Sunday Poem


A few years ago Uno Mundo Press published my second book, a book of poems.  Reviewers say it is a memoir.  Oddly, that was not the plan; in retrospect, it seems apt.  The poems’ topics are not chronological but rather via topic with quotations before each topic as a sort of introduction.  For the foreseeable future, while I continue writing another book, I will post one poem from the book every Sunday.

The book begins with this quotation:

“Do something scandalous to give your descendants something

to talk about when you are gone.”  Vanessa Talbot

 

The first section begins with this quote by Judith Jameson, the famous dancer and choreographer:

“I always tell my dancers.

You are not defined by your fingertips,

or the top of you head,

or the bottom of your feet.

You are defined by you.

You are the expanse.

You are the infinity.”

 

The first poem in the book goes like this:

I Have Lived

Depression, sad days, melancholy.

Gone!

At 26, I said, “To hell with this!

You control you life, live it!”

 

I tried forbidden liaisons, trained horses,

Traveled around the world, a cobra wrapped around my neck,

Walked the Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir,

Stood before the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi,

Watched the Taj Mahal reflected in still waters,

Walked the streets of Katmandu,

Talked to monks at Shwedagon Pagoda,

Bargained with sticks in dirt, math our only common language,

Downed raw turtle eggs in Costa Rica,

Danced on table tops, sang “Adonai”,

Roamed empty roads across the Navaho Nation,

Divorced four times,

Raised two talented children.

 

I have lived, running on the rim of wonder.

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San Jose, Costa Rica


Two friends are headed to Costa Rica this summer.  While they will join a tour, they have a couple of days in San Jose before the tour begins.  I promised them I would suggest a few places they might enjoy, El Mercado, the downtown market,  the National Theatre, and the precolonial museum which is full of pre-Columbian gold and other ancient artifacts.  It remains my favorite but security there is tight.  To get in, you must surrender just about everything but your clothes.  You get a locker in which to place your valuables; the key to the locker is about all you can take with you.  As a consequence, no photos.  They do have a gift shop with quality items of all sorts including copies of many of the artifacts and jewelry.

Much of the downtown area is foot traffic only.  Vendors sell various goods on the street, you can wander El Mercado, in which various stalls for goods and food are located, and tour the National Theatre.  Inside the National Theatre next to the main lobby area is a lovely little restaurant, the perfect place for lunch.  The following are photos I took  in the National Theatre about one and one-half years ago.

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The first photo below is the highway from the airport into San Jose and the second shows a typical downtown pedestrian only area.

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I have been to Costa Rica in what in the US is summer and also at Christmastime.  Summer here is their rainy season so if you go then, be prepared for rain, sometimes a lot of it.  It is sort of a joke that on the east side of the main mountain chain, it is always the rainy season.  However, I have been there when it did not rain.  Take a sturdy, easy to lug around slicker with a hood because sooner or later it will rain.

The huge advantages of going this time of year are a lot fewer tourists and it is considerably cheaper.

 

 

Celebrating Earth Day–Photos


I decided the best way I should share my reverence and love for nature and this precious planet on which we live is to share photos from various countries, states, and my own little piece of wonder.

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The three photos above were taken at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas about ten minutes from where I live.

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Above and below the Rio Grande looking into Mexico.

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Four photos above — Big Bend National Park.

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Between Marfa and Alpine, Texas.

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The Rio Grande north of Albuquerque on the Santa Ana Pueblo Nation.

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The above four photos taken in Simien Mountain National Park, Ethiopia.  The animals are gelada–the only surviving grass eating primates found solely in Ethiopia.  They actually “talk” to each other.

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Menelik’s Window, Ethiopia

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Awash Falls, Ethiopia

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Where the Blue Nile begins draining from Lake Tana, Ethiopia

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The photos above were taken at various places in Costa Rica.

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Northern New Mexico

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Grand Canyon North Rim

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The Missouri River running full.

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California dropping down from Sequoia National Monument

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Near Lake Marvin, Texas

Sunday Sunrise ©Dawn Wink

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The above photos were all taken within the last year on my little rim of wonder.

And finally below, my favorite animal.

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Gratitude


Thanksgiving brings so many thoughts, including thoughts about the divisive political discourse in the country now.  However, it seems more productive and in keeping with the day to focus on gratitude.  As I write this I think of both personal and broader things for which I am grateful, one of which is that I live in a country where divisive political discourse can actually and legally occur.  Now to the more personal (even though I think the personal is political, I will not focus on that)–here is my starter list:

-my family–daugher, son, and grandson; daughter and grandson will join me shortly to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

-my mother’s pumpkin pie recipe which my grandson will help me prepare when he arrives; he says it is the only pumpkin pie he really likes.

-my job which I truly love–teaching public high school; my students frequently make my day.

-where I live in beauty truly on the Rim of Wonder.

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-my health

-my friends

-my ability to travel to all sorts of fascinating places

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-a life I love

 

Driving on Your Own in Costa Rica–Hotel Playa Negra


On March 17, I related the story of having to leave the first hotel in this area after dark with nowhere to go–see first post on driving on your own.  It was not until I awakened the next morning, dressed, and went in search of coffee, that I realized just how lucky we were.  I left my daughter and grandson asleep and ventured toward the restaurant indicated by a small sign.  I had not walked far when this scene greeted my eyes.

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Horses right by the beach.  Perhaps these were the horses one could ride–I had just seen a sign indicating horse back riding was available.  Then I walked a bit further and these scenes welcomed me.

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Except for the two dogs you can see here, no one was at the beach.  The tranquility amazed me.

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I walked back inside the restaurant–here I am standing at its edging looking toward the beach–ordered cafe con leche and luxuriated in our incredibly good karma.  This place exceeded all expectations considering our experience the previous night.

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This photo was taken from the beach looking back at the restaurant.  Except in colder areas like San Jose and Monteverde, I never saw or ate in any enclosed restaurants.  Even the fanciest are open air like this one.  Hotel Playa Negra is the only hotel near Playa Negra next to the beach.  It is a quiet, peaceful place with yoga, horse back riding, surf boarding lessons–the surf here is for beginners.  The restaurant serves a wide variety of food, but since I especially like the typical cuisine, it seemed perfect–more gallo pinto, platanos fritos, cafe con leche.

 

 

Driving on Your Own in Costa Rica


We left Rio Perdido with several of our fellow tour travelers, were dropped off at the Liberia airport, went down the road, and picked up our rental vehicle, a brand new roomy SUV. We stopped at an outdoor restaurant–in most of Costa Rica the restaurants are outdoors with only a roof. Much to my delight they had my favorite Costa Rican beverage, cas, which seems to be served randomly here and there. I love the stuff–pale green, neither sweet nor sour, a type of guava.

We headed down Highway 21 toward Santa Cruz. This is cattle and sugar cane country with miles of lush green pastures along the way.

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Throughout the countryside living fences delineate one pasture or field from another.  Initially, when first built, they look like any other fence posts.  The difference is this:  they grow into trees.

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Looking at these photos, it seems hard to believe that we were there in the dry season.  Costa Rica is easy driving with good highways, speed limits, and very little of the mad, crazy driving one experiences in many countries.

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Even this far from the mountains, look to the east, and there they are under a canopy of clouds.  After arriving in Santa Cruz, we turned off onto a smaller highway (160) headed toward the tiny town of Paraiso where we had a near hotel disaster.  In September, I booked a hotel farther south on the Pacific Coast only to be notified one month before leaving that a mistake had been made and they had no room available.  Desperately I searched and searched and found one near Playa Negra.  Online it looked ok, not luxurious but ok.

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It even looked nice from the outside as you can see above.  Since there was no restaurant onsite, we headed out for dinner.  We had already passed through the little town and had seen several places.

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Here we ate some of the best pizza I have ever eaten.  When the waiter asked where we were staying, we told him.  At the time we never thought too much about his rather gloomy, “Oh!”

We went to the tiny local grocery down the road and bought food, shampoo, coffee, enough to tide us over for three days, and returned to our room.  The owners, a French couple, initially seemed ok.  Certainly, the woman did.  She had successfully started the air conditioner, welcomed us, was friendly.  His English was questionable, we do not speak French, and he refused to speak Spanish.  Unfortunately upon our return, the air conditioner no longer worked, there were no windows on one side for a breeze, and little ants were biting quite actively.  I went to talk to the couple.  He was not only uncooperative but eventually started screaming at my daughter, “Get out, just leave!” over and over and over.  He refunded my money; we left.

Here we were in the dark with nowhere to go.  I had visions of spending the night in the SUV, thinking at least we have a really nice vehicle to sleep in if we have to.  My daughter kept saying we would find something.  She had noticed a place down the road.  I kept thinking there would be no place because this is top tourist season.  We headed down the unpaved road, drove down a drive that indicated a hotel, and stopped by the reception area.  I went in but no one was there.  When I walked back out, my daughter noticed a young man walking up the drive.  Thankfully, I know enough Spanish to explain to him what we needed–he did not speak English.  I could not believe the good news:  they had a room for two nights (we needed three, but at that point who cared).  His key to the room did not work, he called the manager who appeared, let us in the room, and actually told me not to worry, I could pay the next morning.  It was the largest, nicest room of the entire trip.  Just wait for the next post to see how incredibly beautiful this place truly is–talk about luck, good karma…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costa Rican Adventure–Rio Perdido


Rio Perdido is both the name of a hotel and a river.  We stayed several days here in the middle of a reserve in the dry tropical forest (definitely not a rain forest) about 1 1/2 hours from Liberia.  The hotel gets all its electricity from the Miravalles Geothermal Power Plant which we actually passed on our way to the cacao plantation (see the last two Costa Rican posts).  They use their own water and do not chlorinate it.  The name comes from a river which flows through the reserve.  Their goal includes protection of the forest and sustainability.

Rio Perdido itself is a hot springs river.

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We hiked up and down small cliffs on the river sides to get here.

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This river is famous for its volcanic mud.  To obtain its benefits those who wanted dug the mud from the bottom of the river and painted it on faces, arms, etc. with the provided brushes.  Here one of the group paints mud on the guide’s face and neck.  Some attached leaves above their ears.

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I wandered on another path down river to watch for wildlife and take photos.

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The reserve contains numerous hiking and bike trails some of which are as long as six or more miles.  This bridge crosses the river and leads to several hiking trails.  The main building in the background houses a reception area, restaurant, bar, spa and gift shop with three swimming pools.  They provide bicycles for those who want to try the trails, some of which are quite long and difficult. Rooms are separate cabins scattered throughout the forest. A shuttle provides transportation from cabins to the main area for those who choose not to walk.  The staff is welcoming, chatty, and creative.  When the staff cleaned our room, made beds, etc, we came back to find my grandson’s stuffed sloth sitting on his pillow, reading a book.  For those who want to relax, escape the world, this provides a perfect place.

 

 

Costa Rica Adventure, Day Five–Hidden Treasures in the Rainforest


After we left the little village of Colonia Liberatad, we headed down another unpaved road to a tiny little building in a large garden for coffee and dessert.  Costa Rica is heaven for flower and plant lovers, a true botanists’ paradise.

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A pebbled path led from the road to the “restaurant”.  No one rushed; we were too enthralled with the flowers, the humidity, the total intenseness of the surroundings and atmosphere.

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Although I have been to Costa Rica twice now, ten days each time, and love flowers, still I can only recall the names of a few.

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Hundreds, sometimes, thousands, of species reside within only a few square yards.

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Everyone stopped along the way to look.  Some of the children wanted to hunt for reptiles. They were warned because the deadly fear-de-lance lives here.  A few assured everyone they knew exactly what they look like.  Knowing them, it was probably true.

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A wood building is a rare sight anywhere I have been there–too much rain.  All roofs are either metal or tile for the same reason.  Other types of roofing rot.  Some have totally given up trying to add color because it disappears quickly apparently.  This area of Costa Rica on the Caribbean side of the mountains receives rain daily.  It rained off and on all day.

I have no idea the name of the dessert they served us with coffee.  It resembled Indian Fry Bread (from New Mexico and Arizona–I love the stuff), super crispy, soaked in honey.

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The road just outside this hidden gem.

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.