The Haunting of the Mexican Border


If you have any interest whatsoever as to how times have changed along the border, the culture of the people of Sonora and Chihuahua, this is a must read. I need to go visit my friends who live there.

Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Cowboy and flowers on grave © Cowboy and flowers on grave © Tim Fuller

coverThe Haunting of the Mexican Border

I had no idea the blessing I was about to receive when I was asked to review The Haunting of the Mexican Border: A Woman’s Journey by Kathryn Ferguson for Story Circle Book Reviews. I said yes, since how could I possible resist that title? I spent the next few weeks savoring the experiences, ideas, and prose of this book. This is not a book that I read fast. I found myself re-reading sentences for the sheer beauty of the prose and scenes for the powerful experiences conveyed.

Mostly, I was taken with the melding of past and present, as my own experiences growing up on a ranch along the San Pedro River, a vein for Mexican migrants coming to the US, sent me reeling between the intimate familiarity of the rhythms of migration in this region…

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Costa Rica Adventure, Day Five-Part Three, Colonia Libertad


The small village of Colonia Libertad, a short distance down the road from La Anita Rain Forest Ranch, contains a small Catholic Church where I watched an early afternoon Christmas Eve ceremony and held a toddler dressed in her Christmas finery.  Meanwhile a short distance away my grandson, other tourist children, and locals played soccer in this field.

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It alternated between dark and rainy and periods when the clouds zoomed away and everything lightened up a bit. When the game ended, everyone was a muddy mess.

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The village contains the small church, this soccer field, a school–in green on the left, and a recycling center.

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They recycle nearly everything.  You can see the sign for plastic above.  I could hardly believe it.  Here I am in the middle of nowhere in Costa Rica and they recycle; yet where I live in the Panhandle of Texas, recycling remains extremely limited.

Several of us walked down the road from the soccer field and found the neighborhood bar. A local couple joined us.

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To the right, behind the bar, a stream ran rapidly along.  The local couple happily posed.

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Besides these buildings and the soccer field, we visited a shop where local women make and sell necklaces, bracelets, and earrings to supplement their less than lavish income.  Many of the people in the town work for La Anita Rain Forest Ranch.

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for a Healthier You-2


Given the response I received from the last set of tips, it seems a good cause to periodically add more.  Essential oils hold a special place in my health routine.  I use them for so many things. I have found several especially useful to diffuse at night for prevention of allergy symptoms and to facilitate better sleep.  Although I generally prefer doTerra, I use other brands as well.  However, I have found that since I started using doTerra Breathe at night in a diffuser, my allergy symptoms remain minimal compared to what they were before.

Here are two formula I use at night.  I suggest individuals experiment to see what works for them.  I combine Breathe with other oils.  One formula is approximately 7 drops Breathe and seven drops Cedarwood.  Cedarwood is particularly good to facilitate deep, relaxing sleep.  It helps prevent sinusitis and reduces stress.  I have a large diffuser so you may want to experiment to see what works for you.

The other formula I use at night is Breathe as above combined with equal amounts of lavender and melaleuca (tea tree).  Melaleuca has so many others uses, it seems nearly limitless.  It is especially good for teenage acne and treating infections.  However, I myself have never used it for those purposes.  It is one of those “cure all” oils and reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system.

 

Costa Rica Adventure, Day Five–Part Two: Santa Anita Rainforest Ranch


After visiting the Tony’s gallery, we headed north on mostly non-paved, narrow roads.  The clouds increased; the landscape became greener if that is possible.  We crossed to the Caribbean side near the Nicaraguan border.

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The previous photos were taken from the bus window on the way to La Anita which is located more or less just above where the a is located in the word Cordillera at the top of the map.  It lies near Rincon de la Vieja National Park (Volcano Vieja) past Volcano Miravalles–the volcano covered in clouds in the previous Costa Rica post.

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As soon as we arrived, we came to the veranda of the building where they process cacao.  This view overlooks the road in and a small pond.

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Ginger plants in front of the pond, bouquets of ginger flowers, and rain clouds greeted us.

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I had no idea that the ginger roots we eat come from plants that look like this.  We later ate lunch in the building in the distance.  First, seated on picnic tables on the veranda, we drank pure chocolate grown on the ranch and coffee grown on another property at higher altitudes.  Cacao requires lots of rain and tropical heat.  This coffee is shade grown at much higher altitudes, e.g. 1500-2000 meters, by 700 families who belong to the cooperative which produces the coffee.  The coffee from here (Finca la Anita, Costa Rican Dota Mountain Coffee) requires much less sugar even for those who love lots of sugar in their coffee.

The couple who own and run La Anita primarily grow organic cacao.  Originally, they sold what they grew and did not process it there.  They decided to accomplish what they wanted, to grow and sell the most sustainable quality chocolate in the world, they would have to control the entire process themselves.  One of their specialties is a healthy replacement for Nutella, La Anita Chocolate Spread.  We bought four little containers and carried them around the rest of the trip.  Rather than spreading it on something, I keep it in the refrigerator and spoon out a tiny sco0p when I want a super treat.

 

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Nearly constant rain and heat produce a botanical heaven.

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A tractor pulled wagon took us through the lushness to the area with the cacao trees grow.

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We finally arrived where the cacao grows.

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In addition to cacao, they grow other crops because cacao takes a long time to grow and the chocolate market worldwide is very unstable.

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Open up cacao and you find all this fuzzy stuff inside.  Yes, it is actually tasty.  Like with coffee, you eat–actually mostly just suck on it–the outside.  The bean is the seed inside.

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If you want to walk around here, sandals are not a good idea–too many snakes, many of which are poisonous like the fer-de-lance.  Yes, they live here.  Like where I live, this requires looking at the ground and paying attention where you are walking. This is the owner.  The name La Anita comes from his wife.IMG_2023

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The view of the lake from the building where we ate lunch.

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This is the hearts of palm plant which shortly after this photo was taken became the main ingredient of ceviche of hearts of palm which we ate for lunch.

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Making ceviche of hearts of palm in the white square bowl.

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After lunch I walked down the road to the pasture with the horses.  In the background are cabins they rent.  From here the traveler can tour several national parks including Rincon de la Vieja National Park which is quite close.

This is one of the rainiest parts of Costa Rica, located on the northern Caribbean side.  It rained several times while we were here.  The rain stops for a while, a downpours arrives, it stops.  This process continually repeats.

 

 

 

2016 Africa Reading Challenge


Want something new to read, what to expand your knowledge of the wider world, read literature from Africa, Latin America, anywhere that is not your culture.

Kinna Reads

Welcome to the Africa Reading Challenge.

This will be the fourth time that I’m hosting the Africa Reading Challenge.  Details and requirements are the same this year as for the 2012 Africa Reading Challenge, which started with: “I have absolutely no reason for hosting nor urging you to participate in this challenge save for the joy of discovering and reading African literature!” Here are the details:

Challenge Period

January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016

Region

The entire African continent, including its island-states, which are often overlooked. Please refer to this Wikipedia “list of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa”. Pre-colonial empires and regions are also included.

Reading Goal

5 books.  That’s it.  There will be no other levels.  Of course, participants are encouraged to read more than 5 books.  Eligible books include those which are written by African writers, or take place in Africa, or are…

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Costa Rica Adventure, Day Five-Part One


After spending our first leisurely late afternoon and evening at Rio Perdido, we arose early the next morning heading to a farm near the Nicaraguan border.  On our way, about 3/4 to one hour from Rio Perdido, we stopped at the studio of the sculptor Tony Jimenez.  Apparently, Tony loves–perhaps an understatement-the female form.  With few exceptions, he carves women, mostly giant women, in wood.

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He sells smaller statues, even as small as eight inches high, but refuses to sign them partly because they are made from less substantial wood.  I bought one about a foot high.  Later, in another part of Costa Rica I saw some very similar to mine.  When I asked if Tony made them, I was told his cousin was the sculptor.

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Although Tony sells sculpture, his front door fascinated me even more.  It, too, is carved, a frieze.  Even the crossbars on his windows are carved.

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We drove along the west side of a volcano for hours.  Because of clouds, wind, and weather from the Caribbean, even though we were on the Pacific side, we never saw the top of the volcano.  It remained misty and rainy most of the morning as we crossed from the Pacific to the Caribbean side.

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I do not recall anyone mentioning the name of this volcano.  Given where we were headed, it would appear to be Volcano Miravalles.

 

79-Year-Old Bird Watcher Takes Down Oregon Militant With Old High School Wrestling Move


For those of you who have been following the illegal occupation of the refuge in Oregon, this is perfect. Whenever I see how they treat those who disagree with them, how they violate the rights of the rest of us who pay taxes that fund those lands, how they violate and destroy American Indian sites and artifacts, I become increasingly dismayed, well, actually angry. Perhaps all the birdwatchers in the country should show up there. Would they shoot them? Oh, I forget, most people, unlike the occupiers, actually have to work.

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

Source: The LapineJANUARY 10, 2016

BURNS, OREGON — Grandfather of four Robert Saunders says he was just out to check on some young burrowing owls at the crack of dawn this morning when he was confronted by a “red-faced pudgy man with a big gun”.
And things got physical when Saunders refused the barked orders to halt and identify himself.
But it wasn’t the retired teacher who ended up on the ground.


Well heck, one second he was warming his hands by this kind of puny little fire and the next second he was running at me and shouting to get down on the ground,” Saunders told reporters gathered nearthe Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

“Made me mad really. It’s public property and here this guy is acting all big and tough and pushy.”
“I don’t swear much at all but I told him to screw right off and…

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Costa Rica Adventure, Day Four-Part Three


Yes, Part Two of Day Four is missing–it will show up later.  After floating down Rio Tenorio (the missing photos) and eating lunch by another river just off the Pan American Highway, we went a short distance off the Pan American highway to Las Pumas, a wildlife rescue center.  This photo was taken on the way–a very common sight in this area, grazing cattle.

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The center rescues various animals but mostly wild cats, including puma, jaguar, ocelot, jaguarundi–a long bodied, grey cat with short legs and a tiny head, margay, and tigrillo which is the size of a house cat.  Their goal is to eventually release the animals back into the wild.  However, the only place open to visitors is an area where none of the animals can be released back into the wild.

I mostly photographed the pumas–one of my obsessions.

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See if you can find the puma.

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Now you can.  He kept moving.

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Most of their stories went like this:  mom was killed or caught by a rancher for stealing livestock; baby was found and rescued and had become too familiar with people to release.  Another common story dealt with injuries where the animal had been caught in a trap and suffered too much of an injury to ever be self sufficient in the wild.  The smaller cats knew how to either hide themselves or hunker down where it was too dark for a good photo.  In the largest enclosure a jaguar lay right next to the fence.  Once he had been returned to the wild without success.  He did not seem particularly pleased with all us humans so close.  He arose, suddenly turned his butt toward the fence, and sprayed.  One unfortunate (or fortunate if she wanted a good story) girl was the recipient.  She took it well.  How often does one get sprayed by a jaguar!

Eventually, after twisting and turning on various unpaved roads through the dry tropical forest (a totally different type of forest than one usually thinks of when hearing the word tropical), we arrived at Rio Perdido early enough for some relaxation, a bit of exploring, and swimming.

 

 

 

Tips for a Healthier You


Recently, I ran across a variety of tips to lower heart rate and triglycerides, reduce wrinkles, and feel happier and healthier.

  1.  Herbs like coriander, cilantro, oregano, garlic, ginger, thyme, basil, and pepper flakes block fat absorption in the digestive track.  Just add two teaspoons of any of these daily to reduce triglycerides.
  2. You can also lower triglycerides with black tea–eight ounces with every meal.  Research indicates consistency matters.  In one study this routine cut triglycerides 35% in three months.  White and green tea help too.
  3. Slow your heart rate and calm down by listening to relaxing music.  The most effective tempo is 60 beats per minute.  Think Baroque.
  4. One half cup of almonds daily can also reduce heart rate by as much as four points because almonds contain magnesium.
  5. Eat ten large green olives daily to reduce wrinkles and inflammation.  I will admit my concern with this would be the sodium.  Olives generally are quite salty.
  6. Eat sweet potatoes and strawberries to smooth skin.  They are filled with betacarotene and vitamin C.  You can even make a face mask with mashed sweet potatoes–just add a bit of milk and honey.  Leave on face ten minutes and wash off.

 

Personally, I use essential oils to improve my health and skin.  Every morning I put one drop of essential oil of cardamon in my first cup of coffee.  It improves digestion and helps fight infections. After tiring of my students complaining about the smell in my high school class room, I tried various essential oils in a diffuser.  The one that worked and about which no students complained is rosemary.  It helps with allergies, hay fever, and memory.  Some students jokingly tell me I need to dump the whole bottle in.  It also combats hair loss and dandruff.   I put it in my shampoo.  My favorites, however, are frankincense and myrrh. If your joints or muscles are aching, rub them down with magnesium oil and add a little of these.

 

Here’s to a healthier, happier you!!

Costa Rica Adventure, Day Four–Part One


 

People love food.  One of the fun things about travel is exploring the food.  My two favorite, traditional Costa Rican foods are gallo pinto and platanos fritos.  Fruit shows up everywhere too.

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Breakfast at El Establo just before heading down the mountain to the Pan American Highway on the way to Rio Tenorio.  The plate in the background contains gallo pinto and platanos fritos.  I have made gallo pinto three times since I returned.  See recipe at end of post.

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The final view of El Establo as we drove away.

The following photos were all taken riding along the highway, dropping altitude dramatically all the way from Monteverde to the Pan American Highway.  The beauty one passes going to and from Monteverde remains unrivaled anywhere–miles of green vistas, colorful mountain homes, cattle grazing.

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Typical country houses along the side of the road painted colorful hues.  Even here the houses have electricity and running water. Most of the way the road was gravel.  In spite of all the green in these photos, this is the dry side of the mountains, the Pacific side.

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A lot of Costa Rica is cattle country.  In the lowlands all the cattle have Brahma blood in evidence.  In the high country it varies.  Frequently, they look exactly like the common dairy cattle in the United States.

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The farther we drove down the mountain, the drier the foliage and grasses became. Finally, we arrived at a paved road and a town.

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Most places, even small towns, in Costa Rica are clean.  People take pride in the appearance of their houses no matter how small. Flowers bloom brilliantly throughout the country.

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Streams run everywhere even through towns.

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Finally, we headed north on the Pan American Highway.  In all of Costa Rica living fences surround fields.  In this area it appeared the major commercial endeavor is cattle, all distinctively Brahma or at least part Brahma.

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Looking at these photos it seems hard to believe this is the dry season.  We saw large irrigation ditches bringing water all the way from Arenal, a huge lake on the other side of the mountains, a place I visited on my previous trip.

Recipe for gallo pinto:

Enough vegetable oil to lightly cover bottom of a skillet

1 1/2 cups day old, cooked  rice

1 cup day old, cooked, black beans

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 small, sweet red pepper, finely diced

2 Tbls. chopped cilantro (optional)

2 Tbls. salsa (optional)

Add chopped vegetables to the skillet.  Saute until onions are clear.  Then add the beans and salsa.  Finally, add the rice and heat through while stirring constantly.  The mixture should be moist but not wet.  There should be enough juice from the beans to color the rice.  Experiment to see what you prefer.  I use garlic instead of onion and poblano peppers instead of the red.