Thursday, August 31, 2006

Granada- Where East Meets West

La Alhambra - Granada

Finally, after a week of recuperating physcially and mentally from my trip to Morroco, and adjusting to the European pace of life, I spent the day yesterday at the most perfectly beautiful place I have ever experienced. La Alhambra, which means ¨red¨in Arabic, is the remnants of a palace, or rather I should say a city of palaces, gardens and fountains, built by what the Spanish and the British refer to as ¨Moors¨but who actually were Muslims who invaded Spain from Morroco centuries ago, in fact in the eighth century of the last milennium.

Here in the mountains where the water flows abundantly, and cools the air, they harvested and controlled it and incorporated it into pools and fountains and elaborate chanels that flood the entire place with perfectly mirrored reflections of its delicate beauty. Everywhere you turn there is a new vista of elegance and simple beauty. The hundreds of delicate white alabaster pillars that support dark arches of wooden lattice work carved from cedar, have withstood centuries of what has destroyed every other monument of equal splendor.

Earthquakes, wars, and simply the erosion of time have not greatly affected this beautiful place where once beautiful women dressed in silks and flowing robes lived in Harims while the Sultan dispensed justice in the Hall of Justice, and the public waited for his decision in the marble floored anterooms; where guests were welcomed with grandeur beside the reflecting pool or a fountain formed from twelve lions, each with a sparkling stream of water emitted from its mouth, at the center of a cross representing the four elements of the universe.

Designed by architechts who clearly took into consideration the temperature of marble both in winter and summer, the angle of sunlight at sunrise and moon rise, the movement or stillness of the reflecting pools, arranged to display the shadows of the columns and the light through the traceries of lattice and the greenery of the gardens, , this splendidly sensous city reflects for me what my Palestinian friend said when he said, "Once we were a great nation. Now we are nothing."

This is the first time I have actually seen the marvels of the Arabic mind at work, executed with such attention to detail and proportion that its beauty stuns you. No wonder the Muslims dream of recovering this place for themselves! Time has barely touched it. It was designed to last for eternity, and it has come very close to achieving its aim, as close as anything in this world can claim to do. The heartbreak is that at some point, the control of this beautiful place was surrendered, without a battle, by a sweet natured Arab named Boabdil, who, unlike his viciously brutal father, was a gentle and peace loving man. So, he left in the night, asking only that the portal by which he left be closed so no one would ever leave by that door again. Without a bloody war, his court divided by disension, the Spanish somehow were able to divide and conquer with politics and innuendo, taking advantage of Boabdil´s uncertain hold on power and inability to take a resolute stand and command his people with authority. In a moment of weakness, Boabdil allowed Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand to take over La Alhambra in 1492.

If that date seems familiar to you, it is because the first thing the Queen did to celebrate their victory in recovering and conquering the Arabs who had lived for centuries in La Alhambra, was to give money to Christopher Columbus to go to find the fastest route to the Orient, so they could conquer that too!

Today I saw the casket in which Queen Isabella kept the jewels she alledgedly sold to finance Columbus' trip. It is kept, believe it or not, in the museum attached to the Cathedral that she had built to celebrate the victory of Catholicism over Islam.

The Cathedral they built is an incredible contrast to the beauty of La Alhambra. It is enormous, with 45 foot high cuppolas looming high over you so you must gaze upwards and feel overwhelmed by its immensity. But to me it seemed gaudy in its Baroque overstatement, filled with ornate golden statues and elaborate dust filled altars worshiping the Virgin Mary secreted in every corner. Even the candles that flicjer and burn in other Cathedrals here are electric imitations.

The subtlety and delicately orchestrated loveliness of the Arab architecture has permeated Granada, which, to my mind, makes it the most beautiful city in Spain.

But, in contrast, the Catholic sensibility to my eye seems permeated with blood. The blood of Christ seems to be the obsession of all the paintings and statuary,. That, combined with the sacharine, sentimental idealization of the Virgin Mary, with the ornate throne upon which she is constantly placed, and the extravagant and excessive use of gold seems garish to my eye, next to the simplicity of line and sweetness of La Alhambra.

It might be too much to say it seems arrogant, but it feels like the place is boasting and shouting is in a place that should be still, and express gentleness and humility. But that is how it is here in passionate Spain where it is almost impossible to hear silence.

I have trouble with the blatant adoration of suffering, the images of the bloody crucifixion and the sad, weeping faces are everywhere. The love affair with Christ's painful death seems to fill the paintings and statues that suround you. It is like an altar worshipping death. Nowhere is there the image of the risen Christ, filled with joy, demonstrating that death is merely an illusion. Where is the Christ that welcomed children and taught that you must become as a child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Any child that enters here would be frightened at all the blood and gore. By the time they are grown, they have dismissed God, and turn instead to drinking, gambling, and sex.

The wonder of the miracle of the resurrection seems entirely lost here in the world that worships money, power, sex, and, yes, death! It is entirely based in the manufacture of guilt, and the erroneous belief that confession gives you a clean slate to sin again! It fosters dependency and encourages guilt and fear of punishment to control an errant population who seem to ignore the whole thing with great ease! The women seem dowdy at fifty, descending into plump maternity immediately after marriage. The men congregate in the cafes and watch television and drink and smoke constantly and play pinball.

Outside the Cathedral lurk gypsy women who accost you with a branch of a plant that is shown on top of the Cathedral. The try to press it into your hand, and if you make the mistake of accepting their gift, as I did, they immediately proceed to read your palm in Spanish, telling you, of course, that you will have a long life, your children will all be healthy and free of accidents, and you will have a great love in your life, and he is waiting for you here in Spain! Well, I may be gullible, but that gullible I am not! And then they want money for telling your fortune in a language you do not understand, and did not ask for. And if you offer coins, they refuse them, saying coins are bad luck, and they must have paper!!!! Well, I lost my peace on that ruse for a moment.

That experience seems a perfect example of the contradictions of Spanish culture, though: gypsies preying on people who are paying three Euros to go into the church! And then, of course, you pay another three for the museum where you get to see where Isabel and Ferdinand and their crazy daughter and her husband are buried in iron caskets in a crypt. (The English woman beside me said she wanted to crack them open so she could see what they looked like! On second thought she took that idea back immediately! I assured her that they were not there, anyway, that they were somewhere else. I left it an open question as to where, but I pointed up. She seemed to understand.)

Most of the tourists here are European, and the preponderance are from Italy. I understand a little Italian, so I listen in on the guides pointing out the superiority of Catholicism over Protestantism, and I wonder, ¨Will it ever end, this constant comparison of religions, each one proclaiming it is superior to the other?¨The fight for peace seems destined to continue until humanity recognizes it is one, and it cannot be separate from its Source which is Divine Love!

Here I am in an internet cafe surrounded by images of the young Michael Jacksonin Thriller, Tiger Woods, Richard Gere, and somebody´s famous basketball, images of the American culture they aspire to emmulate.

And it all began here in 1492 when Isabel and Ferdinand won La Alhambra and sent Chrisopher Columbus off to find China, and he came back with America! Here is where East meets West, and I must confess, after this trip I have a far deeper appreciation of the Eastern way of life! It is far too expensive here, 1.80 Euros an hour. But at least I have recorded my feelings about Granada.

I managed, finally, to get my ticket changed so that I do not return until October 30th, so I hope someone is reading this blog and knows where I am! My next step is to call my friends in Europe who have offered me places to stay in Germany and in Copenhagen. Perhaps Lisa will find me a place in France. I would love to hear from anyone who is reading this blog! My email is

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Flow

The flow is in the waves of the desert, the movements of the wind lapping against your cheek, the flapping of your scarf in the breeze as the desert sand cools. the flow is in the outbursts of laughter and music, spontaneous as the tears that flow in response to a moment of truth in a crowded cafe or a dirty tenement kitchen. The flow is the organice movement of life, recognized in a holy instant, without fear, without greed, without regret. I trust in the flow of the current of the life force to carry me through and take me to the destination that is the same for all of us, the Ocean of Divine Love.

May peace prevail.

I Return to So-called "Civilization" in Spain

You are DARLINGS! It is SO good to hear from you.
I have not been near an internet cafe since returning to Spain a few days ago. I had so much to integrate during this return trip that I went into seclusion, so I could hear myself think, and process what has happened in the last month.
I went into culture shock returning from Morroco. On the last part of the trip, in Tanger, I returned to the place where I bought a "Kilim" which turned out not to be a Kilim, but to be machine-made in Europe, and not silk, but cotton, and FAR too expensive. I am ashamed to admit thatI was taken there by an "official guide" who, of course, turned out to be not official at all.He was one of the famous thieves who prey on gullible women like me. But, having spent three weeks in Morroco, almost a month, actually, and having been educated by the rug salesman in Marrakech who invited me home, I went to the police in Tanger, and then to the place where the guide had taken me.
The owner, a Berber gentleman, said that he was not there at the time, and it would not have happened if he were there, naturally. They would have thrown him out in the street, because their establishment is known all over the world. Wisely, knowing that I had already gone to the police, he gave me back most of my money.He said that the guide had told them that he had taken care of me, taken me to stay with his family, etc. and therefore he had received 250 Euros for his "work". I got 350 Euros back, and I get to keep the "kilim" That 350 Euros is what I am living on.
On the ferry-boat I met an American woman who had just married a Morrocan man fourteen years her junior. She was 37, from Illinois, and the boy was 23. This followed a two year courtship that began on a holiday in Turkey, during which she became convinced that he loved her for herself, and not for sex, because, of course, they don't have sex until they are married. She was weeping in the ferry terminal, because she had to go back to America for four months. It turned out she has fourth stage breast cancer, and had to go back to finish her radiation treatment. She had no money at all, and so I fed her, and adopted her. Turns out she also had no idea of the bus schedule, so when we arrived in Algeciras in Spain, at two o'clock in the morning, she had a six o'clock flight to catch in Malaga and the bus station was closed.
So I thumbed for an hour to find someone who would driver her there. Being a blonde at the moment seems to have advantages. A Morrocan man stopped and picked her up for me, an answer to prayer. The men on the sidewalk who had been watching the whole affair said, "You are an angel!" I have had so much generosity in this trip that it was easy to give back.
Howver, the ultimate highlight of the Morrocan trip was the Sahara. On the second day in the desert on camel back, alone with my guide, M'Barach, we arrived at a Berber Oasis, with a dark tent, made of blankets draped over a structure built of bamboo sticks, a kitchen, couches, mattresses, rugs, blankets, and a well.
The place was deserted.There were pots and kettles and blankets, etc, but the well was completely dry. The temperature was 50 degrees centigrade. I was wearing the cotton caftan I had sewn for me in Erfoud, white cotton, but I was dripping with sweat. So M' barach went out into the desert to find water. He came back with a big can full of water which he playfully splashed on my legs, and soaked my cotton scarf that I had been using to protect myself from the sun. This is called a Morrocan shower! He had dug two wells in the sand with his own hands! I can tell you I have a new appreciation of water!  
Thank God for my wonderful guide, M'Barach. He knew the secrets of the Sahara so well that he knew how to find water, both for himself, and me, and mark it for his fellow Berbers.This is the life of a nomad.He took such good  care of me. He knew the desert so well that he showed me a fox, and a lizard, which they call the "fish of the sea."
On the last night we reached the Oasis at Merssougah, where Caravans have gathered for thousands of years. Everyone from all over the world was there, primarily rowdy Italians. I did not feel like joining in the party, prefering to remain with the blessings of the solitude I had been experiencing, listening to the slap of M'barachs slippers in the sand, a meditation in rythym with the camels footsteps, sleeping under the stars, talking with the Berber children, learning a few simple words of Arabic from them, like "itrene," which means "the stars."
At one moment, perched side-saddle on the camel, watching the sun set over the dunes, as my shadow stretched longer across the sand, I broke into a song of praise of the magnificnece of the desert in a language I do not know. I found myself pouring out all the love of God that I have been experiencing so profoundly and yet so simply. I was filled with pure rejoicing and the words  just poured out of me, sweet, flowing, musical, like Hebrew and Greek and Arabic all combined into one.
Later, I realized that I think I must have been speaking in what they call "tongues," like Paulo Cohelo did in The Pilgrmage. When I was finished, M'Barach said, in English, That was a good song! 
I realized afterwards, when we arrived at the big Oasis at Merssougah,  that he wanted to show me off to his fellow guides, as we had become quite close during the trip. After all, it is a very intimate thing to be alone in the desert in such naked, burning heat. There is no room for pretense. Nature dominates.
But I chose to sleep in the dunes distant from the Oasis, and woke before sunrise to watch the sun rise in the desert. What an incredible trip! I will go back there some day, I hope, but this is definitely the trip of a lifetime, that I will never forget. 
You are right, now I am in Spain, in Granada, recuperating from Morroco. I am trying, without success so far, to change my ticket back to a later date. I am supposed to come home September 7th, but that is not going to happen. I may have to go stand by.  The phone communciation here is next to impossible. I have been trying for days to get through to them, without success.  I will try by internet.
Tell me which package has arrived? Is it from Tanger, or from Marrakech? I am slowly divisting myself of the non- essentials, because the experience in Morroco, after Fes, in the Sahara, was incredible and all the things I thought I needed dissolved. The simplicity and the beauty of that experience will remain with me forever. In fact, one night there was a sunset so magnificent that I told myself that I will remember that moment on my death-bed, and go straight to God.
Returning to Spain was a shock. Here I hear the sound of discontented, spoiled children crying, complaining, demanding. I see children driving Disney toy cars, and fighting over taking turns. I see that what people earn in one month in Morroco buys a pair of shoes here. I am ashamed of how I haggled over the price of things in Morroco. I never heard a child cry in a spoiled, whining, complaining way. I saw beautiful, peaceful, happy, healthy, if dirty, children. I see loving families, proud parents, laughter, sweet smiles of joy and pride.
Here, it is LOUD! Everyone smokes, yells, and fights. I see children feigning illness in the emergency ward where I went when I found myself because I was bleeding internally. I freaked out, of course, but it turns out that it was simply a hormone imbalance induced by the progesterone that I got from my doctor friend in Fes, the one who spent three years in L.A. and then started the institute for sexually transmitted diseases in Morroco. He was responsible for introducing the idea of sexual protection to Morrocans, for whom the subject is taboo, since sex outside of marriage only happens with prostitutes or divorcees! (who are considered tantamount to prostitutes, since they are no longer virgins.) He told me that the rate of Aids, based on his statistics in Fes, is one in a thousand.
Of course, this fact is not known, because it is completley politically incorrect, as is the statistic that 80 per cent of marriages end in divorce! This leaves women in a ridiculous position, as they no longer have value on the marriage market, and are forced to work endless hours for ridiculously low salaries, and put up with constant requests for sex from married men, and single alike, who consider them fair game. My Doctor friend paid his assistant 500 dirhams, or fifty dollars a MONTH, and on this she was suppose dto support her two children, but was forced to live with her mother at the age of thirty-six. And he claimed he was broke because he had to pay her! Meanwhile he spent every day after he worked in his clinic, at the hotel, drinking, playing cards, and dancing with his girlfriend. Because, of course, he is divorced!
I was overwhelmed by the poverty, and did not know what to do. I spent a night with Said, the musician son of the Fes family, that ended at four in the morning with the call to prayer. It was so beautiful that at that moment I felt that I was a Jew, a Christian, and a Muslim, all wrapped up into one, and that the solution was already available.
If only all the religions would realize that there is only one God, and that God is LOVE, and nothing else! For me, the Morrocans were closer to God than the so called civilized Spaniards. Here I turn on the television in my room in Granada, and I see the bull-fight, with blood dripping from the bull that is beef, completely depersonalized. I watch the poor bull, confused, controlled, manipulated, and finally brought to its knees in submission after a prolonged torture, only to serve the ego of the man who kills him to the sound of applause. 
But that I expected.
What I did NOT expect was the blatant pornography on five different television stations. Soft porn, yes, but it was so anti-erotic, all tied up with some thin plot line about gambling, and violence, the other vice of Spain. Everyone here plays the lottery or gambles. The other television stations all have psychics or tarot card readers who counsel depressed people about their "problems," while on the other side of the screen people make out, or there are advertisements for the lottery or phone sex.
NOT a happy people! It makes me sympathetic with the Muslims who say we are dorrupt!
In Morroco there was poverty, but there was a simple openess and joy in living, despite the poverty, that touched me deeply. And there was a deep spirituality.
I met an amazingly intelligent and cultivated man, Hussein, who moved me with his vision, a teacher, a GREAT teacher, whose English was astonishing, and who spoke fluent, brilliant French, English, and Arabic. A man who has dedicated his life to ensuring that the young Morrocans are well-educated and can raise themselves above poverty. Fighting the good fight, and doing good works, and making a real difference, I think.
I met one of his students, a young man named Muhammed, (they are all Muhammed) who astonished me with his fluency and the poetry of his language. But he too saw me as his way out of Morroco. As I waited for my bus in a cafe, he pleaded with me to let him see me naked, to hug me, to take me back with him, saying his teeth were white, his English was brilliant, and I would not regret it!
God help me! I do not want to marry a twenty-five year old Morrocan boy! Let alone let him see me naked! I try to tell them I am older than their mothers, but they will have none of it! Apparently it is common for eighteen year old boys to marry desperate women of two or three times their age.  My family in Fes begged me to find European husbands and wives for them. I cannot.
But, of course, I have compassion for them. They want to get out so badly, and Canada is one of their main destinations, because we speak French here, or at least in Quebec.
So, enough of that. I must put it behind me and move on.
Perhaps when I return to Canada there will be something I can do.I will definitely continue the contact with Hussein who is more interesting intellectually than any man I have met in Canada, or elsewhere. A devout Muslim, he agreed to read A Course in Miracles and consider translating it. That is a miracle in itself, and he wrote in my book  "God bless the woman who tries to learn and to comprehend, and God save those who want to bring spiritual life back to usual/ normal and natural." 
Moving on.
I have dealt with my medical problems, having been assured that it is nothing particularly serious that I was menstruating at sixty-three! I was having visions of flesh-eating disease, because I have broken out in hives all over my arms, legs, and even a little on my face. My legs are raw and dry where they rubbed against the camel. and then the blood came, and completely freaked me out. I thought I was doomed! That I had caught some rare parasitic disease and it was eating me from the inside out! What a Drama Queen I am!
But it gave me a chance to see the medical system here. It is nowhere near as hot here as it was in Morroco, and I am in the mountains. I will go and see El Alhambra tomorrow. I needed this time to recuperate, get my hair done, and re-enter s0-called civilization. The wonders of a clean toilet! The gratitude for a simple meal. I miss the mint tea and bread and jam in the morning. I am thinking of going to Turkey, where I hear it is equally cheap, and you are treated exceptionally well.
 I still have to go back to Mai Te (a compression of Maria and Teresa) in Barcelona, where my other suitcase is resting. I didn't need a THING in it, of course, and I will send everything in it home. She is a lovely woman, but does not speak a word of English. I must phone her again and let her know I am all right, and that I will return soon. Meanwhile, I am stuck here in Granada, attached to the everyday details of my life getting sorted out, and trying to become efficient again, after the fluid rythyms of Morroco, the waves of the desert, the heat in the afternoon, everyone sleeping, the wind, the music, the sounds of laughter and music, the sudden explosions of joy and recognition, the looks of love and sweetness, the young man in the line at the ferry singing the call to prayer for me, and everyone stopping and tears in their eyes from the love of God, even tears in the eyes of a Palestinian man sitting by the door of the hotel in Spain, when I embraced him.
They seem so much closer to God in Morroco than here. Every moment of every day someone is thanking God for everything that they have. I have learned a very important lesson, and I am very deeply grateful for this opportunity I have had to experience the other side of life that ninety per cent of the world lives every day.
Now I will deal with this problem with my ticket, and then I will go on. I have been re-reading Paulo Choelo's The Pilgrimage, and I feel that after Morroco I am ready to do the Pilgrimage to El Santiago in September. But first, I must change my ticket.
Thank you for your presence and open-heartedness. Your spirit is like that of the Morrocans, generous, and willing to help, no matter what. It is simple, and rare, this ordinary, simple humility.Pure souls, the two of you.
I cannot give you an address, however. I could give you the address of the woman in Barcelona, but she does not speak English and she does not know where I am. I am feeling more alone here in Spain than I ever did in Morroco, but I am adjusting, after a lot of reading and writing. It was very good to hear from you. I am o.k.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Revelation in Erfoud

There was a reason that I came here to Erfour. At first I said "I do not want to wait here in this dusty town to go to the desert.There is nothing here for me." How wrong I was. Once again. I have been here for two days, and it has been amazingly instructive.

Yesterday, after the revelation I had in the talk with Said, the musician, that there is a way that is above all religions that separate Jew from Christian, and Christian from Muslim, and our agreement to work together, he asked me to promise that I would tell everything that happened to the world. In my own way I am. I reaIized that night, at four in the morning, as the call to prayer began, beautiful, plaintive, sweet, that I needed to find the person here in Morroco who can translate A Course in Miracles into Arabic.
Today, as I sat in the cafe owned by the driver of the Land Rover that will take me to the Oasis in Merzzouga today, (where all the caravans meet) today, I received the answer to that prayer. I saw an amazing, beautiful, elegant Berber man, wearing a blue and gold caftan. I asked who he was, and they said, "Oh, that is 'the Professor' " They brought him over to meet me and I was astonished to reconize that he spoke PERFECT, BRILLIANT English, better than my own! He sat down to meet with me, and I realized he could understood the concepts I was trying to explain to Said, the night before in Fex.

Taking my hand, we both closed our eyes, and went instantly into deep meditation. When we opened our eyes, there were tears in them from the sweetness and depth of the sacred connection. It was a Holy Instant that I will never forget as long as I live. He said, "You are the hub. I am the hub. each molecule of existence is the hub of the universe!" Finally, someone who goes to the heart of the matter, immediately, and even deeper than I imagined possible.

He caught my attention instantly because he talked of the way in which language can enchant the user of the language until you are under the spell of your own words. This is a phenomenon only someone who uses words brilliantly like him (or, ok, me, if you insist) can understand. If you are a master of the language, it can take you over, and IT speaks YOU! This is something very few people understand, let alone articulate. Imagine my delight when I heard him say this, and I explained, "It is a gift from God." He said, after a long silence...."Yes, but is this an inspriation or a revelation?"

At last, someone who knows the difference! And can meet me where I am, and teach me something.Immediately I became his student, and teacher. deep listening. A deep and lasting connection that will have profound implications for humanity. How I know this I do not know, but I know it, beyond doubt.

A teacher of Secondary School, elegant, polite, and a deeply spiritual man, in the cafe we connected so deeply that I realized he was the answer to the prayer I made yesterday for God to send me the man in Morocco who would be able to translate A Course in Miracles into Arabic.

Of course, he will need to read it first, and this is a very immense task, but this man has a comprehension of the splendor of language and of God, and is open to the concepts in the book. He is a professional translator, a lingust, and an artist with words.
In fact, what I am learning here in this Muslim country of the riches of the heart are lessons of the Koran, as much as the Bible. And now, of course, there is another scripture, after the Old Testament, after the New Testament, after the Torah and the Koran, that is the next step.

I believe that A Course in Miracles and the principles of Oneness therein are key to the next step for the understanding of humanity of the true nature of reality. This is the scripture for the new Milennium, and the foundation of the transformation of the mind of the planet, so that together we can heal the illusion of separation. The implications for humanity of melding the three great religions and taking them to this new form of thought are beyond comprehension.
So, the revelation that I had with Said, that there needs to be something higher than all this religious craziness, this war based on the idea that there is a better way, a better God, and that one religion has exclusive access to that way, I have found it, resulting in the belief that the way to peace is through war; and I will bomb you into submission until you accept my way, which is clearly the only way.... this insane beleif system of separation is the source of the problem: There must be some way OUT of here! An d the way, of course, is to judge and condemn anyone who does not agree with my individual point of view, my limited ego identity, called individuality. The supremacy of this individuality is highly revered in the West. And look where it has led us. Hell bent on self righteous destruction and death for every single one of us.
Because the Truth is there is only One of us. But the redemption inherent in that Truth is that salvation is available for every One of us simply by recognizing that Oneness.

A Course in Miracles teaches that every problem has already been solved, that all attack is self attack, that the war is internal, just as peace is internal, and there is only one Universe, one mind of God, and through the eyes of God, there is no line in the sand, and nothing worth fighting about.

The teachings of the Muslim religion are of peace. The teachings of A Course in Miracles are of how to actually CREATE peace. I tell the professor that they love me here, and he says, But you ARE loveable!" An embarrassed silence, and then an ackowledgement of the Truth of that statement, without ego. Hunbly, I accept that I AM LOVED AND LOVABLE!!!
All this comes from putting the Peace of God above everything else. I am finally learning the truth of the words: "every problem has already been solved, trust would settle every problem now, there are many answers that we have heard but not yet accepted, there is no order of difficulty in miracles." I am learning that if you ask, you receive, that miracles are not spectacles, but shifts in perception, that the Holy Instant, the moment when two souls meet and become one, and are joined in eternity, occurs in the most unexpected and marvellous of ways, and can happen anywhere, at any time. The only thing necessary is an open heart and a willingness to accept that God's will for us is that we be deeply, profoundly, joyously happy! A miracle is not a spectacle. It is merely a shift in perception from the illusion of separation to the recognition of oneness.
But enough of that.
You would not recognize me. I am mellow! I am having fun, and doing what I do best. I am teaching and learning and spreading peace and laughter. I am not judging. I am trusting. I am patient. I am relaxed and open minded to see what new adventure each day will bring, and I am not disappointed. Never.No complaints, no worries, no stress. This is the life for me!

Hassan, the driver and owner of the cafe, the Land Rover, and, apparently, this internet cafe, where I can stay as long as I like for FREE told me that Moroccans love Canadians, because we are so HAPPY! They do not like the Italians and the Spanish who come here only to get Kif and Hashish, and are difficult and demanding. This, he says is why he likes me. I talk with everyone, like family. "You are my friend," he says, angered that they tried to charge me ten dirhams in his internet cafe.
Last night I went out in my new white caftan by myself, now relaxed and beautiful and graceful, like a Moroccan woman, and encountered a group of women sitting together on the sidewalk. I connected with the children, kissed them, and talked with them in my few words of Arabic, and before we knew it, we fell in love. One of the little girls, the only one who spoke English, invited me home to eat with them. I did not go; because Hassan had told me that he would take me to a wedding. Instead he slept, and I missed both the Wedding and the dinner. But that is how it is here. Everything gets done somehow, and the timing is perfect. I am, believe it or not, learning to be patient, and trust in the Divine plan. Today, once again, I realized how simple it is. Be the love that you seek. Be the riches that you seek. Be the joy and compassion and trust and confidence and abundance that you seek. There is nothing outside your own mind that has power over you. It is all a projection of your past, the baggage you project onto every new relationship, until you make yourself right, that you are above the will of God. Instead, give your faith and your problems to God. .Focus on what you want, the Peace of God, and nothing else. From that place, you create your day, moment by amazing moment. Each day, ask for one small sign that it is directly from the Source. Each day, listen for the Voice of God in the wind, in the stillness within your own mind, and feel the connection to all of Creation.
In this way, every day I am given so much. I am so blessed. My cup runneth over! I am filled with gratitude.

In Fes, the miracle of the loaves and the fishes happened every day, as Maman fed everyone, dancing in the bowl with her hands in the couscous; a smile on her face. I told her sincerely, "You and I will meet in Paradise." Since everything has already happened, and there IS no time, I speak from a place of higher knowing. She said, "Are you sure?" And I said, "I am sure." Because now I know that paradise is a state of grace that can be achieved here and now. You don't have to die to get to Heaven. God is not some man on a throne telling you to go to Heaven or Hell. God is the shining stillness of the eternal moment of now. It is the bliss of waking up to realize that there is no death, all suffering comes from believing in the illusion of separation. There is and can be no separation from all that there is.
"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Therein lies the peace of God." I have finally learned that there is NOTHING more important than the Peace of God, the stillness, and acceptance of what is, the beauty of each shining moment that radiates throughout every molecule of what appears to be matter, but is actually energy in the form of mass travelling at the speed of light.As one of my high-school students told me, if you could travel as fast as infinity; you would live forever! That is because at the speed of light; time stops! There IS not time, only infinity!

As Einstein said, the eqauation of my youth was e = mc2 The equation of my age is love = space. Every molecule of every particle of everything that exists and everything in between, it is all LOVE! And nothing else exists! Not the war, not the line in the sand that divides the earth into pieces and says this is yours and this mine, and if you draw a line in the sand and I cross it, that is grounds for war.

If we really understand that we are all ONE, then there is nothing to be done except to surrender to God.s will for us, which is.....wait for it......that we be happy!

The blissful Truth is that we are born innocent, not sinners, that we are free to choose. And who would choose hate, greed, sickness; war and poverty, if they knew teh infinite abundabnce and deep acceptance and love that is available to them at any moment. If you want everything, you must give up attachment to anything, and the world will be yours.

"He is here, radiant, invisible,
And His presence makes the garden grow more fragrant."

Here, amongst the dirt and the stench of poverty, in the sweet smiles and generous hearts of the Moroccan people, I find peace, and a joy unlike any I have known before. I am home.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Morrocan Mysteries Unveiled

Last night was my last night with my Morrocan family. They did not want to let me go, and kept me three days longer than I expected, but finally, when they realized I WAS going, they gave me a party, with couscous, and dancing, and drums and clapping and singing. They hennaed my ankles, like in a marriage ceremony, and told me that they were marrying me, because I had stolen their hearts, and sang loves songs to me, while I danced for them. Then they rushed me off to the bus station in a friend's taxi. An absolutely incredible eperience. One of the family is a Morrocan star, Said, and he sang to me, after we stayed up until four in the morning, talking about God, and how their is no Jew, or Christian or Muslim, only one God. An amazingly deep conversation. Afterwards he agreed to write a song about it, and asked me to write an article about my experience with him and his family. I will do it. I  will never forget them. Now I must find rich husbands for them. This is their only social policy for women! Otherwise they do not have a chance; and the divorce rate in Fes is 80 percent!!!! I am constantly thinking about the poverty, and the sickness, and the joy they find in living amidst such difficulties. I am learning important lessons, and finding a sense of purpose and peace. Today I will begin my jourey into the Sahara I hope. I am in a small village called Erfour, in a hotel, with backpackers from all over the world.

May peace prevail.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Experience of a lifetime

Dear Mindy, et al
You would not believe where I am now. For the last five days I have been living in a Morrocan home, with a mother of fifteen children, a widow of 70, who owns the tenement house that holds fifty poeple, (because that is what it is) where five of her grown children live with her, along with their families, the two other children she has adopted. They have adopted me, andI am having an absolutely incredibly amazing experience. And, yes, I am writing it all down.

I am living with them because the Palestinian man, the former P.L.O officer and friend of Yasser Arrafat (who quit because of the corruption he saw in the army that was tolerated by Arrafat) whom I met on the bus from Agadir to Essouira, the man that I wrote about before, asked them as a favour, to take me into their home and treat me as he would. And they did.

He sent me to them, sight unseen, and they are now my family. They have given me a Morrocan name, Zahara, and they take me everywhere. I bathe with them, eat with them, go to the Medina with them, talk about their love affairs with them, laugh, cry and dance and sing with them. At moments, they burst into song and everyone is clapping and dancing and celebrating to the music on the Television, which is constantly playing, or they grab drums and tambourines, and sing and undulate and ullulate to the stars!

The first night I arrived, a baby had been born hours earlier. I was welcomed to the celebration which went on until two in the morning.Since then I have heard the story of how the beautiful Assia was asked to marry a rich Egyptian man, after only eight days. She is so beautiful, and it was a Cinderella story come true. But, living in Cairo, returning to Morroco from time to time, to be with her family and the five year old she has taken as her own child, because her friend abandoned him, the marriage was strained. After two years, during a trip home, she received divorce papers. Over, as quidly as it began. Now, at 29, no longer a virgin, she has lost her value on the marriage market, and lives with her mother, works in a factory, and dreams of marrying again and having children, like her mother.

I am learning Arabic. They laugh at me, but they can translate from French, which I speak, thank god. The sights, the smells, oh my God, the smells! The food, constantly coming, huge platters of food, served by Maman, who sits, like a sultan in her living room with a propane stove at her side, perparing meals. We all sleep in the same room, on benches or banquettes. We sleep when we are tired, wake at dawn to crow of a rooster, or the rising of the sun, kiss each other on both cheeks and say "bon jour," and begin again.

What takes fiteen minutes at home takes hours here. To shower means you must heat the water on the propane stove, bring it to the kitchen, fill a bucket with water from the tap and add the hot water to that, bowlfull by bowlfull. Then, shampoo your hair, pour water over your head onto the floor, where it goes down the drain along with the soapy water from washing the clothes, all into a hole in the tiled floor.

The intimacy of the women in the home is so deep and real. they are themselves copletely in the home, and they stay there day in and day out. Assia and I go out from time to time, to shop or have a cafe, or ice cream, or visit a family member.

That glace, or ice cream with their adopted friend, Hamid, who drives a first class Mercedes taxi, the large kind, not the petite kind, was the cause of a bout of diahhrea (I do not know how to spell that) that laid me out for a full day! Yesterday we went to the Medina where I bought the most important item on my list, toilet paper, a luxury they do not have in their Morrocan toilet, which, of course, is a hole in the ground, with two ceramic places for teh feet, and a bucket of water under the tap to flush with. Saba, Assia's sister, gave me medication for the diahhrea, because she works for a doctor, next door to a pharmacy, and she always carries remedies with her.

There is so much sickness here. Of course, I never drink the water, but there must have been a microbe in the milk, because everyone was sick from the ice cream. I suspect the milk is not pasteurized. I have gotten used to the smell of excrement every time the apartment door is opened, and the constant Morrocan tea, and the primitive showers, except, of course, at the home of the doctor, who is rich; and has a huge apartment, and was the head of an intsitute for the study of sexually transmitted diseases in Morroco. He is rich, divorced, and has all the amenities. He educated them to use protection, but the prostitution rate among the poor is so high that he had one prostitute with aids who had slept with over three hundred men, unprotected. He estmates that one in a thousand persons has Aids. That is incredibly high. But, of course, sex is a topic that everyone thinks about but no one talks about. And no one admits there is Aids here, because of the political implications. There are no social programs here at all. The only plan to make a good life anyone has is to marry a European, especially a rich one.
I have learned a great deal about the importance of love and family here. They have next to nothing, but they share everything so generously. I know that is a clichè, but, still, it is clear what matters is love.

This morning there was an eruption, and screaming, and I recognized that sound. A woman in terror of her husband. They were having a fight abut money.Later we encounter her on the stairs, her shirt bloody, her eyes both black and bloody. I tell her in Canada, the man would be in jail. I wish that were true. I say there is nothing more important than peace, and that money is not worth fighting about. They tell me that this happens all the time, and it is always about money. The men work in an abbatoire all night, slaughtering cows, and come home to discontent anxious wives, and three, four, five kids to feed.

The other day I woke from a nap to see the children playing with what I thought was a toy lamb. In fact it was a baby calf, found in the womb of the mother cow that their father had slaughtered the night before.

They have no toys. I bought the small boy some plastic animals, and he loved them. They live on 500 dirham, or fifty Euros or 80 dollars a month!
After this, if and when they let me leave (they want me to stay here with them forever) I will go to the Sahara, ride a camel, and sleep under the stars, as I have always dreamed. If you do not hear from me, it is because I have been taken prisoner. Morroco has won my heart.
Here I am learning what really matters, and living full out!

As a man in the Medina responded when I asked him about the peace, "What is peace, exactly? Then he pointed to his heart, and we understood one another completely. That man had lived in NewYork for a year.

Everyone asks me what I do, and I tell them I am a teacher. I tell them that I am a psychologist. And sometimes, after a long and deep conversation, I tell them I am a teacher of of God! I tell them that I bleieve all the pain and suffering in the world is because we have separated ourselves from God, which is all there is, and that the Universe and all of creation is Gods, and his will for us is that we be happy and peaceful and love one another. I tell them I believe that the peace we all pray for is an interior job. The peace of God is more important than anything this world has to offer. And I tell them that there is only One god, and it is all of us, it is inside of us, greater than anything we can comprehend, in the DNA of every cell of our being, in Hebrew; Greek, Aramaic, and Arabic, is written the words, "God, eternal, within the body."

So, here, in a Muslim country; I am learning to remain calm and grounded in the midst of poverty, violence, and sickness. I think constantly of how I can help them. I talk business with them. They do my eyes Morrocan style, with Kohl, and dry my hair for me, and bring me gifts of food and drink.

Tonight I will meet the man that wants to marry Assia, a friend of her ex husband's, and a Morrocan rock star. We will go together to a small Morrocan village. Everyone is coming to meet me. I am some sort of star here with my blonde hair and my Canadian accent in Arabic! What a trip!

As my dear friend; Yussef Marzouk Mohamed or Abou Ahmed, the Palestinian, said, "This is a trip you will never forget" Thanks be to God!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The man...

Last night I was invited to the Agadir Beach Club by the two German women I met the night before. It was VERY grand, and as we were listening to the music, (this time sung by a Russian imitating Shania Twain!) a very elegant Morrocan man, wearing a grey suit, red tie, and blue and white striped shirt, descended the stairs, exuding composure, grace, humility and power. I watched him, then turned away for a moment, and, when I looked for him, he was gone. I was munching almonds, so, a moment later, when he came up BEHIND ME and leaned over the chair and said, "Good evening madam," I CHOKED! Of course, I thought it was HIM, and I was waiting for him to say my name! What a fool I felt as I choked, and he apologized. He was extrememy charming, and it turned out that he knew the women I was with, and recognized that I was a new friend, so, as the Director of the Hotel, he was graciously welcoming me. He spoke a few words about how he would be crazy not to welcome three such beautiful women, and then went on to attend to the other guests. Very charismatic, yet humble at the same time.

Later, after a lovely evening, filled with laughter, music and dancing, and children everywhere, I asked one of the waiters where he was, and he said that he had gone to bed. But at one in the morning, he reappeared, and said they had summoned him! He thought something was wrong, so he came. He sat down with us, and we spent some wonderful moments. He offered his protection and hospitality, along with his philosophy of equal treatment for all people, and we had an amazingly deep conversation about his mother and how she taught him to treat women well. He extended his invitation to us to use the pool and the facilities of the Beach Club, which is next door to Club Med. I will definitely take him up on his invitation.This more the idea I had. I will go there today. Kind of a rehearsal, I think. I could get used to this life! After Spain, the South of France, perhaps the Cote D'Azur, and maybe Monaco!

The Coast of Morocco

I separated from the two young boys in Marrakech and was on my way to the station to go to the coast of Morocco, when I found out that the train doesn't go there, but only the bus, and they leave every hour. So I shared a taxi with a French Bison meat salesman who buys his Bison meat in Saskatchewan, and went to the market or Medina, where, OK, I bought a rug and had it sent home....and spent the day in the market, and then was invited to the home of the rug salesman, and shared Tagine, a delicious Moroccan dish with lamb and dates and prunes eaten from one large platter in the centre of the table, which was a coffee table, for FIFTEEN PEOPLE...(There is no exclamation mark on this keyboard, or I would use it there) There were babies, and teenagers, and little boys, and sisters, and cousins and aunts, all crowded around, there was lots of laughter, and a "thousand welcomes." The "tagine" was delicious. They have offered everything from a thousand camels to two thousand five hundred, with a down payment of two hundred, for ME. Of course, they all want to marry an "etrangè" preferably a rich one like me, and have me take care of them for the rest of their life in the lap of luxury in paradise, aka Canada. They really don't see any other way out.

After that lovely evening at the home of Shakib, one of the other rug salesmen came and took me to find a hotel for the night, but they were all full, so he suggested I take the bus to Agadir, which is a seaside resort on the coast of Africa; which I did, but I had to sit in the seat at the front of the bus that is usually for the bus driver's assistant; so I SHARED THE SEAT with this Moroccan man for four hours, while they talked in Arabic about me, and I suspect about the fact that I am a single "American" woman traveling alone in a Muslim country.! (At a time when the Muslims are watching very carefully what is happening in Israel.) I had a long conversation in English with a young Moroccan man who wanted to share his religion with me. Of course it all boils down to the same thing, we only attack to defend ourselves.

Anyhow, back to the man squished into the seat with me at the front of the bus; he told me that the other man said he was going to steal my bag, (I have only a small back pack now, as I stashed the rest in Spain near the ferry at a Christian place for backpackers, for free.) So I could not sleep all night. Then I arrived at four in the morning in Agadir, and there were no hotels open. The taxi driver drove me around for twenty minutes and then gave up, then threw a temper tantrum when I only gave him double for trouble, (it cost me 60 Moroccan Dirham (about eight dollars) to get from Marrakech to Agadir, and 40 (about five) to get to no hotel) So I walked the streets until I found a two star hotel that was waiting for a client, but he had not shown up, so he gave it to me. I slept all day, then went out in the evening, after a day spent reading inspirational meditations on the virtues of patience and courage and obedience, etc. I ended up in a French Moroccan restaurant suggested by a French couple on the street. IT WAS GREAT. I had pepper steak and a small bottle of red wine, and afterwards listened to the French Moroccan sing English songs like "Summertime" in a thick French Arabic accent. Thank God for my high school French, is all I can say. But the language of music is universal, and when she went into her own music, I could not restrain myself. I jumped to my feet, kicked off my shoes and started belly-dancing. This was after they had a birthday song for a group of gay men who were British ex-patriates and like the young Moroccan boys. Shades of Suddenly Last Summer (Tennessee Williams.) After that I met an interesting couple of women from Germany. They were sisters-in-law. We talked about relationships for a long time, and I am meeting them again tonight at a different piano bar. It is MUCH cooler here, only 28 at night, and probably thirty or thirty one during the day. And there is a breeze. I got a copy of the Herald Tribune, and caught up on the news. There was a hysterically funny piece on Mel Gibson, who was busted for drunk driving by a JEW, now that is all part of the Jewish conspiracy, you know; we are everywhere!!!!!! (I found the exclamation was the "equals sign," which is supposed to be the equals sign, which is the dash, which get the confusion!!!!!. ) So now I am figuring out simple things like how to find laundry soap so I can wash my clothes, then take a dip in the pool at the hotel. This, after a wonderful Basque ommelette and fresh squeezed orange juice, while I wrote postcards.

It is amazing what a night's sleep and a little company will do for your spirits, especially when there is no hot water in your hotel room shower! Thanks everybody for being there while I record my adventures for you. It does make a difference, knowing you are there, and reading, truly! I will come back to Spain on Monday, travel to Granada, and maybe back to Barcelona, and then to France, after I send MORE of my stuff home from Barcelona.

Next to me a Muslim woman and man are looking on the websites and reading some Ayatollah's instructions and opinions regarding Lebanon. It is a little weird being a rich Canadian in this poverty stricken third world country that is clearly sympathetic to the Hezbollah. Scary, if I wanted to go there, but thankfully, I don't, and everyone is very friendly, and I have not been robbed, YET!
Love you all,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

If you were wondering where I am, I am in Marrakesh

Hello to everyone,
If you were wondering where I am, I am in Marrakesh! That is in Morroco, of course, in the centre, in the Mountains. I have been up all night, riding second class with a bunch of loud Morrocans, stopping and starting, coming and going, and trying to sleep sitting up on the train. Yesterday we took the ferry from Spain, gorgeous, just like home, with the wind at the front of the ferry, and a pod of ORCAS!!! In my excitement, I connected with a four year old little boy who was INSANELY excited about going to Morroco and talked non-stop in French to me about everything, while his father, a computer science professor at the University of Toulouse, translated. That was a HOOT!

I just got off the train after a twelve hour ride from Tangers. We, Thomas, Oscar and I, spent a whirlwind tour of the port of Tangiers, which they spell Tanger, with a guide who took us everywhere in the Medina or old medieval, market part of town. The Berber vegetable, fruit and clothing market, where we saw mounds af olives, all kinds, from the olive groves of Morroco, peaches, tomatoes, mint for the "Morroccan Whiskey," ( that is what they call mint tea, because they do not drink alcohol) and clothes, incrediby fancy wedding jelabas, lots of gaudy gold jewellery, embroidered jalabas, caftans, etc. Then he took us to a rug shop, where they served us mint tea and tried to sell us rugs, and then to his friend's restaurant, where we ate couscous, and finally through the narrow winding dirty and smelly streets of the Medina, where the Muslim women giggled at my attire, back to the luggage place, where he got us a taxi, and made sure we got to the train on time! Women love to check each other out, and shop, no matter where you are.

Then a taxi to the train station where there were HUNDREDS of people cued (I use the term loosely) to get on the train. Only second class available. The night was horrendous, as the trip took twelve hours to go six hundred kilometres. That's fifty miles an hour on a TRAIN! Lot's of long stops for people to get on and off, followed by squeezing, pushing, poking, shouting, demanding, apologizing, all in French, for a place in a cabin that seats eight, with men standing outside and children sleeping on the floor! Really remarkable night, never to be forgotten, and never to be repeated! Next time I will find a way to reserve a couchette! We are staying at the Hotel Farouk in Marrakesh, where three of us; me and the two young boys from Sweden and I got a room together for about ten dollars each.

The keyboqrd is Wezird here; so thqt is zhy the a is a q so,eti,es. <i touch type. Thqt is whqt it looks like uncorrected.The keys qll hqve qrqbic symbols, qnd the a is where the q is supposed to be, the w is zhere the z is supposed to be, qnd my brqin is where the sun doesn,t shine>!!! So I go bqck qnd correct it so you can understand.

Before this last three days in Gibraltar and (YES, JESSAMYN ANDKATY, BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS!!!) So, I got myself saved, again, for good measure. They had a swimming pool!

And then I took the bus to La Linea, across the border from Gibraltar. Someone took pity on me struggling with my huge bag and back pack, dragging it across the border, broken, on the cobblestones. He stopped and took me to the only hostel in town. There I shared a room with five men. That evening, the Gibratrian took me around and showed me the entire country, (the size of Granville Island, with four Christian Churches, a synagogue, and a Mosque, (built by the King of Saudi Arabia.) four beaches, and a City inside the rock that could stand a seige of up to a year during the Second World War, built mostly by Canadians. The English were apparently too busy drinking and fighting to get as much done as the Canadians. And then made me a huge pot of Paella, while I watched the BBC news report on the war between Israel, Hezbollah, and the World! Then I listened as he lamented the demise of his marriage. The next day I hooked up with these two Swedish kids, one a professional break dancer, and the other a musician who is half Canadian. Both spoke excellent English. And together we CLIMBED THE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR! It was like being on top of the world, and at the top, while you are looking down at the dots of people on the beach, and Africa across the Straight of Gibraltar, you are being watched by Barbary Apes who are aggressive, wily little bastards, that will steal anything they can get right out of your hands, like a litle girl's ice cream cone, or Thomas's water bottle, or grab the hat right off your head! Or BITE you!

Now I'm listening to Morroccan music in the cafe, a relief after "I'm Slim Shady" for the third time in a row!!

By the way, I stashed all my stuff at a place for backpackers in Algeciras, Spain, called the Lighthouse, so I am finally travelling light, with only a fanny pack with all my valuables, and a back pack that is a small day pack. It is HOT HERE!!! I will tour around Morroco for a while, and then go back to Spain, where I will take the bus to Granada. Then probably back to Barcelona where I will send more stuff home, and then go on to France. After that, when it cools down, I may attempt El Comino del Santiago. After all, I climbed Gibraltar!

Don't worry, I am all right. But thanks for caring about me!

May peace prevail.