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Archive for the ‘Travel Adventures’ Category

Stephanie Pappas and Dolphin Yogi

Stephanie Pappas and the Dolphin Healer Yogi

In 2001, I had an eye twitch for 3 months after the 9/11 event, and teaching yoga in a boys prison camp. The twitch was so annoying and it only went away when I ran vigorously on the canal path along the Delaware River.

So,  I went on a vacation to Tulum, MX  with my yoga friend John F. and swam with some amazing dolphins. It was his birthday gift to me.

I was so touched by their gentleness and compassion.

I cried like a baby at dinner afterwords. The Mayan waiter, Ramon, was really the manager at Zamas Restaurant on the beach, but was filling in that night because they were short-staffed. Ramon was understanding, and listened to my glassy-eyed dolphin tourist story of that day with a big smile and kind eyes.

One year later, on yet another Tulum vacation, I ended up getting shown a piece of property in Tulum town from that same Ramon, and buying it with cash over coffee! His uncle was the owner, and the mayor of the town.

And so goes the circular journey of magic in this life!

It seems that anything very significant that has every happened to me, I realize  has happened with little or no effort on my part.

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Those last moments together become suspended and frozen in time when we say goodbye. Big, hot sensations and a choking lump overwhelming the throat . The mysteriousness of life saturates the space as we look past the eyes to the souls behind them. Lots of questions flash through the mind about our destiny, chance and fate.

What will the next days, weeks and months hold for us on our separate, but connected journey?

When I see you again who will I be? Will life harden or soften me in the time in between?

And then there is that unsettling emptiness after the departure. A little numb, a little sad; the one left behind returns to the duties of the day while thinking about the talks, the experiences, and the exchanges. The last minute phone calls at the airport seem like a desparate attempt to reassure the connection through space and distance.

Lots of space. Lots of silence. Longing and love, love and longing go together in that Sanskrit chant, “Radhe govinda, govinda radhe.”

That is the WAY of it.

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Heavy heart, weight of my body on the matress, nauseous, waiting for something to happen. Suspended.

Vacant, weepy, wispy, listening to my longer exhalations.

Feeling vulnerable eating alone at the cafe today. Abandoned, but by whom?

I trace the feeling inward and backward, and back, and back, but all I find is pure sensation and a few childhood memories of being home alone sick with strep throat.

Why did I stefwalkmexopt1wake up to this today? It’s just a day like any other. The kitten wants to eat, and is trying every mischievous trick he knows to distract me from my pursuit of lonely sensation.

Let the feelings be there.

No strings attached.

No thoughts attached.

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Did you ever marvel at the miracle of digestion? The birthday cupcake goes in one hole with pink frosting, spongy yellow cake, and multi-colored sprinkles, and then is magically transformed by the time it reaches the other end of the tunnel. Amazing, isn’t it!!??

My sense of awe began when I heard how many truck loads of food the average human digests (or semi-digests, in the case of some food gulping individuals) in a life time. I looked down at my abdomen with wonder. I imagined dump trucks lined up in the drive way full of all the boring and fancy meals I have eaten. I absolutely know where it all ended up.

Sometimes I get a charge out of of visiting in public restrooms and leaving part of myself there. It seems so odd to me that I could be basically unaware of what was inside me until that moment, and unconsciously consider it to be a part of myself. I feel strangely indebted to these public bathrooms and I am deeply appreciative that they accept my offering, this gift of myself that I leave behind. I shutter to think of all the embarrassing moments they have saved me from!

So, here I am again, thinking about what to eat tonight. I know I have to eat something. I want it to be quick. I have to do this every day and I am not thrilled about that. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat. It just takes up so much time, money, effort, and mental energy.

It could be worse. Have you ever had a relationship with someone who doesn’t like to eat what you eat, or when, or how you eat? It is a nightmare.

As I mentally plan what I will put into my hole tonight (the one that talks), I count my blessings that I am “soltera” and dealing with the food dilemma on my own. This is one great benefit of being single : -O

Thank You!

Thank You!

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There is a line in an ancient yogic Sanskrit text that goes something like this:

“How is it POSSIBLE that we have forgotten our connectedness, and are pretending to be separate?”

How is it possible? Well, it just is.

And I am sure that even after experiencing a day of unity and camaraderie like yesterday, Obama Day, we may still experience some separateness and isolation today. It is not wrong, it is not bad — it is simply the way it FEELS sometimes on this planet of duality. We have become accustomed to our way of seeing reality and believing the illusion of surface appearances. Part of life’s variety of experience.

Last week , several times actually, I was woken up by the sound of my neighbor vomiting.

Blaaah! Silence. Blaaaaaaah! Silence.

Sound travels freely and easily here in silence of the jungle, and between thatched roof cabins. I lay awake staring at wood beams that are part of my roof. Then, after a minute, in the quiet space between his retching, emerged another completely opposite sound: Coooooo. Soft and comforting. Cooooo…

The sounds began to alternate rhythmically like a call and response chant in a passing parade: Blaaaah! Silence. Coooo. Silence. Blaaaah. Silence. Cooooo. Silence…

The sounds were impeccably timed and so unusual in their seemingly opposite qualities, that the experience took on a surreal quality for me. I recalled music I had heard on a contrived nature sounds CD I bought years ago at a CVS drugstore.

After a while, the vomiting stopped, and so did the song of the bird. Silence again.

Being the pensive type individual I am, and always searching for meaning in the raw, strange, and sweet moments of life, I felt the co-existence of opposites here on my planet.

The sun is coming up. And night would surely fall.

There is some security in that. It is something we can rely on.

Befriend the Opposites

Befriend the Opposites

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Yesterday I printed out pictures of 2 of my cats and posted them on my refrigerator. They are Missing In Action.

Sylvester, who never misses a meal, has been away for 3 days. Chilloncita, the “little cry baby,” has been gone for over a month. Once I thought Chilloncita was gone forever, but she made a surprise visit after being missing for about 6 weeks. She could quite possibly turn up at any time.

Sylvester never pulls that kind of stunt, and so I am a bit more concerned about him. At the same time, I want to imagine that he is just off in the jungle somewhere, having a long overdue adventure for himself. Maybe he found some great Christmas left overs.

We just never know when the last time is that we will see someone or something. It hits home when their form disappears suddenly. Maybe they are missing, or maybe they just died. It’s like the whole in a donut; the form goes a away and a temporary vacancy is created that is distinct – palpable. It’s almost impossible for the mind to grasp. When I think about it for more than a few minutes, I feel my myself slipping into an altered state of consciousness.

Once I heard an interview with one of the producers of the TV show Seinfeld. He talked about the phenomenon of the “alleyway of power,” or something like that, referring to the doorway in Jerry’s apartment where Kramer, Elaine, and George made their classic entrances and exits that defined there characters. There is a corner of my property at the back right where two walls meet. I think of this corner as the “alleyway of power” for my feline friends.

Bat kitty’s entrance is boisterous and she cries out, “here I am!” At the other end of the entrance spectrum is Pijamas, who tip toes in, careful not to disturb anyone. Sylvester related to the alleyway like a guard at a border crossing. He was in charge of who came in and when. For a while, he was the alpha male around here. That changed recently when velvet black Junio came onto the scene. Over the last few months I noticed Sylvester slithering in silently from the property in the front, not the back, and he did this ever so cautiously and delicately. It was as if he didn’t want to attract attention to himself.

Three days now and no entrances or exits from Sylvester. A bit like a cat myself, I notice and miss his pattern.

After all, it has been 4 years. I hope he comes back, but I am not that confident.

I guess I was secretly hoping that if I posted their photos on the refrigerator, they would sense that and come home.

There were a few times in the past when I thought about Chilloncita, and in the next day or so she would come calling; like when you think about a friend and your cell phone immediately rings and it’s them on the line.

I look longingly at that back right corner.

UPDATE: JANUARY 8, 2009   Sylvester returned! He quietly sat on the edge at the alleyway of power this morning and waited for me to notice him. Unfortunately, he was obviously sick and hadn’t eaten or had a drink for the whole 8 days. I rushed him over to the vet and they began IV and antibiotics. He was completely dehydrated but he still had a lot of life in his eyes, and I am hopeful he will get well. We still don’t know why he left or what caused him to stop eating. He didn’t have a fever, so the vets were puzzled. Thank you to his well wishers who read this blog. As for me, I am still getting over a fever myself.

Last Seen Chilloncita

Last Seen Chilloncita

MIA Sylvester

MIA Sylvester

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Well, add another illness to the growing list of tropical diseases I’ve experienced here in the developing world: typhoid fever. Or at least that is what the blood test results vaguely showed. I still have my doubts. Explaining why would be too long of a story for this blog.

Since before Thanksgiving I felt dizzy, lightheaded, weak, unstable on my feet, and tired in a way that was unfamiliar to my body. In Spanish I would describe this feeling to my doctor as “borracha,”  drunk. I described it to my mother as “how you feel after having a high fever for several days.” She couldn’t relate. Drunk seems to get the point across more quickly.

I was at a Christmas party and I noticed that I kept missing my mouth when I sipped my wine. Interesting. Luckily, my summer dress was pink and burgundy.

I noticed I had to lean on the kitchen counter in the mornings while making coffee, as if I were on a fishing boat excursion for too long.

I didn’t drink anything last night on New Year’s eve; I didn’t have to. At least I didn’t spend any money!

Is this the last wall I will hit before my book Yoga at Your Wall is finally in print?

Stay tuned for more from “Typhoid Stefi…”

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