Tag Archives: addiction

Journey Through Latin America (Part 16)

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It was hot and sweaty in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, where I had to take one of these tricycle taxis from the bus station to the Mexican border.  It was much cheaper to walk across the bridge then to pay $4 to be tricycled across.  Guatemalan and Mexican immigration was smooth enough, although a slow and sweaty process.  From there I took a shuttle to Tapachula, where I had to wait a couple of hours for the bus to Arriaga.  It gave me time to relax and have some good Mexican tacos.  It seems to me that Mexican tortillas are the best.

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I enjoyed a night and a day in Arriaga, Mexico where I had stayed before, at the Hotel Chiapas, although they had raised their rates somewhat since I was here in October.  I had more great Mexican street tacos, then in the morning an incredible breakfast buffet for $4 that set me up through lunch.  I had to wait all day and into the night for my bus to leave for Oaxaca at 9PM.  It was nice to be in a real bus station rather than just a spot on the sidewalk.

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I slept on the bus all night and arrived in Oaxaca around 5AM, so the Hostel Paulina, where I had stayed in October, only charged me for the following night.  Breakfast was included, and the staff recognized me and requested a musical performance.  I gave them a Promo CD of Luis Sabor and the next morning they were playing it for the breakfast service.

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I really like Oaxaca, Mexico.  It is one of the few large state capital cities that still retain a relaxed atmosphere, despite being very busy and offering a great deal of opportunities for shopping and entertainment.  It is similar to Leon, Nicaragua in this regard.  I enjoyed visiting a large mercado, where I tried on a sombrero, since I had accidentally left my leather hat on a bus in Escuintla.

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I also tried a few of these “chapulines”: chili-fried crickets, at the insistence of my friend Porfirio, whom I had met back in October when I was busking in the Plaza.  Porfirio and I talked a great deal and he had an interesting story to tell.  Having grown up on the streets, he had just spent his first entire year dependence-free, after being addicted to heroin for six years.  It was inspiring to hear how he had pulled himself out of the gutter, literally, with the help of God, to escape the living hell he had endured.  He was incredibly optimistic, and I have felt compelled to pray for him, as his trials certainly cannot be over.

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After just two days in Oaxaca, I was ready to board another bus for a long trip to Puebla.  The bus stations were starting to resemble airports now, and the buses were more comfortable, including bathrooms and movies, although much more expensive than in other countries.

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Seek Not Oblivion

            I like to meditate, and I’ve done it daily for years, so I enjoy reading about meditation and Buddhism.  Not too long ago I read an excellent tome by a Buddhist master (whose name I can’t recall) which pointed out some of the pitfalls one should avoid in meditation.  I don’t remember them all, but one of them I found quite interesting.  He stressed that one should avoid “oblivion”—which would be, as I understood it, complete lack of consciousness.  I was surprised to read this because “oblivion,” I realized, was what I had always strived for—to be “zoned out” communing with the One.  I still wonder if a being could experience enlightenment without at least passing through this stage.  I’ve thought a great deal about it since, and this morning I realized something:  in our society today, we are often seeking oblivion.

            Once, when I was a bartender, I ran into a regular customer at the park, and he was talking about his favorite brand of beer, “after a six-pack I am GONE.”  Apparently his goal wasn’t to relax and have fun, but to reach oblivion.  I would guess that most drug users are also seeking oblivion, but there are various acceptable ways we seek it every day.  People can “zone out” in front of the TV and not remember what they just watched, or they can get so into a video game that reality melts away.  Just last week a blogger was advising to eat what you want as long as you remain “there.”  She explained that the big problem with overeating is losing your self while eating.  Virtually any activity or non-activity can lead to oblivion.

            I have heard that the main argument for humans dominating all other species is that we alone are conscious.  If that is true, then we should strive to maintain our consciousness as much as possible.  So I must ask—are you conscious?  Ever thought about how often you are conscious?  Its much more than just being awake.  Let us seek consciousness.


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