I have been a friend of Alex Green and his weekly Spiritual Wealth email since he published his first one a couple or 3 years ago. As Investment Director for the Oxford Club , I have always been impressed by his spot on analytical mind, so ever since he finally took the nerve and curve to show the world his other side with the Spiritual Wealth newsletter, I have been a loyal follower. Having spent some time in Tibet in my much younger year’s made me move from organized religion, which I consider my outer being to spirituality (my inner being) in my beliefs and when Alex sent this email last night I knew I wanted to share it with you, pictures and all.
This week I also got an email from Rick Traum, who as a retired producer of the Tonight Show, is now searching for metaphysical and spiritual ideas to introduce his wife Nadine Vaughan’s highly spiritual novel: “Native Land, Lost in the Mystery of Time.
He sent me a link to a youTube video that turned out to be an entire series of incredibly beautiful and mystical video introductions to the ancient parts of Mexico. If you have a spare hour, it’ll be much worth your time.
A Spiritual High at 1,400 feet – by Alex Green
I’ve just returned from an investment conference at the Four Seasons Resort in Costa Rica, followed by a real-estate expedition to Agora’s beautiful Rancho Santana development on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua.
Our trip took an adventurous turn, however, when a small group of us traveled on to the Totoco Eco-Lodge on Ometepe, an island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua, the biggest lake in Central America and home to rare freshwater sharks that – I am not making this up – get there by jumping like salmon up the rapids of the San Juan River.
What is an eco-lodge, exactly? It’s not the Waldorf, I can tell you that. The first night I slept under mosquito netting in a bunk bed in an open room (without doors or windows) with a dozen or so other intrepid travelers, many of whom were terrific snorers.
We were smack in the middle of a nature preserve – and Ometepe is home to hundreds of howler monkeys, small primates with an outsized roar that sounds like a cross between an elephant seal and someone getting violently ill.
Howlers get particularly noisy around dawn, which in Nicaragua arrives at an unspeakable hour. Lying in bed listening to them – you have no other choice – you’d swear the forest is full of lions and tigers. It’s not, of course, but the howlers certainly lend a touch of authenticity to the experience.
Our first day there, we noticed that men and women returning from a hike up the nearby Maderas volcano were absolutely encased in mud. “How careless can you get?” we laughed. We had no idea what we were talking about.
Early Sunday morning, five of us – and a local Nicaraguan guide – embarked on the vigorous nine-hour round-trip hike up the volcano, which soars 1,400 feet above sea level. Maderas is dormant. It hasn’t been active since the 13th century. But Concepción, smoldering ominously next door, erupted violently last year.
Our hike was idyllic at first. Crisscrossing the rainforest, we passed coffee, plantain and cacao trees. The bushes were filled with exotic flowers, butterflies, fork-tailed hummingbirds and bright-green parrots. We passed under troops of white-faced and howler monkeys – and marveled at ancient petroglyphs, rock engravings left by indigenous Indians dating to 300 B.C.
A couple miles up, we entered a cloud forest and the dirt path turned into a soggy climb through mud and clay. Often the only way to advance was by grabbing rocks or tree branches and pulling yourself up the trail. We landed on our rear ends more than once, but before long the shrieks and groans turned into peals of laughter. Our clothes and shoes were ruined but we pressed on.
Hikers on their way down rhapsodized about the view from the peak and told us about a beautiful lagoon in the center of the caldera. “Unfortunately, the water is too cold to swim,” they said.
When we got there, of course, we swam anyway.
My friend and colleague Dave Fessler was the first to step in and immediately sank to his knees in muck. Another step forward and he sank to his thigh – and kept going. Before long the other hikers splashed in behind him.
Listening to them shouting and waving, it was depressingly clear that I too was about to experience the frigid water and the most disgusting lake bottom imaginable. (And I grew up in the country, swimming in ponds.)
Relieved to be off the trail, my buddies cavorted about, covering themselves with muck and acting like giddy teenagers. You wouldn’t know it from the photo (below) but this was an alcohol-free afternoon.
Refreshed at last, we toweled off, made short work of a bag of chicken-salad sandwiches and climbed back up to the rim.
The view from the peak, across the rainforest, beyond towering Concepción and out to the blue waters of Lake Nicaragua, was simply spectacular.
“Woo-hoo,” yelled one group member, “what a sight!”
“What a day!” shouted another.
“What a life!” added another, summing up what all five of us felt.
Despite our long trek, it was only noon. Dave looked down at his watch. “My brother is in church right now,” he said.
Then shading his eyes and gazing out across the horizon, he added, “And so am I.”