Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Scratch the Itch

Why do we travel? We humans are an itchy, restless lot. I know. I'm a piano teacher for the 12 and under sector and believe me--sitting still is not an inborn human skill. We need to move: to run, roll, leap, wander, graze, aimlessly amble and fearlessly fly away. We need to 'get out of here' and be 'here' somewhere else.  We need to fling ourselves out into the chaos of chance occurrences and synchronistic serendipities.
Last winter my itch brought me to the high elevations of Peru, where by intent, not chance, I set off one day to purchase a small 10 stringed, round backed guitarito called a charango. Life was all mystery and magic that day as it seemed that every single soul I conversed with along my path turned out to be a music teacher!

One was a tall fellow traveler from Chile who I randomly tapped on the shoulder because of what he had slung across it. "Is that a charango?" I asked him. "Si," he replied with a magnetic smile. He, his companion and I had a brief and cheerful lunch before they had to run to catch a flight back home, having satisfied their own itch. I went on that day to purchase my own charango, and we have travelled some distance together already. 
The Chilean (Camilo Gomez Camblor), it turns out, is somewhat of a virtuoso at this little foreign instrument, and he became my teacher via skype lessons, and now I can call myself "charangista" as well (one who plays the charango). 

If that weren't odd enough, a year later he and I have launched a Music Teacher Exchange project, and if all goes well, my itch will bring me to his hometown of Valparaiso, Chile, this February on an educational and cultural exchange. The following summer he and his charango will hit the scene in northeast Canada, just in time for festival season.

Until then, fund-raise, promote, scratch the itch. You just never know where youre going to land next.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Buena Onda

Dear hungry readers looking for their next Horak Snack!  Here is the main question

What is "Buena Onda"?
Only a prolonged exodus from Canadian winter across southern borders could legitimately inspire such a question, such a pursuit, or such a revelation. Which, of course, I have done once again! 
And so, in 'ingles', I shall attempt to explain Buena Onda to you.

Buena= good.  Good like, all is well, wonderful, warm and chili con carne (or sin carne if you are a vegetarian).  Buena as in "buenos dias!" ("good day"), buenas tardes ("good afternoon"), or "buenas noches!" ("good evening") all uttered as communal intention, driving toward a positive spin on things.  Why is this?  Why is everything so linguistically bueno down here? Maybe because most days the sun does shine, or maybe because faith in the cultural backdrop of the stronghold of the catholic church, is implicit.  Or maybe because being positive is simply part of the good manners that people generally have south of the border.  Even the police, extorting money from tourists in rental cars in a shifty speed trap (not so bueno from the tourists' perspective), are extremely polite about it.  But back to Buena Onda, which I shall now capitalize, as it is an entity in an of itself, and worth our discovery.

Simply put, Buena Onda has to do with finding or creating a good atmosphere, good vibes, cozy, pleasant, charming, lovely people, places, or events.  Anything or anyone can have or make Buena Onda, even in the deepest of shithole moments.  A welcoming smile, an infectious laugh, soft lighting, nice food being shared, music or singing of any kind, or any particularly lovely moment between people that injects light into a dark
situation, or maybe even a not so dark situation, qualifies.  Simply put, we should all pursue Buena Onda, follow it, create it, subscribe to it, maintain it, and even dedicate ourselves to it, above all else.  What did you do for Buena Onda today?  Notice how good your toothpaste tastes, mmmm Buena Onda.  Do a little dance in the kitchen with your kids, or alone, YEA Buena Onda, right here at home.  Take a stretch or two, even if you don't make it to Yoga, mmmm Buena Onda.  Reach out to someone, pay it forward, make it fabulous, go the extra mile, all them great clich├ęs.  Hang loose and groovy and celebrate each day.  Don't linger in bad vibes-ville for anyone's sake.  Don't be too cheap, don't be too rigid, don't be controlling, don't over-react.  Stay where your creativity pops open like spring tree blossoms and take your leave where the environs are depressed, constraining, or too heavy/not silly enough. 

Oh!  I almost forgot.  Onda= ripple, or wave.  Once you are on this good wave, once you are in the groove of the good ripple, the most natural thing to do is to stay with it.  Get on the pulse of Buena Onda and life becomes primarily a pod of positive vibration, even in troubled times.  And it does not depend on any chemical, plant or vegetable inhalant to maintain.  You put your eye on it, and it takes you for a self-sustaining ride. 

And this is what I learn down south, every single time. That's Buena Onda.