Castro has died!
So today was another day that I kept telling Lara about its importance. “Do you know Fidel Castro has died yesterday!” I exclaimed. Then I went on to explain who Castro was. “He was the ruler of Cuba who defied the United States and capitalism,” I said. I told her that there were no ads in Cuba. You weren't bombarded with “Buy me” “Try me” “Give me money” signs wherever you turned when driving on the roads. Your mind was not being hijacked and attacked by companies trying to sell you their products. The most you saw were revolutionary slogans. To me, it was nice. I enjoyed the bit of fresh air after the assault of ads on my senses whenever I went to the city.
On the other hand, I didn't know if it was good or bad. I didn't feel I had a right to comment on the goodness of this way of life as I wasn't living in the country and only Cubans could talk for themselves. I just knew that there were two sides of the coin. It was nice for me as an outsider, but people did not have the luxuries or even the basic commodities that capitalism provided and we took for granted. I knew that Castro had supporters as well as dissenters. It's the same all over the world for every ruler of course. However, Castro was a special case. As one Cuban, the 51 year-old Graciela Martinez said “For those who loved him, he was the greatest. For those who hated him, there was no one worse.”
Is he a revolutionary hero that you come across rarely or a ruthless despot as some see? That will be up to history to decide. Or perhaps even in the centuries to come, people will not be able to come to a consensus.
Castro was only the head of state of a small, okay rather a big island compared to the others in the Caribbean but still only a nation of 11 million people. Yet, he has gained international acclaim and importance.
“If I am considered a myth, the United States deserves the credit,” Castro said. It is true.
Lara didn't seem to care much about Castro either. You know she is not interested in talking to people much even though now she is socializing more and learning manners. But the moment someone gives the signal they are ready to play with her, she starts chattering. Everybody has a button to turn them alive. Lara's is “Play play play...”
When we came across Prince Harry in St. Kitts, I tried to explain Lara who he was and what the commotion was about. “There have been three great empires in the world. One is the Roman Empire, the other is the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman Empire is now modern Turkey. So you are the descendent of two great empires. However, you should not be proud of anything you haven't done. Glory is not inherited through blood,” I said and went on. “Of course it's natural to be proud of your ancestors. I hope you will be proud of me to be your mother when you grow up. But you have a direct relation to me, I am the one raising you. I hope you take pride in me as your mother and be proud of the wisdom I hope to have given you. And most of all, be proud of your own achievements and the life you have lived. Be proud, but be humble too. Be proud in the sense of being content, being at peace with the things you have done.”
I went on with the lecture: “The third is the British Empire. They have colonized so many faraway lands. They still have the queen.” Then I showed her the East Caribbean coin and said “That's Prince Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. Think of your grandmother's photo on a coin. How would it be?”
To be honest, Lara didn't seem so interested. But you never know... Sometimes a long time passes after I have said something, out of the blue she comes up with comments and questions, you understand that she has processed the information you gave and is trying to understand. That's natural learning.
It's ridiculous to try to tweet to get to people, to reach people... when even the people who follow you do not read your posts. It's ridiculous the amount of time to spend to fit into 140 characters, optimizing. It's ridiculous the amount of time to spend trying to find people to tag in photos so that you may get somewhere.
I really believe that what I'm trying to do is worth the news, I really believe what I have done is worth the news. I really believe the things I'm saying is as important as if not more than most of the things that people with millions of followers say, I really believe the things I'm saying is as important as if not more than most of the posts that get thousands of likes and retweets on Twitter or likes and shares on Facebook.
I'm giving up. Of course not what I do. But I am giving up trying to find somebody to support me, trying to reach people to get myself known so that I can get my ideas known and sown. I am giving up on these things until I've got nothing more important to do in life. I'm giving on these things so that I can spend my time writing the things I have in my mind and enjoy my own life. Trying to get your voice heard in a world full of cacophony is not something I particularly wish to do. Neither do I have a desire to be a part of such a world. So I really am quitting. My articles and posts are out here in the cyberspace if someday someone stumbles upon them and thinks they're worthwhile. My thoughts are out there in the cyberspace for anybody to read for free. I have my life to live and things to do. Writing gives me satisfaction. Using social media to share my writing does not. Because I expect some socialness there, and I cannot find it. Whereas writing is a lonely affair and gives me satisfaction whether anybody reads what I write or not. It's fun to do the kitten running after her own tail, but it's nice to know that your tail -or in other words, happiness- will follow you if you walk ahead. Just hold your head up high.
“The Caribbean's Only Drive-In Volcano”... That's how it was advertised on the pamphlets of the cruiseship for St. Lucia. It said “The World's Only Drive-In Volcano” on the billboard entering the area.
“Drive-In Volcano” didn't have much meaning to me, but you know, “one and only” claims give the impression of grandeur.
It was a huge disappointment. Had I known it was only that, I would have skipped it. As if I have never seen a volcano! Sulphur Springs my ass. They are everywhere. Go to Gökçeada. You've got much better. Go to New Zealand, go to Iceland. Those hot springs and geysers are impressive. There is at least something to see and walk around. This was just a walk down a couple of steps. “There it is” thing. You could have got the whole concept by just looking at one photo.
They used to walk down the hot spring which was 120 C and boil eggs as a demonstration. However, a couple of years ago a guide took a misstep and fell down the water up to his knees... causing severe burns. Luckily, they were second degree burns and he survived, but from then on, going down the sulphur springs was prohibited.
Even with that, I'm not sure if it would have been impressive. That's the bad part of being a seasoned traveller. You lose your sense of awe. There are not many things that impress you anymore because you've seen much nicer ones beforehand. Yet... You keep on going. Because you know, that somewhere in the world there are still things and people that will catch you by surprise, that will impress you and give you that sense of awe which makes life worth living. That's why you travel. Because those are the moments you can get closest to heaven without dying.
Today we were in the Nevis of St. Kitts & Nevis. It was the first country of ten on this trip for #Mission2EveryCountry
I found out that these “countries” in the Caribbean with a name of something and something are basically two islands who come together to form a country. Being on one of the islands would be fine of course, as you do not need to go to every city in a country in order to count it to have been there. Still, I would have felt it missing in case of islands. Anyway, we'll be making our way to St. Kitts as well on the next leg.
After finding out the post office and sending a postcard, we walked around. We ended up on a nice long beach and enjoyed the beautiful weather and the sea. The thought of the winter and cold back at home made me appreciate it much more.
On our way back, there was a commotion at the port. They didn't let us pass. The way was blocked; there was a ceremony. Boys in local dress were dancing to the sound of a rhytmic music. As it was hot and crowded, we sat at a bench with Lara while Carlo went to get himself a beer. He came back with news. “Prince Harry is coming. That's what the fuss is about.”
Upon hearing the news, we naturally got up and went over to have a look. People were lined up, all trying to get a photo of the prince or to shake his hand. Thinking he might help me with my project, Carlo told me to go over and give him my business card. I didn't feel like doing it. He wouldn't have cared anyway. Even if I managed to give it to him, he would have tossed it aside at the first opportunity. Even if he had bothered to have a look at my website, he would have disregarded it fast.
Yes, celebrities are good to reach audiences and crowds. The presence of Angelina Jolie and Jude Law makes a difference for the cause of Peace One Day started by Jeremy Gilley. But does it really work? Even if it does, how much does it work? Refugees may get attention because Jolie is special envoy for UNHCR, still... the attention is so very low. Personal gossip takes over the cause. Somehow, and that's the crucial thing because I don't know if there is a how, we need greater moral outrage. Somehow, -and that's the crucial thing because I don't know if there is a how,- we need greater moral outrage, we need to plant the seed of self-sustaining awareness. Sure, celebrities have some power to drag masses to take action, usually raising money, but real change happens when normal people feel a connection with those suffering and start doing something out of their own. We need en masse action.
Anyway... While walking back from the beach on my own, I came across a construction worker plastering a window. As our eyes met, he smiled and raised his hand to salute. I smiled back and did the same. That, to me, meant much more than a handshake with a prince. I wish we could all connect so easily with a smile. I wish we could care more about ordinary people's daily troubles rather than occupying ourselves with the gossips of celebrity.
You know where a person spends his money gives away a lot about his character. I wish there could be a study done on how much is spent on things on an indivual basis and on a governmental basis. For example how much do we spend for food, for clothing, for furniture, for housing, for accommodation, for cars, for travel, for luxury items like jewels, for cosmetics, for drugs etc. How much is spent per government and worldwide on health, education, infrastructure, and how much on “security”, on arms etc.? That could just tell you what this world is... It could give away how horrifying the state of nature of our governments is...
I wonder if anyone would read my posts if I wrote about my travels and posted photos of my daughter and my husband. I know the things I write about are heavy stuff and does not interest the average public even though it should interest the general public.
What if I publish photos of myself nursing my daughter? Would an exposed breast create interest in what I write? But then again, my target audience is not the ones who would go after such things. Still... the adage goes “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” Is there? If I can get people talking, as long as I get people talking about me, that's what counts.
The Next Day...
Or is it really? Do I care about people talking about me if they do not talk about my ideas? I do not like personal, yet people do not know how to talk about ideas but stay at the level of gossip.
No, I don't want that.
Still... Let me try this method too. Since the decent manner does not work... Let's try indecency a bit.
“No open borders.”
When I saw this written on the small TV screen at the back of the airplane, I was puzzled. “No open borders?” I thought to myself. “Who would write that, why on Earth would they write that on a screen in an airplane?”
Then I leaned over to have a close look in order to see what else was written on the corners of the screen in small letters. It said “No open orders,” not “No open borders.” It was a note for the flight-attendants.
Well... When one's mind is consumed with the same topic, that's how it works.
Putting aside the crooked banking system and exploitation of the poor who need money to survive... What's one of the biggest problems with the current economic system?
It's based on profit.
My dishwasher broke down once again and I started thinking about it. The first washing machines were so sturdy, they went for 30 years or even more. Nowadays, even when you buy brand names they just break down almost right after the guarantee date. It's either a costly electronic piece to change or the other option is to change it completely. People remark that it is done on purpose, i.e. pieces are built to last as long as the guarantee date. So that then, you have to spend money once again and ensure the company makes money.
When we were doing off-road in Africa back in 2001, Jeff (Willner) who organized the trip had said the same thing for tires. He said the first ones they produced went for a lifetime. Then they realized they couldn't sell more tires if that was the case. So they started producing lesser quality tires.
The same goes for electronics. I never care about updating, I use my computer as a typewriter and to make research on the internet. So I don't need much. But they keep updating software and I need to change a perfectly fine computer which works fine for me as otherwise I am not able to use basic programs. It's incredible.
The other day my mother-in-law's central heating boiler broke down. She called the authorized technical service, they came and told her it needed changing. As it cost a lot of money, she called another man to have a look. This man just changed a fuse and voila, the boiler was working. How many times have you or someone close to you had some appliance break down in the house and had a similar experience?
This is one thing. What about medicines? The drugs and tests doctors prescribe... I have heard so many stories, I lived through so many myself, doctors suggesting an operation for something that could easily be solved by a small cut, doctors prescribing so many unnecessary procedures and pills for children. And it is so well known that pharmaceuticals buy doctors cars, TV sets, send them on luxurious exotic trips. It seriously is a mad world. Something really needs to be done about it. It needs to be toppled. We need to change where the money goes. That makes the difference between heaven or hell.
I am an addict. My life is reading and writing. (Well, and some travelling too.) Yang Wanli, a Chinese poet who lived back in the 12th century saw books as a distraction from the way of the Buddha. Books, to him, were probably like TV or internet to us who criticize them today is. He didn't approve of books. They took away from mindful presence. So he wrote:
Don’t read books!
Don’t chant poems!
When you read books your eyeballs wither away
leaving the bare sockets.
When you chant poems your heart leaks out slowly
with each word.
People say reading books is enjoyable.
People say chanting poems is fun.
But if your lips constantly make a sound
like an insect chirping in autumn,
you will only turn into a haggard old man.
And even if you don’t turn into a haggard old man,
it’s annoying for others to have to hear you.
It’s so much better
to close your eyes, sit in your study,
lower the curtains, sweep the floor,
It’s beautiful to listen to the wind,
listen to the rain,
take a walk when you feel energetic,
and when you’re tired go to sleep.
(translation by Jonathan Chaves)