Volcanic Eruptions

Hummingbird continues…

It’s true… We made a marijuana offering to a volcano God and that volcano erupted a few years later. Cause and effect? Maybe… The basic facts are indisputable. I hiked to the top of one of Ecuador’s many semi-active volcanos in the early Spring of 1993. I was joined in the endeavor by a young Canadian man. The day before the hike, we acquired some weed and a chicken bone pipe from a local campesino teenager. When we secured our permit for the trek, we were informed that the volcano was semi-active and could theoretically erupt at any moment. We had to sign a liability waiver in order to get the permit. It took us two days to reach the top. Up near the peak, there were cracks in the surface and volcanic steam rose up from the cracks and kind of floated in the air. The rising smoke against the backdrop of bright blue sky was rather impressive. It looked like the mountain was smoking something. So right up there near the tippy top, we found a comfy spot next to a spout of steam and joined the volcano in a smoke. We packed our chicken bone pipe full with weed and blew our clouds of smoke into the steam rising from the crack. How funny? How amazing? We were bonding with the volcano…. Yo Dude. Don’t you think we should make an offering? What do you mean? What kind of an offering? An offering to the volcano monster so he doesn’t erupt and consume us with lava and fire? That’s a good idea; let’s give him some weed. The Canadian guy opened up our satchel and retrieved a pinch of weed between his fingers. He offered the bag to me so I could get a pinch as well. He went first. “Here you go Mr. Volcano, enjoy the show, but try not to blow, at least not for a while. Wait until we are far away from here.” He sprinkled his weed into the steaming crack of rock. I went next. “Señor Tungarahua, my friend. Thank you so much for letting us reach your peak. I do believe I hear you grumbling. Are you getting ready to explode? Try a little tranquilo. Perhaps this offering will help you relax.” I sprinkled my weed into the steaming crack…

Of course the volcano did not erupt on us. We enjoyed our view from the top and hiked back down to the town of Banos where we soaked in the hot springs. A few years later though, 1998 I think, Tungarahua did erupt, big time… it blew it’s fricken top off. Some people were killed and there was lots of damage in surrounding villages and even in the town of Banos. I went back to Banos in early 2000 and the volcano was still sort of erupting. There were boiling, bubbling, overflowing pools of lava near the top. Obviously, tourists were no longer allowed to hike it. But several guesthouses had jeep tours to hot lava viewing spots at night. I went along on one of the tours. Lots of young drunk backpackers in crowded jeeps converged on a plateau just across the way from the volcano. It was a serious party with drinking, dancing, smoking and the popping of magic pills. I stepped away from the scene by the vehicles to get a better view from the darkness. I remembered my offering from seven years before. The cone was now gone. The place where we sat and smoked our pipes and made our offering no longer existed. It was now a steaming hot cauldron of bubbling lava. Or, at least, that is what it seemed from a safe distance. All I could really see was smoke and steam and dust rising from the center and dripping red streams spilling over the sides.

Smoldering… erupting… smoking… grumbling… steaming… glowing. Believe it or not, this was not my first ever experience with weed offerings and volcanoes. In Costa Rica, in November of 1992, I went to visit the active volcano of Arenal. It was the day after I got the results from my blood test. I brought my tent and sleeping bag and camped out at the base of the mountain. I now knew that I didn’t have malaria but I was still having the crazy malarial dreams. The erupting volcano added real-time sound effects to my nightmares… Perhaps camping next to an active volcano was not such a good idea… Continue reading

Travel Medicine…

Hummingbird continues…

“Some people never go crazy. What truly miserable lives they must live.” Or so Charles Bukowski once said. The crazy vivid apocalypse dreams started during my hike up Mount Chirripo in Costa Rica when I thought I had malaria. I had been taking the anti-malarial drug Lariam for two months by then and in retrospect, I associate the dreams with the drug. But, as they say in law school, correlation is not causation. I only took the drug during that first ever journey through Central and South America for a total of about six months and the dreams went on an on for several years afterwards. The psychological/spiritual issues that arose when I abandoned my legal career a few years after my trip were also very close to the side effects for Lariam that the French Doctor warned me about. But again, correlation is not causation. With the wisdom of hindsight, I see the whole big bundle of variables as inextricably tied together; the Lariam, the malaria, the stress, the dreams, the mania, the seizures, the abandonment of the legal career… Does that mean the pharmaceutical drug Lariam was the cause of my transformation from a lawyer into a stone mason? No; of course not. But it was, perhaps a contributing factor….

I’m standing in front of a very tall building of concrete and glass… a government building… it goes up and up and up forever. I enter and pass through metal detectors to reach the elevators. The elevator takes me up and up and up to a floor of offices. A maze of intersecting corridors leads me to “The Clinic”. A clipboard full of paperwork is handed to me. I sit in a waiting room and look at the clipboard. It makes no sense… a foreign language? no, not even that. It is symbols or hieroglyphics or diagrams with random numbers mixed in. There is a signature line at the bottom. I sign my name. A sexy blonde woman in a tight-fitting business suit emerges from a back room and calls out my name. I hand her my clipboard and follow her to a remote office somewhere within the maze of corridors. She tells me about diseases, horrific diseases with gruesome and explicit symptoms. I am going to a dangerous place, an uncivilized place. I will need biological protection; physiological security. She recommends the first protocol and gives me another paper to sign. I am then ushered into an examination room. A middle aged woman in a nurse’s uniform is waiting with a needle… several needles. She gives me shots… four I think, maybe five. Also a couple of pills to swallow right there and then. Modern medicine circulates through my bloodstream to protect me from the uncivilized world I am entering. I also get a couple prescriptions to fill. Drugs to take once a week or once a day for the whole time I am traveling in a danger zone. The pharmacy is on the bottom floor of the building. I take the elevator down, buy my drugs and go outside.

The heat hits me on the pavement… instant sweat. The sun beats down. The air is thick with moisture. I hurry to shade spots but it does no good. The heat turns up. Even in the parking garage, the heat is oppressive. I have to squeeze through hot vehicles to reach the burning hot driver’s seat of my car. The air conditioner brings instant relief. Suddenly cool. Then too cool. By the time I exit the parking garage, I am shivering with cold and I shut off the air-con. Then the heat begins again. Out on the highway, I am sweating again, burning up. I try the air conditioner again but this time it won’t work. Hotter and hotter…. sweating… steaming… The sun beats down through the windshield. My entire body is soaked in sweat. But still shivering. And a headache. The whole body aches as it sweats and thrashes and shakes. Then I hear the horns honking. Lots of horns with different incoherent sounds ricochet around the inside of my head. I see the flames in my rear view mirror. Oh shit, the bed of my truck is on fire. Panic. The heart races. Heavy breathing. Will I suffocate? I weave across three lanes of traffic as the honking blares around me. I pull to a blazing stop on a small off ramp. The flames are near the gas tank. The whole thing is going to explode. But I can’t get out. The seat belt is stuck, jammed, broken or melted shut. I struggle and writhe in agony as the sweat streams from my pores. I can’t get out of the god damn seatbelt and the whole thing is going to explode. Oh no oh shit oh no oh shit… Struggle pull, yank, wiggle, struggle, pull, SNAP…

The seat belt releases me and I kick open the driver-side door. I leap out through the opening and start running up the side of the road away from my flaming truck. My heart pounds in my chest, sweat gushes out all over and I cough and gag out smoke from my lungs. Somewhat strangely, I look up and see another flaming truck veer across the highway up ahead. And then I see another flaming vehicle on the road to the left of me. Flaming things are falling from the sky, black and grey smoke swirls all around. What in the bloody hell is happening? And then the explosion behind me. Kaboom. It knocks me to the ground but doesn’t hurt me. I think it was my truck. When the blast is over and the smoke clears a little I stand up, turn around and look to see what happened… Holy shit, it looks like the end of the world… Continue reading

Escaping the Bubble

Hummingbird continues… (the story of why I quit the legal profession to become a world-wandering stone mason instead).

Escaping the Bubble

So, here I am, sitting in a small cafe in Bogota, Columbia in December of 1992. I am attempting to read a local newspaper with the help of my Spanish/English dictionary… Holy smokes. If I understand this article correctly, there was bombing last night in Cucuta. I was in Cucuta just four days ago. Some of the pictures accompanying the article look rather gruesome. Did the FARC do that or some paramilitary group? On another page there is a photo of Pablo Escobar riding a horse through the central square of a town. He is surrounded by what seems to be a cheering crowd. I wonder if the authorities caught him yet… As I flip through my dictionary to figure out some words in the first paragraph, I hear a voice. “Hello Mister. Where you from? Can I practice English with you?” I look up from my newspaper and see a very beautiful young lady. “Sure thing,” I say, “have a seat. My name is Patrick.” She pulls out a chair and sits. “My name Angela,” she says, “nice to meet you.”

Perception management. Manufacturing Consent. Brain washing. Propaganda. Reality control. Why do we believe what the media teaches us? Is it even possible to get beyond the illusion? Where does truth end and illusion begin? Here in the US that question is especially perplexing because over 90% of all media outlets (television, movies, newspapers, magazines) are owned by one of the same five corporations. And all five of those corporations are heavily invested in (intertwined with) the military industrial complex. If you live inside the US, it is very hard to escape the bubble. No doubt the different outlets provide thematic variations and they sometimes seem in complete opposition to each other on superficial topics like “politics” (Fox News vs. MSNBC) but the underlying dominant narrative of them all is the same and that narrative is American Exceptionalism… which is a slight modification of the concept of manifest destiny. The story goes like this: USA is the leader of the “free world.” We are the “good guys”. We are spreading the goodness of democracy and freedom and economic development to all other countries who are suffering under various types of dictatorships and bad economic systems. All other countries and people should look up to us and admire us. They all want and need to have governments and economic systems that work as well as ours. Most people on the planet earth really just want to leave their miserable undeveloped countries and move to the USA where they can live free in a developed modern democracy. But we can’t realistically take everyone into the USA so instead we use various types of aid (military and financial) to help other nations develop strong free market democracies for themselves…

When I began my very first journey to Central and South America in 1992, I didn’t speak any Spanish. I had taken a couple of Spanish classes in college but that was in the mid 1980s and barely a word had stuck in my brain. (Me llamo Patrick. Donde esta el bano?). But as I made my way South through foreign territory, I made a significant effort to learn the language. The method I employed to learn Spanish was fairly simple and straightforward. Every single day, wherever I was, I bought a local newspaper and did my best to translate it using my Spanish/English dictionary. I must say that my technique worked fairly well. Immersed in a Spanish speaking world all day long and slowly building my vocabulary with my daily lessons, by the end of my seven month journey, I could speak and understand a fair amount of the language. I certainly wasn’t fluent, but I could have real conversations and make myself be understood. Continue reading

Call me Coyote…

Call me Coyote….

I am a fictional character. I am not real. I am fake news. Do not believe me when I tell you about the revolution. It is an imaginary revolution. It is not real.

I first began to howl in December of 1994. That was the moment when I divested from the Empire. I cashed out my few “financial investments” and stopped “investing” any money in “corporations.” I stopped voting. I stopped paying taxes. I stopped filling out any and all paperwork relating to the US government except for the bare minimum necessary to renew my passport for international travel. I stopped believing that the US corporatocracy was a legitimate government and no longer recognized its authority. I live and work within the boundaries of the US but my way of life and my own personal economics are completely independent from those psychopaths in Washington, D.C.. and New York who claim to be my rulers. Fuck them. I don’t want to fight them. I don’t want to take over. I just want to ignore them. And really, for 24 years now it has been fairly easy to do that.

Remember, this is fiction, I am not real.

I am also not an anarchist philosophically. I believe that human beings have a social instinct and a natural tendency to come together in groups. The creation of government or law is the real world application of that natural instinct. Nevertheless, I am a practicing political and economic anarchist because I oppose the present ruling oligarchy/corporatocracy that calls itself the US government. Elections are a carnival act and so called “leaders” are clowns. Power structures need to be decentralized and democracy needs to be more direct. The war against the world must come to an end. I believe the practice of non-violent political and economic anarchy are the most effective means to assist the inevitable collapse of the present broken system and help humans through the transition to a saner way of living and societal organizing. Ignore and avoid the federal government as much as possible, that is what the imaginary revolution is all about. Create a beautiful new world in the midst of the shitty one collapsing all around us. Continue reading

Coyote and Hummingbird

I think I’m going to call the new book “Coyote and Hummingbird” because those two characters from my medicine cards keep showing up in my day to day life.  Somehow or other, they represent the oppositional aspects of the metaphysical quagmire that I am trying to understand.   In other words… sometimes I feel like Coyote and sometimes I feel like Hummingbird.  This new book, the one I am writing now, will contain stories and essays from the perspective of each character.

Coyote exists to disrupt the Empire. He is the trouble-maker, the scoundrel, the outlaw. He is the metaphorical embodiment of the imaginary revolution. He wants to see the whole horrible evil empire come crashing down and he is on a continual quest to help make that happen. His quest, however, is complicated and also rather reckless. By challenging the empire philosophically, economically, politically, and artistically, he puts at risk his own very good life. Luckily, he’s a fictional character.

Hummingbird, on the other hand, can’t be bothered with the evil empire. He just wants to enjoy life and live the now. He has a good life with a wonderful family, a happy home, and a moderately successful business. He travels the world and tells fun stories about his various adventures. The empire is obviously collapsing anyway. It doesn’t need to be challenged. Hummingbird plays enough of the reality game to stay out of trouble and tries to create oasises (oasi?) of beauty amid the horrors of the modern industrial civilization. Hummingbird is also a fictional character.

The overarching story of the book will be relationship between the two characters. Will hummingbird lead coyote away from trouble… Or will coyote eat hummingbird?

A Journey to the Middle of the East

A Journey to the Middle of the East

It’s about time… My brand new “literary masterpiece” and “fun adventure story” is now available for purchase as an e-book. It is called, “A Journey to the Middle of the East,” and I really hope that everyone will want to read it. You can buy it here: New book

In the Winter of 2012-2013, I went for a real life four month “wander” around a few countries in “The Middle East.” Over the course of my travels, I wrote a whole bunch of stories in my spiral notebook about my various experiences as I traveled. Some of the stories I posted on this website as rough draft travelogues while I was actually on the road. Other stories were only outlined on the road but I worked on them when I got back and posted them randomly over the next several years. A few of the stories were never posted in any form. All of the stories have now been edited, refined, shaped and sculpted into a single continuous narrative… The fictionalized story of my own personal quest to discover the meaning of “The Middle East.”

I really hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. It was a truly amazing process. Sort of like watching a flower grow or a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis. To some degree, I was strangely removed from the final creation. I wrote each of the stories as individual units and then attempted to unite them as a “symphony” of stories afterward. But, ultimately, they came together in a way that I had not imagined before hand at all. It was almost as if I discovered a very old story hidden inside my brand new story. Wow… that’s about all I can say.

Only the e-book is available for purchase at this moment. I am planning to give away “Free” paperback versions as a promotion sometime very soon. The paperback will be available for purchase eventually and maybe even an audio version.

Buy it now: A Journey to the Middle of the East

Thanks so much,

See you somewhere…

 

 

The Coyote Lives…

This is a new “travel story,” and also a continuation of the previous story.  It is presented as fiction… one part of a serialized novel.  The events may be true but the narrator is a figment of my imagination…

Winter Solstice 2017 continued…

The waffles are delicious and the moment is almost here.
How to begin? I don’t know. Have I reached the wall? No, there is so very much more to say… The coyote.. The solstice moment. How did I get there? How much does the reader need to know to appreciate the significance of the experience? Can I capture the transformation of reality into fiction?

I started the ritual 22 years ago as an experiment. I used to suffer from severe Winter depression. How much of that depression was a product of my insane real world lifestyle… trying to be “successful” in a fucked up capitalist world…. and how much of that depression was a product of my own internal “chemical imbalances” is an open question. But I abandon my insane real world lifestyle and started my own little “imaginary revolution” to deal with the fucked-up capitalist world. And I started the annual ritual as an experiment to deal with the “chemical imbalances.”

My working theory on the chemical imbalances was rather sensible. Every winter, my emotional and mental health system would run slightly off track. The remedies I usually used to treat the sadness of daily existence no longer worked. I would have to take more and more remedies to less and less effect. It was as if my system was overloaded with remedies and they all just cancelled each other out and remedied nothing. I felt nothing in winter time… I felt dead inside. That is why I decided to try re-booting the system… my own internal system. How?

My four favorite indulgences or remedies that consistently brought happiness and joy to my physiological reality were fairly easy to identify: whiskey (alcohol), weed (THC), coffee (caffeine), ice cream (sugar). I decided to cleanse my system of all these remedies before Winter began so they would all have their full remedial power during the long, cold, dark, depressing Winter months. For no real reason in particular, I thought approximately six weeks was a sufficient time period to cleanse the system. So I started my first cleanse in early November of 1995. Actually, I think I started the first one on the morning after Election Day for symbolic reasons… It was the first Election Day of my adult life that I did not vote. But that’s another story…

So I went cold turkey on all four indulgences giving them all up totally and completely. No weening, no cheating, no finger crossing. It really was a bit like hell for the first week or so but after that it was kind of nice. It was a fascinating and healthy process to think actively about my internal biological system. I could feel my body changing… transforming. I drank lots of lemon water and herbal tea and I walked around with this notion in my head that my system was getting washed clean. And then, of course, on the moment of the Winter Solstice, I drank a strong Irish coffee with whiskey and whip cream and took a couple of great big bong hits… Continue reading