Monday, October 24, 2011

The Most Wonderful Adventure

I went to the beach today. Ever since I came back, I hadn't even been near the ocean, and it honestly felt good. It felt more than good. So much so that for a while, I truly thought I was in the Pure Land, or what most people would understand as heaven.

As we were driving to the coast, I could finally remember what it was that I love so much here... It is not the country, which is after all only a name, with unfriendly associations (for me). It is the land... Lush shades of green, high cliffs overlooking the bluest of the bluest, there, where the sky mixes with the ocean...

And trust me, I have been to many beaches in my life. My travels have taken me all the way to the Indian Ocean, which is magnificent, populated with the most colorful and interesting lifeforms, and on whose shores one finds paradisaical spas and jewels of small hotels, where the life of the tourist is, indeed, heavenly. I have also been to the Caribbean, where you can lay in the water all day while pelicans lounge nearby and you just relax while Piña Colada oozes endlessly into your glass, never half-empty... I've swum with sharks and turtles and rays in the blue waters, and as a child, I was a regular at the Cote d'Azur Mediterranean sea, from the shores of Camargues to the small creek at Théoule-sur-Mer, where I spent most of my summers. I even swam in the cold North Sea, while vacationing at the Oléron Peninsula, or in the Atlantic shores of Bretagne summers. I've walked through the Aegean Sea, in Crete, with a group of buddies, fully clothed, (by the way, that is one of the joyful moments of my life that I will never forget). More recently I even crossed the Baltic Sea with a bunch of Dharma friends, and actually scuba dived - without scubas - in the Adriatic Sea with my boyfriend a couple of months ago. So you could say I know a thing or two when it comes to great masses of water...

So, my friends, believe me... The Pacific Ocean is something else entirely!!!

First of all, the name... come on!!! Could it possibly be more enthralling? "Pacific"... that is, of course, the last thing you'd think upon looking at the wild upsurge and breaking of the waves. And yet it is, pacific, in the sense that swimming in these waters transforms you... Today, for example, was magical! As I stood there, staring, in absolute fascination, the Ocean's only witness except for a lone fisherman, some distance away, the waves hit and crashed in almost miraculous ways... I wished I had my camera with me and had been able to catch a special moment, when a tall wall of crystal water rised, fascinating, transparent, only to crash and disappear in the world's largest bubble bath one second later. It was so magnificent, I almost felt like clapping, and although I did not clap, I screamed!  I screamed in glee, in wonder and amazement, in gratitude at being there, and then just stripped and ran to the water.

It was fresh and deep and playful and it opened up to me like a mother to her estranged child. I dived and swam and laughed for a long long time. Both Maïa and Glo came to join me after a while, and we all felt brand new... like somehow the sea had taken all our worries, all our preoccupations, all negativity, all fear to a deep far away abyss, and replaced them with open space... space to be happy, space to be radiant, space to be nothing but to only exist.

We even flew a kite! Maïa brought hers. It's an orange Koi fish, and it flew high over our heads, brilliant against a deep blue sky. After the afternoon nap, in a brightly colored hammock (oh how I have missed those!), I meditated on the beach, while my kid jumped in the waves at low tide. The sun set and ignited the sea with pink,  the sky ablazed... All I could feel was space enveloping me, and time was an illusion, I could only think "If this is not real - and somehow it is not - then mind is truly the most wonderful adventure."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


"If you go back to El Salvador, it will be bad, you must come back here to Europe"

This was Lama Ole's divination for me, when my doubts attacked me and I asked him whether I should move to Europe or go back to El Salvador.

As always, he was right.

My lama knows me, he knows who I am, and what I am capable of. That's all I need.

The rest, those who also know and hate it, I have no use for.

So hard

Stay in the present moment. 

Wow! That's so hard!!!! It's so hard to stay in the present moment because I miss my boyfriend so much, and I just keep on thinking about the day I'll finally see him again. It is so hard because there are so many things on my mind that worry me, about whether the rain is going to continue pouring down for another week or not. It is so hard because my daughter has a lovely friend who has many problems at home and I'd like to help. It is so hard because coming back to El Salvador I have had to face so many disappointments and I feel out of place. It is so hard because I've ran out of money and need to make so many expenses. It is so hard because the roads in my country are blocked because bridges have fallen and I had a trip planned I can no longer take. It is so hard because my mother's getting older and I find her so vulnerable. It is so hard because once again I find myself without a Sangha to go to just when I need to meditate so hard. It is so hard because I just want to be elsewhere most of the time. It is so hard because if I were elsewhere I would be worried about my family who would have stayed behind. It is so hard because I don't like my here and now. It is so hard because I miss my boyfriend so much and he is so far away, and there's still such a long time before we see each other again. (Did I say that already?) It is hard because of the many choices that mean I will always be leaving someone behind.

It is just so damn hard...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The struggle

The rain doesn't stop falling down, and it reflects my mood to perfection.

I learned yesterday that the complex and intricate immigration laws of the European Union will not allow me to come back to Hungary until December.

I try to look at the bright side of things and suppose it means I will have more time to spend with my family and also more time to work at my profession, earning good money that I can later use to invest in building my new life in Europe. But... my mood still is as closed and gray as the sky above, where the rain never stops. I could scream.

I try to distract myself and see my friends, take my kids to the movies, and work on a difficult legal translation I'm in the process of doing. I even try to cook. But the rain doesn't stop falling and my efforts to improve my mood just fall with it. I am angry, irritable, and did I mention it, also PMSy. I feel trapped in a golden cage, where everything looks perfect but it is all a bad joke because I can't leave it.

I know I am supposed to be a grown-up about this, and act all mature and wise. Focus on the higher view all the time and smile happily because all is well in my world, when it could actually be going so much worse. Literally much worse. Around me, in the whole of Central America, people are dying, losing their homes and everything they hold dear, and we cannot do much to help. Sure we can donate our clothes, our blankets, even some food or medications, but their predicament is still terrible and unforgiving.

Reflecting on others' misery actually gets me out of my egotistical little world and makes me look at my life in perspective... I am healthy, I am safe, my loved ones are as well, we have a strongly built home, which provides warmth and comfort, and a hot cup of tea is within my reach anytime, heck! even hot chocolate if I want! This should do it.

Yet, ever so human, my ego refuses to let me go. It screams from deep inside to focus on my own petty dramas, it wants me angry and sad. It needs me insecure and weak, trembling with leaky eyes. It thrives on my discomfort, on my craving for attention. This actually pisses me off even more than anything else. Am I really this basic??? Am I really so shallow??? And the sad answer is yes I am.

But I am also something else. I am also a deep and profound lake of inner peace, a shining female Buddha, who looks lovingly upon the world around. I am a temple of strength, endurance and trust. I am a mountain, tall and unshakable. I am his student, and a devoted practitioner. I am the music, and I am all joy; and I am true love. Even when I forget about it and let the inner storm rage in the oceans of my mind; underneath the surface, a Buddha is smiling. And I suddenly realize... I am smiling too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What the Rain Takes Away

In today's newspaper I read El Salvador is officially classified as the country most vulnerable to the consequences of ill weather and rain-provoked catastrophes. More than surprised, I was angered by this. I just find it shocking that in a country where the President collects sport cars, and all members of congress earn their weight in gold (quite undeservedly), there is yet not enough money in the government's budget to educate its people. Another thing our government still doesn't understand, even after decades of tropical storms and hurricane seasons that come ALWAYS on the same month of the year, is that there is such a thing as a "Weather forecast". Heck! There's even something called "Hurricane's watch". Yet, apparently, the national meteorological institute has better things to do than to issue timely warnings, I mean, like BEFORE people lose their houses and livestock and need to be evacuated with water up to their waist...

A couple of years ago, I had the very interesting task of translating into French a study made by a well known international NGO regarding adaptation to climate change in Cuba. What I found fascinating is that, in spite of it being an island, and in spite of the fact that it is the country with statistically more hurricanes than any other in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, it is also the LESS VULNERABLE to these natural catastrophes. It is even more interesting, because Cuba is, in our region, the "elephant in the room". The one shameful communist country, where everyone is poor, with no industry, no food, no nothing. So how do these poor backward Cubans, who supposedly can't get anything right because of their evil government, manage to survive and actually not lose EVERYTHING (as in: their lives) with so many hurricanes hitting their coasts???

And this NGO was not making anything up, just check this web-site: where I quote "Hurricanes are the more devastating natural disasters occurred in Cuba during this century and in particular at the cyclone season from October to November. However, only four got a dantesque character because of the human and material lost that it provoked. These four took place before 1959. Four years later, the Cuban government designed and passed a Measure System for Civil Defense of the country. It reduced damages of every type." Yes, four years after 1959, as in "Castro times".

So what's going on here? Am I suggesting we all turn to Fidel Castro and become communists ourselves? Please, give me more credit. I will give you more credit also and assume nobody has yet jumped to such a simplistic and stupid conclusion (yet it seems in El Salvador, whenever someones mentions something about Cuba that seems to work well, in spite of the potent anti-Cuba American propaganda, we immediately become the new encarnation of Trotsky, or someone...)

Well the study actually emphasized the importance of education to prevent the most damaging consequences of natural catastrophes. And this also applies to earthquakes, since this area is also prone to this other sort of cataclysmic entertainment. If people are educated, if they are not only able to read and write, but are also capable of abstract thinking, and of reasoning on their own (something our governments are not too excited about, because, then, if the people actually become smarter, what will they say when they realize who their rulers truly are????) Well, that may well be a drawback of educating people, but come on Politicians, it also means you will be more educated, and then maybe smarter... you'll still be able to nail everyone, it will only imply slightly more complex schemes and machinations. But quite honestly, this is really not about you and your power-addictions. This is about the people whose walls collapse with every tropical storm, who lose their children when the rivers overflow, whose chickens, goats and cows drown and leave them with no livelihood. And I'm not even getting into the Dengue and other epidemics...
Yet, think about it this way... Less money invested in reconstructing these already pitiful villages,($837K according to today's newspaper) more money for your pockets! More sport cars mister President! More bodyguards mister Congressman! More fake nails and liposuction for your trophy mistresses!!!

How horrible... I am sorry for the sarcasm outburst, but this is just how pissed off I am to see that the years go by, looking exactly the same, and yet our authorities apparently learn next to NOTHING about preventing natural catastrophes. It makes me angry to watch the news and see young mothers cry their eyes out because they lost their babies to a stupid flood. This should not be happening. At least not all the time, at least not without learning the lesson. But guess what? As long as people are kept ignorant and stupid, it will. 

And no, I won't make the mistake of coming down on the government without offering solutions. The ones I present here come from the study I mentioned before. It's so simple it makes me want to cry. It's like this:
  • Formal education, specifically on preparation (as in: What to do/Where to go/What to leave behind/What to take with us when an alert comes out)
  • Regular nationwide drills. (Yes, drills. Like the fire drill at school. So simple...)
  • Political will from the highest level of decision-making down to the local communities... Communication, the key to every well functioning relationship. This allows for centralized decision-making as well as decentralized execution.
  • Meteorological forecasts (you'd think everyone knew about this, but...)
It's that simple, and yet apparently it's so hard. Good luck El Salvador... I'm so so soooooo sorry.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I am not really sure of how to write this post. I just feel it's important to share what I feel now. Maybe because I've seriously never felt this - and please, I'm not talking about "the depth, or breadth, or heights" of my feelings (to paraphrase Elizabeth Barret Browning), since I strongly believe one should never compare one love to the next - I'm talking about feeling loved, not only in love, but actually loved back.

You see, I think there is a big difference between falling in love - which is a rather short period of time, and can sometimes sum up the whole of the relationship - and being in love. The latter is what I am, now. "I am aware" of this, like Alanis says in her beautiful song "Head over feet". A song I've come to identify myself with lately.

As you may remember, I had mixed feeling about leaving Budapest, but ended up trusting, not only the man I love, but also myself, us, our relationship, what we've found in each other, what we're building together. Because I've realized now, we are building something together!!! And that is actually the first time in my life when I've ever had this feeling of joint purpose, of unity, of clan or pack feeling - although we're just two, so maybe these words are not the best choices to describe the situation, but bear with me...

We said goodbye exactly 17 days ago. That's not the end of the world, fortunately (!!!) but still, it's a long time not to sleep on his shoulder, not to tickle him, not to smell him, not to hold him in my arms... And there's still about 28 days, or more, before I can do all that once more. So I miss him. Yet, this distance (come on people, we're talking about 10,235 kilometers here!!!) is absolutely bearable.

This is not the first time I am in love with someone who lives far away. In fact, in the past four years, the distance between me and my beloved has averaged a little over 9,280 kilometers, so you see, I am no beginner at this long-distance thing. The one thing I am discovering though, even if I may know the theory from our Teachings, is that distance is only an illusion. (Thank you Skype!).

My man and I speak to each other everyday, we joke and laugh, we discuss serious business, make decisions, share our little and big everyday things, we send kisses and kiss the camera (real slowly so we can appreciate each other's lips, hihi!), we remind each other how much we love one another, and short of hugging, tickling, smelling and sleeping in each other's arms, we're pretty close to each other all the time.

Whenever I think of the distance between us, I can only measure it in the traveling hours that I will need to cover in order to be in his arms again (let me tell you there are maaaaany); otherwise, we could be next door to each other. I feel as close to him as ever, if not closer. You see, now he has an insight on the part of my life he could only imagine before... My country, my family, my role as a mother, the personality of my kids, even my cat (yes, this last part he probably could do without, but still...).

I am really moved to feel so strongly about him, ABOUT US!!! I am moved by his constancy, by his presence, everyday, in my life. I am moved by the tenderness we show each other in spite of... well... the distance (hehe, didn't I just say it was all just an illusion?).

I am moved by love. :')

Friday, October 7, 2011

I Go for Refuge to the Sangha

Today I had lunch with my friend Lex. Lex lives in San Francisco, and has come to El Salvador for a short time for quite sad reasons. His father just passed away after struggling against an unrelenting cancer. Lex is not the kind of person to get devastated by death. He is a Buddhist as well, and although we have different teachers and schools, he has an understanding of impermanence; he rather spoke to me about his feelings and beliefs. How we are caving in to cancer by living such unhealthy lifestyles, eating every and anything, creating false necessities that drive us to lead such stressful lives, forgetting to honor the necessary balance between nature and modern life, and how this leads more and more people to long sad illnesses.

I believe him. I believe my friend is right. He was also quite articulate discussing how the christian frame of mind makes you 'accept' and 'surrender' to 'bad things' instead of taking the opportunity to better ourselves and let our true selves shine. He feels this even more strongly because his mother is also a cancer victim, although in remission. We all hope she will never relapse, and I wish her the will to get over this sickness, to actually vanquish it completely, and to shine brightly over her world.

This topic also brought back memories from long ago, when my own father died of cancer, and how people came to offer their condolences and told me this was 'God's Will'. I remember the rebellion in my heart against a God whose will it was for my father to wither away and die like that... This actually sort of set the pace for my life in this country, to which I had just arrived, but that's a whole other story.

Lunch with Lex lead to many other interesting conversations. I shared my quasi permanent irritation about being here, and not feeling a part of it anymore, especially in areas close to my heart, and he gave me direct and clear teachings, reminding me how to be compassionate with myself and others, how to truly be useful to others and how to actively embody the values I so strongly advocate.

Listening to my friend talk about the loss of his father, about how he worries about his mother, about his love for this Earth we all need so desperately and constantly forget about, I suddenly felt my strength coming back to me, and was filled with purpose.

Ever so subtly, without seeing it clearly, I had done what needs to be done in times of confusion and disturbances. I went for refuge. And I found it.