Thursday, December 31, 1987

QUARTZ—dream journal sequence

QUARTZ journal entry


The night terrors all began with the Zebra Killer. The bad dreams, the waking up screaming, the terror of being persued and strangled. My grandmother said I screamed loud enough to wake the dead. More like the living. When my brother was woken by my screams, he said he'd wait to hear if there was an intruder before he'd get out of bed. Either way, he'd hide under the covers.

I thought I was losing my marbles. My mother is schizophrenic and though they keep telling me it isn't hereditary, some part of me can never let go of the idea. Needless to say, I analyze things to the point of death.

My mother is also a clarivoyant. Second Sight runs in the family. Bad enough to be crazy but clarivoyant too? When she predicts or finds something, I want to make a rational case for it. Nothing to do with the supernatural or intuition.

I became a non-believer of the supernatural during the wee hours while trying to sneak into the house—the door hinge cracked like someone knocking—I inadvertantly became one of my grandmother's famous ghosts—the ones who knock at the door when death approaches.

Within the week, someone in the family did die, I don't remember who. Her brother Bill? So there I was, both non-believer and a witness. I toyed with the idea that my real events might be linked up with events yet to happen and perhaps we provide the link that makes it seem like precognition.

How else to explain the time my high school girlfriends and I were joyriding down Mt. Tam and suddenly, there were a weird dreamlike image of black tires spinning in front of me—distracting me to the point that I said, I don't want to alarm you guys but I keep seeing spinning tires. They all laughed, called me names and seconds later, the brakes gave out. The owner of the antique red Mercedes in front of us was not happy to be our brake shoe at the T stop. But it kept us from going through the fence and the house below.

Many dreams that I described in detail to my friends would come true. Sometimes I'd misinterpret what I saw, What distinguished them from regular dreams was that they were lucid--no fantastic dream imagery. Normal boring everyday events. Looking back, I blame the dreams on the enormous amounts of grass we used to smoke—it was the late 60's and we were in the middle of it all. But that 's another story.

My hooded dream-murderer demon evolved into other images. I grew bold, or rather, weary of it, so I tried asking it what it wanted with me. I even asked it to unveil itself. Once it changed sex and it became my aunt Jane with whom I was having trouble with, and later, it became me. Fear: my own worst enemy.

Through the years the dream image plagued me but I've never written down when these dreams happened. Location doesn't seem to matter—I've had them while in Europe and in Mexico. Imagine what a bloodcurdling scream in the middle of the night will do to the morale of the hotel clientele. Guests lined the hall, some dressed only in sheets looking like real ghosts with white faces! Pardon, I said. Was my face red.

My boyfriends learned not to grab me when the night terrors happened. Besides learning how to scream, I learned to fight in my sleep too. There's a section of the brain Ithat paralyses nearly everyone who has nightmares so the won't physically respond and hurt themselves or sleeping partner. But I have thin boundaries. I can fight with the best of street brawlers in my sleep.

Those cliff falling dreams when one wakes up stiff, in a cold sweat and can't move, is an example of this sleep paralysis-- only I, a small statistic, learned how to move like a ninja warrior.

I even went to my doctor and therapist who both said I was sane as can be expected and that it was a result of stress and illness. It seems to happen in cycles. Each time it happened, I thought I should check into the local mental institution— was there something that horribly wrong with me to give me this night terror?

When some friends died, two patterns emerged. One type had symbolic dreams in which the clues of two friend's tragic deaths were hidden. I found out about the deaths after the fact.

My mother banged at my door early one morning. I was in the grips of a dream so horrible and dark I refused to wake u or even remember it but I remember that my cousin RIcky was in it. I remember how the red lights cut through darkness, the sound of metal and cars. He had died in a motorcycle accident on 4th Street in Santa Rosa earler in the morning. I was there. I witnessed it. I saw him slumped over the parked car. Red everywhere.

Not all the dream experiences were terrifying. One night, after a wedding with too much champagne, I imagined dwarves marching through my kitchen statcking up crockery and fixing the sink all night long. I expected to see a lot of dishes in the morning along with a hangover. My landlady said that was Emilio Celli, her father-in-law. He loved to fix the plumbing. I saw him again at the bathroom sink. It was leaking.

When a friend's mother, Betty Land Wall drowned in Noyo River, I dreamed I talked with her underwater—I remember the salt stung my eyes. With a knife, I cut a baby from my belly. Then Micaela called to say Betty was gone. Washed out to sea.

Another time, Boschka Layton, ill with cancer, died of a heart attack at nine AM, right when I dreamed I rode a black horse through warm dark tunnels, His hooves thundered louder and louder and louder until we reached the opening but it was almost too small for us to squeeze through. We were reborn into bright light in a green garden, the horse was now a colt. I suppose I was younger because I had no sense of age. Rebirth.

It became harder for me to explain it all away as coincidence. The second pattern, which is more consistant is not a dream state. There are no images attached to it. Only a green light that stays with me even after I open my eyes and turn on the light.

The first few times it happened, I screamed, assuming it was the dream monster again but I couldn't remember seeing it. Eventually I noticed the green light seemed to be associated with people who had recently died.

One green being was creepy Larry, a previous tenant who died in a parking lot of a hemmoraged lung. His green presence seemed to prefer my cabin was the first obvious connection (he lived there, after all), but he was such a malevolant presence, I screamed him away. I told him to go away—he had the wrong cabin.

After Boschka died, a green light came again and but it was not so frightening. It was a childhood neighbor, Borg Haugen, who died soon after Boschka but I didn't find out about it until months later when a check for $2000 and a copy of her will was mailed to me.

That was the first time I put my hand into the greenness instead of screaming it away and I Igot a sensation of peacefulness and an image of an older woman with grey hair. Thinking it was Boschka (who I knew was dead) I felt comforted until the letter came. The dead paying their last respects.

In San Cristobal de las Casas, at least three green appparitions came visiting several times, the night of the Harmonic Convergence. The first time, I screamed. The second time, i was irate and wanted it to go away but it was insistant and appeared again, this time coming right at me until I was up, awake, and literally running around the bed screaming.

I showed John Oliver Simon how one of the beings came to the foot of his bed —how it stood there and how it moved. I told him it was an older woman, she was dressed in a jeans skirt and Birkenstocks. We spent the rest of the night on the roof back-to-back, with arms locked—facing east and west. No use sleeping that night! The next afternoon, John received a strange message that his friend had died. And I had mimicked Kaela's stance so perfectly, John had recognized it the night before.

When we got home from South America a month later, I found that Dave Evans had also died. The insistent way they all came at me was unnerving--I didn't know I was pregnant at the time—it was as if they were all lined up fighting to be reincarnated right then and there. Thin boundaries.

We were never sure about the third presence—it felt both local and old, with much power, both good and evil. I was having trouble convincing myself or John I was making this up in my sleep. But there was a spate of murders in Chiapas that summer.

Then there was Ron, the gay, celibate, alcoholic artist—another neighbor in Cabin 6 who died right on the heels of my grandmother's death. When the light kept coming night after night, I found myself in the middle of the room trying to push back the green light. At first, I was scared, but after a few nights of ghostly visitation, when it appeared, I groaned, oh, no, not again. Frustrated, and needing a good night's sleep, I left my cabin to visit my boyfriend, John for the weekend.

It was beginning to be a bit comic—only I didn't always know who was doing the haunting. I didn't think it was my grandmother with whom I seemed to be visiting in dreams each night. Each night, she'd appear and I'd say I thought you were dead and she'd say no, they made a mistake-- I was so delighted.

Upon returning from Berkeley, I saw Ron's parents' car in front and I assumed they were visiting for the holidays. I commented to myself, oh, no! Ron's dead and went into my house. But, there was no reason to assume that. Minutes later, a neighbor came over to say Ron died. The landlady went into his cabin, found him dead on the bed. At once, I realized the light that had been bothering me was Ron trying to tell me he was dead.

All those apparitions were no longer just in the realm of my mind and with that acceptance, came the release from fear. I was getting so desperate, I was willing to try a de-haunting—and I didn't even believe in the paranormal. My friends, Susan Kennedy and Pamela Raphael were convinced my visions were real long before I did and urged me to make a creation wheel. They gave me quartz crystals to line all my windows. They gave me sage and and eagle feathers. Soon every window was an impromptu altar. I created ritual because none was in my life and I was desperate for a good night's sleep.

Being the sceptic with a crazy mother, I'm not easily convinced or seduced. Driving down Occidental road, by the Laguna, my favorite place, I saw the north peak odf Mt. St. Helena shrouded in smoke. Seeking a ceremony, I listened for instructions: I was to climb the mountain and take a piece of pottery with me from Monte Alban to the north peak. There, I was to start at Ithe north, facing Geyser Peak and make a creation wheel ceremony. North, west, east, and south. I dreamed I was to bring back five rocks from the peak of Mt. St. Helena and conduct similar ceremonies on other Bay Area peaks. The entire Bay Area became my medicine wheel.

There was also something I was supposed to find while up at the summit. But no more instructions followed. After my hike to the North Peak of St. Helena (I'd never been up the mountain before), I found the place in my dreams where I had received my "instructions" was the site of a very old Miwok graveyard.

Weeks later, I did climb up to the top of Mt. St. Helena —I wasn't sure if my knee was ready for such a strenuous trip. From the start of the hike, I kept talking about a quartz crystal the size of my thumb I'd lost as a child. John assured me several times over that I wouldn't find any crystal on the extrusive volcanic mountain.

Weeks earlier, I was talking to Judy Sohegian about my experiences and she said to place rare earth and crystals by my bed. At the top of the mountain, the peak was just like in my vision and we performed a ceremony. I circled the bluff and found a huge quartz crystal. It was probably left there by someone on the Harmonic Convergence, now a gift for me.

Without getting into laborious detail in order to proove moot points, this entire sequence was confusing. I had to find my way, and only after each part of the event occurred, did I find written information "documenting" what I'd already done/learned. The cryststal was a receiver crystal. I had unwittingly made the creation wheel and started in the north—the receiver of power. Made a z shape, not a wheel and my first gift, according to cherokee mythology, the center of the wheel is a quartz crystal.

Christmas Day, I hiked to the dolmen on our hill with Lee and made a ceremony. The bluejay who mimicked my imitation of a hawk calling landed in the bay tree and called three times. My second gift of power. I began the process of deep grieving finally, after weeks of not going in deeper. I left some of my hair as part of the offering.

At the house, I took my grandmother's hair, some gloves and a coat she'd made when she was younger than I am now. The coat and gloves fit...like a glove, and the hair was the exact same color as mine. I realized how much alike we really are/were. The process of healing had begin.

The hooded demon of night terrors still comes from time to time. But it's rarer and rarer. It's as if the ghosts of my past were finally laid to rest.


Dec. 1987 (With minute sentence structure revisions on Jjuly 14, 2014. It was loaded with ascii bits. The journal entry ended abruptly—I really didn't know where I was going with the piece, and I sure didn't know how to end it. So I added the final paragraph for closure's sake). I've no idea what to make of it all—even to this day. I'm treating it like memoir dream prose. No other thing to do. But all this stuff''s real. I didn't make it up. All duly recorded in my writer journals FWFW.

Tuesday, November 24, 1987

ON TURNING 35 IN CABO



On turning 35 in Cabo, I reflect back.
In this life, I've stood on pahoehoe and aa,
new lava at the crater of Kilauea, steam forests and ferns.
I've watched the sunset from Haleakala,
a volcano that rises 30,000 feet above the sea floor.
I've seen the tongue of the ocean from the air,
swam in the Caribbean where a shark followed me home.
The aurora borealis glowed, but I didn't understand
northern latitudes when the sun set at midnight.
At the end of California, El Arco,
I watched frigate birds with 8 foot wingspans soar overhead.
I walked in rain forests of Kauaii and the Olympic Peninsula.
From Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain
in the continental US, I witnessed a forest fire.
I stood barefoot at Badwater, 282 feet below sea level,
and I followed worn trails in the salt flats
to hidden streams where pupfish from an earlier sea
still swim.
It took me 20 years to get to Tenochitlán,
the ancient lakebed of Mexico City,
And in the Yucatán, I climbed the pyramids
and crawled inside El Caracól, the observatory
during the winter solstice. The sun danced.
I rode to the stars while on ether, farther than
the combined distance of all my horses.
In Switzerland I climbed the Jungfrau,
rode the highest cog railway in the world
to crawl inside a crevasse in the glacier
to see the layers of ice and striations of every blue imaginable.
At the Columbia Ice Fields, I listened to the growl and hiss
of the great wall of ice that created its own cloud system.
I bathed in the Skeena River on an Indian reservation
where the glacial river numbed my skull til it cracked.
A week in the Sierras, a black bear slept on me,
I was too tired to get up and run. Probably saved my life.
I stood on the lips of Glacier Peak
and Half Dome without a rope or harness.
Half Dome I climb twice because
I forgot what it was like the first time.
At Loch Ness I didn't see Nessie
but I crawled through a dungeon in an abbey.
I had tea with the governor's wife in the Bahamas.
I didn't know that when Taikaido drummers danced
my relationship was about to end
but it took me two years to find out.
My first abortion at 24, my second at 27.
I meddled with nature, paid the price, lost the men,
stayed sick for two years, kidneys, uterus,
then a whiplash. My body weakened. My knee tore.
It took me eight years before I could ski again.
I rode an Icelandic pony called Helgar,
fiercely primitive, like a Celtic pony.
The fossils of clam shells in Central Valley cliffs
convinced me of an inland sea, but at 10,000 feet,
there are freshwater clams, how do you explain that,
or the reef fish in the sacred cenote well at Chichen Itza,
trapped miles from the sea, or hidden rivers.
The circle of candlewax in front of the stela at Cobá,
With the odor of sacred copal we welcomed the New Year.
We saw he two cuatemundis cross the road,
we ran over another one that night,
running over an endangered species.
Third time's a charm. I won't mention the turtle steak.
I saw the edge of night, the bell curve of the earth,
I saw stars and a daytime sky all at once,
sunset from an airplane flying over the North Pole.
From the air, the rift of the Grand Canyon
looked like a vast crack in the earth.
At Tikal, the temple of the Jaguar,
the howler monkey kept hidden in the canopy of trees.
Soldiers stopped our car searching for undesirables,
800 peasants have disappeared in Chiapas.
All for agrarian reform.
In downtown Mexico City, armed guards
in bulletproof vests direct traffic.
And the blood that didn't come with the moon
and the question rises once again.
The end of another relationship.
Few couples can survive the guilt.
Until I return home, I won't know if the slow bleeding
is a sign of division or multiplication.
Guerillas hide in the forests of Tikal,
the Indians, stoic in the face of soldiers,
On the Harmonic Convergence,
we celebrated at the Mayan church of Chamula,
all these roads less traveled,
but the universe unraveled....
November 24/1987
Cabo San Lucas
It looks like a page and the ending was lost, I found this in my sketchpad.
added 10.16 minor revisions.

Saturday, November 7, 1987

Andes Dream Sequence


ANDES DREAM SEQUENCE


We had almost missed the walruses who put in a sudden, rare, unexpected appearance, beached and shining like seals. We mistook them for seals until someone pointed out the glint of enormous tusks, like horns. They weren't quite like walruses. They became seals too.

I galloped my pony down to the creek but there were only some loose sheep trotting and browsing under the trees. I had some trouble with his gear. The places of this dream world are like home only grander, wilder.

At first I mistake them for familiar places. There is fear, death, creativity, flying, the horses we ride—everything is magnificent. The very weather is a force to be reckoned with. The large volcanic peak rises up thousands of feet above the sea. We took an overland short-cut over the summit of the mountain to the bay.

The road or path with its many gates and switchbacks is a bright red zigzagging gash, like warpaint against the pale green chapparal and mist-covered grasses. It faces west.

We passed between twin volcanic peaks--cones covered with bright red dirt and strange plants. Bromeliads. Sometime we'd take strenuous hikes to the top just to see the silver glimmer of the sea and the distant specks of islands and the coast. It was as if the sky were a huge inverted bowl and the islands reached up the sides until they seemed almost eye level with the mountain we were on.

We returned home to reconnoiter and pack for the journey. A young woman on horseback with a chestnut filly on a lead, galloped north up the box canyon. The filly's tiny hooves clattered on the gray cobbles. The coolness of stones like water, the secret spots sun-warmed beneath our feet. I yell at her for galloping on pavement but she doesn't hear.

There were many people who came and went in the dream. Some were like family, others were like long lost friends. Some we never saw again. Our walrus hunting party contained a collection of beings who drifted in and out. Some were constant companions like the Siamese cat perched on my backpack. He was a scout, with his cheek rubbing the back of my neck. He'd confide in me, telling me the best trail to take. Any wrong trail would loose us the chance to follow the walrus.

We reached the shore uneventfully and began to climb a steep ridge to the south. I seem preoccupied with direction in this dream. The early morning sun was to my left shoulder and the receding shadows to the west quickly crawled into their lairs to hide from the day. At dusk they crawled quickly west but the sun was an inexorable task master.

We know they reach those distant shores because we have dreams and are able to walk upon this landscape again and again. My psyche is very much tied to this place. I live in another place. Perhaps even in another time. It is an extraordinary world like through the eyes of a child with the memory of an adult.

All this time we were hurrying at breakneck speed toward the world like runaway trains. The clatter of wheels. Steel rails humming and screeching. Breathless. Vanishing point of tracks in the distance.

Each evening at sunset I feel the loss of something unnamable. Twilight. Anything can happen then. Perhaps this is why my grandmother chose to die dreaming towards evening-- the hour when long shadows form a bridge between the islands. New moon with its silver crescent resting on the tops of trees.

The cat was making sure we didn't wind up in another place, or we'd lose the thread of this dream. The trail up the ridge was extraordinarily steep. I would look up to the skies trying to follow the progression of the trail.

An occasional hiker above us like a small dot gave me some idea of scale. We climbed those ridges in search of those walruses—they were more akin to narwhals and unicorns than walruses. The ridge was steep, nearly a sheer drop into the turquoise sea.

The mountains are volcanic, scoured by glaciers in some cases. But the sea is bright turquoise blue. Tropical water like Big Sur or Hawaii. Not northern water. Odd. I stopped to rest, lying with my face buried in the close cropped dew-soaked grass because the Siamese cat was whimpering. I thought he might be thirsty, or needed to pee. Or even a bit motion sick.

His head would bob and sway, his blue eyes narrowed to slits, fixed on some distant horizon. His mind (such as it is) intent on keeping the horizon in place. We stopped on a narrow ledge. He said, you didn't even invite me to the ocean. You left me here, alone, worried." I said, "cat, I remember how much you hated the sauna. How miserable you were with your fur coat while we sweated and laughed. Some things a cat can't do because he is a cat." He sighed and said, "perhaps I'll enjoy snorkeling. At least invite me."

We could see shapes in the water. Shadows of whales and seals. I said, "can we continue our conversation in a safer place? I want to take a photo first. Could you move the backpack up a bit where it's safer and not in the picture?" He dragged the pack off the trail and he turned into a slender furry young man, his graceful markings elongating his legs.

I fumbled with my camera. At the top, we forgot the conversation. He was just a cat again. At the crest was a mountain hostel/hut of stone. Perhaps a former fort or bunker, ancient reminder of when there were terrible wars. The scars on the hill have long since healed.

A tall, gray-headed man hummed louder and louder until the hall was filled with the resonance of rubbed crystal glass. Someone spoke. I made an outrageous pun about poets. A woman who looked like Sara was there laughing. leaving my backpack on the bed with the cat, I grabbed my camera and ran down the corridor leaping into the air until I flew, feet first wobbling a little out of control because my coat I'd found on the trail was flapping out behind me like a cavernous black bird trying to fly the other way.

There was the ever-present danger of falling off the cliffs. In fact, during most of this dream I was having to be extra careful because I was afraid of slipping off the edge. It was like Switzerland at sea level. People were there from other countries. Canada, I think. lots of accents.

It was as if the clock had been turned back to the migrations of the 60's and 70's when we all traveled without fear. Women were dressed in full skirts like the peasants of the middle ages. They had red prayer rugs among their sleeping gear. They sat in alpine meadows as if they were outdoor living rooms. I was amazed by their casual use of something so valuable as a rug to go trekking.

The rain, or a thief might ruin all this loveliness. When the rugs were spread out against the pale winter grass it was lovely. The women left their possessions freely scattered about. It was difficult to tell the difference between someone's personal belongings from those who had already left—who no longer needing them, leaving them as a gift for those yet to come.

I wanted to gather up all those rugs (mantas?) and take them home. I found a small fragment of material, a rug so worn, a weft of daylight was sewn through it. The steep hillside meadows glimmered like the green of the Guatemalan highlands. On a crag, at the crest, for warmth, I used the greatcoat of heavy wool—the color was of distant forests so full of green they appear black. It was like trying to name the deep blue of nightfall before the stars pierce it through.

For the lava tunnels, I found a Duracell flashlight. Black and orange with AA batteries. We practiced leaping and flying through the tunnels that opened to the north. I think the cat wanted to join us. This time I remembered to invite him. He was appreciative and bounded along in that silly rocking horse way of cats.

Later, we went to observe the southern ocean on the other side of the terraced cliff. I was amazed by the steepness of the hill. Even the trail sloped downward enough to keep us walking deliberate and careful. The point jutted out enough to make a shallow cove protected from the northerly winds.

The mammoth flukes of a whale rose up and silently slipped into the sea without a sound. Dolphins and seals everywhere. Fumbling for a shot I nearly drop my camera. A lone rust-colored submarine (or sunken ship?) devoid of crew, drifted in the turquoise waters like a phantom ship. We hear familiar gurgles, groans and clicks. Did they come from some Argentinean shore or were they all dead inside, their bones entombed in the hull of a floating iron ship never released from their journey?



rev 11/7/87
some of this was from before I knew I was going to South America, or the Galapagos




This is probably the first draft. Note the first line leading in is what drove the piece. Seals swim upriver to steal souls & sing memory to sleep. Lost in the revised version:

DREAM SEQUENCE INVOLVING MY GRANDMOTHER'S DEATH 

Seals swim upriver to steal souls & sing memory to sleep. We almost missed the seals who made a sudden, rare appearance from the creek at the foot of my grandmother's land where it butts up to Barranca Road. Beached and shining, we mistook them for rocks until someone saw a glint of enormous tusk, massive, like the bleached horns of my goat skull. (Walruses?)

I wanted to see more of those strange beasts, and galloped my pony down towards the Stone's place, but there were only some loose sheep trotting and browsing in the shade under the creek trees. We returned home to reconnoiter and made ready for the journey. My cousins and my niece Tiffany saw us off. My aunt Toddy was in the house with my grandmother talking about the past, their arms soapy from the dishes as they dried them on the dishtowel. 

A girl riding a chestnut mare with a sorrel filly on a lead galloped north, the fuzzy baby with her protective cream undermarkings along the mane and tail would later turn to a bright red, the color of embers. I began to shout at her for gallopintg on the pavement but the horses' hooves were making that satisfying dull crunch on the small, sharp roadside gravel that brought no injury to the delicate navicular bones in the hoof. 

The filly's hooves clattered on the crushed rock pavement in a tiny tattoo drum roll. The road was made from a bed of asphalt or tar with small grey rocks the size of fingernails pressed into the soft surface. Country roads in summer are wonderful to walk on barefoot. In the shade, the coolness of stones is like water, and the secret soft spots of sun-warmed tar oozing under our scorched feet, was a legacy from our childhood. 

The filly was so young, so small and light, the brief gallop on pavement would probably not damage her legs. Besides, the young woman with the loose hair was in a hurry to get to the fireroad leading north from the box canyon of Barranca road. (Was she me?)

Following the trail of the seals, we knew they slid down Barranca Creek to Papermill Creek and out White House Pool into Tomales bay. We decided to take a shortcut up the arroyo over the summit of Mt. Barnabe to Tomales and the sea. 

Mt. Barnabe looms, a dream image of a large volcanic peak rising a few thousand above the sea. (It's not volcanic). The fire road, with its many cattle gates and switchbacks cut a bright red gash like war paint against the pale greens of chaparral and mist covered grasses. (The land formations and plants were all wrong—I suppose I was making similies in my sleep).

This place of dreams, of fear, death faces west toward the mythical Tír na nÓg, the land of enchantment. Sometimes we'd hike to the crest just to see the silver shimmering sea and the distant specks of islands. The coastline floating in the huge inverted bowl that the islands seemed almost eye level with the mountain top. 

In this place of dreams, time is skewed. The siamese cat perched atop my backpack was a scout. With his cheek rubbing the side of my neck, he'd whisper the best trail to take. Any wrong trail would lose us this chance to follow the seals. We climbed a steep ridge facing south. The morning sun beat down on my left shoulder and the receeding shadows from the west crept back into their lairs. Each night, they stretched west toward  Tír na nÓg, the blessed isles, the land of the ever-young, the land of the dead. Another country from which no one returns.

The top piece was revised 11/7 87, but I think it was written in 1985...

DREAM SEQUENCE INVOLVING MY GRANDMOTHER'S DEATH—with minor syntax revisions and last few sentences (it ended abruptly—something was lost in transition...)  on July 14, 2014. Amazingly, when we got to the Andes, it really did seem like being on the ridges of Mt Barnabe. Many similar plants—but the chaparral and grass was a strange pale green—just like in the dream. Seal/walruses? I've no idea. I am the walrus? Koo koo katchoo. Unicorns? Llamas, maybe.

WILD CANARY


The cat dragged in a wild canary, a finch really. Its tiny beak opening and closing. I rescue it, knowing it will die of shock but at least, it will be easier this way. Soon, he grows quiet in my hand and I know I will paint him for all those yellows and delicate tracings of white. And in this way he will live forever.

11 /7/1987 ? no date
(written at the same time as my weird walrus dream sequence piece)
added 9/15/2016
last line was added. I meant it, but never scribed it.

Monday, October 19, 1987

Cazadero benefit poetry reading for the Cazadero Academy (art)


10/18  Cazadero benefit poetry reading for the Cazadero Academy.

Readers include myself, Mike Tuggle, Susan Kennedy, Richard Garcia, Pam Singer, and Stephen Torre.

I very much like Stephen Torre's work. I think he would make a good guest artist for my CAC project. This poem about logging on the Navarro River is incredible. He's the lumberjack I was looking for.

87 or 88?

Thursday, October 1, 1987

There is so Much We Save from Childhood

Stephanie's mother died in the fire. A beam caught her on the forehead. She fell behind the door and Joe Bianchi never saw her until it was too late. They said the smoke killed her. They later blamed a faulty wire from a clothes drier, they blamed her drinking.

Smoke rose up like a thick black dragon snake to the empty blue sky as we walked through the fields from the bus stop. We were home from school. When he saw the source of the smoke, her brother Eric darted towards the house and the adults came running out from all sides trying to head us off but we were errant calves headed toward the barn, toward the burning light.

Steph and I stood by the corral trying to find a way to comprehend what we couldn't understand. I was almost ten. The oldest one. I held her hand. We retreated to the lower field and watched the flames eat the sky.

In the glistening cinders, we found a dog-eared photograph, an armless doll, the bent tricycle wheel, some hair tied with a grubby ribbon the color of rust and baby roses. Johanna's childhood toy horses covered with real fur and had real manes and tails that were miraculously unharmed. We indiscriminately admired the beauty of charcoal and emerald green sprouts of winter grass amid the rusted nails and glass rubble.

The end of a life, of an era. Of childhood. No more late afternoons, where we dozed off, bees buzzing to Brahm's Lullaby, when sonorous sleep blanketed the eye with the pale light of summer. The familiar gesture of a stranger, the face of a father. Not my own.

When we were impatient to grow up. Her father said, Stay children always. Stay young. His spaniel voice hung mournfully from our ears as we played. Stephanie listened and found that if she quit feeling, quit eating, Time stood still. While I hid the shame of my hunger, she denied its existence. She had climbed up out of this carnal world to a higher plane of existence. She left no ladder for me to follow.

One morning, Les placed the sick lab puppy with the blue tongue and cold feet on the oak stump to ripen in the winter sun. Its tender black ears like velvet moleskin gathered in no sound as the hatchet bit into the oak. We suspected the worst.

Somehow we got through it. We placed one foot in front of the other. As one foot lifted from the earth, we compensated for the earth's pull. We developed a trust for the way our feet brushed the surface and though we tottered on stilts always falling forward or backward, we caught ourselves at each step.

I have a vague memory of my own father asleep with his head on my mother's lap. She stroked his hair, the ocean pounded and the windows covered with spume.

When Stephanie's mother Johanna rode Binty, she let down her long black hair, a night waterfall. Binty pricked up her ears and tail, gathered in her haunches and leaped from the earth to fly up the driveway. She was no longer of this earthly plane with that precious cargo on her back.

And Binty's sister, Sununu, the red Arabian swallow, whinnied out a welcome as if her heart were about to burst.

Gravel scuttled in all directions, like our childhood.

Stephanie confided in me that her mother was a Russian translator for the United Nations. Johanna majored in Slavic languages at UC Berkeley. She was being watched by the government. We overheard words like McCarthy and FBI. Mimi spoke little English. Devuchka, she'd say.

Speaking the language of the enemy was enough to condemn a person during the purges. This I learned later. Hellman. Hammett taking the Fifth. Red diaper baby! It became a dream to go to Russia because of Johanna but I never rode troikas in the snow.

Astride Binty, Stephanie's thin legs barely reached half-way to the mare's sides. Binty knew the weight of the rider was not of Johanna, so she ran us into the sides of barns, and off cliffs to rid us of the memory.

Soon no one but Steph would ride her. Whether by grief or boredom, Binty began to chew on the barn. First the manger disappeared, then the stalls, soon the barn was as hollow as our hearts.

Binty turned white with age. Stephanie got married, moved away to the desert, got thin after the children were born, it was as if the Arizona sun sucked all the moisture from her bones. Later the cancer would come and drink the marrow from her bones but on some level, Steph was already gone.

They said Binty died with a splinter in her throat from chewing on too many fences. She'd eaten most of the barn with her nervous cribbing. They tried everything to make her stop. Creosote, electric fences, but she chewed that wood as if she was trying to devour every last molecule of scent from her lost mistress.

Johanna no longer needed watching. But sometimes Binty would raise her tail like a banner and run in the pasture as if Johanna were astride.

Stephanie and her two brothers moved into their grandmother Mimi's house at the foot of the road. We made daily pilgrimages past the charred house to feed the horses. Scoured, blackened wood glistening in the rain-heavy grass mesmerized us with its jewel-like splendor.

Perhaps it was because we were both raised by grandmothers, my mother was alive but not present, or because we born a year and two days apart, we were psychic twins.

I remember Johanna so clearly. In spring, she drove us the long way to the store. Sometimes we took the low road to Forest Knolls or the back road around Mt. Barnabe to Olema. As she pointed to Bolinas Ridge, the dark green oldsmobile gently nosed into the stonecrop-covered cliff for a closer look.

Next spring, I took Johanna's name for my conformation name. When it was my turn to approach the Bishop, I solemnly marched up to the altar and kissed his alexandrite ring, but he stopped and said it wasn't a Christian saint's name. He said he couldn't confirm me. The music stopped. Mortified, I replied I didn't care. She was someone I loved. My best friend's mother. She was with grace.

He asked, Would I take Jane? NO. I was so frightened I nearly peed myself but I didn't waver, though it meant excommunication. Eyes of the church upon me. The horrified nuns buzzed in each other's ears, they came up with a solution, and put Joanne, a diminutive Joan of Arc, on my certificate.

Stephanie's horse, Gay Girl, the thoroughbred, didn't get up one winter morning. Steph's brother placed the muzzle of the rifle very carefully over her small white star. A part of our childhood disappeared, locked into memory, as close as kin, as close as air.

A rusted snaffle bit hangs on a nail inside the barn where the swallows gather cobwebs ladened with powdered hay dung. I can't bear to look at the ridge without remembering the way Johanna admired the view of the purple fringed hills and dark shadowy forests on the north slopes. This place, a refuge.

Poor Johanna, living in the country, trapped by domestic life, a brilliant mind, branded by fire. I never knew her maiden name. That day when the house burned to the ground, Stephanie and I became blood sisters, we both had open wounds.


© 2007 Maureen Hurley. A shorter version of this was printed in Creative Discourse, Petaluma, CA 1987, but written earlier. When?




Other horse bits

Monday, September 14, 1987

Journal, Enroute to Hawaii, Bearing Witness


Having returned from Guatemala, and unable to write about it, I depart for Hawaii and I marvel at the strange turn of events. I'm still on the road seven weeks later. This fast life and I'm not sure why the images won't come to me.

Yesterday, at the CPITS conference in Ben Lomond, I got a copy of American writers abroad edited by Carolyn Forché, from Tomi Nagai Roth, whom I know from the Napa Poetry Conference, and I haven't written about Dave Evans' death yet, or the one I am about to commit in two weeks.

And while reading prose, one of the things that struck me was that muteness is not singular. Carolyn Forché calls it "conscious preoccupation." It's as if (war correspondent) Harry's camera suddenly became too heavy to record yet another atrocity. 

My camera didn't record it all all those National Geographic shots of peasants being held at gunpoint, nor did it record them being quaintly ethnic either.

I didn't want to document this, become a witness, so that I, too could say I've been there. The shock value of the unreal postcards – somewhere between the two is what I wish to record. This muteness that lives inside me remembers much and I have to trust that it will all come out in poetry.

It's hard to find lyric images from the soldiers with Uzis stats who stopped the jeep for the third time in 6 miles, or when the women lying on the sidewalk in rags, hold up a gnarled hand for cambio, her milky eyes can no longer focus, from too much alcohol and abuse. Our bag ladies are quite yuppie by comparison.

Next to me, a man in uniform is reading a Star Trek novel while waiting for his flight. I wonder how many men he directs towards the war machine with his three color bars like so many Guatemalan belts. The title of his book is called Deep Domain. 

Two men discuss the existence of potential planets. One, an astronomer, complains of light pollution. The other sells airline insurance. I've been in so many planes the past few weeks I'm afraid the chances of being in the crash have increased. 

I can't forget those flaming horses falling from the sky in Mexico City when the Belize cargo plane crashed. I can't help but think of the irony of those six legged gods conquering the Indios one more time. 42 dead. All this numbs one.

I am preoccupied by what I have seen to the point of muteness. How can I begin to write these things? Also, the knowledge of what I already know to be true, I bring to my writing. Bearing witness.

The soldiers have Uzis, they got them from Israel, with US money to make those weapons. Therefore the US is offering military aid to them, albeit indirectly. 

This also means that guerillas have AK-47s because of the nature of the war beast. I don't know what AK-47s look like. I know that the guerillas of El Salvador and Nicaragua are armed with AK-47s. And I assume that they are Russian guns. I dont' want this knowledge in my head. But I can't unlearn it.

After two weeks ranging fires, the air is finally clearing a bit. The sun was a red ball in the gray sky. On August 30, 15,000 lightning strikes lit 1300 fires. Most of the northern state is on fire. The moon is filled with dragon blood at night. This smoke blends in with the night sky. The stars are imperceptibly less visible.

I amuse myself with scientific metaphors. How to demonstrate gravity with a bucket of water and a rope swinging it overhead.

Or how to demonstrate how a black hole can swallow light. Inconceivable to me until I remember learning how to go into a fast spin on ice skates, one leg at an angle helps to gather speed putting me into an orbit, then lifting it off the ice, drawing it in at a right angle, along with my arms, closer to my body, until the spin becomes a blur. 

It's so hard to hold oneself in. The centrifugal force wants to pull your limbs back out and slow the speed in which you spin.

An imploding star condenses, becomes heavier like the ice skates— PSI. Spin faster than the speed of light so that nothing escapes. Like these events that frame our lives, the actions, louder than words. We are not in control of our destiny after all.



9/14/1987

In November, John broke up with me, leaving me desolate.

Wednesday, September 9, 1987

Journal returning from Mexico and Guatemala


I'm back from Mexico and Guatemala, and I'm plagued by bad dreams. The red light of the digital clock becomes a fire burning at the top of the temple of the Jaguar at Tikal.

I have a hard time convincing myself that I'm home again. Reverse culture shock. I wake up, not knowing where I am, or who I am. The feeling of utter desolateness doesn't leave me. The soldiers with their Uzis continue to patrol my the perimiter of my dreams.

Meanwhile, thousands of forest fires burn in Northern California. The sun is a red ball in a gray sky, an angry eye in the temple.



9/9/1987


Sunday, September 6, 1987

HIDDEN LOGIC (Random Access)




1. Why it took so long to leave and get back
bears testament to the tenacity of astronomers
racing for a mystery, who worry over a rare look
at the Milky Way's inner secrets, and like clairvoyants,
they focus on the trivial magic of a planet
nursery, or the one that got away.
We may solve or witness the speed of morning light
as we board the remains of a ship
to watch the future play itself out like a giant harp.
Inside a comet's tail 500 light years away,
the notion of comprehensive life may be a lark.
Man seems destined to serve time
somewhere for his rapacity.

Who wants to halt the sale of front row seats
for a chance to win an emerald mine in guerilla territory?
Bring out the lions. Little remains of the next frontier.
When taking chances, strike for sleep or death.
It is the same thing as building worlds of crystal.

And who hasn't entertained ideas
of having taken Paris by storm
or wishing they'd slept on a train
New Orleans bound, or finding
a passage home for sunken ships
from the Bermuda Triangle?
They still seem like good ideas.

When there was a glove shortage in Hollywood
we collected shadows, stray bullets, laundry lists,
and talked of strange events like Einstein's Theory
or nude girls who start riots at airpoirts.
At the movies, it's not the woman with the golden
irrisistable charm who gets the last laugh.
The latest news of breast reduction strips us bare.
There are other secret lists.
We leave our notion of beauty and call
it everything but imperialism.



2. After a night in a hollow tree struck by lightning,
it hurt to feel my dream, a prisoner
of the morning cup of coffee,
yet you save your life by
sampling the farm-raised local delicacies.
Puberty arrived before the mail in Paris.

You'd better find another way out of the country
or face false charges for smuggling
opium-filled artifacts.
Democracy leads rebels to their deaths.
One slip could decide the manner
in which you live or die. Ask the Rosenbergs.
How lovely, this green made for springtime.

In the creole tradition,
when talking with the dead, remember
voodoo priestess send messages
with more compassion than magic
and it is good because laughter
is a sign of forgiveness.

Beneath the sea, rain disrupts the promise
of spring, and in the form of singing fish,
the dead roar back to life, finding a passage
that lures the curious like distant memories.
The world's hidden logic is another aspect
of Carnival and the infinite possibility
of an inquiring mind is riding high
on the blues in overtime
because there are patterns for everything.

Sept. 1987? 88?
If Wofitbuta, then September, 87?
original is dot matrix.
part 2, new poem?
see RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY outake






Tuesday, September 1, 1987

Mexico City – Enroute to the Airport


A young man (a joven) in a blue lab coat, bloodied, and smeared, gazes out the back of the meat truck  driving down the Malecón, the ribs of the butchered cow, like a bloodied harp, playing at the strings of war.

9/1987? 88?

Monday, August 31, 1987

Mexico Journal: Aug. 31, Elsa Cross, Mexico City

August 31, 1987

Comida at Elsa Cross's home. Elsa, Alberto Blanco, and Sandra Cohen are working on John's latest book. Discussion leads to the maldito artists, the bad ones who write good books. Neruda, Pound Dalí, Melville. I've just written a very wicked book and I feel clean as snow.

We leave for home in a few hours, loaded up with John's boxes of books, from the International Mexican Poetry Festival, which was fairly conservative.

Last night John knocked on the door and we talked most of the night as we did on the first night that we had arrived here. We were jockeying for position on both sides. He thought we had reconciled and I thought we were off. So finally, a slow reconciliation. And we fall into an uneasy sleep under the moon, perhaps reconciliation will come in the morning.

This is the last page of this notebook. I hate to end it on reconciliation. I hate to use all the pages of my notebooks, and this is probably the first time it's happened. I began this journal last day of December and at completed it on the last day of August. There are many lapses in between, a record of the rocky months between us, and yet we persevere.



Sunday, August 30, 1987

Mexico Journal: Aug. 30, Elsa Cross, Mexico City


Elsa said she liked my work very much. Gloria, also. I'm pleased and surprised that they've even read my work. Jorge will present his third espectaculo in November at the Book Faire in Mexico City, our work set to music. I wish I could be there to hear and see it.

When Lordes sang Horseflesh, my poem to John, I was moved beyond words. She sang so effortlessly. We attended her solo performance at the National Palace last night. She is not only really good, she is fantastic.

Elsa and I talked of the writing process and we discovered that men tend to write daily while women write in spurts. Whenever we can. Being a poet is more than just writing poems, it's the other living that we do that we must bring to our work. Because there is a long time between poems, I feel guilty. I'm not a poet…

Elsa said her first husband wrote two or three poems a day, and she felt she was not a poet. Elsa Cross! I feel all these lines churning in me, a month's worth of images, but what I want to say, I have no idea, it hasn't distilled yet.



The other night, in my tirade against the Ladino culture, comparing it to the US, I noted how they've taken our bad habits and made them their own: the drunk in the street, the greasy Guatemalan or Mexican ogling, molesting women, the use of banned herbicide, the salesman on the plane selling 24D to the Guatemalan peasants so their corn will be pest free. Bbut he doesn't tell them their children will have birth defects.

We are poisoning the earth in the name of progress. Why can't there be potable water here? Why do they accept so much filth? The bathrooms in even the upscale restaurants, can only be imagined. It isn't just the poverty, and thre's plenty of it, it's an attitude towards the personal self, and the global environment, that sets my teeth on edge.

I accused John of being in love with this Ladino culture that is so shortsighted. He's defensive, taken aback, but I sent him to thinking, challenging him. His poem Poison, broaches the subject

All this street sweeping of ancient men with brooms made of branches, all this rain, it pours out of summer skies, flooding the streets, but it won't scrub the centuries of grime and oppression from this city. Every city is covered with the same carbon and diesel soot, the difference between Guatemala and Mexico is in name only.

The same peasants move to the outskirts, outwaiting the weather, hoping to seek a better life. Yet death comes anyway in corrugated tin and plastic shantytowns that grow like a malignant fungus on the outskirts of the city. But life is surely better than being dirt poor in the campo. Cambio, is change in both senses of the word.

I use the price of a cup of coffee to keep things in perspective.

The price of 4 cups of coffee buys the time of two maids for four hours. A movie cost less than a cup. The woman who owns the largest coffee finca in Antigua, runs a bookshop.

When we come to this place, open armed, bearing books, the natives treasure them, making a pleased fuss. John says our job as poets is to report back to the gringos our observations. As Carolyn Forché told us, bearing witness. Full circle.

In the taxi, there was a commercial for Laguna Verde, Mexico's first atomic plant, scheduled to go online in September. It spews out facts: the safety and the cleanliness of nuclear energy. I tell Gloria Novio of the huge sponges growing off the Farallone Islands mutated by radioactivity.

I imagine Mexico disposing of radioactive wastes in the local basurera, the garbage pit. I can't imagine them disposing of it properly. There is no proper way. They can't even clean up their own gas crisis, the smog in Mexico City is incredible. And it isn't even necessary.

The excuse is always la ack of money, or the money that never comes trickling down to where it's needed. The fatcats claiming at all. That's why there are no toilet seats in the public bathrooms, nor toilet paper. Priorities: wipe your ass with newsprint, use yellow journalism journalism, put it to good use.

I was appalled by how the natives of Tikal lived. The outhouses are alive with flies, the single room partitions with thin wood and blankets divided into sleeping compartments, mosquito netting over the beds. At a low white table, an old man puts the finishing touches on his morning shave, and steps out of his hovel, looking for fresh and wholesome. Such contrasts.

My period is days late, it comes slowly, one months to the date. I'm afraid of being pregnant. If I have the kid I raise it alone. If I have the abortion I'll probably break up with John. Either way, I lose.

The women here just have babies, they don't have the agony of choice. I state that I don't want to raise a child alone. It's an unacceptable alternative. John tries to place as much distance as possible between his responsibilities, the idea of me having a baby is too threatening for him, and to his daughter. He claims first loyalty to his daughter, and is jealous of that role.

The women here just have babies. If the water were potable, if there was enough food, if they'd quit destroying the jungle, the birthrate would soar. Eliminate disease, the population explodes. But it's exploding anyway, why not to improve the quality of life?

Some of the Indians don't understand why we have spent all our money to visit all those remote villages. Others assume we are all rich and deserve to be ripped off. How can I explain the concept of rent? Jorge's three-bedroom apartment cost $65 a month. John's cottage, at $600 a month?

In the US, the cost of a cup of coffee is 15 times that of Mexico. I think of all those coffee bushes growing under the jungle canopy, some of the berries are turning red now. Cherry coffee ready to pick. What are a day's wages for a coffee picker in relation to the price of a cup of coffee in the US?

Coming from the jungles of Tikal to Mexico City in the same day, at 7000 feet, I get a head cold and can barely understand Spanish. My English is broken too.

People here sell sweets, and newspaper on the streets. We're all sitting targets at red lights. People here are not unemployed, just chronically underemployed. How many chicles does a little girl have to sell just to break even? When does she still have to sell enough to help feed her family? While she's working the stoplights, others more fortunate than her attends school. Later she will discover it's more lucrative to sell herself at the red lights.

There are 20 million chalangos living in this underbelly of the world. In less than a century, the lake has long since dried up and and now the only the remnants of the lake are in the city sewers. Downtown, at the Zocalo, one can see the same level of water throughout all the grates, and some of the sunken, flooded buildings.

Most of the sidewalks have healed themselves since the 1986 earthquake, but the buildings look as if a giant hand had pushed them off-center. It makes one giddy trying to decide which is level, the buildings or the sewers? The answer is the sewers. Under the streets of Mexico City, water seeks its own spirit level.

Mexico Journal, August 30, Sunday, Alberto Blanco's house, Mexico City

August 30, Sunday

We have a long cena at Alberto Blanco's house Elsa Cross, Jorge Luján, his wife, Rebbe, Gloria Givertz, etc. Such talent all in one room. I'm not sure I'll ever see them again.

Last night John did the sea-cucumber whole gut spilling again, said he was looking forward to a two-month separation. This morning he was contrite, he says he does want to be with me.

I dreamt I was on a chair chain ladder, I was able to climb up it. But not down. John was at the top. There was no way to grasp the smooth surface without letting go of the chain. No transition to firm ground, terra firma to such lofty heights. John reached over to help me but began slipping in his rival persona, his alter ego rescued him. And he was resentful.

Always the dilemma of yes but no. There are two of him, two sides fighting, one on firm ground, the other on more treacherous ground, with me in the middle, with the most danger of falling. I stand the most to lose.

Tonight John wanted to make love. I said I didn't want to because we were separating for two months as agreed upon in Oaxaca, and it was easier this way for me. Apparently, he thought because he had redeclared his love, though amended, the arrangement was off, but he forgot to tell me that.

So I spent the day severing myself from him, I'm always hurt by his sea-cumbering, the  repetition only serves to make me isolate and wall off the pain in the same manner as I do for my chronic neck and back pain. The cellular approach. How do I feel inside? I honestly don't know. The thought of separation is painful, but I'm also really tired of this routine. I'm less willing to put up with it.

He moves to the couch for the second night in a row. I don't sleep well either way. I want things more concrete. If he says separation, then let's do it, not use it as a morbid bait. I almost don't even want to commit the details to paper because it seems so counterproductive to be in this space again. Oh God, not again.

My last night in Mexico ends the same way my first night here began, in separate beds, with the threat or the idea of the impending breakup looming over our heads.

Wednesday, August 26, 1987

Guatemala Journal: 26 Aug., Tikal, Guatemala City

26 August

Guatemala airport, we're waiting to get out of here on standby. John bribes the airline ticket clerks. I sit atop a pile of luggage. The latest US invasion of Honduras has thrown the airport into chaos.

I can't believe how much we got screwed by Avioteca's travel agent, Señor Gamboa. He overcharged us for the hotels and the taxi we paid for, never came to pick us up.

John raised hell this morning. We got 80 quetzales back, that about covers the fraudulent taxes we paid. Their attitude is that we're all rich and we deserve to be ripped off. Not exactly great for the travel industry.

I forgot to mention the amazing toucans flying from tree to tree with their ridiculous rainbow striped banana shaped bills, or last nights dinner of venison, puerco, and some piglike animal, tepasquintle, it sounds like the Honduran capital that we didn't get to visit. I'm sure it was either a tapir or a large rodent (like agouti).

We're all a little weak need from the trots and various ailments. I slipped on the Flores dock with my sandals on slick wood, and my heavy backpack threw me off balance. At one point I barely managed to keep from falling over the rail into the lake at Petén.

I was cinched into my backpack with bellyband and breastband, wondering if I could unhook it in time, or drown trying. I'm about to fall overboard, and no one sees me, they'll wonder where I went off to. They'll never think to look in the dirty lake. I compromised and did the splits, landing on my operated knee. It's swelling, but I think it's okay. Better than the alternative.

The woman doctor drinking coffee in the airport, bandaged my knees. We talked of the troubles in the Petén. She said it's very dangerous there because of the soldiers. I couldn't quite get it correct, the language barrier. Anyway, it's a bit scary here and we're rocking the boat with this travel problem. What are we supposed to do? Smile when they rip us off because we're gringos? And we don't want to be disappeared?

The Indians or the Indios, have a stoic attitude "live for today "that's all they have to look forward to, is today. The now.

Guatemala City Aug 26 postcard

















26 August. Guatemala City airport. Hi gang! Well, no one can say this hasn't been an eventful trip. The Guatemalan highlands are beautiful and the Indians are amazing. They are the most Mayan of all the tribes we've seen so far. The 20th century has landed softer here than in Mexico proper. But there is lots of racial tension between the Indios and the Ladinos. There are soldiers all over. Tikal is occupied by the Guatemalan Army. Roadblocks everywhere – soldiers with machine guns horsing around – some as young as 15 years old – themselves, Indians guarding the other Indians who have a stoic practiced calm attitude about them. The motto of "live for today" is all that they have. After of couple of exciting jungle adventures with the local travel, make that robbery industry, and the US invading Tegucigalpa, it's too hot. We decided we've had enough of Guatemala, and are trying to get out today on standby. My advice to future travelers is to avoid the cities: Antigua and Guatemala City have too much going on. The civil war is very present. The villages are wonderful, but the guerilla activity and the roadblocks are too unnerving. Too many people disappearing.