Thursday, July 26, 2012

Inside the limoncillo tree

As we ride in the back of a pick-up truck, on our way to help clean up all the plastic trash that has washed inside the mangroves, I ponder the way in which an extended stay in another country, among another culture and another language, has the effect of distancing you—-me—-from myself. We stand out, we are a spectacle. I cannot control my image-—maybe you never can-—I see how it takes shape through the filter of other views on the world. When I open my mouth I accidentally say things that are strange, I make mistakes. That has a humbling effect, as is proper, and I am reminded to--to try to--let go.      

Usually impermanence seems like something you have to get used to, something we can’t help struggling against. It may be natural, but if you think about it too long you see it means that you are dying. One thing I have learned on this trip is that, for me, it is also the only way to feel alive. Impermanence is up close and personal here, moving between norms. Different norms, totally different. Even a few miles and the assumptions that guide people’s lives, the exigencies and the sensual pleasures, may change completely. If I can look at it right, the world is stuffed full of pleasure.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Annals of fruit, continued

Love the one you're with, they say. We are with plantains. Slowly the other foodstuffs fall away. The pasta, the rice, even. Bread is long gone, with the oven broken. Leaving us with yautia, yucca, purple tubers, yellow and white tubers, hairy and misshapen in their bins, embraced by the locals. We are being drawn inexorably into a different orbit, in which our ways change. Habit gets shucked off. Eating fried plantains for breakfast because there is really nothing else around--this feels almost like a small, individual revolution, a little mental breakthrough. Not to overstate the case. But what next? What other new thoughts are going to wedge their way into our consciousness, and soon?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What is this?

This is a granadilla. It smells like fabric softener. 
There is something so fleshy and almost grotesque about this fruit, with its strange, artificial taste of clean clothes.  I wonder what Virginia Woolf would make of it. I think she would have had a hard time with tropical fruits in general, with their womblike abundance of seeds, their heady, luxurious sweetness and unrelenting softness. Then again, maybe she would have loved them. Maybe her writing would have become more like Georgia O'Keefe's paintings, and she would have had a longer, happier life, walking out in the mornings with a parasol and taking a siesta after a good meal of rice and beans.

Monday, July 2, 2012

News about the environment is depressing. Depression really sucks and, even worse, it doesn't help the environment. SO, if you care about the fate of the planet, stop watching the news. Seriously, turn off the TV or your laptop—boom, you've done something for the environment, you're using less power, global warming is slowed. Repeat.

You've heard this before. It's true, of course, but since we've gotten intimate with our utilities over the last 6 years of living on boats, I've noticed a few things. One is how good it feels to get away from the news as well as doing something about our footprint on the planet. Here's how we roll vis-à-vis power.

A monitor that shows how much electricity is currently being consumed (or produced, but we'll get to that) helps this process of using less along mightily. Put it in a place that's hard to miss--it will draw your attention like a flickering flame. Putting a number to how much power you're using when different devices go on and off really catches your attention and helps promote shutting things down and replacing the ones you can't give up with more efficient models.

This is the low hanging fruit. Energy conservation is WAY cheaper, easier and better-for-the-planet than ANY form of energy production. Look it up. So, turn it off--lights, pumps, motors etc etc. Anything that you can't stand to turn off, take that thing and sell it on eBay or Craigslist then replace it with one that uses less power. This is real, this is positive, this is good for you and everybody else. But you're not going to do it unless that little monitor is constantly rubbing your face in it, so get one, they're relentless, news you can use.

to be continued...
(I'm finishing the rewrites on a large and time-consuming project, not to say novel. Between that and speaking a bunch of Spanish, I guess this post is an accurate description of my state of mind.)