Monday, December 31, 2007

Peak experience on Pigeon Island

(St. Lucia log, cont'd ...)

Mother Nature knows what we need. On Saturday she gave us the rain because she thought it was best for us to stay indoors, eat snacks and be lazy and introspective. Yesterday she gave us brilliant sun and cool breezes to cure our cabin fever. We took a ride on a small boat (operated by a man called Dave) to Pigeon IslandI loved Pigeon Island. It's beautiful: dotted with old stone ruins of forts and dungeons, wild grasses, flowers, trees, a rough craggy coastline on one side, gentle lapping waters on the other, winding pathways leading to lofty peaks. The photo shows the view from one of the peaks on the island. Everywhere you look in St. Lucia there is a peak.
Ditto (view from peak). One of the more touristy shots you would ever get from me.
At the top of one of the peaks there was a small dungeon-like ruin. I took the steep wooden steps and went down into it. This image reminds me: The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. (Winston Churchill)
My friend Mel peers down into the dungeon: "Spec, where are you?"
"Here I am."
After descending from the peak, we ate lunch (tuna sandwiches, egg & cheese sandwiches, chocolate ice-cream), lounged/dozed under some trees while our food digested, went into the sea ... and by then it was time to go to the jetty to wait for Dave to pick us up (4:00 p.m. St. Lucia time, not Trini time).

Waiting for Dave on the jetty (I)
Waiting for Dave on the jetty (II)
Waiting for Dave on the jetty (III)
Waiting for Dave on the jetty (IV)
Waiting for Dave on the jetty (V)


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Here comes the rain again ...

(St. Lucia log cont'd ...)A St. Lucian puddle
Most people would be upset if they came all the way to beachy St. Lucia and it kept raining. It basically rained all day yesterday (my third day here) and it rains every night and early in the morning, with strong winds. I don't mind. In fact I love it. The rain is cool, soothing and inspires hibernation, which I must need, judging from how good it feels to be doing absolutely nothing (... except for reading, sleeping, talking with Mel, snacking, eating, writing, thinking, unwinding, watching movies or just being still and processing myself and life as another year winds to a close). It feels great to be completely unhurried, to have no plans and to not care whether we do anything or not for the day.

The day floats by
In wind
And falls to night
In rain

One thing we say we must do, though, is the Rain Forest Canopy Zip Line Adventure: over the heart of the rain forest, "zipping along 500 ft lengths of cable at heights ranging from 30 ft to 50 ft". That height may not seem like much, but as Mel and I both have a 'fear' of heights, it is an ideal way for us to embrace it.

... And what is 'fear' anyway? Here is one of what-must-be-millions-of definitions, which I find simple and insightful: Fear is always a sign of strain, arising when what you want conflicts with what you do. (A Course in Miracles, p. 29).


Saturday, December 29, 2007

At times ...

(St. Lucia log)

Yesterday I felt to go to the sea. The idea of it was cleansing in a way that nothing else could be. I felt for a quiet beach, but Rodney Bay, which is walking distance from where Mel lives, was crowded with a pack-load of tourists. We had a light lunch at Spinnakers, then walked along the beach and found a fairly quiet spot toward the end of the bay. The sea was gentle and warm and I went in alone. At times I just floated, surrendering to what is unimaginably larger than I am. At times I folded up like a foetus and was submerged and drifting in a massive womb. At times I tried handstands (which more ended up being flips) - and turned myself upside down like a salt shaker, emptying out. At times I just gently breast-stroked my way through the water. At times I went under the water and, as it supported me, I stretched myself out into whatever pose felt good ... Neptune yoga, maybe? At times I went under the water and spoke into it, knowing it was listening and understanding, even though I didn't really know what to say or how to put the essence into words. It, in itself, is beyond words. At times I just lay down or sat cross-legged in the shallow, allowing the gentle waves to shift me slightly. Then, when I felt to, I came out.

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Friday, December 28, 2007


(St. Lucia log)Oil spill seen this afternoon on walk back from beach and grocery.
Rushing heart,
Gushing heart:
you spilled
your spell
and fell

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(St. Lucia log cont'd ...)

Stained glass in the Cathedral.

Yesterday after a deep and reflective lunch in Castries, we went and sat in the cool darkness of the massive Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. It felt like being in the belly of what I imagine Noah's ark would look like if it was upside down. The intricate artwork on the high, arched wooden ceilings is amazing. How do they clean it and care for it at such a height? This question baffled me and Mel for a while as we sat on a front pew chatting and gazing around us.

I only took photos of the stained glass windows though.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

I'm here ...

(St. Lucia Log)

A friend dropped me to the airport (Piarco, Trinidad) at 4:00 a.m. My flight was at 6:00. When I checked in, the woman at the desk gave me a food voucher for $35TT and told me that my flight was delayed for three hours.

"You will have to board at 7:30," she told me.

LIAT is giving trouble these days with strikes, etc., apparently ... but I wouldn't know since I no longer read papers or watch news.

A while later, I took out my food voucher to show it to Paula, the friend who had dropped me to the airport, and noticed that the flight number on the voucher was not the same as that on my ticket. I went to query it ... and good thing!

"Ooops," the woman said. "That's not your flight?!"

"Am I delayed?" I asked her.

"No, you can board at 5:00."

Turns out she mistakenly thought I was on the flight number she had written on the voucher. Had I not noticed the error and queried it, I would have waited until 7:30 to board and would have missed my flight.

I was so glad to touch down in St. Lucia a few hours later (connect at Barbados and connecting flight delayed about an hour). It is such a gentle place and the heat and stirred energies of Trinidad feels distant. My friend Mel's new apartment is fantastic - colourful, funky, peaceful and breezy. As I arrived and dropped my suitcase in my room, we sat and chatted for a good while, catching up on all that needed catching up on. It will definitely be a great visit.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ticket to fly

A few days ago I decided that I need to cross water again and bring in the new year in a new place with new energies. I didn't feel like being in Trinidad for the transition. I thought of St. Lucia and how gentle and simple it is.

I wrote to my friend in St. Lucia to ask her what she was doing for New Years, etc. We are 'fellow Librans' and have known each other for over a decade. There are some people in life that you can 'know' within days or weeks of meeting them and continue to know them for all of life. The good friends I have now are like that. Quality does not need quantity when it comes to kindred spirits.

M wrote back and said she was just on the verge of calling me to find out what I was doing and if I would come. The fact that we had both had the same idea around the same time was good confirmation.

I hesitated a bit because of the unexpectedly high fare, but knowing that it would be worth it and that I deserve it, I went ahead and booked my flight online. As I pressed the "Confirm" button I felt myself get light and I knew it was the right thing.

My flight is at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning, 27th December.


Monday, December 24, 2007

I am the Divine's pet

As the Divine's pet,
I need not hunt.
I need not be snared by traps hidden in the forest.
I need not find myself wandering on lost roads.

I need not.

From the window the Divine watches,
Awaiting the moment.

The moment when I,
The Divine pet,
Return from my wanderings.

I call at the door.
Only once is necessary.

The Divine opens,
Lets me in
And everything is there.


Sunday, December 23, 2007


The least important word: I
The most important word: We
The two most important words: Thank you
The three most important words: All is forgiven
The four most important words: What is your opinion?
The five most important words: You did a good job.
The six most important words: I want to understand you better.

- John C. Maxwell -


Saturday, December 22, 2007


Bamboo Cathedral, Trinidad

We don't see things as they are,
we see them as we are.

- Anais Nin -



Bamboo Cathedral, Trinidad

We don't see things as they are,
we see them as we are.

- Anais Nin -


Friday, December 21, 2007


With your feet I walk
I walk with your limbs
I carry forth your body
For me your mind thinks
Your voice speaks for me
Beauty is before me
And beauty is behind me
Above and below me hovers the beautiful
I am surrounded by it
I am immersed in it
In my youth I am aware of it
And in old age I shall walk quietly
The beautiful trail.

American Indian – Navajo


Thursday, December 20, 2007


Throw your dreams into space like a kite
and you do not know what it will bring back:
a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.

- Anais Nin -


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas (but some aren't)

This morning as I went for my walk the sky was heavy with dark grey clouds, it was 'cold' (by Trini standards, probably somewhere in the mid 20's celsius) and everywhere was wet and shiny. I felt light and happy as I marvelled: "Wow, this is my favourite weather!"

I noted the irony. Had it been sunny, I may not have felt as light and calm. The rain and dark skies make people slow down and everything is cooler, quieter and more peaceful. I love the cosiness of it.

Yesterday I made the comment twice (in different situations) that if this were a temperate country, all the rain could be snow. I meant it in a delighted way, but both times the people I said it to commented: "Thank God we are in Trinidad!" They don't like snow.

If I didn't live on a hill and, instead, lived in a low lying area that flooded, I probably would hate the rain and would dread the sound of it or the sight of even a grey cloud. I had that same thought as I lay in my bed early this morning enjoying the gentle pitter patter in the darkness outside. For some people that gentle, constant pitter patter (or, sometimes, heavy downpour) means a flooded house, damaged goods, having to shovel piles of mud from their streets and driveways and maybe even worrying about the danger of loved ones getting swept away by large ravenous drains.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Screw driver

On Saturday 8th December I woke up and there was a huge screw in my front right tyre (which was almost flat). I had just enough air in it to drive to the tyre shop around the corner in Maraval.

This morning when I returned from my walk I noticed my right back tyre was flat. A screw was in it! The tyre itself was too flat to allow me to drive the car and, upon trying to change it, I didn't have enough strength to unscrew the bolts, which were on really tight (from the machine they use in the tyre shop). I got my neighbour to help me get the bolts off, we put on the spare and I drove down to the tyre shop. The culprit was a long, thin screw - even longer than the last one.

Normally I would think about symbolic reasons for this happening twice in such a short space of time ... 'what could the message be?' But this time it doesn't feel symbolic. It's just a hard fact. The man in the tyre shop and I agreed that there is too much construction going on. Screws and nails are everywhere.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Frida finds her feet (update)

Frida feeding on fish on the day she was found. Detta's hand pushing fish closer.

Update: When Frida was found last Friday, she could not walk. She was using her wings to propel her body along the ground. Now she is having moments when she stands. This, along with her ravenous appetite, shows that she is on the way to recovery.


Final French results




Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bamboo and light swirls

Yesterday, walking through the bamboo, swirling my camera. The green parts are the bamboo. The white parts are the sunlight filtering through.




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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Frida(y) ... update

Update: Last night Detta called to tell me: "Elspeth, your friend has made it this far." She said she had sent a swab of Frida's stool for analysis. All is well except for the presence of bacteria (can't remember name) which is not found in seabirds. She will have to go on antibiotics. Detta also called a friend of hers in Florida for further advice and was advised to put her on a course of antibiotics not available in TT. So for now the aforementioned antibiotics will have to do the job. God speed, Frida.

Frida eating fish at Detta's (Detta's hand in shot)
(14 December 2007)

This morning when going for my walk I saw this bird on campus. (She is a smaller version of the sea bird I found in a carpark March this year. Sadly, that one died). This one's wings were spread and she was unable to fly. What was she doing so far inland?! People were walking by as if she was not there. I picked her up, walked back home with her, immediately called Detta then took the bird down to her wildlife orphanage, wrapped in one of my beach wraps.

I named her Friday (since I found her today, Friday) ... minus the 'y'. Hence Frida. She seems a lot healthier than the other sea bird that died (toxicity, dehydration). She rapidly gobbled up the fish that was placed in front of her. When I left she was sitting on a special heating pad in a cage, covered in blue fleece, with her plate of fish in front of her.

Here's to her swift healing and eventual return to the sky/sea.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Long time

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Busks for tusks update

In Toronto earlier this year.
Those of you who were reading the blog when I was in Toronto earlier this year will remember when Nancy and I were drumming near Dundas Square to raise money for the Asian Elephants.

The other day I got an e-mail from a woman called Connie who said she had seen her site featured on my blog and was curious about why and about how I had been involved in saving the elephants.

I wrote back and told her that I had linked to her site in connection with the drumming (busks for tusks) and she excitedly wrote back, sending information on the cause for me to disseminate. Basically she is reaching out to anyone who can help to raise awareness about the plight of the elephants. Think about it. In some small way you may be able to assist. Even if it means just featuring it on your blog. You never know who could be reading it ... who may be able to do something really effective.

Just this morning I was thinking of the difference between human and animal suffering. This thought was ignited because of that horrific video about the senseless clobbering of the seal pups. (Those of you who dare to watch it can see it here. I didn't watch further than 2 seconds into it). The thing about humans is that, in some life-threatening situations, they can talk, probably bargain their way out, call for help, etc. Animals have no way of doing this. They are at the mercy of man. Man either destroys them or saves them.

Connie's plea is driven by the sad fact that within two decades the Asian elephant could be extinct. Those who are interested in helping in any way possible can make contact through her site.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Jasper does Kitty-Casso

Today I got a Christmas package in the mail from my friend J in TO. I waited until I got home from the Post Office to open it. Jasper, who had been asleep on my bed, woke as usual when he heard my car and was perched expectantly at the edge of the mattress when I walked in. He watched as I opened the box, perhaps sensing that it contained something for him. Indeed it did: his very own Kitty-Casso kit so we can do paintings together.

In the above video he has not started painting yet, but it shows him being introduced to the little red mouse toy that came in the kit.

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Book of Me

As I opened up Blogger to blog, I thought: "What did I blog about on December 10th 2006 - one year ago?"

I checked and it was my review of 'By the River Piedra I sat down and wept' the day I had finished reading it. I remember how captivated and mesmerized it had me at the time.

I wonder if I had read it this year if it would have had the same impact. Maybe, maybe not. I would have found it a well-written book, but emotionally it may not have connected with the same power, because my emotions feel different at this point of this year.

I wonder what book would connect with me as I am now. Or, if someone wrote a book with me as the main character, what would that character be doing, saying, thinking, feeling? What would the plot be? And if I read that book, would I recognize the character clearly as being me? Maybe the author would see things about the character that I, being the character, don't see from the objective perspective.

Hmmm ... would it even be an interesting book?

The character of Me hasn't done anything interesting or exciting lately. At least not in a mountain climbing or bungee jumping sense.

Would a book about me keep me up all night past my bedtime, straining to read it just because I am unable to put it down? Might depend on how the book is written. Something poetic and simple with beautiful symbolism and magical realism can captivate me, even if 'nothing' is happening.

At this point of the Book of Me, what is the question that needs to be asked/answered in order to propel the plot forward? What is the catalyst? The turning point? What decision does the main character make? What theme needs to be developed? Etc?

What would you like to see happen in the next chapter?


Sunday, December 09, 2007

The time is always now

I got an e-mail today from someone called Adam, with the subject heading "Now is wow meets the Now watch".

In the body of the e-mail the watch was succinctly described as: a tool to help bring more presence to people's life. The Now Watch tells the time like any watch but also features the word NOW prominently on the face serving as a reminder that no matter what time of day it is... the time is always NOW.

Check it out. It's very simple ... and a good reminder.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Yoga morning, French evening

This morning I woke up and, around 8:15 I headed out to my second Moksha yoga class, which was to start at 9:00 a.m.

When I got to my car, I noticed that the front right tyre was almost flat. That explained why the steering wheel was so hard to turn yesterday evening. Luckily there was a tyre place around the corner and within half an hour the problem was fixed. A large industrial nail was the culprit.

The yoga class felt great - and I will definitely do my best to go regularly and "keep up", as we say in K. Yoga.

Tonight is the 'fete de noel' - our French Christmas party. Some of us in our class are doing a little skit involving me drawing the body parts that the others will be calling out ... resulting in a caricature of notre professeur.

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Friday, December 07, 2007


A surge.
Heightened connection.
My flower stalk is tall.
My petals open.
I drink the sun.
We are connected.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Yoga days (daze)

Last night I went to my first Moksha yoga class (and will be taking advantage of the pay-$30-for-your-first-class-and-get-free-classes-for-the-week benefit). The two forms of yoga I've done within the past week have been very different from the Kundalini yoga which I have been doing since 2001. The yoga over the weekend at the retreat was Anusara, which gave me a great experience.

In addition to this, I've been house-sitting since Friday for a friend who is away for a little over a week. Our Kundalini yoga teacher and another practitioner come to her house four mornings a week at 4:30 a.m. to do morning sadhana. Normally I will do yoga on my own when I wake up in the ambrosial hours (amrit vela) ... but this week it has been with them. Having the company heightens the experience - or at least provides a different one.

I wake as usual, bathe, open the front gate for them and am ready for when they arrive at 4:30. We go until about 6:30 a.m., doing warm ups, a kriya and then the Sadhana chants.

My tangible and intangible bodies feel great - stretched, activated and alive.

In addition to all the great yoga energy being generated, I feel like I'm not in Trinidad. Everything feels and looks new. One reason for this is that I have not read newspapers since Thursday last week ... and have no idea what madness is going on in TT. I don't care to know either. In the grocery two days ago my eye fell on a headline screaming out in red: "BEACH TERROR!"

I looked away.

The world is at peace - inside and out.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Everything really does happen for a reason

The original Rainbow when I had her.
On Friday when I got to my car to go to the yoga retreat, I noticed that the passenger window was shattered. As I closed my driver's door to go back inside, the shattered glass splintered to the ground. Turns out a stone from the gardener's weed-wacker had hit the window and broke it. To cut a long story short, it was highly inconvenient. It kept me back as I knocked out remaining glass and vaccuumed the splinters. I couldn't do anything more about it then (like get a new one) because I would have been late for the retreat. So I covered the window with a large garbage bag stuck down with duct tape ... then tossed the scissors and tape into my car, driving off, figuring I would deal with the window on Monday (which I did, this morning).

Had this not happened, I would have left earlier and gone to an art exhibition at the Museum and driven over the Lady Young to get there. But because my car would have been 'open' and because I was late, I decided to go straight to the retreat via Santa Cruz.

Had I not taken this route I would not have rounded the bend by Royal Bank in Maraval (Boissiere) and seen a net hanging from the roof of a building with a Rainbow trapped in it (I now see all grey pigeons as Rainbows). The poor thing was flapping helplessly in the afternoon sun and everyone stuck in the traffic was no doubt seeing it. I rounded the bend and pulled my car in front of the building. The businesses were all closed except for one that was selling water scooters. I asked them if they had a broom that I could use to free a trapped pigeon.

They looked at me in that dry Trini way, as if I was mad. "No, we don't have a broom."

"There's a pigeon trapped in a net at the back of the building," I said.

"Dat net is dere for dat purpose," the man told me. Apparently it's to prevent the pigeons from going under the awnings of the roof ... but somehow this one must have gotten trapped. "Leave it. When de man come he go deal with it."

Certain that this meant they would kill it or leave it to die, I said: "That is animal cruelty," and proceeded to the back of the building.

The side of the building was sheer, with a tiny ledge, about one inch wide. The steep side dropped to a large canal below. I am afraid of heights, so I could not go onto the ledge. I asked the we-have-no-broom man (w.h.n.b.) if he would climb out and he said no. My only option was to grip on to a wrought iron gate-like thing and lean over the canal, pulling at the net, trying to yank it down. The w.h.n.b. stood behind me, telling me that the wrought iron gate was loose and I could fall down into the canal.

The more I yanked, the more the pigeon got flustered and kept beating up. Her neck was poking through a hole in the net. Her feet and wings were through other holes. She was truly trapped. I stopped yanking, realising the net was securely positioned and that my actions could kill the bird (e.g. she could break her neck or die of fright) rather than set her free.

My attempts to get a broom anywhere were futile. People passing in cars were either calling out or looking at me like I was crazy. Just then, someone I know and have not seen in ages, came walking by. I told him about the pigeon and took him to see it. When he saw the steep drop he grew pale (also afraid of heights) ... but he felt pained to see the trapped bird. He somehow found a broom and leaned across to try and poke it out of the net. This was not working. Cat calls from the passing traffic were growing louder.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man in an orange t-shirt appeared and without a word, nimbly jumped up on to the one inch ledge. He walked out a bit on the tips of his toes and started to pull at the net. He was struggling, hanging with one hand onto the shaky gate. At one point he even let it go, to move precariously closer to the pigeon.

I then remembered the scissors I had in my bag. "Do you want scissors?" I asked him (even though the w.h.n.b. man had told me early on not to cut the net when I said I was going to).

The orange t-shirt man stuck out his hand and I placed the scissors into his palm. After about ten minutes of cutting, I heard a flapping noise and saw the grey and white of the pigeon streaking freely across the canal ... and out of sight.

The feeling I got in my heart cannot be described.

I couldn't wait for the man to get off the ledge. As soon as his feet touched the ground, I grabbed him and hugged him tightly and said: "Thank you!!! Thank you!! Thank you!! You are a hero!!" He couldn't even speak. He seemed overwhelmed by my enthusiasm and gratitude. He stood there beaming and smiling with grey and white feathers all over his face and then just went his way without ever saying a word.

It was a miracle and a huge symbol all at once. I was extremely light and happy. (A feeling which only intensified during the yoga weekend). As I drove off after the Rainbow rescue, I thought: "That's one of the best things that ever happened to me!" At that moment it felt like the best day of my life. It struck me then with surety: everything really does happen for a reason.

Had my car window not been broken by the gardeners, I would not have had the scissors with me.