Monthly Archives: May 2007

Zentraveler strives to erase carbon footprint!

I watched a bear work his way through the forest stopping to eat some blueberries and loading up on fat salmon for the winter hibernation. Even though the bear wears a size 57 triple x footprint he has developed a keen sense to obey nature’s laws. Our heritage is the American Indian and Indigenous populations worldwide. This is our history! Indigenous tribes throughout the world love and respect all of the animals, plants, and fishes and never take more than their extended family can use. They are a part of the nature network set up by the creator and they not only respect the earth, but they act as custodians of the earth to insure that future generations will have abundant supplies of food and shelter to care for their families. They use prayer, dance, and song to celebrate nature as part of their culture. We are supposed to learn from history not destroy it.

Warp speed ahead a few generations and we see evidence of huge corporations sending their pollution from towering smokestacks and leeching our rivers and oceans with dangerous toxic wastes. We have the technology to address the current situation worldwide, which would insure a cleaner safer environment, but would also help developing nations build the environmental model— putting many folks to work to help save this planet and create a win, win, situation.

Forget Paris Hilton’s driving without a license, forget wars, forget being politically correct, forget immigration issues, forget media presentations, forget interest rates, forget world domination at any expense, forget the oil patch, forget national debt, forget social security, forget health costs, forget White Tie episodes at the White House and don’t forget to forget that unless every single human and the by-product corporation takes an active role to stop this irresponsible behavior our planet will turn to toxic dust!

Since the United States hasn’t picked a really good fight with any countries lately they are beginning to blame China for everything. I can’t remember China holding a gun to us and telling us that unless we squander 1600 billion dollars in Iraq that they won’t make widgets anymore. What if the United States purchased 800 billion dollars worth of natural gas and oil in Mexico, Central America and South America and spent another 800 billion to construct a state of the art pipeline from the tip of South America to California. They could add a zip line, high speed solar train, bicycle and walking paths to generate tourist interest. You could bunk or backpack from pipeline number 1 through number 365. All of the rest areas would have eco-friendly lodging facilities, language schools, killer skateboard parks, water parks with spas and international restaurants— complete with hands on culinary schools. Park service could release wild animals to scare you, make you run faster or as a talking point back at the enclosed campfire setting.

Top ten things to do to erase carbon footprint:

1. Have ever man, woman, and child over the age of four PLANT A TREE worldwide.
China could start with 1 billion 300 million trees and could be accomplished on the first
weekend in May to correspond with kite festivals etc.

2. Walk 99% of the time— like our forefathers did.

3. Grow your own organic food supply, plus you can have 6 chickens, and two goats.
Get rid of all pesticides, chemical cleaners etc. Use vinegar for almost everything!

4. Place all cities and neon lights on a power grid and turn off all city lights at nine o’clock
with the exception of emergency facilities. Supply enough power to run one TV and one
computer plus three mercury light bulbs. What don’t tell me you are afraid of the dark!

5. Convert all of your bathroom waste into useable gas. Rural china does.

6. Talk on the cell phone up to ten minutes per day. You don’t say anything anyway!

7. Purchase your spring, summer, fall, winter wardrobe at a goodwill store not to exceed
$100.00 and donate everything else.

8. Purchase hundred pound sacks of rice, potatoes, and a barrel of salted smelts to
help cut down on transportation costs and never, never, never, buy at 7-11 type
convenience stores.

9. Turn all of the inmates out of the jails put them to work creating affordable green
housing and give the jails to the elderly and poor as lodging and creative learning

10. Choose your government leaders by the lottery system. If we get a good bunch
they can stay in office as long as they remember they work for us…give us great
health benefits, beautify our areas, provide free schooling, and create a residual
retirement system based on our gross national product and backed by gold bars.

11. Bonus: Don’t allow wild bears and animals to use toilet paper like they show on T.V.
It’s messy and unless it is biodegradable—- it is just plain littering!

12. Free bonus: Eliminate the military and bring back the service draft where every
person from the age of 17 would give five core years to the betterment of society.

QUOTE: “Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.”
——-Francis Bacon

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: Your body is creating and killing 15 million red blood cells per second! ——

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Aquatic species, which are often overlooked, are facing serious trouble. One third of the United States’ fish species, two-thirds of its crayfish species, and almost three-quarters of its mussel species are in trouble.

ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Don’t be a litterbug and carry out or pick up three times what you use!

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In the bright blue trunks we have Ying ready to take on the world. In the bright red trunks we have Yang ready to duke it out for the world life championship. Looking for a cool name for a Panda Bear or just getting down to basics in medicine it is important to understand the relationship between Ying and Yang. If Ying and Yang are balanced you are healthy. If either Ying or Yang is too dominant you will experience bouts of illnesses that will either get worse or terminate your life. Our ancient Chinese medicine philosophers and practitioners knew the value of determining your Ying and Yang in order to prescribe herbs and procedures that would keep you in balance.

So forget running to the doctor every time you have some weird illness and get busy keeping your Ying and Yang in harmony. Why not start by drinking seven cups of Green tea on a daily basis and begin to practice mediation on a daily basis. The easiest way to document your results is to keep a daily diary describing your medical issues, your mental attitude, the food and drink you put into your system and your mediation time results. If you dedicate just ten minutes a day and work up to an hour on your mediation program you have gone a long way in contributing to the balance of Ying and Yang.

“The concepts of Yin and Yang and the Five Agents provided the intellectual framework of much of Chinese scientific thinking especially in fields like biology and medicine. The organs of the body were seen to be interrelated in the same sorts of ways as other natural phenomena, and best understood by looking for correlations and correspondences. Illness was seen as a disturbance in the balance of Yin and Yang or the Five Agents caused by emotions, heat or cold, or other influences. Therapy thus depended on accurate diagnosis of the source of the imbalance.

The earliest surviving medical texts are fragments of manuscript from early Han tombs. Besides general theory, these texts cover drugs, gymnastics, minor surgery, and magic spells. The text which was to become the main source of medical theory also apparently dates from the Han. It is the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, supposed to have been written during the third millennium BCE by the mythical Yellow Emperor. A small portion of it is given below.

The Yellow Emperor said ”The principle of Yin and Yang is the foundation of the entire universe. It underlies everything in creation. It brings about the development of parenthood; it is the root and source of life and death it is found with the temples of the gods In order to treat and cure diseases one must search for their origins.

“Heaven was created by the concentration of Yang, the force of light, earth was created by the concentration of Yin, the forces of darkness. Yang stands for peace and serenity; Yin stands for confusion and turmoil. Yang stands for destruction; Yin stands for conservation. Yang brings about disintegration; Yin gives shape to things….

The pure and lucid element of light is manifested in the upper artifices and the turbid element of darkness is manifested in the lower orifices. Yang, the element of light, originates in the pores. Yin, the element of darkness, moves within the five viscera. Yang the lucid force of light truly is represented by the four extremities- and Yin the turbid force of darkness stores the power of the six treasures of nature. Water is an embodiment of Yin as fire is an embodiment of Yang. Yang creates the air, while Yin creates the senses, which belong to the physical body. When the physical body dies, the spirit is restored to the air, its natural environment. The spirit receives its nourishment through the air, and the body receives its nourishment through the senses.

“If Yang is overly powerful, then Yin may be too weak. If Yin is particularly strong, then Yang is apt to be defective. If the male force is overwhelming, then there will be excessive heat. If the female force is overwhelming, then there will be excessive cold. Exposure to repeated and severe heat will induce chills. Cold injures the body while heat injures the spirit. When the spirit is hurt, severe pain will ensue. When the body is hurt, there will be swelling. Thus, when severe pain occurs first and swelling comes on later, one may infer that a disharmony in the spirit has done harm to the body. Likewise, when swelling appears first and severe pain is felt later on, one can say that a dysfunction in the body has injured the spirit….

“Nature has four seasons and five elements. To grant long life, these seasons and elements must store up the power of creation in cold, heat, dryness, moisture, and wind. Man has five viscera in which these five climates are transformed into joy, anger, sympathy, grief. and fear. The emotions of joy and anger are injurious to the spirit just as cold and heat are injurious to the body. Violent anger depletes Yin; violent joy depletes Yang. When rebellious emotions rise to Heaven the pulse expires and leaves the body. When joy and anger are without moderation, then cold and heat exceed all measure, and life is no longer secure. Yin and Yang should be respected to an equal extent.

The Yellow Emperor asked, “Is there any alternative to the law of Yin and Yang?”

Qi Bo answered: “When Yang is the stronger, the body is hot, the pores are closed, and people begin to pant; they become boisterous and coarse and do not perspire. They become feverish, their mouths are dry and sore, their stomachs feel tight, and they die of constipation. When Yang is the stronger, people can endure winter but not summer. When Yin is the stronger, the body is cold and covered with perspiration. People realize they are ill; they tremble and feel chilly. When they feel chilled, their spirits become rebellious. Their stomachs can no long digest food and they die. When Yin is stronger, people can endure summer but not winter. Thus Yin and Yang alternate. Their ebbs and surges vary, and so does the character of the diseases.”

The Yellow Emperor asked, “Can anything be done to harmonize and adjust these two principles of nature?”

Qi Bo answered: “If one has the ability to know the seven injuries and the eight advantages, one can bring the two principles into harmony. If one does not know how to use this knowledge, his life will be doomed to early decay. By the age of forty the Yin force in the body has been reduced to one-half of its natural vigor and an individual’s youthful prowess has deteriorated. By the age of fifty the body has grown heavy. The ears no longer hear well. The eyes no longer see clearly. By the age of sixty the life producing power of Yin has declined to a very low level. Impotence sets in. The nine orifices no longer benefit each other….

Those who seek wisdom beyond the natural limits will retain good hearing and clear vision. Their bodies will remain light and strong. Although they grow old in years, they will stay able-bodied and vigorous and be capable of governing to great advantage. For this reason the ancient sages did not rush into the affairs of the world. In their pleasures and joys they were dignified and tranquil. They did what they thought best and did not bend their will or ambition to the achievement of empty ends. Thus their allotted span of life was without limit, like that of Heaven and earth. This is the way the ancient sages controlled and conducted themselves.

“By observing myself I learn about others, and their diseases become apparent to me. By observing the external symptoms, I gather knowledge about the internal diseases. One should watch for things out of the ordinary. One should observe minute and trifling things and treat them as if they were big and important. When they are treated the danger they pose will be dissipated. Experts in examining patients judge their general appearance; they feel their pulse and determine whether it is Yin or Yang that causes the disease…. To determine whether Yin or Yang predominates, one must be able to distinguish a light pulse of low tension from a hard. pounding one. With a disease of Yang, Yin predominates With a disease of Yin, Yang predominates. When one is filled with vigor and strength, Yin and Yang are in proper harmony.”

Translated by Mark Coyle

from Patricia Ebrey, Chinese Civilization : A Sourcebook, 2d ed. (New York: Free Press, 1993), pp. 77-79

QUOTE: “I’m not confused. I’m just well mixed.”
—–Robert Frost

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: If you want brown eggs or white eggs— check for the ear-lobes of a hen chicken to determine the egg color. Chickens with red ear-lobes lay brown eggs and chickens with white ear-lobes lay white eggs.

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Copper pennies! If it costs the government three cents to manufacture a copper penny why not sell millions of pennies back to the government for two cents doubling your savings income and saving the government a bundle.

ZENTRAVELER SAYS: balance your Ying and Yang for a lifetime of health and prosperity!

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Zentraveler explores Corn Islands of Nicaragua!

The plane hit down hard as we landed in Managua the capitol of Nicaragua. You could see some vintage Russian airplanes and helicopters parked on the backside of the airport. People were scrambling and moving fast to get to their destinations. Uniformed guards carried rifles as a show of force or as our protectorate. Whistles were blowing as people jumped on taxis and made their way toward the city of Managua. I simply asked the taxi driver if it was possible to slow down a notch as he flew through several red lights with horns blaring everywhere. “No problema Senor! Cuiado Senor”– as he hit a huge pot hole sending our taxi airborne and nearly crashing into coming traffic.

At least I knew where I was. Sort of— as I saw all of the wires hanging down from the dashboard and a plastic Jesus hanging on the windshield. Welcome to Central America!
I don’t know why someone doesn’t write a song about “Welcome to Central America.” They could blindfold you and stuff your ears with cotton, but I guarantee, when all the horns start blowing at the intersections and your adrenalin starts pumping for your life– you have arrived. I try to engage the taxi driver with my very limited spanish by asking him about his family and how far it is to the bus station.

Never assume there is one bus station in any major city in Central America. There are times I have spent hours trying to get to a destination only to be told you need to get the Blueline on the other side of town. It is always on the other side of town. You would be better off telling the taxi driver to take you to the bus station in the center of town, which there never is, and duck-taping the taxi-drivers hands to the wheel with your destination map taped on his wrist. Oh well you couldn’t buy an adventure ticket like this in Disney World— so just sit back, take in the sights, and pray this is one taxi driver who can deliver you to the right bus station.

Kerclunk, kerclunk, whop, whop, we have a flat tire. The taxi-driver pulls over gets a few of his amigos to lift the car up— takes off the flat tire and walks down the street lugging the flat tire. In a matter of minutes he returns with a big smile— rolling the repaired tire up the street. The taxi driver gets his amigos to lift the car up and just like magic we are on the road again. I asked him how much it cost to have the tire repaired and he told me in Nicaraguan money which amounts to .50 cents in the United States.

As a comparison If you had the flat tire tire in the states you would use your cell phone and call AAA to learn they don’t do tires on the weekends. You would call at least seven other garages to learn they don’t make road calls— insurance won’t allow them to. Then a policeman stops and jumps on your tire iron and brakes it in half and volunteers to call Bubba’s Towing, which he thinks can change your tire on Monday. To save money you ride in Bubba’s tow truck as they tow the car to the neighborhood pound, because the tire garage is fenced and locked, and won’t be open until Monday morning. You then bribe the tow truck driver to drop you off at the nearest hotel and now you go through the payment routine. “We don’t take any credit cards or insurance plans –strictly cash. I can take you a few blocks to an ATM machine if that will help.” You pull five hundred dollars hoping you can pay for two nights hotel plus the towing bill plus the tire repair. One more trip to the ATM machine and the flat tire only cost you $799.00 . Not to worry you send all of your bills to your insurance company only to learn your claim has been denied because just under the Interstate— less than a mile from your flat tire was a tire repair place open 24 hours— seven days a week. So you won’t sue and have a cardiac, three months later you get an adjusted settlement amount of $74.96 from your insurance carrier, which ends with the words: Have a Nice Day! In my opinion third world countries definitely have their advantages.

Ticket in hand the Blueline pulls out on time and is heading to Rivas which is as far as the road goes. One family is loading their bed and all of their belongings on the top of the bus. As the conductor ties down everything and starts hanging out the door yelling: “Directo!” we are pulling out of Managua on the fly. Passing through hours of rural settings you see many people either on horseback or walking the roadways. We stop in a local village for a lunch break. We eat raw pineapple from a stand and drink red kool-aid in a plastic bag with a straw for the trip. The small towns are filled with colorful scenery and smells and by this time you become part of the travel experience and begin shedding some of your corporate outerwear and baggage.

It’s starting to rain cats and dogs and I mean a heavy tropical rain storm. Arriving at Rivas we book a room for the night and run through the streets avoiding the deepest mud-puddles to a local restaurant located on the river. After eating a generous portion of river crabs, fresh shrimp and rice, we ended the evening by drinking a few cervezas and watching the storm intensify. Looking across the street you could see a beautiful white church that looks like it was out of a Somerset Maugham movie.

The storm pounded on our shanties tin roof and we lost our one light-bulb electric. I think this is the hardest rain storm I have ever experienced. We make our way down to the river at 5:00 am where we are loaded on a launch– which will take us to Bluefields on the Caribbean coast. According to the travel books this is one of the most beautiful river trips in Central America packed full of nature, adventure and jungle scenery. I can’t wait for the launch to pull out. Just then the boat Captain had us shift our weight for a new loading pattern before we head down river. Lightning struck down with a tremendous zig zag splitting a tree across the river. The thunder followed almost shattering the windows of the river town of Rivas. With buckets of rain pouring straight down our launch captain had us hold a blue tarp overhead as we made our way down the Escondido River in the pouring rain.

Drenched to the bone we arrived in Bluefields which was running with knee-deep water down the main streets toward the harbor. The taxis said they couldn’t run— too much water in the streets. We walked through knee deep water and deeper until we found a small hotel with a restaurant in a town that looked like it was a set for a novel or a movie. This was the real Banana Republic. Rusted tin roofs, water streaming down the streets and a mix match of Caribbean houses and shanties right up to the waterfront. Fish mongers were selling their wares, folks were buying vegetables, and people were just hanging out at the marina waiting for the tropical storm to ease up.

After a better nights sleep we took a taxi to the Bluefields airport where we found an airplane connection to the Corn Islands. In the air I reflected back on Bluefields where there were jaguar hides tacked on the wall at a local restaurant, a man living just a few miles away with a snake ranch and the real jumping off point to the Pearl Lagoon Islands strung along the coast, where you could visit with the fun-loving Caribbs and go sunbathing or hire a boat to take you snook or tarpon fishing. This area of Nicaragua is the real wild untapped part of Central America. From Bluefields to Puerto Cabezas not too far from the Honduran border there are basically no direct roads and you either fly in or make your way up river by hiring local river guides. The people are a mix of indigenous Indians, black Caribbs and Miskitos and live basically the way they have for generations. They have simple huts and shanties in the rural areas and basically live off of the land and the sea.

As the plane touched down in Big Corn Island we were treated to turquoise clear waters and brilliant blue skies. The Corn Islands are located in the Caribbean and belong to Nicaragua. While staying in an ecotourism hotel on this idyllic island we felt as if we were definitely off the beaten path and ahead of the curve. Big Corn Island had a few resorts, a lobster industry, and several small businesses. While having our morning coffee I picked up the local newspaper only to discover our river town of Rivas was devastated by the tropical storm. After a few hail Mary’s and Dios Mios it felt good to be on dry land. Thank you Lord Jesus we just missed the flood of the century by several hours. Destiny can be a tricky equation at best! Muchas Gracias, Muchas Gracias we are alive as we pinched ourselves for proof and took a few photos to document our existence.

The streets of Big Corn Island were dirt and either turned into paths or roads as you explored the island. You could either walk or hire a taxi to take in the sights. We located several fine restaurants that served seafood to die for. Snorkeling was a good option along with swimming in the turquoise clear waters. Dogs seem to follow you everywhere which is sort of nice. They stay on the beach while you swim— it’s sort of like having your own protection system.

Off to Little Corn Island! We are flying in a open boat which is slamming through the surf. If you have any loose teeth or cavities they will be jerked out by the time you arrive. Our launch boat comes in fast and lands on the easterly side of the island. The island is made up of a lobster factory, one restaurant and shanty houses along the beach. One enterprising American has a beautiful diving resort on the backside of the island which you can walk to. It is fully equipped with lodging and meals and is nestled in the swaying palms right on the blue sparkling waters of the Caribbean. You can either cut straight through the island by walking, make arrangements with the dive resort, or do what we did and walk around the entire island. There are several other small resort hotels sprinkled around the island offering additional lodging.

In Little Corn Island if you want to meet the locals or just kick back this is a hidden oasis that probably won’t be hidden very much longer. We met several travel guides from Nicaragua who were promoting both islands. Tourists are beginning to trek here for the turquoise waters and beautiful temperatures not to mention a slice of tropical island life. Bring a good paperback book or just kick back as you blend into the no-hurry lifestyle like you would envision on a paradise island.

To most Nicaraguans the eastern half of the country that faces the Caribbean sea (Atlantic coast) is a mysterious region that might as well exist on another continent. The “Atlantic coast” includes most of the surface of Nicaragua, but only a small fraction of its population. Miskitos, Sumus, and Ramas descended from the Indians who first inhabited these lands, live here mixed with escaped slaves from the British. Caribbean Nicaragua was never a Spanish dominion, except in theory. English traders provided gunpowder and tools to the Miskito, Sumu and Rama and set up trading posts along the lagoons and rivers. Although the British protectorate ended in 1862, English remains the principal language here and the Protestant religion is still dominant.

So if you would like to explore an area of Nicaragua that is heavily steeped in history, has wild jaguars running in the jungles, miles and miles of mountains, cascading streams filled with fish and wildlife and little islands spread along the coast with friendly people and a place teeming with adventure you might just fly to Managua and take the scenic river route through Rivas or take a direct flight to Bluefields or Big Corn Island and let you your adventure begin.

QUOTE: “There’s a certain nostalgia and romance in a place you left.”
——-David Guterson

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: GREVYS ZEBRA! Grevys zebra is the largest living wild member of the horse family. They have narrow stripes that cover the head, body and legs. A Grevys zebras belly is white and does not have stripes.

ZENTRAVELER SAYS: If you have the ITCH you may be a travel bug!


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