I was asked yesterday by a really cute guy with the dreads what I like about Portland. His brown face was in disbelief knowing I come from the East Coast. Originally I replied, “the food trucks,” when he asked which food trucks and I said “I mean juice trucks!”
I had the feeling he didn’t believe my answers and I was taken a bit off guard. Since I had an audience of eyes on me in wonderment my shyness kicked in and the introvert in me withdrew from the conversation with smiles and thanks. Heading back to my computer to finish my paperwork. But the were many reasons my like for Portland was increasing.
I woke up this morning to another semi cloudy cool morning! I had planned on working in my garden, but the weather and my tasks were too cumbersome and timely. So here I am at 6am with a few hours sleep from homework the night before on a little mission. Lo and behold I spied a Lime eScooter on the curb while on my path! Whoa, looks like I gotta get a bike helmet!
Voila! There on my walking path was a Lime electric scooter to assist on my travels! Lime electric scooter is a bike share micro-mobility company. eScooters as they are called in Portland, are pay-per-minute scooters located throughout the city on street corners and bike stations. The maximum speed are 15 mph and start at $1 per hour to unlock and 15 cents per minute. The eScooter is so easy to rent with a simple download of the app via Apple Store marketplace and linked bank accounts anyone can ride. You can scan the eScooter bar code via your phone camera and unlock your ride, zoom to your destination and park in required location which is simply parking upright using the kickstand and uploading a snapshot.
There are ride rules which I think I pretty much violated by lack of awareness but not that I know, I’m on the search for a bike helmet and better ride planning.
eScooter Rules and Laws
Wear a helmet – Oregon law will fine you $25 if you don’t!
Don’t ride on the sidewalk
Yield to pedestrians
Park on the curb
Single person rides only!
Don’t ride intoxicated or under any influence – drug free riding!
No eScooters allows in public parks
No eScooters on public transportation systems – bus, trains, railways, streetcars!
So I can add this to my list of “Why” I like Portland! Portland transportation is infused with Bike and Cycling programs and stores throughout the city to encourage a more healthy and sustainable transportation system. Portland is known among other names as “Bike City” with over a dozen bike shops, organizations, and programs to teach bike maintenance, provide ride share, and rental opportunities. I’ve been looking for various types of bike options for the summer months ahead. Looking forward to getting a new bike standard or electric to join in the “Bike City” enthusiasm and get my exercise on.
The last time I was on the West Coast was during Katrina in August of 2005. I visited Arizona on a few dreams I had following a young Native girl and my Aunt Tiye who would climb Red Earth mesas and fly to the next while I would climb in arms reach before their next leap. At that time, I was discovering the Sun and her children, the tribes of the Sun scattered from the Yucatan into old Mexican Arizona. At that time I had no idea the inclusive history of indigenous and native peoples on this planet.
I was also heavily writing, dancing, performing spoken word and dabbling in teaching to elementary children about indigenous culture and our environment. Still a practicing vegetarian, I was getting extreme downloads from the Earth (cosmos) from the Divine Feminine realm. In fact, I had journals filled with messages from The Goddess and as I sat in the lotus position or in pigeon pose I began to see the beauty of Tantra everywhere and in everything. This was the East coast, the hemisphere of my birthplace on this planet and yet I still had this weird connection to the West coast! At least in Arizona where I felt more at home than almost anywhere I’d been (apart from Guadeloupe).
But here I am on the West Coast, discovering none other than Oregon. Back home on the East coast the words “Portland” and “Oregon” made my black coworkers pause with side-eyed glares and ask almost offensively, “Why Portland?” As if my black card would be revoked by our imaginary world-wide black card institute.
Their conjectures almost had me convinced until walking through the neighborhood and seeing others with my skin tone assuring me “there’s ‘naga’s’ here!” with a sigh of relief. Still I get the unusual looks or loud “Hi, how you doing?” It’s definitely a mixed bag. But beyond the looks — and maybe its my wild unruly “braid locs,” turquoise, and shoulder length feathers in my ears, I know there’s something super “magical” about this region I am only beginning to discover.
The trees alone have much to tell – and I’ve never been anywhere where trees and shrubs are as diverse as they are here in Portland. Gigantic mature Rosemary bushes are aligned with rose bushes, sage, and pine yards away from bamboo, ferns, and pacific mandrones (one of the prettiest unusual trees I’ve seen). There are palm varieties with algae, lichen and moss grown on the trunks and trees of pine and oak (noted to have over 700 varieties of moss in Portland!) I’ve even seen cacti and succulents! Why? Portland is a rain forest! The only American rain forest in the North America and Oregon is one of the states (including California, and Washington State) of the Pacific Northwest to house its unique temperate climate and home to the colossal red woods which are still part of ancient Mayan lore to date. But these tree varieties sometimes leave me feeling as if Ive walked into some far away faerie gnome village with the later I’m still trying to figure out and define. Still, I admit Portland is by far a very mystical forest region Ive only begun to discover! 🙂
Many people in Portland look as if they are ready to climb mountains, win the iron man (or gender-neutral equivalent), homestead (Macgyver style), and Natarajasana (yoga cosmic dancer pose) without missing a heart beat. There is a true love for nature in these parts! So much so that my first trip to the local grocery store, the cashier hesitated packing my items thinking i’d walk out in hand or had a personal recycled (preferably hemp) bag in my pocket! He gave me a side-eyed stare when i insisted on a paper bag and my paper receipt which is probably recycled on the spot. The truth is the ONLY plastic bag I gathered in my few weeks here was the one I brought with me from Virginia!!! Recycling here is not some feel good chat, it’s a religion and way of life that shocked even myself.
The grocery stores have some amazing local markets fresh produce that I was equally amazed to see and taste! The Alberta Coop was one of the first stores I walked in and was happy to see such gorgeous veggies, mushroom, fruits, roots, and greens! Plus the cashier informed me I could ‘purchase’ or own part of the coop which really got my attention, but more on that in the Spring! For now, I will say there is a huge vegetarian and vegan health conscious population residing here. And i cant wait to explore the food agriculture here both personally and academically.
For now I will end with thankfulness and anticipation of new journeys, awakenings, and empowerment of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding!
Surprisingly this trip was rather impromptu unlike my attempt to visit Costa Rica a few months before. The night before my flight, I had found an AirbnB in Quintana Roo, Cancun, Southeast Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Honestly, I didn’t plan very well for this mini vacation which I wrote an article about my first night on what ‘not’ to do when traveling (I still have to publish). But first, I had to give humility and thanks for this very sacred and spiritual ‘pilgrimage’. I had dreamed of Mexico almost all my adult life with small dreams (visions) that linked Mexico to many states in the Americas (like Arizona (Sedona), Montezuma’s Castle (Sinagua Indian tribes) where I wrote “home” in a red journal and marveled at the turquoise and copper artifacts the ancient “Anasazi” dwelled much like the ancient Malian Dogon in Africa).
There were anomalies, mysteries, and hidden puzzles to our history that seemed to fill my memories, dreams, and obsessions toward visiting these regions beyond merely dreaming of them. Like the sacred land of Arizona with the mysterious monuments and ‘temples’ I captured with my eyes and senses, the immense feeling of ancient Africa and ancient Asian still living and thriving in those vortices, I was convinced they were all linked to a common ancestor and had been not only traveled but inhabited by ancient African people. Mexico had similar mysterious otherworldly familiarity. I knew my ancestors had been ‘there’ not only brining civilization to these regions but leaving a legacy that still permeates Central (South America) and many regions within the United States. There was this unspoken link to be traversed and reconnected within my soul. Many tribes of various shades of cream, cinnamon, copper, and even black existed also within me and this last dream showed me Tulum and Coba pyramids!
I had no plan to climb a pyramid with its 120 steps nor swim in a 130 feet deep cenote (sinkhole) deep into the earth. But I did and even conquered some fears! I know longer have ANY fear of planes and find pleasure in sitting at the window watching “serpent clouds” and other images I wrote about in my journals.
Mexico is mysteriously not considered either North American nor Central American but quite honestly both because of its controversial history that predates the arrival of the Spanish and Christopher Columbus including the later American Spanish Wars and many other caste wars which both annihilated and erased the African face out of Paleo-Indian conversation. I believe this territorial confusion to remain a hot debate. However, refutable evidence prove that the African Nubian presence in the Americas included the Mayan, Aztec, Inca (Ynca) and other existing and thriving merchant kingdoms of Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua as tribal royal and merchant territories of the Ancient Mayan Americas which expanded into North America, Southeast United States; California, Arizona, Colorado, the Mississippi River, Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Florida, and Canada, to name a few.
August 2018, Yucatan, Mexico
My first travel stamp of my new passport where? Mexico (ancient mesoamerica of course), when 27th of September 2018! The first of many more…
Where I Visited
My first travels to Mexico was on 27-September 2018 and included a very short tour through the temples of the Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo, Mexico (Coordinates:20°29′41″N87°44′10″W) of the ancient Mayan temples of Kukulcan in Tulum, the tallest pyramid temple in Coba (Nohoch Mul, is the ancient name of this group of tallest pyramids; Ixmoja (Xiamoja, Ixmoja, Ximoja) 😉 (also known as Nohoch Mul and the Spanish word variant Coba) and Calakmul or Kalakmul “the Snake Kingdom” (k’uhul kaanal ajaw, Divine Lords of the Snake) located in Campeche, Mexico), Ceynote or Cenote (Multum Ha one of three) and Playa Del Carmen.
*note: searching for meaning of Ixmoja which sounds very much like Yemoja (“Our Lady of the Navigator”)! Also searching for Nohoch Mul true Mayan meaning.
Tulum, Tulu’um, the Temple of the Wind is a Mayan city which served as a major port for trade, ritual and astronomical observation of the ancient Mayan navigators. This port was central and vital to the Ancient Olmec Mayans as it overlooked the Caribbean Sea and was a point of the natural African South American winds used to sail to the Americas. Tulum was a port city for the Mexican State of Quintana Roo along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico with coordinates 20°12′53″N 87°25′44″W. One of the largest cities constructed by the Ancient Olmec Maya, also known as the Zama City of the Dawn was a major trading hub its temples made of Limestone which keeps cool under the hot sun. Tulum is a fortified site housing three structures, El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God which dominated the coastal trade and land routes through Central America and the Americas.
Tulum is a very popular tourist sites in close proximity to Cancun and the Maya Rivera.The third most viewed ancient ruin sites after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza. Tulum is considered a tropical savana climate. And is part of the Sian Ka’an (biosphere reserve), archeological center, hotelera zone, and pueblo town.
It is home of cenotes (sink holes) Maya Blue, Naharon, Temple of Doom, Tortuga, Vacaha, Grand Cenote, Abejas, Nohoch Kiin and Carwash cenotes and cave systems and the Tulum site houses a sacred lizard sanctuary while the beach houses nested turtles.
I had dreamed of lizards two distinct types both I saw at Tulum. The green grey ones all over the temples and temple grounds and the iguana orange striped one at the very entrance of the Tulum grounds was about 2 feet clinging to an indigenous Mayan descendant. I didn’t take a picture because I wanted to respect his space! I couldn’t believe how these lizards seem to be ‘guarding’ the temples and seeming to point toward sacred directions toward the see or parts of the temples. I was very humbled and thankful.
Lizards everywhere on the temples and temple grounds!
Coba, Ixmoja – (Xiamoja, Ximoja)
Coba Ixmoja is located as part of the Ancient Olmec Mayan sites in the Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo, Mexico off the Caribbean Sea at the coordinates20°29′41″N87°44′10″W. Located around two lagoons, Lake Coba and LakeMacanxoc, known as sacred waters that guarded the sites and elevated roads called sacbe or white road. The tallest temple pyramids in the Coba region are Nohoch Mul andIxmoja. Imojais 138 feet high and 120 steps descending and ascending and the tallest temple pyramid in the Olmec Mayan pantheon temple sites of the Yucatan Peninusula.
Xaibe meaning “crossroads” part of the Coba Mayan city settlement and temple pyramids is also a city located in Belize. The Belize city was made up ancient Mayan settlers.The Belize city was occupied by the indigenous Mayans after the Yucatan Peninsula caste war with the Europeans and known to celebrate the Day of the Dead as food for the souls as Hanal Pixan a Mayan tradition. Xaibe in Coba is a watchtower made of limestone as an illuminated path for travelers in the night.
Ixmoja (Ximoja, Xaimoja, Xiamoja) was an intense climb for a person like me afraid of heights! At an impressive 138 feet tall, and 120 ascending and descending steps, this pyramid is taller than the famous, Temple of the Sun, Chichen Itza. Of course, I forgot to wear the correct shoes and had on swimming footwear but my adrenaline was on overdrive and with the rest of the tour group I couldn’t back down. Even half way up the pyramid I got cold feet, paralyzed for about 4 minutes to catch my breath, but I was cheered on and couldn’t turn back so I kept going!
By the time i got to the top I was huffing and puffing and dripping in sweat, mostly out of managed fear and disbelief! My virgo moon about to spin out of control questioning how I’d get back down without falling to my death, but to manage the fear of overlooking the tallest tree, I didn’t take a picture or think more than 15 seconds, I just started to descend slowly with a 10 to 15 lb backpack keeping me as steady as I could plant my footing.
Top of Ixmoja (Ximoja/ Xaimoja/Xiamoja or Coba Pyramid) — Over Coming My Fears 1 Adventure at a Time
Riding through the Mayan Jungle
Such an amazing adrenaline rush produced such a harmonious healing experience for me coming from the states from so much racial turmoil into re-centering of my mind, body and spirit!
Cenote Multum – Ha is an underground sinkhole located in the Xian Ka’an (Sian Ka’an) Mayan for “Origin of the Sky”region of Tulum. This is under the ground descending some 84 winding stairs to the cave made of dolomite and limestone as well as other cave rock. Such organic materials increase pH levels and add calcium and magnesium to purify the water. I can admit I have NEVER felt water like this. It is soft and strong (potent) and completely alive, so clear you can see the 130 foot bottom of this basin. I am not the best swimmer but again I didn’t let this stop me from experiencing the magnificence and majestic beauty. I rented a tiny life jacket and threw it over my Speedo and waistbeads and swam out to grab the rock with my tiny fingers. Backstroked, floated and butterfly swam back and forth kept a smile on my face! Yet another fear I over came this day! Victory!
Many years ago, I had dreamed of what I learned were called ‘Cenotes’ or Sinkholes. In my dream the lakes would come alive in the night appearing to glitter under the moon. In one dream there was a home in a cave, that lead to a door where one could swim from one side to the larger lake it was healing medicine for the people of the community and had many powers. I didn’t realize until I arrived to Mexico that these cenotes were in my dreams! There are many cenotes in Mexico
Ceynote (Cenote Xian Sian Ka’an)
Playa Del Carmen
Hip Hop is Universal! Mexican Bboys in Playa del Carmen
I was amazed to find this Hip Hop Bboy show in Mexico. I was smiling from ear to ear listening to this African American music and witnessing these dancers for theirs in this arena as the crowd cheered and watched. For a second I felt like I was blasted onto a New York street corner in the 80s. It was fun, exhilarating, and made me giggle knowing that hip hop is truly an art loved and respected throughout the world bringing many tribes and races together under the umbrella of the music, dance, art, and culture.
We also had free tequila shots! I had coconut tequila, Mexican chocolate tequila, traditional tequila with lemon and salt, they were all amazing! Our group had a great time laughing, cheering each other on and chatting about our day and next travel plans.
Back in Cancun (KanKun) “Land of the Gold Snakes”
I spent a few days in Cancun and finally realized I was in walking distance to everything, major stores, shops, restaurants, bus stations that would take you to Chichen Itza, Mexico City, or Merida, banks, and supermarkets. The weather was amazingly perfect. On my last day it rained while the sun still shown above and cleared up as quickly as it started. I also realized I was close to the Cancun hotel strip and party district!
Travel – My Fears and Dreams
My Fears overcome and my Dreams realized…
A few notes on my mini vaca to Mexico…
My travel to Mexico was a long awaited pilgrimage where I have had so many dreams and visions for many years. I really did not know back then that it was Mexico that I should visit or why, but it was a truly healing and magical experience.
Ria Sweetraw | NaturalSelfGoddess ™♥ Blog travels to Washington, DC to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Annenberg Hall of Geology, Gems, & Minerals. In awe of the massive gemstones and minerals from around the globe, particularly the amount of stones from Brazil (Brasil), Mexico and South America, this montage pays hommage to those Ancestors. The autochthonous tribes of the Ancient MesoAmerican Indigenous cultures and ancient Mayan Inca Aztec tribes in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama whose origins and bones are buried deep within the land of those regions. Feeling compelled to not only remember but to share their memories with everyone. I am another You! xo ~ Ria ( Daria)
In June, I took an impromptu road trip through the state of Georgia. Unlike Virginia, I knew very little of the back roads, paths, rivers, creeks, state parks and landscapes Georgia has to offer. And i was in “need” of some form of Nature relief so I packed my trunk with what was initially a ‘day trip’ turned into a 3 day adventure from Augusta to the mountains of Amicalola Falls to the coastal marshes of Tybee Beach Savannah Georgia. I wanted to search the waters of Georgia and to feel out this land and its historical past. The past of my father’s ancestors and find more connection.
I was in my last week of my fitness program and surging full steam ahead. Emotionally I was feeling drained from the mundane and needed a “Soul+filled” experience centered around Nature. As a child, nature had always shared with me a glimpse into a kind of symbiosis – a deep healing thankful breath and whisper at the trunk of trees, a hug or thankful smile I might offer for simply being in its presence, extreme gratitude and love for each variety of species my eyes would discover. Nature had taught me to meditate when I was just eight years old turning inward from a very highly emotional dysfunctional family environment I learned that inward breathing not only slowed my nervous system but awakened me to the wondrous world around me. Nature was my ally, teacher and church. And throughout my adult years, I would always find my way back to her /him when the modern world whirled in confusion and left me feeling anything but centered in peace. So I put on my workout gear, packed my car, filled my gas tank and set out for the unknown. A mini road trip into the mountains of Georgia was calling me and off I went. GPS set for Amicalola Falls through Dawsonville, through Etowah country, through Dahlonega country, in the Chattahoochee National Forest, through Cherokee Native American land. And with all the markers and talk of the Appalachian Trail I instinctively knew without having to google or search an internet keyword that some historical atrocities had taken place where I now stood.
I was later reminded I was in Cherokee and Yamasee indigenous land. Ive always been a ‘special’ child with ‘special’ vision you can call it bit psychic with much empath intuitive gifts. As a child I could tell you insights into the future, see events of past, present and future but as an adult these gifts became more like a burden and I closed them off to mere feelings and visions rather than visits or direct talk with the dead or other shamanic abilities. Perhaps this was in my own folly at not truly recognizing my own unique gifts and empowerment. Or that such “gifts” could in fact be used to serve humanity and help others but as I was drawn into the norms of working society ideas of shamanism closed to day to day survival for my family. And an age old tradition was closed off (for a time) by smaller bursts of these mystical ‘insights’ and flashes of ‘truth’ and visions and dreams that connected me to Indigenous tribes, communities and healers who in the Dream World showed me miraculous secrets of the world we choose to be blind to in our day to day mundane tasks. But here I was being called by “spirit” once again to a place unknown to me in this lifetime to Amicalola “Tumbling Waters” as the Cherokee called it. Where I later learned was also part of the Trail of Tears. Dahlonega the “Gold Rush” town in North Georgia was in fact a starting point for this push off, out and onward toward Oklahoma where over 20,000 Chicksaw, Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, Choctaw, Muskogee and other tribes and Black and Brown people of color walked and perished between 1830 and 1850.
What I felt and saw were brown and black people (ancestors) traveling the most rugged terrain and extremes during very difficult oppressive times in America. These Native Americans and Free Blacks and escaped Slaves who were forced to leave their homelands for the unknown—those who made it and those who died along the way! In some ways, I could feel their agony and others their resilience. The deep lines of Americas historical extremes were strong in that national park once marked as indigenous sacred land in a very different time. When I looked over the man made railing it was so steep that anything that would mistakenly trip would surely fall feets to its death. Only in movies like Indiana Jones or Romancing the Stone had I ever seen any type of terrain like this almost an amazonian type of depth with less dense forestry. Even in my native Guadeloupe rain forests and Soufrière mountains, I hadn’t (to date) come across land as steep in these Amicalola mountains 729-foot falls of the 829 – acre lands. I was both enchanted and horrified simultaneously.
I kept saying silently ‘this land is sacred’ looking up at the healing waters and wanting (naturally) to enter these waters to cleanse or even baptize my over burdened spirit. The duality of hatred of skin, race and culture carried upon the backs of these Colored Trail of Tears were embraced with a kind of unconditional ever-flowing love of Mother Earth and all her children flourishing upon the very deaths of those warriors, victims and survivors. As I witnessed both tragedy of the past and beauty of the present butterflies came to play and dance while Bees extracted nectar from blossomed flowers — each partaking in the rhythmic exchange of life! Such immense beauty exuding beyond the historical darkness. And what struck me most were these seemingly opposing forces melded together in the harmonic essence within the forest. What was once tragedy was blissfully flourishing. And in this pristine well groomed well guarded space I realized and saw this for myself with my own eyes, heart and soul.
It was a hot day when I arrived in the Falls and miles leading up to the park were confederate flags hanging from homes and shops that not only caught my attention but spooked me into an uneasy “i better get out of here” type of vibe. Although the park had lodging, I felt vulnerable and almost like prey in territory I was unfamiliar. It saddened me and I inwardly smirked that this kind of energy was so prevalent in such a once sacred site. Within my being I knew that Native and Indigenous peoples came to this Falls for healing and sacred ceremony where steep mountains celebrated with the mysteries of the waters and birthed a kind of life and rejuvenation- this was Healing waters that I needed to taste, to immerse my spirit, my body to heal my mind, my body and soul and yet there were signs and gates everywhere telling us we could not enter that in a way we were not truly welcome. And it seemed more like these “nature” energies were being held hostage then being preserved or even free. It saddened me that man was not able to self-govern himself or his behavior from destroying this land and being at peace or one with it and had to have such drastic measures to ensure its ecological survival. But surely if he could not value human life how could this kind of mind and spirit value plant life or water life or air life? When truly they and we were (are) all one web of life. It saddened me that I didnt feel welcome on land that was once maintained and guarded by other brown and dark people who looked like me and members of my family. This is the legacy that is kept alive in America for which it is paying for today. Instead of true healing and holding shame and resolve for its brutal past, the entitlement of such savagery is upheld as a tradition of pride and place in society among the diverse people of this land and country. In a way this is a perfect July 4 article raising questions to past present and the future of where our country is heading. There are the young and so many others who wish for this country to move forward and beyond the mental, political, physical, socio-economic, racial hatred of the past and yet the underlying legacy of this indebted slavery upon which this country was founded pops up all over the place all the time reminding you sometimes subliminally but too often in your face front and center to the very core and heart of your being. It is like the dark satan we were brainwashed into believing to be flaming his pit of fire in the depths of hellish moments of time when the real demonic force is truly everything and anything that opposes life, love, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, growth of responsible technology, trees and the equilibrium of bees!
In my love of Nature and love of Man, I truly pray (affirm) that we one day come together in respect for our survival, equality and equilibrium in this very delicate web of balance of our ecological systems, monetary systems, health and mental body systems, technology and spiritual systems. It may not be in my life time but I am hopeful that these cycles the ancients spoke and wrote of will come to pass and this new age will lift the debts and burdens of our ignorant past into an true age of enlightenment in which the all thrives in more harmonic states of being.
In Love, In Light, In Courage, In Freedom! (happy 4th of July) 😉