love laurie

Category: travel


What is it about Vicky, Christina and Juan Antonio that makes me want to book a first class ticket to Barcelona and live the life that I think that I am going to live? Could it be all the Chivas I drank watching the movie and writing this post? Or is it my quest for a love/truth of something different in relationships that brings me to review my pattern and discontent.

For the past couple of years I have had a number of love affairs, this is my illustrious pattern. My grandmother, the wise woman that she was, told me at a young age that I should have a man in every port. I don’t know if this is a blessing or a curse. I get excited to play out my fantasies to know how my dreams feel. OOOh the earth shattering thrill of aesthetic impulses. But this feeling, as most, are fleeting. As my friends accumulate plastic colored toys and a list of annoyances of their other half, I accumulate air miles and thinning bedposts.

Nonetheless in the last 6 months I have had this annoying little nagging feeling that I should “settle down”… I know I know, but my idea of settling down is not posting up and playing wifey… my idea is something different. At the current moment I flip flop between being able to have all my love affairs while simultaneously having a primary man to cozy up to and share all those things that people do in those relationships (whatever it is that you do). Moreover this relationship that I am manifesting is a relationship that fires the individuality of the individual… not the coupledom of the couple. To walk on two paths side by side and to have the faith that no matter what the other is doing they will continue to walk their path. In this I imagine a mutual growth, ebb and flow, a fire and airflow that is going to keep that relationship vibrant….what’s love got to do with it? I also want to know how these relationships are going to add to my quest to find truth in my life. Seek. A. Truth. It is in this light that I am compelled to challenge myself to explore what is my truth. What makes me most human? The desire of such experience and how love plays with the truth? My truth of love. He should also fuck like Christian Grey.

Maybe this is just a fancy way of saying I want to have my cake and eat it too.

With child’s eye and lovers heart…

So about three weeks ago I left Kenya in a furry of excitement. As I landed in South Africa I felt like jumping up and down with my hands in the air yelling, “I did it, I did it!” I am not sure what I “did” (in terms of helping a village, growing as a person, lasting in Kenya for four months) as the effects I am sure will be coming when I have a bench mark to compare to back in North America.

Nonetheless I traveled to South Africa to met up with some friends who were participating in an art residency house in Cape Town and going to Afrika Burn. In Cape Town I found myself among a group of talented artists in an art residence /AWOA. It is a genius platform of collaborating artists from around the world, but mostly from Canada seeking to get re-inspired in a culturally dynamic grass roots neighborhood. Pretty. Creative. Murals. This is where I met the crew that would travel 400 km into the Tankwa Karoo desert to experience and participate in Africa Burn. We were all were very excited about this festival, for most of us this was the first burn and experience in Africa.

After a ride thick with anticipation we arrived at sunset only to set up tents only quick enough to ward off the rain. A little bit of fear struck through me. It was cold and raining and although I prepared for anything in the desert, I favored sun and heat in my preparations. Great.

A huge part of the burn is the theme camps that outline the inner perimeter of the burn sites. Our /AWOA crew had hooked up with a giant yellow truck “Judy” that drove down from Rwanda whose theme was “The Land of Soft Things”. . Oh how lovely… to have a nice place to land in the middle of the vast, hard, cold desert. The camp was a massive lounge made from bales of hay covered by a giant yellow cloth. Days prior to our arrival were spent trying to finish her set up. On day two after yet again another effort to set up The Land of Soft Things camp the rain came and it came hard. Rivers (in the desert??) formed beneath my feet and a state of disbelief struck everyone. I feared that rain was going to fall for the duration of the trip and put a damper on the festivities.  Relief came for a few brief moments for us to put on dry clothes when the skies closed up again… but this time it HAILED! Yes… Hail in the desert. I thought to myself.. this truly is unexpected. This too shall pass and it did after which I, being part of the domestic team prepared a warm meal. The sun came out and brought every ones moods. We all rejoiced to shake it off in an epic night of celebrating in the dance tents. What a great night. I was so happy.

Back to the camp, Judy, and introducing our fearless visionary Raf.  Raf gives the best hugs EVER and planned to have a multicolored parachute over the top to shade dwellers from the sun in the day, however rain, hail and a trail of unexpected events stopped that from happening until the third day. Each day we woke and attempted to rally a half effort to sort out our camp. Everyone a little slow which was only expected after epic evenings of jumping on giant snails traversing across the baron land, getting high on deep dark trance music and getting lost then getting found again. The desert was luxurious, dramatic, cold, loving and ever changing. Anything you needed you could find it in the desert.  Even the things that I didn’t know that I wanted or needed I could have in the desert. What surprised me the most was how much Judy provided. She was the loving hearth of the Land of Soft Things, possibly the entire Burn. She was like Mary Poppins bag, items just kept pouring from her. Judy provided. On the last day (or there about) we finally erected the parachute over top. Raf pulled out a huge bag of marijuana and the boys went to work. As the afternoon wore on so did the nibble fingers rolling J’s to provide the biggest smoke out ever. At 4:20pm in true Canadian style 61 marijuana cigarettes were tossed on to an anticipating crowd lounging around.  Bikes primed the crowd with his chill beats and had his one of many moments playing Frank Sinatra in the desert, so prime.  J’s were passed around, everyone took a hit or two and then fruit and nuts were passed out on silver platters. Every detail  oozed from Judy. Next sensation was the laughing gas. Raf and his balloons. 42 balloons were passed out and we all hit the ground in ecstasy (or at least I did.. feeling the best orgasm in at least four months… ha!) oh what a feeling. That night while roaming around I heard gossip of my own camp “did you hear they handed out 50 joints”…. I corrected them, stating it was 61 and we tossed them and your standing next to the roller. So awesome.  Judy got more accolades and as I talked with people compliments came out saying they slept on her, had a great afternoon there and just a general happy awesome feeling.

The burn community is wide open and for many this my have been their first time experience of that kind of genuine openness. I found people to be raw and rare. Each had and has their own unique gifts that they had to give and I as I met them their personal philosophies and messages ballooned over their head like comic book wordage. I strolled along the playa with a beautiful man and embodied love and light. In a string of synchronized events I married to a lifelong commitment to myself (and the beautiful man.. ha!). I gave Tarot readings and met some interesting cats.  Days ran into nights and nights ran into days. Allowing the events and feelings to come up, I was happy yet scared at the dark places in my mind. Looking across the desert onto the erected san clan the scene looked like a drippy painting of Salvador Dali mixed with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I started to wonder if this is what the unconscious mind sees and if it is our society and personal filter is the culpruit that puts the damper on things.  Hmmm.  With a child’s eye and a lover’s heart I sought out the light of the desert.  One of the reasons why I came to the burn was I thought it would be fitting to “burn” out Africa. I thought that I would have more clarity about my time on the continent, I thought I would find closure and grounded-ness… I couldn’t have been more wrong. I left the burn feeling more confused and less sure of the world that I lived in. I drifted between the surreal, ideal and real with lost intentions to discern one from the other. And that continues… in another post. 😉

photo credit Isbele U.

photo credit Isabel U

Photo Credit Isabel U

Port Reitz

Port Reitz School for the Handicapped is a school unlike anything I have ever seen before. It is an inclusive mixed school in that both handicapped and non-handicapped students attend. Children attend school here with severe handicaps, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, hemiplegia, and severe congenital abnormalities. The list could seriously go on and on. I being the sheltered woman that I am have never seen such a parade deformed children. Kids come in the office and I do what I do with most tasks in Kenya, I just take a deep breath, and put one foot in front of the other because I have learned that having a running commentary of the things I have seen is completely futile. This is the way it is here.

So it is hot and sweaty and hot. The air is still and dense. Four in a room, Dr. Keith, Mary, student Karissa and myself. I busily stooped in frustration trying to get Karissa’s dress off so Dr. Keith can examine her. I twisted and pulled and struggled with her dress but her arms keep getting stuck, she is probably 10 and not helping me at all. The physical therapist Mary is no help and I think ‘why can’t she help me? I am totally struggling with this dress’… then I really lose it as I see Mary bending down to take off her shoe. WTF! My mind flares, my temperature rises yet another degree, however I calmly ask her what she is doing. At this precise moment I look down and see the sole of the foot of Mary and Karissas’ feet touch… She replies, “We are saying hello” calmly laughing a little. “She can’t use her arms nor can she talk”. Ffffffff. Nice one Laurie.

Diluted and overcome I felt 6 inches tall. How inconsiderate my first world impatience is. How stupid the mind is at trying to understand all things that are not completely transparent. This little girls’ will to live has more tenacity and courage that I can ever know.

When I went back last week to check up on her treatment, I recognized her and promptly took off my shoe and greeted her. She lit up like a light bulb and I almost cried.

So yeah.. The experiences continue… LL

The Lovely Karissa

Hello Lady!

Congenital Abnormality

Wet to Dry Bandage

Some days…..

Some days I just wake up in a fowl mood. No matter how splendid the clean windows sparkle with crisp blue sky, my mind grumbles like rusty cogs and I twist in my sheets wishing I could hide in bed all day and save those around me from my wrath. On these moody days I rely on the splendid indulgence of coffee, sex and yoga… addiction much?

In Kenya I am left to my own devices with no such crutches, and this country continually challenges me. Like not just once and a while… likes everyday, sometimes two or three times. Not only am I missing my tools to re-centre, re-align and re-focus, I feel stranded on a foreign continent. I try to muster up my character to sense out the situation and that too is gone. All my intuition and sensibility has gone west with the wind. I feel like a witch without a wand. Every characteristic that I usually rely on is a little shaky. So every new little stride in a plan or a stable feeling is fleeting because Kenya changes… and then changes again. Kenya in her ways is relentless in her ability to call me out, she coaxes me to come out to play, she hustles palm trees and bird songs to relinquish everything that I thought I knew about myself. Just love and let it be.

pinch me I am here

Two days ago I drove for the first time to my village in the outskirts of Mombasa alone. I drove into the madness of rush hour, Matatu’s buzzing past like a scene from Nintendo Mario Brother (Matatu’s seem to be the ONLY ones that move fast in this country), past the markets teeming with men trying to make a dollar. I drove across the sorry excuses for roads. I drove on the only road out of the only major port in Eastern Africa. I drove into the eyesore of the chaos surrounding Mombasa into the palms trees of the village. And of course I was late for the first Jipe Moyo Woman’s Group Meeting. Dr. Keith had kept time up to this point and today I causally sat on my veranda and had another cup of coffee knowing that I was going to be late, but did it anyways. Ha! Maybe I am part African! Anyways…I was calmly confidant that the women would like my presentation. I translated words into Swahili, drew pictures and made food. All to stress the important issue: Prevention of disease. I charismatically solicited they should ‘prevent illness in your kids so that they have a better life than you, prevent illness so they can learn to read and write’ I preached with science and with emotion, pulling on all the heart wrenching be a good mother strings I knew of. During the last two months of clinics I have learned from Dr. Keith the pathology and treatment for the primary afflictions that their children suffer from; ringworm (tinea capitis) scabies and parasites. While discussing parasites I told them how Schistosomiasis enters the body, through a water source, the quarry, that they all use for free water. The prevention tactics up this point were doable; washing sheets, not sharing combs, keep finger nails clean, but Schistosomiasis has long term health implications and difficult to combat because it is endemic. It affects 20 million per year and 85% of the cases are in Africa. Kenya’s Prime Minister Odinga stated that those children with parasites are more likely to be illiterate.

After that translation there was a snicker among the crowd… I found out no families can pay the 5 shillings for 20 gallons of water. 5 shillings is less than 3 Canadian cents. How could I teach prevention of their biggest problem when the source of their problem comes from the only commodity that they receive “free”? I suddenly woke up. I am a white woman sitting in a small Kenyan Village among 40 women who live day to day with no resources. We are worlds apart, and I don’t understand their problems. I have never ever had to choose between eating and not eating on any given day. I realized that I can’t help them, they have to help themselves, they have to work together and collaborate as a community wanting to sacrifice the nothing that they have in exchange for the idea of something unknown that MIGHT be for the better. These women know very little other than surviving, having babies, and having more babies. I had take 20 steps back to get their perspective in our discussion. I asked why they couldn’t pay, who had jobs, if they wanted them, where and what they would do. Would they like to work in the village or out? Who has husbands that work? Who worries about food and who wants their children to live differently than them? Their silence and solemn nods told me everything. I let them discus among themselves and come up with ideas. They all looked at me for answers and asked me good questions. Could they kill the parasite in the water? I told them every parasite scientist in the world is wondering the same thing. I told them they have to think together, work together to come up with a joint solution because I don’t understand their problems, I told them I would support them but I wouldn’t do the work for them. I am teaching them how to think differently, not immediatly providing them with the answers. If they had income they could feed their children and pay for water. As much as they looked to me for answers, and as much as I wanted to answer them and tell them what to do I turned the questions on them and forced them to come up with the answers themselves. What would be your ideal situation? How are you going to make that happen? I am still scratching my head at the events as once again African’s ever changing stoic façade has caught me blindsided…and hopeful.


Star fruitcoral cave boatson the dhowcaptain all smilesopen to the worldopen doors and open mindslazy merchants

5 photos

shy girls

little boys who got it...

Portreitz School for the Handicapped

elephant rump at Tsavo East

me on my perch, lovelaurie

The King of The Jungle

“Lions are more intelligent than some men and more courageous than most. A lion will fight for what he has and for what he needs; he is comtemptous of cowards and wary of this equals. But he is not afraid. You can always trust a lion to be exactly what he is – and never anything else.” B. Markham

Over a cup of tea, they call it Chai.

Today I sit on my perch, on the outside looking in. On this particular day the white light of Mombasa frames the scene. Constant humming of foreign languages broken by tinkling glassware and spoons. Causal mounds of people sitting around, conversing, silence fills the space between the easy flow of travel plans, social plans and whatever plans. I am the soloist, also relaxed, watching, wondering, what fills their day? What brings them here? As I do the African Stare, the African’s are not bashful about looking squarely in the eyes from across the room, my mind softens and I smile at the little curious girl staring at me sipping at her soda while her elders sit back engaged, heads bobbing in agreement. We hold the moment for a few minutes. Black woman come and order Fanta. They wait, patiently for their next meal ticket. Expats smile and jovially join them. When I first found out that in Mombasa there were scores of expats, my mind filled scenes from James Bond movies. Slick hair, causally opened button shirts revealing a tanned toned frame, private jets taking off from the beach and eyes that could leave you hot, speechless and sweating. I envisioned these expats to look like Daniel Craig, Pierce Bronson and the young Sean Connery and of course me, the next Ms. Andress Bond girl…SCRATCH… not so much, these for real expats are weathered hairy beasts! Stagnant and complacent in their current lives and preferring the local flavor, re-living the salad days of their youth.

I notice the differences in the people at cafes here than in Vancouver. In Vancouver people walk through the doors of the trendiest local serving primo coffee like they would walk down a red carpet. Instantly composed, materialistically assured, closing the curtain to any glimmer of internal grace compassion or inspiration. The café at large already diligently self-consumed also intently pretending not notice those walking though the door.

Last week my apartment was broken into. Among the goods stolen were my mac laptop, camera, lens, glasses, electric tooth brush and $700. Asides from the utter annoyance with the absence of these handy devices, in a foreign country, I am in a bit of a funk. This entire month I have been feeling pretty good – by day I avenge ringworm and parasites in village kids, by night I pilot through endless dinner conversations and the landscape of the interweb. I research parasite life cycles and how to disrupt them in their hosts. I post marketing inspirations on pintrest for Macpherson Crate Co. I felt connected but not consumed. I felt that I had struck a balance between constructive technology use and doing volunteer work. Then SLAM! …The universe pulls the table cloth from under my well planned dinner party to see what kind of skills I really posses to deal with it all. I felt sick, I was sad, I suddenly missed my family, I worried for my safety.

The next morning on my run I viewed my computer in my head and all the files I had catalogued over the past five years. Asides from the school notes, pictures and music there really is little on it that is useful to me now… why such the big tears Laurie? Catalogued hidden away I had sequestered my “private notes” file. Old letters to and from “the” ex boyfriend. The one whom when he walked out the door a piece of my heart died. He wasn’t “the” love of my life, he was the one where I carelessly foolishly trusted someone else to determine my happiness. We were young (and dumb) and thought that we loved each other and knew what that meant. The breakup was messy, hence why I loath liars. However, I paid the price with depression taking me to rock bottom. But as Paulo Coelho wrote: “It is said that the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn” so came the excavation of my life and my beautiful sunrise continues to grown and blossom everyday since then.  So these letters, this sadness that I feel for my lost laptop, all from the past that for years I have held on to so tightly to my chest is gone, they are no longer a part of me. Poof. Gone.