Tough exterior, long and wild dirty blonde hair, surrounded by an aroma of a mix of incense and her favourite brand of cigarette. Biker boots, jeans and t-shirts that usually have a pirate skull or similar. With a vague resemblance to a biker gal and a sort of a swagger to her step, her pet pit-bull mix is always close. This is the subject of my character study for she is a character like none I have ever met.
I made her acquaintance through a mutual friend. I had the needed extra bed as which aided in her visit to help her friend. And so the friendship began.
Always willing and eager to help and with an insatiable desire to stay busy and be productive she can drive you nuts with her drive to be helpful. Among her many talents is her skill as a seamstress and I by chance have a sewing machine!
She has a heart of gold and is someone who seems only know how to say ‘yes’ and ‘how can I help’. She never says it like that and there will always be a million words to surround those phrases because she does like to talk and can talk a mile a minute.
I’m not finding fault her. If anything, I find fault with myself for having held any preconceived notions about her. Did I mention she has a heart of gold? I can’t say that enough. She is the dog whisperer of whisperers as well. I think dogs know instantly that she is nothing but good and as characters and character studies go, well, she’s the best!
As far as some things this experience has taught me. Slow down! Don’t rush! I’ve had to move slower over the last few years. I’ve witnessed the way those who don’t walk fast enough are rushed around and almost pushed aside by everyone in such a hurry.
Did I used to be like that?
I’ve been on the way to the checkout stand in a grocery store hobbling on crutches and using the shopping cart as my second crutch only to have someone in such a hurry rush to be in front of me -not realising or caring how much pain it was for me to even get to the line let alone stand in it.
My speed has finally picked up. I can walk (without any crutches) into a grocery store now and don’t have to park in the handicapped spot to do it. I have learned to be patient and gracious. I want to think I always was but now, every time I pass someone who is moving slower, I make sure I am passing them with respect and care and certainly don’t place myself in a position to make their situation harder.
I know I am a better person for having had to slow down. A loss of true mobility that I am seeing regained has given me appreciation and gratitude for so many of those simple things we take for granted. The walks on the beach with my dogs is a highlight of one of the things my mobility and I enjoy but the grander picture of walking at all is something I no longer take for granted!
I’ve been practicing walking lately as part of my recovery plan. A local beach, Crissy Field, has proved very therapeutic for both myself and the pups. I can’t tolerate walking with shoes on the beach. Much more painful. Walking barefoot though is just about the right amount balance training (yes you do use balance muscles when you walk barefoot on the sand) for my foot retraining. A day at Pt. Isabel last week (another large outdoor dogpark) reminded me of the absolute need to watch where you walk!
Gopher holes everywhere as it turns out tweaked my ankle a bit in the walk but again making me stronger though cautious. It did not put me back on crutches just made me realise I can’t rush the walking by overdoing it especially when it comes to uneven ground. One day at a time seems the best foot forward!
About 3 years ago I started having troubles with one of my feet. Heel pain mis-diagnosed as plantar fasciitis eventually became stabbing pain in ankle joint and concluded (almost anyhow) with tendon transfer surgery. Tendon transferred from one of my toes to inner ankle. Three years of lost/limited mobility and limited duty at work at times seemed like a never ending journey. The light at the end of the tunnel approaches as I have finally been able to relinquish the 9+ months of crutches and two casts. Walking has seemed much more normal though not completely pain free. The ability to stand for decent periods of time, and walk far enough to no longer need the handicapped placard on a regular basis is a true freedom that at times seemed out of reach.
What good could possibly come from losing true mobility for practically 3 years?
Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?
Overall my favourite music is electronic in the mode of Bargrooves & Tiesto’s In Search of Sunrise. I relax to that type of music. Next to that I love Reggae & Steel Drum or Pan music and then the island party music of Soca & Calypso. I love all types of music and especially music that is new to me. I’ve recently acquired a taste for electro-swing music which is the old time swing music with a a new electronic beat to it Will Magid is a local artist that really gets it and performs it very well. You can find him on Soundcloud. I love the Cajun/Dixie band music. The Louisiana music with a beat. When it comes to trying to define three favourite pieces of music I find myself drawn to music that has a certain feeling and to be honest I can only listen to it when I am in the right mindset. So here goes on that info. I added the Youtube stuff afterwards so you could get a taste.
The first song that comes to mind for this assignment is ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’ from the soundtrack for The Mission. I don’t typically remember in depth details about a movie not am I particularly drawn to soundtracks. When a movie or a soundtrack captures my attention though, I take away the spirit of that movie or soundtrack. In the case of the both the movie and this particular song from the movie the feeling that sticks with me what I perceived to be the message of the movie. The basic premise of the movie was a conversion mission of a South American people by the Jesuits. Gabriel the Father in the movie winds up being transformed himself and in essence, to my sense, he realised the people he was trying to convert were more valuable and precious than the conflict over the conversion and he himself had a transformation of character and spirit. He didn’t quit believing in God but the movie made it seem that his understanding of God was enlarged and enhanced by virtue of the people he was trying to convert and this resulted in a more inclusive appreciation for God for all of them. To me this is the journey we all make in one way or another whether we believe in God or not. Somewhere along the way there is a conversion moment where we allow more in our heart than selfishness and appreciate others around us in a new way or grow in a trans formative way. I do believe that our minds as humans are naturally moved to be more than we are. This piece of music, Gabriel’s Oboe always touches my soul and makes me remember that there is more in this world than myself!
The second song that comes to me as important is ‘Honey’ by Moby. I love the whole album ‘Play’ by Moby. The album kind of has a Gospel music flare and is upbeat and though the words are kind of monotonous on this track the feeling for me is one of upbeat forward movement.
The third song would have to be ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ by Mighty Sparrow. This is a calypso/soca piece of music that focuses on Grenada’s Coup in 1979 where the Prime Minister Eric Gairy was overthrown. March 13th 1979 is the day I am reminded of specifically. You can read a bit about my experience that day here. If you listen to the song you’ll hear about the Mongoose – a word for the Prime Minister’s Army. Obeah is the quasi-religous belief he subscribed to along the lines of voodoo. So the song brings back vivid memories of home, Grenada which I miss very much.
Writing 101’s prompt of ‘where would I be?’ takes me back to my trip to Quito in 2006 and is definitely a trip I would love to repeat with the added benefit of a little more knowledge of the environment and what to expect along with the added flavour of knowing it’s been almost 10 years since my initial visit.
I’d never stayed in a hostel before March of 2006. I happened on the Secret Garden hostel as I was researching places to stay for my upcoming trip to Equador. It was a very well-reveiwed place and an extremely affordable place to stay.
The word hostel had always left me with the vision of rows of bunks and youth mentally equating to parties and ultimately no sleep. As I started researching the Secret Garden I came to realise that it did not fit into my preconceived notions. It had to be too good to be true! The Secret Garden as it turns out has the option to reserve your own room with a shared bathroom (shared with one other room) for at that time $14 a day.
I arrived in Quito knowing no-one but ready to venture out. A modest taxi ride from the airport brought me to the colourful front door of the Hostel. It was after dark and I could only hope I was in the right place. It’s not like there were illuminated neon signs floating around (thank God!).
I rang the doorbell and was able to check in and receive a key to my room. Uneven colourful stairs took me to my room where I settled in with a fullsize bed a nightstand and a beautiful wall hangings. Everything about the hostel and the room was clean and just right. There was a common area just outside my room that had virtually no furniture in it but that was probably just as well in terms of keeping there from being loud gatherings there.
The two primary meals at the Hostel were breakfast and dinner. You could order a cooked sort of breakfast as I recall or just have a bowl of cereal and fruit. The kitchen and seating area were upstairs on a covered porch that overlooked the historic area known as Old Town.
I’ve never really been a very outgoing person so I was a little apprehensive about the meeting of new people in this shared environment. It was perfect and I quickly found myself very comfortable and at home in this paradise. The dining veranda area was like a hang out area where you could hear the travels of others and get tips and advice or take part in signing up for one of the variety of trips offered by the staff. There was a variety of day-trips etc you could arrange through the Hostel.
People of all ages were guests/residents there. Some people had traveled there intending to spend a short time and wound up staying and working for the Secret Garden.
I fell in love with Quito and the Secret Garden. I did find a hostel close by that was a few dollars cheaper and went by to take a look. I don’t recall the name of the place but remember it being dark and the room tiny and no sense of comradery -it really came across as a cheap room with no view or atmosphere.
I really enjoyed the people at the Secret Garden. The weather couldn’t be better and probably is what would seal the deal for me as far as living there if that were an option. Due to it’s elevation, though Ecuador is on the equator as the name implies, Quito itself is not a hot or humid place. It can actually be quite cool and very reminiscent of the the San Francisco Bay area where I currently live.
My trip to Quito was an aside to my final destination of the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos are a part of Ecuador and the only way to get there besides by boat is via an aeroplane ride from Ecuador. I was meeting friends in the Galapagos and cruised with them on their sailboat for about a week around a couple of the different islands. The cruising part was fun but I cannot foresee myself ever returning to the Galapagos. The heat was torturous and the only relief was the water and swimming. The sights were certainly spectacular but if you didn’t go do your sightseeing and adventuring in the very early morning – well it was a miserable day otherwise. I felt sorry for those who came on the cruise boats with their schedules pre-planned by their hosts with real regard for the intense heat.
I digress. To summarise: Quito wonderful, cool, comfortable, very friendly people and very affordable. I would walk all over in the day time and catch a taxi back the hostel at night that would never cost more than a3-5 dollars. (The currency in Quito is the US Dollar and that’s what you get from ATMs there too so no money denominations to learn as a foreigner). Galapagos, lots to see as long as you don’t mind the unbearable heat!!