Month: December 2006
Rafael Correa has promised what it is reasonable to call a revolution of the Ecuadorian society – along the lines of Morales and Chavez. He won the election in November and will officially begin as president on January 15. Four years to change it all – quite a challenge. substantial parts of the education section are already privatised off in the first, as seen to by the leaving parties.
Yesterday Correa announced his cabinet, best described as “socialists and women”, if you judge the tone set by the media. (Really there are 17 members of the cabinet, 10 men, 7 women and all more or less socialists.) Amongst them a female defence minister – have you ever heard anything like it?!?!
Today Guadalupe Larriva was all over the radio telling how she was a woman and that women do not do war, they do care; and so she would do her defence job in that way. (As an aside, without wanting to deny anyone’s good intentions, let’s lament here the existence of Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi -amongst others- and celebrate the existence of Harriet Tubman and Phoolan Devi -amongst others- to dispel the myth of the caring woman.)
Later in the day, this afternoon, approaching el oriente in the bus, I wondered what impact Larriva could have on a society so heavily securitised and militarised, as we came to the military police check point, the usual scene:
Mars bars are here used as a general signifier of industrial chocolate for the sugar craving masses. This blog entry concerns the recipe of chocolate. What does it take?
Let us begin with the basic ingredient, the raw cocoa. This is how it looks:
Let chocolate reveal itself…..
Last night we had an Ayahuasca ceremony – a psychedelic ritual with a medicine man, a spiritual cleansing; we met a curandero, were touched upon and blessed by, seen by, seen right through, in a sense, by a shaman; we became acquainted with a Yachak. He has a mobile phone, we have his card, and he saw my stomach acid and my bad back and unsurprisingly noted that colona’s energy was pure (or sorted, or whatever the term was).
Been testing jUploadr, which is a convenient tool that allows for drag-n-drop and automagic resizing of photos. It has an authentication method that takes place via your browser so that it simply connects to your photo album and adds your new stuff. jUploadr also works with Zooomr, which is the new hot thing, coded by a teenager and modelled in great part on Flickr. We tested Zooomr with jUploadr, which has some clear advantages over Flickr, such as a much bigger upload allowance if you blog. However, the “graphical user interface” (GUI) of Flickr appears a bit more simple, easy for your mother to navigate, as it were, and the slide show function is quite neat without being tacky.
Zooomr looks promising and Yahoo! has bought Flickr, so why stay with Flickr? Well, it was basically the way that the slideshow works and the simplicity of the GUI (which might well be a very subjective issue) – but one final point worth mentioning may be that, yes, Flickr is owned by Yahoo! and so be it, Zooomr, on the other hand, is still young, fresh, hip and in Beta, but that really means that anything could happen: Rupert Murdoch might buy it tomorrow. I do not wish to engage further with the Flickr/Zooomr politics, have to get on with my life and upload some photos that my mum on the other side of the planet can easily look at.
With regards to jUploadr, still have to file a bug: it cannot upload more than one photo at a time, if you drag-n-drop several and choose upload it just stalls…. And ohh, we are fasting before our Yule Ayahuasca ritual tonight, so no dead birds or feast: we will be here tonight:
Having slothfully posted pictures intrusive of Bebe’s privacy, it all became clear: we need some sort of photo album, so i googled “flickr alternative” because I had heard of the Flick Off group, but nothing seemed to spring easily to mind. Then I realised that photo-import-manipulation software exists for GNU/Linux, which allows easy uploads to Flickr – so there we go: a lock-in to the Flickr framework – for now, for colonos:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/colonos/ – there are only two pics up yet, just registered a minute ago; one thing at a time, tiempo ecuatoriano :) You can also go straight to the slideshow, and as the pics slide by you can click on any of them to read its description and then just choose “RESUME SHOW” to carry on.
The sloth is a fascinating creature, sweet as can be, determined as you like, and agile to such extent that its slow, lard-arse moves stick to the back of your imagination, stored in your memory as an ode to graciousness in slow-motion. No special effects needed – these are outerworldly creatures, or perhaps our patterns of perception are aligned within such a narrowed down spectrum that encountering the unknown in nature is always a surprise. That is perhaps the best thing that there is to say about the Great, Western, Liberal (capitalist) mindset: even the most mundane might appear fantastic, if we could only see.
Imagine if everything was ordinary – ohh, seen that before, once had a T-Shirt…but likewise, imagine if all was marvel and remained like that, oh no, that won’t work, what goes up must come down. Can’t have your cake and..
Well, then, let us just imagine it plain normal to find pleasure in little things, to perform senseless acts of beauty and random acts of kindness, as it were, – here’s to all the sloths in the world for taking it god damn easy, Why Work?
Movie of Bebe being bottle-fed (Quicktime, 7.6MB)
Profile of Bebe (226.6KB)
Bebe’s foot (67.8KB)
Bebe right on (235.1KB)
Bebe’s hand (117.7kb)
These last few days we’ve been getting hassled by one of our neighbours: a small French Poodle or some similar type of canine. Her name is Maya and she’s just given birth to three puppies, one of them still born. Ever since she seems to have completely lost all common sense and engages in weird digging activities under our bed and in the corners of the room. She has also lost all control of her generally very well-behaved attitudes regarding human food. Her voice has changed, too, and basically she’s become a serious nuisance. I found her still-born the next day in one of the very few existing public rubbish bins across the road. Our landlady had made one of her tenants discard it for her. He’s a native, he can do such things.
Apart from that, the days are arising and passing as ever, thankfully with relative speed, and Christmas announces its twisted head through the unignorable appearance of woolly red and white Santa Claus hats at every street corner! We find ourselves near the equator, at the edge of the Amazon rainforest should anyone have missed that. Woolly hats aren’t exactly what people need around here. But given the fact that Father Christmas is a radically European figure with no relation whatsoever to Andean-Amazonian local traditions, it is no wonder that the hats peddled in his name are all the rage.
Since the solstices at these low latitudes are hardly noticeable, Christmas seems an even greater Christian imposition than it does up North. The economically downtrodden position of most inhabitants of this area, however, spares us from witnessing the seasonal and nauseating consumption of everything that can be bought. I don’t know if “fortunately” is the word I am looking for in this context. It is easy to see subsistence farming as righteous and dignified when you cannot help but feel acute and stabbing pointlessness in the roles and activities modern capitalism has to offer to even its most benign participants.
Frem og tilbage og lige langt, og ligemeget – eller hvad?
Went to the bus terminal, it was hot today. Very hot, somehow. The sun was out in full force. Waited for the bus, met some people, an Argentinian and a German backpacker, a Swiss volunteer on a bike that had cost him too much. Sweating.
Finally the bus came, only 10-15 minutes “late”. Went in, put things down and then found out that this was indeed the bus to Serena (not Williams), but it would not go to Serena. If a bus would go to Serena, now, from this place, then this would be the bus, yes that is correct. But this bus is not going to Serena, because the road is blocked, as it was last week. For sure, tomorrow, mañana, mañana, -haven’t I heard that one before. In Serena we were going to hang out with friends who work in the bush, as they so proudly call it, swim in the river -in the rain forest- and do the kinds of things that you do, when you do those kinds of things. But not today. Hate to say I told you so!
We walked back through town, down the Avenida de 15 Noviembre, past the house, quickly rerranged a few matters, then down to the local river, Tena.
There is a great place for a swim in Tena, just outside ‘a’ town, about a quarter, where the river bends, twists and turns to be more precise, there is sandy beach, a few huts and a civil society of riverside activities. Nice. Soft, wet going with the flow. Be water, my friend.
On the way back some shopping is “necessary” and the load is heavy, but the river has smiled upon our mood, dinner is smooth, the wine going straight to the head. What more can you ask for?
Ok, so we pull a giggle and settle in with a film: long live piracy-DVDs! Good Night and Good Luck!
POSTSCRIPT: There is something rotten in the state of Denmark… .. .
It kind of figures, somewhere on the agenda, along the lines, if I may, that the conversation ought to wear out its welcome and elephantly touch upon the psychedelic realm – after all, we are in the Ecuadorian Amazon basin, whence many shamanic stories come. Then again, if one looks hard enough, any place will have such accounts (or at least a tapestry of fates Inquisitioned), won’t they?
Have you talked to your soul today? Excuse me, Mister, how is your spirit. “I’m in great spirit!”.
So what is there to tell, what kind of tales can we wag?
The rain came just a few minutes ago – it always comes and it – yes, “IT”, has taken some sort of, dare I say?, sentient form. One finds oneself referring to the rain as a colleague or companion, someone to be reckoned with; for it always comes, at some point, and often times violently so. And it just came like that. I could hear it in the distance, turned to look out of the window and I could see it coming in from the hills. Slowly, steadily and the volume rising threateningly, but also comforting: air condition coming up, Massa! It brings air, oxygen, space to breathe in, – and out, deeeeep in-breath. Ahhh.. The rain, my friend.
Having just medically applied some (non-conformist, afternoon) Shiva meditation to a slight, dizzying lingering feeling of perhaps two Cuba Libres too many last night, it is obvious that all channels were open, no signals crossed, and she, is it a she?, I don’t know, but s/he blazed right through me as the distant sound of the tin roofs enveloped me in a wonderful inferno of pure music (read: the horrible sound of tropical, torrential rain on tin roofs). Wow! I liked that.
That is probably the second spirit I have come across around here. For such a presence must indicate that the rain is a, has a spirit? Or, actually, come to think of it, what is a spirit?
One of the first people I met in Tena – that was in July 2005 – is Carita. Carita is in her mid-forties and runs quite a successful stall on the local market. There isn’t much diversity laid out on the piles of boxes and trays that make up her puesto: mountains of plantain, oranges and yucca paint a green-brown-yellow picture, sometimes accentuated by some chilli and ginger, or the odd wild fruit and herb from the forest. There are many stalls offering exactly the same goods, and no one makes anything but cents from hawking these wares. Carita’s secret of success lies hidden in plastic buckets on melting ice, tucked away in a corner beneath some trays. Quartered carcasses of armadillos, legs and heads of guantas (a large rodent), chopped fish, monkey, peccary – a gruesome sight for European eyes unaccustomed to such raw mortality beyond plastic wrapping. Bush meat is semi-legal. Many wild animal species can still legally be hunted and eaten, just not sold. So Carita gets regularly into trouble with the local police, who confiscate her buckets and feast on the delicatessen themselves.