Veggie Voyagers

Couple travelled 30 states and 3 Canadian provinces between 7/07 and 5/08 running their 1987 Ford truck on straight veggie oil. The blog continues with a focus on the natural world and energy politics from a personal perspective

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Springs meet

Today was the funeral of the phenomenal Theresa Marcis. No one will ever match her for magic, presence and gratefulness again. Our hearts were full today.
This is Jill, Ann and Ken. Without too much story, they were the ones who offered their homes to Theresa so she could define her own healing journey. They were angels of compassion and kindness. They created the framework so 40 or so community members, such as myself, could come and care for Theresa, and be filled with her wonderful spirit, at the same time they were overseeing our care and filling in when the schedule went empty. Still, it’s hard. Theresa’s mom fell and broke her hip at the funeral home last night. I believe Theresa’s spirit is free but dear Laura is alone in a hospital bed tonight.
Folks remarked that Theresa died on the first day of Spring.
Spring is also a dear person who has had to go through cancer treatment. Tonight was a dinner, ballet folklorico and baile fundraiser to help her with her medical expenses. We didn’t stay but I so rarely wear a dress I asked Michael to get a picture of me against the sunset.


Connecting the dots. Working cooperatively. Thanks to Ruby for pointing the way. We are sure going to miss her and Lev. Their blog is so we'll follow their wanderings in Magnolia from there...

Theresa died on Saturday afternoon. The next day we went to the snow and I felt the presence of her and other spirits in the shifting snow and energetic clouds. It was a bliss-filled day.

Later in the week though I hit into a pile of irritability and bitterness. When people say, How was Guatemala? I think they want to hear the word, “fine.” Well, it’s not fine and I wish they really wanted to engage about how we experienced it. I don’t want everyone to be in a solidarity of suffering but like the global warming information, you shun it at your own peril. I don’t know if solutions are possible but I do believe we have an obligation to pay witness to suffering and not avoid talking about it.
I love the blog Melissa, one of the nursing students, is keeping. Check out

All the arms of the goddess embrace the moments we have together alive on this amazing planet.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lago Atitlan

After a week we left the barebones seminary dormitory where we were staying and headed to Lake Atitlan. I’d been bah humbugging this part of the trip, saying I wanted to do more clinics but in retrospect I’m really glad I did more than work.

First of all, I got to see my friend Mira and learn about the work she and her friend Denis are doing in San Pedro with early childhood laterality, special orientation and psycho motion. They are sharing their trainings with teachers and parents in order to prepare Mayan children (who are carried on their mother’s backs for much of their two first years of life, don’t ever get a chance to crawl around, be read to, or play with multiple objects in their environment,) for their school classes.

It was so balancing for me to be in an intact community, where people live comfortably, are not killing themselves to survive and have joy and beauty in themselves and their surroundings.

We did do one clinic on the far side of the lake from where we were staying in Panajachel (gringolandia) and that was in Cerro del Oro. People there spoke T’zuhuil and we had to rely on interpreters. Our women interpreters were really bright women and we were able to have a very collegial relationship with them. I hope they’ll be able to pursue more training and be in a position to help their community, which again seemed to have a low level of health knowledge as well as a very low level of access to care.

Many of you have probably been to Lake Atitlan but its certainly beautiful with Volcans Atitlan and Toliman standing over it.

I haven’t even written about the politics. The weak government. The increase in gangs and drug violence. The lack of justice. I refer you to the solidarity organization: and to our own Pueblo Partisan website again and ask your help for our educational work in Tanjoc and communities around Poptun in the Peten ( where the nursing students and other instructors will be continuing to provide health consults and women’s health screening exams for the next three weeks.

Guatemala Vista Hermosa

Guatemala is in its dry season as it is each year when I visit. As usual, the days were grueling and the people’s lives were difficult but this time I had a significant contrast so I want to blog twice. The before and after the Lago Atitlan experiences.

This year there were 9 nursing students from the University of Victoria who went with Wendy Neander, MSN, Amy Baches, RN (Amy is Pueblo Partisan’s in-country representative,) and myself. We work with a remarkable nun named Sister Sarah who has a wonderful clinic called Daniel Comboni, in Mixco, which is a poor fringe of Guatemala City. She’s trained health promoters in the communities that surround the city, even further out. Those communities were originally squatter settlements during the war and now they’re permanent even though they often lack navigable roads and have jerry rigged services for water and electricity. Some people buy propane but many can be seen with piles of wood on their heads, slowly but surely destroying the forests that once stood on the mountain flanks where people now live so precariously.

In each community (El Bosque, Las Limas, San Franciso,) we did adult and pediatric “consultas” and women’s health (pap, pelvic and prenatals.) My area is the women’s health so our exams were always in a dim curtained room either on a low bed or a kitchen table. Even though we did six clinics during my 10 day stay we only did 45 paps because it is such a slow go to do a good history, work with the student to perform the exam then do all the necessary health teaching and follow up.
What I want to convey is that women’s lives are very hard in Guatemala. Many do hard physical labor, like washing clothes all day by hand, or carrying heavy things on their heads up and down the steep dusty slopes, or they commute to “fabricas” where they have no bathroom breaks. These women often can’t read and write, have no sense they have a right to any relaxation or pleasure, and are physically strained by headaches and body aches from their poor fluid intake and nutrition, their lousy shoes and lack of preventative knowledge. These women just don’t have a chance in life.

One example is this beautiful woman who I met at Sister Sarah’s clinic. She has big deep open sores on her ankle. To get to Sister Sarah’s clinic she had to hike up a long hill, wait standing, then take a crowded bus, then walk more downhill to the clinic… To heal the ulcers she will need to keep her wounds clean and have frequent dressing changes, for weeks. Sister Sarah will train someone in her community to do the dressing changes, but how will she recover if she has to work to live?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spring Bloom

I wanted to get in one spring bloom blog before heading south.
Farmer-neighbor Bruce says that the bees prefer the mustard to the fruit trees so he's thinking of mowing them.

It's warm enough now that broccoli is bolting. We've been having broccoli most nights for dinner.

I was busy trying to get ready for Guatemala today but had to hop out and get a picture of artist Norm Dillinger with his amazing home.
It's a crazy time to leave. No doubt about that.