Tag Archives: salsa

Journey Through Latin America (Part 14)

Okay, I’m now well on my way back home to Arizona.  I flew from Lima, Peru to San Jose, Costa Rica which cost a bit more than I had planned.  When I arrived at the ticket counter in Lima the young lady informed me that Costa Rica would not allow me to enter the country after being in Peru without a yellow fever vaccination, ten days prior to entering Costa Rica.  How could I do that? I was not allowed to switch my flight to another country, and staying in Lima for another 10 days would cost hundreds of dollars.  As it turned out, the airline is accustomed to the situation and set me up with a valid vaccination document pre-dated by 15 days from a nearby hospital, and I just had to pay $210 (to tip everyone involved)  Well it sucked, but everything went smoothly after that , and I was so happy to land in Costa Rica.  I immediately felt my spirits rise as I stepped out into the relatively fresh air of Alajuela, and I enjoyed a good night at the nearby Hostel Maleku, where I had stayed before.

The next morning I took out just a little bit more colones from the ATM than I had caluculated to get me to San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.  The bus ride was a bit long, but not uncomfortable, and we stopped halfway to Liberia for a break, which has been rare on my trip.  In Liberia I met two Swedish girls who were also on the way to San Juan del Sur, so we went through customs together, lucky for them, for they had no dollars, and Nicaragua doesn’t accept anything else to enter the country.  I lent them the $24 they needed, then we shared a taxi to San Juan, and they paid me back when we arrived at the Surfing Donkey.  It was great to see friendly faces, and I was amazed at how many of the guys had stayed on to become employees there.

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I rested at San Juan del Sur just a couple of days, and it was great to hit the beach and swim in the pool and eat Nicaraguan food.  The second and last night I was there, the Surfing Donkey folks decided to try out a new drinking game concept:  1 shot of rum every 5 minutes until you pass out or vomit.  Sounds fun huh? right, well I was one of a number of observers and eventually caregivers to the four participants.  It was pretty funny the first hour, then it got a little scary.  Three folks were sick or passed out within 1 1/2 hours, and the winner, Dan the Bear that Grills, was still steady.

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I woke up early the next morning, did a short Qi Gong workout, then heaved my backpack on, picked up my guitar, and walked a few blocks to catch the direct bus to Managua.  When I reached Managua I had to take a taxi across town to the station for buses to Leon, but it all went smoothly and a couple of hours later I was paying another taxista in Leon just $1 to take me to Lazybones Hostel, where I had spent a week back in November.  This time in Leon I decided to make an effort to photograph people, which I am rather uncomfortable doing.  Most of the time people don’ t like to be photographed by strangers, so some of the photos I just shot from the hip so to speak ( more like from the chest.)

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Besides the swimming pool at Lazybones, I had been looking forward to two things in Leon: Asado Pelibuey (bbq lamb) and some excellent French pastries.  Saturday night they ran out of pelibuey, so I had to eat chicken, but it was awesome with the gallo pinto, tortilla, slaw and fried plantain.  Then Sunday morning the French bakery was closed, but I bought some delicious bbq pork  at the market served on mashed yuca (manioc) and slaw, wrapped in a banana leaf.  Monday I had my pastry and my pelibuey.

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Yes that is iguana for sale in the Leon market downtown, although I never saw it offered on any menu.  I just stayed in Leon a couple of days but as luck would have it, or as a gift from above, I stopped to listen to a band begin their set on an open-air stage downtown and when I heard the Santana style I hurried back to the hostal for my guiro.  I started playing along and the band members called me up onstage and we jammed out for a couple of hours to a very appreciative crowd.

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I woke up before dawn and did some Qi Gong under the stars by the pool, then I grabbed my belongings and took a taxi to the bus station.  The direct bus to the El Salvadoran border had left at 4:30 AM, so I took a chicken bus to Chinandega, then a shuttle to the border, watching the Volcan Chinandega as I left Nicaragua.

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Journey through Latin America (Part 1)

 

I suppose the beginning of the trip was when I left Tucson, Arizona around Sept 16, 2012 at 3AM and drove to Las Cruces, New Mexico where I called my new Couchsurfing friend Paty who had generously offered her abode for my much needed rest.  It had been a stressful day before as I had packed all the belongings I could into my Toyota Camry, leaving behind everything else to my friends and the house I had lived in for the previous 9 years, to be auctioned off in October.

I slept for a few hours at Paty’s place, then had dinner in El Paso before driving all night until I was dangerously sleepy and decided stop at a rest stop outside of Junction Texas.  By dawn I was much better, then got out of the car to do my morning ritual of Qi Gong exercises before driving in to Austin, Texas.  Austin has changed a whole heck of a lot in the last 15 yrs since I lived there.  I stayed with a couple of friends of mine, Tim & Taz, and later Gary, and had a couple of shows playing guitar and singing my songs.  My stage name is Luis Sabor and I have been planning to sing my way through Central America and finally to Lima, Peru, where I will spend the New Year with my 9 yr-old son, who lives there.

I visited alot of friends and family on my way to Victoria, Texas, where I stayed with my parents for a few days and left my car parked in their driveway.  My folks drove me to McAllen, TX where we visited with my Uncle Leon before getting on a bus for Reynosa Sept 29.  Right in the bus station I met a lovely Mexican lady named Alejandra, who was travelling the same route to Queretaro Mexico.  We were instant friends and we talked a great deal along the way.  We said goodbye in Queretaro as I took a bus to Morelia, where I had another Couchsurfing friend , Marjolaine, generously offering me a place to stay.

 

 

My stay with Marjolaine was wonderful–I really got the rest I needed.  The second night in Morelia I played at a restaurant for food and tips, then my last night I got to play all night with a Salsa Band, playing my Guiro, a percussion instrument which is great fun.

Now I’ve used up my time in this internet cafe, so I’ll be posting chapter 2 soon. Hasta Luego! Luis


Canciones

Canciones.


Why I love Cuba!!!

Awesome concert (skip intro)


My Great Dream

            Some of you may be wondering if I’m going anywhere with this Dream Reality stuff, and the answer is: YES.  I’ve had many grand dreams I still want to share with you, but this one is persistent and imminent.  For years I’ve dreamed of traveling from Mexico through Central America to South America, not just once, but several times along the same route.  My dream is to become a human bridge—connecting cultures throughout the Americas.  Later, but still for several years now, I added to this dream the desire to establish mini-bookstores along the route, for the promotion of literacy.  But first things first.

            The reason this dream is now imminent I will explain.  My ex-wife, who is Peruvian, has moved back to Lima, taking my 8-yr old son with her.  I don’t blame her, she has a very supportive family there, and I think my son will benefit in many ways.  But I want to live there too, to be near him, at least for a few months out of each year.

            I have an idea that I could defray the costs, if not support myself entirely, with my solo music act—Luis Sabor.  Getting good gigs will not be easy, however, so here is my plan:  If I could travel through Central America on my way to Peru, performing my music in hotels and restaurants all along the way, I believe I could become a phenomenon! 

            Well, perhaps that’s too big a dream, but at least I could gather enough references and experience to make an impressive resume.


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

 

 

 

 

 


My first trip to Mexico

            I love Mexico.  I’ve been there so many times I’ve lost count.  I was born in Brownsville, Texas, just blocks from the border, so I feel as authentic a Mexican-American as anyone.  So many trips, so many places, and each one completely different from the others.  A man once told me you could spend seven lifetimes traveling throughout Mexico, and still not see it all, and I believe it.

            The first trip that I can remember was when I was around seven years old.  My family and my Uncle’s family traveled together along the Gulf (Eastern) coast, all the way down to Tuxpan, Jalisco.  Tuxpan is a balmy, laid-back port town with beautiful palm trees, and the smell of fish.  The only thing remarkable I remember was the lunch I had—“Pulpo en su Tinto,”  a huge plate of octopus swimming in a dark purple sauce, with a portion of rice.  I liked it, but it was a bit much for a kid my size.  I seem to recall Tampico as being a bit more upscale, and that’s where we did some shopping.  Our parents taught us Spanish phrases for asking the cost of things and for haggling the price, but not the word for bathroom (bano.)  Hence the amusing memory of my six-year-old cousin miming his defecatory needs, complete with sound effects.  I guess we were detached from the adults at the time, but hey, it was 1969, nobody even wore seatbelts in those days.  We were perfectly safe.

            We visited some pyramids—Teotihuacan and El Tajin, I believe, just tall structures for kids to climb.  My Uncle Leon bought a variety of fruits and a bottle of rum to make a huge fruit salad.  We eagerly watched him prepare it, then finally asked what the rum was for.  “That’s for the cook,” he replied.  My favorite memory is of a rest stop high in the mountains, deep in the jungle, cloudy and cool.  There was no village, just a couple of solitary wooden shacks.  We sat on benches beside crude wooden tables and sipped hot chocolate.  It wasn’t very sweet, but it was delicious.  The only thing to watch was a mangy dog limping around, but it was nice, peaceful.  What more could you want?


Remembering Cuba

In December ’98 I was lucky enough to travel to Havana with the band Ache’ Pa’ Ti for the Annual Jazz Festival.  It was so awesome, I stayed for a full month. We got to watch some world-class acts up close, even back-stage like Los Van Van here.   Here’s a great video.


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