Sunday, July 13, 2008

Nica bound

Im in El Horno, Matagulpa, Nicaragua for the next month and a half.

The Island and the Monk

===Letter to Michael, July 7th, 2008, Ko Phangan, Thailand===

Sucha Sucha Big Small world! I spent the last week on a remote Jungle Island mountain. Yup. Surrounded by white sand and bright green blue water. I met lots of new faces, like the white Dolphins that flanked our longtail boat that took me to the Island, Then there were the birds, too too many to describe, BUT I must report, that there is a bird, no Ordinary bird, who lives near Burma, who's primary song is the opening verse to the happy Niggun! NO JOKE! Ya da da dada dada dada! And I thought I wrote the song...

I shared bungalow with a geko. But not a regular little geko. They called him a Tookay Geko...But he told me his name was Hal. About a foot long with neon blue poka dots. Pretty good roommate except he pooped all over the place and made VERY loud mating calls at about 3 AM. I prefer rommates who like to watch old war movies and drink nana tea.
I met a 5 foot long bright green tree snake and many monkeys Id encounter on my solo walks through the mountain jungle island. In that regard I guess they werent really solo walks at all.
OH I met a HUGE MONITOR LIZARD while walking through a palace completely made of teak wood, no nails, but the king painted over most of the wood so you couldn't even tell it was made of such a precious tree. Kings....
Yeah, the Lizarld just popped out of a canal. He was probably as long as me and looked like a dragon disasuar.

I also met some really nice humans. The monk experience was great. Throughout the whole experience I was reminded of our times and conversation in the Monk Caves in the North (of Israel). He was super old. One of his eyes was completely glazed white and when he spoke I could see the blood pressure building and bulging in his jugular vein as it pushed out of his wrinkly old man neck. He was ancient and wrapped in thick saffron robes. He sat with a straight back and perfect posture for over an hour in the Asian heat. I had to climb a great staircase to meet him. He was standing on the top of the staircase, next to a big golden temple that looked like it had been dripped out of sand. He was sweeping when I arrived. Most people bow to the ground 3 times when they meet a monk. I did not and I thought of all my ancestors who became martyrs for refusing to bow to this or that. I respectfully put my hands together near my hear and greeted him that way.. It was a little funny talking to the munk. You see, he was actually from Burma, and he spoke the Mon language (Mon people have been heavily persecuted by Burmese) sooooo I had not one, but TWO translators! One from Mon to Thai and then Thai to English (and vice versa)! It took five minutes of telephone to say "Hi" and you could imagine how much gets morphed in translation. Actually "Hi" in Thai is "Kin Kow Mai" which litarly translates to "have you had rice yet today?"....Yeah...the monk...the monk strives to sit in the middle, not getting pulled and tugged in eighter direction. No pain no pleasure. He sits alone in a seasonless world void of tears or laughter. When asked about our role here, our purpose, he basically said that we are here to get out of here. At least that how I heard it...He kept talking about this great place you could get too once you had done all your work in this world, where everyone listened to some band called Nirvana? Sounded pretty cool.... Not so much about fixing this broken world...more of a model for how to completely check out of it. Like, if I feel nothing and let everything go and Im attached to nobody and nothing and I nulify all my impulses and desires which make me human....then im out...and Im done...and I dont have to come back no mo.
It sounds like a good fall back plan to me. First though, Plan "A"...,Try try try to stay in the light, to mend what can be fixed, to raise the sparks in ourselves and others, To celebrate and seek out Awe-full experiences, to bask and rol around in our joys and to give breathe and love to our struggles, to connect as deeply and sincerely as possible with our sources and ultimately our source. That'd be my plan "A". But it takes courage to come out from the middle. If Newton is right, everytime you swing one way, theres a tug in the other. Im not convinced. I think non-attachment is a wonderful tool. I keep it strapped tight on my belt, and when things don't go my way or when my guitar gets run over by accident by a pick up truck (true story), So then maybe I pull it out and im not so attached and destroyed because I know its just a thing and it served a great purpose and its moved on. Or maybe I cry because I loved it. Anyways, Im glad the monk exists. Hes a totem, holding down that energetic force that I sometimes feel drawn to call.

From Bangkok Phom rak Khun (with Love)

===Letter Home, June 29th, Bangkok Thailand===

My group trip just ended and now Im on my own again.
It was a really intense trip. I often felt full and pulled to my extremes. Intensely beautiful and intensely painful realities to witness. Our work project was situated deep in the Thai countryside, down a dirt road, a few kilometers from the Burma Border. For our project we mostly mixed cement and layed a foundation for a playground for a free school that taught 500 kids many of whom were refugees. We did some sustainable agricultural projects on a model farm and planted fruit trees with proper monks. Most of the villagers in Viakadi, where we lived, had until recently relied on hunting and gathering in the forest for animals and bamboo for shelter. The big companies had moved in and clear cut all the old Forest and replanted with endless rows of rubber tree plantation. The old big forest was not only a food source but it also held down the soil and the big trees sucked up the water from the monsoon. This has led to massive flooding and erosion. I saw houses that got washed into rivers. I met slaves of human trafficking and endless refugees who'd ran away from Burma with horrific tales.
The whole time also it was so beautiful. So green. So alive and wet. Steep jagged mountains that look like paintings, houses on stilts made of bamboo, long wooden bridges, Bald monks in Saffron robes....Which reminds me. I got to climb a mountain and sit with a monk and ask him the meaning of life (Ill tell you his answer later). I watched elephants devour a 40 foot tall cake made of fruit during a local elephant festival. I sat in a brothel with my group and we interviewed teen sex workers and told eachother stories and laughed with them and listened to their reasons and stories and situations. I sat in a loud, dimly lit, overcrowded factory with the slaves who make most of the clothes that you and I wear. I went to the Jungle for walks, had dinner with the mayor and lunch under the River Kwai Bridge. Tomorrow I head south to the Islands, to a white sandy beach where I'll sit and swim and think and be thoughtless and eat healthy food and read books and write songs on the gulf of Thailand.
Next week touch n go in NYC then off to Nicaragua for 5 weeks.
From Bangkok
Phom rak khun (with Love)