Mariel means Star of the Sea. I entered the scene, in 1956, in Havana, Cuba. Until I was twenty-five, I lived in the sphere of influence of the Antilles – Cuba, Venezuela, and La Florida. Never in my wildest dreams, I thought I would live in the desert. I now reside in the Sonoran Desert in Oro Valley, Arizona.
To my young and inexperienced eyes, nothing on earth would compare to the turquoise glow of the Caribbean Sea, the palette of vibrancy and color infusing life to its coral reefs, its life altering underwater scenes, and the majestic swaying of royal palms in the dazzling-hot summer breeze.
During my youth, my parents took me to the Venezuelan coastal desert in Coro, Venezuela. There, goats eat tin cans and spiny cacti. I rode a camel, burned my feet in the scorching hot sand, and watched perplexed how its particles traveled mimicking the movement of the sea.
In my late teens, I visited the ruins of Chan Chan, the ancient Kingdom of Chimor, in the coastal desert of Peru. There, dunes migrate often covering the road and leaving one stranded for a day or two. Then, I traveled to the wedge of Amazon Rain Forest in Venezuela, and experience la Selva Amazonica and the enchanting world of the Pemon and Motilon Native Tribes.
The best memories from early childhood include long walks on the beach and working in the garden with my grandfather Jose Maria (Papo). Before the Cuban revolution offered the opening brake-shot that dispersed our family the world over like balls on a billiard table, I learned the healing magic of planting, pruning, and gardening from Papo.
The Mamby, my great-grandfather Rafael Bencomo, also known as Robustiano, fought with Antonio Maceo, the Titan of Bronze in the Cuban independence war to abolish slavery in the island. A man filled with whimsical tales, he lived a healthy life riding his horse, eating Spanish chorizo, drinking rum, smoking hand-rolled Cuban cigars and traveling alone from key to key in a stingy old boat until dead paid him a visit on his 106th birthday. The wise old man introduced me to the art of storytelling.
From my grandmother Felicia (Fela), I learned that food is the universal language of peace. And my grandmother Pancha’s contagious passion for food and her world renown pineapple upside down cake inspired me to become a personal chef and learn to speak the language of fine cuisine. These ancestors offered me a window to God.
Different in character and upbringing as most migrating souls, these pilgrims from various corners of the world agreed on few things:
- Love is the organizing power of the universe;
- Violence only leads to more violence;
- Happiness is a way of being;
- Success involves overcoming fear and taking risks;
- Peace is the ability to cherish the moment;
- To love someone is to give them the best of you freely and joyfully without expecting anything in return;
- No one learns with someone else’s head;
- No one feels with someone else’s heart;
- No one walks in someone else’s shoes;
- A happy stomach leads to a happy heart;
- Laughter and joy are the best remedies for all maladies;
- It’s better to be alone than to have bad company; and
- If you don’t like your problem, try someone else’s. Soon you will want your old problem back!
Little I knew while immersed in the alluring magic of red ibises and blue morpho butterflies that I would become a refugee at the age of five and never again enjoy the wisdom of my elders. Strangely, their teachings traveled to jungle, deserts, mountains and seas and imprinted their footprints in my energy field. And this knowing from the In-between carried me through hurricane seasons, tropical storms, nightmares and dreams.
These ancestors were Poets and Muses in disguise. And this website is a tribute to them and to all those brave souls who touched my matrix inspiring me to revere the vibrancy of life.
Life is what happens while we tell our tales.
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