Mind Scraps: Frenzy

Arrived in Chihuahua, Mexico by El Chepe (Chihuahua Pacifico train) from my trip to the Barrancas del Cobre late last night. The train chugs on as desert slowly morphs into a sloping land of strange rock formations – some eerily resemble petrified spirits of eras past. Then, the rises and dips become more drastic and sharp. The land transforms into a vast network of mystic canyons slowly etched away by time…

But before I launch into the mystic of the Copper Canyon, I have photos, audio and video to process, articles to write and emails to catch up on. It will be several days before I can give a personal account of my journey into las barrancas.

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Met Victor and Alicia (fellow members of the documentary crew) at Café Kaldi. Toying with the idea of going back to the canyons to get more footage for a short film centered less upon the the Copper Canyon ultra-marathon race and more upon the life, culture and traditions of the Rarámuri through the story of a young 16-year-old girl, eldest child and fatherless.

Possibly going to Parque Cretacico this weekend with Victor to learn about the array of fossilized dinosaurs constantly being discovered there.

Check out the video:

[youtube]og6KcTxg-tY[/youtube]

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Spoke with Fer today. There’s a possibility we could see each other this weekend if the trip to Parque Cretacico doesn’t work out. It’s been more than a month since we met and spent a few days together in Kansas City. I’d really enjoy the opportunity to see him again.

Mind Scraps: Countdown to the Canyons

All the houses and buildings here in Chihuahua are made of concrete. I’m familiar with concrete being abundant, as it is in Honduras and Guatemala, but I feel like the two latter still had some wooden and rock buildings scattered about the concrete masses. Here… it’s all concrete. A giant concrete slab in the middle of the desert.

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Koko dropped me off at his mom’s house early in the a.m. before his work meeting so I could do some quick laundry before heading out into the canyons. No one here but me and trusty internet… so getting a lot done as I wait for my clothes to line dry.

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The more I think about Barranca del Cobre, the Tarahumara and the race… the more antsy I get. This is going to be one heck of an adventure… and I’ll be sharing it with some great people while helping document it all on film.

Some poetry from Caballo Blanco:

Truth is beauty
beauty is Truth
‘Tis all we really know in life
And All we need to know.
May the Raramuri and ALL of us
In our own unique ways
Continue to Run Free.

Keats and Caballo blanco :]

we are messengers
fueled by the message we carry
when the message is of truth/beauty and love
we will always have the strength
to find our ways home
on this
our beautiful mother Earth

MT CB

Yeah, did I mention? Really cool people.

Mind Scraps: Ice Queen in Mexico

01.03.10

The nights are chillier than I anticipated. It takes a bit of will-power for me to unearth myself from my burrow each morning. I sleep on an extra mattress on the floor, layered in clothes and buried in blankets – head and all. I seem to be much colder than anyone else though. What’s up with that?? Why am I always freezing?? I know women are known to be more chilled than men, but I feel as if my chill is always more extreme than the icy woman norm. Right now, it’s daytime and I’m shivering. No one else is…

I recall that when I worked at Missourinet, I always brought my wool coat to wear… even in spring and summer. The indoor A/C made the office feel like Antarctica to me. Everyone else gave me crazy looks and made jokes. So, I’m thinking I have a serious cold issue. Thoughts anyone? How can I get my frosty fingers and icicle toes to warm up?

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I have fellow Couchsurfer Koko to thank for putting me up. Koko is “muy padre” as they say here in Mexico. He has long black hair pulled back into a low ponytail and small, square frames rest on his nose. He’s super easy-going and fun to kid around with… not to mention his great, free-spirited, semi-goofy laugh. Koko makes a living as one-man band commercial producer for a Mexican furniture company. He shoots the vid and edits the final product.

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I finally met Mickey face to face at Kaldi Café. The coffee is good enough to drink an espresso black… as it should be since the joint is an artisan shop that roasts its own coffee in house. Art and photographs scattered about the walls. My kind of place. Found my work hangout in Chihuahua…

Mickey is grisly man with a strong southern accent. Clear, kind blue eyes peer out from his gray hair and beard. He’s another easy-going soul who is fired up about his film project. I am definitely excited to be a part of it all too. I’m trying to get him on board with proper social media and viral marketing.

I also met Nubia, the film crew’s production coordinator. Everything about Nubia says “sweet.” A very sincere woman who looks much younger than her years… not that she has that many anyway. She and I worked on translating an interview that will be sent to a local newspaper.

David works at Kaldi so I saw him again as well. Just five more members to meet on the film crew!

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Koko’s roommate Ulysis invited me to go walking with him during the evening at La Deportiva. The grounds of La Deportiva include a walking/running trail (my guess is its a 1/2 loop), baseball fields, indoor complex (for weights, aerobics, martial arts, etc) and more. I walked one lap and ran about two and a half. Geez, is this girl out of form. And to think I once was ready to run a marathon. I think this trip to see the Running People in the Copper Canyon is going to spur me to finally get back into a proper training regimen. Totally buying into the whole barefoot running craze, I ran in my flip flops. Until I had started researching the Tarahumara, I had no idea about this concept that high-tech, super-cushioned running shoes could be bad for you. But, as I read, it all made sense. My feet have always gone numb in my tennis shoes and soccer shoes whenever I ran. And if it was cold outside, my feet always stayed cold regardless of how many socks. Explains why I prefer to wear flip flops during my travels, whether its walking down a street or hiking up a volcano.

Thus, running in my flip flops in the chilly evening air… I was finally warm. Even my feet were warm. I guess that’s the answer to my cold issue. I need to get the constant exercise back into my life.

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Koko and I pop over to visit another Couchsurfer, picking up Sammy at the Supermarket along the way. We went to catch the tail end of practice with Freddie’s band. Freddie, another pony-tail man – this one with curls, made quick, easy conversation before having to duck out. Nonetheless, Koko and I kicked it with the band members and other friends, jamming out to techno pop, talking world politics and simply making fun of each other. I entertained most with my non-stop beat bouncing – partially because I can’t hear music and not dance, partially to fend off my eternal chill. Muy buena gente. Muy buena Boehmia.

I’ll get the vid I took of the band posted asap…

Hunger Bytes! Winners go to Guatemala

This years winners of the 2010 Hunger Bites! World Food Program video contest are heading to Guatemala to raise awareness about the country’s underfed population. A recent drought has exacerbated the Guatemalan hunger crisis…

Two aspiring filmmakers from Mexico, the grand prize winners of an annual video competition held by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to raise awareness of the world’s one billion hungry, are heading to Guatemala to highlight the plight the drought-ridden country’s people.

Carlos Antonio Michel Sandoval and Miguel Angel Mier Delgado of Zacatecas were chosen in the over-18 category by a panel of judges that included Drew Barrymore, actress and WFP Ambassador Against Hunger, Steve Grove, Head of YouTube News and Politics, and Nancy Roman, Director of Communications, Public Policy and Private Partnerships at WFP…

He and Mr. Sandoval will now try out their filmmaking skills in Guatemala, which has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and whose severe food crisis has recently been worsened by prolonged drought.

WFP is planning to assist almost a quarter of a million people in the Central American nation with life-saving food rations over the next 5 months.(UN News Centre)

Winning video:

In some places in the world, starvation isn’t a fad or a choice:

Dreams
by Carlos Antonio Michel Sandoval and Miguel Angel Mier Delgado

[youtube]2rK58u54tCw[/youtube]

Under 18 contest winner:

Today’s Special: A most delicate morsel of cardboard. This delectable entree stands alone.

Dinner is Served!
by John Beck

[youtube]CCVGccp9ybE[/youtube]

I personally find the video from this finalist most powerful:

Baby Arcade Game
Shweta & Abhyuday Pradhan

[youtube]12zHEN4nsgI[/youtube]

Playing Ball with Severed Heads

As Mexico is my current locale, I’m tracking all news Mexicano. Here’s a most interesting clip about ancient native sports. While the people of the indigenous community featured in this article were known to be more peaceful, this Mercury News piece explains how some communities plucked the hearts out of losing athletes. Yikes!

WHAT A PITY. The two boys, thrusting their hips, darting, reversing like whips, were obviously playing a ballgame. But they had no ball. Their movements mimicked the way an ancient game, similar to soccer, was played here on the ball court at Guachimontones.

Other Mexican archaeological sites have ball courts, but many of them have a hoop placed high on the walls. Some ancient wall paintings show that bats or arms could be used. At Guachimontones in Western Mexico, players competed on a long, narrow court between low walls without a hoop. They hit the ball, probably a stone covered with rubber, only with the hip. Male skeletons unearthed here show a high propensity for broken pelvises.

The Guachimontones ballgame was considerably tamer than elsewhere. The winners did not pluck out the heart of the losers, as the Maya did, nor did they play ball with a severed head. At least the evidence points to a more peace-loving culture.

Guachimontones is an unusual site in other ways. Its pyramids are round, a feature unique in the world except in this region. Archaeologists label this culture the Teuchitlan tradition for the town of the same name near Guachimontones. Its cultural and economic high points were probably reached 200-400 AD, though people lived here as early as 1000 BC, and people continued to live here afterward.

View the entire article by clicking here.

Mind Scraps: Random Razorbacks

25.02.10

Spin Pizza with Bob. First, Sonoma salad complete with red leaf, spinach, raisins, goat cheese, grapes, apples, glazed pecans and Blood Orange vinaigrette. My caramelized onion and goat cheese pizza was sweet and savory all at once. Washed down the pizza with house Chianti. An excellent little wine and pizza joint in Kansas City, MO.

Karlos joins us. After a hearty chat we all head to salsa. With just the three of us, I had the luxury of two dance partners. ¡Que rico bailar!

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26.02.10

Final scramble to finish packing before catching the bus. Knowing I’ll miss morning and evening talks with Kathy so much. A warm, heartfelt goodbye with Kathy. Bob meets me for lunch before I go… smoky, belly-filling KC BBQ. Yum!

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27.02.10

Born to Run, Chris McDougall’s book about running and the seemingly mythical Tarahumara engages the reader through fanciful tales of mystery and near magical characters. But, I wonder if the truth has been too exaggerated? Excellent storytelling… yet, is it just a tourist’s rose-colored take on the Rarámuri reality? Still have to finish…

We cross the border into Mexico. Customs was easy and smooth. Surprising to know that Greyhound isn’t the only bus line operating with significant reach in the U.S. Los Paisanos is significantly cheaper than Greyhound. I’m the only gringa or gringo for that matter. Seems like the Latin community has its own network of more affordable transportation in the U.S. Who knew? Certainly not most gringos who are too afraid of the concept of getting on a bus with strangers.

I’m now in one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Yet, I encounter nothing that’s alarming. Other than the frequent truck filled with uniformed military rumbling by, Juarez could be any other dusty, underdeveloped city. Yet, just days ago, 13 young teens were savagely slaughtered at a private party. Other than barbaric drug grunts wanting to assert dominance, these kids had nothing to do with the current drug war. Mexico is finally starting to rally against the blatant disregard for innocent life. What can the people accomplish? Many are fleeing…

I look up from the wise words of the masters and find a dry, desert landscape out my window. Small, sharp peaks stick up from the ground reminding me of a more desolate Sonic the Hedgehog landscape: razor blade spikes randomly springing out from the flat and dusty earth.

Continue reading “Mind Scraps: Random Razorbacks”

Beyond Nat Geo: Tales of the Tarahumara

In the recesses of the Sierra Madre Mountains in Northwestern Mexico lies the Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon), a natural wonder considered to be yet more spectacular and raw than the Grand Canyon. It is in the gorges, twists and bends of the Barranca del Cobre that the Tarahumara keep their ancient customs and rituals alive.

Legendary for their winged feet, these reclusive people decide who will see them and who will not. With ancient blood coursing through their veins, the Tarahumara live much like their ancestors did more than 2,000 years ago in adobe huts and even caves.

National Geographic published a most compelling article about these indigenous people, also known as the Rarámuri in November of 2008 (A People Apart). But, this March, I will delve yet deeper. I will take to the trails with these legendary runners to get to the heart of their culture. The gringo devil and Caballo Blanco (White Horse) will be my guides…

I have compiled notes from those who have gone before me as I prepare for this next adventure. You can read the collection of excerpts on by clicking the links below:

Mind Scraps: The Legendary Tarahumara

Mind Scraps: Bound for Mexico

The Tarahumara: Truth Speakers and Champions of Women’s Rights?

The excitement begins when arrive in Chihuahua, MX Saturday, February 27th.

Be sure to check back soon to follow my adventure…

Notes:

Famed Runner Visits Austin

What Makes a Rarámuri a Rarámuri?

  1. They observe the ceremonies.
  2. They protect the forest.
  3. They run.
  4. “At the heart of who they are is running,” Will Harlan.

    “Where we see giving as something extra or something that you should get praise for, to the Rarámuri, giving is just so ingrained in who they are that it’s not something that you have to go out of the way and say thank you for.”

    Harlan is a professional ultra runner who has raced in the Copper Canyon ultramarathon.

    Watch this video to get a feel for what it’s like to run with the Tarahumara, or Rarámuri:

    [youtube]-bAeRSKiTUY[/youtube]

The Tarahumara: Truth Speakers and Champions of Women’s Rights?

In preparation for my trip to the Copper Canyon in Mexico early this March, digging up more info about the intriguing Tarahumara:

Perhaps the purest and most unmixed of any Indian tribe in Mexico, so little is known about them that their true name “Raramuri” was corrupted to “Tarahumara” by white men and never corrected.

Most of the world knows them only as long distance runners. Living in high altitudes, they have developed tremendous lung capacity and in more primitive times hunted deer and mountain goats, running them down on foot. In more modern times, they have run non-stop in relay teams from Chihuahua City to El Paso, a distance of 230 miles, to open the Pan-American Road Races.

However, this running ability is only one facet of their life style. The truly remarkable thing about them is an ancient religion which has bred into them a moral code so strict that they are unable to tell a lie. Continue reading “The Tarahumara: Truth Speakers and Champions of Women’s Rights?”