Archive for the ‘Indigenous Wisdom’ Category

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)

Learn the Real Reasons of the Bolivian Coup of President Morales

17/11/2019

Bolivia CrossTalk RT“The pattern” continues, now in Bolivia, as explained by these well-informed international experts on a show called CrossTalk. For a different take from the MSM, check out this interview. Although I’ve not yet heard any comment from Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man author John Perkins on the subject of Morales’ departure, I think he’s working on something so keep an eye out.

I’ve spent some time in Bolivia, running a few educational programs with Mountain Spirit, and even  considered moving there at one time. It was uplifting to see what Evo Morales as doing for his country, and I was surprised to hear about the election improprieties. When I dug into the story a bit, it started to make sense. It’s all about lithium.  Also see Lee  Camp’s Redacted Tonight Episode 268 for some eye-opening facts on Bolivia’s Coup. Also see a past Mountain Spirit Blog post on Morales and Bolivia

Sage, Not just for Smudging Anymore

03/10/2019

Study: Burning Sage Kills 94% of Airborne Bacteria, Disease-Causing Strains Stay Gone for 30 Days
Sage
From Returntonow.net

The ancient ritual of burning sage to purify the air turns out to be more than a superstition! The Native American ritual of “smudging” or burning sage to clear the air of “bad energy” turns out to ward away more than just “negative vibes.” Read more…

 

El Albergue grows into Organics/Sustainability

13/12/2014

Joaquín Randall, owner of El Albergue in Ollantaytambo, shares, in the recent video, the latest developments evolving around  experiential educational stays, sustainability, organics and cultural sensitivity at his lodge in the Sacred Valley of Peru.  Mountain Spirit collaborated a bit with Sr. Randall some years ago, so we can recommend a stay at El Albergue. Keep up the good Joaquin.

El Albergue, in Peru delivers a good stay, experientially based ed, and sustainability.

El Albergue, in Peru delivers a good stay, experientially based ed, and sustainability.

Living Life, When Life is Short

14/06/2013
Tom on board his yacht in Bluff, New Zealand

Tom on board his yacht in Bluff, New Zealand

I had the good fortune to meet Tom Shepherd yesterday, here in the little town of Kingston, New Zealand.
Although he won’t admit it, Tom has a remarkable story to tell, which actually isn’t over yet. He’s half way through a “figure-8 circumnavigation” of the North and South Islands of New Zealand – and he’s learning to sail as he goes along. What’s more impressive is he’s approaching his 84th birthday next month, and, he has been diagnosed with cancer. Seven years ago he was given six months to live. Every six months after that, for two years, nothing happened. He finally decided he wasn’t going to sit around to see would happen.  Learn more of his story:

When he sailed in to the docks in Motueka, near Nelson,  people were gathering and walking down the dock to greet him with “You must be Tom Shepherd, the fellow sailing down the coast.”  Word had traveled before his arrival. Since then he’s been interviewed by the Maori Channel here in New Zealand. He was kind enough to grant me the interview (see above), but, half joking, said he was considering going into hiding.

The next leg of his journey would provide an opportunity as a recluse, as he heads from New Zealand’s southern tip into the deep fjords of the the west coast. I want to keep track of this man – who is an inspiration. He’s getting out there and doing something. He’s not posting on Facebook or blogs, he’s just doing it. Tom’s adventure is about being alive as much as it is the uncharted journey on his yacht. It reminds me of the quote by William G.T. Shedd – “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”

Please see the posShepherd, Tomt interview clip, (below) of how Mr. Shepherd “rubbed off” on a bummed out cab driver in the Christchurch area. It’s been said that one of the tenants of a spiritual person is to serve as a fire that helps kindle the soul of another. Tom Shepherd humble, but the results around him seem to be clear. He’s making this place a better world, just by living.

See this great video piece on Maori TV’s Native Affairs about Tom’s Journey

Sixto Rodriguez – A 40-year Overnight Success.

01/03/2013
Sixto Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez

Searching for Suger Man – The Life and Times of Sixto Rodriguez
By R. Richards,
Mountain Spirit Institute Founder
It’s been said that happiness and sorrow are different sides of the same coin, and that presence is the razor’s edge one walks to weather life’s ups and downs in peace. This comes to mind when I think of Sixto Rodriguez‘s life story, told in the Oscar winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man directed by Sweden’s Malik Bendjelloul.

Director and Subjects of Searching for Sugar Man

Director and Subjects of Searching for Sugar Man

For those unfamiliar with this documentary, it’s the story of a folk singer/songwriter with a powerful gift of prose and music who never “made it” in the U.S. when he released two albums in the early ’70’s. When the releases never took off, he just went back to work in his home town of Detroit, doing construction and remodels.  He and his promotional agents couldn’t believe his albums never became popular. (more…)

6 things to Commemorate Indigenous Peoples on Columbus Day

09/10/2012

6 things You Can Do to Commemorate Indigenous Peoples on Columbus Day (Or any day of thereafter)

Christopher Columbus arrived as an immigrant to “the New World.” He did not “discover” America. Today, let’s remember and celebrate the People who were here first!

1.  Learn about the American Precolonial Roots of Democracy. American democracy was founded on the principles of The Great Law of Peace founded by The Haudenosaunne People (Iroquois) in the Northeast. Read more.

2.  Watch 1492 set the record straight about Columbus and the Doctrine of Discovery.

3.   Learn about Native America’s endangered languages and what is being done to revitalize them. Send an E-postcard in Euchee. Visit ourmothertounges.org
Engage your friends and family and raise awareness about endangered languages by sending an e-postcard with a Native language audio greeting.

4.  Make Your Voice Heard about Indigenous Peoples’ Rights.
Support the community of Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala in their opposition to a hydroelectric dam being built on their sacred river. Send an email today!

Read the rest of this post…

Mountain Spirit Inst. Offers Programs/Events

12/07/2012

Mountain Spirit Institute Offers Upcoming Programs and Special Events

Mountain Spirit Institute of the Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Region and Queenstown New Zealand area, is offering programs this summer and fall in New Hampshire, based on its mission to “help people reconnect with the environment, each other and a deeper connection to one’s self”.

The first program, on July 22nd ,  is an Adventure Educator’s Sharing Symposium open to teachers, students and outdoor educators who would like to share, learn and apply best practices of group processing and facilitation, especially with a holistic approach. There is no charge, as MSI is offering this as a public service.

Mountain Spirit will also be offering a Reconnection with Nature Hike on July 24th where there will be hiking to a local mountaintop, and participants will have a chance to relax with a short meditation and powerful nature reading. Again, there is no charge, as MSI is offering this as a public service.

On July 28th there will be a one-day Solo retreat starting at eight in the morning with a basic orientation and safety talk. Participants will then be shown their own “solo spot” where they will spend the day with minimal gear and distractions. There is a nominal program fee for this event.  There will also be an Overnight Solo on August 24th and 25th  where participants spend the night under a tarp in a beautiful local setting.  The goal for Solo’s are to reconnect, unplug, contemplate and be present in nature with few distractions with the safety net of experienced facilitators and guides. Solos will also be offered as an on-demand basis.

Lama Miller

Mountain Spirit Institute is collaborating with Lama Willa Miller of the Wonderwell Refuge, in Springfield NH on an outdoor adventure program called Mindfulness in the Mountains. The Natural Dharma Fellowship has a retreat center, where the program will be based for the weekend of Oct 12-14th.

MSI will offer again its MSI Film Series, one of which will be Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. This remarkable film follows two men, one an Australian and other an American truck driver, on their amazing path to recovering their health through juicing and healthy lifestyle choices . There will be some testimonials and discussion after the film. They do what their website calls a “reboot of your body”.

Rock Climbing will be offered to parent/children pairs, as well as families up to four, on the local crags in the region by appointment.

Mountain Spirit Institute is an insured non-profit educational organization started in 1998. Their first program was a cultural immersion trip to Peru. All of the summer and fall programs will be facilitated and managed by internationally recognized guides and facilitators. For more information on any of these programs or on Mountain Spirit Institute,  visit their website at www.mtnspirit.org or call 603-763-2668

THE HUNGER GAMES: Dystopian fiction

05/04/2012

 

Predictive Programming

THE HUNGER GAMES: Dystopian fiction & Predictive Programming
The following piece is by Richard Louv, Author of Last Child in the Woods. I’m glad he’s weighed in on the Hunger Games. One might also google Predictive Programming to learn more about why such movies are made. (ed.)
Stuck Inside Apocalypse with Dystopic Blues Again
By Richard Louv

“The Hunger Games,” the book, is a page-turner and the movie is gripping. Some of my colleagues, working hard to reconnect young people to nature, believe the popularity of the book and movie will, like the film “Avatar,” stimulate a deeper interest in the natural world. I hope they’re right, but after leaving the movie theater on Friday (having already read the book), I was, well, ambivalent.

In this story, there are two forests. The first forest is as natural as a forest can be with an electrified fence to keep the largest carnivores out of District 12, Katniss Everdeen’s starving Appalachian homeland.

At the beginning of the book, she describes sitting in a nook in the rocks with her hunting partner, Gale, looking out at a forest that sustains them: “From this place we are invisible but have a clear view of the valley, which is teeming with summer life, greens to gather, roots to dig, fish iridescent in the sunlight.” This forest keeps her family alive. (more…)

Lost Cities of the Amazon

30/03/2012

Downtown in The Lost Cities of the Amazon
by Andean Air Mail & PERUVIAN TIMES ·
By Nicholas Asheshov

A "Lost" people?

Some weeks ago two events, one of them startling, came together to pin-point the mysterious new conundrum of the Amazon.  The first was the appearance on a busy riverbank in the Madre de Dios of a few dozen members of a previously-isolated group of Indians.  They killed someone who had been trying to help them. The naked Indians, seen on TV screens around the world, were described by anthropologists as descendants of an unbroken line of hunting and gathering savages, living fossils of our neolithic past.

Area of Coverage

This is, according to new Amazon thinking, incorrect. These Indians are the sad, socially degenerated remnants of nations and tribes that were productive, sophisticated and stable  just a few centuries ago.The other event was an article in The New York Times that reported on the discovery in Acre, only a few hours travel from the Madre de Dios Indians, of extensive, deep straight, or sometimes circular, trenches, ridges and mounds dating back to pre-Columbian times, indicating a large, well-developed society. This was just the latest evidence that the Amazon, or at least parts of it, was heavily populated by well-organized societies in much the same way as the high Andes were remodelled by the Tiahuanuco, the Chavin, the Chachapoyas, the Huari, and the Incas.

Over the past couple of decades the pre-history of the Americas has been revolutionized, setting off poison-tipped academic and ecological vendettas. First of all, the Americas were populated much earlier, at least 33-35,000 years ago, double the time previously calculated.  That is back to Neanderthal epochs.

An Excellent Read

Second, there were many more people here when Columbus arrived than was earlier thought.  And, most important, the societies and nations of the Americas were much more sophisticated and structured than was previously understood.  They were agriculturalists, not the war-whoopers of the movies.  Their mode of life and agriculture had massive, long-term effects on the original pre-human forests.   Fire was a basic control mechanism.

Today the evidence of genetics, linguistics and archaeology is clear that the Amazon was not just an impenetrable green hell populated by primitive hunters and fishermen eking out an unchanging, culturally marginal existence. The same applies to North America.  Here most of the descriptions of primitive Indians come from 18th and 19th century travelers who were seeing only the sorry leftovers of great nations that had been obliterated by smallpox, viral hepatitis, influenza and other European and African diseases.  The Conquest set off the Dark Ages in the Americas. read the rest of this story