Ahora en La Habana, Cuba
One of the first entries of this blog was titled Every day above ground is a good day. This is a tag line referencing hammocks, but it became a prophecy for my life in the following months. Car accident on July 14, 2012 left me with shattered ribs, scapula and elbow. I am still recovering but it is now a question of believe and healing. I am closing this sequence, the "Every day above ground is a good day" today, the last day of the year. Literally - because I won't be able to sleep in a hammock no more (too curvy for my damaged rib cage), and that's the end of the experiment for me, and figuratively - because I am out of danger. I am. And that's that.
Baby let me be,
I don't wanna be a tiger
Just wanna be, your teddy bear
Baby let me be, around you every night
It ain't right to sell one-eyed Teddy Bear toys. The loss of an eye has to be a result of passionate wear and tear. Why buy a toy that looks like loved? To save the kid some work? Then again, there are the jeans with holes in them sold in the stores. We are not keen on buying those either.
"What is REAL?" asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day... "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept."
"Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand... once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real
At the beginning of this episode Mr Bean's Teddy Bear gets his Christmas present.
Well, I thought about it (continued from). Inside we are deeper than we will ever expand in the outer environment. The processes that are taking place inside us (soul, mind, whatever) are much more important that what will anybody remember you doing or saying. People will remember how you made them feel. And it doesn't matter what you did or said to deserve it. They will always justify it. You have to learn self-esteem. To become your own best friend. There are many writings about this, and it is the very thing you will pay therapists to try to teach you. Think right now of your favorite person and ask yourself, what is it about them that attracts you the most? Odds are it isn't their physical appearance or their accomplishments but rather their spirit; the way they treat others. This is the key quality that makes people likable, even to themselves. It comes down to how do we treat ourselves. "How's life treating you?" Heard that question? Does life happen to you or do you happen to life? Are you a thermometer or thermostat? Start liking what you see in the mirror, because it is two-way street. If you like what you see, you will reach higher and go farther.
People need encouragement in what they are doing, not in what you think good for yourself, or what you intend to subject yourself to. In the same manner treat yourself as another person. Accept yourself for what you are, not where you think you should be, and even worse, what other people think you should be doing. There is You, your Ego and the World. You will never satisfy your Ego. Well, maybe there will be fleeting moments, like when you are at the top of the mountain. But that's it. There will always be higher mountains. Or steeper ascend. Basically you should learn to be happy despite your Ego or the World at large.
Friends, family, kids is the best thing that can happen to you. They don't love you because of your freaking "potential" but because of you. Then again we come to the moment when they annoy, disparage, or betray you. This is inevitable. Because they have access to you and you both think they know you, and that gives them the right to advice you. Don't accept them. Learn to discard without confrontation. I call this becoming light and less dense. That is not yielding. You should not change or slow down the course of your doings. Just don't let the arrows stick in your flesh. Let them go through. You can't do much about the pain, it will hurt, but don't let them stay in you, don't carry them around with you - forgive and forget. Forgetting only will also do the trick.
It all comes down to the image of you, isn't it? Where's that image kept? Who's feeding it, and who sees it? You don't know what's the image of you in people's mind. It doesn't matter what they say. It is usually not much thought of you in other people's minds. We crave for attention. It's hard to make people think of you, large number of people, and in times when you are gone (vacation or afterlife - people don't make much difference). And you can't keep them accountable for anything. It looks like this is not so hard to comprehend, and you won't be so disappointed that you are not "famous". Fame is not the subject now. The image of you is. So, if we can't do much about the image other people have in their minds because of the way life goes, that leaves us with the image our Ego paints for us. Why should we care what image of ourselves we have in our own minds? It looks like this is the main drive in our existence - feeding that image. What if we leave it here and now? Won't we have much more time on our hands and much less worries? All about something that exists only in our mind. Think about it. (To be continued)
Why Santa Claus is always smiling? Because he knows the addresses of the naughty girls! I am considering a seasonal job - believing in Santa pays well.
I think Obama wants to eat me.
It's fortunate that I am not a surgeon - just cut the wrong sleeve of my sweater. Today the doctor used a tool similar to a teaspoon to dig and scrape into the hole of my elbow till I produced some blood which left him very pleased with himself, and he pronounced that I shall live. I told him about the mountain, and he put a bigger splint on my arm. On that account I am cutting the sleeves on my clothes now.
Here is an idea - if you ever find your hike for the day too easy and boring because of easy terrain or your company is slowing you down, tie one or both of your arms to your torso and you will instantly rise the grade of your climbing route. Sometimes I think that we "only thrive on the narrow escapes from our own recklessness" - from "Hell on wheels".
I felt like Babylon laying down and doctors were discussing my situation in 3 languages - German, English and Bulgarian. One of the doctors in the council is Anton Pavlov. Languages were not the only reason I felt like this. My course of treatment contains contradictions. The joint is capsulised in 90°, the skin is stretched, nails are protruding, so they put my elbow in a splint. On the other hand (figuratively speaking) the soft tissues that are obstructing the movement at the moment need all the exercise and physiotherapy. Immobilizing the arm is very bad for them. But I need the skin on top. Contradiction is bad for you.
Some people, like Walt Whitman, can handle contradictions "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." I can't. Handling multitudes sounds like schizophrenia to me. I have to tune into one frequency and stop contradicting myself in what I want. Or my arm will end up like the Tower of Babel.
What contradictions you say? Here is an example.
I am now patient of Krankenhouse Herz Jesu (Heart of Jesus Hospital). Yesterday 4 doctors were badly impressed how my wound is not healing and no bone is forming. My last operation left me with necrosis which was replaced by an opening which shows my muscle, tissues, bone, screws and and nails as in a drawing from a medical book. Everything is clean and still, no blood, lymph or sensitivity in my elbow, as if the body is ignoring this project. Doctors are talking about elbow replacement Elbow arthro surgery (fun stuff). Which scares me to death. They are not in a hurry, but they say - see, your body is not responding, it is not healing. We can't even patch your wound with skin from somewhere else because the flap will be nightmare for the future operations. Your arm is in a really bad shape, buddy. Get your shit together.
How did I get to this point? There are moments of sadness, disappointment and anger when I have wished to be emotionless. Why suffer? To be numb is such a blessing I thought. Now I have a sample of numbness, and it is so bad, and is so not natural, that one can only hope this not to happen to its heart. “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” ~ Dalai Lama
Our destiny is in our hands/minds/consciousness, and our life is affected by every thought and feeling we have. I am going to read some Gregg Braden these days, but I already know it in my heart.
Meet my new friend. I found him at Pirogov where the second operation took place. He was Veronica's, a very sweet 18y old girl who had hip replacement after a car accident. Veronica is a super girl - always smiling, courageous and beautiful. She gave me her Bear because she said that I need a cheerful companion. I look sad she said. I call him Dzibelia. We have been together since. Photos from a walk in Kahlenberg and Leopoldsberg. The trees seem to be holding hands. We saw a little voodoo bear living in a trunk.
"If we are alert, with minds and eyes opens, we will see meaning in the commonplace; we will see very real purposes in situations which we might otherwise shrug off and call ‘chance’." ~ from a lecture by Roland Bach
The highlights of the last 3 months of my life are that the orthopedics in Kuala Lumpur put a set of metal implants in my left elbow, then the orthopedics in Sofia, Bulgaria disagree, open the arm, and replaced the parts they could with different ones. I was taken off track for some time waiting to heal, but then I realized that it is all in the head. You can't wait for something to happen in order to continue living. Life is composed from all the circumstances that we need to go through. There are not only sunny days, there is rain, hail, wind, storm - have to live them all.
Since there is no clarity as of when my health will be back to normal I will have to stop thinking what I can't do and start enjoying what I can. My medical saga moved to Vienna. I am posting this before I have met the next orthopedic surgeon who will evaluate the current condition of my arm and eventually take me under his knife for further mending. The wound from the last operation didn't close (3 months now), the elbow has very little flexion (5-10°) and no extension what so ever.
Even if I can't call myself a real bear and go into the wild, I can still go as a tourist - something I always looked down at, but hey, I settle to enjoy the things I can still do. Not to worry, not to be afraid, not to try to be what I was, enough selfpitty. It will all come back on its own terms. Not because of some emotions. Relax. Free myself. Freeing space invites new things to come into my life.
I started seeing zombies. People's torsos were twisted, faces distorted the way Picasso painted. He must have had same condition for a long time. I am referring to the subdural hematoma (collection of blood on the surface of the brain). A mata mata (eye) doctor said that there was nothing wrong with my eyes and that I needed another CT scan which I refused because she (the doctor) was a zombie too. Then I had the operation on the left arm, and since they couldn't lay me down on the right hand side where the broken ribs (flail chest) is, the operation took 5h (instead the usual 2h) and the pain when I woke up was excruciating. 2 weeks after I still can't sleep at night. Quit the pain killers, I have provisions for another 2 months. The arm will never be 100% but I have metal elbow which I can use to crack walnuts. I can't feel 2 of my fingers but I will be able to pull potatoes from the hearth. I can't breath properly or carry a backpack with the flail chest but I am sure that with a good shrink I can find a silver lining in this cloud too. The specialists in the Cardiothoracic ward said that they wouldn't operate. And that we better get back home for further consultation for the ribs and physiotherapy for the hand.
Don't want to go into too much medicine, but the recap is 6 broken ribs resulting in flail chest, shattered shoulder blade, fractured elbow in need of operation, subdural hematoma from head injury. 10 days in I.C.U. with tube draining my chest from blood. It became clear that the surgeon is pro conservative treatment of my chest, besides the hospital didn't have the equipment to operate. My birthday present was evacuation from Indonesia to Malaysia - this is how far the money went.
Karangetang (Api Siau) volcano is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. Located on the remote Api Siau Island north of N Sulawesi, it is notorious for building lava domes and producing dangerous pyroclastic flows. Currently on “alert” status level 3 called “Siaga”. The Volcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation Center has adopted four levels of alert status: “Normal” (level 1), “Waspada” (level 2), “Siaga” (level 3) and “Awas” (level 4).
Our boat arrived before sunrise on the opposite side of the island. We had to cross the island to climb Karangetang. The whole island is a mountain, so we went up and down. This was our most remote point of this trip. After paying our respects to the volcano we were bound to head back (south) and go home. At this remote island I had to reach (and I am happy to say I did) the age of 2 ( my DOB is 14 July 2010). The terrible twos took a whole new unexpected and unwanted meaning for me. On 14 July 2012 on our way back to take the boat to Sulawesi after a week of adventures, we hopped on the back of a truck full with construction materials - sand, iron rods etc. Going down the mountain vehicle's breaks failed and we crashed into a rock. I was only 2 years old and this was my first trip. Things went south from here.
They worship me. Well, most of the time. Some deities don't like me for some reason.
So far so good. Lokon (last eruption April 23, 2012) and Soputan (last eruption 14 August until 7 September, 2011 that completely changed the terrain and so far there is no climbing to the craters, the volcano has 2 craters) checked. No surprises here.
We are taking a boat tomorrow to Siau and hope to climb Karangetang, which is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. On 11 March 2011, a few hours after an earthquake in Japan caused a Pacific-wide tsunami, Mount Karangetang erupted again. Other than that the island is know for its beautiful and pristine beaches.
On 3 june 2012 I hopped on a bemo from Kotamobagu to Modoinging, and then after exhausting other paths the day before I managed to find the trail to Ambung by myself. Ambung is known for its sulfur and nesting place for Maleo birds found only on Sulawesi. They cover their eggs deep in a hot volcanic sand and leave it there to hatch (or cook) by itself.
The top was windy, covered in thick fog and foreboding. I climbed it anyway, very carefully. The sulfur has made the terrain very unstable - huge black volcanic rocks are nested in sand crust dried after the rain, which usually breaks after you put your weight on it.
The weather became really unpleasant and started my descent. I wasn't so careful anymore. 3-4 stones broke loose and buried my left leg. I was estimating the damage trying to free up my limb, when heard the rumble behind and above me. The rock fall (on the photo) stopped less than one meter from we, without agreeing with any gravity laws. When I could think again, my mind couldn't help but go back to the Patungs (stone megaliths) I befriended this month in Lore Lindu, which are known as protectors.
We started from here to Ambung. First day without a guide, we took the wrong trail which was much more wild, steep, and overgrown than the "real" one I found the next day.
Boats are back with the morning catch. Having my kopi susu (coffee with milk). Indonesians have a sweet tooth, they drink everything with a lot of sugar (gula). Even their soy souce is sweet. They call it ketchup for some reason (kacup manis).
Within our budget this is what a sanitary joint looks like. Once upon a time there was no running water so the wells called mandi were filled with buckets brought from the river. Now, there is running water, but by tradition it still fills the mandi, and the only way to wash anything is to use the dipper. I have forgotten the feeling of rubbing your hands together, or face, or body since one of your hands is always holding the dipper. Now, just think about it - all the water goes into the mandi, and then in the dipper, and then in your face. None of this items (besides your face) is personalized or cleaned between room occupants. Everything is covered with something sleazy or worse. What inspired me for this post though is the sock used to filter the sediments in the water (with no much effect). This is the water we brush our teeth with, and nobody could answer the vital question - who's sock is this?
"The art of travel is to deviate from the current plan."
~ The Art of Travel
We decided to avoid big cities as much as we can. I may not be in touch for weeks. We will be climbing volcanoes and taking a boat possibly on 14 July 2012
9 days in Lore Lindu National Park (2,310 km2) covering by foot 100 km in Bada and Besoa valleys. I made a lot of friends. True they are made of stone, but they will always be there for me since they do not move. Don't you love when you find things where you left them? Extraordinary folks are these statues (Patungs). Each of them has its own features, character, and governs its own territory. For the short time we met I developed personal relationship with each of them.
Back in Palu now, leaving tomorrow for North Sulawesi (Gorontalo and Manado) where the volcanoes are.
Change of plans, instead of heading for East Toraja - the most developed tourist area in Sulawesi, we are already sweating in Palu gathering information about Lore Lindu and surrounding mountains, where is cooler, and where we can still find our way around the mainstream. We will be trekking with backpacks through thick tropical rainforest for at least a week, relying for shelter and food on villages, if we find them.
Back to Mamasa after 2 nights in the Gandang Dewata magic mountain. Reached Pos 3 - doing more than half way to the top but the hammocks proved not to be manageable in rain. We are trying to dry equipment and clothes 2 days in the village now.
The legend goes that some hikers died up in the mountain and there was sound of drums coming from the top. We were warned not to pay attention if we see or hear things we don't understand. As far as we don't meet the drummer.
Dangerous species are snakes, scorpions, centipedes. Expected leeches. In the woods we saw in more than one occasion animal (definitely not vegetarian) poop with my size. I feel uncomfortable knowing there are animals around that can out poop me.
Referring to the map - I am going to use placemarks with no dots when I place them in advance to mark moves in the near future. Here is the plan:
6 Jun - driving for 10-12 hours from Makassar to Mamasa. This is West Toraja where we expect less mainstream.
1 day in Mamasa to get supplies
4-5 day trek to Gandang Dewata (3037m) reality check for the hammocks idea
13 Jun - 60 km trek from Mamasa to Bittuang, Google does not show village with this name so I have positioned it roughly
This is East Toraja which means tourists and Internet. I won't be in touch till then.
So I decided to come out of the ziploc. With the very special attention from the beautiful flight attendant of AirAsia and a little "happy gas" I was able to look through the window without the usual "We are all gonna die" expression, and enjoy the clouds. What I have has a name: pteromerhanophobia. The crew said that information would help, and since we already established that my brain is very little I need to educate myself. The captain gave me this link http://www.askcaptainlim.com
When I get bored I like playing with cars.
Did you know there are pills for flying? Well, I am in Vienna and I don't know German that well, and the man that sold me the pills was kinda shady, so I am not sure if he said the pills are to ease the flying or make me feel like flying.
As for the ziploc - if we end up in Hudson I don't want to get all soggy. It also helps for hyperventilation. I don't want to think what will happen if I have to use a vomit bag.
|↗ Vienna (1Jun 15:30)||↘ Cairo (19:00)||3:30h|
|↗ Cairo (1Jun 23:40)||↘ Kuala Lumpur (2Jun 18:10)||12:30h|
|↗ Kuala Lumpur (4Jun 14:35)||↘ Ujung Pandang (17:50)||3:15h|
|↗ Ujung Pandang (1Aug 18:15)||↘ Kuala Lumpur (21:20)||3:05h|
|↗ Kuala Lumpur (2Aug 22:00)||↘ Cairo (3Aug 5:40)||13:40h|
|↗ Cairo (3Aug 10:45)||↘ Vienna (14:30)||3:45h|
I hope I don't end up sitting next to Mr Bean.
Mount Lokon last eruption is April 23 2012 at 10:20 pm local time. Previous big eruption is on August 17 2011. The volcano has been unstable for a long time and it's current official status is erupting. The authorities have set a NO-GO radius of 2.5 km around the volcano.
My ancestors used to sleep in caves. I usually get fleas in caves. I am going to experiment with hammock this time.
Shug is fun... but he will convert you right away.
You need passport to get in the plane. Airplane travel is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo. Ok, I don't like flying. If it was something I should like I would have been born with feathers, not fur.
For my next journey I decided to keep a blog. I leave tomorrow for Sulawesi, Indonesia for 2 moths. I have 1 day to make me a site.
You are seeing the result as we speak.