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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Torture and music

Music doesn’t have to be discordant to be torturous – just loud, close, and vibrating your home when you are attempting to sleep.

I have a dream that someone has stuck his hand thru a vent and is pulling on my sleeping bag, trying to wake me up. He is with a woman and they want me to buy drugs from them.

I am torn what to do – I don’t believe in the use OR the punishment of illegal drugs and users.

If you could see how these lands here have been taken from the people and turned into mega-farms – food for the u.s. market primarily I’m sure. Driving here is like driving on I-5 in the valley, as straight but more narrow, and surrounded by fields after fields after fields.

There is more of the natural foliage left growing here along the road and sporadically in between and around fields. The land looks rich brown, much of it delta left from ancient rivers flowing to the ocean. The rivers now are all ugly grey skim on sluggish patches of wet. Banks extend naked 10 feet at least, much like Mt. Shasta Lake during a drought and after a long hot summer.

But unlike Mt. Shasta Lake, these former rivers now have green foliage growing where the bottom of the river should be, if it filled up in the spring.

Of course turning the land into farm land, there was the opportunity to provide jobs for people –  providing they want to be farmers and are growing organic.

But now, there are horrific, low paying, hardest work jobs as those of us who’ve ever worked on a mega-farm know. And dangerous to one’s health handling so much pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers and gawd knows what else.

In my dream I am torn about what to do about the drug dealers. They are gringos, so I know they’re not farmers who have lost anything – or maybe they are.

People who choose to sell drugs are not people who have a lot of other wonderful choices in their lives.

Do I point the police in their direction and if so, which police? I am happy to wake and realize I have no decision to make.

But my happiness is only momentary. It is most likely the loud, booming music vibrating thru my truck that has waken me up, not someone sticking their hand thru the vent. I hear male voices in between the songs and take solace first in the rhythms of the songs, and later in the fact that this is battery-run vibrations.

I’m sure there is hardly anyone on the beach and it stretches – the paved part – for at least ¼ mile. These guys did NOT have to park right next to me. But they might be farther away then I think.

Actually, everyone opens their doors and blasts their music, rivaling the volume of a Mexican nite club, while hanging out on the beach, so loud, so much base, the cars are keeping rhythm.

Usually, I can sleep thru anything, or at least meditate my way thru. Tonite, the batteries – and the interest of the men – seem to last longer than my ability to tune everything out.

I think about the torture we put human beings thru in Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan forcing them to be inundated with horrific discordant sounds. I think at least this is music that I like, that I can relate to, that I could almost appreciate if the truck wasn’t bouncing and I wasn’t trying to sleep.

I wonder how I would be able to survive such torture, what kind of strength, fortitude, what? these human beings must have to sustain their lives after such torture.

And as always, I wonder about the human beings who participate – both directly and indirectly – with such torture against another human being.


The water pump sticks like it does when my water tanks are low on water. I wonder if I have enough water to spend a few days here. I have a new 'friend' Jesus who lives in town, maybe he has an outdoor faucet for drinking water. We’ll see.

There are many street lights up and down this 2 lane street I am parked on. They are not on the ocean side and there is a small median between both lanes but none-the-less, I could do without so much light shining into my casa.

I will sleep in the bottom bunk because it is darker there, dark really. I still don’t want to shut the door but I will have to soon.

After my walk, I sit on the tiny cement wall beyond the small brick red tile sidewalk in front of my truck and watch the finale of the sun set. When it is too dark to see much, I come into the truck, leaving the outer door open, and write a little.

Soon I turn off my light and just sit inside watching and listening to the ocean thru my screen door. And feeling so glad to be here.

I hear a vehicle, a truck perhaps, pull up and men’s voices. I realize I can put the curtains up, to block the street lamps and the men’s view. I see them a couple of car lengths in front of my truck. Then I return to sitting.

Suddenly I see a soldier walk by my view of the ocean – in full discordant u.s. marine dress, squeaky boots and long, machine gun-looking rifle. He does not look right or left so I do not say anything.

Soon another soldier comes from the same direction, this time walking out onto the beach in front of me. I’m sure he is dying to turn around and soon he nonchalantly does, ambling back. I do not think he can see into my truck since I’ve closed the curtains.

After a couple more walk back and forth, another soldier, most likely the one in command, comes close to my door with a stern frown and peers inside. I say “hola” from my seat deep inside my truck and his frown deepens into a question mark as he moves closer. But still he cannot see me.

I feel sorry for these soldiers, if they are trying to control drug violence. They are also trying to encourage tourists, which I am. But they are not sure if I’m a tourist or a truck carrying mega drugs – or money for mega drugs more likely. I almost get up and talk with them.

But having a conversation with soldiers in the dark when few people are around is not something I cherish. In fact, I am practicing in my head how to shut my door politely and say “let us talk in the morning” “pueden hablan manaña en la manaña?”  in case they approach me.

I creep into my lower bunk, the darkest one, and lay down fully clothed, willing myself to wait one hour – awake – before peeking out my window. I’m kicking myself for not closing and locking my door earlier, then I would not have this problem.

I hear what I think is soldiers pulling off, although the surf is so loud it is not possible to hear much but the absence of presence.

In 45 minutes of hearing only the ocean, I get up, peek out the window seeing no one too close, get out and close the door!

Door open or closed?

The sun turns into a bright orange and then red ball and the skies respond. There are wisps of clouds not unlike magnet shavings scattered across the face of that game we used to play Mr. Mask or something like that. The colors of the sun splash brightly around all the clouds, lingering for a long time after the sun disappears.

The parts of the sky still blue, turn that deep radiant blue, while the reds and pinks spread here too all along the horizon and higher.  I walk the entire length of the beach and back, humming with the changing shapes and colors.

And greet the several clumps of mostly young people – men outnumbering womyn 10 to 1 – partying along the shore. There is one group of older men playing songs. When I first hear them, I think it is yet another car with a loud radio – no glasses on this walk. But when I get closer I can see it is a small band. One man has brought his cello, two their guitars and a harmonica, and one a small accordion.

Everyone sings. I’ve noticed lots of everyday people sing and sing beautifully here in Mexico.

The road runs parallel to the ocean and several feet down from where I’ve scored a park, restaurants start on the opposite side of the road. There are some cabañas – what are those things called, 4 posts and a straw thatched roof – on the ocean side of the road, and one restaurant.

Where the road ends, on my side there are those nasty dune buggies farther down the beach away from us. At the very end of the beach on the other side, are the fishermen’s nets and a couple of boats – so they will most likely be out early in the morning.

AND a bathroom, one side for men, one for women. I HOPE it will be open early in the morning when I’ll really need it!

This is the only paved road here but down where there are lots of restaurants, it looks like behind the buildings there could be another dirt road, but I’m not sure. Most likely the people who work the restaurants live here.

I wish I felt comfortable enough to leave my outer door open tonite. The breeze off the ocean and the ocean’s song are wonderful to fall asleep to. But maybe tomorrow or Tuesday. Today, it is really busy, I’m told, because it is the weekend. But most likely during the week, it will be very under or unpopulated! Yeah!

The only issue is the internet – not the posting of my blog but helping Candice with EBAY so we can get the holiday money that’s out there – and maybe my Joiyssey can last a few months longer. Oh well, maybe I’ll go into La Cruz tomorrow and check out their internet.

Now that I am here and see my choices, I wish I would have taken the “free” road, although it might not have been totally free, I’m sure it would have been a hella more cheaper.

For sure when I leave here, I’m giving myself plenty of time and taking the free road on into Mazatlan next week!

Ceuta Beach

I have arrived at Ceuta beach, right by La Cruz, about 60 miles south of Culiacan, where I spent a couple of hours this afternoon.

I choose Ceuta for my amiga Yarida in Los Mochis. Turtles are her favorite animals, her sacred animal. And Ceuta is protected beach for the Tortugas who come here every fall by the hundreds or thousands to lay their eggs in the sand.

I won’t see them this year but I will spend time picking up trash from the beach.

Ceuta is only 4 kilometers from the toll road – grrrrr, still burning about that $167 fuckin’ pesos to drive thru fields of mega farms with all their fuckin “pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, agroseed” signs that are in Spanish but so close to english any estadounidense can read them all.

And there are bus stops at every field, or bus stops in the making. I wondered how the workers would get to the fields as there is little sign of human habitation, not even a mega farm house anywhere – but mega-farm processing centers!

Bus stops every 50 feet. Imagine that in the city! Gotta get those farmer workers into the fields in time!

Ceuta beach is beautiful and I think this is finally the Pacific Ocean or so close it doesn’t matter.

The minute I get here, I park at what I think is the fartherest away from everyone that I can be & still be on pavement – right where the u turn for returning in the other direction, is half off the pavement and half in the sand!

I heat up soup quickly and head down the 20 feet of sand, over the mound of stones, and sit close enough to the waves to ensure they don’t get me - yet. Jesus comes over to greet me, sits down, and anxious to speak english with me even tho I prefer speaking Spanish.

We have the ‘esposo/esposa’ conversation quickly with a little different tune. His esposa lives in Guasave – they’re separated, most likely getting divorced. I say I’m sorry because he looks forlorn.

I tell him I’m 60 and I have no need and I am not interested in any esposo ever. He thinks I’m 45 and still wants to talk english.

He has lived in the u.s. for 24 years and has returned this past year. He doesn’t tell me if he was deported and I don’t ask. He introduces me to his 8 year old son, also Jesus (imagine that), and says Jesus was born in Iowa, just like me.

Council Bluffs, where I held a demo and no local folks show up except the media! Jesus (sr. that is) was in the 1989 earthquake, in Richmond at the Chevron plant. He has lived in almost as many states as I have – but the quest for work has forced his moves.

He has found work here, not cleaning out toilets or picking vegetables or processing petroleum. Here he is a vendedor and sells vegetables but they are all mass produced. He doesn’t like them. We talk about growing organically and war and violence.

He takes his child home and I wade in the ocean after stuffing my face with the soup I thankfully made yesterday, or the day before. I forget. Tomorrow, I will put on a suit and go swimming.

Culiacan: The most dangerous city in Mexico

On the way to Culiacan, there are 2 police barricades but they are on the opposite side of the highway. The roads are in great shape, especially remembering how they were 25 years ago in Baja California.

The most distressing, violent thing around is the continuing mega-farms growing corn, sugar cane, and what I believe now to be peppers.

There is only one steeper hill and this has a slow lane for trucks like mine. Buses continue their crazy radical roaring past cars, trucks and animals, swaying and spewing, but keeping upright!

Arriving in Culiacan, it appears to be a large city similar to all the other cities I've been in. People are on the streets, vendors selling from little carts or little buildings with big patios and lots of red and white plastic arm chairs.

The park is full of people, children, playing structures, and parties. Most of the stores are closed.

I see a battery place open – it’s Sunday – so I stop and buy distilled water for 1/3 the price I was charged in Los Mochis, or overcharged I should say. Here I buy 10 bottles for 50 pesos, still a lot, but in Los Mochis I bought 2 for 28 pesos.

I am able to speak Spanish with the vendedor – and he understands me! I fill up my two batteries on one side of my truck – the 2 I didn’t fill at Las Glorias, although tomorrow, I will probably fill the rest again.

Not a good sign, to have to keep putting water in the batteries…

Then I find a Caffenio, after finding a Star Bucks and asking where their competition is at! A few blocks away of course.

I speak my halting Spanish with the young womyn there, who keep giggling as we speak. We have a long conversation – they are kind and patient enough to speak slowly with me – and I think they are laughing at my halting Spanish but when I go to the bathroom, I see I have a huge black grease mark down my nose! So much for making an impression!

Scoping out a couple of places to park in this very crowded city, it is after 2pm when I realize I am not going to find a good place to park with good internet access in Culiacan, which is the only reason for me to stay in the city.

The young womyn at Caffenio tell me theirs is the most peaceful of the 6 Caffenio locations – and it borders the 4 lane highway – you know, the ones without a shoulder. The others are in the middle of the city bordered by lots of businesses, cars, trucks and no empty space.

But where I parked at this one, there is evidence on the ground of at least two car windows smashed. My first thought parking was I couldn’t park there for long, certainly not overnite!

So I decide to head to the beach and take my chances – with the internet that is, and getting there before dark & in time to find a good park. I read about Ceuta Beach right next to La Cruz about 100 kilometers from Mazatlan, where I have to be in 10 days.

Now I have to decide libre o cuota, free or toll way. I drove the supposed “free” way from Guasave to Culiacan but ended up paying $33 pesos just before entering the city. Maybe they mean ‘free-er “ than the other road.

It is almost 3:30pm by the time I hit the road. All the people I have met and talked with in Culiacan have been like all the other people I have met here – gentle, helpful, kind, going out of their way to understand me. Similar, but much softer, to New Yorkers.

I decide to take the cuota road, as it appears to be much shorter and I assume what I pay in pesos I’ll make up for in time and saved mileage.

So you can imagine my shock when they charge me $167 pesos or close to $14.00. wow! I have also filled up my diesel, just in case, which set me back $900 pesos or almost $80. Oy vey.

Sunrise Sunset

Did I mention the sun rises and sun sets both last for at least an hour here? Last nite the sky was brilliant, brilliant red, demanding everyone’s attention.

Then as the brilliant red seeped out of the jagged cloud cover, it spread softer, more even, over the whole horizon and even softer on the opposite horizon over the village, lingering for at least an hour.

This morning the sky right over where the sun will be turns just a tad lighter than the rest of the sky that is gleaming with stars. Then the reds and deep pinks and oranges begin long before there’s a hint of the actual sun.

I run for 30 minutes and the sunrise is still visible without the sun appearing. I climb back into my bunk and watch the sky from both my front and side windows, facing directly east.

The roosters crow in the distance sporadically for 2 hours and the sun finally appears.

Never ask a fisherman about feed for chickens… least not if you’ve a shovel close by.

I am getting ready to pull out of the beautiful Las Glorias village and beach. I have 4 containers that I have written “libre” on and lined up in a little away from my truck close to the beaten path of the fishermen.

No one has taken a container overnite. One is a bucket full of thick supposedly vegetable oil and lots of dregs from the other containers. Two are totally empty and one has about a gallon of veggie oil too dirty for me.

I walk over to the guys who are hanging out staring at the ocean and ask if they know of anyone who might want the used oil for their chickens or animal feed.

They stare at me and I try again. Everyone shakes their head “no”. I point to the containers and say that I have veggie oil I cannot use and the 4 containers I cannot use either. They still shake their head “no”.

Okay. I return to the truck, thinking I better load them up and go to the houses where I’ve seen lots of chickens. Just as I get to the truck, two of the fisherman join me, pointing to my “pala”, shovel. I nod my head thinking they need it for some reason.

And they do. They dig a hole in the sand faster than a rabbit burrows into the earth and before I knew it, they had dumped the bucket of veggie oil and the container into the hole and were covering it.

I was aghast. But they wanted those containers and not the oil. That’s what I get for asking fishermen about feed for chickens and horses.