This is very likely the first dream that I’ve read much into, not about the reasons certain things were happening as related to the past, but in such a way that relates to a larger thing in my life, bringing together past, present, and future. Maybe that’s a mistake. Maybe now if I’m taking this dream seriously, I should do the same for all of them. Frankly, that would probably drive me insane.
The dream was a very interesting one, for a few reasons. As I mentioned in the title, it was the first dream that was conducted entirely in Spanish. Of course, there are, in the dream world, certain unspeakables; messages whose point gets across without the need for language as we know it. These ‘unspeakables,’ while not communicated with conventional language, had a very poetic manner to them. They seemed to flow in and out of the events of the dream seamlessly, though their effect was that of a threaded needle, keeping the entire thing together. It was really quite unbelievable. Furthermore, the dream occurred between the time I first awoke, and awoke for the final time. Thusly, the events therein were very vivid, very palpable.
Our artfully poetic narrator opened the dream with a really intriguing idea. The idea was that, like the clouds atop the TeleferiQo ride, all things metaphysical would blow away hastily, and we’ll be focusing on the tangibles for the time we spend together.
I’m on a raft made of logs, floating down a river. I have a pretty strong feeling that the river that we’re on is the Amazon River, though this is never spoken, in any one of the ways aforementioned. The water is green, as is the surrounding flora. With me on the barge is an unrecognizable man, an older man, with grey hair and a dark cloak-like robe on. He is standing, pushing us along with a long pole of wood.
Atop the raft is a large, metal pot. It seems quite clean and modern. I would say it holds about 20 gallons of whatever one desired. Inside the pot is a hot batch of what looks like fanesca. Fanesca is a very traditional soup made in many parts of Ecuador during Semana Santa, which leads up to Easter Sunday. Of course, there are different traditions here than in the States, as is natural, but the dates are the same.
As we move slowly down the river, which is moving at a tranquil pace, the old man and I are discussing the value of various objects. He seems to know quite a bit about the idea of quality (see Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance). He shares his opinions in Spanish and we come to a conclusion. The value we observe determines whether or not each object will be put into our cauldron of fanesca. There develops a pattern that is quite simple. It is explained below.
There are two different types of objects. First, there are objects that ooze a sense of ‘tradition.’ They are the ‘traditional’ objects. ‘Traditional’ objects are dominated by two physical characteristics: they are either made of wood or knitted yarn of some kind. The second group of objects is those characterized as ‘modern.’ The ‘modern’ objects are similarly dominated by two physical compositions, either made of metal or glass.
The pattern is as follows. First, we grab an object, from where I don’t know. On the first turn, we appreciate the ‘traditional’ objects. If the object we have chosen is a ‘traditional’ object, we put it into the pot, stirring all the while. If, on the first turn wherein we’re appreciating the ‘traditional,’ and we happen to select a ‘modern’ object, it is thrown into the river. Somehow, and not by colliding with the surface of the water, the object we toss aside shatters into any number of pieces.
After the first turn, the ‘traditional’ turn, we have a ‘modern’ turn, so to speak. In this turn, if a ‘traditional’ object is selected, it is subsequently, and with a level of disgust, thrown into the river, shattering at some point between leaving our hand and breaking the plane of water. Of course, as follows, if during a ‘modern’ turn, we select a ‘modern’ object, the object is ogled as if it’s value is beyond belief.
This is the end of the first part of the dream, the part that I’ve thought quite a bit about today. Here are some thoughts.
I feel like, as I’m here in Ecuador, I’m constantly developing an understanding for the customs, traditions, foods, languages, land, people, attitudes, points of view, challenges, skills, problems, unknowns, etc…of the people with whom I spend time. This sounds very obvious, but sometimes I think it’s important to realize that progress is being made.
The combination of all of these tidbits of information comprise my holistic attitude towards the place I’m in. Inevitably, this attitude will be that which I project on the entire country that is Ecuador, whether that’s fair or not. I can’t help it. I don’t think you could either.
I see the pot as a representation of my brain and heart, and inside of it are the aforementioned pieces of learned information and visceral feelings. Together, they make up the fanesca that tastes like Ecuador to me. A little about fanesca, because I think it adds to this idea in a very nice way.
As I said, fanesca is a traditional soup made only once a year here in Ecuador. For that reason, Ecuadorians generally eat the stuff in three bowl portions for the entire day, which is Friday, the Friday Jesus died (I think). Outside of the Friday of Semana Santa, fanesca will not be found. I will, however, bring my recipe back and make the toot out of it for friends and family…it’s really good, hearty stuff.
Fanesca is not only traditional, but also representative of the day on which it is eaten. The soup itself has twelve different grains and vegetables, including peanuts, rice, zucchini, zapallo (winter squash), peas, green beans, and others. These twelve ingredients represent the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. Additionally, fanesca is generally served topped with boiled eggs, Spanish cheese, Parmesan cheese, and dried bacalao (codfish), likely a representative of Jesus. The base of the soup is traditionally milk and cream.
I made fanesca on the Friday of Semana Santa, however with a few variations. As a vegetarian, the bacalao is out straightaway. As one who appreciates the effects of a vegan diet, the eggs and the cheeses are out. As far as the base for the soup, I used soymilk, both in liquid and powdered form. Thus, my fanesca was somewhat traditional, and yet totally vegan. In this way, I feel as if the whole idea of the dream is perfectly manifested in the fanesca that I made, which in all likelihood, is the very fanesca present in the cauldron on the raft in the dream. Tradition is being honored, although, according to principles and present realities, it has been altered so as to be modern as well.
Beyond this, I thought a lot about the idea of the boat, and it’s slow progress. I have yet to be near large bodies of water here that weren’t either cascading down the side of a mountain or raining down from storm clouds, and although I have skeletal plans to visit the coast, I haven’t pondered much the Amazon, or any river, for that matter. Where might this have come from?
At the risk of sounding like a goofball, I think the boat represents that, no matter how slow and calm the trip, we’re all moving forwards towards something. I don’t quite know if that is some sort of enlightenment in the future, just a general growth in knowledge, a comfort in oneself, death. Or it could be much more hopeless. It could be that we’re constantly on the move, slowly, yet never having a defined destination, perpetually drifting, not taking time to stop and appreciate it (see Ferris Beuler).
As an optimist, and one who would rather dwell in romanticism and positivity, I prefer to think that the movement of the boat represents that regardless of whether we’re getting somewhere, we’re moving. I just like the idea of progress and forward movement (see my rant with Praveen, Adarsh, and other friends about the importance of Process over Product….see also Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn, a book that discusses the damage waged on children who are constantly taught to strive for rewards that come with completion of a product, who thereafter generally lose the ability to appreciate the path it took to get them there).
On the journey, there’ll be things that don’t matter a damn or that deserve to be shattered, and those things one leave along the path. In Ecuador, those things for me have been the chauvinism that dominates the male attitude here, the political, economic, and social power of the Catholic church, the tough guy attitude of youngsters here, Daddy Yankee, pollution, Quito.
The things that are beautiful, important, challenging, intriguing – those things go into the fanesca that is one’s holistic view of a situation, an event, a country, or oneself. In Ecuador, those things are a connection with indigenous blood, the idea of conservation of such a beautiful land, healthy nationalism, involvement in politics, fruits and veggies, fútbol, vegan fanesca, chochos.
Is one’s fanesca ever complete? Probably not, but it gets more tasty with every well-thought out and complimentary ingredient (see Mexican mole). The key is to have a strong sense of personal taste, which is to say personal identity, strengths, challenges, interests, principles, etc... With a good understanding of oneself, the ingredients in the fanesca will inevitably complement each other, and will leave not a single idea unanalyzed.
The moral of the story is to taste your fanesca. Think about things that sour the entire batch. Keep in mind that when you encounter that ingredient on your journey, you have the power to remove it from your ideological stew. Exercise that power, and be accountable to yourself first and foremost.