This Planet Earth

So many of us love and worship the beach, and flock to it whenever we can.  We all know about the cream colored or white sanded beaches, and some have had the fortune of visiting beaches painted with pink sand.  Now go into your imagination and pick up an artist’s brush.  Travel in your mind to your favorite beach and use your magical brush to paint the sand black.  Yes, black.  Do not forget to paint the sand that is in the water.  When you are finished using your black paint, stand back and admire the results.  Start by standing on your beach on a perfectly sunny day.  See how black and beautiful the sand looks?  And look at the ocean, how its blues are so deep that they almost look purple.  Now allow the skies to become overcast and watch as the ocean blues acquire a definite tone of charcoal gray, blending smoothly with the beautiful sand.  Stay here for as long as you like and paint this gorgeous seascape with the colors of sunrise or sunset. 

 

Is this spectacular or what?  Black sanded beaches are a gift from our oceans, as they pound incessantly at the lava rock from which islands like the big Hawaii are born.  standing on that beach and crouching to scoop up handfuls of its black sand was such a wonderful experience for me that I did not mind having that sand getting in my open shoes and between my toes one bit.  I do not think I need to tell you here that I never bothered to remove that rare and beautiful sand, I just let it leave my shoes on its own time, I wanted it touching my feet for as long as it was going to stay in my footwear, knowing full well that the touch of black sand, as well as every other instant of my life in the Hawaiian islands, was a once in a lifetime experience. 

Like Katrina and the Waves

Have you ever walked in the sun?  Contrary to what many people might think, it is very possible to do, and what a glorious experience it is!  Goddess Pele, in her great generosity towards me, gave me this priviledge one early afternoon as David and I went out for a stroll in her big island. 

 

When I walk in the sun, my mundane, run of the mill human nature is left far behind.  I step inside the sun, and as I walk, I become one with the sun, I become the sun.  The concrete sidewalks, the light posts, the garbage cans, the cars, the noise, the smoke and dirt, all vanish and I become a universe where there is nothing except the purest, softest yet brightest light.  There is nothing but a perfect state of peace, calm and the certainty that no power in any universe can take this away from me.  I can fly to a place and see a kind of beauty that can never be described in any human language.  So this is where I was that early afternoon in Hawaii. 

 

David and I were staying in Hilo, at that hotel that simply sat at the top of one of the cliffs of the volcanic island, and for a while we hugged the narrow sidewalk edged by a volcanic rock wall that served as the barrier between the man-made city and the majestic ocean.  Of course, a puny little wall was not going to stop the mighty ocean from spraying the sidewalk as it slammed on the rocks nearby.  I felt a childlike joy every time I heard the ocean approach, pound the rocks, jump up high as it did so, and splash me with its cool, divine water.  What fun! 

 

There was a group in the 80’s called Katrina and the Waves, and they had a hit called, “Walking on Sunshine.”  The song is about the girl who is crazy about her guy, but I really love it because its beat is really fast and the song explodes with energy.  And remember Cindy Lauper and her hit, “Girls just wanna have fun?”  In one of the lines, she says:

“I wanna be the lucky one to walk in the sun…”

Well, I do not know about Cindy, but I can tell you all that I am the lucky one who walks in the sun. 

Rosa Del Fuego

Table for One

Hawaii, the Big Island, the largest island, the youngest island, still in the process of creation. It is so awesome to think that humans have dared to build their homes and cities so close to Kiliawa, home of the fire godess Pele, a volcano still alive, slowly spilling its lava down its sides, lava that slides down and disappears into the ocean.  The most spectacular views of the big island can be seen only by helicopter, and David had the opportunity to do this.  We decided that he would go in this helicopter ride by himself, since we had already scheduled another helicopter ride in Kawaii.  So I had the opportunity to enjoy our nice hotel room and its balcony, having it all to myself for an afternoon.

 

There is nothing like listening to the ocean. No two waves sound the same.  I had a great afternoon sitting on the balcony having lunch and then slowly enjoying a bar of Lindt dark chocolate as I sat and listened to the ocean right beneath me.  And the birds, the ever present birds!  So many of them, so many lovely songs, they provided the perfect accompaniment to the crashing of the waves on the lava rocks.

The Crouching Lion and the Birds in Paradise

 There is an eating place in Awahu called The Crouching Lion.  I would not call it a restaurant, for it is not exactly what we think of when we hear the word.  The Crouching Lion is made of wood, built in a humble way, furnished just as humbly.  What it offers is good food, the warmth of its staff and proximity to the ocean.  So, when the tour group got there, I got to enjoy a tasty lunch, the sounds of the sea, and something more. 

 

When I finished my lunch, David said to me: “Come with me, there is something I want you to see.” 

We walked to the back of the place, which was clean and ample, until, to my surprise, we ended up in a courtyard.  And inside this courtyard were all these cages, big, big cages, housing quite a variety of parrots, lorries, parakeets, cocatoos, feathered in all the colors of the rainbow.  I was delighted by this surprise, as I was surrounded by all kinds of squawks, chirps, calls and songs.  David and I went around to look at each cage, and he described for me the birds that were in them.  In one cage there were two or three large parrots that were mostly red, with yellow and blue accents.  Another cage housed a good number of smaller lorries or parakeets that were either mostly blue, or yellow, or green.  There was a female sitting in her nest.  The sounds and display of colors was quite joyous, bright and lively.  When I thought we were finished enjoying the birds, David said: “There is still one more.”  We walked away from the courtyard until David brought me to the one he wanted me to see.

 

I found myself standing in the presence of this awesome macaw, who was very busy cracking peanut shells in order to get to the delicious food inside.  The macaw’s tail was long and red, his body blue, and his face speckled with black and white feathers.  The macaw was comfortably perched, but he was not inside a cage.  We stood for a moment watching and listening to him crack the shells and eat thepeanuts.  Then David felt tempted to pull on the bird’s very long, thin tail.  “I do not think so.” I said, thinking of the macaw’s formidable black beak.  Well, there had been no need for me to say anything after all.  As David slowly reached for the bird’s tail, the feathered one half turned and gave him a warning look.  Once the message was sent (and unequivocally received), the bird turned back to his peanuts.

 

I started to say hello to the bird, repeating the word a few times in a soft voice.  To our surprise and pleasure, the great macaw stopped eating, turned to face us and tried to repeat the word hello.  I said the word, and he tried again to repeat it.  It was obvious that someone was teaching him and he was a beginning student.  David said hello to the bird.  He looked at him for a secondas if to say: “What, you got some food for me or something?”  Then,having found David to be an uninteresting subject, he   turned his back to focus again on the peanuts.  David and I had a good laugh. 

We stood there for a little longer, as I said hello to the bird a few more times and was rewarded by his reply.  Then one of the ladies who cooks the food in this simple and wonderous place came over and gave the macaw a French fry.  The bird gently took the offering from the woman’s fingers with his powerful beak, then lifted one foot to grasp the treat and eat it, the same way he had done with the peanuts. 

 

And so I said good bye to this humble wood palace, with its open spaces that let in the sun and the sounds and smells of the ocean, its magical courtyard populated by gorgeous birds, and its presiding great macaw.  May The Crouching Lion continue to give its foods for body and soul for many years to come.

Daughters of Neptune

Morning at the beach in Waikiki.  The beach, the beach!  I was craving spending time at the beach with a tremendously forceful, burning intensity that impressed even me.  The morning was perfect in every way.  The sun was ruling in a clear blue sky and the temperature touching my skin was just right.  We walked the couple of blocks from the hotel to the beach, through the streets of this neat and interesting part of Awahu. 

The full glory of the beach embraced me completely.  My feet felt gently warm as I walked on the sand.  The air was full of the perfume of the sea, and I felt as if its singing waves  were just for me alone.  No way was I going to refuse the invitation to go into the water. 

The sun, the sky and the ocean took me in completely, and I was giddy with joy.  The beach and me were the entire universe that morning, there was nothing else.  I felt as if we were the whole of creation.  I was a child again, five years of age maybe, and I had entered the realm where there was no personal war, no fear or pain. 

As I sat in the water facing the great ocean and digging around for its treasures, I wondered if I could get up, start walking and keep walking until I became a permanent part of this universe.  I fancied that, if I did this, I would stay forever in this perfect world, where there was nothing but beauty and my greatly intense emotions of being alive and consumed with joy.  Of course, the wise old woman in me knew perfectly well that this was silly.  Then I thought with sadness about a Puerto Rican poet, Julia De Burgos, who walked into the ocean to end her life.  Funny, she walked to let the ocean swallow her because of her great agony, because life had lost its brightness for her, and she had nothing left in her soul but grief and despair.  And here I was, thinking about walking into the sea to perpetuate the emotions that my body could barely contain. 

Living in New York for so many years has turned me into an autum bird, feeling at my best when temperatures are cool or gently warm and the air is crisp and clear.  But I was not always this way.  I was born in Puerto Rico, into the perfection of nature, and I became a child of the trees, the plants and the flowers, no matter where they were.  My mother, however, was a child of the ocean through and through.  That was the place where she felt at home, and she was, of course, being a true daughter of Neptune.  Her wishes always were to be cremated and taken to her beloved ocean, where she could become a part of it, and it a part of her, forever. 

I know now that I have become a daughter of Neptune as well.  I almost never visit the sea, and I guess that, deep in my soul, I miss it terribly because, if and when I have a chance to go there,  the fire of my emotions burns me as it did that morning, at Neptune’s home in Waikiki.

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