Thursday, April 9........San Ramon, Costa Rica
Again, some days have passed since I have added to
these writings. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that I have been traveling
between sacred sites and have seen nothing that I much wished to comment upon.
Additionally, it has been humid and uncomfortably hot in the coastal regions I am passing
though, and I have not felt inclined to sit sweating infront of my computer. But, most of
all, I have been tired at the end of long days of driving. A month before, my friends
Robert and Steve shared the labor of negotiating mountain roads and dodging thousands of
pot-holes. Now, all the miles I travel I must drive by my self. At the end of the day my
eyes have been too tired to gaze
at a computer screen. Some things are thus left unwritten.
But, it seems, that I will have plenty of time in the next few days to add to these writings. I am stranded for four days in the small town of San Ramon. There are two things that have brought me here. One is that my van has a mysterious mechanical problem. The engine surges and dies while climbing up steep hills. Thinking it might be dirty fuel, I crawled beneath to change the fuel filter (having brought along a variety of spare parts carried in a large box on the roof). But, the problem worsened and I knew I must quickly find a mechanic. Therein lay the second problem. There are no mechanics working anywhere in all of Central America for the next five days. And, not only mechanics; no one is working at anything. Not in stores, restaurants or schools, not even in transportation. Everything is closed. It is the week of Semana Santa, or Easter Week, and all commercial life comes to a complete halt. I had experienced this religious holiday before, in Spain and Italy, but it seems to be followed more strictly by more people here. Perhaps if I were the president of the country I could command a military mechanic to attend to my vehicle. But I am a unknown wandering pilgrim. There is nothing to do but wait for Costa Rican to start up again next Monday.
The down-time will be good for me as well as for the van. There are some things I need to think and write about soon, before I get to Venezuela and begin my work in South America. If I were not stranded, I would just keep driving along. I am somewhat of a slave to the momentum of my style of doing things: Once I start a particular action or project, I am like a stubborn mountain goat. I keep on pushing until the goal is attained. Lately, I need to remind myself that my pilgrimage is not only about traveling to and photographing the sacred sites. It is also about taking the time to purposely reflect on certain things, to spend many hours in quiet meditation, and to read the nearly thirty books I have brought with me in the van. I also want to give an hour or more a day to brushing up on my Spanish grammar and vocabulary. With an hour of juggling a day, and an hour or more for gymnastic, dance, or running exercise, and eating and driving, my days are overly full.
Painting on the door of the van
I have mentioned earlier in these writings that I intend on presenting a number of slide shows in different cities of South America. I have been thinking a lot about this matter during the past few weeks. By the beginning of May I will arrive in Venezuela or Colombia. I want to have both the design of the slide show and its method of organization and promotion already well thought out. For the past year I had been thinking that I would be doing the slide shows as a rapid tour after I had first finished my eight months of pilgrimage to all the sacred sites. Lately, my thinking has changed regarding when and how the shows will happen. Now, I am planning on doing the slide shows while I am traveling through each country on my pilgrimage. The way it will probably work is something like the following.
Upon entering a country, I will first of all travel around to visit the sacred sites and power places that I have marked on my maps. While engaged in this, I will get a feel for the people of that country, and the nature and extent of their newspaper and television media. Completing my photography, I will travel to the city (or cities) in that country - where I will do the slide show - and begin the process of organizing and promoting. I am planning on presenting the slide shows after only two weeks of promotion. Normally, when I organize and promote slide show tours in the United States, I have three to four months of lead time, not just two weeks. I have always wanted to (and known I needed to learn how to) organize slide shows in short periods of time. I am quite excited that I will finally get the opportunity to try out the "guerrilla promotion" tactics I have strategized over the years.
The slide show will still be called Places of Peace and Power, as it was in the US. In South America, however, it will be described as part of a larger Journey for Planetary Healing and Transformation that is the real essence of my past and current pilgrimage travels. In these South American slide shows I plan on speaking less about the history of the sacred places and more about the teachings I have received at those places. I will speak in English - in simpler sentences that I normally do - and these will be immediately translated into Spanish. The show will be shorter than my US shows, probably no more than two hours long. A day or two after each show, I will offer a one-day workshop and speak in more detail about the matters introduced in the slide show.
How I plan on organizing and promoting these shows in less than two weeks is by using a multi-focus approach to reach the people of the city where I will speak. There will be five major avenues of contact: the universities; the media; the governmental departments of archaeology, culture, and the environment; the non-governmental environmental and peace groups; and the liberal and alternative religious/spiritual groups. First, I will go to the primary university in the city and speak to the highest ranking official who speaks English (hopefully the dean). I will request ten minutes to explain to this person that I wish to do a presentation, that I want to involve some university students in the promotion of the presentation, and that the proceeds from the presentation will be given to environmental and cultural preservation groups in their country. I will ask this administrator to arrange a short meeting between myself and the deans (or department heads) of a number of academic departments including computer science, marketing and advertising, environmental sciences, architecture, archaeology, cultural studies, and journalism. To these department heads I will make an impassioned proposal and plea that they help me enlist the part-time assistance of five to ten students for seven to ten days. With these students - each handling particular tasks - I will design and quickly implement a city-wide promotional effort for the slide show. With the assistance of these students I will also approach the primary decision makers in the newspaper, radio, and television media, and then the directors of the other groups mentioned above. I will simply and clearly explain to everyone what I am trying to do and how I am trying to get all of them to help together.
The pay off for everyone involved is high. The students will get hands-on experience using their skills to do a bit of volunteer work for their countries cultural and environmental benefit (one of my primary messages will be about protecting cultural treasures and endangered ecology). The university will (in addition to its own bona fide concern for cultural and environmental protection) be seen as doing a valuable service by sponsoring my slide show and its promotion. The media and the different governmental and non-governmental groups mentioned above will want to assist (as they always want to in the US) because they are themselves already concerned with the issues I am addressing. And - I am hoping here - everyone will be excited, willing, and able to help - for just a few hours a day for a few days - because of the enthusiasm and experience I bring to the endeavor.
The cities I hope to present slide shows in are:
Bogata, Colombia Montevideo, Uruguay
Quito, Ecuador Sao Paulo, Brazil
Lima, Peru Brasilia, Brazil
La Paz, Bolivia Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Santiago, Chile Caracas, Venezuela
Buenos Aires, Argentina
After completing these in South America, I will make the long drive back up to the United States. Along the way I hope to present slide shows in
Panama City, Panama
San Jose, Costa Rica
Guatemala City, Guatemala
San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Mexico City, Mexico