala Society.

Art and animals at Lake Chapala Society. These photos were taken a few years ago.

The owl is ignoring me and my camera.

Is the owl planning something sinister?

Yep, the plan worked. I took my shot and quickly left.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lovers Key State Park, Florida

Boating on the back waters.

Lots of well marked trails run through the park. Long ones and short ones so just take your pick.

Cabbage Palms.