So we left San Francisco at the end of June and got a train called 'The California Zephyr", all the way to Colorado via Nevada and Utah. It was amazing scenery (photos on vajralilas facebook). The is a viewing carriage so spent 2 days there riveted to the desert and the rockys and the white water. We met some lovely people on the train, 2 sisters and their mum. One of them invited us to come and stay at her ranch in North California for as long as we liked and she would feed us too. This kind of generosity is not unusual.
We got to Grand junction and struggled in crazy heat to carry more luggage than we could really cope with, (we had had to get a tent, sleeping bags etc just for the retreat at taramandala) and got lost so walked double the distance we needed to. But we got our greyhound bus to Durango and this was our first experience of 'couch surfing', it's a website you just ask a stranger if you can stay. so this lovely young woman had us stay on her couch the night. She wasnt in when we first arrived which was worrying, but she turned up and showed us the lovely town. She left us there with her house mate the night and she went to sleep at her boyfriends and the next day she came back, cooked us breakfast and then went to work, leaving us to see ourselves out. How is that for validating faith in human nature! A similar experience happened after the retreat when we had our second couch surf experience. This time we had a proper bed and the lady took us out for dinner and said she'd like us to come back and do a day retreat that she would organise. Its good practise all this in that we travel and feel at the end of our tether and then stay with people and we can't just withdraw and go to a room somewhere, we have to go beyond our self and be friendly and sociable. And actually when theres no option, its ok. Now is always ok, it's just the projected future that isn't.
The retreat in the middle of this was amazing. The place itself, Taramandala is magic. Lama Tsultrim has had this incredible vision to build a temple and has! Its a massive Tibetan temple in the middle of mountains in a valley. Lama Tsultrim generously taught 5 or so hours a day. We learn a lot more about Chod and improved our drumming. The whole time was blessed and it really does feel like a positive force is guiding us. At the end of the retreat this woman came up and handed us an envelope with $100 in it saying she could recognise our going forth and wanted to support it, that was meaningful to be witnessed in that way. Lama Tsultrim encouraged us to return in august for a special retreat but it looks financially impossible we think.
One day Vajralila saw a bear not far from where we were camping and that night a heard of horses trotted around our tent and we thought it was bears and freaked ourselves out. When they went we took our sleeping bags and slept in the Temple!
So next was a 3 day, 2 night train to New york, which although the scenery was fab, the sleeping in the chairs and the airconditioning for this long was exhausting. Sita had us stay with her in New York, she was lovely and her and Sudakini got to do contact dance together. We did a day on the System of meditation for the New York sangha which went well and was a privilege.
Hey ho! of we go now from a few days in Rhode Island to a Lama surya Das retreat in Garrison.