Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Upside to Vilcabamaba (by Nani)

Oh yes, the upside is far more enticing - at least to me.

1. friendly people. I've not seen so many local people smile at me and wish me  "good day" and "how are you" since I was in Hawaii. They are helpful and will smile good-naturedly as I butcher their language to find something I want.

2. the weather. Never too hot, nor too cold, the climate is more than bearable... it's lovely. It hasn't rained yet since we've arrived, which is odd (see 9 in Downside).

3. fresh markets. Though it can be a challenge going from little corner store to little corner store to find just the right item, the weekly Sunday morning markets are a feast of organic, local produce, meats and such... mainly organic because they cannot afford the pesticides and fertilizer (ha!).

4. internationals. We have met nearly 50 people just this week. People are just friendlier here and are interested in who you are and where you come from. There’s a strange network of internationals who welcome thoughts and ideas about the world and spirituality. Discussion seems to be open and honest with no agenda except to communicate. And everyone is different... but the same in many respects. And everyone has a meandering, oniony story to tell.
Thus far: Australia, Britain, Korea, Japan, Germany, Canada, France, Belgium, America, Mexico, Romania, Brazil and California are represented, but no one wears their country on their sleeve.

5. commerce. We’ve come to discover that commerce here is very different from the states, even in the city. Vendors are interested in relationships, not just the transaction. In the states, we go straight for the transaction to get it over with for whatever reason – whether to get on our way or to get out of the vendor’s way so the next customer can buy something. It’s very impersonal. But, here they greet you and ask how you’re doing, your family, etc. and vice versa. Today, the ISP owner came to troubleshoot our connection. Mike offered him coffee and he accepted and drank it. He went about his work. Then as he was leaving, he mentioned he had to attend to his young son, and we asked about him, then we gave each other parting hugs. I mean, come on! Mike has always been like that, so his asking people how they’re doing is a natural fit. He’s a groovy gringo.

6. coconuts on the pavers. OK, here’s a weird one... every few times a day, I hear the knight approaching with the knave behind him clapping the empty coconut shells together. Nah... but that’s what I picture every time even though when I poke my head out onto the balcony I see a man on a horse or donkey, or even just a donkey running down the street to go home. It makes me smile, and I’ll never forget it as long as I live.

7. healing powers? This is a stretch for you non-believers, but I’ll put it out there anyway. People here seem to heal themselves. Now maybe it’s because that’s what they believe or rather, that’s their intention, but I think it happens to everyone, even if that’s not their intention. Names withheld, I have spoken to a women who was in a wheelchair when she arrived and now walks everywhere; also a woman who was born here, moved to the states for many years and was told she was terminal so came back to die... that was 20 years ago and she’s amazing now. In fact we were at a house party the other night and was dancing with her and some others to some really cool indigenous music.

8. spiritual. Most people won’t get this either, but this place holds some sway in the metaphysical sense. They are real energy healers, shamans and people who know how to rid a body of bad ju ju. And most of it is free because service to others is a really important mission and intention is everything.

9. money. Where we would normally tip an extra whatever amount, here only visitors and travellers tip. If you want to be accepted as local, you pay the tab as is unless some real extra work is done. This goes for taxis and food service. Also, as far as I know, vendors don’t do pennies (what a concept) and there’s no tax which would normally warrant cents to make sense. Friendly haggling is considered a part of most transactions, but I don’t like to do that, so I either smile and say ‘no gracias’ or just pay it if it’s fair. I’ve never been one to try to get the absolute best deal... takes too much energy.

10. the view. Sure, it’s like most vistas that I’ve seen in that it’s beautiful and serene and is everywhere. But I am not impressed by it – it’s just part of the package, like living in the Grand Canyon or something. But the stars are truly breathtaking at night. The sky is so crystal clear that you can just about see the entire galaxy as if it were right above you. And maybe it is... at 5 thousand feet.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like a gem and you must be sparkling. See if Dec will write a line or two and share his memorable firsts,;ove to hear them. So glad you are all finding what sounds like, much happiness.