Mind Scraps: Reverence Before the Radiant Sun

One morning a workmate at Traveo was enchanted by the sun. It was actually one of the workmates who ended up disappointing me, giving me much undeserved trouble.

On this morning though, we had connected, shared and, together, marveled at the stunning radiance of the sun. Though the sky was blanketed in clouds her brilliance could not be dulled. In her strong defiance she even graced us with a ring of rainbow…

Mind Scraps: The Spirit Prince

“You, as I already told you, are a gift, a marvelous talent. You have a most unique, contagious energy that affects everyone!! You are love as a person. There is overwhelming kindness in you. You represent my vision of life: TO ENJOY IT!

Tu ya te dije que tienes un don, un talento maravilloso!! tienes una energia UNICA que contagia a todos!! eres un amor de persona, hay muchisia bondad en ti, y representas mi vision de vida, DISFRUTARLA!

I received those humbling, heart-warming words just after The Spirit Prince returned home after his Riviera Maya vacation. I met him while working with Traveo. He was a part of the many groups Traveo hosts for “spring break” vacations in Cancun. At just 18, he’s another young one… and another whose spirit has left me speechless. For the first time in my life, I encountered someone whose energy matched my own. Always flashing a brilliant smile, he is positive light and I witnessed how all of his friends look to him for life. His charm: irresistible. I saw how he could turn a girl’s frown upside in minutes. Tenderly cupping her face in his hands, and directing a kind and loving gaze straight into her eyes, he would whisper in her ear, telling her how beautiful she was. More precious than gold, he would say. Don’t shed your tears for those who don’t deserve to see the fallen pearls. Cruel words dissolve before your beauty. Take heart! (No the girl wasn’t me. :P)

If the music was playing, he was dancing. When the music wasn’t playing… he was still dancing. Dancing, rejoicing, celebrating the living beat of life!

I quickly recognized The Spirit Prince encountered the magic in life that I encountered. We shared philosophical discussions and for once, my lips were nearly (hahaha) sealed as I listened to my own words, my own heart pour forth from another’s soul speech. At just 18, he had come to know deep truths that I learned and am still learning while roving the globe in my 20s. So young, yet so soulfully wise! I marveled.

Since he left the Riviera Maya, The Spirit Prince and I have kept in good touch. I’d like to share but just a few of the many loving words he has sent me, so that their light might reach more than just me. Can you believe there are young men in this world that feel as he feels, have the courage to share what he shares? How heartening!! Continue reading “Mind Scraps: The Spirit Prince”

Mind Scraps: No to Nonsense, Yes to Progress!

So my stint with Traveo is already over. While the job looked fun on paper – beach lounges, sunset cruises, nights at the club and beachfront accomodation (with Mexico’s infamous soccer star Hugo Sanchez as a neighbor) – in reality it had its problems. Yet, my blog isn’t for spreading “chisma” as they say here in MX, so let’s just say that from my experience I wouldn’t necessarily recommend working with the outfit and leave it at that.

That being said, I wasn’t all sour. I did live in a beautiful beachfront abode for two weeks, enjoyed runs along the night surf, cruised at sunset, danced my heart out and met some most touching souls (the Boy King of Spirit and others) … even a famous soccer player!

I ended up playing one-on-one sand soccer with Patricio Araujo of Chivas. He couldn’t put one past me… nor I him. We collapsed in the sand at a draw. But dude, a pro futballer couldn’t beat me!! Hahaha… On a real field with a more realistic match, I’m sure he’d have his chance to outshine. But hey, when it came down to sleep deprived one-on-one on the beach “El Pato” met his match! Mwahahaahaha… He did beat me in volleyball though. What I’d like to know is… when are my tryouts with Chivas??? Also exchanged a brief hello with Pato’s teammate Edgar Mejia.

Want to note that, from what I saw, Pato is a rather down-to-earth, genuine guy. He picked up stray trash and always made a point to leave things where he found them. He was courteous and gracious with the hotel staff. He didn’t act like a soccer diva at all… except in having a little trouble accepting that I might be a better contender than he anticipated. Hehehehee…

…Unfortunately, though, the ill ended up outweighing all that wonderful goodness. The job with Traveo had some MAJOR perks, yet the last few days I was suffering – emotionally and spiritually. So, with a sincere nod of good luck I said: Thanks. But no thanks. No more. I was losing my spirit and wasn’t making much. Some camera equipment had been damaged the very first night. The atmosphere, while fun, wasn’t exactly in line with my professional aims. It just wasn’t worth sticking with it…

Moving forward…

After tapping out, I immediately contacted the director at Dream Art Photography. From the moment I first connected online with one of the founders and learned about the company and its concept, I was eager to become involved. The photo agency had originally indicated that it might be better to start a little later, when the high tourist season hit, which is why I went ahead with the offer from Traveo. Thus, I was hoping the two weeks I did spend with Traveo had bought enough time and I could get something going with Dream Art.

With luck, the director – who splits his time between studios in Puerto Vallarta and Playa del Carmen – was in Playa. We could meet!

The meeting went great. Those that I met that work with Dream Art seem extremely professional, yet genuinely friendly. Always smiling. Always welcoming. They all professed to love their job. Excellent sign. None of that surprised me though. I’ll be officially feeling it out later this week. I must say… I’m pretty excited. I have a great feeling… about a great company with great people. 😀

On a side note, I’d like to add that today I met a didgeridoo player, a top chef, a musician that plays 17 instruments, a sculptor and a French smart ass (in a good way… hahaha). Seriously, how enchanting is this world?? What a mix of intriguing characters to meet in one day!! I’m eager to get to more about each and every one!

Mind Scraps: Hitting the Notes or Touching the Soul

Saturday night Playa del Carmen hosted a pre-concert for its International Jazz Festival coming up in November. The main attractions for the 2010 summer highlight includeded smooth jazz singer/songwriter Phil Perry and renowned jazz pop singer Bryan McKnight.

Admittedly, I don’t know Perry’s music too well. His performance was fun. I felt his heart and passion for his music, but I can’t say his concert really touched me the way some artists can.

McKnight’s performance, even less so. Yes, Bryan has a beautiful voice. Yes, he can do fancy scales. But, the entire time, he was putting on a show. And that’s exactly what I got from the experience. A talented, seasoned artist doing no more than putting on a show. I didn’t feel his heart, or his passion. It simply wasn’t there. I imagine after his professed 21 years in the biz, it could be difficult to deliver heart every time, for every concert. One song… I thought I started to feel it come through. But that’s it. Thus, I enjoyed the music, the clear notes. But, I left the concert feeling a yearning for more…

So who touches me? That night of the concert, as I felt a lack of spirit, my thoughts wandered to Paul Potts and his performance on Britian’s Got Talent. I’ve watched the video below a countless number of times. My eyes still well up when I watch it:


A true example of an artist pouring his heart out.

Another that came to mind, is a young man I met recently in Cancun, MX. He might not hit every note, clear and sharp (yet, with a bit a voice training I feel he very easily could). Yet his voice is saturated with spirit. He’s singing for the sheer joy of singing… sharing what’s inside the best way he can… through his voice. Every time I hear him sing, whether in person or on video, his sweet, pure voice brings a smile to my lips and my heart.


There’s more to sharing music than just hitting the notes clearly…

RIP: Human Rights Defender Bety Cariño

Tragic news like the murder of two human rights workers in Oaxaca, MX leaves me feeling frustrated, exasperated… yet more determined to believe that this world can change. Thanks to La Cebollita who forwarded this info on to me:

Human rights defenders in Mexico paying with their lives, warn UN experts

Human rights defenders in Mexico are under increasing threat, a group of independent United Nations experts cautioned today, speaking out against the recent killings of two defenders in the country’s southeast.
Rights defender Beatriz Alberta Cariño Trujillo and international observer Tyri Antero Jaakkola, who were on a monitoring mission in Oaxaca, were killed on 27 April when ambushed by paramilitaries.

Several others, including journalists, were killed in the attack, and four members of the mission were rescued by the police after being stranded in the forest following the incident.

UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, who focuses on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, acknowledged the complexity of the situation in Mexico and the challenges the country’s Government faces in fight against drug cartels.

“But there is no justification for failing to take strong steps when human rights defenders, journalists and others are killed,” he emphasized.

“Human rights must not be permitted to be a casualty in the fight against drugs and crime.”

Below a recent speech Cariño gave at the Front Line Dublin Platform, February 2010




With my voice, I speak for my brothers and sisters of my mixteco people, from rebellious Oaxaca in this great country called Mexico. And in these lines I cannot speak of myself without speaking of the others, because I can only exist if they exist. Therefore, we exist
as us. Brothers and sisters, these women I am; a daughter, a sister, a mother, a comrade, a teacher, an indigenous woman, a Mixteca, an Oaxaqueña, a Mexican, they represent us women who go forward leading our peoples against the looting of our mother Earth, for the benefit of large transnational corporations and financial capital. Today, with our voices, with our struggles, with our hands, the legitimate wishes for social justice of the Mexican Revolution are being kept alive; our struggle is the same one the Morelos, the Magón, the great Zapata and, in today’s Mexico, the EZLN led, a struggle that has cost the lives of thousands of Mexicans, all of them poor people from the bottom of society who have fought these fights. The place they have been given in history continues to be one of exclusion and they have been forgotten. Today we, the young, the indigenous peoples and the women are at the head of this catastrophe.

Our fields now are the scenes of ruin and disaster, victims of indiscriminate commercial
opening, genetically modified crops, the ambitions of the multinationals; this has consequently caused the forced migration of millions of our brothers and sisters who, in the words of my grandfather, “have to leave in order to remain.”

In Mexico the right to autonomy, the right to exist for the indigenous peoples is still being denied, and today we want to live another history: we are rebelling and we are saying enough is enough, today and here we want to say the they are afraid of us because we are not afraid of them, because despite their threats, despite their slander, despite their harassment, we continue to walk towards a sun which we think shines strongly; we think the time of the peoples is coming closer, the time of unrepressed women, the time of the people at the bottom.

These days, discontent is present throughout the length and breadth of our national territory. Because of this the presence and participation of us, the women we defend,cannot be put off any more in the daily business of human rights; we want to construct a world with Justice and dignity; without any kind of discrimination; today we are pushing forward a profound and extensive process of organisation, mobilisation, analysis, discussion and consensus which is helping us to build up a world in which many worlds can fit. We are the result of many fights, we carry in our blood the inheritance of our grandmothers, our roots make demands of us and our daughters.

For Bety Cariño’s Bio click here: Continue reading “RIP: Human Rights Defender Bety Cariño”

Mind Scraps: Give Drink to the Thirsty


During my first few days in the barrancas in Chihuahua, MX I was like Alice in wonderland, marveling at the fish-eye night sky, the majestic rock cathedrals and the exotic Rarámuri – who in their neon-colored blouses, loin-cloth like skirts and biblical sandals seemed to be from a prehistoric epoch. In my eagerness to explore, I caught up with Caballo Blanco, who was leading the foreign and local athletes on a scouting trip; the runners were acquainting themselves with the first half of the race course. However, I hadn’t come to prepared. The bottle of water I reminded myself to bring during my rustic shower, had slipped my mind as the barrancas at down wowed me with the splendor. By the time I set out to catch up with Caballo and crew, my mind was filled with awe and I had completely forgotten about “water.”

Something like six, seven hours under the desert sun and 20 miles later, having had NOTHING to eat or drink, I was feeling the beginnings of what it means to “bonk” as they call it. I could think of one thing and one thing only: water. The last several miles I started feeling loopy. Then, the very last mile, I didn’t know if I could make it. That’s when Wes miraculously appeared. He had already made it into town and was on his way back to his hostel… which was a bit out of town and in the direction from where I was coming. When he saw how parched I was, he quickly offered a bottle of water. I sucked the liquid down in seconds. Then, he passed over his specially ordered fruit licuado (smoothie). It stands as the most tantalizingly sweet and refreshing fruit smoothie I’ve had in my life. I was so grateful. Scratch that… my parched body was most grateful.

Since then Wes and I have had a few e-exchanges. Just recently, I received a request from him:

Yo Laura!

Hope this finds you so well. Shoot me a quick story or two of your latest adventures. 🙂

Also writing right now because I’d like to ask your permission to use some of your photos in a presentation I will be giving on my time in the canyons and the race. I will not use the photos for anything else. The presentation will be given to about 100 people in the endurance running, tri athlete, cycling community up here in northern california in early June. I would also like to direct these folks to your work and hopefully a few of em might like to purchase prints.

Let me know what you think.



I gave him the green light:

Go for it Wes.

Thanks for writing.

Tons of luck for your presentation! Let me know how it goes!!

How did you score this presentation? What’s it for exactly?? What else is new?

Wes, of course, was appreciative:

Thank you so much Laura! Stoked to have your permission.

The presentation will be June 10th. Here’s the link for the topics I’ll talk about.


Reading the bio of the event was when I found out that Wes, at the young age of 19 (if I remember correctly) is a cancer survivor studying at Standford University. I had no idea. When I had first met Wes I had sensed a great strength in him. I also sensed that he possessed a great understanding and passion for truly living… now I know why.

If you happen to be in Cali in June… go check out his presentation. I have a huntch it will be a compelling talk.

Mickey’s Spiritual Odyssey

My latest article to be published on HalogenTV:

Book, Film Shed Led Light on One Man’s Spiritual Odyssey
Laura McNamara

He walked thousands of miles on a quest to find himself. After a trying life journey that took him from preaching at the pulpit, to a mental hospital, to homeless in North Carolina then led him to the wild depths of the Copper Canyon in Northwestern Mexico, Mickey Mahaffey is now sharing the stories behind his “10-year spiritual odyssey.” Whispers of My Blood is a memoir that recounts years of a false happiness, internal strife and eventual separation from his family. Being the Diablo is a documentary that illustrates how this lost Gringo finally found a deeper meaning in life through the simple ways and remote homelands of the indigenous Rarámuri people, a community that lives a secluded life south of the border.

Read the entire article by clicking here.