Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta nature. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta nature. Mostrar todas las entradas

lunes, 28 de mayo de 2018

Dragon Valley


   The real treasure of the mountains was hidden beyond the highest peaks, in a very difficult to reach valley. The water there was the purest in the world and those who went there had, in general, no intention of going back. The monastery of the valley of the Dragon was the crown jewel of the mountain range, covered in gold leaf and constructed for thousands of years, with the help of every single monk that had ever arrived there to dedicate his or her life to the cause of enlightenment and knowledge.

 Men and women were allowed in the temple and they were not segregated in any way. Actually, people of every single ethnicity had at one point lived there as a monk. It was a welcoming community, who had no interest in the personal lives of their people. They only lived to achieve the highest state of knowledge and compassion. They believed humanity existed to learn all that it could and to teach others about the wonders of the universe. They thought that teaching and learning were the pillars of any civilized society.

 That’s why, once in a lifetime for every single monk, they had to live the monastery and journey to the outside world in order to teach somewhere whatever they thought people had to learn. Some went to the villages in the outskirts of the mountain range. Meanwhile, others were more adventurous and traveled further, to enormous cities and remote towns where they felt they could make a real connection with people. Each one decided the destination on his or her own, no obligations attached, except for one.

 They always had to come back. The life of the monks of the Valley of the Dragon was forever tied to the monastery. After a year outside, they were obliged to come back and dedicate the rest of their lives to further learning and teaching, in the form of writing books or painting illustrative art. They could also help restoring the building, as it was getting very old or they could even attempt to take care of the few crops and animals that they had in that remote space so far into the mountain, so high up too.

 Most of the monks never had a problem with coming back to their monastery. After all, it was there where they had felt the ray of enlightenment for the first time and that was a sensation no one could really forget or dismiss so easily. That’s why they felt compelled to go back and keep helping their fellow monks and humanity in their quest to be more cultured and aware of the wisdom that was in all things. However, they had been various exceptions of monks not coming back the moment they were supposed to, which was dealt with in the most sensitive but also serious way their community could.

 They would send another monk to the place were the person that didn’t want to go back was and they attempted to talk to them in order to understand why they want to stay in the outside world. They would hear the complaints and the thought of their fellow brothers and sisters and then they would try to make them realize how all of their fears came from places of insecurity and not from any hatred or ill will against their faith. After such a profound conversation, most runaway monks would come to their senses and head back home.

 But yes, they were very few that even after the conversation had no intention of going back. Maybe they had remembered what they had missed from the outside world and they just wanted to experience all of that more permanently. Complaints of that nature were unfounded as the monastery had found a way to use technology in their own advantage, for example protecting the most ancient texts with the help of very advances machines and using the internet to further their cause and connect with others seeking the same goal.

 The monastery had actually been in contact with several universities in the world and they would often send their monks to those places in their year of teaching, in order to exchange ideas and learn from others who were also seeking the answers in nature. It was mutually beneficial and it was an experience that could make a person grow beyond his or hers wildest dreams. Maybe even love would be born from such exchanges and the monastery welcomed it with open arms. They were not celibate.

 In recent years, the monastery had allowed the construction of small huts all around the Dragon Valley in order to accommodate some families that had decided to live there permanently. Life was much simpler, filled with hard work but with a sense of being able to actually help people in a meaningful way. That’s why every monk could decide when and where to go for his teaching year. It was left open to their choices in order to let them feel their way through life, not based on what others said.

 However, the place was still remote. Technology had also been used in order to install disruptors in the vicinity of the mountains, in order for satellite imagery to be unavailable for the whole area and to render high-tech equipment obsolete if someone wanted to find the valley through “easier” means. Whoever wanted to join the order had to do it with conviction, by foot and with effort. It couldn’t be in any other way. Men, women and children were all equals in that way and it happened to be the best way to make a proper selection of who deserved to be there and who didn’t.

 Dragon Valley was therefore a small fragment of the world that most people had never seen or even heard of in their lives. Sometimes it sounded like a myth or a legend, and people would even dismiss it as fictional. That wasn’t a problem for the people that lived there, at all.

 They would live their lives trying hard to actually have something to show for after years of studying and learning from the world around them. They tried not to just be here, doing things, but actually trying to hear the world and also speaking back to it. Their lives were always filled with purpose.

miércoles, 25 de abril de 2018

Elipo and its eagles


   For some reason, the gigantic birds liked to fly around the volcano, doing many turns until they seemed to feel it was enough, and then they flew away to their nests, down in the base of the mountain. Many scientists had regaled for many years, visiting Elipo Island and watching the beautiful red birds fly around the mountain. It was one of those beautiful thing from nature you just had to see once in your lifetime and many had already did that from their comfortable chairs at home.

 Elipo was an island that, for many years, had been left alone by civilization. But as transportations got better and faster and communications made everyone accessible in seconds, there was an urge to discover everything there was to uncover in the world around us. So many scientists embarked for remote regions, trying to document in any way, shape or form, all the new species of plants and animals that they could find. It was a new age of discovery and every single person in the world was a part of it.

 The so-called eagles of Elipo were the most interesting species that had been found in recent years in that corner of the world. They were a strange animal, as birds would normally fly long distances to make nests or get food. But the red eagles did not do that at all. They liked to stay on Elipo, flying around the volcano and then getting food in the small patch of jungle that covered must of the island. They could feed on small lizards and tiny mammals that were very agile and would give up a nice fight.

 The eagle’s favorite food was the Elipo hedgehog, an especially large kind of hedgehog that fed on various smaller animals and fruits that it found laying around in the jungle. One of the best scenes to witness for a scientist would be the fight between an eagle and a hedgehog. The first one would be coming from above, just after locating its prey visually. It would come down at full speed, trying to use the element of surprise as a weapon. The shape of such a living bullet was just an amazing thing to see.

 However, the hedgehogs had lived there as long as the eagles and they had learned to notice the changes in the wind around them in order to notice any incoming dangers. So right before the eagle could grab them to take them away, the hedgehogs would turn into a very tight ball, with all its spines rising towards the sun. The eagle would then land on the ground, unable to properly carry its food, and proceed to attack its prey with its beak. You have to remember eagles in Elipo are at least twice as big as normal eagles, so the fight would be a very interesting sight.

 The hedgehog would then stay as a ball or sometimes open up and fight the eagle with the spines in its forehead, which tended to be longer and sharper. A fight between the two animals could last a few minutes or several hours. Many scientists would disrupt these encounters by making sounds, caused by an overwhelming fatigue. No one had ever seen a long fight between those two creatures in its entirety. And most times, none of the animals ended up dead. A draw was the most common outcome.

 However, eagles won enough times to feed themselves and their young with the body of one large hedgehog. It was more than enough for most of them. Elipo was a place of harmony and animals were never “bad” or “good”, they didn’t act on despair or anything like that: they had easy access to fresh water, to food and to places were they could take care of their families. Before the arrival of humans, they had nothing to fear. As you might have guessed, not every incoming human was a scientist.

 Hordes of hunters and animal traffickers had discovered these new places were they could go and get all the animals they wanted with almost no resistance from the countries allegedly controlling the area or by the local tribes that inhabited these remotes areas of the world. They learned soon that there was no way they could stop the cruelty of the white man with their weapons, so they decided to pull back and just be silent witnesses to the horrible things those men and women did in the jungle.

 So these horrible people soon got to Elipo and got to meet the beautiful eagles and the hedgehogs they ate. The first ones to get trapped were the latter ones, as they were craved all around the worlds as pets. Besides that, they knew that by depleting the food resources of the eagles, the birds would be weaker and they would be less willing to fight them the moment the hunters and traffickers started climbing the volcano to get them. The eagles noticed very soon that something was very wrong in the island.

 After a couple of weeks, the number of hedgehogs had dropped dramatically and eagles had no real way of supporting themselves and their young. That moment was used by the evil men to climb up the mountain and start grabbing eagle eggs and young chicks from their nests. Of course, that caused a horrible respond from the eagles, which tried to defend themselves against the traffickers but that was a lost battle. Those people had guns and many other weapons, so the eagles could only scratch some of them badly before been killed or having to escape from the area.

When the scientists came back from their period of rest, they noticed that Elipo was dying. Not only the eagles were very scarcer, the hedgehogs and other animals had almost disappeared from the island. They tried to do their best to help the species gain the territories they had once held, as well as their older numbers but that seemed impossible. The traffickers had done so much damaged; it was possible no one could ever make up for it, not even if they spent years working there.

 And the scientists could not just stay there, they had to leave for a while and, when the local government realized what had happened, they banned any ships from abroad to enter the area. They argued that it would stop poaching but it really didn’t, as most traffickers used local boats and were people from the region. They had to be in order to have all the information necessary to get all those animals and their young, as well as many plants, which they sold to the pharmaceutical companies.

 The scientist decided to talk to the regional communities, especially the indigenous ones, in order for them to better protect the area. It wasn’t really a surprise when they realized that Elipo Island had always been a sort of sanctuary to them. As per their traditions, a young man had to visit the island on his fifteenth birthday. Their only task there was to climb the mountain and get a single feather from one of the birds. That meant they had become a man and they should be welcome in their communities as such.

 The scientists learned from the local peoples and they learned from the scientists new things they didn’t know about Elipo. They made an alliance to restore the island to its former glory and to fight the poachers. No weapons were used, just a lot of very smart gadgets and traps to make the evil men go away and just never return.

 Their goal was achieved, many years later, when the government recognized its poor treatment of the situation. As for the animals, that was another story. The  eagle community had been severely damaged and recovering it would take a lot longer, if it worked at all.

lunes, 16 de octubre de 2017

Two Theresa's

   Theresa had just come out of the asylum. She wasn’t supposed to call it that but she found it was better to call things by their name. She had been there for five months, after suffering a very serious mental breakdown in her office. Thing had been thrown, insults had been hurled and the police had to be called to stop her from hurting more people. Things had really gone badly that day and she had to accept, in front of a judge, the condition of getting help in the insane asylum.

 Her stay there had been largely uneventful, except for the screams she had to hear every single night, that prevented her from sleeping like a normal person. Besides that, she had to go to the shrink every single day, for an hour, and also to group therapy once a week. It was a lot of talking, of listening and of showing others how she felt and looking at people hurting from their pasts or presents. It was kind of tiring at the beginning, but it eventually became part of the routine.

 Same happened with the meds. Her doctor had assigned a certain prescription to her at first, but then it was change several times during her stay in the asylum. The things she had to take, with a little sip of water, kept getting stronger. She had begun losing grip of reality. After having a crisis in her cell, she decided to leave the meds and just pretend she was taking them. It wasn’t easy because they checked everyone afterwards, but she was able to make one of her new friends take them.

 The first week she spent outside of the asylum, she realized how mean that had been. Making someone unstable taker her meds could have been potentially destructive for said person and maybe even for herself. However, she knew that those chemicals would have never helped her at all. She just needed to get away from everything, she needed silence and calm, as well as some time away from everything that bothered her, starting with her job and her family. In short, she needed some sort of holiday.

 That’s why she liked to tell people that her stay in the asylum had been uneventful, just something he had to do in order to please the society that had deemed her unfit to be in society. She tried to fake her hatred of the system and decided to get a job that wouldn’t be as stressful as the one she had before. Over two months after her release, Theresa was able to get employed in a flower shop, taking care of the plants and also attending costumers when the owner wasn’t around. It was a very calm environment, perfect for her. Free of stress and fear.

 However, her family was still around maybe even more than before. Theresa had tried hard to make them understand she needed time for herself, in order to get well again. But they didn’t care about that at all. They were too busy thinking about how others would perceive them. Her mother had many friends all over the city and she had even received some gossip about her own daughter that Theresa just refused to discuss. She had no need or urge to comment on any of it with her mother.

 Her father had been dead for a couple of years and her mother and siblings would always say, when she was around, that it was better that way in order for her not to shame the family name and her father’s prestige in front of the rest of the community. They behaved as if they were kings and queens or something very similar. It was a relief when Donna, the owner of the flower shop, asked her to go for a short period of time to the small town from where she received the flower shipments.

 Apparently, they had been having problems with some of the plants and they needed to get them in line because Valentine’s Day was coming soon and that was their big day of the year for sales. Theresa had shown so much interest in the business and in the plants as themselves, that Donna thought it would be perfect to send her to represent the company. She would have to visit several plantations and tell them exactly what they were looking for, in order to improve sales and wealth for everyone involved.

 She accepted the moment Donna proposed her plan to her. She left a week later, without telling her family or anyone else. She just grabbed a suitcase and hopped on the bus. She arrived there and discovered how beautiful real nature was, how calm really looked and how people lived without so much tension from urban life. She hadn’t realized how her rough lifestyle had been an important factor in the development of her emotional crisis. City life almost killed her.

 When she arrived, Theresa was supposed to stay up to three weeks in the town, travelling to other parts of the region every day. However, she ended up staying more than two months. She only came back to help Donna with all the craziness of Valentine’s Day. Once the season ended, she went back to the countryside. No one ever knew what she did there but the truth was that she had been hired to do the same thing she did in the flower shop. The only difference was that she did it in the open; with real sunlight caressing her skin and that was priceless.

 Her family looked for her through email, mobile and telephone, but they never got to her because she had taken a step back from most of the things the modern world could offer. She visited an Internet café once a week to read some news and chat with Donna and other friends, but that was mostly it for her technological life. Most days were spent in the fields, sweating from early morning to sundown. It was hard work but she loved feeling so tired that no thoughts ran through her mind.

 She would be the first person to wake up, feed the chickens and pigs and then help in the field, doing whatever they asked her to do. She loved tending to roses, sunflowers and dahlias, but she would also work on a potato plantation and picking strawberries and grapes. It was always changing but it was good money for only one person. She eventually got to save enough to have her own little house, from were she could travel by foot to any of her jobs, no matter what she had to do.

 Before her breakdown she had been one of those women that never touched anything without a real necessity. She had a chauffeur to pick her up from her meetings and then take her back home or to the office. She had a maid to cook for her and two assistants that helped her much more than she would admit to. She would be very cold to all of them. Cold wouldn’t be the word as she was never outright mean, she just wasn’t one of those people that liked to hang out with others.

 Looking back at her past, she thought that woman in her memories was someone she couldn’t really recognize. That woman, through some sort of creep psychological magic, had been locked away in the asylum, with all the other crazy people. She was a danger to herself and others and it had been quite a difficult task to get rid of her. Because, before anything else, Theresa had to realize how bad everything was before taking the road to a better life, which is exactly what she did.

 Eventually, she met someone she was able to fall in love with. He was the first person there, in the countryside, to know who she had been and how much she had changed. He praised her for that and acknowledged her might every day of their life together.


 As for her mother and siblings, they kept trying to reach her but she never went back to the city. She just wrote them a letter telling them how her life was now much better than before and she had no need to go back to a place so toxic for her.

lunes, 12 de junio de 2017

Rainfall

Rain falls. That's what it does. But it doesn't do it always in the same way. Sometimes, rain feels almost extraterrestrial, as it fell not from the sky, but from some awful place, far in space. Other times, you would think it comes from a land made of candy, created for children or for people that love a nice piece of heaven in their mouths. Wherever it comes from, rain is one of those things that makes us feel truly alive, specially when it rolls down our faces and bodies.
Rain is water but it can also burn when the body it touches is not pure, full of guilt and all those pathetic human feelings that fester inside brain and heart. Water cannot wash way all of our evil. It's not acid, even when it feels like it. Some cannot feel all of its properties. There are people that could swim for hours and never feel clean, not truly. Hot or cold, the liquid is not enough to wash away everything that is wrong with the human soul, and humankind in general. People won't be saved.
Rain won't do It and nothing else will. On other worlds, it rains gasoline and diamonds. So we all have that in common: things will Jeep falling on our heads, no matter what we think about the universe. The brain might have an understanding of how mostly everything works but when we're all dead, that won't matter. Water will still be water and gasoline will keep falling from the sky unto someone else's head. And it won't matter if we were here, if we attempted to understand this place or not.
Rain won't care. Nothing will. Because we don't want to understand that se are all here for a little while. We were given some seconds on the clock of existence and that time will run out. No matter how much we try, we won't be here forever and our existence will leave no trace. No wonder or creation made by our hands will remain to tell our story. This scares us more than we want to admit, but that's how it works, no Gods in question. One moment we are here, the next we're not.
Rain, however, will stay. Until the very end.

martes, 4 de octubre de 2016

The swamp

   Everyone and everything had been thrown into the swamp. The plane crashed violently in the middle of the night and all the safety and security services had been dispatched to help. The bad thing was that the area was very remote with no roads and nor real ways to access except by foot, which would take several days for any person, even the most knowledgeable as the swamp was concerned. They also send helicopters and drones, which could see the fire, caused by the fuel, but could do nothing else than watch, as there were no spots to land.

 The families of the victims traveled from their homes to the nearest town but they were soon frustrated to now that the area was difficult in every sense of the word. Besides, the imagery registered by many cameras showed that the fire had already caused explosions and most of the actual plane was now destroyed. The likelihood of anyone been able to survive that was very remote but most families stayed in town, trying to join the rescue teams or at least attempting to be useful somehow before the pain and the tragedy hit them hard in their hearts.

 With machetes, firemen and policemen tried to cut down some of the swamp trees. That wasn’t very well received by the many people whose job was to protect that green area. They realized the destruction caused by the plane could not be prevented but they thought that cutting more trees to be able to only access a couple of more meters of swamp was just stupid. Not only because the trees got thicker and less likely to be cut the more they advanced, but also because of the legends surrounding the place, which people from the nearby town knew so well too.

 The lady that ran the only decent diner in town was the one who told the families of the victims about the legend of the swamp. It was said that in ancient times prehistoric men started to come in the area and that when they tried to travel further the swamp didn’t let them. Some of the people in the tribe wanted to go through it, others around it. So they divided into two groups but only one remained. The one that penetrated the forest never came out. It is said that they remained in there and that they evolved differently than the rest of humanity.

 Someone else explained that it was a legend similar to the one of Big Foot but in a swamp. Many people had seen the creature or at least that’s what they said. Fifty years ago, the place was not a wildlife reserve so people would go in to fish and hunt. There were many stories from that time about the green gigantic men that roamed all over the swamp. Some said they helped stranded people; others portrayed them as savage beasts capable of eating human flesh. Either way, the families of the victims were not really thrilled about the idea of a beast attempting to eat their people.

 The fire caused by the jet fuel lasted for two days until a storm helped and extinguished it for good. Drones and helicopters were used again but at a lower altitude now that they didn’t have to handle smoke or flames. Their fly-by’s only showed the few pieces left of the planes and the black water below those pieces. They even detected pieces of clothing and some objects that any passenger would have like a suitcase or a doll. But there were no bodies or parts of bodies. They could not detect any victim, dead or alive, and that was tragic.

 The general thought was that the fire had burned the bodies to a crisp, especially after having been alive for two days. The force of the impact also had to be accounted for. The most possible outcome was for every single person to have died because of the fire and not even because of the violent crash. Those news were very hard on the families who started leaving the small town right after the announcement. Most of them felt everything was done for them there.

 However, some family members stayed. They insisted on having at least some bones to bury, some of their objects or anything they could mourn with. They needed something, anything really, to start the long and painful process of mourning. Some had lost children, some others fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. The plane had been at full capacity on a very popular route. The tragedy was just too big to ignore. The remaining family members decided to help police and firemen with the look for the black boxes.

 Those were essential to understanding how everything had happened. It would help bring some closure to the people touched by the accident and it would also bring much needed answers to the investigators because the causes of why the planned had crashed were not at all clear. The aircraft had passed its last revision only a few months ago and had flown that exact route thousands of times. The night it went down, there was no storm or atmospheric phenomena that would explain the crash.

 The small town saw a surge of people coming in and out: reporters, investigators and even curious people that knew everything about the swamp and were dying to know what the crash meant for the alleged creatures that lived in there. All of those people came and went for weeks, doing different things to find answers, not always looking for the same ones. But as they did what they felt they had to do, they had neglected to check other areas of the swamp. Areas that were even more remotely located than the crash landing site.

The swamp was a very large natural entity. It was such a big part of the region that many roads had to do go around it, making travel very difficult around that corner of the Earth. The plane had crashed in the area where smaller trees grew. The area was almost always flooded because of the nearby rivers the swamp helped in regulating. The importance of the ecosystem was so high that the people of the region had been the ones to ask the government to protect the swamp, thus guaranteeing a good flow of the rivers, which would give them fish and energy.

 That was the reason why people didn’t really care about the swamp, as long as it was there to do its natural job. However some occasionally tried to get it in order to find the alleged creature that lived there. The interest arose briefly after the plane crash. However, weeks later, there was no one very interested in creatures no one had seen in years. They were more concerned with the swamp turning into a graveyard and the consequences of the fuel that had been poured into the water. They were more concerned with that than anything else.

 So worried that they ignored the signs coming fro mother parts of the swamps. Unusual movements of the plants, incipient fires and large creatures swimming that were not alligators. People had ultimately survived from the crash but no one was watching in their direction. They were just three people: two adults and a child. They didn’t have any connection among them except that they were seating on the same row of the plane. That row was expelled far from the plane and that was the reason why they had survived.

 However, that was to be seen as they had no food, the water they were swimming was probably polluted by the jet fuel and there were animals all around, trying to have something to eat. They had tried going from tree to tree but that was hard and one of the adults was very injured. Swimming was the alternative but they had to do it during the day, in order to know if alligators or similar were around the area. They moved away from the crash site, thinking they would be seen more easily if they did so but that proved to be false.


 The adult who was injured died three days after the crash, as he slept on a tree. The kid and the other adult tried to move onwards but it was practically impossible, as the swamp seemed to be less “open” as they advanced with the river. On the fifth day, they saw a helicopter. When they tried to wave to it, the branch of the tree they were holding on broke and they both fell to the water, near a group of reptiles. As the animals got closer to attack, another creature appeared out of nowhere, knocked out the flesh eaters and helped the kid and the adult out of the water. It was a big, greenish creature. And it seemed to smile.