After several trips to the gardens, about which I have already blogged, and one to the two art galleries, earlier this week I went with Faith Mowoe to The Huntington Library. The photos are somewhat self explanatory.
The library is also full of old maps from all over the world. They compare maps to novels and how the plot of a novel is a map in words. Here is an example of a map from Don Quixote. Many modern fantasy novels have maps of the locations of places in the novel.
My current writing endeavor is part of a challenge to write 20 minutes per day six days a week. The story I am going to relate now was written as part of that project. The brief introduction here was part of something I wrote the day before I wrote about the boy.
I watched “60 Minutes” on Sunday about German Jewish Americans who volunteered to go behind enemy lines before and after the end of WWII to either spy on or interrogate Nazis, often officers of higher rank. One of them related that he never met a Nazi who had any remorse for atrocities he had committed, who thought what they had done was wrong. How horrifying, to hate anyone, any group so much over religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, status, remains to a great degree beyond my comprehension. Although I may view people like the Nazis as my moral enemies, to hate anyone so much as to torture and murder them seems incomprehensible.
These views also affect my attitude toward immigration. People rarely leave their countries because they want to, they leave because they need or have to in order to survive. Often it is a matter of life or death. Now I will tell you about the boy from Honduras.
Short, straight black hair, obsidian eyes, skin the color of café con leche, he showed up at high school one day absent any knowledge of the English language. His brother, married to a US citizen, lived across the street from the high school secretary. The assistant principal brought him to me. By Texas state law he had to spend at least one period of the day with a certified ESL teacher, me. He came often even from his other classes because everything except Spanish class was in English. Written Spanish helped him only somewhat. In Honduras poor country students only attended school for a few years. The more advanced middle and high schools were in cities and required fees paid.
The counselor claimed he had not been to school at all. I knew better; he knew things that a kid only learns if he or she has gone to school. When I did not understand his Spanish, I asked him to write it down. It took me a while to figure out some of his written Spanish. He sounded it out and so instead of writing habla (h is silent in Spanish), he would write abla. When I really could not understand, I went to the Spanish teachers from Mexico; they could not always understand him either. One, who had travelled all over Mexico, said he spoke a dialect she had never heard. Over time, I learned he had started school at six, attended for four years, then went to work on a coffee plantation. He was 15 when I met him. After I showed him a photo of me picking coffee in Costa Rica, he became very excited.
His father had been murdered; his mother feared for his life so she sent him to his brother in the US. He was cheery, always smiling, played soccer at lunch with the other students, missed home. He told me his family was working with an immigration lawyer so occasionally he traveled to Dallas to meet the lawyer. Then one day he disappeared. We never saw him again. Later one of the Spanish teachers told me he had come, smuggled in a shipping container, had survived this for days. And now he was gone.
Students asked about him; we had no answers. Some who had ranted about illegal immigrants stopped ranting. It was someone they knew, liked, who had left with no answers. He was a kind, funny kid whom everyone liked. Is he in hiding? Is he safe? Is he alive? Who knows?
Last November I spent a little over a week in Italy. We spent only 1/2 day in Rome then drove to Sorrento where we stayed for a week. From there we wandered down the Amalfi Coast, over to Naples, Pompeii, and Capri. Want to avoid the summer heat and crowds? Go in November. Yes, it is chilly and sometimes rainy with big storms at night. Nevertheless, you can really see what people do who live there and avoid masses of tourists. Here are some of my favorite photos:
The above photos taken in Rome. The following were taken in Sorrento.
Last night part of 60 Minutes featured these churches. Several years ago I went with friends from Ethiopia to see them. We spent almost an entire day hiking through around and up and down all eleven of them. I decided to travel back a few years and relive my experiences there and share it here.
800 years ago these churches were carved from the top down out of solid stone. They dug a trench deep all around what is now each church and then worked from there. Everything is stone, including the interior columns and spaces.
There are areas around all the churches and drainage canals so they do not flood in the rainy season.
The inside of each church is decorated with carvings, frescoes, and wall hangings.
Because 800 years of wear and tear and especially rain was beginning to take its toll, they covered them several years ago. Now, according the the architect on 60 Minutes, they are experiencing the opposite problem. The stone is getting too dry and contracting. They are teaching local people how to preserve the stone so it will last hundreds more years.
Dino, my Ethiopia friend, and the guide, in white.
Why the ridiculous looking socks? Fleas are a problem. Many of the churches have old carpet on the floors, thousands of people still workshop in them regularly. We were told to spray our ankles, tuck our pants inside out socks, spray our socks. It worked.
And here is probably the most photographed of them from up above. Yes, you do get to climb all the way down there if you want to go inside. We did. The story goes that the king went to Jerusalem and wanted to create an Ethiopian Jerusalem. There is a river nearby which they call the River Jordan. As you tour, they explain every detail and how they match passages and stories from the Biblical Jerusalem. How did they build all of these out of solid stone? With the help of angels.
This is my new book, published last month. It is filled with stories, poems, and recipes–healthy food for vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and meat eaters with photos and detailed instructions. Currently, it can be purchased at Burrowing Owl bookstores in Canyon and Amarillo, Texas, and online at http://www.dreamcatcherbooks.com, Angel editions.