All posts by Dale

Travel Tales and Snapshots

Diane and I love to travel, especially to other countries. Ever since we were volunteers in the Peace Corps to Chile in the 1960s we have traveled to many places, including most countries and territories within the following regions: South America, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Polynesia, Middle East, and North America. In fact, we have been in over 70 countries. 

We began our travels abroad in 1966 as Peace Corps Volunteers in Santiago, Chile, where we lived from August 1966 until December 1968. After leaving Chile and traveling for another four months, with many stops in Peru, Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago, we finally arrived home to Minnesota sometime in April, 1969. Some day I (we) will write about our many Peace Corps Volunteer-related adventures from the late 1960s, or what I refer to as our formative years as grownups.

I first began this section of my web page, which I title “Travel Tales and Snapshots,” in 2013 with small essays about and digital photographs from various cruises and other travels from that year to the present. These short stories are constantly being updated. Additionally, I am in the early stages of writing stories about earlier travels. Fortunately, in our current process of “down sizing” I have come across some itineraries and other documents that help to refresh my memory. I begin by simply entering the data from those sources, and later I will try to turn them into interesting stories. Thus, some of the middle and later Travel Snapshots are currently more interesting than the early ones.

 

Travels in 1966-1968

Puerto Rico: Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) Language Training 

June-August, 1966.

Diane and I were accepted into Peace Corps Volunteer training in the spring of 1966. We were married in June 1965, so the training period was almost like a second honeymoon. We spent our first month or so at the University of Washington where we had a wonderful time at beautiful “U-dub” campus in the Lake Washington area of greater Seattle. We visited the Cascade Mountains, saw Mount Rainier every day, visited Seattle’s highlights, cruised on Puget Sound and crossed over to Victoria, Canada, and had many other new experiences. After our initial training in Washington state, we went for almost another month to Puerto Rico for advanced language training. There we had to find housing on our own near the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in Rio Piedras. We found a wonderful family to live with, which enabled us to continue to become converse in Spanish. Being at the University of Puerto Rico gave us an opportunity to meet and interact with Spanish-speaking faculty members, which was important because our program in the Peace Corps was University Education and were all going to be teachers in Chile. We took several excursions with fellow Peace Corps trainees and also several UPR faculty members. The highlights of our traveling in PR were visiting El Yugue rainforest, Luquillo Beach to the east of San Juan, and Old San Juan. Walking the streets of Rio Piedras was memorable, because we would hear coquis (tiny frogs) but could never see them; we have never forgotten their loud calls — “koKEE, koKEE.” After several months we flew back home to Minnesota, to New York City, and then to Santiago, Chile as PCVs.

 

Chile and beyond

June 1966-December 1968.

More than 50 years ago Diane and I lived in Santiago, Chile, where we worked as Peace Corp Volunteers. During that time we traveled throughout much of Chile from its far north in the Atacama Desert to Puerto Mont in south/central Chile. We also visited Buenos Aires in northern Argentina, Ushuaia in the extreme south on the Beagle Canal, took a train across the pampas from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, and hitchhiked across the Andes from Mendoza to Santiago. Some of these areas and trips will be discussed below, on chronological order.

January 20-30, 1967. Chilean lake district: Temuco, Llaima Volcano, Lago Conillio; Osorno Volcano, Lagos (lakes) xxx and Todos los Santos. I wrote the following in a letter to my parents on January 23, 1967: “We’ve been taking our time (by train and hitchhiking) from Santiago to the central/south of Chile known as the lake district, seeing some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever seen. Arriving in Temuco, we visited a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) couple at their small cabin that they built themselves on an isolated hill with a perfect view of Mount Llaima, an active volcano. They work with the Chilean Mapuche Indians. From their house we drove north on a farm road with them, another PCV couple who work in forestry, and a Chilean couple, agrarian specialists who drove their vehicle. Soon the farm road ended and we continued driving on narrow winding path on a black lava field created by the large volcano. Before too long we reached Lago Verde from where the path continued into forests of Araucanian pines, bamboo groves, and moss-covered trees, with the snow capped Andes mountains ahead of us. We finally arrived at Lago Conillo, our destination, and what a beautiful sight it was, with its crystal clear water, backdrop of snow capped mountains, and green forests — completely unexploited by tourism. There we fished, hiked, and ate our picnic lunch.” Today, this beautiful area is a Chilean National Park, which includes ski-tows and ski-runs up and down the snow-capped Llaima Volcano. We were so fortunate to see it in a truly pristine state.

December 20, 1967-January 5, 1968. We were able to travel to the very south of Chile and Tierra del Fuego in Argentina over Christmas 1967 and New Year’s 1968, which is in the middle of the summer in the southern hemisphere, when many of the Chileans in Santiago go on vacation. We flew to Punta Arenas where we slept in our sleeping bags in the garage of an American missionery family. We had no contacts in the town, and made the missionary contact by explaining our hopes and needs to two Canadian clerks in an English-speaking Christian book store. Our American missionary hosts were wonderful, and Diane and I even performed flute and piano music in his little church on a Sunday morning.

While living with them, they invited us to go with them to the Torres de Paine region where they planned to gather rocks to build a fireplace in his house. This was a wonderful opportunity to visit that outstandingly scenic, rugged, and unspoiled region in the high southern Andes, long before it became a Chilean national park. Torres de Paine (“Towers of Paine” in the far south on the Strait of Magellan and in the Chilean Pategonia region). This photo is a selfie from 1967 of us posing on a hill with Cuernos del Paine (“Horns of Paine,” a particular mountain in Torres de Paine region) in the background. We were so fortunate to visit that outstandingly scenic, rugged, and unspoiled region in the high southern Andes of Patagonia, long before it became a Chilean national park.

After Punta Arenas we hitched a ride on a freighter to cross the Strait of Magellan to Porvenir, a small Chilean village on the north shore of Tierra del Fuego. Our plan was to hitchhike to Ushuaia, Argentina, on the Beagle Canal in the south of Tierra del Fuego. We were lucky to hitch a ride in the back of a pickup truck (the driver had a rifle in his back window, which was concerning to us in that extremely lonely part of the world) to Cerro Sombrero at the Argentine border in eastern Tierra del Fuego. We were told that Portenos (people from Buenos Aires) or other Argentinos from Rio Gallegos often drive to Ushuaia for the holidays, and that we should be able to hitch a ride south. Once we arrived in Cerro Sombrero and went through customs, a wonderful family (mom, dad, and 2 pre-teen daughters) from Buenos Aires stopped and agreed to transport us young gringos. It was a most interesting trip, as the road over the mountain pass above Lago Fagnano was mostly mud. We had to get out and push! 

In Ushuaia

Diane horseback riding in Ushuaia in 1967.

 

July 15-16, 1968. Festival of the Virgen de Carmen, La Tirana, Chile.  experiences 

September 7-8, 1968. Festival of the Virgen de Guadalupe, Aiquina, Chile.  experiences 

September 29, 1968. Festival of the Virgen de Merced, Isla de Maipo, Chile.  experiences

October 6, 1968. Festival of the Virgen del Rosario, Andacollo, Chile.  experiences 

 

Travels in 1968-1969

Peru, Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago

December 1968-April 1969.

After living nearly 3 years in Santiago our term of service ended and we became former Peace Corp Volunteers. We had saved up some money and chose to travel around South America for several months before returning home. On a previous trip to Brazil we had arranged jobs in Rio de Janeiro as teachers of English at the Brazilian American Cultural Center oh, so that was our destination 4 several months at least we thought.

Peru — We began our long trip home to Minnesota by flying to Arica in Northern Chile. From there we took a train over the high Andes to La Paz, Bolivia. After a few days in that very high city we continued by train to Cusco (also Cuzco), Peru. It was in that beautiful former capital of the Incas, just as we neared the train station, that we had our only bad experience during our entire time in South America. As the train neared its final destination in Cusco, most of the passengers got up, gathered their overhead luggage, and stood in the aisle. There was no luggage checking system on the train, and our main suitcase was so large that we had to leave it at the end of our train car, rather than take it with us to our seats. Because there was so much commotion and congestion as people were rushing to get off the train, our suitcase was stolen within seconds of stopping. We assume that even before passengers could get off, robbers climbed aboard and stole all of our luggage; or else, some other passengers stole it; perhaps it was prearranged. Regardless, our large suitcase contained all of our clothes, many personal items for day-to-day living, some gifts, teaching supplies, and other items. Thankfully, I had earlier removed my new Powell flute from the suitcase. What I did lose, however, were all the tape recordings that I had made while doing fieldwork at several religious folk festivals in Chile — materials that I was hoping to use for a future dissertation. Fortunately, several of our friends–former Peace Corps volunteers that we were traveling with–gave us some clothes that they didn’t need, and we survived until we could purchase replacements. On the bright side, our traveling became much easier now that we were no longer burdened by our huge suitcase. Perhaps it was a godsend.

We had a great time in Cusco and environs, nevertheless. It was the first time we had ever seen Incan ruins–in Cusco, Machu Picchu, and other sites in the sacred valley of the Incas. About ten of us former PCVs traveled together to Machu Picchu in a second-class train car. I remember the third class box cars that were filled with Peruvian peasants. When we arrived at the stop for Machu Picchu we had to walk up the long road (called the Hiram Bingham Highway) to the ruins. In 1968, the current tourist hotel in Machu Picchu did not exist and there were no tourist accommodations. However, we were able to sleep in the ruins. There was one ruin that had a thatched-roof and hay on the floor for sleeping, and with our sleeping bags we were allowed to stay there several nights at no charge. In the photograph you see a number of us posing by the main window or entrance. It was a memorable and wonderful experience to wake up in the morning surrounded by mist and clouds. I had great fun playing my Peruvian kena (quena) flute each evening, as others read paragraphs from  Hiram Bingham’s book about his discovery of Machu Picchu. We all enjoyed our special time together thinking about Incan antiquity and what it might have been like living in Machu Picchu over 500 years ago. 

 

Travels in 1970

Summer in Mexico

June-August.

Shortly after our return from three years in South America, Diane and I moved to the Chicago area in the summer of 1969. I landed a great summer job playing second flute in the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, and Diane worked as a computer programmer for Northwest Railroad. In late August I accepted a position as assistant professor at a college in Arkansas as flute instructor and Diane was unemployed; at several job interviews she was asked, “Why do you want a job? Doesn’t your husband work at the college?). That inspired her to seek a grant to go to graduate school, and before long she was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to study Latin American Studies at UCLA. She said to me, “I’m going to UCLA for my masters this fall. You had better apply to their music program if you want to come along.” Apply I did, and accepted I was–into the UCLA musicology program to study Latin American music. We both decided right then and there to resign from my position at the end of the spring quarter, leave Arkansas, and spend the summer in Mexico. That endeaver had two important benefits: we could save money and we could learn about Mexican culture, history, literature, archaeology, anthropology, music, and more. We loaded up a U-Haul trailer and drove–with our cat and Diane pregnant–to Brownsville, Texas. There we left our trailer filled with all of our belongings (including our dear cat, Canela) with one of my former students, and continued driving our 1960 Ford to Mexico City. We lived with the neighbor of a friend of Diane’s parents, and we alternated weeks by studying at the Benjamin Franklin American Culture Center and traveling in our car to a number of places in Mexico (our travel goal was to visit every archaeological site in central Mexico). The following travel snapshot will highlight some of our explorations, as best as we can remember 51 years ago.

Mexico City, Tenochtitlan, Teotihuacan, 

Puebla and Chalupa

Michoacán: Sierra Nevada de Toluca, Playa Azul

Tsintsuntsan: Patzcuaro, San Miguel, Tula

Cuernavaca and San Miguel de Allende

Taxco

Oaxaca

Palenque

Progresso

Chichen Itza

Uxmal

Isla Mujeres

 

Travels in 1972, 1973, and 1974

The Delta Amacuro Rainforest of Venezuela

June-August 1972.

March 16-30, 1973.

June 1974.

These travel tales and snapshots are personal stories derived from my many months over several of fieldwork with the Warao Indians of Venezuela. Currently, a long essay with photos and audio files titled “Ethnomusicology as Advocacy…” already exists on my website, at the very end of the complete Travel Tales and Snapshots from where you are now. I will not add other Warao stories here, so please scroll down to read about my rainforest research and adventures.

 

Travels in 1973

Japan

June-August.

We (Diane, 2 1/2 year old son Darin, and I) went to Japan during the summers of 1973, upon my graduation from UCLA. We lived in the Tenri Kyo Overseas Mission Headquarters in Tenri, Nara province, Japan, as guests of my shakuhachi teacher, Mitsuru Yuge. We spent a lot of time in Nara and Kyoto. We attended the Gion Matsuri (festival) in Kyoto.

 

Travels in 1974

Venezuela, Colombia, and Peru

dates

Fieldwork travel experiences as an NEH grantee.

Venezuela. Back to the Orinoco Delta. Attending the Festival of San Juan in xxx.

 

Colombia

Peru

 

 

Travels in 1979

Peru

May 21 to September 15.

For four months I lived in Peru as a Fulbright Fellow, teaching in Lima and conducting fieldwork in various regions of the Peruvian Andes. Diane and our 8 year-old son, Darin, joined me for a month from July 12 to August 14.

Several of my fieldwork research excursions were to attend religious folk festivals in the Peruvian Andes. Andean Catholicism, or “folk Catholicism,” is the syncretic blending of ancient pre-Spanish religious traditions with Spanish Catholic traditions into something new. In the Andes, pre-Catholic fertility, harvest, and other indigenous rituals have fused with Catholic calendrical and patron saint celebrations. The results are combinations of both, although the degrees of syncretism cannot be effectively measured.

Virgen of Carmen Festival. One of the patronal festivals I researched was the celebration of the Virgin of Carmen in the very small community of Alto Otuzco, Cajamarca, in the northern Peruvian Andes. Carmen is the female patron saint (personified as the Holy Virgin) of many communities in Peru. Her celebration is July 16, which occurs in the Quechua month of Anta Situa (Earthly Purification), making it a folk Catholic version of a cleansing ritual. Thus, an obvious religious syncretism is observed. I attended this celebration in 1979, when the entire festival was run by the villagers themselves, because the parish priest became bored and left, according to the villagers I talked with. The music for this festival was performed by two kinds of aerophones, called clarín and flauta y caja

The clarín is a sideblown bamboo tube “trumpet” measuring from nine to eleven feet in length with a metal cone bell on its distal end. It is pictured here being held vertically, but not played. This instrument may have its origins in ancient Peru, because clay trumpets were used by the Moche on the northern coast of Peru. The fact that the clarín is sideblown rather than endblown, however, makes it unique.

The flauta y caja (flute and drum) pictured below is similar to the Spanish pipe-and-tabor, where one musician plays both a vertical fipple flute and a drum at the same time (like a one-man-band). This combination was common in the European Renaissance, and the technique was probably brought to Peru (and Mexico) by the Spanish.

The ancient Peruvians, however, played panpipes and drums at the same time, so the one-man-band idea was known and practiced by them (although the tradition was more common in southern Peru than in the north).

Saint John the Baptist Festival. Another religious folk festival I researched was San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist), which took place in the small village of Acolla in the northern Mantaro Valley region of central Peru. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travels in 1981

Peru and Brazil

May 27 to June 8.

I returned to Lima, Peru for about two weeks to continue my fieldwork with Japanese-Peruvian musicians. On June 9, I flew to Sao Paul, Brazil, to begin fieldwork with Japanese-Brazilian musicians. On July 26 Diane and Darin arrived and we toured various regions of Brazil, including Iguazu Falls and Rio de Janeiro. They accompanied me to various musical performances and gatherings in Sao Paulo as well. We returned to Florida on August 30.

 

Travels in 1985

European Adventure: England, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, and Spain 

July 21-September 2.

Fly from Orlando to Manchester, England; car rental to tour Buxton, Stratford-upon-Avon, central England (July 22-27); train to Newcastle on Tyne and Danish Seaways Ferry to Goteborg, Sweden (July 28-29); Stockholm with Karin Sharma (July 29-August 7): attend ICTM in Stockholm and Helsinki, Finland; Purchase 1982 Volvo diesel 240 in Stockholm; drive to Oslo and close to Bergen, Norway (August 9-11); drive to Denmark, visiting Copenhagen, Arhus, Skagen (August 12-14); drive in Germany, Mosel and Rhine River regions (Aug. 15-17); drive to Paris, Chartre, Pontiers, Anguoleme, France (Aug. 18-22); drive to Burgos, Madrid, Avila, Cordoba, Andalusia, Barcelona, Spain (Aug. 23-28); drive through France to Florence, Italy (Aug. 29-Sept. 2).

 

Travels in 1985-1986

Italy: Teaching with the FSU Florence Program

September 2-January 3.

Teaching, Exploring, Skiing, and Researching in Italy (Fall Semester at the FSU Florence Overseas Study Center). Fall semester teaching from September 9-December 11 while living in Florence; field trips with faculty and students: Sienna and San Gimignano, Rome; Etruscan research trips and other tours with Diane and Darin: Tuscan hill towns, Oviedo, Tarquinia, Milan and Lake Como, Bologna and Venice, Elba, Pisa, Lugano, skiing in Cortina d’Ampezzo, etc.; drive to and stay in Paris (Dec. 19-26); drive to Antwerp, Belgium to leave Volvo for shipping to Florida (Dec. 27-28); train to and stay in London (Dec. 28-Jan. 3); fly to Tallahassee (Jan. 3, 1986).

 

Travels in 1987

The Netherlands, Germany, etc.

dates.

experiences

 

Travels in 1993

Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China, Korea

dates.

I had a sabbatical for the Fall semester of 1993, and I had invitations to give lectures in Hong Kong and Beijing in November. Diane and I left for Hong Kong on October 28 and spent two weeks in Hong Kong, living with Joshua and Ruth Wong.

On November 11 we flew to Guilin in the People’s Republic of China

Then we flew to Beijing on November 14.

On November 20 we flew to Shanghai, and on the 21st we flew to Seoul, Korea where we stayed until the 29th.

 

Travels in 1998

Puerto Rico: CMS Conference Planning and Spring Break.

March 5-12.

We flew to Puerto Rico. Stayed in …

 

Tonga, New Zealand, Rarotonga, Fiji, Hawaii: Research and Celebration

June 21-July 29.

Tonga. We flew from Tallahassee to Los Angeles, to Oahu, and then to Tongatapu Airport in Nuku’alofa, the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga, where we stayed for over two weeks as invited guests for the King of Tonga’s 80th birthday (see the photo of our invitation from the Prime Minister of Tonga). I also had a grant from FSU to research Tongan traditional music and dance during that gala celebration.

One of the highlights of our 15 days in Tonga was attending the Methodist Church where King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV gave the sermon (see photo of the King) and the huge choir sang resounding hymns in a unique Tongan polyphonic style. The first missionaries to Tonga were Methodists, and their hymn musical influence fused with traditional Tongan choral music to create a unique form of Christian musical syncretism for which Tonga is particularly famous.

The majority of the traditional music of Tonga is choral, either acapella or accompanied by huge drums. In both cases it is exciting group dance music, not for the public, but by well-trained from competing villages.  Best known is lakalaka, seen in this picture of a large double line of singers/dancers. The lakalaka style is performed by a large chorus of female dancers on one end of a long line and male dancers on the other. Their dancing styles could not more different: the women’s dancing is graceful and the men’s is boisterous and somewhat frightening by comparison.

During our extended two week stay in the capital of Tonga we not only experienced the excitement of the King’s birthday celebrations, which lasted nearly a week, but I also gave a lecture at the national school of music. I spoke in general about my discipline, ethnomusicology. How interesting it was when I defined ethnomusicology as “the cultural study of any and all music.” But first I defined music as “humanly-produced organized sound capable of communication, excluding Morse Code.” That definition inspired much debate because the Tongan musicians claimed that the definition of music must also include sounds made by whales. I responded by arguing that we cannot assume that whale sounds are music until we discuss the sound phenomenon with the whales themselves. To assume that whale sounds are music, I maintained, is to be “species-centric,” that is, to use the concept of one species (i.e., humans) to understand the concept of another species (i.e., whales).

As a flutist, I also took a great interest in a traditional Tongan flute known as fango-fango, a bamboo nose flute (see photo).  The fango-fango is played with nose breath rather than mouth breath, and consequently, its sound is very  soft. For that reason, perhaps, its only function was to produce soft music to awaken the King every morning.  Unfortunately, the fango-fango was no longer found as a surviving traditional musical instrument in Tonga in 2005.  However, a young man who was studying at Bingham Young University in Hawaii had revived  the instrument, and he was home in Tonga for the King’s 80th birthday. Fortunately, he taught me how to play  the instrument and gave me one, which I have used many times when teaching about the music of Tonga at FSU.

Many other musical events occurred during the King’s birthday celebration, such as performances by the royal and other singing brass bands. They have that name because after playing a song’s melody once or twice on their trumpets and other brass instruments, the entire band then sings several stanzas. They alternate this practice for the duration of each song. The songs are usually marches, although one of the songs was “The Macarera,” which included “hand and arm dancing,” I call it. Other instrumental music during the celebration included many pop music combos, and they were part of a competition during the evening hours. Another interesting contest was a drag competition, which was exclusively men in drag. There was an enjoyably comical element to the event, and the large crowd of Tongans particularly had a happy time. In Tonga there seems to be no discrimination to men in drag.

Diane and I also traveled around the main island of Tongatapu, visiting beaches and rocky shores famous for their blowholes. One day we took a daytrip by boat to the small Tongan island of Faja where we swam and hiked. Finally, we made some wonderful friends, visitors from South Africa who were sailing around the world, tourists from Denmark and Germany, Australian and British visitors, some who were judges for the popular music competitions, and others. We owe so much to the late Jehan Fisk, an anthopology and art professor at FSU whose specialty was the art of Polynesia and especially Tonga. She alone made it possible for us to have a personal and special royal invitation to this wonderful celebration.

New Zealand. After Tonga we flew to Aukland, New Zealand, where we learned about Maori music and education in Rotorua.

Rarotonga. We then flew to Rarotonga, a small South Pacific Island,where we stayed 4 nights.

Fiji. Then we flew to Fiji and spent a week on the island of Taveuni. 

Hawai. Then we flew to Hawaii, spending a week in Hilo and Honolulu.

 

Puerto Rico: CMS Annual Conference 

October 21 – 26.

We flew 

 

Travels in 1999

Japan: Conference Fun and More

dates.

Not until the summer of 1999 did we have the opportunity to visit Japan again, this time to attend the 1999 College Music society International Conference in Kyoto. It was a much different experience than in 1973, when I was a recent PhD graduate; 26 years later I was President of The College Music Society and I had an important role with the daily Conference activities. My goals in Japan were to (1) attend and give a paper at the CMS International Conference; (2) to research music on Sado Island and among the Ainu in Hokkaido; (3) to meet with Japanese musician friends in Tokyo and perform in concert with them; and (4) to visit sites around Tokyo that I had not visited before.

We left Tallahassee on June 24 and flew to Portland, OR, and after several hours flew overnight to Nagoya, Japan. From there we took the bullet train to Kyoto, where we stayed in a quaint ryokan from June 25 until July 4. The experiences each day during the Conference were very educational and busy. It was after the Conference, however, that were more enjoyable because we were able to make our own itinerary and visit new places for us.

We bought Japanese rail passes and first traveled west from Kyoto to Kanazawa where we spent three nights (July 5-7). Then we traveled north to Ogi, Sado Island, where we spent two nights (July 8-10); next to Hirosaki (July 11-12); then to Sapporo in Hokkaido (July 13-16); then back to Honshu, staying overnight in Morioka (July 17); and finally to Tokyo where we stayed four nights (July 18-21). On July 22 we returned to the USA, arriving in Tallahassee late that night and very tired.

 

Travels in 2002

Vietnam I: Teaching with and Directing the FSU Vietnam Program

May 10-August 1.

During the summers I had the privilege to direct and teach in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) with the FSU Vietnam Program. Diane and I left Tallahassee for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, at 3:30 PM on May 10, flying to Atlanta, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and finally arriving in HCMC on May 12 at 9:15 AM. Our lodging was in Equatorial Hotel, which was also the site for the FSU classes and student housing. For two weeks all of the students, faculty, and spouses toured many regions in Vietnam, including the following: Saigon (the Vietnamese still call it that) full day city tour; full day tour of Cao Dai Holy Temple and the Cu Chi tunnels; three days and two nights in Da Nang, Hoi An, and Hue; full day tour to My Tho and the Mekong Delta. Diane left HCMC on May 25 for her return flight to Tallahassee, and I stayed in the Equatorial Hotel until the end of the summer session (June 21). For the next month and a half (June 21-August 1) I conducted research in Ho Chi Minh City on Vietnamese popular music. I finally arrived home on August 2.

 

Travels in 2003

Costa Rica: The CMS International Conference

June x-July 11.

We had the . . .  CMS International Conference, followed by several weeks post conference activities.

I just came across a small notebook that I used to write some sparse field notes/diary. I copy those notes here and will either delete or use them later.

6-27-2003. We went to a great flamenco concert tonight at the Teatro Nacional. We loved it! Then we had dinner at Don Carlos Hotel.

6-28-03. Several us us CMS members and Diane had dinner and spent the evening at Centro Comercial San Pedro, Cocina de la Lena, with a marimba duo. We shopped and spent $$. 

6-29-03. Di left this Sunday morning. I went to mass at the main Cathedral. The priest was a terrible singer.

6-29-03. 5:00 PM. It was difficult to see Di leave today. I got a city bus back to San Jose and walked from La Merced station, getting a feel for the city. I checked in to Diana’s Inn about 11:00, read and slept until 2:00, then walked in the area. It began to rain hard, but I was sitting in the park across from Diana’s Inn. I went to my room and waited until now to find a restaurant. It’s raining again as I wait for my 1/4 pollo supper — I have my umbrella this time. I hope all goes well here in San Jose. I miss the Don Carlos Hotel with all its neat little places to sit and all its art. The Diana’s Inn is a 0 star hotel, but it’s cheap, close, and the people are nice — also, it’s clean and safe. I started reading a book titled The Shaman’s Gold. The author interprets the gold artifacts of Costa Rica as a part of the “cosmo-vision indigena” — makes sense.

6-30-03. Met Laura Cervantes Gamboa at Universidad de Costa Rico.

7-1-03. Met Ani Baez for lunch at CCCN.

7-2-03. Terribly noisy this PM and early AM because of an inconsiderate guy with a loud motorbike.

7-04-03. Celebrated 4th of July with FSU International Programs group at Imperial Beer Grounds 8-12 AM. I had a great Sun Burst coffee, many hotdogs without buns, ice cream. Concert band from UCR played.

7-05-03. Went to Centro Neo-tropical Sarapiqui with George and Cristina. Met Jorge Luis Acevedo and Ron Mills, who painted those awful murals at UCR. Met Michael, a Chileno, and others.

7-07-03. Finished my powerpoint presentation in Maria Clara’s office. Did photocopies for handout.

7-08-03. I gave a lecture in evening at UCR. Maria Clara Vargas bought dinner for Laura and me at Roto Pollo.

7-09-03. I listened to a great marimba duo at outdoor cafe in front of the Teatro Nacional.

 

Travels in 2004

Vietnam II: Teaching with and Directing the FSU Vietnam Program

May 11-June 18.

Teaching in Ho Chi Minh City with FSU Vietnam Program, and continuation of research for book.

 

Travels in 2005

Spain and Portugal: Conference Fun and More

June 5-21.

Diane and I had the opportunity to visit and travel in Spain and Portugal from when we attended the 2005 College Music Society International Conference in Acala de Henares, Spaiin, just east of Madrid. I presented a paper at the conference and we got to spend several days with many wonderful CMS friends. Before and after the conference we spent several weeks traveling in Spain and Portugal.

Upon arriving in Madrid from Tallahassee very early on Monday morning, June 6, we rented a car and drove to Toledo, Guadalupe, and Trujillo; we spent our first night in Spain in Trujillo, the birthplace of Pizzaro, the conquistador who changed Peru forever. It was a learning experience to visit several sites pertaining to his background. More interesting, however, were many other historical sites in that city.

On the second day we drove on to Lisbon, Portugal, making numerous stops at medieval towns along the way, including Merida, Spain, with its Roman ruins and Elvas and Evora in Portugal. We stayed two nights in Sintra, visiting Lisbon and Cabo da Roca for several days. 

Then we began our drive to Porto, making several stops at important historical sites along the way, including Fatima, Coimbra, and the Roman ruins of Conimbriga. 

In Porto we stayed in a wonderfully whacky castle known as Castelo Santa Catarina. We particularly enjoyed Porto’s old and picturesque waterfront known as Ribeiro.

From Porto we continued north to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, where we spent two nights in an old medieval pension, taking a side trip to Cabo Finisterre, the westernmost point of continental Europe. The province of Galicia is one of our favorite regions of Spain. The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a phenomenal structure, always a very busy and sacred place because it is the site of the tomb of St. James, which is also the termination of the Camino or “Way of St. James,” the famous pilgrimage route across northern Spain that has its source in southern France.

On Sunday, June 12, we began our long drive back to Madrid to return our rental car. From there we took a train to Acala de Henares, where we stayed until June 17, attending the CMS International Conference. Then we traveled by train back to Madrid where we stayed until Tuesday, June 21, when we returned to Tallahassee. 

 

Western Mexico: 40th Wedding Anniversary Cruise

June 22-28.

40th Wedding Anniversary cruise with David and Mary Stevenson

 

Vietnam III: Guggenheim Award and book researach

July 2-August 14.

Guggenheim award and research in Vietnam to finish book.

 

Travels in 2006

Panama I: Teaching with the FSU Panama Program

May 3-June 16.

I had the wonderful opportunity to teach in the International Programs at FSU-Panama in Panama City, Panama, for the first time during the first summer session of 2006. This offered me the opportunity to learn about the music of a country in Central America that I had never visited before, except to stop for refueling in the middle of the night on our flight to Santiago as Peace Corps Volunteers back in 1966. One of the most important experiences I had during this first trip to Panama was going on an International Programs trip to the San Blas Islands in the province of Kuna Yara, home to the Kuna Native Americans. Other important outings were to Panama Antigua, the archaeological ruins and reconstruction of Panama City from the time of the early Spanish colonists, before the attack and burning of the town by the pirate, captain Drake.

The music of the San Blas Kuna. Because of my interest in South American Indians, shamanism, flutes, festivals, and other ethnomusicological topics, and because of my friendship with Dr. Sandra Smith, a colleague at UCLA who wrote a book on Kuna panpipe music and culture, I wanted to experience the Kuna and their music for myself. Therefore, during my short stint with the Kuna, I made lengthy fieldnotes based on my observations, interviews with panpipe musicians and a shaman, and analyses of the music I heard and Kuna culture I experienced. I include some of those fieldnotes in the following paragraphs.

May 27, 2006 (Saturday). “I am on this island with the FSU-Panama group — 4 profs and 9 students (3 girls and 4  guys). We arrived via Air Panama yesterday, after getting up at 4 AM and getting to the airport by 5:00 to leave at 6:00 (so we thought). The plane actually left at 8 AM, and we landed in Carti on the main San Blas island 45 minutes later. There we were met by our Kuna hosts who took us to their smaller island via their motorized canoe, called ulu

“When we arrived we were given sleeping quarters. I was assigned to be with a family in a small shack that was hot and crowded with no privacy. So, I asked the Kuna hosts if I could sleep outside in the hammock that was strung up on the covered deck of the main community building just next door, a place where the Kuna sell their molas. They said I could. That space was also close to the only bathroom, for which I was thankful.

“Then our hosts fixed us a nice breakfast of eggs, bread, and coffee. Soon it began to rain lightly and we all went to our assigned quarters to wait out the rain. About 11:00 AM we left by boat to go snorkeling at Devil’s Island and another outer island. On the way there the captain’s motor broke down, which reminded me of my experiences with the Warao Indians in Venezuela, when my guide’s outboard motor on his canoe broke down several times. However, our Kuna boatman was able to fix his motor quickly.

“When we arrived to Devil’s Island, the larger of the small two islands for snorkeling, we were met by the sole inhabitants, a small family that immediately wanted to sell us molas — everywhere we went in San Blas, it seems, there were ladies selling molas! Between the two islands was a sunken freighter that has been there for 70 years. Three of us swam over to where it was said to be — there was quite a strong current, the water was deep, and I was glad I had my fins along. After some searching we finally located the freighter, which was very long and covered with coral. Swimming over a part of it made me appreciate Clive Cussler’s novels even more. Swimming back was a chore, and I thought, James Bond or Dirk Pitt I am not! I was also 65 years old!

“On the way back it began to rain very hard and we all got soaked, which removed some of the salt and cleaned us off a little. When we arrived to our village we took showers by scooping water from a barrel and pouring it over our heads, bodies, and into our swimming suits. 

“Dinner was soon ready, and we ate wonderfully fresh fish, including a big red snapper caught by our boatman/guide. We all tried to get the recipe, but it was not possible for him to make it understandable to us. We should have watched him cooking it.

“After dinner some of the village’s young boys and girls (members of a performance troupe) gave us a personal performance of several animal dances while playing their panpipes and rattles. The boys leaped through the air as they played their panpipes, and sometimes both the girls (playing rattles) and boys darted amongst each other. Their dances imitated animals and birds, we were told. I thought, this must be the panpipes for play that Sandy Smith wrote about in her book. I also learned, however, that panpipe music and dance performances are also religious, even though the context is play, or in our case, for tourism. I also learned that each village has a panpipe/rattle troupe, and that the Kuna hold competitions between the village troupes. 

“After several more hours of socializing, I went to my outdoor sleeping quarters. The evening was not enjoyable, however, because my hammock was not a traditional one, but was like an American hammock with wooden bars across each end — quite uncomfortable because it is not possible to sleep diagonally, which is the proper way to sleep in a traditional hammock. My decision to sleep outside was also not wise because of the weather. In the morning about 6:00 AM it rained really hard and I had to exit my hammock outside the main building and seek shelter inside my host’s shack. Even though there was a roof over me and a tarp for a wall, the easterly wind was picking up. It was like a mini squall — hurican (hurricane), the Kuna said, laughing. The floor of the shack became like a river, as water flooded in from the yard and front patio. The rain seemed to stop at about 8 AM.

“After breakfast we took a short excursion to visit a small Kuna museum on the main island.

Travels in 2007

Panama II: Teaching with the FSU Panama Program

May 3-June 16.

I taught Latin American music at FSU-Panama in Panama City, Panama, for the second time during the first summer session of 2007. This offered me more opportunities to travel within Panama, specifically to the Chagres River to visit the Embera Indians; to the colonial town of Portobelo on the lower Caribbean coast; then to Bocas del Toro on the upper Caribbean coast; and finally to the northwestern town of David to visit Rob Knox, my friend and former student at the University of Florida where I taught in the early 1980s.

My students and I performing a Cuban son at a concert of Latin American music at the FSU/Panama campus in Panama City, Panama (on the shore of the Panama Canal).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thailand, Cambodia, Taiwan: CMS International Conference and beyond

July 10-August 4.

Diane and I attended the CMS International Conference in Bangkok and Ayutthaya, where I presented a paper. We traveled around Bangkok (Chao Phraya River; Grand Palace; Wat Phra Kaeo; Wat Pho) and Ayutthaya ( Wat Phanan Choeng; Wat Phra Sri Sanphet). After the conference we flew to Chang Mai, visiting many points of interest (Ping River, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chinang Man, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Suan Dok, Wat Bupparam, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Mae Tang River for rafting and elephant watching, outdoor market in Sappong, Chiangdao Cave, Hill tribes north of Chiang Mai, Doi Inthanon National Park southwest of Chang Mai).

We also went to Phuket, visiting Ao Phyang Nga Bay (“James Bond Island” and other limestone karst islands).

Then we flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia, to spend several days at the Ankor Wat complex (specifically visiting Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Phimeanakas, Ta Prohm, Preah Rup and East Mebon, Ta Som, and Prea Khan).

 

Travels in 2008

Panama III: Teaching with the FSU Panama Program

May 7-June 23.

I once again taught Latin American music at FSU-Panama in Panama City, Panama, for the third time during the first summer session of 2008. This offered me more opportunities to do research for a book on the music of Panama, which I was planning to title “…”. This term I also met many Panamanian musicians, conducted interviews, and traveled to several religious folk festivals.

 

Travels in 2009

Autumn in Korea and Japan: Vacation with Louise, Hyo, Henry, and Bryan

October 24-November 13.

Diane and I traveled with Louise Rill to Seoul, Korea, to visit our friends Hyo and Henry Lee. Then we flew to Japan to visit Bryan and Lisa Rill in …..

 

Mexico: SEM Conference Fun and More

November 18-24.

Diane and I attended the annual SEM Conference, held in Mexico City.

 

Travels in 2011

Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland: ICTM Conference

July 1-23.

Flew into Halifax, rented a car and drove to Green Gables on Prince Edward Island, to Cape Breton Island, took ferry from Sydney to Port aux Basques in Newfoundland, drove to Rocky Harbour, to St. John’s for ICTM, to Burgeo, to Sydney (Ferry to NS), drove to Halifax, and flew home.

 

Vanacouver to Alaska

August 12-September 3.

Flew to Vancouver, cruise ship to Seward, etc.

 

Travels in 2012

Dominican Republic: SEMSEC Conference

March 7-12.

SEMSEC Conference

 

France and Italy: Viking cruise on the Seine, fly to French Conference in Albrac, bus and train to Provence, Cinque Terre, Aosta, fly to Paris.

August 7-September 10.

We flew to Paris, took a Viking Seine River cruise (visiting Paris, Giverny, Vernon, Rouen,  Normandy, Les Andelys, Conflans, Paris); met and stayed in Verrieres le Buisson with our hosts Pierre and x Hamon (visited Versaille and Bayeax); flew to Rodez (Aveyron) and were driven to Aubrac (to present invited paper at the Dix-septiemes Rencontres D’Aubrac Conference “Imaginaires de L’Eldorado” and perform in a concert with Pierre); traveled by car to Millou, by bus to Montpellier and train to Avignon, Arles, Aix-en-Provence, hiked Victoire Mountain; train to Cinque Terre for 5 days of hiking; train to Aosta (visited Cervina, the Italian side of Matterhorn); bus to Milan and flew back to Paris.

Ecuador and the Galapalos Islands

October 20-November 5.

We traveled to Ecuador because I was invited by XXX to present a paper at Ecuador’s International Musicology Conference in Loja in the southern region of the country. We flew to Quito and Cuenca, where we stayed several days. Then we took a small bus to Loja because its airport was closed for repairs. The small bus ride was scary (fast driver, mountain highway, lots of traffic), but the scenery was beautiful. The conference was attended by numerous well-known Latin American and Spanish musicologists who also gave papers. The host arranged several interesting concerts by local folk musicians and a Cuban jazz pianist. After the conference we took another little bus back to Cuenca and then flew to Guayaquil to spend an evening. The next day we flew to Baltra Island in the Galapagos archipelago, took a bus to Puerto Ayora on ajoining Santa Cruz Island where we made our base camp in an interesting castle-like pension. From there we joined a boat tour to Isabela Island for a day. We also visited Bargalome Island. After the Galapagos we flew to Quito, and from there toured Otavalo and Cotacoachi.

The Galapagos islands are located in the eastern Pacific Ocean, roughly 500 miles off the middle coast of Ecuador. The group consists of 18 main islands, 3 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets. The first islands formed millions of years ago, while the youngest islands are still being formed, with the most recent volcanic eruption occurring in April 2009.

The flight from Guayaquil lands at the main Galapagos airport on Baltra, also known as South Seymour Island, a small dry island where the main airport is located. Transportation from Baltra to the main island of Santa Cruz (a dormant volcano) is by a short ferry ride and a longer bus ride to Puerto Ayora, the capital of the Galapagos. Santa Cruz is the second largest island after Isabela, and Puerto Ayora is the most populated urban center in the Islands. I had booked lodging for about five nights at a most interesting pension constructed like a small castle, which I also refer to as our “base camp.” There was plenty to see and do in Santa Cruz, such as visiting the Galapagos National Park Administration, its hiking trails and the Darwin Museum; traveling to Los Gemelos, or “The Twins,” which are two huge pits that were formed by the collapse of a magma chamber; Tortuga Bay which is rife with birds (blue-footed boobies are the most unusual), marine iguanas, and colorful crabs; El Chato Tortoise Reserve where we saw many giant tortoises in the wild jungle-like terrain, and many birds flying, such as Darwin finches, flycatchers, and Galapagos rails; and much more.

We went with a day tour to Isabela Island, the largest in the Galapagos (named in honor of Queen Isabela). Puerto Villamil is a small village and the port for day trips from Santa Cruz. Many kinds of exotic animals are found in the area, such as white-tipped reef sharks, marine iguanas, marine turtles, herons, Galapagos penguins, sea lions, rays, starfish and more. Especially fascinating was Las Tintoreras, a series of dark lava rocks and islets covered with white lichen, mangroves, accessible by trails and boardwalks. There we saw dozens of white-tipped reef sharks asleep in some of the rocky coves, and hundreds of Marine Iguanas asleep with their black heads indistinguishable from the black jutting lava. 

Bartolome Island, actually a volcanic islet off the east coast of Santiago Island, is a fascinating place. It is a rugged extinct 

Bartolomé has a lot to offer, such as its gorgeous landscapes and the interesting, colorful variety of volcanic formations since this island is an extinct volcano; Bartolomé has a volcanic cone (easy to climb) that will give visitors great views of Pinnacle Rock and the other islands. The “lava cactus” is considered a “pioneer” or colonizer plant. It has bright yellow tipped coloring, microphone shapes, and grows in clumped formations. The plant has soft furry spines and grows in clumps to a height of about two feet (60 cm). New growth is yellow, turning to brown, which darkens to gray with age. Flowers are white, but last only hours.

Bartolomé has two visitor sites. At the first one, swimming and snorkeling around Pinnacle Rock are highly recommended because the underwater world is absolutely impressive. Snorkelers may have some amazing, uncommon company like marine turtles, penguins, white-tipped reef sharks, and other tropical fish.

 

Travels in 2013

Cuba

March 8-18.

We traveled to Cuba in March 2013 with a group of about 25 people on an organized tour organized by Tallahassee Community College. We flew to Miami and spent a day visiting South Beach, Vizcaya Mansion, the botanical garden, and eating Peruvian food. Bright and early we boarded a charter for the short flight from Miami to Havana, where we spent several nights at the famous old Hotel Nacional (National Hotel) on the waterfront (malecón). We visited a variety of sights in Old Havana during the day—many colonial structures and pre-revolutionary buildings.

Trinidad 3o

Cuba is famous for its old American cars, and I especially enjoyed seeing the 1953, ’55, and ’56 Chevys because those are the types of cars I had in college. We also visited western Cuba, the locale of beautiful limestone haystack-shaped mountains (mogotes) in the Viñales Valley. We also went to one of the oldest towns in Cuba, Trinidad, on the south coast (this picture was taken of us on a balcony adjacent to the roof of the Cathedral in Trinidad, Cuba). Many of these towns and areas are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and walking in the old streets and unspoiled rural paths is like going back in time a hundred years or more.

L Guama 5dI took my flute with me to Cuba because I love improvising Latin jazz (salsa, guajiro, son, etc.). Fortunately, I got to jam with numerous small groups at restaurants, streets, parks, tourist sites, and other venues. That was great fun and a wonderful learning experience. The Cuban musicians I played with enjoyed having an old gringo play their music with them! In a way, it was similar to my musical experiences as principal flutist in the Chilean Philharmonic Orchestra while living in Santiago, Chile, as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Making music is one of the best ways to create cross cultural understanding, build trust, and create friendships. 

 

Western Caribbean Cruise: Roatan, Honduras; Quiriqua, Guatemala; Kohunlich, Mexico

December 22-29.

We took a 7-day cruise with with Tallahassee friends Robert Burke and Janice Hartwell to the Western Caribbean over Christmas, 2013, leaving from Tampa, stopping in Key West, visiting Roatan Island in Honduras, Santo Tomas de Castilla in Guatemala, and Costa Maya in Mexico. Our major objective was to visit some Mayan ruins that we had not seen before, and we did: Quirigua in Guatemala and Dzibanche in Mexico. We also experienced some African-derived Garifuna music and dance in Roatan, Honduras.

 

Travels in 2014

Israel and Jordan

January 20-31.

Diane and I traveled to the Holy Land (Israel & Jordan) with 25 members from our church (First Baptist Church) in Tallahassee. We flew to Tel Aviv, stayed overnight in Netanya, then went by bus to many archaeological sites, historical regions, and current/active places, often walking where Jesus walked and where many Old Testament events took place. When we reached Tiberius on the shore of the lake of Galilee, P1230841I bought a small cane flute in a store, and throughout the trip I played Christian hymns and other types of music in many sacred and natural sites. We visited many towns and regions where Jesus began his life and carried out his ministry,Dale in Bethleham such as Bethlehem, Nazareth, Mount of the Beatitudes, Capernaum, Tiberius, Galilee, and the Jordan River.

Then we were off to Amman and Petra in Jordan (the photo below is of the best known ruin — the “‘treasury” — in Petra. I had a great time playing my cane flute in Petra, improvising Arabic music and playing the Indiana Jones theme from the Temple of Doom movie.

We spent the last days and nights of our trip in Jerusalem, where Dale and Diane at the Temple Mount, JerusalemI also bought another flute — a wonderful Palestinian nai — in the Islamic quarter of old Jerusalem. I taught myself how to play it after returning to Tallahassee. The Muslim mosque on the Temple Mount (seen in this photo) is an awesome structure.

Dale and Diane at Petra, Jordan 2

In every way this was a wonderful trip and a tremendous learning experience to walk where Jesus walked and where many Old Testament events took place.

 

 

 

Sweden, Denmark, Shetland Islands, Iceland, Northern Ireland, England: In the Wake of the Vikings

May 28-June 15.

For two weeks Diane and I went on a Baltic and North Sea cruise called “Ice” with the Semester at Sea program. We arrived by air to Stockholm where we were hosted by our dear friend Karin Sharma. From there we cruised to Copenhagen, then to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands (Scotland), on to three ports in Iceland (Reykjavic, Isafjordur, and Akureyri), then to Belfast, and ending up in Southampton, England. We were gone 19 days on this wonderful educational cruise that Diane won in a lottery with OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at FSU. The scenery in the Shetland Islands and Iceland was fabulous, and the lectures on board were educational and very enjoyable. Of course, we ate too much.

I refer to this particular cruise as “In the Wake of the Vikings” because of its emphasis on Viking history and lore. All of my grandparents were born Jutland, Denmark, and I have often thought, albeit with tongue in cheek, that I might have Viking roots. As an anti war pacifist from Minnesota, I was happy to learn that in the Shetland Islands many Vikings were peaceful farmers, as were my ancestors. So, who knows?

One of my ethnomusicology colleagues and a friend for over 40 years, Dr. Ted Solis, also took the cruise (neither of us knew we were going to be on the same cruise), and we had a great time, talking about past explorations of the Semester at Sea and remembering our many friends who had been on the faculty over the years (Max Brandt, Phil Sonnichsen, and others). The Semester at Sea ship for this cruise is new (the MV Explorer), which Ted explained is much better than the old ships used by the Semester at Sea back in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.  There is no longer a gamelan on board (nor are there any musical instruments of any type today, except for a piano), but the library and computer facilities are good.  Along with us 800 adults were several hundred students who were getting credit for courses.

P1260929 fixedHere is a photo of Diane and me sitting on a cliff by the Eshaness lighthouse in the northern Shetland Islands, overlooking the North Sea.

Below is a photo of us next to the the  Goðafoss (“waterfall of the gods”), one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, near the northern town of Akureyri. falls near Akureyri, IcelandGodafoss translates as “Waterfall of the Gods.”  It derives its name from the following legend:  In the year 999 or 1000 Thorgeir, chieftain, lawspeaker, and heathen priest of Ljosavatn district, was entrusted with the momentous task of settling the growing disputes between Christians and those who worshipped the old Nordic gods by deciding whether Icelanders should adopt the Christian faith or not. When his decision was formally accepted that they would convert to Christianity, he left Althingi and went to his home on the Skjálfandafljót river by the waterfall where he threw all of his statues of the Viking pagan gods into the waterfall. Hence, the name Godafoss or “Waterfall of the Gods.”

 

Norway: from Bergen to Kierkenes and back (fjords, islands, and northern ports of call); onward to Amsterdam 

August 29-September 18.

Diane and I, along with 14 of our Tallahassee friends, took a 12 day round-trip voyage on a Hurtigruten cruiseship/ferry/mailboat from Bergen to Kirkenes (the most northern town in Europe) and back, cruising in the estuaries and fjords of Norway. This was another cruise that had a Viking emphasis because many of the places we visited were former Viking settlements.

Diane and I ended our 20 day European adventure by spending four nights in Amsterdam where we rented a houseboat on a canal, complete with a traditional windmill just a few feet from the dock. It was so nice to have swans swimming by our window every morning.

 

Travels in 2014-2015

From Chile across the Pacific to Robinson Crusoe Island, Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, and French Polynesia: A Southern Pacific Adventure

December 16-January 5.

Over Christmas 2014 and New Years 2015 Diane and went on a South Pacific cruise with Oceania cruise line. We flew to Santiago, took a bus to Valparaiso, and embarked from that Chilean cruise port. It had been 46 years since we had been in Chile, and I was very hungry for my favorite Chilean food, empanada de horno (baked empanada, like a folded meat pie made with hamburger, olives, sliced boiled egg, raisins, and onions). We used to eat empanadas every Sunday after attending our little church in the Nunoa region of Santiago where we lived–there was a wonderful small bakery between our residence and the church, all within a several block walk. The first thing I did when we arrived in the cruise port in Valparaiso was to buy an empanada de horno and a Chilean beer. I cried when I ate it because it brought back decades-old memories.

Our first stop in our south Pacific cruise were the Juan Fernandez Islands (administered by Chile), and specifically Robinson Crusoe Island, the main island, named after Defoe’s novel about the marooned sailor, Alexander Selkirk, in the18th century. This island has a very interesting history, rich with episodes about prisoners, castaways, battles, hurricanes, tidal waves, and more. It is also the home of a number of flora and fauna that are endemic to the region, including a beautiful hummingbird that is much larger than North American hummingbirds; and, they are not afraid of humans. The Juan Fernandez Islands are mountainous and heavily forested. Always in search of more empanadas, on Robinson Crusoe Island I ate my first squid empanada. I vowed that it would be my last!

After four more days at sea we arrived at Easter Island where we spent two nights, which gave us ample time to visit most of the archaeological sites featuring numerous moai, the enigmatic and colossal stone heads with torsos. Because this particular cruise began in Chile, there were many Chilenos on board, and we rented a small van with three Chilean passengers and a knowledgeable Polynesian driver who spoke  fluent Spanish (Easter Island also belongs to Chile). This photo is of a large moai quarry on the side of a mountain, where there are numerous erect statues and many more lying down on their backs. There are others in various stages of being chiseled from their rocky places of origin. 

As you can see from this photo, Easter Island is extremely barren. Most of its trees have been cut down and probably used for fuel and construction over the millennia. The mythology of Easter Island is very interesting, and I remember reading Thor Heyerdale’s book about Easter Island when I was young, which was not only about his preparations for his journey on his Kon Tiki raft, but also about crawling through lava vents and much more. Today, the music of Easter Island, after centuries of Chilean dominance, is an interesting mixture of Polynesian and Chilean characteristics. In spite of so much Chilean influence, the Polynesian Easter Islanders still maintain many of their beliefs, some of which are syncretically mixed with Roman Catholicism.

After two more days at sea we arrived to Pitcairn Island, which also has an enigmatic history, although it is not archaeological, but sociological. 

Rangiroa island in French Polynesia.

Two more days at sea took us to four islands in French Polynesia: Fakarava, Rangirora, Bora Bora, and the capital, Tahiti. Fakarava and Rangirora are very large and completely flat atolls, with calm water on the atoll sides and heavy waves on the ocean sides. These two islands were easy to explore because the areas with tourist access are quite small. There are small stores, eating places, beaches for swimming, snorkel and dive shops, small homes and churches, and so forth.

 
Bora Bora island in French Polynesia.

Bora Bora, on the other hand, is a very mountainous atoll that owes it origin to an extinct volcano that sank, creating a beautiful and large caldera. It is also the most developed, aside from Tahiti, the capital and the largest island in French Polynesia. Bora Bora is the home of the rich and the famous, beautiful resorts for tourists, and many rustic and quaint houses for the locals. It has a local bus system, local guides with their transportation, and many roads that circumnavigate the island. Bora Bora is a photographer’s dreamland.

We flew back to Tallahassee from Papeete, Tahiti, very early in the morning after disembarking our cruise ship. Thus, we did not see much of Tahiti at all, although it would have been possible to pay more money for a two-day extension.

This South Pacific cruise was one of our favorites for many reasons. It was our first Oceania Cruise Line voyage, which is one of the main reasons it was so enjoyable: elegant accommodations, fabulous food, numerous educational lectures by noted scholars, great entertainment. The ports-of-call and all of the multicultural learning experiences were, of course, the unforgettable highlights of the cruise. But, I think the most memorable aspect for us were two interdenominational Christmas services organized and led by Christian passengers, in which Diane and I participated as a flute/piano duo, along with the beautiful and touching singing by Lawrence, one of the lead singers in an entertainment troupe that performed music and dance many evenings. The three of us performed Christmas hymns for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services, and those experiences of devotion and love were memorable for us. Lawrence, Diane, and I praised Jesus together through music, and we will never forget it. 

 

Travels in 2015

Slovakian Heritage Tour and Vienna, Austria            

September 9-28.

Diane and I flew to Vienna, Austria, where we joined a two-week tour of Slovakia with other tourists of Slovakian heritage like Diane (both her grandparents on her dad’s side were born in Slovakia). We toured many parts of Slovakia, visiting castles, taking cable cars into the high Tatra Mountains, attending festivals and musical events, rafting on a river, eating wonderful Slovakian food, and much more.

One day we arranged to visit Diane’s second cousins in Habura, whom we had never met. Their daughter, Martina, who is our son’s third cousin, was our interpreter. We had met Martina several decades ago when she visited St. Paul, Minnesota. Diane’s aunt Mary Ann and sister Barbara had visited the entire family in Habura several years earlier. Like long lost relatives, we were treated well when we arrived. We had a great time visiting old family homesteads, grave sites of Diane’s ancestors, the Andy Warhol Museum, looking at pictures of other family members, eating traditional food, and just getting to know more of Diane’s Slovakian relatives (this photo was taken in front of the Andy Warhol Museum in x; from right to left are Mikiel [Diane’s 3rd cousin], Diane, Maria [Makiel’s wife), Martina Mikiel and Maria’s daughter], and I).

After Slovakia we took a ferry on the Danube River from Bratislava to Vienna, where we rented an apartment for a week in the museum district. We had great fun attending many concerts, visiting museums, seeing a show of the Spanish Riding School in the Hofburg Palace, and much more.

 

The Caribbean From Boston to Puerto Rico, Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, and New Orleans

October 29-November 14.

For seventeen days we cruised the Caribbean on Norwegian Cruise Lines. It was a “re-positioning” of a ship from Boston to New Orleans, by way of the Caribbean. We had never visited five of the islands on the itinerary, so we got the opportunity to add several more countries to our travel list.  This cruise was a part of our extended 50th wedding anniversary celebration, and we traveled with Mary and David Stevenson (our friends who were married on the same day and year as we — June 26, 1965), dear friends Louise Rill and Walt Cory, and many other acquaintances from the Westminster Oaks Retirement Community in Tallahassee (where Mary, David, Walt, and other friends live).

After two wonderful nights and one beautiful day touring and enjoying Boston, we cruised for three days to San Juan, Puerto Rico where we spent one day and night. Our next ports of call were Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba Jamaica, Caiman Islands, and Cozumel, Mexico, with several sea days here and there. 

This was the third time we had visited Puerto Rico. The first time we lived in Rio Piedras for several weeks in the summer of 1966 as part of our  Peace Corps language training. 

 

Travels in 2016

Trinidad and Tobago: SEMSEC Conference                                               

dates.

A conference of SEMSEC (Southeast/Caribbean Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology), and an invitation to be a discussant on a session, gave us the opportunity to travel by air to Trinidad in March 2-11, 2016. We spent three days in San Fernando in the southwestern-central part of the island of Trinidad, where the conference was held. It was wonderful to see many of my former ethnomusicology students and numerous old friends (and make new friends, as well). We had not been to Trinidad since 1969 when we attended carnival after our three years in the Peace Corps in Chile.

P1380837One of the highlights was climbing Nabarima Hill (aka San Fernando Hill), which is a peak that is considered by the Warao Indians (a culture in Venezuela where I did my dissertation research — please link to “Ethnomusicology as Advocacy” from the main page or just below Travels) to be the northernmost sacred mountain in their cosmology — it is a very sacred place for them. While in San Fernando I had hoped to meet some of the Warao descendants that live in that region, but I was not able to make personal contacts. I left a copy of my book and CD for them with a Trinidadian scholar I met at the conference, but I never heard if the Warao descendants  ever received my gift.

Then we traveled in our rental car to Port of Spain where we stayed for another four nights at the very comfortable Heritage Inn. From there we drove to and along the North Coast until the road ended. The beaches and mountains in the north of the island of Trinidad are spectacular. Especially impressive are Maracas Bay, Las Cuevas, and other beautiful beach locations.

One day we drove south to the Caroni Bird Sanctuary on the western coast, where every dusk thousands of scarlet ibis P1390440 (the national bird of Trinidad) fly to particular islands in a large lake to roost. The boat tour in the Caroni Swamp was the highlight of our entire trip to Trinidad. P1390529

We also visited several Hindu temples on the west coast of Trinidad. While I did not enjoy driving on the left side of the roads, we survived and had a nice time. We heard excellent East Indian tassa drumming, a great steelband, and a good East Indian popular music group. We enjoyed the food, especially bake ‘n’ shark, one of the local specialties.

P1380890Some of the most beautiful scenery in Trinidad is along the mountainous northern coast, northeast of Port of Spain. A beautiful bay known as Las Cuevas (The Caves) is one of our favorite spots. We were also at this very beach back in 1969 on our way home after living in Chile for nearly three years. At that time there were no settlements in the area, just beautiful sand, endless tropical trees, the Caribbean Sea, and mountains. It is still that way, except it is now a fishing village, which also has great charm.

 

Eastern Caribbean Cruise: Port Canaveral, FL; Coco Cay, Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; St. Maarten; Port Canaveral                      

September 18-25.

This cruise was with Louise Rill and Walter Cory, aboard the  Royal Caribbean ship “Freedom of the Seas.” It was also to celebrate Diane’s 74th birthday.

 

Buenos Aires, Uruguay, Falkland Islands, Tierra del Fuego, Cape Horn, Chilean Fiords and Lake District, Santiago de Chile: Around the Southern Cone of South America

December 6-20.

Although we lived in Chile for close to three years back in the ’60s, we never had the time to explore the southern third of the country between Puerto Mont and Punta Arenas, except for Torres de Paine (see 1966-68 Travel Tale and Snapshot above). The southern third of Chile is the fiord and estuary region, laden with amazing mountains and glaciers reached only by water.

In December, 2016, we found the perfect cruise on Holland America for visiting that region. It was a thrilling experience to visit Ushuaia and the Tierra del Fuego National Park in Argentina again after 50 years (we were first there in 1967 for Christmas and New Year’s). Several of these photos were taken 50 years apart, so you can see many changes.

These two photos show the same church steeple in Ushuaia, Argentina, in 1967 and 2016.

 

These two photos show the Tierra del Fuego National Park in 1967 and 2016 — not much change in 50 years, thankfully!

 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Chile-glacier.jpgThe cruise ship passed around Cape Horn, which was as calm as on a summer day in the Gulf of Mexico — it can often be so rough that cruise ships will not traverse the area. Then we slowly cruised through the Beagle Canal and the many estuaries of Tierra del Fuego, seeing some of the most beautiful mountains and glaciers in the world. Sadly, many of the glaciers are rapidly receding.

 

After reaching Puerto Mont in the south of central Chile, in the lake district, Diane took a horseback riding excursion in the wilderness of that beautiful region. I am not a horseback rider, but I talked my way into going along free, just to accompany her and spend the day visiting with the Chilean campesinos and making use of my Spanish. It was a very nice day.

When we finally reached Valparaiso, Chile, we spent a day with Chilean friends that we met on our Easter Island trip in 2015, and then took a bus to Santiago and stayed two weeks, visiting old musician friends from the 1960s and celebrating Christmas with our dear friend and UCLA colleague, Dr. Luis Merino. It was so nice to be with him and his family at their country retreat in the coastal mountains. It was a wonderful reunion. We also spent many days walking around Santiago, trying to locate old haunts from the ’60s and exploring new areas. Santiago has certainly changed!

Santiago today. — from a travel brochure on the Internet.

 

Travels in 2017

Italy, Greece, and Malta                       

October 19-November 3.

In October and early November we flew to Italy and took a train to the cruise port of Civitaveccia on the Italian coast, northwest of Rome. We stayed there several nights before our cruise on NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line), giving us a full day to visit the beautiful medieval hill town of Tarquinia that is an important Etruscan archaeological site. We first visited Tarquinia in 1985 when we were living in Florence, but at that time most of the Etruscan tombs were not open for tourism; today it is possible to visit almost all of them, which we did. Because of their wall paintings, the tombs are important sources for the study of Etruscan musical instruments.

After several days we boarded a cruise ship for various Greek islands (Crete, Rhodes, Santorini, and Mykonos), Athens, and Malta, visiting Sicily (Mount Etna area), Naples, and Pompeii on our way back to Civitaveccia and on to Rome for a day.

 

Travels in 2018

The Caribbean: St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Thomas, The Bahamas

March 7-18.

We toured parts of the Caribbean again in March, 2018, cruising on Holland America Line with several friends from Tallahassee. Although we had visited St. Maarten, St. Lucia, and Martinique back in 1977, we always realize there are new things to learn, and 40 years is a long time for many changes to take place. Also, we had never been to the other islands  included in this cruise. The itinerary included three days at sea and the following ports of call from Fort Lauderdale, Florida:  Philipsburg, Sint Maarten; Castries, Saint Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Basseterre, Saint Kitts; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.

We particularly enjoy Holland American cruises because they feature excellent entertainment every day and night. Especially enjoyable is the Lincoln Center Stage, which usually features a professional string quartet or piano quintet consisting of young professional musicians from Julliard and other institutes or schools of music. They routinely perform chamber music by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and other great composers, as well as other compositions that have public appeal.

One of the highlights of the ports of call included St. Lucia, which we had visited on our own back in 1977 for several days, spending our time in Soufrier and the southern part of the island. This time we had an excellent guide from the capital, Castries, who drove us to the Gran Piton peaks, as seen in this photograph from the cruise ship. The guide’s explanations of the history and culture of the northern part of the island were very informative.

Things were a lot different 40 years ago, when we also spent several days in Martinique, which is today a French state. Back then we rented a car and explored most of the island, including driving and hiking to the top of the Mt. Pele crater. This time we spent all day in the capital, Fort de France, which was the cruise ship’s port of call. We enjoyed the museums, parks, and French ice cream.

Denmark, Norway, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden (followed by a week in Copenhagen): A Baltic Adventure

August 27-September 15. 

In August we went on a cruise of the Baltic Sea, from the western end to St. Petersburg at the easternmost end. Beginning in Copenhagen, the cruise ship headed northwest to Oslo, where we met up with two Tallahassee friends who were spending their summer in Norway. From there we spent a day in northern Germany, then on to Tallinn, Estonia, for a day. The old town section of Tallinn is a wonderful region to visit, with its many high church spires, medieval walls, and other intriguing sites. St. Petersburg was very interesting, with its numerous canals, churches, modern architecture near the sea (see photo of the Lakhta Center), and its fabulous museums and palaces. On the return we spent a day in Helsinki, which I had visited in 1985 during an ICTM conference. The next stop was Stockholm, where we strolled around, trying to see sites we had not visited when we were there in 1985 and again in 2014.

 

Travels in 2019

The Western Mediterranean: Spain, Morocco, Canary Islands, and Madeira (followed by a week in Barcelona).                                         

January 11-28, 2019.

 

Croatia and Montenegro: “The Best of Croatia: A Coastal Voyage by Yacht”                                                             

April 25-May 10, 2019.

For seventeen days we traveled on a Road Scholar Tour with our friend Louise Rill to, from, and within the vicinity of the Adriatic coast of Croatia and Montenegro, mostly aboard Futura (Photo 3), a beautiful motor yacht from Split, Croatia. We began our trip with a long flight from Tallahassee, to Atlanta, to Munich, to Split, leaving Tallahassee shortly after 12:00 noon on a Thursday and arriving in Split around noon on Friday. After napping, walking around the Old Town region of Split, eating, and sleeping soundly to help rid us of jet lag, we hooked up with our pre-booked Saturday day trip excursion to Krka National Park (photo), several hours northeast of Split. 

The Krka National Park tour included the three of us, a young French couple, and the Croatian tour guide (driver of the small van) and his partner. Both of the Croatian young men spoke perfect English and were wonderful guides. The day included a boat ride on Skradin Lake, visiting restored stone houses and watermills. The highlight of the trip was visiting Skradinski Buk, the largest travertine waterfall in Europe (Photo 1), and hiking above the falls in boardwalks and other trails. Another highlight of the nearly 8-hour trip was a stop at a small homestead to sample local home-made spirits (Photo 2).

Photo 3: The yacht “Futura” in Split, Croatia

After our initial two days and nights in Split on our own, we spent the next three nights and four days on our Road Scholar adventure by living in the Cornaro Hotel in Split where we met and interacted with the other several dozen participants, attended several lectures, ate breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and participated in guided walking tours of Split and neighboring areas. On afternoon four of the official tour we embarked and settled into our long-awaited yacht, known as “MS Futura,” or just “Futura” (Photo 3).

On day five we cruised on the Adriatic Sea to Trogir, an ancient town on Tragurion, called the “island of Goats,” a UNESCO World Heritage site. On day six we cruised to the Island of Hvar and Stari Grad, which we explored on foot. This quaint village and port has its roots in Greek antiquity. We visited a Dominican Monastery and Museum (see photo of Diane playing a grand piano beneath a painting of the Last Supper). That evening included a live musical performance of Klap singing aboard the ship (see photo). On day seven we continued our tour of Hvar Town, which was the center of Adriatic civilization and trade for thousands of years. We also visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a Franciscan monastery. On day eight we cruised to Korcula Island and town, and explored the medieval old town, including St. Mark’s Cathedral and Town Museum. On day nine we cruised to Mljet National Park on the western portion of Jljet Island, the most important protected area of southern Dalmatia. We motored by small boat on a lake to the islet of St. Mary to visit a 12th century Benedictine monastery and the Church of St. Mary.

On day ten we cruised to Dubrovnik where we had a lecture by a university professor, took a motor coach tour of the city, visited a Franciscan monastery and the Rector’s Palace. That evening we had our “Futura” farewell dinner, and we were were entertained by a Croatian folk/pop/jazz trio. I had my flute along, of course, and I jammed with them on several tunes, including “The Girl from Ipanema,” who lived a long way from Dubrovnik (see photo). On day eleven we said farewell to our beautiful yacht and proceeded to the Old Town of Dubrovnik. We took a cable car to Mount Srd and later a motor coach to Herceg Novi in Montenegro, arriving in the town of Igalo, where we had beautiful lodging on Palmon Bay.

On day twelve we took a motor coach through Herceg Novi, explored small coastal towns in Montenegro, walked on tours of Renaissance and Baroque regions and palaces in Kotor’s Old Town. Kotor is another UNESCO World Heritage site, an old city founded by the Romans. Finally, on day thirteen, our program ended and we were bussed to the airport in Dubrovnik for our departure to Munich, Germany, where we spent the night. We arrived in Tallahassee about 5:00 PM the next day, tired but happy to be safely home again.

Crossing the northern Atlantic on the Queen Mary II to England (followed by a week in Salisbury, Stonehenge, and Bath)

July 28-August 11.

 

 

Switzerland and the Rhine: A week in Interlaken, the Alps, and Basel; Rhine River cruise to Amsterdam                           

September 17-October 2, 2019.

In September Diane and I flew to Basel, Switzerland, and then traveled by train to Interlaken where we spent a week prior to a scheduled Viking river cruise on the Rhine River. From our base in Unterseen in Interlocken West we stayed six nights in a charming Alpine Hotel called Post Hardermannli. We took day trips by trains, mountain lifts, funiculars, and cog trains to several Alpine peaks, mountain villages, and lakes in the Berner Oberland region, including the following: Jungfraujoch (“Top of Europe”), a beautiful ski area and snowy playground situated on the slopes of Jungfrau mountain (13,642′) between the peaks of Eiger (13,036″) and Monch (13,449″); Schilthorn (9,798;) and Piz Gloria, where the first James Bond movie was filmed; xxx valley and waterfalls; and Brienz and Thun Lakes. Most importantly, we celebrated Diane’s 77th birthday with a wonderful Asian fondo dinner in Interlaken East.  

“Rhine Getaway” – We took a September 24-October 2 voyage on the “Eliner” Viking longboat from Basel to Amsterdam. This particular Viking river cruise was named “Rhine Getaway” and subtitled” Castles & Cathedrals” (both names are printed in the Viking brochure). The following paragraphs are organized by the eight days of the cruise, including the ports of call and points of interest:

Day 1 – Basel, Switzerland – We arrived to Basel by train from Interlaken a day before the cruise and spent an extra day there, visiting museums and other points of interest).

Day 2 – Breisach, Germany, with a tour of the Schwarzwald “Black Forest”;

Day 3 – Strasbourg, France, the largest port on the Upper Rhine;

Day 4 – Heidelberg, Germany, including Heidelberg Castle, medieval old town, Heidelberg University;

Day 5 – Titled “Middle Rhine scenic cruising of a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” this day was the “heart” of the cruise – seeing a restored or ruined castle at just about every bend of the river. The Marksburg Castle (see photo) was the only castle that we were able to visit, and it was a wonderful experience. Other highlights included viewing the famous Lorelei Rock, one of the best known geographical piece of German folklore.  The day also included visiting Koblenz, Germany, at the juncture of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, including a tour of Marksburg Castle (see photo).

Day 6 – Cologne, Germany, touring the old city and the Cologne cathedral;

Day 7 – Lower Rhine cruising, including Waal and Merwede, The Netherlands, and a tour of Kinderdijk Windmills (see photo) and Day 8-Amsterdam, The Netherlands, disembarking early and going by bus to the Amsterdam airport where we departed for JFK at 11:00 AM.

 

 

 

 

Travels in 2020

Western Mexico: San Diego to Puerto Vallata, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas (followed by a week in southern California)                                   

January  

A

++++++++++++++++++++++

So many more places to visit –

such little time!

A glacier in southernmost Chile

“Ethnomusicology as Advocacy”: Music of the Warao

duskThis introduction to the music of the Warao is like an EXCURSION through the rainforest musical world of an Amerindian “nation” in peril, as the Warao attempt to culturally survive in 21st century Venezuela and the world. The excursion begins by focusing on several aspects of Warao secular music and musical instruments, such as the lullaby, the deer bone flute, the violin, and the drum. By using song texts and folk tales (which are like Warao history books), aspects of the Warao world view and beliefs are introduced. It continues by looking at music and shamanism among the Warao of Venezuela (look at this link of Latin American rain forest maps, and click on various countries to see the breadth of the forested areas in South America).

One of the most important contexts for music within the South American rain forest cultures is shamanism. A shaman is an individual who communicates with the supernatural for purposes of maintaining order in both the mortal and immortal worlds. He (or less often, she) usually does this by singing, because song is a special form of communication between humans and their spiritual advisors, protectors, and adversaries. The most powerful tool of the Warao wisiratu shaman is a huge rattle called hebu mataro. (In the picture to the right, a Warao shaman is seen returning from the house of a seriously ill man; later that evening he sang over the man for hours, using his hebu mataro rattle, in an attempt to cure him.)

THE EXCURSION BEGINS

(1) The rain forest setting of the Warao: the Delta of the Orinoco River, Venezuela

deltaThe Warao are a native American people who live in the lower Orinoco River rain forest of Venezuela (when you scroll down to the map in this link, the Orinoco River Delta area is referred to as an “inland swamp“). Their name for themselves (their autodesignation) translates as ‘Canoe People’ (wa = canoe, arao = owners of).

The Orinoco River Delta, known as the Delta Amacuro Federal Territory, is an intricate web or maze of rivers and streams that covers approximately 10,200 square miles of one of the few remaining tropical rain forests of northern South America. The area is easily navigable by canoe and other shoal draft boats. There are no rapids, no cataracts, and few obstacles except for shoals during low tide or the dry season, felled trees blocking one’s path, or flotsam. There are no dangerous animals, few snakes, and, except for the possibility of sting rays, electric eels, piranhas, and other water life with which one should not come into contact, few threats exist above or beneath the water.

houseThe majority of the Warao (also spelled Warrau, Guarao) group themselves together in extended families and live in piling houses along the swampy shores of rivers (see the picture to the right). Because of the nature of the Orinoco River Delta, the Warao are a riverine fishing people. Today they have also added horticulture to their food quest activities.

Extensive missionization did not begin until 1925 when Spanish Capuchin missionaries began to establish mission schools in the Delta. Other acculturative forces of recent times in the area include Creole built and owned sawmills with their attraction of buyers, sellers, traders, adventurers, and frontiersmen from the outside; oil exploration teams; road and dike builders; Creole settlers; and anthropologists and other scientists.

warao4Today the Warao number approximately 19,500 individuals grouped into about 250 villages throughout the central Orinoco Delta. The most isolated and also the most “traditional” Warao are those who live in the central delta of the Orinoco, on the Winikina River. In the area the villagers live, fish, hunt, gather food, play, move about in their canoes.

For a number of months in 1972, 1973, and again in 1974, I lived in the village of Yaruara Akoho on the Winikina River (situated within the circle on the above map of the Orinoco Delta), conducting research on the music of the Warao. I lived in the village school house (which was built on cement pilings), slept in a hammock, ate mostly rice and canned sardines, drank rain water collected from my roof, and bathed only when it rained (nearly every day). The above picture shows me with two of my most important friends and teachers (now both deceased). My research with the Warao resulted in a dissertation about music and shamanism of the Warao (Ph.D. 1973, UCLA), several articles in journals, and a book (see picture of front cover below) titled Music of the Warao: Song People of the Rain Forest (University Press of Florida, 1996).

Let’s continue to look at how music exists within the daily life of the Warao, because Warao people enjoy music, and they especially like to sing. Both men and women sing while they work and care for their children; children sing while they play; and many Warao of all ages often sing while relaxing in their hammocks. Shamans sing while they cure illnesses and contact Warao spirits; other religious leaders or elders sing ceremonial songs during rituals; and anyone can sing certain magical songs for protection or healing. Some Warao men play musical instruments, but not the women.

(2) The cultural significance and use of the Warao lullaby, and the meaning of the term “enculturation”

The primary utilitarian song type among the Warao is the lullaby, which actually has two functions. First, the lullaby soothes the child, not so much with its delivery which is harsh and loud by European derived standards, but by the presence of a familiar person (mother, father, brother, sister, grandparent, etc.) with her or his familiar voice.

Its more important function, however, is to be a vehicle for informal education—the texts of Warao lullabies are improvised to predetermined melodic patterns, and they address certain areas of Warao mythology and daily life. In other words, they teach the adolescent children (not the infant, who is too young to understand song texts) about Warao beliefs and existence.

Warao lullabies are usually sung by an adult member of the family, often a parent or grandparent. The song texts begin with gentle commands addressed to the baby, telling it to go to sleep and not to cry. Following these introductory supplications are several textual themes, such as reference to the absence of a parent who is away working in the rain forest, cutting trees or searching for food. The following lullaby, sung by the grandfather of the infant girl in this picture (she is held by her mother), tells about parental roles regarding food quest and infant feeding requirements.

1-1 – Lullaby sung by a mother

 

Don’t cry, go to sleep my little child.

Your mother went to look for food; she is looking for grub worms.

When she returns we are going to eat.

Your mother has not returned yet from there.

When she returns we will not give you anything,

because you don’t know how to eat yet.

Your father went without us.

Don’t cry, go to sleep.

This lullaby explains how the infant’s mother and father are in the rain forest gathering food (in this case grub worms), and how the baby cannot yet eat solid food.

Many of the Warao lullabies describe animals and spirits of the rain forest, most of them potentially dangerous. The majority of the animal lullabies are about jaguars: some refer to the physical characteristics of the jaguar, while others are about the jaguar’s desire to eat babies. The song texts often tell the infant to go to sleep or it will be eaten by a supernatural jaguar (or some other infant-eating animal or spirit). The following lullaby was sung by my neighbor for his infant son; it’s about a boneless jaguar:

1-2 – Lullaby sung by a grandfather

 

Nearby in the rain forest the jaguar is listening to us.

The head of the jaguar has no bones, it is pure flesh.

The jaguar is near, and it has a good head [it is smart] and can learn and speak Warao.

It is learning my words and my family’s words.

My son, I am your father.

The jaguar thinks hard, learning my words.

It is listening to us, so go to sleep.

Your mother went to look for food this afternoon.

If she brings food we’ll eat.

If not, we’ll go to sleep without eating.

In addition to warning about the boneless and flesh-eating jaguar, this lullaby also mentions the working mother. In a way it is preparing the adolescent children for physical and supernatural dangers, and also about the possibility of going hungry.

To a non Warao, the texts of the Warao lullabies may appear to be overly frightening for children. The idea of “go to sleep or else,” however, is not unfamiliar to North Americans and Europeans as we think of our own familiar cradle song with the following text: “Rockabye baby, in the tree top. When the wind blows the cradle will rock. When the wind blows the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all.” Many Native American lullabies appear to be frightening, while at the same time they are generally positive because they informally educate the older children who are nearby in their hammocks listening, subconsciously being prepared by their elders for the supernatural part of their world and its dangers, as well as being indirectly educated about parental chores, eating times, the types of food an infant cannot eat, and so forth. This technique of informal learning is also called “enculturation.” While certain types of informal learning take place during infancy, learning through listening to songs takes place during childhood and adolescence as the children themselves learn to speak and comprehend the Warao language.

(3) Three types of musical instruments of the Warao: muhusemoi (flute), sekeseke (violin), and ehuru (drum)

At one time the Warao possessed at least fifteen musical and other sound instruments that were used in shamanistic rituals, non shamanistic ceremonies, signaling, and entertainment. Of this number today, several are either rare, no longer used, or extinct (their memory lives on in Warao narratives, however). The ten surviving musical instruments are two types of container rattles, one strung rattle, two “flutes,” one “clarinet,” two “trumpets,” one double-headed skin drum, and one bowed “violin.” In this section we will study only the most common Warao instruments: the muhusemoi flute, the sekeseke violin, and the ehuru drum.

muhusemoi 

warao8One of the most frequently seen and heard aerophones among the Warao is the muhusemoi (muhu = bone, semoi = wind instrument), a ductless vertical flute made from the tibia of a deer. Several of my Warao friends made deer bone flutes for me, and my best friend and teacher, Antonio Lorenzano (seen in this picture), taught me how to play it by giving me weekly instruction. Through music lessons I learned that the Warao flutist has a unique way of fingering his instrument, unlike any other method of fingering with which I was familiar. The Warao method is to open the bottom finger hole, close it, open the middle finger hole, close it, and open the upper finger hole and close it. In other words, only one hole is open at a time, creating a scale unlike any others.

How does the flute maker construct his instrument? First he has to kill a deer (usually the chief of each village owns a shotgun). After he has acquired a suitable deer tibia, he opens both ends of the bone and removes as much marrow as he can with a knife. Then he places the bone in a place out of the reach of dogs, but within the reach of cockroaches which eat out the marrow within several days. After about a month he carves a saddle shaped (a wide notch) mouthpiece into the proximal end of the bone with a knife. Then he places the mouthpiece edge within the crotch between his thumb and first finger (using his fingers as rulers for finger hole placement). Where the tip of his first finger falls he will drill the bottom finger hole with the sharpened point of a harpoon in the fashion of a fire drill, a technique requiring only about one minute effort per finger hole, depending on the sharpness of the harpoon point. The maker then measures the distance for the second finger hole with the back of his thumb (from the tip of the thumb to the first joint) and drills it with similar ease. The same techniques are used to determine the placement of the third finger hole and drill it out. Since Warao hands and Orinoco Delta deer tibias all differ in size, there is naturally a difference in the resulting pitches of the final products. Then the maker tests his finished flute.

1-3 – Two men playing muhusemoi deer bone flutes

 

In this example notice how the two instruments are pitched a fourth apart, and how the musicians play the same melody in a type of canon (i.e., close imitation) like a round, each giving free reign to individual expression while maintaining a similar pulse.

Muhusemoi flutes are played in several contexts. They can be played with the Warao drum for contentment (and perhaps to scare away the animals?) while going into the rain forest to cut down a certain tree for making facial paint. Another Warao musician explained to me that two flutes are played in the rain forest by several men while other family members fell particular palm trees for making sacred cakes. Another context is the harvest dance festival, when several muhusemoi flutes are played with other instruments (such as the sacred Warao “clarinet”), making up a type of orchestra used for the sacred dance during the nahanamu harvest festival.

1-4 – Nahanamu harvest festival music

 

sekeseke

warao7Some Warao men play a handmade violin, called sekeseke, which they consider to be one of their traditional instruments. While it is often a crude representation of a European violin, sometimes the sekeseke is virtually the same as the classical Western instrument. The instrument used by my friend Menegildo in Yaruaro Akoho (seen in the above picture) is a close copy of a typical European violin. The bow, however, which is drawn across the sekeseke’s strings, resembles a European bow from the Spanish Renaissance period, rather than a modern violin bow (it has a convex rather than a concave curve). Moreover, the way Menegildo holds his bow is not consistent with modern violin playing.

According to Warao folklore the sekeseke was invented, first built, and sent to the Warao in a ship by a monkey from a far-off land. This mythical creature, who had the upper torso of a man and the lower torso of a monkey, learned how to make the violin in a dream. The late Antonio Lorenzano, my Warao friend and teacher, related the following narrative to me in 1972 about the origin and magical protective power of the sekeseke:

This is the story about the origin of the sekeseke which was made by a monkey. The monkey dreamed one night, and in the dream he made a sekeseke. During the dream the monkey cut a piece of wood from afar, not here but found over there. It was a piece of cedar, similar to the cedar found around here. He cut it with a machete, and with his knife he made the little head and the place where the strings go. Thus the monkey dreamed, and when he woke up he knew how to make the sekeseke. He said “Wow, what a great dream I had. Today I’m going to make a sekeseke like I made in my dream last night. I’m also going to make a boat, a very large one, because people from other countries have never seen this.” Then the monkey got up and began to make the sekeseke. First he cut a piece of cedar, similar to the wood from afar. The wood that he used in the dream is not the same as the wood of the earth. Now, during the day he cut wood that is from this world; he cut cedar. He carved it well, and with his knife he refined it and made the little holes on each side. He made the little head and made a little hole behind it. Then in the middle, where he made the double holes on each part, he attached the bridge. Over this he placed the strings; the first, second, third, and fourth; four strings. Violin, four, sekeseke. Now, as he did in the dream, he made a bow. Then the monkey tried it out. It sounded good when the bow was drawn across the strings. All the songs sounded good. Therefore, it was ready.

The jaguar didn’t know anything about this. He is dumb, lazy, and is good for nothing. He doesn’t know anything and is a brute. The jaguar thought, “Hey, tomorrow I am going to kill and eat the monkey.” Then he slept, and when it was about dawn he sent a message to the monkey: “Look, friend monkey, be prepared. You know that today I am going to kill you and eat you.” The monkey said, “Who’s going to attack me today?” “The jaguar,” was the answer. “Aha,” said the monkey, “now that I have my violin already made, it’s okay, let him come. If he kills me and eats me, it doesn’t matter. It’s not important to me. But before he kills me and eats me I am going to play some beautiful music for him. After that he can kill me and eat me.” The jaguar said, “Now is the time. At eight or nine o’clock I will arrive there, precisely to kill this monkey and eat him, nothing more.” So, at eight or nine o’clock the jaguar came. But before he arrived, the music was all prepared by the monkey. When the jaguar got there he said, “Well monkey, today is the last day of your life. Pretty soon I am going to kill you and eat you.” The monkey answered him, “Just one little minute jaguar; before you kill and eat me I’m going to play some music for you. Afterwards you can kill me and eat me.” Thus, the monkey passed his bow over his violin and the music was the best ever heard. The jaguar, the deer, the agure, the howler monkey, and all kinds of birds gathered around the monkey. When the bow passed over the strings of the violin all the animals stood up and began to dance. The jaguar danced, the birds danced, everybody danced, and the music they heard was the most beautiful ever. They danced until they were tired of dancing. “It’s good, stop, we’re tired. Ah, such beautiful music!” said the jaguar. “Good, my monkey friend, it’s alright. I thought you were a brute and that you didn’t know anything about music.” Yes, my friend jaguar,” replied the monkey, “I am your friend, your cousin. I have been a musician from the time I was very little. I am the one who made this sekeseke, the strings, the bow, the song, everything. Now you must not eat me.” “Certainly not,” said the jaguar, “because you are a musician.” This is the end of the story, my friend.

While the theme of this narrative is the power of music (to sooth the savage beast?), the sole use of the sekeseke among the present Warao is for entertainment. It is most often performed by an individual male for his own satisfaction, with family members nearby tending to their chores. Its repertoire primarily includes dance songs for listening pleasure rather than for dance (the original dance function is extinct).

ehuru

This is the only drum or membranophone of the Warao. It has two skins made from howler monkey hide, and one of the skins has a snare that consists of a string and a thorn. This causes the sound to vibrate, as you can hear in the music. The drum is played with one drumstick, and the body of the drum has a slight hourglass shape. The ehuru is used most often for leading a group of people walking through the rain forest. With its sound the leader of the single-file can let those behind him know where he, the leader, is. It is easy to get lost while walking in the rain forest of the Orinoco Delta. The ehuru can also accompany songs, such as you can hear in the following example.

1-5 – Male song accompanied by ehuru drum

NOT INCLUDED (available on CD that accompanies book)

The song text makes no reference to walking in the rain forest; this is perhaps because the song was recorded out of context in the school house, and also because the singer sang a shortened version of the song for me to record.

(4) Warao cosmology and religion

The Warao concept of their universe is complex, and certain aspects of Warao cosmology are perhaps influenced by natural geographic and astronomical phenomena visible in the Orinoco Delta region of Venezuela and adjacent areas. For example, the Warao view their world as surrounded by water, which it nearly is. In the middle of their cosmic sea is the land mass upon which they live, flat and shaped like a disk. Beneath their earth lies a lower world inhabited by a double-headed snake that encircles the earth, exposed, at times, like a sandy beach, with its two heads spaced apart to create an opening towards the east, just as the mouth of the Orinoco River creates an opening into the Atlantic Ocean. The snake’s movements are believed to cause the ebb and flow of the tides. The Warao live at the center of this land mass, while at each of the cardinal and inter cardinal points, across the water and at the very ends of the world, are sacred mountains or pillars upon which certain deities dwell. Each of these supreme beings is known as kanobo, which literally means “our ancient one” or “our grandfather.”

palm2The kanobo of the southern mountain resembles a toad, although it can also assume a human form. The kanobo on the sacred mountain in the north (which is an actual hill, named Nabarimi Hill, on the western coast of southern Trinidad) is known as the “Father of the Waves.” The kanobo of the eastern cosmic mountain is the unapproachable god of origin. The geographic equivalent of his abode does not exist because it is in the Atlantic Ocean. His son, called the “Creator Bird of the Dawn,” is represented by a swallow-tailed kite. Because it is situated at the end of the universe where the sun rises, this easternmost cosmic zone (called hokonemu in shamanistic texts) is most sacred to the Warao. It is the realm of light, is misty like dawn and tobacco smoke, and is the cosmological sector associated with bahanarotu shamanism. In the eschatology of the Warao it is a highly sought after place to spend eternity. The western extreme of the Warao universe, by contrast, is the world mountain of the god of the underworld and the supreme Hoa spirit, called Hoebo—he is embodied by a deified scarlet macaw. This cosmic world is the ominous end of the universe where the sun sets, symbolized by the fiery sky of dusk (seen in the picture to the right), the bright feathers of the scarlet macaw, and the redness of human blood. It is the eternal place of death and darkness, the region of the cosmos associated with hoarotu shamanism. In the eschatology of the Warao, this is a terrible place to end up.

Covering this complex Warao universe of water, land, sacred mountains, serpents, light and darkness, is a celestial dome, shaped somewhat like an Indonesian knobbed gong or a Frisbee. Connected from its apex to the center of the earth by an axis mundi, or central pathway embedded from beneath the earth like a celestial tree, Warao shamans ascend the dome and travel to the world mountains via celestial roads. The apex of the dome is inhabited by additional, though lesser ranked, deities known as hebutuma (plural of hebu)–-–ancestor spirits. The most important hebu is the first wisiratu shaman, who ascended the axis mundi (the center of the cosmic world) with his sacred hebu mataro rattle.

Warao shamans or religious practitioners (wisiratu, bahanarotu, and hoarotu) frequently travel the celestial paths of the Warao universe. Without their supernatural knowledge, the Warao would have no life after death, and their lives on earth would be meaningless. Additionally, the hebu ancestor spirits can cause sickness and death to the Warao, and they frequently visit earth to do so. Shamans are the only mediators between the mortal and immortal, and with their powers and knowledge they can cure illness and maintain stability in the Warao world.

The most frequent shamanistic context for song among the Warao is the curing of illnesse, which points to one very important function of Warao music: to furnish the singer with power. This power is essential to the Warao because of their preoccupation with death and dying. Most, if not all, Warao deaths are believed to be caused by the actions of supernatural powers; however, there are three levels of supernatural causes—hebu, bahana, and Hoa.

According to the eschatological beliefs of the Warao, almost all dead souls are destined to go to a particular place, depending upon the dead person’s occupation during life. Two exceptions to this are adults believed to have been killed by Hoa (spirit powers in the western cosmic realm), and children who, until adolescence, are believed not to have souls. The largest number of deaths among the Warao is among the children—the infant mortality rate, at 49 percent, is especially high.

The death of a Warao child is not taken lightly by the members of the child’s village—all the villagers are related to the deceased by either blood or marriage. When I arrived at the village of Yaruara Akoho in the summer of 1974 a child had just died. The entire village was in mourning, many of the men were (ritually) drunk, and the women were wailing (see also Charles Briggs 1993). After several days of quiet observation on my part, and when the village seemed to have returned to normal, I noticed a number of women leaving by canoe. My male friends explained to me that the women were going to check the canoe in which the deceased child was buried, to see if there were any bird tracks in the mud within which the body had been encased. I also learned that a corpse, waba in Warao (meaning “dead”) is buried in a wa or canoe; it is wrapped in a hammock, placed in a dugout canoe, and packed in mud. The canoe-coffin is placed above the ground on poles in a Warao cemetery, not too far from the village. According to Warao belief, a certain bird will visit the burial place and leave its tracks in the mud if the deceased was killed by Hoa.

Concern over life and death, then, is of utmost concern for the Warao. In spite of the seventy-five years (since ca. 1925) of contact with Roman Catholicism through the Spanish Capuchín order, Warao traditional eschatological beliefs prevail. Christianity has functioned mainly as a parallel pathway for assuring a happy life after death, rather than as a replacement of the more ancient and traditional Warao ideology.

(5) The cultural significance and symbolism of the sacred hebu mataro rattle

rattle3The hebu mataro, a sacred instrument used almost exclusively by the wisiratu shaman, is a spiked vessel or container rattle idiophone made from a large fruit of the calabash tree (the fruit, known to us as a calabash, is often confused with a gourd—the former grows on a tree and the latter grows on the ground). The maker of the rattle cuts four slits into the large calabash, two vertical and two horizontal slits into the sides. The spike that pierces the calabash, forming both the uppermost projection and the handle of the rattle, is made from a stick of wood that is the same type of wood used by the Warao for their fire-making drills. The empty calabash is then filled with many (50 to 200) small pea-sized quartz pebbles.

The rattle is often adorned with bird feathers at the apex of the wooden spike that protrudes from the calabash. Selected red and yellow tail feathers taken from a live parrot are sewn into a long sash (as seen in this picture) that is wound around the tip of the stick.The construction of a hebu mataro rattle is not easy, because it is difficult for the maker (the wisiratu shaman) to obtain all of the required materials.

rattle6The hebu mataro rattle is one of the most powerful musical instruments in the practice of Warao religion, both for curing certain types illnesses and in individual and group religious practices of the wisiratu shaman. Are there meanings attached to of all these parts of the shaman’s hebu mataro rattle? Yes, there are powerful meanings, as with any religious icon. The shaman’s rattle is considered to be a “head spirit”: the calabash is the head, the wooden handle is the neck (some say the leg), the feathers are the hair, the slits are the mouth(s), the geometric decorations around the slits are the teeth, and the sound produced by the pebbles rattling inside is the voice of the spirit. Together these metaphors combine to make a powerful helping spirit for the wisiratu shaman. Furthermore, when the rattle is vigorously shaken during a curing ceremony, the quartz pebbles produce heat, causing the dust of the calabash and the stick (with its low flash point, as in the wood’s use as a fire drill) to ignite and produce glowing embers. Listen now to the following musical example.

1-6 – Wisiratu shamanistic curing song with hebu mataru rattle

 

(6) Warao shamanism and three types of Warao shamans: wisiratu, bahanarotu, and hoarotu

According to the Warao world view there are three types of cosmological practitioners that can be classified as shamans–-–wisiratu, bahanarotu, and hoarotu. One of the most important duties of any shaman is curing illnesses. Through a technique of ecstasy that is culturally induced with the aid of music and tobacco smoke (less of the latter than the former), a shaman is believed to be transformed into a powerful being which is able to sustain contact with the spirit world for the purpose of re-establishing order and balance in Warao society. There are three types of shaman because of the three major cosmic realms discussed above: the central, eastern, and western. Each of these three realms are the cosmological areas from whence come three different types of illness that can lead to death. To cure such illnesses requires the aid of the appropriate shamanic specialist. Only the shaman himself, with the assistance of his spirit helpers that reside within his body, can figure out what harmful essence (with power from one of the cosmological realms) caused the illness. It is up to him to effect a cure. To do so, the shaman must “name” the illness-causing essence through his curing song. When properly named, through a type of “cosmic diplomacy” with the spirits, the shaman removes the essence by massage or suction (see further Olsen 2008).

Wisiratu

The wisiratu cures hebu (ancestor spirit) sicknesses that are caused by the intrusion of a metaphysical essence into a victim’s body, thereby causing pain, fever, and even death. The wisiratu, with powerful assistance from his hebu mataro sacred rattle, attempts to name the essence and remove it with massage. As you listen to the example, you will hear the loud shaking of the rattle by the shaman as he sings.

1-7 – Wisiratu shamanistic curing ritual

 

rattle4The typical curing song cycle of the wisiratu shaman includes three sections (A, B, and C). The first (which I call A) is for calling his helping spirits that he has within his chest. When he calls these helpers through song, the wisiratu masks his voice and sings with a very growly tone quality. Voice masking is often used for supernatural communication. In the second section (which I call B), the wisiratu attempts to “name” the illness-causing spiritual essence that is within the patient, causing sickness. In this section voice masking is not used, because the shaman is transformed into a spirit himself. The melody of this section is more extensive than the first section, and is longer. During this B section the wisiratu can name a variety of hebu spirits. The shaman’s C section is a one note recitation-dialogue, in which the wisiratu is usually answered by his assistant or sings an answer by using ventriliquism. This short section is when the illness-causing hebu speaks with the shaman. A typical curing sequence includes a number of these musical sections, in a variety of orders, but most often A, B, C, B, C, B.

Bahanarotu

The bahanarotu cures physical ailments caused by bahana, which is the spiritual essence of some material object that has been placed into the body of a victim by a malicious bahanarotu or bahanarotu soul, with special powers acquired from the eastern cosmic realm. The bahanarotu shaman uses suction to remove the spiritual essence of an object from his patient’s body. One evening in 1972 I witnessed a bahanarotu remove a piece of nylon rope (from the patient’s head) and a rusty nail (from the patient’s neck) from a female victim. After removing the spiritual essences, the shaman produced the two saliva-covered objects and passed them around for us to view with our flashlights. These, he explained, were causing the patient’s illness.

Hoarotu

The hoarotu cures patients who suffer from Hoa, a spiritual essence that can emanate from any tangible or intangible thing. This type of illness, which derives its power from the western cosmic realm, is the worst kind among the Warao. There are few people who can survive a Hoa illness.

When the Warao hoarotu shaman sings to cure illness, his most important power element is the “naming” of the illness-causing spirit essence. Therefore, the curing hoarotu must name the spirit essence that is within the patient, causing him or her the illness. Because there are innumerable spirit essences that could have been named and placed into the patient and the inflicting hoarotu, the curing hoarotu often cannot name the correct essence. For this reason, sometimes multiple hoarotu shamans are called upon to cure, singing together in duet or trio (or even larger numbers) to try to effect a cure. One of the curing sessions I experienced was performed by three men, each singing the hoarotu curing melody at different pitches and with different words. Their objective was to cure a very important member of their village who had been struck down by an unknown cause (a stroke according to the Catholic missionery in the area, and a Hoa intrusion according to the shamans). Listen to a portion of that curing ritual which I recorded deep in the Warao rain forest in 1972.

1-9 – Hoarotu curing ritual performed by three shamans

 

The man did survive, and the curing hoarotu shamans received the credit; he was one of the lucky ones to have survived Hoa illness, according to them.

CULTURAL SURVIVAL

The traditional use of music among the Warao Indians of the Orinoco River deltaic rain forest is to provide the Warao with supernatural power to inflict illness and death, cure and heal, protect, cause rain, and educate. Yet, the Warao suffer from and have no control over the powers of governments and businesses, as oil and drug cartels invade and threaten to destroy their part of the fragile rainforest, urban homelessness and prostitution develop, and eco-tourism treats the area and it inhabitants as a theme park. While the information and musical examples in this “Ethnomusicology as Advocacy” case study inform about the Warao, how can that information help find solutions leading towards Warao cultural survival? The first step is to develop an appreciation for Warao musical and cultural expressions and to try to understand their significance for the Warao and humankind in general. If we can learn to appreciate and understand Warao music, then perhaps we can learn to appreciate the Warao as a culture and love them as people.

Envasion by big business (oil exploration, drug cartels, and more)

Cultural exploitation is a terrible thing, something that governments and businesses are not often concerned about. What often happens after cultural exploitation is usually sad and unforgiving. While living in the Orinoco Delta I saw some minor events taking place that I felt caused the Warao some cultural and personal anguish (deforestation; financial exploitation at “company stores”; changing food patterns because of introduction of white rice and sugar; and other rather insignificant changes). It wasn’t until I read a National Geographic article on the Orinoco River, however, that I discovered that recent events include drug cartels using the hundreds of secluded deltaic waterways for transporting narcotics out of South America, and oil companies are exploring the region for possible oil drilling; some have already erected oil rigs. A number of Internet links (NO LONGER AVAILABLE) are included below that elaborate on recent problems and possible solutions to the cultural exploitation of the Warao in Venezuela by big businesses.

  1. Environmentalists and Warao Indian Tribe Headed for Conflict with Oil Explorers“(Caracas: February 15, 1997)
  2. VENEZUELA-INDIGENOUS: Waraos Analyse Impact of Oil Drilling” (Caracas: March 20, 1997)
  3. The Downside of Oil Concessions” (Caracas: April 8, 1997)
  4. VENEZUELA: Survival International Demands Government Suspenion Of Oil Concessions Along The Rio Orinoco” (Caracas: April 17, 1997)

Urban Homelessness and Prostitution

As economic conditions for the Warao worsen, because of the deforestation of their fragile Orinoco Delta that leads to the extermination of natural animal and plant foods, a number of Warao have migrated to urban areas, especially Caracas, a large and dangerous city for the indigenous newcomers that are unfamiliar with modern urban living. Like other migrants to the cities, the Warao seek a better life. Like many others, they end up as slum dwellers or worse: as homeless and disoriented street people. The situation is especially sorrowful for Warao women and children, whose only solution, they think, is prostitution and crime. The following Internet article (NO LONGER AVAILABLE) creates an awareness of some of the plights of the Warao homeless in urban areas of Venezuela:

  1. Poverty, Disease, Oil Exploration and Logging Drive Warao Indians to Venezuela’s Cities” by Alexandra Olson (Associated Press, October 7, 2001)

Eco-tourism

I have not yet concluded if eco-tourism threatens the Warao and the Orinoco Delta in general. Unlike in Costa Rica, where the eco-tourism of native peoples is in the hands of the native people themselves, the Warao have no such power over their tourism destiny. Most of the articles published on the Internet are promotional, and many contain misinformation about Warao culture, oversimplifying the people and exoticizing the people and their traditions. Nevertheless, they feature beautiful photography and friendly discourse (like I said, they are promotional). The following Internet articles (NO LONGER AVAILABLE) provide examples relating to eco-tours in the Orinoco Delta:

  1. No blues in this delta” by Stephanie Fox (telegraph.co.uk, May 4, 2004)
  2. “Orinoco Delta” (Angel-Eco Tours)
  3. “Tour Orinoco-Delta” (www.fulldayturismo.com)
  4. “Orinoco Delta School” (Orinoco Delta Lodge, Tucupita Expeditions, www.orinocodelta.com)

Solutions

What can be done to help the Warao Indians of Venezuela, and others like them? The first step is awareness. You could surf the web yourself by entering the word “Warao” into www.google.com (in October, 2004, I got over 7000 hits); you will find articles by such organizations as Earthwatch, SAIIC, Amazonwatch, and many others. You could contact Survival International, an organization devoted to cultural survival around the world, and express your interest in helping cultures in distress. You could tell others about these web pages so they, too, can learn about cultural survival around the globe. Missions of various types have an interest in helping people make better lives for themselves, although cultural survival is often not their goal (the video titled “Warao Indians of Wakajara, Venezuela” shows the recent life styles of an acculturated, land-based Warao group, as they interact with Protestant missionaries; NO LONGER AVAILABLE).

Warao Audio Examples used in this essay (the CD that accompanies the book, Music of the Warao, includes 24 audio examples of Warao traditional music)

1-1 – Lullaby sung by a mother

 

1-2 – Lullaby sung by a grandfather

 

1-3 – Two men playing muhusemoi deer bone flutes

 

1-4 – Nahanamu harvest festival music

 

1-5 – Song accompanied by ehuru drum

NOT INCLUDED (available on CD that accompanies book)

 

1-6 – Wisiratu shamanistic curing song with hebu mataru rattle

 

1-7 – Wisiratu shamanistic curing ritual

 

1-8 – Hoarotu inflicting song to destroy tape recorders

NOT INCLUDED (available on CD that accompanies book)

 

1-9 – Hoarotu curing ritual performed by three shamans

 

Glossary

bahana – Warao harmful spiritual essence that pertains to illnesses from the eastern cosmic realm and cured by the bahanarotu shaman.

bahanarotu – “Owner of bahana,” the Warao shaman who pertains to the eastern cosmic realm.

ehuru – Double-headed membranophone made from wood; covered with howler monkey skin; played with one stick.

hebu – Warao word for “spirit,” usually an ancestor spirit which can cause illness and death.

hebu mataro – “Spirit calabash,” the Warao sacred rattle of the wisiratu.

Hoa – Warao harmful spiritual essence that pertains to illnesses from the western cosmic realm and cured by the hoarotu shaman. It is capitalized here to differentiate it from another type of curing song written as “hoa.”

hoarotu – “Owner of Hoa,” the Warao shaman who pertains to the western cosmic realm.

muhusemoi – Vertical flute with three finger holes and wide notch mouthpiece, made from the tibia (shin bone) of a deer.

sekeseke – A Warao handmade violin that is often a copy of a European violin (four strings). It literally means “scratch scratch.”

wisi – Warao word for “poison,” referring to the harmful spiritual essence that pertains to illnesses from the upper cosmic realm and cured by the wisiratu shaman.

wisiratu – “Owner of wisi,” the Warao shaman who pertains to the upper cosmic realm. Sometimes he is called hebu-arotu, or owner of hebu.

Bibliography

Briggs, Charles L. 1993. “Personal Sentiments and Polyphonic Voices in Warao Women’s Ritual Wailing: Music and Poetics in a Critical and Collective Discourse.” American Anthropologist 95/4:929-957.

Olsen, Dale A. 1981. “Symbol and Function in South American Indian Music.” In Musics of Many Cultures: An Introduction, Elizabeth May, ed., 363-385. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Olsen, Dale A. 1996. Music of the Warao of Venezuela: Song People of the Rain Forest. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Olsen, Dale A. 1998. “Warao.” The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Vol. 2. South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Dale A. Olsen and Daniel E. Sheehy, eds., 188-198. New York: Garland Publishing.

Olsen, Dale A. 1998. “Warao.” The Garland Handbook of Latin American Music. Dale A. Olsen and Daniel E. Sheehy, eds. New York: Garland Publishing.

Olsen, Dale A. 2008. “Cosmic Diplomacy and Celestial Battles: Shamanism, Music, and Healing in Two Contrasting South American Cultural Areas.” In Oxford Handbook of Medical Ethnomusicology, Benjamin Koen, ed., 331-360. New York and London: Oxford University Press.

Discography

Olsen, Dale A. 1996. Music of the Warao of Venezuela: Song People of the Rain Forest. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. Compact Disc that accompanies book.

Filmography / Videography

The Warao. A 16 mm film (and video) by Jorge Preloran. Distributed by University of California, Los Angeles.

With this statement, the author grants public permission to quote from these materials and use the audio excerpts for non-profit educational purposes only. As with proper documentation usage of any publication, credit to the author and the source must be given. However, use for commercial purposes is prohibited without the prior written permission from the author.

Questions, discussion, or more information? Send email to dolsenmusic@gmail.com