Archive for May 24th, 2020

Lockdown/Slowdown #3

24/05/2020

Lots, and lots of apples. We have 111 fruit and nut trees, most of which are apple. Conner and Jess helped us with this year’s harvest.

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We then made apple sauce, butter, apple cider vinegar and maybe we’ll get at some apple crumble before we’re all done. Later you’ll see our trial and errors at making an apple press and the final results! Yum.#purenewzealand #lakewanakanz #wanaka #lovewanak
#mountainspirt #applecider #mountainspirit

We’ve Lost a Good One.

24/05/2020

This post is dedicated to the late Maria Figueroa Norabuena, who I consider the heart of my Peruvian Family. The matriarch, she died recently of complications while in Lima getting medical treatment, and is survived by her husband Daniel, (pictured), a large family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren mostly in Huaraz, and the surrounding villages, in Peru.  She lived in a small hamlet outside of Huaraz where she and her husband baked bread for many of the townspeople and restaurants in Huaraz. They also grew crops and had farm animals.  My condolences go out to Daniel and his family.

Daniel and Maria

Daniel, and his late wife Maria of Huaraz, Peru

I met Maria through my friend David Sanchez Figueroa, co-owner of the vegetarian Restaurant Salud y Vida, (Health and Life) when I was mountain guiding in Huaraz some years ago. I became godfather to her grandchild Joseph, and have always felt part of the family. It must be a past-life thing but we’ve all been very close over the years of visits.

With the coming of video calling, I was able to keep in close contact with the whole family, and especially with Maria while she was with her daughter in Lima undergoing treatment.  I had the opportunity to spend some screen-time with her before she died and am so grateful for that time. It reminds me, again that life is short.

I have a vivid image, (and a video), in my mind of my wife Amanda, and Maria, playing “Laugh Dancing” in the restaurant’s kitchen. Someone starts a sound track, and the object of the game is partner up with someone, and dance with a straight face. The first one to crack a smile, usually caused by the opponent’s antics, loses. Maria won, hands down. I don’t remember the exact maneuver she pulled, but it had us (all generations of the family) laughing hysterically.

When I first came to Peru as a mountain guide, Maria used to pinch my cheek with her fingers, saying “Que Pena” (“What a pity”) when she learned at my age of 40+, I still had no wife or child. (Since then I’ve been married since 2009 with an eight-year-old son, which made Maria much more happy with me) Every climbing season, when I’d come back into town, she’d give me the pinching, “Que Pena” again, when I was still in the same sorry state.

Becoming a Godfather to her grandchild, Joseph, and seeing what family can really be in Peru, changed me. I grew up as a bit of a narcissist, mountain guiding, single, and although an outdoor educator, still caught up in my seeking the perfect high. A light bulb when off in my heart when I observed what family really means in the indigenous an Latino sense. We had Peru on our short list of destinations of where we were considering having a family, precisely because of that observation.

Maria was a strong woman with a keen sense of self, sense of humour, a huge heart, and a fantastic matriarch who will be missed by her large family, and even… a gringo here in New Zealand.

Since this post, I’ve received this comment from Maria’s grandaughter, Jina (translated from Spanish):

Thank you very much Randall for this publication in tribute to my beloved Grandmother, she was just as you describe her, she left such an imprint on every corner she traveled, she was a woman very loved by all of us who now mourn her sudden departure. You are right, she was in a very delicate treatment that began in January, but on 15.05.2020 her body did not resist.  I still remember every joke she made to me, even one day before her death we joked, and she laughed out loud.  Always her take on life was all joy.
Perhaps you were motivated by her to form your own home, with her phrase, “what a shame”, because she wanted to see everyone with family, family as she had it with my grandfather, who showed that true love exists.
Their advice is recorded in my heart.

I’ll never forget my grandmother. She will always be in my memory and heart.

Huaraz Maria Obit

Near the hamlet in which Maria lived, with the Cordillera Blanca, Peru’s highest mountain range, in the near distance (copyright 2020 Dexter R Richards)

Don’t do it! Don’t Go Back to Normal

24/05/2020

This wonderful statement by Sony Renee Taylor has been circulating around lately, and it’s surely a wake up call –

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”
You can find out more at the Facebook page Over Grow the System

And from Brenna Quinlan on her Facebook page….

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The first step towards creating something is imagining it. We imagine the smell of fresh bread as we tend our sourdough starter. We imagine the taste of ripe tomatoes as we plant out our seedlings. When we lay down the first stone, we imagine laughter and stories from future meals shared in our new home. The ability to create, in our minds, a possible future, is what gives that possibility a chance of being realised.

If all we imagine is business as usual, then that is the world we will create. But if we draw on our curiosity and creativity, we can hold in our minds something much greater than the world we are in. And once that happens, we can begin to act. Find out more about Brennan here.

Lockdown/Slowdown #2

24/05/2020

All of our images in this series will be in mostly chronological order, except for this one, which tells the story of how we all fared by the wind-down of phase 3 into phase 2.
Our lockdown bubble was my wife Amanda, our son Dexter, and our two “Woofrs” (willing workers on organic farms) who we took in the day before lockdown here in New Zealand.

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We lucked out with Conner and Jess, professional farmers from Maryland, who rode out the uncertain times with us. This shot was taken the morning the left for another Woofing position. They worked hard on many projects here at Mountain Spirit. One of which was the design of the apple press pictured here. More on how that came together soon!

On another note, I’ve got a bit of background in photojournalism and newspaper writing (United Press International, local papers etc), so I hope to provide you with some useful and entertaining posts going forward. Amanda will also be posting. I think you’ll enjoy her perspective.
So that’s the lockdown crew.
#purenewzealand #wanaka #lovewanaka #lockdown #mountainspirit

Lockdown/Slowdown #1

24/05/2020

Let me catch you up on Mountain Spirit New Zealand during these “interesting” times. The first post, was first published on our Instagram feed in March 29th 2020. I thought I’d include it below as a starting point.

May 25, 2020
As New Zealand comes out of lockdown from “Level 3” to “Level 2”, things are still pretty quiet in Wanaka. The kids are back in school which frees me up a bit to post what we couldn’t during lockdown. I thought we’d share what we did here at Mountain Spirit in the following posts. Maybe it will give you some ideas, good for thought, or just some entertainment. Let us know what you think as well.
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March 29th 2020
As New Zealand went into lock-down (Stage 4) a few days ago, we had a beautiful sunset to signal our weeks of isolation here in the Wanaka. Although we are home bound, there’s lots of activities and jobs to do. We’ll fill you in as we tick along during this pandemic. We send you well wishes during this time.

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