Montecristi, Ecuador 2014
What happens to democracies is quite interesting… or scary! Obviously some democracies are lost to wars and revolutions, but what concerns me is what is happening right at home and it has and is happening to many other democracies as well. They are eaten alive by their own constituencies. Demographically, people that pay little or no income taxes far outnumber the middle class and the rich, and by that I mean basically, poor people. We could argue that the rich pay little or no tax, relatively speaking, but they don’t outnumber the rest of us. As this working poor class grows and becomes better educated, they also become politically aware enough to become the largest voting bloc. These previously disenfranchised voters are quick to vote for the candidate that promises them new and wonderful benefits, at little or no tax cost to themselves. It is obvious that you can only rob the rich and give to the poor for so long, and then either the rich are rich no more and have nothing to give or they leave. If we look back at Great Britain before Margaret Thatcher we can see a wonderful example of this phenomena. In any event it’s a zero sum game. Eventually liberal or democratic socialism collapses from lack of funds and often reverts to a despotic state… such as Venezuela. In the process of receiving all of the new largess of the new government, the electorate is so giddy they allow the leadership to make itself permanent by changing the constitution, hence “Presidents for Life” are created. This process is well underway in several South American democracies and one Central American democracy, as we speak. In the United States it is a much slower process, but it is proceeding none the less. It is almost humorous to observe that the internet is hastening the process, as is our love affair with materialism or consumerism. The erosion of individual rights goes along with this and we will talk more about that in the future. But who is paying attention…too much free bread and circus!
Many of you may not have realized it is summer down here in the Southern Hemisphere, it can be very confusing. Today, incidentally is the winter solstice for you folks in the Northern Hemisphere but it is the longest day of the year down here below the equator. To keep up the confusion, here on the coast of Ecuador the land is cooled by prevailing south-westerlies blowing across the very cold Humboldt Current. The Humboldt flows north from the Southern Ocean down there at the home of Cape Horn and brings the ice-cubed water of Antarctica along the coast of South America. That phenomena is responsible for the unusual sea life, flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands, lying about six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador. I hope to visit at least Isabela on this summer vacation, after the boatyard chores are completed. That Humboldt Current is also responsible for my sleeping with a blanket and bedspread and yet I am only a few hundred miles south of the Equator…. hmmm, all very curious. Truth is stranger than fiction!
You may not realize that the ocean is rapidly running out of fish! Our mechanized rape of the sea includes tools like this. This lovely bird sits on the deck of a tuna trawler, ready to go out and locate schools of fish to be scooped up very efficiently… leaving very little breeding stock. In all likelihood our grandchildren will have no idea what tuna fish is… canned, fresh, or otherwise.
Not terribly long ago I mentioned to friends of mine that life could be summed up with the concept of time, speed and distance. This short expression or more correctly, equation, can be used to analyze much of life. One is able to look at many things through this paradigm besides the obvious computation of travel. I believe that my first introduction to time, speed, and distance was taking the Safe Boating course with the Patapsaco River Chapter of the United States Power Squadron when I was seventeen years old. Time, speed, and distance being the underlying simplest formula for figuring out, using dead reckoning, where you are on the water, on your boat. This marine navigational formula might also be a way to figure out where you are in many other ways as well. Some time ago, my Nancy Elizabeth traveled a great distance at a very high speed and after her departure Dawn Trader carried me a relatively short distance over a much longer time at a much slower speed…. the result being that we are at the moment, for me, sadly apart. Intellectually I know Nancy Elizabeth is in Ohio and I am in La Liberdad. But emotionally I also know I am lost… so to speak, without Nancy Elizabeth. All of which is about the math formula for computing ones travel. Computing our spiritual travel or emotional travel may just mean looking at that math formula a different way. Having said that, many of us have come great distances over years of time, at varying speeds in professional and personal accomplishments. The distance between a high school student and a doctor of medicine is vast, educationally and experientially speaking and it takes a great amount of time at a very slow speed to accomplish that distance. Maturing as an adult takes all of us a different amount of time and indeed many of us never reach our full potential….. but time and distance are there for our efforts, speed never having won that race.
Our thought process for traveling to Peru centered around the idea of staying long enough in one place to get to know it, rather than checking it off of a list of places to see. With that in mind we settled on the mountain city of Cusco as the place most interesting to us and close enough to most of the major Inca ruins to allow day trips from our city headquarters. Cusco was very much the center of Inca civilization spanning all of Peru and most of Ecuador as far north as the Capitol City of Quito.
We also decided it would be more enjoyable to take an apartment and be able to cook some of our meals and have more space than a hostel room. We were able to find a very nice place in the San Blas neighborhood with convenient shops, laundry and market close at hand. The local bakery had hot fresh chocolate croissants just out of the oven on our walk home each evening….need I say more about the agreeable neighborhood. San Blas is in the foothills of the city, making for a very strenuous walk home at about 11,400 feet elevation. That altitude also made for nights in the forty degree Fahrenheit range and our abode was bereft of heat. Warm dress and multiple blankets required! The owners of the apartment, a delightful older couple, had turned the family home into eight apartments after their children had grown and dispersed around the world. Lovely neighbors, wonderful neighborhood, and a very interesting and quaint city, high in the Andes of southern Peru.We hiked the local ruins above the city at 12,000 feet altitude after getting acclimated for several weeks just walking home each day. We had beautiful warm sunny days basking in public squares, visiting museums, enjoying afternoon coffee and exotic scenery filling our time with delight.
Feliz Cumpleaños, Sweet Daughter. This birthday is a milestone and we are so proud and happy to see your accomplishments professionally and personally. You have been blessed and have worked hard to achieve all that you have, a great combination. This is as close to the hallmark store as we can get marooned here in the South Pacific. Nancy and I wish we could have been at your party to celebrate your big day with all of your lovely friends and family. Many happy returns from us both.