Monthly Archives: January 2013

Jan. 31, 2013

Women are still considered property here in Colombia. They have to live up to men’s expectations. They seem to have no concept of their rights. Older women are definitely not considered sexy or much of anything; I don’t care if I’m not considered sexy, but I don’t like being discounted as of no value as a person. That’s really offensive.

I did see a woman cop today. Girl skateboarders here.

I am hanging out right now at a hostel (which means I’m with non-locals, travellers, tourists). It’s nice because they open at 8 am (many places open late here, probably because of the siesta time [12-2] and the night-life in the Latin countries). And for 5,000 Colombian Pesos (about $2.50 US), I can get 2 eggs with toast and fruit and all the coffee I want, PLUS internet! Outside the hostel, with Rachel, I am hanging out with ex-pats (who are not people on-the-move, but rather people who have fled their own countries for one reason or another and are “parked” somewhere for a year or forever).

On People: Shades of brown- and black-skinned people here in Colombia; it’s very mixed. No extremely black-skinned Blacks, like in Haiti. The Jamaicans were unique looking. The Trinidad & Tobago people, too–many are a very unique mix of East Indian and African; other T&Ts are straight Indian (from India) or straight African/Black.

It is possible that when I am AWAKE, my animal spirit takes over, and that when I am ASLEEP, my own spirit takes over. Mystical world thoughts.

My groups: Aspie. Ayahuasca. Couchsurfers.

The Perfect Disaster: falling in love with a gay man. I love it! It’s wonderful for me right now to imagine perfect harmony with a man without having any sexual pressure to “keep him.” Next week, I will be in love with someone new, but I always remember past loves.

For an Aspie, working with other people can be very hard. We–or I–do better alone. But I long for and love companionship about half the time.

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Rules of thumb: Never judge myself by external standards. Inner locus of control. Take good care of myself. I am done trying to look like a person from someone else’s dream. Know myself; BE myself.

Social rules are part of a false reality. “Saving face” is trying to meet social expectations smoothly and appear to fit in. Autistics disdain many social conventions (like being “polite”) because we view them as a display of fake concern for others. The goal of these social conventions is conformity. Why is conformity attractive? Because when you don’t know yourself and feel afraid to be yourself, conformity is a safe option.

I am tired of serving the imperatives and dictates of physical/material life. I am changing and growing.

Here’s a new concept: be happy to spend money on things and people I love. I feel very lucky to HAVE money (and the health, etc.) for taking care of myself and others.

I can spend a few (2-3) days with almost anyone. Longer, and it depends on the relationship between me and that person.

The dogs of Santa Marta are apparently fed well when the tourists are in town.

I sat on the balcony of Rachel’s (Raquel’s) apartment for three hours (more or less) watching the busy street scene seven floors below. William (Rachel’s private English language student) has a hamburger and chicken sandwich cart across the narrow, one-way street. He opens at about seven pm. Wonderful food. Across the street from him is a hotel. Down the block is a brothel and more nice hotels. Vendors come through on bikes and on foot and pushing carts (food, coffee, sweets); some have distinctive calls. Families with little children walk through the little (but very busy) intersection. Little, yellow taxis and motorcyclists beep at everyone who is even near the street: “Watch out! I’m coming through!” No one gets mad about this; it’s very peaceable and convivial. The streets are shared spaces rather than combative arenas (as is often true in the US). There are no stop signs at most small intersections; with much beeping, drivers know when to go and when to yield.

A big bird flew over Rachel’s balcony, and the air was filled with pigeons. They have colonized the abandoned building across the street from Rachel’s apartment.

We had a little ceviche party last night at Rachel/Raquel’s. We were six women (three of us Colombian, three from the US) and Jefferson, a Miami native (and surfer) who hasn’t been back to the States for three years. Rachel seems delighted to have me surfing with her again, and she tells everyone about it.

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It’s a tremendous advantage to have working class roots. The neighborhood was middle class, but my parents were definitely working class. Dad, as the oldest boy in a family of eight children, sold newspapers on the street in Berlin (in about 1910 or 1915). I spent time on the street in a few California towns (Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz). I was spare-changing, reading tarot cards, and hanging out with my street-boyfriends. On my travels, when I’m in towns and cities with busy, vibrant street life (like Santa Marta), I can hang out and blend in a little with the people out there.

Feb. 1

Sex is a false bond. Usually. I am sure some people have a strong love bond and sex only strengthens it.

“Where am I?” is my main question. What is Life On Earth? Gurus and medicine people and shamans say “Who am I?” is the most important question.

I am in love with a Geek for the first time.

Wild, warm winds all night long and continuing into this morning. The spirits are around and active.

The more I learn about other people’s mothers, the more I realize how good my adoptive mom was. She let me get really close to her, and she defended me always. She helped me with school work, and she taught me Old Ways. I could count on her 100%. She believed in complimenting me and building my self-esteem. Mom apologized to me when she knew she was wrong. What she wanted to learn (and to teach me) was patience.

The ex-pats here in Santa Marta want to be part of this place. They can’t understand why I don’t want to or why I only want to know enough Spanish (or any language) to get by. I resist full assimilation into any culture, including the Western Culture of the USA. I am part of Travelling-Gypsy culture.

I like staying in my own bubble half the time. Being free of participating in the social life around me is a relief. I can be in a crowded room and yet retain my own space. I don’t have to talk or mingle.

Every place I go is different, and in every place I do different things. Here at Rachel’s I spend hours up on the seventh-floor balcony (usually with the cat), looking down at the street life at the corner of Carrera 2 and Calle 20, one block from Parque de los Novios.

After the siesta, life picks up again by about 3 pm. Everyone’s back out on the street, rested and ready to resume the day’s activities. The heat of the day is over.

Prostitution is legal here. At about 3:30 am last night, the taxis were piling around the brothel down the street. Much honking of horns and some yelling.

Street kids here on meth. Many of these kids swim in the dirty water at the beach by the harbor. Yesterday I saw a huge cargo (“container”) ship pull slowly into the dock there.

Santa Marta, at least here in the historic district, is full of warm, gentle, conservative people living a peaceful, relaxed life.

Jan. 30, 2013

Jan. 27

I ended up taking a carito (shared car) yesterday from Maracaibo. My CS host, Jose Idrogo, took me to where these big, very old, American cars leave for the border and hooked me up with a young, wild driver. I got in the car with a grandma (abuella), her two grandsons, a woman, the driver´s companion/helper, and the driver. The car broke down 10 minutes from the Colombian border. We all piled into a small truck filled with about 18 people. Lots of indigenous people. That truck left me at the border.

I went through the process of leaving Venezuela in one building and entering Colombia in another building. I found a motorcycle that would take me to the bus station 20 minutes away in Maicao (a town that is being covered by plastic bags). Got another moto(rcycle) into Maicao and back so I could visit an ATM. A policeman with a machine gun helped me figure out how to get some money since I was having trouble using my card. $1 US = about 1,800 pesos. (Two oranges here cost 1,000 pesos on the street.)

Then, moto back to the bus station where my bus to Santa Marta left in 5 minutes. (Actually, it left 1-2 hour later than it was supposed to (normal here). The entire trip from Maracaibo took about 11 hours.

I am so glad I didn´t hitchhike. My CS host, Jose, in Maracaibo said it would be OK, but then he got an email from someone who said, no, I shouldn´t do it. It was a long way, and the transportation was wonderful (carito, truck, motos, and bus).

My Ventura friend, Rachel Uffer (who I met a few years ago on Couchsurfing in Ventura–I surfed her couch) met me at 7, after work, at a little bar I picked in Parque de los Novios (park of lovers/partners/engaged people/brides and grooms). I had two Colombian beers and then she was there. We went to her apartment (shared with 3 or 4 people who work in local restaurants); it´s in the city´s historic center (a large, wonderful part of this beach/tourist town). Later, out for beer (I had water) at two new bars that are across the narrow street from each other. Two friends of Rachel´s own them.

Jan. 28

Today I´m on my own as Rachel gets her visa stuff updated. She´s been here for six or eight months.

Having fun! Will soon figure out how to get into Panama cheaply.

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Living in Dream Land, Fantasy Land = how I was living before Ayahuasca. The Ayahuasca shaman, taita Krispin, is my helper, my co-fighter in the battle against evil spirits.

Two children were at the Ayahuasca ceremony. They took the Ayahuasca.

My inner world is the Real World. The outer world is consensual reality, where we try to live in the material/physical world and enjoy it (or at least learn stuff).

Yesterday on the bus, in the carito, in the truck, and on the motos: tons of cows, horses, a few pigs, hoards of dogs-wandering around, free and happy, goats everywhere. And most of these animals were untethered and just wandering around.

Our carito hit a dog. It was unavoidable: the dog ran out in the road in front of us, and we hit it with a loud, sickening thud.

Lots of different kinds of bananas here apparently. I had platanos on the bus here: fried bananas with cheese. Muy rico!

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I am into friendship and love now; not so much into sex (though I’ll still love it). When I told the Maracaibo guys, “I love sex” (and that I’d tried prostitution), they roared their approval.We were all in Jose’s car and going to the market; it was loud and extremely validating. They made me very happy.

I fall in love often. My latest Dream Guy is gay! That’s the first time THIS has happened. I am ready to let go of all the younger-woman bullshit about trying to be sexy.

It’s like I’m suddenly out of the competition for men and for sex. It was a race. I feel so much better to be out of it, and actually it wasn’t fast. It happened gradually, over about thirty years. As the veils gradually fell from my eyes, I began to see how silly the social games are.

A fantasy dominates much of material existence. Everything is symbolic, not real. It’s hard to maintain this illusion because the material world can not be spiritualized. This is a world of matter, of material and physical things and ideas. I am in the world, but I am not of the world. All of us Sentient Beings are just spirits who temporarily have physical bodies.

Do you know what opting out of the social games and fantasies means? It means I can just BE ME from now on. I’m not playing anymore. I’m taking all my toys and going home! Jajajaja.

My most comfortable times in public:

1.)     Hanging with about 6 Aspies in Boulder. We went to a toy store, then Whole Foods. We were rockin’. I was so comfortable because we are all so similar; and we are all so different from neuro-typicals. I could just be myself and marvel at how different it felt being in public with MY GROUP.

2.)     With the guys from Maracaibo: Jose, Roger, Hector and Francisco. It was like having some really great brothers and a strong, loving dad. (Jose was “Dad”.) I felt they supported me and liked me for who I really am. Roger is an Aspie, like me, though he doesn’t even know what Asperger Syndrome is. (I have been with so many self-declared Aspies by now that I recognize it when I see it.) I relate to him because he’s a computer geek. I am, too, because I love being online; I’m obviously not a computer genius though.

3.)     With the Ayahuasca group on a beautiful beach outside Cumana, Venezuela. An all-night ritual with Jean Luis, Susy, and about 25 other people. The taita (shaman) was Krispin from Putamayo, Colombia: Super-great guru. Everyone at the ceremony was a spiritual seeker. I felt great in that rarefied atmosphere!

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Jan. 30

Doing lots of online work getting the trip into Panama set up. Rachel’s enthusiastic description of the 5-day ($350) cruise from Cartagena through the San Blas Islands hit me like the warm winds of Santa Marta. It is too seductive an idea to resist (and, comparing it to other options for crossing into Panama, it sounds very good indeed). I’m going to spend the cash and be good to myself.

An indigenous woman in the crowded back of the truck going to the Colombian border just pulled out her breast and nursed her baby. No shame; no ogling by men. A natural thing (which is what it is, of course).

Skateboarders here in Santa Marta. No street music and very little live music, I hear. You can drink alcohol on the street here in Santa Marta and in a few other towns (not Bogota) in Colombia.

Food trucks, food bikes, food stands, people on foot selling food (eg, coffee) here in Santa Marta. The town shuts down between noon and two pm because it’s so damn hot (but very pleasant). In Italy, I’ve heard that this is the time for sex. How nice.

No women cops here or women taxi drivers or women motorcyclists. And the society seems much more conservative than Jamaica. The women don’t wear the tight, tight pants or the very low-cut blouses here like they do in Jamaica.

I saw a blurb on the TV news (in Caracas or Maracaibo) saying action was being taken against some car company that, in its TV ad, shows a woman using sex appeal to get what she wants (a car?). Finally, we have gotten beyond this stage of women using sex appeal to get what they want. The heart leading the brain always leads a person to what they really need. Using the body (sex appeal) to get what one desires (instead of what one needs) is a lower stage in an individual’s and a society’s spiritual evolution.

Jan. 27, 2013

“Have you ever loved someone?” Hector asked me. “Someone beside your children and grandchildren?” I don’t know. Maybe not.

When Hector said good-bye to me today, he made what sounded like a joke. He said, “Kisses and humps.” He either meant “hugs” or he’s very funny.

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Hitchhiking to Santa Marta tomorrow. The Ayahuasca taught me that life is very different from I think it is. What I have learned to see and believe is largely untrue. Reality is quite different.

When I see danger on the road, it is my perception. It is not necessarily what’s out there. I have been taught to see danger that might be there. I have been taught to be constantly on guard. Parents do this to their children to protect them. We always fear that our children will be hurt and die before us. We scare them to protect them. But it doesn’t protect them. Unrealistic fears only isolate people from life.

This is life; we get hurt sometimes. The goal is not to avoid danger; the goal is to really LIVE, try new things, experiment and find out who you are. Being aware of danger is good because, with this knowledge a person can decide if they want to take a chance or not. They know the risks and the boundaries. It’s up to them.

I was walking around at the Ayahuasca ritual, and I was lying down in my sleeping bag. Regular things. I felt “normal.” But in retrospect, I was experiencing an altered state. Nothing was normal; nothing was regular. My mind had been affected, and I could no longer impose my beliefs. value, norms, or mores on the environment. The veils were stripped from my eyes; the veil wasn’t lifted from the doorway to the Other Side.

NO VEIL EXISTS between us and the Other Side except for the veils over our own eyes. They are barriers we erect between ourselves and life. Why do we so strongly resist seeing the truth? There’s more to it than our parents’ warnings.

Why are rituals like Ayahuasca and Peyote communal and not solo? Many people (and especially medicine men and women) take these hallucinogenic drugs alone. For people like me, hallucinogenic drugs can be dangerous. A person may have a “bad trip,” so people need to be there to help them.

I would have just fallen asleep during the Ayahuasca ritual. I did fall asleep several times, but the taita’s helpers were always around to help me wake up (though they didn’t force me to wake up). This way, I retained consciousness. I saw that the awareness I have in my dreams is not unique to the dream state. I was IN the dream state, but I was wide awake. Reality hadn’t changed; I had changed. I was apprehending reality in a different state of mind.

Reality is not what I thought it was. That’s the lesson I got from this first experience with Pachamama. I live in her world, but I never saw the truth about it. I never saw what the world really is like I saw only what I thought was true. I am like a child seeing the world for the first time.

I have lots of questions. They will only be answered over time.

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It’s so great living with a bunch of gay guys for a few days. They cook wonderful meals and eat sit-down dinners at the table with placemats and napkins. I usually do the dishes. Last night I made a wonderful salad to go with the tequenos Hector made. His mom has a restaurant, and he knows how to cook. I gave Jose 100 bolivares at the supermarket, and I picked out all the salad stuff (lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cilantro, and mushrooms). Two guests joined us for dinner.

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All I need to carry with me tomorrow is water.

Friends are one of the best things in the world. Even if you don’t know a person very well, if you trust them, that’s all it takes. Suddenly, you’re not alone.

Jan. 26, 2013

Jan. 25

I’m in a seventh-floor apartment overlooking eastern Maracaibo, Venezuela. I have total freedom to be myself, eat whatever I want, enjoy the beautiful, arty environment, gorge myself on good WiFi, and luxuriate in the peace, trust and love, and acceptance of my three, young, male hosts. “This is your home,” says Jose. Perfecto.

Got into Maracaibo (pop.: about 3 million) at 9:30 am on the night bus from Caracas. I almost missed the bus because I couldn’t find the terminal; for an hour or more, I walked through San Martin, a poor neighborhood in Caracas. A bunch of cops were hanging out on the sidewalk, and (in broken Spanish, with lots of hand gestures, and armed with my bus ticket, I told them my story. Despite their bad reputation here, they drove me to the bus station. “Amazing,” said my roommate, Roger.

Give me a long bus ride (day or night), congenial fellow travellers, a movie, a window seat,  two seats to myself,  interesting scenery, and I’m as happy as a clam. My warm and friendly host, Jose, picked me up at the big, busy, bus station. I had two large coffees with milk and two chicken pastries while waiting for him.

My Caracas host, Juan Carlos, is a peaceful man. His apartment is clean, neat, and surrounded by friends and relatives’ apartments. After work, JC met me in Caracas, and we drove through motorcycle-heavy traffic to his apartment. We  out to the parking lot by his building and drank beer, talked and laughed with a bunch of Juan Carlos’ friends and relatives until the cops walked through (as they always do) and broke it up. He bought us pizza and more beer.

At JC’s apartment, I washed and re-organized my clothes, sleeping bag, backpack, stuff sacks, shoes, and arch supports. I hand-wash a few of my clothes every day, but a thorough cleaning in a washing machine is necessary for my peace of mind once a month.

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Ayahuasca is making me be totally honest with myself about how I feel and who I am. This is such a huge gift. At the ritual, I was awake and dreaming. I experienced this once, about a year ago, in ordinary waking life (without Ayahuasca) when two people from my dream-life started talking together in a little “box” (space) in front of me. I could see them. It only lasted for a few seconds, but it was enough. Another mystical experience; I’ve been following a trail of these visions for years.

Jean Luis, my Cumana host and Ayahuasca facilitator, said, “You came here to take the Ayahuasca.” I was drawn there by the Yage spirit on the weekend when they were going to see Pachamama, the spirit of the Yage.

I had good reason to fear letting go enough to really experience visions (ditto for all my LSD experiences). The bad spirits in me have attacked me before with disastrous result;: numero uno: my 1975 suicide attempt. Since the ceremony, the shaman and I have gotten rid of the family curse: after several battles, the bad spirit who was in me is dead.

Many women here in Venezuela often have a “spare tire.” Pride in motherhood may encourage this look.

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Random notes:

Paula, Andrea, Susy, my lovely spiritual teachers, THANK YOU!

Venezuela is a very modern society, but they have held on to the old: Indigenous People’s ways, the importance of close family ties, etc. The people are very sexy. Young women wear super-high heels. The subway crowd in Caracas was the tightest (people packed together like sardines) that I’ve ever experienced. I held my belly bag close.

On buses in Latin countries, people usually keep the curtains closed (especially at night [when I always have mine open]). Full  moon tonight. The boys went out, and I’m here at their sensuous aerie listening to WWOZ radio, streaming live from New Orleans.

Add to “Collecting My Spiritual Experiences”: Joel Goldsmith retreat with Anya (Malibu, Ca., late 1990s); Buddhist colony retreat, somewhere in California, 1970s.

Venezuelans: I have the real feeling of a people who share a common culture. Understanding and compassion are present among them(and often are extended to outsiders), for example, drivers responding to each other and to pedestrians. The motorcycles here go crazy-fast between cars of the highways. Many accidents.

I have always been (or felt) marginal (and marginalized) in American society. But the sexual underground was a new experiment. I was curious about it; it was taboo.

A nice woman I met on the bus when leaving Juan Carlos’ apartment for the bus terminal told me, “It’s very bad here (in Venezuela).” She meant right now it’s bad because of the government in general and Chavez’ health in particular. A travel agent who translated for me at a MailBoxes, Etc. store told me: “Everyone is stressed here now… We have no government… Chavez is in Cuba and they won’t tell us what’s wrong with him…(she mentioned the) Black Market…No one knows what’s going to happen…You know how we are (= very emotional).”

Any cafe (in Caracas at least) that has chairs for people to sit down is required by law to have a bathroom for customers.

The Ayahuasca ritual led me to the door and let me peek in. I went in a little way…. Next time, I will be braver and enter that land of No Shadows. I have turned the corner into The Light.

I invited my guardian spirits along on the Yage journey. The physical/material world is not real (not eternal), but it’s a good place to grow. It can be very beautiful here.

Always find the love in your heart and let it shine out. We each create our own destiny.

Simon Bolivar was a Venezuelan who, in the early 1800s, liberated Venezuela (and a few surrounding countries) from the Spaniards. He is the national hero.

I am growing as a traveller. I’m making the transition from: “My culture/society is the best and our way is the right way” to “Each culture/society is unique and of value.” I am no longer judging every society according to the norms, values, and mores of the USA.

My favorite leisure-time activities:

wine/beer/rum. good food. gym, swim, walk, stretch, yoga. movies. sex. massage (getting one!). spiritual rituals (like Ayahuasca). marijuana. horses, wild animals, domestic animals. socializing. reading, writing. being on the internet. camping and being in wild places. cafes (coffee). snorkeling. music and dancing (in clubs or at parties).

Very little public WiFi here in Venezuela. People are definitely not sitting around in cafes, glued to their computer screens.

NGO workers, embassy people, and ex-patriots (as someone told me lately) are richies who don’t mix with the locals (or not the poor locals).

Effects of marijuana on me: I talk a lot. I let go and release what’s inside. I may sing and dance if there’s music. I am much more open and more aware of my mystical side. I talk openly about the mystical world and can read tarot cards. I reveal myself to trusted friends. I tell them about my inner world; I let them into my inner life.

I thought during the Yage ceremony that I shut out Pachamama. Not so at all. I was awake and dreaming; I didn’t barf for hours (three?), so I didn’t go into a total trance/mystical state. But I was way out there.

A woman, and especially an OLDER woman, traveling alone is almost an unknown phenomenon in a traditional culture like Venezuela’s. Travelling Gypsies (and everyone leading a nomad lifestyle) are also unknown here and in all very sedentary societies. A liberated, travelling, homeless, older woman, like me, is a very strange creatura indeed.

Ode to the USA: thanks, Mama, for the money that for almost forty years has allowed me to be free and independent, with NO BOSSES, able to travel at will, to write, and to do whatever I want to do. I love you!

Friendly, funny, love to laugh, very sociable, make cute little sounds I’ve never heard before, “enchanting” (Bronson) people: Venezuelans.

I used to be into kinky sex. Now I believe that was a veil over my real self, my real feeling, and True Love. I want love with sex; within that context, kinky sex is fine sometimes. I can still take sex without love if there is mutual admiration, but I prefer love with my sexual repast.

Very little attention, time and money are lavished on exteriors in Venezuela. Most buildings are ugly on the outside, but they may be very beautiful inside. The houses in villages are like pueblos: adobe and simple. The indigenous influence is obvious. I love the simplicity and lack of ostentation.

It’s not poverty, it’s a whole different “take” on life and the environment and the individual. In the main, I love it, but I prefer about fifty percent of life be given over to individuality (democracy) rather than to the family/the group and dictatorship.

Jose says that while Chavez created more hospitals and schools, the quality of medicine and teaching is very poor. Many people here are illiterate; they worship Chavez.

Many Venezuelan families are out late at night in the streets and on their verandas. The children stay up late with the parents. Old people are respected here. Everyone knows and is usually close to some old family member. They love coffee.

Baseball and football (soccer) are the big sports here. I don’t think the average person exercises. In Venezuela (as in may countries) the US dominates or is strong in: movies, TV, cars, clothes, music.

In a rural area between Caracas and Maracaibo, I saw small fires burning on hillsides. What if it was part of spiritual rituals that go on here?

Maracaibo Saturday night, full moon, windy, warm, and the water’s been off for a few hours. This happens everywhere I’ve been on this trip; unthinkable in the US.

Essential: Faith. Ayahuasca is legal.

Be direct and honest. Help others. Be truthful to yourself.

Men with machetes everywhere. Alone in wild places, hillsides, cutting things. Jean Luis in Cumana has one. He can go out in his city front yard and pick roots for tea that we drank before Ayahuasca ritual.

Bus: Caracas to Venezuela. Yards very clean, no trash. Rolling hills. Cows. Pigs.

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At the Ayahuasca ritual, the truth (about myself and about life) was so easy to see. After the ceremony, everyone (and especially the taita) was so clear and free of illusions. It set me up for a real change in direction; I have been seeking this kind of clarity, but until Pachamama, I hadn’t actually changed gears. Now, I’m in a new state. I realize most of my energy and my perspective is all caught up in the physical and material world. This is similar to my state after my six-weeks of mystical experience at age 51 after I met Jeremy Birkhead. Tryin’ to be cool is SUCH a gigantic waste of energy!

Jan. 26

The water has been off since yesterday morning. Amazing that these people aren’t rioting. I think they would be in the US, city people especially. We spoiled Americans can’t stand having our daily routines messed up!

What’s in my backpack? Four light-weight shirts (no cotton or bulky, slow-drying fibers), a skirt, tights (I call them pants), a bathing suit bottom (to wear with one of my shirts for swimming and also serve as my undies), toothbrush, baking soda (toothpaste), floss, hydrogen peroxide (mouthwash), tweezers, nail clippers, toiletries bag, two stuff bags, computer, chargers for phone and computer, iPod (not ready for use; someone gave it to me), headlamp, pills: Benadryl for my cat allergy, heavy-duty, prescribed pills for bad chest cold, travellers’ diarrhea pills (prescribed), daily vitamins: Calcium with D, B6, notes on key Spanish words/phrases, sleeping bag, flip-flops (I wear my little tennis shoes with arch supports when on-the-road), duplicates of all my important papers, money belt (with originals of original papers, ATM cards, Medi-Cal card, Social Security card, and a few other papers/cards; I wear money belt when on-the-road), belly bag (I wear this daily when I go out: money, copies of ID card and passport, pen), bracelet (usually wearing it), flashdrive, eyeglasses and case, extra hairbands.

Want: 6′ x 8′ tarp, light-weight/tiny (backpackers’) tent.

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I’ve found a show called “The Truth About Irish Travellers.” It seems to be a TV show in Ireland.

When Seth and I were living and travelling around in vans, trucks and a big RV (which we drove from Santa Cruz, California to Eugene, Oregon where it broke down), people were either very helpful and kind to us or they were very unfriendly and prejudiced.

We had eight puppies (one was a St. Bernard pup!) in the RV at one time. Every Saturday, we’d go to the outdoor market in Eugene and every Saturday, Seth would want a puppy. I couldn’t say no! A young hippie girl finally saw that we were really in dire straits (the dogs were shitting everywhere in the RV, even on the bed). She invited us to her commune where we cleaned up the van and got back on our feet. We slowly gave away the puppies. The St. Bernard’s owner wanted his dog back; he located us, and he got his big puppy back.

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The short description of my prostitution experience: advertised in Sacramento, California free newspaper; guys drove one hour and twenty minutes north to my house in the country; I told them there was a coffee can on the kitchen counter and on their way out, they could leave money in it if they wished (this was part of the “experiment” part); we enjoyed sex (at least I enjoyed it! and I think most or all of the men did, too); I offered them a bath (and that I would wash their backs if they wished): almost all of the men accepted the bath, but they preferred to be alone in the bathroom; most did leave me money (usually $40, sometimes $20, one man left $100, one man left nothing!).

I did this during the summer months for two years when I was 47 and 48. I did it for sex and as an experiment. I love breaking social taboos and seeing what lies behind the taboo. Being a prostitute was a very satisfying experience; the sex was fun and I learned a lot (about men, about life, and about myself). In the end, I didn’t like sex that way (as a business, for money). I wouldn’t want to do it again. I was celibate for fifteen years after this exploration into prostitution.

I definitely don’t see my foray into the world of prostitution as anything bad. I told my children about it because I believed this and other daring adventures I embarked upon would benefit them. I tried to open my kids eyes to the nature of life by doing things like prostitution, begging for money on the street (“spare-changing”),  and moving around living the Gypsy lifestyle. I tried things that were way past my boundaries (socially and individually), hoping also to open up MY eyes. The question always is “Who Am I?” I have done my best to find out.

Being autistic, I am naturally able to see life from a new and creative perspective. The taboos and boundaries of my society are often just something to ignore and circumvent. We autistics are not neuro-typical (neurologically average), and we don’t see things in the same way that others do. Why would anyone like me live according to the rules, norms, values and beliefs of the social mainstream when we are not PART of the social mainstream. We are on the margins of the mainstream (like every minority group: social, political, sexual, religious, etc.), and we see life in our own, unique ways. We often threaten the social order because we are different and because we don’t accept the belief that the mainstreamers are superior.

Jan. 22, 2013

Got into Caracas at about 5 thirty am on night bus from Cumana. I took the cheap bus -it was the only ticket I could get yesterday- the one with no bathroom. It was fine.

Walking around downtown Caracas today after meeting Juan Carlos, my CS host, I got bad leg cramps. Had to stop walking and sit down. From the Ayahuasca? From not eating for 15 hours? Anyway, it´s better now.

Houses made of adobe. Bolivar is still a hero here. No music pumping out of the city buses here, but we had peaceful, romantic music all night on the bus.

At least 50% of the people on the streets of downtown Caracas are wearing jeans. Che Guevara posters here and there.

I remember I saw a bear appear during my Ayahuasca journey. One of my spirit guides is a bear.

Saw a few skateboarders on the street here in Caracas. The first ones I´ve seen on this whole trip so far.

Very few people speak ANY English here in Venezuela. They say Mi Amor to each other a lot. Very sweet.

“You can´t spiritualize the material, but you can materialize the spirit.”  I read this somewhere.

Almost no one in Western culture mentions the spirit world. Not like the Native Peoples of the world talk about it. I had to read about it and ask people about it directly to find out anything. That is how I got an understanding of my mystical experiences.

Jean Luis said, “It´s all ONE. We´re all ONE.” Susy believes in one love, the one, eternal soulmate. She said Yage told her Jean Luis is hers.

Jan. 21, 2013 (2)

Irish Gypsies came out of the time of the potato famine (from Gerdette Rooney, Irish Couchsurfer I met in Trinidad). She was so funny. Gerdette and I were looking for a locals bar where we could have a rum drink. One guy directed us to the upper-scale Mangoes, saying the other places were “unsafe.” “I love feeling unsafe,” said Gerdette. “It gets my adrenalin going!” Ha ha. I couldn’t top that response. We found a nice, safe, locals bar and had a couple rum-and-cokes (I couldn’t drink more that about 1/5 of my second drink, the rum was that strong! Gerdette managed to down it.

Gerdette told me about Immrama, an annual book fair in Lismore, Dervla Murphy’s hometown.

I heard this wonderful quote lately: “I haven’t given up men. I’ve given up worrying about men.” So right! I don’t want any more men in my life about whom I have to worry (Does he love me? Where is he? What’s he doing? etc.).

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Vendors go through the neighborhoods here in Cumana. Vendors on bikes have a special horn: they’re selling fish. The basket on the front of their bikes leak water from the melting ice around the fresh fish. Other vendors call out their wares. It’s just like Mom’s Boston neighborhood in the period around 1915. The rag man (always Jewish), the Italian fruit and vegetable vendors, and others.

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The Ayahuasca ritual showed me something very important about myself. For many years (since my late 20s), I have been like a blind woman, feeling my way through life in the dark. I have never known if I was on the right path for me; I have never known if I was going the right way. I took many chances, many wrong turns, and I have usually been afraid and without much confidence in myself.

The Yage (and the shaman) showed me that I have been on the right path (for me) all along. I have arrived at a major checkpoint on my journey though life. The Yage is a big relief; I feel validated and reassured.

I see my life as though it were the Iditarod or the Yukon Quest, those long, extreme dogsled races in Alaska and Canada. It’s alternately gruelling and blissful. I see myself as a human in the race, but I could just as easily be a dog. I am getting to the point where I can change from being a competitor (someone who is trying to beat others and WIN) to being a participant: someone who enjoys the race and does it out of love for the sport, the land, the dogs, and for what it brings out in me.

I receive Cosmic Energy from the sun and the stars. I get love from many Sentient Beings along the way, and I try to return that love.

Few showers in the Caribbean (and at Jean Luis and Susy’s house) have hot water. Not necessary. Almost always warm weather.

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I believe one of my children has BPD:

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) (called emotionally unstable personality disorder, borderline type in the ICD-10) is a personality disorder marked by a prolonged disturbance of personality function, characterized by unusual variability and depth of moods. These moods may secondarily affect cognition and interpersonal relations.

(see the rest of the article at Wikipedia)

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People with Asperger Syndrome

People with Asperger’s syndrome often report a feeling of being unwillingly detached from the world around them. They may have difficulty finding a life partner or getting married due to poor social skills and poor financial status. In a similar fashion to school bullying, the person with Aspergers syndrome is vulnerable to problems in their neighborhood, such as anti-social behavior and harassment. Due to social isolation, they can be seen as the ‘black sheep’ in the community and thus may be at risk of wrongful suspicions and allegations from others.

(from: autism-help.org)

This last sentence (“Due to social isolation…”) is true, and I have experienced it. It’s horrible! I think most people with Asperger Syndrome live in fear of this happening. I know I do.

The simple fact that we Aspies don’t flirt made dating confusing and almost impossible for me. After two years of college, I married the first man who was interested in me; I asked him to marry me.

Not being able to make friends easily (or at all) makes life very hard. Being aware of one’s autism is an extremely positive factor in the Aspie’s life.  With this knowledge, the Aspie can connect with other autistics (in person [GRASP groups meet all around the US] and online), and she (or he) can understand herself and her life much better than if she didn’t know.

Couchsurfing is a true Godsend for me. It’s a free website for travellers. “Surfers” are welcomed into people’s houses, and, as one CSer said to me recently, we are suddenly have a new best friend for a few days. While long, close friendships may not result (because we usually don’t see these people again), Couchsurfing is still a really amazing experience for an Aspie like me.

I’ve met wonderful people through Couchsurfing. They like me, too.I have over 200 positive references from CSers I’ve stayed with or met on my travels. I am starting to have a small group of CSers who I do see once a year or so. And

I am “Friends” with several CSers on Facebook. These connections mean the world to an autistic adult (or teenager).

On my travels, I educate people about Asperger Syndrome and autism. I also show people how to live on the road, and how to do it in one’s 60s! And I tell them about the US (especially the beautiful, open land and all the wild animals). I tell them about hitchhiking and camping and about the places where I have traveled. I have lots of interesting stories, too, like about hearing owls making love,  and the rattlesnake “combat dance” I saw, and about Yellowknife, NWT, Canada (ice six feet thick, the Northern Lights, a herd of bison, 50 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, the wolves outside town…).

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Parents with Asperger Syndrome

…list from a Conference in 2005 given by Dr Tony Attwood (originally found on faaas.org):

The Parent with Asperger’s Syndrome

Characteristics
• Knowledge of normal childhood abilities and the parental role.
• Perfectionism.
• Regimentation.
• Anger.
• Abuse.

Child’s Perception
• Lack of affection, understanding and support. (Aloof).
• Criticism not compliments.
• Embarrassment in public.
• Fear of the parent’s mood and not to antagonize.
• Fear of the ‘cold’ touch of affection.
• Disagreements between parents.
• Parent has a monologue on their own problems.
• Intolerance of noise and friendships.
• Egocentric priorities.
• Favoritism.
• Feeling a nuisance.
• Desire to leave home or move inter-state or abroad.

Child’s Reaction
• Seeking affection and approval.
• Hatred.
• Escape using imagination, solitude, alternative family.
• Choice of partner.

Issues
• Recognizing the disorder in a parent.
• Resolving past issues.
• Explaining the person to other family members.

from: http://doris-mash.blogspot.com/2008/02/parents-with-aspergers.html

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“…are there, or were there, brilliant and creative but blatantly eccentric family members?”

(from: http://www.netplaces.com/parenting-kids-with-aspergers-syndrome/family-dynamics/parents-with-aspergers.htm)

My answer to this question is definitely YES. My birth-brother in Orlando is a brilliant and eccentric cardiologist. Our father (my birth-father, Brown Hill Boswell) was a medical doctor; our grandfather, Frederick Page Boswell, was also a medical doctor. Both men committed suicide.

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This excerpt is from  Dr. Tony Attwood, one of the relatively few psychologists to be widely respected within the Asperger/autism community:

Do Girls Have A Different Expression Of The Syndrome?

The boy to girl ratio for referrals for a diagnostic assessment is about ten boys to each girl (Gillberg 1989). However, the epidemiological evidence indicates the ratio is 4:1 (Ehlers and Gillberg 1993). This is the same ratio as occurs with Autism. Why are so few girls referred for a diagnosis?

So far there have not been any studies that specifically investigate any variation in expression of features between boys and girls with Asperger’s Syndrome, but the author has noticed that in general boys tend to have a greater expression of social deficits with a very uneven profile of social skills and a propensity for disruptive or aggressive behavior, especially when frustrated or stressed. These characteristics are more likely to be noticed by parents and teachers who then seek advice as to why the child is unusual. In contrast, girls tend to be relatively more able in social play and have a more even profile of social skills. The author has noticed how girls with Asperger’s Syndrome seem more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation. They observe the other children and copy them, but their actions are not as well timed and spontaneous. There is some preliminary evidence to substantiate this distinction from a study of sex differences in Autism (McLennan, Lord and Schopler 1993).

Girls with this syndrome are more likely to be considered immature rather than odd. Their special interests may not be as conspicuous and intense as occurs with boys. Thus, they can be described as the “invisible” child and socially isolated, preoccupied by their imaginary world but not a disruptive influence in the classroom. Although girls are less likely to be diagnosed, they are more likely to suffer in silence.

An important issue for girls is that during adolescence the usual basis for friendship changes. Instead of joint play with toys and games using imagination, adolescent friendship is based on conversation that is predominantly about experiences, relationships and feelings. The young teenage girl with Asperger’s Syndrome may want to continue the playground games of the primary school and starts to reduce her contact with previous friends. They no longer share the same interests. There is also the new problem of coping with the amorous advances of teenage boys. Here conversation is acceptable but concepts of romance and love as well as physical intimacy are confusing or abhorrent.

In an attempt to be included in social activities, some teenage girls have described how they have deliberately adopted a “mask” like quality to their face. To others at school they seem to continuously express a smile, but behind the mask the person is experiencing anxiety, fear and self-doubt. They are desperate to be included and to please and appease others but cannot express their inner feelings in public.

The author has observed girls with the classic signs of Asperger’s Syndrome in their primary school years progress along the Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome continuum to a point where the current diagnostic criteria are no longer sensitive to the more subtle problems they face. The author’s clinical experience would suggest that girls have a better long-term prognosis than boys. They appear to be more able to learn how to socialize and to camouflage their difficulties at an early age.

(http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/Articles/Asperger-Syndrome–Some-Common-Questions.aspx)

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Tony Attwood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tony Attwood (born 9 February 1952, Birmingham, England) is an English psychologist who lives in Queensland, Australia and is an author of several books on Asperger’s Syndrome.

He received an honours degree in psychology from the University of Hull, an M.A. in clinical psychology from the University of Surrey, and a Ph.D. from University College London under Uta Frith. His book, Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, provides information on diagnosis, problems of social relations, sensory issues, motor control and other typical issues which face people with Asperger’s and their support networks. The book has now been translated into 20 languages.

Attwood also has a clinical practice at his diagnostic and treatment clinic for children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, in Brisbane, begun in 1992.

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I am very interested in the whole phenomenon of nomadic people coming into contact with sedentary people. This has been going on for thousands of years.
The meeting of travellers and agriculturalists has always benefited both groups. The nomads bring trade goods, ideas and information from far away to the settled people who have their produce and livestock to trade and information about their towns to impart.
The misunderstandings on both sides are probably the same today as they were long ago. But computers are making knowledge and information accessible to more people every day. The vast shipping industry makes goods from distant places available to many people.
The exchanges continue, both online in groups like Couchsurfing and social media like Facebook.
Immigration with its multitude of social and personal dimensions is an endless process.

Against this background of shipping, computers and immigrants (including exiles, refugees, and displaced people) the waves of nomadic people flow constantly and usually invisibly around the globe. And the farmers and ranchers, who are dependent on the weather and the economics of their towns, rise early to seek the safety and stability they need to reap the gifts of Mother Earth.

Jan. 21, 2013 (1)

A few more insights into my Ayahuasca experience:

All through the night, I would “wake up” (from my occasional half-sleeps). and I would try to reassert control over my physical body (I told myself it was so I wouldn’t get sick and throw-up, but I believe I want control because these dark spirits that I mentioned have been in control for far too long).

Each time I woke up like this, a frightening or seductive scenario would be playing out right in front of my eyes (I could “see”’ it). It was difficult to regain my sense of the physical. I did pretty well.

During the limpia, I saw one aggressive dark spirit leave from the top of my head; another, weaker spirit left soon afterward.

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My first vision was all pale blue and white bubbles (large and small) on a sea of water (same colors). It was pleasant. The second vision of the small, straight lines at sharp angles to one another (like a cathedral ceiling) was pleasant at first, and then it became harsh and unpleasant.

The vision of a “hand” around my whole face, lifting it off my skull, is familiar. I must have had it before. Pachamama was showing me that my face is not who I am, it is not real or eternal. I know that my spirit is real and eternal and IS the real me. That is “where” or “who” I AM. Nevertheless, it was an unpleasant image and sensation.

I rejected all these visions in favor of fighting the demons for control of my mind/body. Each time I reasserted control I went inward for my familiar sense of my physical body. Although this body is not “real,” it is totally essential for me to know I, and not bad spirits (nor my society), have control of it. I will not be brainwashed, and I will not surrender my soul to the devil. I will never be loved until I expel the negative energy within me and return to my true, pure, beautiful Self.

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The next time I do Ayahuasca (or peyote, etc.), I hope I will be able to let go and feel safe from all evil. Then, I will flow with the visions.

I already feel an expanded  enlightenment/awareness from the Ayahuasca experience. I had sufficient “travelling” during the night’s journey with the Yage spirit to allow me to really FEEL how the spirit world, the dream world, and my waking world are one and the same. They are joined; there are no barriers except those we set up.

I invited my own personal seven (or more?) spirits along on my Ayahuasca journey. I hope they came and saw what they wanted to see.

Before we drank the Ayahuasca, the shaman’s assistant blew tobacco (in a pulverized, dust form) into our noses as we inhaled through our mouths. This was to open a passage above our noses (where the third eye is) to help the Ayahuasca work better.

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Here are a few notes I made at the Yage site, the morning after the ceremony: Trust. Sex is good. I am clear. Don’t expect other beings to change to suit me; I have to make the changes I want WITHIN myself. I honor my own needs by acting upon myself to meet those needs.

Feb. 11: in Putamayo, 5,000 Indians will be dancing at their New Year celebration. Taita Krispin invited us to come.

Three Scorpios there before the ceremony: me (identified by my Scorpion necklace from Hilo, Hawaii; and a man and woman (couple) with Ayahuasca beaded bracelets with Scorpions on them. The man said the shaman believes he Scorpion is very powerful.

Collecting my Sacred Experiences:

Ayahuasca (Venezuela)

Sun Bear (Ojai Foundation, Ojai) with Seth

Saw Mother Teresa (San Francisco)

Heard Dalai Lama speak (Santa Cruz)

Mystical Experience six-weeks long (with Jeremy Birkhead, Ventura)

Woman, Whole: sexual being, mother, goddess (Pachamama, etc.).

Ayahuasca robbed my body of B vitamins. I feel shaky. Jean Luis said we must take Vit. D with Calcium for absorption of the calcium.

I resist social pressure to conform and to uphold established rules of social behavior.

Autistics: “An Alternate Reality” (from GRASP’s Jan. online newsletter)

At the Ayahuasca ritual, I maintained my position as a loner. It’s who I am, and it’s what I like to do/be. It’s comfortable. But I was the only participant who maintained a solitary position. (Jean and Susy told me they both saw me sitting at the fire pit with the others at one point. They called to me and I waved to them. I completely forget this!)

While I knew the taita would approve of my choice to be a loner at the ritual, I sensed some disapproval from the aggressively communal Venezuelans. (This may have been my imagination.) There’s very little silence among Venezuelans (similar to other Latin people) ; they relate to each other almost constantly. (This may be even more true among the indigenous or country people here. I don’t know.)

I love silence and alone-time. The sounds of Nature are beautiful to me; I don’t need to hear human voices all the time. This isn’t “right,” it’s just who I am.

Jean Luis is a shaman-in-training. That’s how he appears to me. He has lots of plant and natural healing knowledge; in addition, he is an awesome host: unfailingly generous, really humorous and touchingly sincere. Susy is an Earth Mother-in-training. She’s exceptionally kind, gentle, and wise. During the Yage ceremony, she let out her inner feelings and had an awesome “trip.” It was the third Ayahuasca ritual for both Susy and Jean Luis.

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Today is the feast day of Cumana’s patron saint, Santa Ines. It’s a holiday in Cumana: no one is working today! Lots of such holidays here. We had a big breakfast of little, fried, fresh fish (with lime juice), fresh parmesan cheese (queso del mano), arepas (freshly made white corn cakes we bought at a stand on the road), and juice of fresh passion fruit and aloe vera. You can imagine how good all this was!

I got a ticket this morning for a bus to Caracas tonight at 9 pm. $70 bolivares.

Wild dogs (usually short-haired and tannish-brown in color) are everywhere here. Puppies, females with drooping teats, randy males, slightly injured dogs, old dogs. They may stop to scratch themselves in the middle of a busy street; they walk down the center of the road, demanding respect. For the most part, these dogs are respected, and the vast majority look healthy. They are proud animals with lives of their own. The indoor, “kept” dogs here are less happy, sometimes abused, and well-fed. I’d rather be a wild dog.

The flexibility of driving here is amazing. It has a lot to do with Venezuela being a small, homogeneous culture. The infrastructure is good and excellent roads are well-maintained. Roadside trash is present. Drivers give each other lots of room, mentally and physically: they give each other the benefit of the doubt. Kindness and tolerance exist on the roads.

Homosexuality has to be hidden here. As Jean Luis explained, “Venezuela is a very macho culture.” But some people are “out” and not bothered. Jean and Susy have gay male and female friends with whom they socialize in public.  One of their gay male friends returned to Saudi Arabia to live; his family (and that society) have lots of trouble accepting homosexuality.

Practice not caring what others think of me by not bragging.

The women in Venezuela tend to get fat after having a baby. Almost all the women here, regardless of their size, dress very sexy and feminine.

All of Venezuela has thirteen million people; the same number as Mexico City (which by some estimates has twenty million).

Arepas, los empanadas, and los cachappas con queso are the three most typical Venezuelan foods.

It’s best for me to have compassion for people I don’t enjoy being with. Everyone deserves compassion; I know I appreciate it from others. After assuring myself that I can feel compassion for the person, I move on. I then do what I need to do to meet MY needs. This is Bunny’s World. “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

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I want more sacred ceremonies in my life!!