I have a sister, Menacuatucua. Eventhough I do not belong to her tribe (The Traditional Kickapoo who have homes in Eagle Pass, Texas and Nacimiento de los Negros at the foot of Sierra madre Oriental in the state of Coahuila, Mexico) but she has given me a Kikapu name as well, more in jest than ritualistic, Kesekuitepa or the One who walks with his head in the Clouds. A meskwaki friend of mine, in the typical fashion of Indian way of looking at the world with less enthusiasm and more cynicism, said to me, as they understand each others languages, yea, it means you are an airhead!
I had gone and visited her tribe many times during my visits to the USA and I am one of the few people outside the tribe who is regularly invited to their traditional homes in Nacimiento. In fact a Kickapoo has to take you there, as even the local Mexicans do not know how to get to this settlement. Mena is the grand daughter of the previous spiritual leader Annico who lived to be over 100 years old and holder of much spiritual power. Upon his return to the world of his ancestors, his son, Chakuoka, took over the reins. He also appears ageless, but most people believe he is in his eighties, but he is always busy at his traditional residence at the foot of the mountains and rarely likes to go out to the Mexican or North American social gatherings. He is, albeit his withdrawn nature, very active in the Indigenous Affairs of Mexico, and at one time was president of that association.
I treasure a photo of him, taken together, when he bought a car for the first time, a vintage 1945 Ford since he had always used a horse for his transportation. (he has a mobile phone at the moment as well!)
Chakuoka and the “new” car he acquired!
I lead a vagabond life, peripatetic life of a traveler but fortunately with a transportable profession like mine, I can work in many countries to take care of the sick people and with my additional training as an Anthropologist, derive enormous pleasure of gaining native wisdom as well as solving every day social problems. I began travelling in the earnest in 1993 (I have always traveled, but not with the same intensity) and it is still going strong.
2009 had been an eventful year for me. Over the years I had learned to deal with stress in my own fashion taking leaves from the wisdom of the Indigenous people who seem to be joyous in face of all the discrimination the European and African descendants put upon them. But the sickness of my sister Jackie in Miami ( she is England born, Jamaican upbringing and married to a catholic Jamaican of Syrian ancestry!) was a challenge medical education and years as a doctor and anthropologist had not prepared me for. But the challenge was met head on and thanks to every power there is on earth, she is well and looking good and free of cancer. The 13 trips I took in that year to Miami from Paris, where I was making adjustments to a lifestyle so different from my previous residence, that of Baracoa and Havana, added to the physical exhaustion of the exhilaration of travelling. Apart from the 13 trips to Miami, there were four trips to Asia. By the time January rolled around, 2010, I knew I needed some detoxification of my external self, but organization of it, I waited for it to happen and my closest friend, Mun Ching and her sister Man Lee organized a ten day detoxification schedule. Pranayama, which are deep breathing exercises; Yoga Asanas which are pertinent to loosening up of the body; home cooked vegetarian chinese meals and home cooked dinners at the home of friends; abstention from alcohol, which in my case is Wine!
Of course no visit to KL is without a visit to the A Cut Above at Bangsar shopping centre where the best pedicurist GS works, and also the hair style Fei Wen can sculpt my unruly hair a little bit. A facial at Guinot by Anna.
I have told you that I needed a detoxification of my outer self, because a detoxification of inner self would be a totally different matter. But what was to follow shows that such divisions are only for curiosity of your intellect, to divide yourself into self and soul; spirit and matter or inner or outer.
My sister Mena, who is mother to Keatu, wrote to me the very same day I was leaving for my detoxification destination which I had kept a sort of secret from anyone. No one would believe that you are spending 26 hours flying time alone plus all the waits and delays at various airports in four different countries so that you can have a pedicure at Bangsar? But very few non-Indians understand the strength and importance of Relationships, the kind I have with my best friend in Asia, MunChing.
This is what Mena, my Kickapoo sister wrote. Remember Kickapoo is her first language, Spanish the second and English a distant third even though in the last twenty years she had to use more English than Spanish.
Sudah You need to take easy on yourself on those trip because those
trip also make us get stress out even if we don't drive our self.
but don't worry i will ask Chakoka do a Kickapoo prayers for you this
will be exclusive for you only.
sometime that is all we need to remember our ancestor to feel better
because even that our great-grandmother are not we us any more they
still care for us just remember all those Kickapoo elderly you make
happy for seen them as patient and not treat the as patients i know
that because they where always asking for you remember that.
You need to take it easy upon yourself on these trips because these trips are stressful even if it is not you who is driving the vehicle.
But don't worry, I will ask Chakuoka to do a Kickapoo prayer for you, this one would be just for you alone. Sometimes this is all we need, to remember our ancestors to feel better, for, even though our great grandmother is no longer among us, they still care for us. Just remember all those Kickapoo elderly people you made them very happy, looking after them but not treating them as patients. I know this is true because they were always asking for you, I remember that.
Usted necesita tomar más fácil para ti en en estos viajes, porque estos viajes son estresantes, incluso si no eres tú quien está conduciendo el vehículo.
Pero no te preocupes, voy a pedir Chakuoka hacer una oración Kickapoo para ti, éste sería sólo para ti solo. A veces esto es todo lo que necesitamos, para recordar a nuestros antepasados a sentirse mejor, ya que, a pesar de nuestra bisabuela ya no está entre nosotros, que aún se preocupan por nosotros. Sólo recuerde a todas aquellas personas mayores Kickapoo hiciste muy feliz, el cuidado de ellos, pero no tratarlos como pacientes. Sé que esto es cierto, porque siempre estaban preguntando por ti, me acuerdo de eso.
Você precisa tomar mais fácil a si mesmo sobre estas viagens, porque essas viagens são estressantes, mesmo se não é você quem está dirigindo o veículo.
Mas não se preocupe, eu vou pedir Chakuoka para fazer uma oração Kickapoo para você, este seria apenas para você sozinho. Às vezes isso é tudo que precisamos, para lembrar os nossos antepassados a se sentir melhor, pois, embora a nossa bisavó não está mais entre nós, eles ainda cuidam de nós. Basta lembrar todas aquelas pessoas idosas Kickapoo você fez muito feliz, cuidando delas, mas não tratá-los como doentes. Eu sei que isto é verdade, porque estavam sempre a perguntar para você, eu lembro disso.
Vous devez prendre vous-même, il est facile sur ces voyages, parce que ces voyages sont stressantes, même si ce n'est pas vous qui est la conduite du véhicule.
Mais ne vous inquiétez pas, je vais demander Chakuoka pour faire une prière Kickapoo pour vous, celui-ci serait pour vous seul. Parfois, c'est tout ce que nous avons besoin, nous souvenir de nos ancêtres à se sentir mieux, car, même si notre arrière grand-mère n'est plus parmi nous, ils ont encore soin de nous. Rappelez-vous toutes ces personnes âgées Kickapoo vous leur avez fait très plaisir, prendre soin d'eux mais pas les traiter comme des patients. Je sais que cela est vrai, car ils ont toujours été pour vous demander, je m'en souviens.
I was truly overwhelmed when i got this email. I was just about to leave San Francisco for the Orient when it came. Yes, my sisters look after me, I thought to myself and once again feeling very grateful to the Spirits.
I wrote back to her immediately
What a beautiful email from you my dear sister. I would greatly appreciate
if you could ask Chakuoka to say a prayer for me. Thank you thank you
When I arrived at Narita airport 11 hours later, her reply was waiting.
hey Bro did you reach your destination yet?
I spoke with Chakoka already his in Hermosillo Sonora Mx. but he say
that he do your ceremony on Sunday Morning and to just wait till the
afternoon (12:00 PM to Eat or Drink) and after that you can feel the
spirits come to you. and he remember you by saying his this the Doctor
that use to to come to Nacimiento see the elderly and treat them with
out lot of toxin (RX) as soon as i say yes he say that not to worry he
will do a combine ceremony (Health well being and Traveling Ceremony)
just stay calm and wait for the spirit to do there work OK
Hey Brother, have you reached your destination yet?
I spoke with Chakuoka already, he is in Hermasillo in Sonora in Mexico. But he said he would do your ceremony on Sunday morning and to just till the afternoon (12 noon to eat or drink) and after than you can feel the spirits come to you. He remembers you, he said, this is the doctor who used to come to Nacimiento take care of the elderly and use to give them Toxins (his term for medications). Yes, I said to him, that is the one. He said, do not worry; I will do a combined ceremony (health, well being as well as for protection while traveling). Just stay calm and wait for he Spirits to do their work. OK?
Hey frère, avez-vous atteint votre destination encore?
J'ai parlé avec Chakuoka déjà, il est en Hermosillo à Sonora au Mexique. Mais il a dit qu'il va faire de votre cérémonie le dimanche matin et à un peu jusqu'à l'après-midi (12 h à manger ou à boire) et après que vous pouvez sentir les esprits viennent à vous. Il se souvient de vous, dit-il, c'est le médecin qui venait de Nacimiento prendre soin des personnes âgées et l'utilisation de leur donner les toxines (son terme pour des médicaments). Oui, lui dis-je, c'est celui-là. Il a dit, ne vous inquiétez pas, je vais faire une cérémonie combinée (santé, bien-être ainsi que pour la protection pendant le voyage). Il suffit de rester calme et d'attendre qu'il Spiritueux de faire leur travail. OK?
Ei irmão, você alcançou seu destino ainda?
Falei com Chakuoka já que ele está no Hermasillo em Sonora, no México. Mas ele disse que vai fazer a cerimônia na manhã de domingo e só até a tarde (12 horas para comer ou beber) e depois do que você pode sentir os espíritos vêm para você. Ele lembra que, segundo ele, este é o médico que costumava ir à Nacimiento cuidar do idoso e uso a dar-lhes Toxinas (seu termo para medicamentos). Sim, eu disse a ele, que é o único. Ele disse, não se preocupe, eu vou fazer uma cerimônia combinado (saúde, bem estar, bem como para a proteção durante a viagem). Basta manter a calma e esperar por ele Espíritos para fazer seu trabalho. OK?
Hola hermano, ¿ha llegado a su destino todavía?
Hablé con Chakuoka ya, él está en Hermosillo en Sonora en México. Sin embargo, dijo que va a hacer su ceremonia de la mañana del domingo y sólo hasta la tarde (doce del mediodía para comer o beber) y después de que usted puede sentir los espíritus vienen a ti. Él se acuerda de ti, dijo, este es el médico que venía a Nacimiento cuidar de los ancianos y el uso que les dan las toxinas (su término para medicamentos). Sí, le dije a él, que es la única. Él dijo, no te preocupes, voy a hacer una ceremonia combinado (salud, bienestar, así como para la protección durante el viaje). Sólo mantener la calma y esperar a que espíritus para hacer su trabajo. ¿De acuerdo?
This is symbolic healing in action, something i very heartily believe in. I told you about my sister Jackie, I realized that my trips to her was more valuable in other than medical terms. The powerful symbols of a relationshp built in the actions.
I did not ask my sister Mena for prayers or a healing ceremony, the highest form of a compliment an Indian can give you. Things have a habit of falling into place. MunChing was disturbed about going back to India before the end of the year to continue her studies in Yoga but now had postponed the voyage until the course begins in February. She feels as if a load has been lifted and feels her already intuitive connection with the native Indians. We all be blessed by this ceremony she wrote to say.
I am sitting at this post modern airport in Singapour. It is truly sad when the best thing you can say about a country is that they have a good airport and a good airline. Singapore requires a comunal healing on a national basis and those in Malaysia who blindly folllow the western materialism without the western depth in their philosophical discourses are bound to the same fate. Here I am sitting in this most modern place with lights, glitter and glamour and I have just flown half way around the world from the richeset country on Earth, pampered by Air Hostesses of the Japanese National Airlines, so that I can sacrifie my apetite, my gustatory indulgences, to drink wáter in the morning, breathe facing the trees as deeply as posible and learn the varous poses which may bring my body malleability and softness. I always remember what Pierre Merrick, my UmonHOn Indian teacher tells me: We really need to sacrifice if we are to please the spirits.
I will not go into the concept of Spirits here, may be another time. I sit here, happy and smiling like a Cheshire cat, in a couple of hours, will take the last of the eight flights since December 1,2010 when I left my French Home with its unique presence in my life.
I am looking forward to the next ten days. Apart from the Cuban Ambassador to Malaysia who has become a friend, I will also meet the four excellent citizens of Bombay and Lucknow, intellectually Sharp and broad as only East Indians can be, giving anyone a run for their neuronal abilities in a contest of words and ideas. They all can cook too. With Carlos, it will be a homage to my adopted country, my beautiful island, Cuba and the excesses of affections I have left behind there.
Thank you for all players who put on this show which is my life, a stage where we act is this entire planet and the scriptwriters are we ourselves, we dont need help from others to make us analyze. I am grateful that all of you share your love with me.. I want you to know that it is returned manyfolds back to you..
Chakuoka with a group of young Kickapoo men in the deserts of Northern Mexico
In the bottom two pictures, you see Keato who is Mena’s Son and in the photo on the right Mena can be seen on the left wearing a traditional Kickapoo woman’s every day dress.