Tag Archives: relationships

Journey Through Latin America (Part 10)


Arriving in Granada, Nicaragua was very easy from Masaya.  It cost a few cents by chicken bus and I arrived in less than an hour.  I could tell I was near the central plaza when I saw the colonial buildings and I signalled the bus-driver to stop by banging on the ceiling of the bus.  Luckily, I turned out to be only four blocks or so from the hostal Oasis, so I didn’t have to hire a taxi.  When I entered Hostal Oasis I had a tremendous case of deja-vu, the layout was almost exactly like Lazybones in Leon.  The reception, garden, pool, dorms, common areas all were almost identical.  Then when I entered my room I encountered two fellows I had met at Lazybones! is that funny or what?  I’m beginning to get used to this sort of thing along the “gringo trail.”

At first glance I liked Granada, there’s a lot to like: colonial buildings, cool breeze from the nearby lake, and everything designed with the tourist in mind.  Therein lies the rub.  Because of so many tourists the prices are inflated in restaurants, and anywhere you go you are accosted by salesmen, taxistas, moneychangers, tour guides or just plain beggars.

Hostal Oasis was an oasis from the chaos outside, and I enjoyed cooking my own dinners in the kitchen and meeting lots of travellers from all over the world: Israel, Austria, Germany , and of course Canada.  I couldn’t imagine what to do with my time outside of the hostal, and though I enjoyed playing guitar and using the free internet, I decided it was time for San Juan Del Sur.

I took a short, cheap bus ride to Rivas, then another to San Juan.  I realized immediately why everyone adores San Juan del Sur:  the streets are clean, the air is cool, and it is small and well arranged around the beach, plaza, and market–all just a few blocks from one another.

Just as I stepped off the bus I spotted a young lady wearing a Surfing Donkey T-shirt, the hostal I was looking for.  Giselle from Argentina guided me three blocks to the hostal, which was $7 a night for a dorm with breakfast and kitchen facilities, and a cold swimming pool.  I think I´ll be staying here a few days.

A funny thing, or two, happened today:  just after having lunch at a comedor in the market I bumped into Matt, who was one of the guys I had met in Leon AND Granada, so he holds the record for the most times I’ve met someone on my trip by accident.  Then a few minutes later I was talking to Elena from Italy who promotes Surfing Donkey as well as her macrame bracelets, when I spied another familiar face– Do from Israel, whom I had met way back at Casa Verde in Santa Ana, El Salvador.  He told me he had just put Megan on the bus, so I just had time to wave hello/goodbye to her.  Like I said, I’m getting used to this sort of thing on the gringo trail.




If you’d like to see a couple of roads we SHOULD be going down, try clicking on these images to view videos of some really intelligent, brave people.

Paolo Lugari of Gaviotas, Colombia

Perfect Storm




              If you look at a chart of the stock market spanning the last 10 years, the lowest point for the S&P500 was around March 1, 2009.  That just happened to coincide with the moment my marriage fell apart.  I was exhausted from a hard week at work, trying to train an incredibly dense new employee.  My wife happened to be suffering from her monthly experience, and my son of five years happened to be at his most irritating stage of life.  He hadn’t yet acquired the skill of telling when an adult is getting angry.  I had to yell at him, she had to yell at me, and suddenly I had a momentary emotional breakdown.  I’m not a violent person, and I would never say abusive things to anyone, but I can yell pretty damn loud when I want to.  It was only a few seconds, but it was devastating.  Apparently, my wife had been significantly more unhappy with our marriage than she had ever communicated to me.  It was over, just like that.


            Here’s the interesting part: she had nowhere to go.  All of her family lives in Peru (you can see why she was unhappy.)  She had no job, and I didn’t make enough to support one household, much less two.  I certainly wasn’t going to say “O.K. , here’s $2000 for plane tickets to Peru, so you can take my son away from me.”  I didn’t even want a divorce, so I just left her alone with her conundrum.  I moved into the guest room/ art studio.


            We lived that way for three full years.  The amazing thing was—it was not bad at all.  We love our son, so we made it work for his sake.  Oh there was certainly a long period of resentment, and I found myself behaving like I did long ago when I was feuding with a roommate—you know, pushing their buttons, leaving them work that you could easily take care of yourself.  Then I just asked myself, “Why am I doing this?  There’s no law that you have to hate your ex-wife.”  So I stopped it all.


            I suppose it was easier for me than it would be for most, because I’ve been meditating for years.  I recite to myself, every morning, the prayer of St. Francis:


            Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace;  where there is hate, let me sow Love;  where there is injury—Pardon;  where there is despair—Hope;  where there is doubt—Faith;  where there is darkness—Light;  where there is sadness—Joy…..


            It’s a good reminder of how I want to live, even though our society programs us to be combative.  I actually love everyone.  I certainly abhor the things that most people do, but I don’t blame them for their behavior.  We are programmed, and years of programming is difficult to purge.  I just pray that more people can break the cycle.  My ex and I have taught our son that divorce doesn’t have to be full of hate.  Now I want to pass on to you the knowledge—it is possible.  Don’t assume that you have to behave the way people expect you to behave.  Choose the good path.  You’ll be glad you did.

check out my website: http://www.artbylowell.com






Just an ordinary day

            I woke up around 6AM to sounds coming from the kitchen.  I crawled out of my futon bed, which now has become our living room couch since we sold our sofa and loveseat in a big yard sale over the weekend.  I went to the bathroom and began to shave, until I heard a tap on the door—my 8-year old son.  I let him use the bathroom while I turned the light on above the fishtank and philodendron.  After shaving I spent about 10 to 12 minutes warming up with Qi Gong exercises and a few dozen sit-ups, then I put on my winter cap and my alpaca coat before kneeling down for a few minutes of meditation.  Almost everyone meditates in the lotus position (what my son calls “criss cross applesauce”) but I was taught meditating with the feet tucked under the buttocks back when I first took a karate class long ago, and its just more comfortable for me, at least until my legs fall asleep, then the lotus position wins.  There wasn’t much to choose from for breakfast, so I just had a bowl of cereal with soy milk.  I gave my son a big hug as he went off to the bus-stop, then settled down to a cup of hot tea to read a few pages from “The Cloud of Unknowing.”  I checked email, Facebook, WordPress & RedBubble, then fed the fish and got dressed for the day’s event.

            When my soon-to-be-ex-wife and I realized we were ahead of schedule, we stopped at the “Hot Rod Café,” the only eatery on a long stretch of automotive shops and other industrial businesses.  Despite the charming décor and the NASCAR channel on, we got two croissants to go, and headed to downtown Tucson.  After a brisk walk from the parking garage two blocks to the courthouse, we entered and immediately took off our coats and put all of our personal items in a container to be scanned.  Just now I have realized that we never reclaimed the little credit-card-sized swiss tool kit they confiscated.  Lord knows what havoc could have been wreaked with that inch-long pair of scissors.  We turned in our papers at the clerks office and found a bench where we could eat our croissants and wait for our name to be called.  We were called into the courtroom along with five other default cases and one name change—it was 10:40AM.  By 11AM we were facing the judge, asked about a dozen yes or no obligatory questions…stamp, stamp, sign, sign, stamp.   Voila’, we were divorced.

Downtown Tucson

            We stopped at the grocery store on the way home, made some quick burritos for lunch, and napped while watching an old Pedro Infante movie on the PC (since we sold both TVs at the yard sale.)  At 2:30PM I got up to practice my guitar for a while before showering and dressing for work.  When I reached the street corner, I waved at my ex-wife who was waiting at the bus-stop for my son to arrive from school.  I’ve been working as shift manager here at Arbys.  Don’t ask me how I ended up in fast food, but I must say there is something satisfying about serving the public.  I’ll never be tempted to volunteer at a soup kitchen—I’ve done my time.  Oh sure, these folks aren’t homeless, but they are equally needy and forlorn in their own ways.

            After the yard sale weekend and the divorce proceedings, I’ve been really tired this evening, but writing this post in my spare moments has kept me awake.  Today wasn’t difficult, next week will be moreso:  that’s when I have to put my son and ex on the plane bound for Peru, where they plan to live from now on.  That will be hard.  But tonight and tomorrow I get to rest up, then I’ll take my son up to Mt. Lemmon where he can play in the snow for the last time in who knows when.  But really, who knows?  If there is anything I’ve learned in half a century on this planet, its this:  you never know.

original oil painting by Lowell

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