Monday, September 17, 2018

My Meditation Retreat at Tushita

During my visit to India earlier this year, I attended a ten-day Introduction to Buddhism & Meditation retreat at Tushita, a Tibetan Buddhist center in Dharamsala.

An assemblage of shoes outside the meditation hall.

As there would be no contact with the outside world for the ten days, the hours leading up to the retreat felt as though I was preparing for my impending death. There would be no connection with friends or family; we had to surrender our phones and laptops. In fact, we had to surrender all electronics -- cameras, eBook readers, iPods. All matters needed to be tidied up in advance; all final communications had to be made, and all final electronic pleasures had to be enjoyed.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Van of Valpo & Pussy Terror

After our two-month cycling trip through Patagonia in early 2016, El Mecánico and I spent six weeks living in Valparaíso. Though two years have since passed, it's time to tell you about The Van of Valpo & Pussy Terror.

During our weeks in Valparaíso, El Mecánico and I settled into a wonderful routine. In the mornings, we worked independently on our own projects. In the afternoons, we meandered together through the Chilean city's tangled cobblestone streets, staircases, and alleys.

Valparaíso's homes and buildings, cloaked in a patchwork quilt of colors and adorned with eye-inticing murals, are the epicenter of the city's Bohemian culture. As we walked through the city, we searched every wall and nook'n'cranny for our favorite murals. Our mutual awe of the city's abundant effervescence inspired a unique, creative energy between me and El Mecánico. (See Valparaíso: Murals #1 and Valparaíso: Murals #2 for photographs of our favorite murals.)

On one of our afternoon strolls, we came across a van whose windows were painted an opaque white. The van was parked at the base of a dense thicket of morning glories, reaching a hundred feet into the sky. A painting on the port of the van depicted the back side of a man in a horizontal position, his head resting atop a pillow. Along the top of the van were the words "Pussy Terror."

The notorious Van of Valpo.

What did it mean? Was the man sleeping? Was he dead? Why was there a gold crown floating inches above the man's head? What was "Pussy Terror"?