August 24, 2008

Los Canarios & The Plane Crash In Madrid

Paso Doble Islas Canarias sung by
Agrupación Folclórica San Cristóbal
of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

As a young man, I lived for four years in Spain, two in the Canary Islands.

I lived, loved, laughed, cried, grew, sang, learned on Gran Canaria.

For most Europeans, Gran Canaria is just holiday spot.

For me, it is the place whence I met one of my dearest life-long friends. An island that accepted me as I was, warts and all.

And, although I haven't been back in many years, I still attempt to keep abreast of the happenings on those seven islands off the coast of northwest Africa that belong to Spain, las Islas Canarias.

A friend of mine wrote a thesis on the Canaries as the prototype for the Conquest of the New World.

There is truth to that argument, but what I took away from the Canaries is that it serves as a bridge between Europe and the Americas, between penninsular Spain and the legacy of Spain in the Western Hemisphere.

The tragic plane crash in Madrid, in which more than half of the passengers lived on Gran Canaria, made me shudder. The notion of whole families being wiped out is beyond my grasp.

As a frequent flyer, I realize how tenuous that fine line is between life and death, between survival and destruction, between what is in one's in control and what is truly out of one's control.

Like so many others, I weep.

The paso doble Islas Canarias has a beautiful line at its end, when the main singer says:
El mundo tiene una Europa,
Europa tiene una España,
España tiene un jardín,
Que son ¡las islas Canarias!

August 20, 2008

A River Cries Out: The Rimac River Project

Río Rimac, Rimac River.

In the old days, they called it El Río Hablador, The River That Speaks.

During the winter rains in the Andes, the water would rush down so forcefully the sound of the constant grinding of the giant boulders that line the riverbed seemed to make a noise akin to talking.

I think that still happens at the height of the rainy season in the Andes; but, mostly when I think of the Rimac in its current state, I just imagine a polluted, uncared-for, and abandoned river.

As the Rimac approaches, and traverses Lima, it is akin to a giant garbage disposal system.

Three Peruvian artists (Jorge Luis Baca de las Casas, Alejandro Jaime Carbonel, Guillermo Palacios Pomareda) felt the same way, but decided to do something about it, creating the Proyecto Río Rimac, the Rimac River Project, which is both a love song and an accusation, a testament and denunciation.

They decided one way to raise awareness about this emblematic river was to walk, during 21 days, the entire length of the Rimac, from its genesis in the high Andean puna to the spot in the Callao Naval Base where its waters meet the ocean.

They took photographs, drew pictures, videographed, and blogged the project, from beginning to end.

Their blog is available in English and Spanish, and they plan on having an exhibition at the Centro Cultural de España, the Cultural Center of Spain, in Lima, during the APEC conference this coming October.

I posted the above photos from the Río Rimac project.

It was too depressing to post the pictures of the river after man's polluting hand.

Definitely worth checking out the following links:

Proyecto Río Rimac blog

They have great photos on Flickr, here are the links:

first four days

days 5 to 8

days 9 to 12

days 12 to 14

days 15 to 17

day 18

day 19

day 20

day 21

There was also a report on the Peruvian television program, Cuarto Poder, that discussed the project in Spanish.

Here is that video, in two parts:

August 19, 2008

Computer Panic

I admit it.

I curled up into a fetal ball and moaned as I lay in the center of my apartment after seeing the screen telling me there was a major problem with my operating system.

It took me at least a couple of days, and the help of a resilient friend, to drive around LA's Koreatown until we located a computer repair shop. The fragile CPU sat in my arms, like a forlorn babe awaiting redemption.

In a non-descript office building, brimming with signs in Hanjul, I found the temple of resurrection.

Surprisingly, or not for my hood, it was run by a Salvadoran who took pity on me, but still told me it would be over the weekend before he could diagnose the problem.

Early Monday morning the phone rang, and the problem was resolved almost effortlessly.

Nonetheless, for the first time in a long while I spent five long days without internet access, other what I was able to glom off sympathetic friends.

I realize: in the urban jungle in which I live, there are certain necessities of life, which include a phone, a car, and a computer. They have become the technological holy triad of the twenty-first century.

Thank you, Pachamama, for making sure everything worked out again...

August 1, 2008

Urban Spiderwebs...

That's how a friend describes the freeways of Southern California; I think of them as arteries, pulsating, maintaining alive the movement of people and transport across this vast urban/suburban landscape which is so confusing to those who arrive from elsewhere, but to me seems as familiar as the lines on the palms of my hand. There is beauty in the lines on my palms; there is beauty amidst the chaos of our freeways...