The Making of Silence

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]This was written a couple of weeks ago, but I haven’t been ready to share it. Honestly – depression was running ramped through the Brand Fam’s Casa Patziac feeling as though we had really made a tremendous mistake. What we found is that through moments such as these, we came together and united as a family… literally getting through.

Silence is creatively empowering, and while power and internet are two essential aspects of our livelihood, it stunts my creativity. I have seen over the past few weeks of in and out power and the past few months without internet, just how creative I can be. I would say I am learning to take lemons and make lemonade. Yay.

If nothing else, as Kurt says, “We have been given a huge bank of source material on the topic of power.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Recent Musings from Days Without Power” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vc_accordion][vc_accordion_tab title=”Learning to Live Without Power, Internet, Phones and People”][vc_column_text]

I would venture to guess that it is due time to begin considering that we actually do live on a deserted island.

This morning around 5am, there was a boom and our power went out. It had been windy for two days, and finally ceased, and then this boom and a sizzle, snap crackle and our night light goes out.

When we actually got out of bed and confirmed the power was in fact out, I called our guardian. He normally says something soothing, but this time he said he would be down in 2 minutes and pointed me in the direction of the casita. Sure enough 2 of the power lines on our property have gone down and they must have just snapped under the pressure of the last few days. Yikes.

The guys came out around 11am to check it out, and I went up to look around. It is blocking the walking path completely with two looped wires laying down, and the rest is a mess within the trees, almost like a scribble in the sky. They are planning on checking this out tomorrow morning, which means that by Monday they will have a plan, and probably by the end of the week we will have power back. I have no great expectations.

We are literally alone, here and unless we want to pack up and go, we are checking ourselves into a weekend, or a few days without power, internet, communication, etc. Awesome.

We had plans, but I felt better canceling them, knowing our food was already going to go bad and that we didn’t have much to offer them by way of music, entertainment, etc. We can just exist in space and time, which is not our usual.

And we are giving it a whirl.

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In my current statement of mind, I am like a forgotten vessel in the bottom of a 1,000 ft. deep lake. We live in the middle of nowhere, without quick access to a town / community, and for days now we have been without internet and now without power. It has given me entirely too much time to think. I wish I didn’t have so much time to think.

Here we have have few acquaintances, few true comrades, and spend most of our days alone, together. There are no evening activities or places to eat out. There are no ambulances or police sirens, or the sound of traffic from cars and trucks. Voices from those on our trail behind our house or from kayakers in front of our house are heard bright and clear. Dogs and birds are heard vibrantly with an eco within our cove. Without internet, we have a lack of information of the world, and limited connection with our family, and without power, we have endless amounts of time.

The days, weeks and now months have gone by away from home, and the time that I promised to give towards my family, work relationships and friends has now extended into 6-months, and now it will be 9-months before we return home as a family, and even that trip might get pushed.

I feel truly disconnected and I really don’t need to be. There are lots of opportunities here for friends and like-minded expats. They are fun and do fun things together. And even when we have internet, I have noticed that I still have a lack of emphasis on connection. I don’t reach out to anyone. I suppose I am becoming a little hermit-like, and it is the balance of our fast paced life in the States.

I also think it is my way of protecting myself and my time from investing in a life here until we know what we are doing in the future. It takes a year to know a place, and 4 years to really make friends, and who knows if we will be here that long. I don’t want to spend unnecessary energy, or to have others spend unnecessary energy building something that will not last. I have done long distance friendships all my life, and I am done with that chapter. I am ready to settle down somewhere, have a significant lease and really settle in.

There is belief deep within that this is a true balance to our future life. This is the time to search internally and to bring ourselves to the next level of our businesses by cultivating our crafts. It is time well-spent, not wasted, and being hermit-like is exactly what we need to do right now. There is much time for friends and activity in the future, in a place we will remain, wherever that may be. For now, being a forgotten vessel at the bottom of the lake is okay. One day I will be found, and like any other treasure chest, I will be flowing with knowledge, freedom and confidence from within.

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I am not sure I can imagine a cloudy night right now, or being more isolated than we are and not being able to see the twinkling lights from across the lake, but after being without power for now 3 days this week, it is dark. Like darker than I can imagine. There isn’t a light in sight on our property and our batteries are waning on our flashlights and our candles are burning low (can you tell there is a Hanukkah story coming?).

I guess I have never really known what this feels like and it is unique for me to be without. It is also really sacred and a new experience which has given me much; it is endless expanses of soundless moments. Soundless if of course the abstract version of visual. We see much nature, but little else. It becomes a time where your sight kicks in and you see more of what you didn’t see before in your present, internal space (wow, I becoming woo woo).

Now, my ability to love this moment has shifted and I get to see something new within myself. At the beginning of being in Guatemala and experiencing this internal visual, I was scared and full of discomfort all the way up to the brim of my being. Now I am learning to love the darkness, knowing it my shadow of opportunity and the time I have to think and to be alone.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_text_separator title=”Patterns Created During Silence” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”default” columns=”3″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”none” lightbox_caption=”true” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_ids=”3022,3025,3026,3027,3028,3030″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Living with Solar – The Only Way!” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vcex_feature_box style=”left-content-right-image” content_width=”50%” media_width=”50%” heading_type=”h2″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image=”3042″]Really, we are never going to be caught dead without having a back up solution in an ’emerging market.’ We are fortunate that we already had a Guatemala City trip planned when things went awry… and it has taught us a good lesson. Always have a BACK UP!

Thanks to my step-sisters, we have a PowerGen which got us started. We have lived on that thing for the past few months when we travel, etc.

Solar GuateBuy-Me[/vcex_feature_box][vcex_image_carousel style=”default” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”4″ max_slides=”4″ items_scroll=”page” auto_play=”false” infinite_loop=”true” timeout_duration=”5000″ arrows=”false” thumbnail_link=”custom_link” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”500″ img_height=”500″ image_ids=”3035,3036,3034,3037″ custom_links=”,,,”][/vc_column][/vc_row]


Wasn’t expecting that this morning. I got up, checked my email, had a beautiful morning writing, went for a swim and took a few moments to take a warm shower. It was a good day, and all before 6:30 (Iza’s wake up time). When Iza woke we had a great time playing in her bedroom and then I got her ready for the day, and gave her breakfast. The staff arrived and I went to go sit at my computer to work and the power just went out. No internet. AGAIN.

We really can’t win – we either have power without internet or internet without power. Every second that we have internet needs to be useable time… and having a moment, a precious moment to myself, without working was clearly just stupid.

So, I melted down. Completely. It was one of those moments that maybe happen 2x decade, where I even threw something for effect (unfortunately I chose to throw my Ray Ban’s across the room for effect – breaking them apart). I literally damaged my spirit by losing control, and really ruined such a beautiful morning. All because I don’t have internet and can’t work.

45 minutes later, on the morning commuter boat, I arrived in Pana in a quiet and peaceful cafe. Not a bad compromise, and while it is not perfect, I feel like it is a good compromise. But… I am still shattered and angry at myself for the disruption, which was so thoughtless on my part.

DSC_0406I have to do better. I have to let go of such silliness, adjust my way of doing things, and instead of flowing with my creative spirit, flow with my internet and power opportunities. I am in an emerging country afterall… and I just need to learn to roll with it. And come on already, check out that view. Really, who cares about anything else?!


But in good news – Kurt just found me an office space in Pana. Stay tuned. I am going to have a back up PLAN!

Trouble in Paradise – Shocker

When you are a Brand unexpected moments seems to follow. Most of the time they are good and Although after the past 20 years of unexpected moments as a Baird and an Uchtman, we both believe we are so consistent these unexpected moments they have become expected in some ways.

Drum roll please… We are moving, again!

A series of problems in our current house including but not limited to: 

  • Fungus growing on walls
  • Power caput for 3 days running and no refrigeration (required for Iza’s medicine, oh and food)
  • No internet
  • Kurt breaking his toe
  • Running out of water
  • No hot water (other than the bath)
  • Running out of propane (so not hot bath)
  • Scorpions
  • Mold everywhere so 2 of our 3 bedrooms are rendered useless (i.e. Iza has to sleep in our room)
  • Long rocky path, sick baby

So, we have to go. It is just not safe or smart to stay here. We need to be able to get into town to a doctor or a hospital or whatever we need it is not good to be on such a rocky, narrow path. It is also not good to have any of the above occur.

We have scrambled to find a casita which is local to Santa Cruz so we don’t have to move too far for the next 2 weeks. Our nanny Clara’s husband Jose works at a place called Casita Santa Fe and the owner Lily is from Mexico. Should be a great respite with good internet, beautiful grounds and a safe walking path direct to the boat. It makes more sense.

But the question still keeps coming up. Why do things like this keep happening to us? Is it our karma? Are we too idealistic? Is it something we are doing wrong? Probably all of the above.

We have moved around a lot. We are spastic in our changes and decision-making. We certainly are difficult New Yorkers to the highest level and demand the best. We are entitled in our approach to everything. Oh yeah, did we mention we are American? 🙂 (Kidding of course)

In a way we are glad to have life’s most interesting adventures because of our potential misgivings. When life throws us lemons, we ABSOLUTELY make the best lemonade possible. We are after all Brand’s and we have had a lot of experience! We will see how this move goes and perhaps in another few days we will have another new path to go down… but for today we are psyched to know that in the morning we have another adventure waiting.