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The trip is coming to an end! (Edit: has come to an end)
We spent the last couple days with a spacial biologist named Stephanie Russo. We explored turtles and the barnacles that live on their shells (a symbiotic relationship). The barnacles are the shell like things that stick onto the sea turtle’s shell and grow over time. My favorite part of working with Stephanie was coming to the realization that there’s an entire other world that we have yet to explore. The daunting task of the unknown and undetermined, all the new that could be uncovered. It’s not as much the insane discoveries it’s more the way you look at those discoveries and the attitude you bring to the task.
Stephanie is a very kind and conscientious person who in the short time I spent with her, brought an attitude to her work that spread excitement about life and the great discoveries that come with that to the whole class. The first day was spent in more of a classroom setting where we did a lab to give us a foundation for the second and final day. The last day was spent removing trash from the beach, removing barnacles from a deceased turtle, and making all kinds of observations on marine life. We were able to lift up rocks and see all kind of organisms such as sea stars, sea sponges, and barnacles of all sorts. We ended the last day with a hearty meal at one of the best restaurants EVER and went to get yummy ice cream afterwards. I got aguacate helado (avocado). I highly recommend it!
Writing this as we head to the airport.
Life is a science:
Constantly making discoveries
Constantly being clueless
Constantly making rules and laws
There is no end to it.
Would you rather go through life without that?
Because I sure wouldn’t.
I love knowing that there is an unknown
An endless discovery
An ocean of unknown
Waves that are as tiny as a playful fist bump
Or as great as a thousand punches
It’s within everyone to help
Because little changes can turn into massive movements
Stephanie wants to make a change
She does the hard things to save what is most precious to her
Change can hurt but can also make a difference
Change will never come easy and sometimes you have to use what’s on your side to do things efficiently
Thinking outside of the box
Who knows, who can know unless you do it?
Change the world.
The last day brings a crazy amount of gratitude to me. Big thanks to all that made this trip so very memorable.
The soft muted colors of the morning sky pull against the horizon to the point just above the mountains where the wind catches it. It is the kind of horizon line that distorts the timing of sunrise. The tide is drawing to the west but it is no match for the wind out of the east. The wind is laughing. I know it. I can’t hear it over the sound of it cutting through canyons, up the arroyos, through the spines of the cactus, and out of the mouths of the gulls, but it is laughing, I am confident.
All night, the mast light of the 47’ sailboat anchored in the harbor swayed 20 degrees in each direction, cutting the shape of a wedge and telling me that the seas had not changed. I imagine this cove can be peaceful. I imagine the surface can be still, but I imagine those are uncommon times and that it feels like a mistake, incomplete, a warning.
When I was young, the wind never blew unless a hurricane out in the Atlantic was forcing its way towards land. The fact that the hurricane needed water to stay alive made me think the storm was alive. It is like the shark, it needs to move to survive. I always understood that.
I don’t know what this place used to look like 1000 years ago, or back when the oversized relatives of the gulls that are laughing at me overhead were here. I don’t have any idea what it will look like when my boys are old, I only can see today. But that is enough. I don’t need to. I don’t need to control through my expectations or through my fears, I can just be. I can be the one who adapts.
I like that there is a small tree growing above me. The roots of the tree are not visible even though the dirt is shallow and erosion has taken just about all of its foundation and the whole root mass is overhanging by 15 degrees. It should fall. The wind should dry the roots and kill the tree but it doesn’t. The tree holds on. It grows as it can and it inspires the other trees. I imagine it calling back to the bushes that don’t see the possibility “hang on, you’re tougher than you think.” I imagine the bushes agreeing.
It makes me think about the quote from Lawrence about wild things and self-pity. It makes me think of how strong people can be.
It makes me grateful.
Another favorite international trip prompt!
Whale’s down, not gone, always rising.
Hermit crab’s pinch made my trip
Gratitude’s key unlocks good that’s present
Embraced by Mexico’s colors and light
Now. Here. This. Now. Here. This.
Intention buttressed with joy through service
Pickup fat cat. Pool time workout
Ringtails great snuggle buddy till spotted
Hummingbird vs oyster. Which will win?
Little rock in my fingers, hello.
Sleeping with the moon and stars.
Openness and vulnerability met with beauty
Challenges presented, felt, destroyed and overcome.
Blue ocean, blue flowers, blue world.
Old thoughts, new meaning, same world.
Bobby jokes, hula hoes, dirty toes.
Pain for pain taken from innocence.
Walls let down. Vulnerability. What now?
Adventures were the road more taken.
Old friends feeling like new acquaintances.
No language, smiles shared, love expressed.
Flexibility akin to power of waves
Warm sun, sharks and whales, MÉXICO.
Spirit’s rhythm – no beginning no end.
Twelve years ago when I was five years old I was living in a foster home in San Gil, Columbia with my foster mom Doña Flor before I was adopted to the United States. I have a clear memory from that time of being a five year old going to school for the first time and having some college students come to teach us a little bit of English. Yesterday I was sitting in an after school English program for Mexican kids here in Todos Santos helping out with their lessons and I realized that I am now getting to be that person who is helping someone else learn. I liked that connection.
For the kids here, their English is pretty good because there is an after school non-profit called Palapas Society that helps them learn and there are also lots of Americans (gringos) here because of the tourism, so they hear it a lot. So I helped a little with past tense verbs (which I can remember learning) and thought back. We played some bingo and put letters in place. My life has been like that – putting letters into place, making words, making progress one step at a time.
(Here are a couple photos of Jose. Check back for photos of his work with Palapas Society.)
The other day, we went to a farm in the mountains to help out with farming tasks. We drove for 40 minutes on a bumpy dirt road where the van bounced up, down, and all around. We arrived at the farm that was in a forest, with mountain ridges around us. The mountain ridges were full of greenery with lots of trees and plants.
We spent the morning removing weeds from the ground. The garden was growing arugula, corn, squash, and beans.
Once we finished removing the weeds from the rows of dirt in the ground, we transitioned to planting the corn. Alan, the man who was starting the farm, taught us how to plant the corn. We were to put the kernels in the ground every 40 centimeters and about the depth of the lengths of one’s finger nail. He discussed the idea of being intentional when planting the seeds and kernels. For this method of farming, the mindset is as important as the process. He said that some people believe that one’s thought when planting the corn affects how well the corn grows.
Alan spent years studying permaculture in Mexico, which is farming that is sustainable and natural. He shared an experience of working at a farm in another town where his group was harvesting plants that no other farmers were growing. Some of these other farmers included commercial farmers. Alan thought that his group could grow the specific plants because of the thought that they put into the seeds when planting them.
We enjoyed learning about this concept and tried to be intentional as we planted the corn. Perhaps this concept can be transferred to other tasks in life. When we’re intentional in even the mundane tasks of life, it can have great effects.
One prompt we like to do on international trips encourages us to reflect on our roots, as we’re learning about the perspectives and roots of others. Each of us writes a poem about where we are from. Here is a compilation of everyone’s!
We are from…
We are from loving everyone around us
the cherry tree whose branches held my cousin and me
We’re from “it will last” and new-to-us cars
it just needs duct tape and loving care
We’re from painting in the basement and picnics in the backyard
kindergarten whiteboard with its cool corner cloud
Iris’s power was destroyed in an hour, and we mourned at the sun as it left
bedtime stories told at night of beauty and kindness
the privileges of being white
We’re from hours spent with our heads in the spine of a book
the enticing challenges of proving fear wrong
watching for shadows in the dark during our cul-de-sac hide and seek games
from an era that fights for their freedom
from a life of challenges and hardships, yet wisdom
We’re from pain and agony that turns into forgiveness and understanding
a destructive impulse of curiosity
from a dad who takes too much care of us
We’re from Vicos water and chocolate and goodnight stories
We’re from tomato salad, England, New York, and New Jersey
We’re from a tough, gruff, sensitive, spontaneous, unpredictable, and intuitive garlic clove
from desperation hidden under layers of “yes, ma’am”
from strong faith in women who heal
a crowded orphanage
a plane coming across the ocean
We’re from many sunrises and sunsets, pondering past and recent events
We’re from dying to be heard but living silently,
fighting to be included, but determined not to get in the way
working harder than the boys, so I can throw like a girl
I am from so many, and I am from me
-The Link School 2020
This trip – particularly the sea kayaking portion (a forced technological detox) – has inspired some reflection from a number of us. Here is a small collection of poetry, as a result of that reflection. There was no assignment for these, and they were not written together; we just realized that a number of us had been writing, and we wanted to share a few.
The first three are from our sea kayaking portion, and the last is a (mostly) found poem from a talk that we attended on ethnobotany.
Lights of Espíritu Santo
Warm colors as the Earth rotates. Sunrise and sunset, bracketing the day.
Also bracketing the night.
Out on the island.
Light pollution dwindles to virtual imperceptibility.
Across the Sea to the west, a collection of houses for local fishermen and their families twinkles, with fewer and fewer homes lit as the evening progresses.
Venus in the east. A stripe of white reflecting off the bay, shrinking as Venus disappears.
Stars. Casseopeia pointing to the Andromeda Galaxy, faintly visible. Gemini. Orion complete with his full and amazing bow pointed toward Taurus, seen only in the parts of the planet with such limited habitation. Bootes and Ursa Major late at night.
Bioluminescence in the waves, lighting up after being disturbed and outlining the shore that changes with the tides.
The sun comes up, as do reflections of the shore, the birds, and the spray that surround us. The clouds refract and light bounces off the sand underwater. Greens, blues, whites in the water. Fish scales. The flash of a turtle shell as it dives. A wet nose of a sea lion.
And glistening smiles of Link.
what does it take
to feel loved?
because i’ve always felt
love but i’ve never
love is the
while loved is
a little less
and a little more
so i’ll ask it again;
what does it take
to feel loved?
it doesn’t take a lover
or a friend
it doesn’t take family
or even a stranger
because no one person
can make you feel
it takes interactions
with the local barista
and the target cashier
and the bus driver
it also takes interactions
with that cousin
you haven’t seen in forever
and the friend
you lost touch with years ago
and a lover,
past or present,
you still hold dear to your heart
no one of these
interactions are enough
to make you feel loved
but all of these
interactions are enough
will be enough
It’s finally clear.
And my heart
Staring up into the sky
there is nothing blocking the stars from shining their brightest.
There is nothing in the sky to stop the sun from shining its brightest
There is no technology telling me how to feel.
Blessed by nature
Blessed by opportunity
Blessed by love
From myself and many around me.
Seeing an ocean that never seems to end creates an unspeakable vision and clarity into my life.
The little kindnesses matter more
Caring matters more
It’s finally clear.
Tell Me, Plants
playmates and friends
a lot in common
Onslaught of colonization
Take care of what was left
remaining indigenous people
It strikes me.
but very similar
Beginning of time
everything an ocean
two brother beings
thought for millions of years
began to create
Plants and animals were people too.
Hundreds of generations
Sustained for thousands of years
Stark contrast to today
We would do well to listen to their wisdom.
Thanks to these similarities
the heart of this continuum
long lived on
both sides of that border
living elders walking barefoot
directly connected with history
help them survive
enduring friendships with elders
joyful and dignified presence
profound appreciation for landscapes
many joys of my life
Visits with her a delight
Because we don’t see it
And we don’t know it
We don’t really appreciate it
Strong, beautiful, and durable
Let’s talk. I have some questions.
Can we dissolve our separation?
So we don’t know
where you begin
and I end?
I think you have the answers.
Both sides of that border.
But very similar.
A lot in common.
Today, The Link School went to go do some service work at a ranch in the mountains near Todos Santos. We got to go and see the ranch owner’s kitchen, and wow it was a humbling experience. His mom makes all of their food from scratch in a tiny outdoor kitchen on a river clay stove, powered by wood. She has no modern cooking tools, and this was so surprising considering how delicious her food was and really was eye opening to how some people live.
This showed me how privileged I am to live the way I do back home in the United States.
*For English class during this trip, we have been reading and reflecting on Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights. For a recent assignment, students had an opportunity to write a little about one of their own delights. Here is Will’s!
This little local boy – no more than fifth grade – walks up to us during a football game. He just wants to pass it, but we invite him to play. It’s 49-49 (we’re playing to 50) and 4th and goal (meaning we have a yard to go to a touchdown). Of course, Steven and I blow it, but this kid got to experience it with us, and we got to experience it with him. He had no idea who we were; we could have been some football playing serial killers, but he was brave enough to give us a try. We got to talk to him after. His name was Meís, he liked the Chiefs, and he was super excited for the Super Bowl.
His family of 10 was leaving on their five horses going back home I presume, so he said he had to go. We exchanged “mucho gusto amigo, hasta luego,” and he was on his way.
We got a tiny and flavorful taste of his life, and likewise he got a taste of ours. He took a chance in the name of football, and it didn’t disappoint — at least didn’t disappoint me.
It really just shows how many opportunities for delight there are all around us. I mean there’s near 7 billion. All we need is that little outreach, that little connection, and we can have experiences we’ll remember forever.
Everybody has something to offer; it’s just about unlocking it.
“Why are you all here?”
“To serve the community and help you.”
“Community. You got on planes in all different places and landed in Todos Santos together for the sake of community. That’s what’s going to heal America.”
And that happy, beautiful misunderstanding – the question being about the whole trip, the answer about that specific day – is how our time with Donna began. We didn’t bother correcting the notion that we just met on this trip. We let the beauty of the idea carry us through the day.
And carry us it did. Donna is the founder of Todos Artes – an art compound here in Todos Santos. She went on to tell us how she ended up in that place, doing that work, — and what our part in that work would be for the day — but it felt more like a wise lesson on the value of art and connection. She told us about how artifacts are how we connect to people in the future. She told us how they let people know “we were not oppressed, depressed, or suppressed.” That the expression of art is the cleanest line of communication.
She told us how when you work alone, you can do this much (holding up a pinch of two fingers), but when you work together, you can do this much
(you guessed it – her entire wingspan). That was the theme of our time with Donna – collaborating, not competing.
She talked about her work with Jerry Brown and the value she sees in displaying art done by groups of people. She likes when there’s not a man’s name on something – or a woman’s.
She talked about the science / art fusion program she started at UC Davis because why would we not have all perspectives at the table?
Her compound was a reflection of her values. There were mosaics everywhere, done by all different people – and very few names on them. Almost every work was a collaborative effort. We got to be part of it.
She was covering some columns in mosaics as a “gallery,” so every group could display little ceramic works that they created. The column we were covering was for her son’s wedding, coming up. Their guests were going to add works from clay, and they would forever have this beautiful momento. We got to leave some of our own for her to put up, as well.
Donna’s vibe was a strong one. I wanted to just listen to her talk. She used words like “yo” and “the bomb” and then dropped gems of wisdom that you could easily miss, if you weren’t paying attention. She let out a stream of instructions and threw in thoughts about politics in the middle of explaining how to break the tile. I got the feeling I could spend years with her and still be surprised by her carefree, uninhibited depth.
It’s funny how you can meet people who leave you wondering. I knew I wanted to pull out more from her, but I didn’t know what to ask.
I will do my best to not fill in too much with my imagination. I’ll try to not to picture her work displayed around town, her collaborations with artists in the future, the way she mothers, her community of people who came and went during our time there. I’ll try not to imagine the locals she’ll build relationships with, like the woman who brought her salsa mid-morning. I will definitely remember her unapologetic value of community – and I’ll continue my struggling effort to emulate it – but otherwise, I’ll try to keep her that way in my mind – a delightful, community-driven mystery.