Building with enduits sur terre crue

If you ever wanted an idea of how to build a house with clay, straw, sand, and yogurt, it’s not that hard!ImageImageImageImage


The wall.ImageImage

This is how we made the earthy mixture and got the straw pieces to evenly mix with the clay and sand. We also added yogurt because it causes the mixture to ferment and harden by bonding with the straw. It’s a bread maker and I’m wearing a skirt to work.


Fill in the gaps with the clay, sand and straw mixture.


Mind the gap with extra straw. Below you can see the surface that is stapled to the borders of windows and doorways to help the enduit stay in place since there isn’t any straw in those places.



The Sydney Festival

Dressing Boho

My interesting piano-playing travel companion returned to her home in Germany, so I went and picked up a new outfit at Glebe Market, a farmer’s market full of local art and consignment clothes. My new $20 outfit was composed of a short black dress with a zipper all the way down the back and a cherry-red zip-up sweatshirt with a red bow tie. The girl at the box office says, “Sorry none of the festival shows are playing here, but we do have Weezer for $100.” (Those guys whose albums I listened to a thousand times in junior high.) This big guy pops out of nowhere and asks if I need tickets.

I say, “I’m thinking about it,” but wrong answer.

The correct answer was a simple “no.”

He’s persistent and he’s from Texas. He sells tickets for a living. He says if I’m interested , he could teach me his ways and I am barely almost honored to have received such a job offer. His “office” is a Tempurpedic Mattress System in the back of his Subaru that he drives to different shows around the country. If I help him sell a ticket, he can give me a discount on the other ticket and get me into the concert.

Thanks, but no thanks.

He then makes the comment, “I like your outfit.” I sort of know what that means. His leg brushes against mine.

He says, “If you help me we can work together and go to Melbourne, and maybe even meet up at the Burning Man Festival.”

All of this is in association with my being from Seattle and Kurt Cobain and the Weezer concert, but I don’t go to concerts that much.

So I say, “Good luck but now I need coffee, see you around.”

So much for the new clothes.


Three friends sit on a motorbike, I in back.
We ride beside two other bikes with friends packed onto them in the cool breeze of the summer night, escaping.
I look to the side and we are the only ones on that dark road, in conversation as if sitting at a chai shop.
I smile as they speed up and brake away.


The world has so many people and they have become many cultures. Language, fashions, occupations are many and diverse.

We wish to cross these barriers and that requires finding our similarities. The family and the students that shared shelter with me. The food, and all those elements that human beings require. I am thankful to the instructors who helped me feel more confident in an unknown environment.

One thing I have been trying to understand: Why do men in certain countries push women beyond their boundaries so that they can’t take anymore?
It’s because they are on the brink of survival and depend on one another to the point of such greed. A woman’s career freedom requires health services, medicine, birth control and most importantly educational opportunities. If she has children, she needs social services like day care, and without these independence is unimaginable. She’s stuck in the home in an old-fashioned social structure and depends on the man for income. Men are barely independent themselves, they don’t ever cook. All they care about are their bikes.

Playing Cards in Kathmandu

Playing Cards

The best way to pass time in Kathmandu.

Common sense will prevail.

For a week I went to vacation in Sarnath and Varanasi. “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” -Buddha

Only 20 minutes rickshaw drive from Varanasi, Sarnath is the place where the Buddha gave his first teaching. Buddha was a teacher of Buddhism, a philosophy.

I was here back in 2011 for a teaching by the Dalai Lama. There were many tourists that came to see the Dalai Lama in person, but there were people from India and China as well. Most of the messages were in the Dalai Lama’s native Tibetan, so I waited for the special sessions in English. When the Dalai Lama walked onto the stage for the foreigner’s speech in English, he walked across the front row of the audience and greeted everyone he could set his eyes upon. He interested in the people who were interested in him. He stood about three feet from me, as I sat in the second row. My friends and I were some of the lucky ones, because later some tourists came and rudely asked people sitting cross-legged on the ground and cramped to move forward more. The security guard shut them up saying something along the lines of, “It seems a bit contradictory that you came to listen to someone talk about peace and compassion when you are causing such a disturbance.” Several people around nodded in agreement, irritated.

Only a twenty minute walk from the Buddhist teaching center in Sarnath is Deer Park (it looks like some piles of bricks) whereBuddha meditated and gave his first teaching, not sermon. Monks, pilgrims, and tourists come and put sticky golden pieces of paper on the brick building where Buddha is said to have given his sermons. The golden paper is used all over the world at Buddhist shrines and monuments. In the park there is also the obligatory Ashokan pillar that the Emperor Ashoka set down in every major place where an important Buddhist event took place. Ashoka made his own pilgrimage to show his respect to Buddhism, his new philosophy.

The four most important events in Buddha’s life were his birth (Lumbini, Nepal,) enlightenment or when he achieved Nirvana (Bodhgaya, India,) his first teaching at Deer Park (Sarnath, India,) and finally his death (Kusinara, India.) The emperor became a devout Buddhist after his armies killed a hundred thousand people at Kalinga and felt remorse.

For a long time, I have wondered what causes our need to believe in something and how is it that that is either in religious or philosophical form? People believe or follow religions, political organizations, and scientific studies.

Many say we must believe in ourselves because that is the only thing that stays constant.

“It’s in the heart of man to worship something,” said a Christian friend of mine in Sydney. There are thousands of things to believe in. There must be a benefit to choosing more or less. We can’t be a Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist all at once, that would be too confusing!

Lucius Annaeus Seneca who was born more than two thousand years ago said, “Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgment.”

Is it better not to believe and acquire as many experiences as possible to use as our system of judgment.

Seneca also said, “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.”

The monuments of Sarnath preserve the fact that human beings are both scientific and religious. People made a decision to devote their life path to the Buddha’s teachings. The Archaeological Survey of India preserves this place as proof that the Buddha existed.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, said that, “If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change…” Buddhism adapts to scientific advancements, so it is a philosophy, not a religion. However, it depends on the way it is practiced in a traditional or modern sense. As humans evolve, I hope religion does as well.

– Carrie

On to Pokhara, Chitwan, and Lumbini, Nepal 20 Jan. 2012

Pokhara, Nepal

Fewa Lake. Though usually you can see the Annapurna Range with its dramatic snow caps, it doesn’t show in this photo. The white peaks are what bring many trekkers here to explore the area for treks of 4-7 days, maybe more, depends on personal preference. It’s also popular activity for people to paraglide, canoe, kayak, shop, and simply get away from the pollution and congestion of Kathmandu.


Temples dedicated to China, Thailand, Korea, Nepal, Germany, Myanmar… and more. I also went to the May Devi Temple where the Buddha was born and found some archaeologists from Dunhill, England doing research.

Later, I met a monk at a cafe next to the Myanmar Temple. He had seven cups of tea next to him. He orders two at a time. We parted and he said, “I’ll order one more.” He is from Bangkok, staying three days in Lumbini. He also walked me to my rented bicycle, which was only a few hundred feet away. he said he was a student of English or something at an Indian university in Varanasi or Delhi.


Buddha’s mommy.

Met two Italians at Hotel Siddharth this morning. One works in Germany, the other in Italy. They just met today on the bus from the nearest town and were deeply and loudly engaged in conversation. It is indeed rare to meet other travelers from one’s own country here and from what I’ve heard, it’s simply the Italian way to be nonstop chatty.

Prayer flags in the menagerie near Buddha’s birthplace.


A few temples, the Korean temple is in the back. It’s still in concrete without any paint or colorful embellishments yet like the other temples.

Winter in Jodhpur

Last night, my roommate from the flat where I’m staying drove two of us overnight for 12 hours from Gurgaon to Jodhpur. (Gurgaon is going to serve as my home base for the next few weeks after practically fleeing Uttar Pradesh.) It is supposed to take less than 12 hours to reach Jodhpur, but somewhere along the way we went down the wrong road and had to turn back. That always happens in India because not all the roads are marked. They asked me to go with them the day before. It’s quite impulsive but it’s only for two days. My logic is to take my mind off things. And it is beautiful. In the market, I get some pastries and light blue glass bangles to match the houses and apartments of the city. This is the “Blue City,” which houses several grand (quite epic, really) forts that are themselves not blue. From the hotel, the other travelers and I can look up and see the walls of a major fort constructed on the top of a jutted butte-like formation. Later, we have a chance to go up into the fort and look down on the blue city where the “commoners” live – a major inversion of scenery. It is incredible that these buildings have survived as a testimony to the people who put blood, sweat, and tears into building them.