Monday, March 8, 2010

Never Stop Seeing Paradise

Perpetually living as an expatriate, scribing meanderings of my drifting self in handmade journals and emails to friends. Expatriate writing usually describes the oddities within the newness that surrounds us. Eyes wide and mind open, with 4 corners of the earth so accessible, we journey through the labyrinth of narrow roads and incomprehensible languages. These journeys may take us on a trip through ruins of sublime European architecture, or the dusty roads of remote villages in exotic lands. My current journey takes me to a town that draws tourists in because simply put, it resembles a piece of heaven you visit in moments of solace, a place where I feel I am living the vacation everyone dreams of, even while working 40 hours a week and getting paid very little.

As an expat in this the Caribbean Pueblo of Tulum, I happily gave up a secure, predictable salary in Canada to live here. My compensation for giving up the conventional approach to life, is the heavenly landscape before me, which I am blessed to visually capture a piece of everyday. Waking up early to hitch a ride to the beach and teach yoga or taking the “Collectivo” and travelling to cities nearby where I can make a bit more money to sustain my simple life in paradise. All for the great fortune of being able to sit by the sea, when I have free time, and creatively express myself inspired by the sound of the crashing waves upon the shore.

Most folks come so they can sleep in “Eco Chic” cabañas where the sound of the echoing waves lay you to sleep. I can no longer afford to live so close to the sea, as that is a tourist enclave, so I fall asleep to the resonance of the sweet noises of a busy tourist town. I am set off to a meditative dream state, by the distant lullaby of the Mariachis wandering while busking in the streets. They create a cacophonous melody with the Cuban band that plays 10 in the morning until 10 at night entertaining tourists as they sit down for a late meal of Mexican beer, tortillas and frijoles. The lead vocals being the homegrown roosters that walk freely through the streets seemingly unaware that their farmland is a paved road with streetlights. Their cock-a-doodle-doo sounds more like a Quiquiriquíííííííí in Latin America. They are as much a part of my lullaby as they are my wakeup call.

The alarm for those living in town is a fusion of sounds. Roosters cocking, men cycling on three wheel bikes honking horns and selling fresh breads, while others selling sweet, warm atole, a masa based sweet drink accompanied with tamales. The oil and water trucks with their catchy slogans competing for air space so those that are in need, run out barefoot chasing the trucks down.

If you are lucky, in the morning you may have a chance encounter with the young women from a small rural village, where she grows chaia, (a local veggie that looks like spinach and tastes a bit like chard) handmade tortillas, and fruits both fresh and candied, crystallized with sugar. She sells a bag of 6 tomatoes for 10 pesos, less than a dollar. Her cart filled with fresh, cheap, local produce, and babies in tow. She is happy to go home with a cart of only smiling babies. .

At the crack of dawn I awake with the charming sounds of this small, seaside pueblo, and in a typical day I run along n side many others to catch a “collectivo” and the bright colors of Mexico begin to paint my day. The shop keepers still take a chance on the idea that I am a perpetual tourist in this town, rather than living and working here. “Amiga, What you like, we have, low price Amiga.” I am tempted by the shining silver, colorful ceramics and textiles and heavenly hammocks but I am rushing off to work. I run off to catch the “Collectivo” and I squeeze in with the men, women and children. This tiny van is filled with 17 passengers, infused with music from the local radio station. We squeeze in together; a beautiful child sits close to me and runs her hand through my short hair, offering me lychees, while informing her family that I am a “Gringa”.

Tulum is a young town, only a few years older than me as it maintains its youthful spirit at the tender age of just 35 years. Life in Tulum, to the vacationer, may seem as if a town was created so that we vacationers have a place to lie our weary heads. You may come here to be kissed by the sun and effortlessly you are brought to life by the powerful energy of the sea, while treating yourself to the some of the finest international cuisine. Although the later may be true, a Caribbean town born to serve one industry, that of tourism, there is a strong sense of community amongst the locals that live here. A plethora of lifestyles, languages, cultures, talents and reasons for moving here create the community here. We are workers living off tourism, filling a role we once sought comfort from. We are composed of North, Central and South Americans, Europeans all trying to find a way to make life in this piece paradise feasible.

The first time I visited Tulum, 7 years ago, I was drawn in by its alluring white sand beaches, turquoise green waters and vibrant aura of gypsy spirits wandering both the beach and pueblo selling jewels, songs, poetry, and dance. My soul was enveloped by the creative energy and wildness that seemed to bring out the most uninhibited side of all those around me. At that point I never imagined myself calling this piece of heaven home, as in the eye of a vacationer, it is simply a place to free yourself from winter, seeking refuge in warmth, and return to your life at home sun kissed and renewed.

The fact is, this town was created to serve the tourist, and although it may very well be a strip of highway lined with shops on either side, there is a culture that is evolving in this tiny town. One where folks from around the globe meet, all with one common goal in mind, seeking solace in a place that welcomes anyone and rarely lets go of those that find their niche here. A place overpopulated with yoga teachers, musicians, painters, dancers, gypsies, restaurant owners, scuba divers, and handicraft makers.

As a vacationer we rarely wonder what lies beneath this perfectly idyllic corner of the earth some seek refuge in. I took a chance on the façade I thought was created for the weary traveler.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Recollections on India....A Past Journey

I recall the last scene before I stepped into the taxi that was to take me and all my belongings to the airport to ship myself off to my homeland which would stand fiercely as an opposite to what has become an acceptable, and working sort of madness. A place where unless you stood amidst the chaos you would never understand it. A place where accepting nothing less than our pretentious culture of order, would result in you being just a cog in the wheel of mayhem. It was a place where every day created moments that allowed anything you believed impossible to become possible. A place I would look back on and only begin to understand in retrospect. A place I would always hold in my heart as a second home.

As I walked through the crowds standing around Chai wallahs, and ruthless bargainers crowding evening venders, I pushed my way through the multitude of folk graciously living their every day. I wondered how it would feel when I found my feet planted on firm native soil. Would I miss the chaos I cursed, or would I find boredom in the predictable days ahead of me? Would this be my last chance to experience Life in such chaotic balance?

A begging woman desperately holds out her filthy hands for small change, and a victim of polio peddles with his hands over to the Chai stand, sitting as if his disability doesn’t exist. As he sips his warm, sweet cup of Chai, I begin to question our way. One where society hides “scars”, and embracing diversity is just a cliché. How rarely we follow through. We talk with little action. In India it is lived daily; a strange balance of extremes.

I reflected back on a conversation with a woman from Switzerland. She was no stranger to India, for she has been coming since the early sixties. Still glowingly beautiful at 63 she told tales of the days she traversed the country in search of herself. Young, naïve and beautiful, she ventured alone, and returned time and time again embracing all India had to offer. She spoke of the balance she discovered as we all sat around discussing how although it is so unpredictable, there is a unique beauty and order in the disorder of it all. The talk conjured up a memory she had from the streets in Calcutta.

As she walked through the streets to her hotel, she passed by many beggars, some homeless and making their shelter on the filthy, crowded streets of Calcutta. These humble souls were living, breathing and dying on the streets. She said she walked past a man as he took his last breath, watching the poor man die was all she could do. In a city of 4.5 million what else can one do? As she continued on her way, a block away from where she witnessed the death of a man, she observed the birth of a child. Borne by a young girl only 16, as the new child lay wrapped in his mother’s arm suckling her breast, she soon realized the balance of this country. Maybe it is this balance that allows the majority (politics aside) of its billion or so people to co-exist in relative peace.

It has been a while now since I have returned home. Quickly I adjusted to life in Canada. On a purely physical level I am thoroughly enjoying the comforts of home. Clean bathrooms, hot water, showers, clean sheets, fresh towels, and meals I can count on not to have me dashing for the bathroom for days after. So on a purely physical level my desires are being met. I realized how to distinguish between what I truly needed and what desires I wanted fulfilled early in life. I can live happily off of very little, but now I’m enjoying the physical pleasure of all these “taken for granted” western amenities. As my physical self is basking in five star treatments, I still find I am longing for something else. Something words cannot really describe but rather only a spirit can feel and pine for. Something India gave me daily, even if I didn’t want to always embrace it. Something real, something true, something unrefined. I will never forget the moment I realized this all was about to be a dream unfolding before me in my conscious reality. My fantasies and curiosities about what this land would offer to my life would be met and challenged daily.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's raining in the Carribean

It is raining in the Caribbean today and the sky is painted with the most delicate hues of blue and grey. It rained all night and I felt the cool drops of rain, through my homemade mosquito net, help me sustain that state, where lucid dreaming was almost possible. The constant drips of rain on my bare chest added new dimensions to my dreams, carrying me away to a place that was so surreal it could have only been my dreams.

Maybe it was the bat flying around my palapa panicking as it searched for an exit point unable to allow its senses to guide it, because the infusion of incense, mosquito repellent and my own human bodily odors prevented it from being led by its animal instincts. It was blinded by the artificial environment that to me reflects such simplicity in this synthetic world.
Maybe the cockroaches added the strange dimension to my dream. They found their way into my bed even though I try to keep it clean of food. Or could it have been the mosquitoes buzzing around my ears and attacking my body that added that extra element of absurdity to my closed eye creations. Those insidious mosquitoes have become resistant to the chemicals that are created steer them away from the sweet taste of my blood. Even when I try to keep them away I am surrendering to their combat when I close my eyes.
I dreamt and dreamt and dreamt of everything my imagination doesn’t usually create. I am tired today because I was so busy trying to guide my subconscious to a dreamy place that was the most pleasant yet coherent enough for me to control as if it were my opened eye reality. We live with our eyes opened and soul closed yet when we close our eyes we sleep, soul exposed to our subconscious in the process of manifesting something tangible in our waking reality.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I believe it is possible to realize your creative potential anywhere and find a way to explore it in a place that reflects what our dreams always told you paradise would be like. For me, it has become a little town on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico. A place where you are so easily sucked into a vortex of timelessness, and where you can discover the peacefulness of walking to your inner rhythm, only to feel the white sand lingering between your toes.

I am discovering my ability to remember faces that I see daily.  A feeling a sense of familiarity with the corner stores and becoming increasingly curious about the homes built from mismatched sections of cement, sheltered from the rain with rusted pieces of tin, decorated  with colorful curtains.

I find myself looking forward to the sight of the little black puppy that chases the neighborhood children as they roll an old car tire down the street. I stop and listen to their soft giggles while I watch them smile as they chase after the old beaten down tire. Their short, plump grandmother plays with them, and as I walk by to go to my apartment, my heart is warmed by the joy their connection radiates. I can only smile as they all giggle together, only wishing I could muster up the courage to speak with them in Spanish.

I have been to far more remote places in my life however the experience of becoming a resident somewhere so foreign to you in so many ways feels a bit more remote than if you were to trek in the dessert of India for days. It feels as if every day you are rediscovering a new level of comfort amongst the folks who don´t know you or never really will. You are not a tourist but not a local either, you become an anonymous intrigue. It is the strangeness of the moments and the barriers of the language that will strip you bare so you can realize the beauty in each connection you will make with those around you.

I met a Mexican woman with soft chubby cinnamon kissed cheeks and ruby red lips while on my daily walk to the local fruit market.  She was selling poetry decorated with cut outs from magazines.  She looked at me and handed me a small rectangular peice of cardboard with three butterflies on the front.  She didn´t even ask me to buy it she smiled and gave it to me as a gift.  We gathered the pieces of her broken English and my broken Spanish, to piece together a translation of her poetry.

Mamania came to me as a teacher that day, as her radiance and the glow of her skin which was the perfect backdrop to her beautiful smile.  Her softly painted ruby red lips, created an perfect image of the joy found in how doing what you love and loving what you do can expand your joy.  She goes everyday to sell handwritten poetry to those that are curious as to what images her thoughts may convey. With her folder filled with ideas, she makes her living selling her thoughts.   She sells it for 3 dollars a poem and makes her living that way. It was at this moment that I was able to realize the answer to the question I have been pondering, why did I come here and what am I looking for. I think she showed me.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Unanticipated Destiny

I could smell his scent on my brown tie-dye sarong for days after I left. It was still moist and full of sand and as it began to dry, grains of sand like memories fell upon the hardwood floor at the foot of my bed. It was hanging from a driftwood coat hanger a friend made me from treasure found upon the beach. It created the perfect materialized symbol of my two weeks on a beach in Mexico.

 Before closing my eyes at each night, I would get lost in the colors that painted my sarong so beautifully.  I could briefly remember what it was like to feel the soft, white Caribbean sand between my toes once again.  As bits of sand piled up beneath it to fall to the floor, time passed and the moisture evaporated away, a small pile of sand was lying upon the floor at the foot of my bed.

If I could just loose myself in a memory of a brief embrace from our fleeting journey together, I would wake up and bathe my pillow in tears of joy.  Maybe one dream would seamlessly weave itself into another and another until I woke up one morning believing it could be possible for me to wait for the time to pass and for fate to gift me with one more night with him.

After spending 4 days with him my joy felt as surreal as the images he created in the suggestive impressions within his paintings.  I fell in love with this Bohemian South American artist and after my short vacation in the Carribean commenced, I was already anticipating the opening paragraph of the new chapter in my life that was to follow three short months later.  I gave up a salary that afforded me simple luxuries in life, a beautiful apartment and followed my heart.  I moved to Mexico and that Chapter began.....A thirty year old woman giving up her materialized personal empire for a life living off of love and basking daily in the Carribean Sea.

Monday, August 31, 2009


The day before I hitchhiked two hours with my soul sister Jana to meet with the infamous fortune-teller a few towns away, we sat in my kitchen talking over tea. She asked me if I could go anywhere in the world and live for a while where would it be. I said India, Jana said Africa. We were brainstorming what our hopes and dreams were to see if they ran parallel to what this fortune-teller would tell us that awaited us on our separate paths through our lives. She predicted I would be travelling vagabond and that Jana would be widowed young. She was right, I didn’t even give myself time to finish school before I began exploring this planet. Jana’s love died when she was 28, and she followed him just six months later after being hit by a bus while driving a motorcycle in Asia. Her death inspired me to continue living life to the very fullest as it could be taken away from me in a moment. As time begins to slip away ever so fast I am lost in the idea of fuelling my own self fulfilling prophecy and continuing to manifest the unknown shining on it the most vibrant glow from my soul’s fire. These stories are expressions of moments in life that become part of my personal history as a woman wandering the world in search of self, seeking sustainable happiness inspired by beauty.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


As a little bright-eyed girl, I was convinced every summer the same red and black butterfly came to visit me. Every summer I would anticipate her visit. I would sit amongst the dandelions and wild daisies patiently waiting for her to fly by me and rest on my outstretched finger. I would sit for hours alone in my own quiet world of bliss and faith; lost in the belief that mine was the only fingertip that could touch her wings, and that she was the only one who could connect with my secret thoughts and dreams. For I dreamt I could fly away with her and live my life chasing the beautiful colours and aromatic fragrances of flowers. I wished I could sprout those fragile red and black wings and become the butterfly that could traverse through natures peaceful landscape only touched by beauty.