Columbus Wuz Here Columbus Lighthouse, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

There is controversy whether this is a lighthouse and whether Columbus’s bones are really inside the not so small ornate iron box in the center of this ornate display.

Columbus found this island on the first of his four voyages to the New World. Interestingly enough, he never set foot on America’s soil but set up his family  comfortably in the Dominican Republic to give them a good life and claim to  lands he discovered for the King of Spain.

He was a visionary, as well as a businessman, and having audience with Kings and Queens is no easy task because, being important people, their time is worth more than ours. Mounting an expedition that was going to the ends of the world was a dangerous  enterprise.

This memorial is not really a lighthouse, and,not attractive. I’m guessing the great man would have rather remained in the Cathedral in Parque Colon, but, he had no choice. His bones couldn’t stand up and speak up for him.

The big things I learn today are that, when walking, things you see are much further to get to than they look. Whenever you get lost, call a taxi and pay a few bucks to get where you want to go so you don’t  spend your entire trip walking in  circles.

It seems odd to celebrate a man who discovered America, and odd I’m standing here taking a photo of what we are told is the explorer’s final resting place?

He and his beloved Santa Maria , right now, are most likely somewhere north, northeast of Mars navigating under celestial lights on dark dark seas with only a compass and telescope. He is doing in the next world what he did in this one.

His bones might be here, but he doesn’t need them for his new discoveries.



Love Machine Squeeze the Handle


In the lobby of the County Line Barbecue, there is a special love machine for testing your love potentials.The machine is right inside the restaurant’s front door, and, as you wait for your table to open up, is hard to ignore.

This ” Love Machine ” costs a quarter for its diagnosis, and, for your quarter, you can see how you measure up on the love chart by putting your hand firmly around a special handle, squeezing firmly, and waiting for your diagnosis to shoot off like firecrackers, fireworks, or duds.

We humans like to measure. We hook up our cars to diagnostic apparatus, we use dip sticks to check oil and transmission fluids, we use IQ tests to measure intellectual ability, we use polls to decide who to elect to be our next President.

Whether this ‘Love” test is really accurate ,or scientific, is a different test.

Most of our science isn’t as true as we think it is, and, even when it is true, we often don’t believe what it tells us .Humans tend to be more superstitious than scientific. Wearing lucky socks when you watch your favorite team’s basketball game, for a championship, isn’t very rational.

Most of the stuff we should be measuring, we don’t have the instruments to measure anyway.

For those in love, people don’t need a machine to tell them how they feel.

A better sign of whether you are in love, or not, is to look at your credit card statement.

Be Happy – Stay Happy.


Lucky Chair Horseshoes for luck

Under the ” Home of the Big Rib ” rib, as you walk towards one of several back dining rooms at the County Line Barbecue, is a lucky chair.

We all have our favorite chairs. Yours might be an old recliner that you found on the sidewalk with a ‘ Take Me ” sign pinned to it like a donkey’s tail. It might be an ancient folding chair you drag out of your garage and open up on your front porch like folks did in the old days. Your favorite chair might have a hard back, torn cushions, scratched legs where your dog or cat wanted to get your attention.

My favorite “LUCKY’ chair, this evening, is made from horseshoes. I sit down in it to improve my luck as I listen to the ” Radiators ” slip into a blues tune in the bar.

Some artisan has collected these worn horseshoes and has welded them into a quirky,quite comfortable chair, and, as I sit ,and tap my right toe to the music, I feel my luck coming back in spades.

Barbecue, horseshoes, cattle, branding irons and the Old West go hand in hand and those old time cowboys sure didn’t live on just jerky, pitching horseshoes and playing poker.

You can’t tell me they didn’t fix themselves an occasional barbecue dinner in the middle of a long cattle drive across wild and hostile Indian country and blame Indians for the lost steer.

On reflection, if my new luck starts to weaken, me and this chair are going to have another therapy session.

When I come back next time, I’m going to try this chair again for a luck recharge, eat all the ribs I can, and ask for a sarsaparilla root beer.

Luck, these days, is hard to come by, and the Sandia Indian Pueblo Casino is just down the street.


Kid Sculpture Shopping area in the Fountain Hills Park

Art, in many localities, is given a budget by city hall. Artists are commissioned to produce public art for public consumption. Public art springs up in parks, in downtown open spaces near city halls, by busy streets and intersections. The art is most often not controversial and makes people think about something other than themselves.

This modest sculpture, of kids climbing a rock feature, is close to shops by the business edge of the Fountain Hills park.

The boys in this sculpture want to climb.The girl cradles her baby sister and admires a flower.

Boys and girls were never made to be the same.

We all love to climb, but we don’t all have to climb the same mountains.

There are plenty of mountains I can’t scale but does that make me less important than you?

Do women really want to put their men in the back seat of the car?



Figures on front and back gates Cathedral, Zona Colonia, Santo Domingo

The front and back metal gates to the massive Cathedral, in the center of the Zona Colonia, are not four hundred years old. They look that old, however, and the faces sculpted unto them look eternal and primordial.

There are the faces of Luke, Mark, Matthew and John from the Bible. There are faces that show basic human emotions that continue, regardless of time. There are insignia of the Spanish Crown, familial and political dynasties. The faces remind me of Gothic figures peering down from old churches in Europe telling us we are not perfect and will be rewarded for our sins in terrible ways I cannot imagine, even in my most harrowing of dreams.

Each art form tries to convey human emotions with its own materials and methods.

Music uses sound to suggest romantic interludes, fierce battles, fear invoking scenes. Art uses color and line to show the three dimensional world on two dimensional surfaces. Sculpture, as done by old masters, uses clay, bronze, marble or stone to show us who we are and who we should be. These weathered faces on the gates convey anger, remorse, pain, love, tenderness, regret, hope, betrayal.

These faces draw me closer instead of pushing me away.

I would like it better if one of these guys was laughing.

Even back then, people liked a good joke, even if it’s telling sometimes got them locked up in the dungeon.


Delicia de la Juan Restaurant Breakfast today

This little restaurant is one street north of the D’Beatrice Comida Criolla.

At lunch yesterday, there was a line almost out the door and all the tables inside were occupied.This morning, its doors are open for breakfast. It is quiet and a cool breeze rushes through the room from the Caribbean Sea, a few blocks to the south.

Regulars are finishing, joking, getting ready to go to work, all men in their forties and fifties going to jobs to support their families.

The bill is one hundred pesos.-  less than morning coffee and a cherry pie back home at McDonalds.

The beauty of the Zona Colonia is that you find new twists and turns every day. As a traveler, everything is new, and by the time it stops being new, you go home. When you get home, the travel spirit carries over and you see your own home with new eyes and a new heart.

Keeping your spirit open is a daily responsibility.

Who wants a dead spirit in a live body?



Juan Voight-Artis Plastic @instagram Juan Rodriquez Artista

Just off Colon Plaza, straight east past the Pizzerella pizza parlor, Juan shows up to work every day.

He says he has been an artist since he was a little boy, teaches at the college just behind his little outdoor work space, and makes his living as a full time artist. He works deliberate. Watercolors demand precision, a good sense not to let the brush stay too long in one place, be too wet or have too much color in the bristles. Watercolors can be quirky, like water itself.

Juan’s items for sale include originals, but, also popular, are postcards he runs off in series of 100 and sells three for $10.00 U.S. His prints are of scenes one sees in the Zona Colonia – the Cathedral, the Plaza Espana, the Parque Colon, the Alcazar de Don Colon.

Juan remembers me from an earlier conversation and takes the time to make me a special carrying pocket for my postcards, carefully recording his name and instagram gallery url on the outside.

I think of Carlos Paez Valario, the Uruguay artist ,and Roberto Ibarra, in Montevideo.

I remember the Cerulean Gallery in Amarillo.

I can see my mother’s works hung in our childhood home.

I visualize street art of Columbia, Ecuador, Uruguay and the Dominican Republic.

Juan’s works are a combination of creative spirit tempered by the hands of a draftsman.

The medium you work in makes demands and helps determine your process and product.

Scotttreks postcards average two hundred words each.

You can’t say too much in two hundred words but you never want to say too little.


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