I have returned from INFO's Seminars at Sea FortScape, our longest event ever and by far the most exotic, in one piece except for my lighter,* and much the better for it, mentally that is... economically it was a scary move to make... but I think it was a good decision to go, most importantly for the nudged paradigms, new sense of hope, new friendships, expanded friendships and a handful of really excellent encounters, one seemingly divinely-arranged.
We had at least twice and more like thrice the amount of content, both official and not, that usually occurs at a FortFest. All of it was excellent in the depth of research and presentation. Click the title text of this post** to view the speaker and event itinerary at forteans.com and to see a couple of images.
Panama provided a look (very brief) at the Embera, a local tribe who try to retain their culture. The ride to their location showed a wide swath of poverty amongst those who live and work in the city of Colon. I'm not sure that what was advertised in the brochure was what we saw, but they seemed pretty real in a 2005 view of the world. The chief said they still had a diet of monkeys and fruits, however life must be pretty non-athletic and a lot of monkeys are in big trouble in order to justify the chief's physiognomy. I decided to dance in one of the 3 demo dances, which made a big splash within the Fortean community, as it was filmed (on a lovely Sony DVCAM unit) and repeated ad infinitum on the ship's TVs. I must say they are excellent carvers of wood and nuts and I relieved them of a few.
Although no sea serpents came by or other blatant phenomena, there was one night a most odd display of lights featuring the most unusual behavior, seen by myself and a friend.
Costa Rica, our next stop, offered a variety of activity. The poverty level here, to my eye, seemed a notch less than Colon's, but it wasn't a really big notch. Being too weighty to go for the aerial tram, (reportedly I didn't miss much, what with the lifeforms being mostly nocturnal), I chose the "off road tour to otherwise unreachable areas in a military 6x6." The vehicle was home-made, although very well crafted; and at no point did we ever go off road. The sheeple may have been convinced, however. In fact, at our deepest point, two guys in a Nissan pickup with an engine block in the bed passed by. Unreachable areas? LOL. Anyway, I forgave our jovially enterprising hosts their advertising sins because not only did we see a few 3-toed sloths and monkeys plus a lot of big spiders and odd looking plants along with a banana plantation, they also graciously gave me an excellent buzz on a drink called guaro.
Rescued by MC from ship staff-induced trauma, Belize presented the fabulous Mayan pyramid-enhanced cities of Altun-Ha and Xunantunich. The latter chosen, a long ride through neighborhoods and towns that didn't seem quite as bad off as the other two countries brought us to the site. We were a bit surprised to see soldiers in camo with automatic weapons guarding the site. From the backdoor of a rather non-descript entrance building one is presented with a breathtaking sunken rectangular courtyard surrounded by somewhat pyramidal buildings only partially excavated. Playing on these structures was most excellent, but we were soon called away to walk between two of them at a corner, and were again amazed, even more so, at yet another courtyard with a 130-foot tall pyramid at the far end. My lack of balance and the lack of any safety features (only 4 people fell off and died in '05(!)) prevented me from getting past the 3/4 mark, but I will report that the view was spectacular, commanding a view far into the surrounding countryside. What impressed me the most was that one could not see the successive areas of the site from the previous one. That definitely added great amounts to the awe-inspiring quality of the place, obviously intentional and masterfully accomplished.
On the Solstice we partook of a Norse ritual performed by our resident Viking, and many Gods, Goddesses, regular folks and indeed all living things were hailed. So fear not!
All in all, it was a most excellent adventure, even though two friends got left behind in Costa Rica due to the ship's odd practice of always being on Florida time no matter where we were. They turned up safe, but lost half the trip, which saddened me.
Be seeing you,
*JAW lost a really nice one to the Fed's eBay lighter-auction bowl.
**All of my title texts are links to the subject page of the posting.