Monthly Archives: December 2014

Yogis and the Yucatan

The following is an excerpt from my memoir, “The Kid Who Got Away.”

While in therapy at the Transpersonal Psychology Institute in Menlo Park, California, my therapist felt that I would be a great candidate for past life regressions. Past life regression is a technique that uses hypnosis to recover any memories of past lives or incarnations that a patient might have retained.

In my most vivid regression, indicating that it might have been my most recent, I remembered being a young boy studying with a teacher in India. A group of us would gather each day to listen to his teachings of yoga and meditation. He called me to the side and asked me why I kept coming. He said I was way beyond his being able to teach me anything. He implied that I should be teaching him.

I left and trekked high into the Himalayas, seeking a cave of my own to be alone with my thoughts and increasingly lengthy meditations. The next thing I recalled was feeling warm and safe in a cave. I had a huge snake of some sort there with me. I believe he was providing most of the heat.

One day, I came out of my cave to find a group of people shivering in the cold outside my cave. Surprised, I asked what they were doing there. They told me they were waiting for my teachings. I made it clear I had nothing to teach them, that I was honored but that they should go home and find a suitable teacher. I left them there, returning to the solace of my warm cave and large friend.

The next time I came out of my cave the group had grown in size. There they stood, shivering in the cold, waiting for me to share some of my “wisdom” with them. I told them I knew nothing and asked them to leave. They wouldn’t. I told them some stories from the Ramayana and what they seemed to be teaching. Each time I exited my cave, the group had grown. I had no desire to be responsible for teaching them anything. I felt sorry for them and told them more stories each time I came out.

I awakened from a particularly long meditation realizing it was time to leave my body. “Death” was coming and coming soon. As I left my body, there was this exhilarating feeling of expansion. The cave lit up with a bright, pervasive light. I could feel myself being freed from the confines of this tiny, limited physical body. It was the most wonderful feeling of my life.


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Walking alone through the back streets of my little Colonia Guadalupe, the air smells of fresh, ripe peaches. There’s a fiesta on the corner and I hear the laughter of screaming children breaking holiday pinatas. The night is cool. I pass several lovely senoritas with long hair and olive skin. As I reach my house, I stop dead in my tracks and realize, “I’ve just bought a ticket to Havana. I’m going home.”

This is what greeted me as I hit the Cancun Airport

Cuba

The Yucatan was wonderful. The cool offshore breeze in Tulum, the turtles in Akumal, that was all wonderful; but the Yucatan will always mean one thing to me. I’m going home.

I headed for the border to reconnect with my Latin roots. I am all too aware of how significant a milestone my return to the home of my ancestors is on this journey. My angels have gotten me here at just the right time. Let’s hope all goes well and that on February 6, 2015 I step off a plane into the arms of those who came before me. I’m comin’ home, Mama. ¡Viva Cuba!

“Meow”

AkumalKatz

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Monks and Mayans

The following is an excerpt from my memoir “The Kid Who Got Away”:

While in therapy at the Transpersonal Psychology Institute in Menlo Park, California, my therapist felt that I would be a great candidate for past life regressions.  He thought this might be helpful to my growth and healing. I thought it sounded interesting and we began. After getting me into a very deep and relaxed state, I experienced several very clear visualizations. They were vivid, similar to High Definition movies.

In one, I was a Japanese Buddhist monk, a very old teacher. I wore the usual ochre robes and carried a long walking stick. I lived in a small hut between a dirt path and a vast series of rice paddies. After going out with my bowl to receive the simple food offerings of local villagers, I would return, eat and meditate. Occasionally, I would take on a student.

One afternoon, I heard a great commotion coming from up the dirt road. Horsemen attending to a young man approached. He dismounted and was announced as the Shogun’s only son. He proceeded to place to kneel in front of me on the tatami’s of my little hut, placing his sword next to him. He stated that he was here because his father had ordered him to receive my wisdom. He then demanded that I quickly give him this wisdom so he could be on his way. He had much more pressing matters to attend to.

I noted his arrogance and dismissed him immediately. This did not please the Shogun’s son. He had fire in his eyes as he rode off in a huff with his entourage. No one had ever had the temerity to speak to him like that and he vowed never to return. Apparently, his father thought differently.

He returned several times. I dismissed him each time. Each time his father sent him back. I told him he didn’t have enough humility to be taught anything by a cockroach, let alone a buddhist monk. I wasn’t going to waste my time on him. Each time, his anger grew.

Soon after our last encounter, I was returning home with my begging bowl full of the day’s offerings. I came to a fork in the road not far from where I lived. To my right was my hut. To my left was a road that led out of town. I knew that the arrogant youngster was waiting for me, sword at the ready. If he got the same response as usual, it was his intention to cut my head off and leave it at the entrance to my hut.

I had no belongings. I knew that the road to the left led to freedom. I could simply walk away and be down with all of this silliness. There were many wandering monks. I would be just be another faceless robed priest, begging bowl in hand, on the road to wherever his meditations might lead him.

I chose the road to certain death.


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The Yucatan Peninsula. That name has always conjured up romantic images of the road that runs around the world; the road I have found myself moving along many times in my life. Like many places along this road, I’ve had to see it for myself. At last, I’m here.

In some ways, these images have been shattered by this trip. As I experienced upon my return to Bali after 40+ years, time has left it’s mark once again on what was once pristine and uncluttered. The Yucatan Peninsula is now the “Mayan Riviera.”  Where there were once locals, a few Western travelers and a simple way of life, there a resorts, locals hustling tourists and a Hard Rock Café. Time marches along to the beat of capitalism’s “Disco Dollar” theme song.

Still there is much for me to enjoy in this beautiful place. I feel so at home here in the jungle. I awaken to a sunrise symphony of 2Birdsbirds singing and cawing out their good morning greetings to each other as small creatures rustle through the underbrush, the wind singing through the leaves of a diverse array of greenery. My hotel is also an eco-friendly game preserve. There are animals everywhere. Just up the road is a rescued deaf black panther and a blind spotted leopard. The panther paces and the leopard points his unseeing eyes at me, wondering if what he smells might be on the menu. I met “Nala” the baby lion and was warned that, though the cub was very cute, I could lose a finger.

IguanaCroc

Bicylists

I was chauffered around the pre-Columbia ruins in Coba on a bicycle powered by a Mayan who huffed and puffed me up and down hills that would have given me a coronary.

Pyrimid2PyramidTulum Dinner  I had a “tipico Mexicano” dinner in Tulum.

The sun was shining brightly through puffy clouds as I swam in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea in Akumal,   SandSign

where you can swim with the giant turtles and view coral reefs and tranquil fish,

Chiqa  or simply sit back and view the wildlife.

Playa del Carmen was so crowded with tourists and resorts that I stayed just long enough to eat on the beach. I couldn’t wait to leave. I don’t think there’s enough tea in China to tempt me into living in an over-developed resort town  like Playa del Carmen.

I’ve only been here two days yet I’ve seen so much already. Tomorrow begins phase 2 of this excursion: the chill phase. This phase doesn’t include much activity. Hammock, reading, writing and, well…chillin’. In the meantime

Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.”

Nala          “Meow”

A New Start and a New Home

Excerpt from my memoir “The Kid Who Got Away
The Bali I discovered after leaving Australia in the early 70s was an enchanting Shangrila, without any of the trappings that come with a western presence. There was one hotel, the Bali Beach Hotel and one restaurant, La Taverna Bali Village. The tiny airport had a landing strip in Denpasar so short that airplanes had to practically land vertically. It was truly a paradise lost with sweet people, a few travelers who’d discovered it and the ever-present traditions of art and dance that never ceased. Magic was a piece of the fabric of the Bali I found when I stepped off that plane.
My reunion with Prophecy was joyful. They were still the same crazies I’d met at the Hotel Indonesia in Djakarta but had met with some turmoil since my departure. Jumpin’ Jet, the financier, went nuts. He’d emptied the Prophecy communal abode and sent everyone scurrying with threats of violence and mayhem. The dream still lived in their hearts but had relocated to Bali.
They had secured a gig at La Taverna Bali Village, a gourmet Italian restaurant (actually, the only restaurant) in the Sanur area. The owner, whom they called the Viscount (he was an actual British Viscount), paid them fifty rupias and a meal. In exchange, they brought their rag-tag music into his first class, four-star gourmet restaurant. I sat in and we played as if I’d never left. I was home.
I took up residence in Sanur. I had a small hut at the end of a coconut grove, on the sand, behind a stone sea wall about two feet high. I paid no rent. I didn’t even know if there was anyone to pay rent to. There was an unobstructed view of the ocean and a smoking Gunung Agung volcano off in the distance as I stood in my doorway.
In the mornings, the coral reef would keep the tide at bay. I could lie on my back in the cool waters as if in a bathtub. My nearest neighbors on either side were no less than a quarter of a mile from me. At the other end of the coconut grove was a  Wayong Kulit shadow puppet-theater. On an early evening, you could hear the children laugh and thrill to the puppets reenacting the ancient Hindu classics, the Ramayana and Mahabarata. I never wore shoes and I never wanted for anything.
In the evenings, those few western travelers present on the island would gather at Kuta Beach, where huge waves crashed thunderously day and night into forever. A bonfire was built and guitars produced as the sky painted sunsets using colors from a palette I’d never seen before. It was truly a joyful aerial musical show, with a soundtrack produced by wanderers carving a traveler’s mandala around the world. We sang the night away.

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San Miguel de Allende lies atop a series of hot spring that are healing and calming. My friend Sophie is determined to show me all of them. La GrutaEscondido Place and Taboada Hot Springs are all on beautifully well-kept grounds. One has an olympic sized lap pool. All have little restaurants, lockers, grounds keepers and attendants. For a small entrance fee, you can soak in the waters and use all the facilities. I understand that the springs are much busier on the weekends. During the week, we were practically alone. I have walked away from each of my visits refreshed and at peace with the world.

I did it.   Pap1  I broke my silence.

A buddy of mine by the name of David Garza has a band that secured a gig at “Paprika,” in the San Antonio section of SMA. With a little prodding from him and Sophie, I did a couple of standards like  “Satisfaction”  and “Hoochie Coochie Man.”

Pap2It was the first time I’d sung a song in front of anybody in about two years. The pipes were rusty but still held water. The dance floor was full. I had a great time. Stay tuned…

On one of our trips to Escondido Hot Springs, Sophie drove by a house a couple of blocks from my apartment. I noticed it was for rent. She said she was familiar with the house, having taught astrology there years ago. I asked her to stop. I asked her to write down the phone number and call. She did. The owner, a sweet Mexican woman who had raised her children in that house, arrived fifteen minutes later. We went inside. It is huge but costs less than the much smaller apartment I’m currently in. We went to the hot springs. I thought about it, though I had already made up my mind. I looked for the holes but couldn’t find any. SMA was opening its heart to me again. I accepted the invitation. I move in Dec. 20.

As we sealed the deal in the traditional Mexican manner, with great big warm hugs all around, my new landlady and her husband (an amazing artist) taught me the proper way to perform a Mexican hug. She taught me that you must place the head over the other persons left shoulder, positioning each huger’s heart in closer proximity to each other. She said, “Corazón a corazón,” meaning “Heart to heart.”

I’m off for some warm Caribbean waters next Thursday for a week-long vacation from my everyday vacation. I’ve burnt out yet another camera but quickly got a replacement for this trip. No more point and clickers for me. I’m going DSLR all the way, baby! Gotta show you some great shots of Xpu-Ha Beach and the giant turtles in Akumal on the Yucatan Peninsula. In the meantime:

Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.”

Boo Tofu

“Meow”