Archive for the ‘relationships’ Tag

My New Year’s Resolution: To Not Look For Love In Latin America, Part I   5 comments

Each New Year thoughts and resolutions turn to making this year better than the last.  I’m gonna exercise more.  I am going to stick to my diet.  Find a new job.  Take a vacation.  There are thousands of different ways people swear they are going to change their lives for the better.

Well, I have decided on what not to do this year.  After a tough divorce from a great woman, I have decided to relax.  To not try so hard to have the family in my life that seems to have eluded me.   And from a guy that has spent decades fooling himself into believing that he was in control, this will be no small feat.

To understand my decision in its essence, I need to go back to high school.  I was the ugly duckling.  I was dark brown in a culture that valued light and white.  My glasses were not made for young men with fragile egos.  Coke bottles, I think they called them.  I am from the nerd stock.  A wanna be intellectual with boyish ways and a decent smile.  But after three years in and out of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Colombia I have come to know that one’s ego can write checks that ultimately will beg the question, what do you really want for your life.

For reasons, at least in my mind way too complicated to tackle in this article, there are way too many women (like my friend in the photo) in these countries seeking boyfriends, marriage or just someone to share their journeys.  Some are breathtakingly gorgeous.  Many are just plain pretty.  Most would make any man happy.  And some are either desperate or damaged, or both, enough that they would go with whoever can pay the bills.  This is the ego driven temptation that belies the fact that there is basicness, a simplicity, about life and living in Latin America which underscores the true value, and perhaps even intent, of relationships.

Being in Latin America can be like being Odysseus on his journey home.  Even if one avoids crashing on the Island of Sirens you still have to deal with Calypso wiling you to a fantasy filled life on the Isle of Ogygia.  Not a bad life if one is ready for the responsibilities that come with the willingness to have someone in your life who will try their best to give you what you think you need, when you think you need it.  What I have come to know is that the hopes and dreams of many here is not only about falling in love.  They are also about not having to live in crowded houses, sleeping with other people in your bed no matter how old you are, eating healthier and doing more than working without end.

I once met a guy in a bar in Costa Rica.  He had an apartment in San Jose.  He was maybe early to mid-sixties.  Tall and handsome.  Kind of like I imagine Colin Firth will look in his later years.  He was waiting, he said, for his new woman friend.  As we talked, sharing from where we both came, he admitted both to me, and I think himself, that her motives may not be just for love.  It was easy to tell that he was taken.  And as she walked in the door I could see why.  She was absolutely movie star status.  Five nine, maybe 130 lbs., maybe 25 or 26, long auburn hair with golden highlights, a killer body and a “come and do whatever you think you can handle” smile.  As they left, we said our “wish you wells.”  Poignantly, he added, “I think she could probably teach me something about life.”

According to Homer, Odysseus bade his men to tie him to the mast of his ship to avoid the temptations of the sirens.  He knew that the songs of sirens will change your life without those changes being a conscious, and if it is ones value, a planned decision.  In Latin America, the stakes are different.  Perhaps even higher!  In my journey, I have learned the difference between ego driven decisions and decisions that come from living a life that is fulfilling.  Hard as it may be to imagine, though poverty and disparity may cause people to come from a place of economic need they can also come from a place of spiritual wholeness, even in their desperation and damage.  This is a profound shift in being, as well as the way the world has worked around me.

The inescapable reality in Latin American is that meeting one’s needs can come before love.  And love can come from meeting someone’s needs.  A love that is stronger, more binding, fiercely loyal and passionate in service to the wants of the provider than I have ever known.  For all I know my handsome bar friend could be living in San Jose in perfect bliss.  Knowing what he has, or not knowing, but being content each day with what is making him happy.  There is a part of me which would envy him that life.  Perhaps that is my ego talking.  Or the “Leave It To Beaver” life goal that I was programmed to believe would bring me happiness.

But I am not yet ready for Ogygia.  Like Odysseus I am on a journey, as are we all.  And as most of us know, sometimes getting home can be a challenge full of trials and triumphs.  I am grateful to have the ability to learn, to grow, to enjoy connections that affirm the conscious enlightenment to which I aspire.  My goals remain: to be a positive light in the lives of others; to be physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy; to grow and prosper in my writing; to find a home that will benefit from my art and design background; and to create more opportunities for my continued teaching and learning.

2012 will be a great year, I know.  I am already blessed the teachings of my journey.

Happy New Year

Posted January 9, 2012 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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Living in A “Machista” Culture – Things I am Learning   1 comment

Many people describe the part of this part of Latin America as a “machista” culture. I readily admit, understanding what this means, and how I fit in, is a work in progress. For example, I still have trouble with women cleaning public restrooms, while I am taking care of business. It was explained to me that cleaning toilets is women’s work. No self-respecting man would do it. My female friends say this is a “machismo” culture because men are un faithful, do not take care of them and spend too much time in the streets. The “machista” dynamic is also evidenced by the fact that men do not give up their seats to women on public buses. In fact they rush to sit down paying no attention to the women around them. One day, while riding the bus here in Barranquilla, my girlfriend hid her face while I chastised a father for encouraging his young son to sit in a seat reserved for disabled, elderly and/or women with babies while an elderly woman stood just three feet away. Ufff!!!

But one of the most glaring attacks to my consciousness is the significant number of women who are caring for children without economic or emotional support from the men responsible for their children’s birth. The father of my girlfriend’s child is a doctor. He gives her no money to care for their daughter. He never sees his daughter. He never calls his daughter. And by her account he has perhaps two other children who are suffering from the same level of abandonment. The tough thing for me to deal with is that this is more the norm than the exception.

What I am finding are lots of women looking for someone to either take care of, or do things for, them and their children. A few months ago I was introduced by a friend to a young lady who said had interest in me. Though I believed that this woman was too young for me, I thought that we could be friends. I had a lunch party, and invited them all, including her mother and son, to join me. We all had a nice time. Before leaving this young lady made it known that she wanted me to loan her the money to buy her a laptop computer. She assured me that I was special in her life and that repaying me would be a high priority for her. During my brief time here I also have been asked to: buy someone’s child shoes; pay for a mother’s medical visit; loan money; pay for someone’s hair appointment; buy medicine; buy food; and to pay tuition. I have also been robbed by a woman who, along with her son, I befriended.

One could say that these things have come to pass quite simply as a result of women trying to take advantage of a North American who has more than they do. But I think it goes way deeper than that. What complicates this simplistic view, at least for me, is that: women earn significantly less for doing the same jobs; most do not aggressively pursue economic support from the fathers of their children; they often have grown-up in households with strict rules about gender roles; because of internal conflicts, low job rates, and homosexuality, there are way less marriage eligible men available to them; and the views of the Catholic Church on relationships and contraception have a vice like gripe on the culture’s values and women’s behaviors. All of this perhaps would not be so bad if this combination of social, religious and political dynamics did not have significant numbers of women scuffling in all manners of ways to pay rent, keep the utilities on, pay for clothing, buy food and care for their children.

A number of years ago, Warren Buffet coined the phrase “the great ovarian lottery.” His belief was that his great fortune resulted from the random phenomenon of the time and place of his birth. Though I grew up poor in West Virginia, I have no memory of going without a meal, unless it was by my own choice. I am not sure how I would make it if I were born in the outskirts of Managua or in a pueblito outside of Pereria, female and poor. What would my life be like if I had grown up in a household where my father either abandoned me or paid too much attention to my well-developed body? What would my life be like if education was not a real option? What would be my chances for survival, happiness or wealth? I am blessed to have been born during the civil rights era in the United States of America – one of the wealthiest countries in the world – during a time where America’s guilt and the world’s view of our racist society collided to create opportunities for me to be educated and advance.

Because of the path I have traveled, I cannot simply say it is people, women, trying to take advantage. For me one of the vestiges of this “machista” culture, like the vestiges of a racist culture, is the day-to-day struggle that is the life of many women and children. Perhaps it would not be so bad if the dependence on men to take care of things was not being undermined by the men who only take of themselves. Certainly, this is not the story of all men here. There are great fathers. There are great husbands here also. However, they also are undermined by the men who have learned how, and are accustomed to, having their cake and eating it too.

My heart aches for those that worry about from where their next meal will come. My brain does not get how a person working ten hours a day making $6000 a year while caring for one to two children seeks to make it without any economic and emotional support from their ex-boyfriend or ex-spouse. Families are the safety net. People pitch-in to care for each other. Fortunately, in both Costa Rica and Colombia, banks and the government are making homes more available to more people. Unfortunately, neither country has a real system for educating and training the poor. And the growing economies in both countries still have not figured out ways to level the playing field for women and children. That is the sadness I feel here in this place. There are millions of children in poverty. For me one of the reasons is that the “machista” culture reinforces that it is the man’s right to not take care of his children. A right that is reinforced by women who have learned that taking care of children is their responsibility. And their responsibility alone!

Posted September 29, 2011 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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Looking for Love Online: A Latin Woman’s Experience   Leave a comment

International online dating has exploded.  Cupid Media, itself, claims more than 20 million customers.  Yet there are few protections for users.  Savvy adventurers make promises and use economic disparity to their advantage.  Those with hopes that their lives will be made better by what they cannot find in their own country are left, often alone, to navigate the gulf between their dreams and reality.

In 2005, the United States government adopted The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (Subtitle D of Title VIII (Sec.831-834) of United States Public Law 109-162),[1], or IMBRA, requiring background checks for all marriage visa sponsors and limits serial visa applications. The law also requires background checks for consenting adults who wish to communicate when using an international pen pal service. The impetus for its introduction was two cases (including the Susanna Blackwell case in 1995 and the Anastasia King case in 2000) in which foreign women had been abused and eventually murdered by men who had used a K-1 fiancée visa issued by the US State Department to bring them to the United States.

Yet, aside from obvious abusers, the online dating industry is immune from such regulation and interactions between users are whatever they deem these interactions to be.  Furthermore, there is neither a handbook nor orientation for managing differences in culture, education, morals, societal norms, religion, value systems, economic isparity or power imbalances.  Online dating has become a reality in relationship formation in today’s world.  The attached link continues the series “Looking For Love (or Whatever) In Latin America.” Mi amiga, I have removed her name, and I met online almost three years ago. Though we have actually never met we have had conversations, given each other advice and become social media friends. What follows is the translation of a discussion we had on her online dating experiences.

When did you start looking for a friend or boyfriend online?
Mi Amiga – Three years ago

What sites do you use?
Mi Amiga – ColombianCupid, LatinAmericanCupid, Cybercupido and La Casa Del Amor. But I am not active on the last two. I like LatinAmericaCupid the best because I have found very good friends on that site. But I have not found my true love.

What advice would you give others that want to look for love or friends online?
Mi Amiga: I would say that there are many things to look out for. There are many men just looking for sex and many women looking for easy money. There are not many people that are looking for real love. It is a place where many people are looking to satisfy their own interests. Sometimes you will find ugly men, without taste, without teeth but they send money. And that is what is important.

Tell me about some of your experiences meeting or talking to men online
Mi Amiga: The first person I met on LatinAmericanCupid we talked all day and at night for three months. Later he came to visit me. But he was not just here (in Colombia) to visit me. He had plans to travel to various cities. Medellin, Santa Marta and Barranquilla but first he came to Cali. We were very happy. We went out to dinner and to have sex in his hotel. But later I saw what he had, in his suitcase, lots of condoms (she laughs at this point). It was obvious that he was not going to use all of them with me. He was here for five days. Always with me! I thought that all was progressing well. The last day, at the airport, he said that I was not going to be the woman he was looking for. He said thanks for the attention but that he was going to continue looking…. I have not heard anything more from him.

Another guy I met, we talked every day. He is a nice guy but he has some self-esteem problems. He is fat. He asked me to marry him (she had not met him face to face) and I had hopes. But he likes to have his woman under lock and key, behind closed doors. We talked more. He told me that he had problems driving because of the pain he often felt in his head. I felt afraid to continue. So I preferred to not talk with him further. In reality online many offer marriage. Because of this I don’t believe nothing or in anyone. But Wayne this was a serious situation. He bought bicycles for my sons. He said that I would have no money problems (if I married him). He would send me money. He would get me a Visa. I would have a house in my name and I would have no problems. But these things they have prices.

I also met an ex-baseball player. Very famous in Baltimore. He played for the Orioles. He said every minute that he loved me. All of his family knew me. He would call and I would talk with his sister, mother and his child. We talked liked this for seven beautiful months. I changed many things in my life during this time. I only had time for him. I did not talk with any of my friends. No men. I did not go out. I did not connect to my Hotmail. I would only talk on Skype with him. If he called at 3:00 a.m. to say I love you I would enter MSN to talk with him. I loved him a lot. And my sons and parents were also happy for me. He came to Cali to visit me. We met happily at the airport. We kissed a lot. He came to my house first to say hello to my family. His kisses were beautiful. He said he wanted to make love a lot with me. I was planning this before. So we went to his hotel. And nothing happened. I do not know why. He could not do anything (get it up). Later he apologized because he is gay. Later he disappeared and changed his hotel. Later i saw him in the mal with other women. A friend of mine, that knows him, had told me that he had another woman in Brazil. And the same thing happened to her. He could not make love to he either. So, I confronted him about this. And he said yes, it is true. So, here I am with this tall well-built former baseball player that could not make love. Caramba, at least he did not lie to me.

I also met a guy from Cuba on ColombianCupid. He was a very good friend. I could tell him my problems and he would always want to help. But later he said that he wanted to have sex on the internet. He wanted me to show him my breasts. And he wanted me to masturbate for him. He would always call for me to do this. Then I said no, I did not want him to be my friend anymore (she laughs).

The last guy on the list came to Cali. I also met him on Colombia Cupid. He has business here. Over the past three years we only talked a little. He would always talk about his children. But for my birthday he was here and invited me to go to dinner. Later we went to a disco. We spent three days together. We went to dinner, lunch and to walk ne the malls. On his last day here we had sex. It was delicious (she laughs). We continued talking afterwards. But later he started to tell me about his desires to experiment with some things with me. He said he would give me money if I would have anal sex with him. I will not do that. I told him I was not a prostitute. He is very handsome. A gentleman. Very intelligent. But he is not a man to make commitments. He did not want to have a serious relationship.

Sometimes do you have sex on camera for men? Masturbate or show yourself naked?
Mi amiga: Yes, various times. With the guy from Cuba and with a guy from California.

How do you feel when you have sex for others on camera?
Mi Amiga: Very nice. There are times that I have done it without effort. With pleasure for the person that was watching. I like to feel desired. I like to feel that another is attracted to me.

Do you have more that you want to say?
Mi Amiga: Yes, this is an experience. I have not been online in a while. I have not found anyone important to me. Now I have a beautiful relationship with a much older man that worries about me. He lives here. He is interested in my life and makes me laugh. I hope whatever I have said helps.

Posted September 19, 2011 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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Things I Have Learned About Making Friends In A New Place   3 comments

From Rand, West Virginia (shout out!) to Pittsburgh (the burgh), Poughkeepsie, Washington, D.C. (so nice I did it twice), Philadelphia (love Philly), Baltimore, Vancouver (WA – that was an adventure), Kansas City and now Barranquilla, Colombia, I have been blessed to make and have good friends. There are some things I have learned along the way that I would like to share.

Some people will want something from you. Make it OK.
Living in a new place means recreating one’s life. Whether it is getting a haircut or finding a doctor we all need to learn again how to get what we want and need. I add about 20% to my first year’s budget and call it a learning tax. It took me weeks to find a grocery store that has the stuff I like at reasonable prices. Add to that the cost of going from store to store and it all adds up. A long-time friend, who is building houses in Costa Rica, talks about the lessons he learned from his first projects. From finding a trustworthy attorney (no jokes here) to a supplier that will not steal back the materials they sold, the challenges can be plentiful. What is true in many parts of the world is also true here; how much you pay can depend on the relationships you have. Some people want more because I am North American and they think that I can afford it. No malice, just fact. The goal, of course, is to not get ripped off. Just as importantly, I do not want to be so guarded that I am turning people off. The people who want to do business with me are also potential contacts and the start of a network that I can leverage in the future. They are also potential social connections that may make my living here more enjoyable.

Some people will want to know YOU
Not everyone is looking to take advantage of the new guy/girl. I keep running into the belief that the streets, clubs and marriage agencies are full of young poor Latin women looking for older men with money to live the good life in the United States. This is a self-serving crock! Are there some? Yes, I know some. Many though, from my experience, are seeking what most of us want: respect, love, fidelity, commitment and friendship. Some would leave their family, not for the green card, but because they would go where their man wanted to live. Others have no desire to leave friends and family; bedrock to people in this culture. Some would leave if they thought it would better the opportunities for their child or children. Given my experiences of bias and racism in the United States, there is no way I am going to perpetuate a belief that this is a culture of people out to take advantage of foreigners. So yes, I am cautious. Just like I am in anyplace I do not know well. The truth is though most people here want the same things in their lives as I want in mine; to know people that care about and respect them.

People have lives. They were not waiting for me to show up
I hate to say it but I have discovered that I am not as wonderful or interesting as I thought. There were no marching bands waiting, or dancing girls, or opportunities waiting for me when I arrived here. People were already living their lives before I arrived. The Friday night poker game has had the same number of chairs for years. The “hottie” at the beach has family responsibilities. The people I want to meet have other priorities. My lonely Wednesday or Saturday nights will not cause people to call me, not even my new friends, with stuff to do. Developing friendships and business relationships is a slow process, requiring time and repetition. Going to the same gym; having a favorite restaurant; going to same market or mall; all give people a chance to become familiar with me, leading to more and more frequent conversations. I also tend to use the same taxi drivers when I need to get around. One day as we were passing the futbol stadium, Barranquilla had just beaten Bogota; the driver asked if I liked futbol. I said yes. And he invited me to join him for an upcoming match. Because we are getting to know each other, I have an opportunity to expand my circle of friends and enjoy good futbol at the same time.

Finally, be who you are
Have you ever been tempted to recreate yourself when you move or visit another place? I don’t mean like DiCaprio’s real life character in Catch Me If You Can. No, I mean stuff like telling people that you have more money than you really have. Or saying that you played high school baseball when you really only tried out! Or saying that you dated Brad Pitt when he was in high school! Little stuff just to make yourself more interesting! In a word: Don’t. Not because you can’t pull it off. I can easily say I am 50 instead of 60 (no brag just fact). And honestly, there is plenty of incentive in Colombia and Costa Rica to say I am younger than I really am. But why go there? For ego, sex, money or something else! Our souls know who we are. Saying we are something we are not puts our egos in control. Sooner or later our egos, the lie, always undermine the possibility of real friendships. Above all, have fun and enjoy your life. I have found that people will naturally gravitate to me when they feel I am enjoying myself, even if it is just having a cup of coffee. From there, all things are possible.

Posted May 23, 2011 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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