La Pala

Digging holes en españolAmie Barrodale

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Sancti Spiritus city, in Sancti Spiritus province, in Cuba, is not a tourist destination. It is a hot, poor, landlocked town. The streets are dusty, and most residents ride in horse-drawn carriages, or they walk.

After checking into our hotel, my husband and I walked along an alleyway lined with merchants’ tables. Some sold food, some toys, and some practical household items. Idly, we asked the men who sat before tables of gear shafts, gaskets, and stove-top coffee makers if they had a shovel. Neither of us speaks Spanish, so we asked the question by miming the act of digging. No one had a shovel to sell.

Now is probably the time to explain what we were doing.

My mother was one of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s students, and at his cremation in Vermont, I met my guru, a student of Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the former head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Shortly before he passed away in 1991, Khyentse Rinpoche filled and consecrated 6,000 peace vases. They needed to be buried in the earth, or thrown into the ocean, in places where there had been war or strife. My guru inherited the project. He asked several of his students to carry it out. They formed the Peace Vase Project; so far they have buried 2,500 vases.

My husband and I were already going to Cuba, and so I asked the project leaders how we could help. In a couple of days, I had 3 peace vases, a customs letter, and a list of 12 places in Cuba where I could bury the vases. We had buried two before we reached Sancti Spiritus.

To bury a peace vase in water, you must first set it in concrete. I had tried, in Havana, to find concrete. I began by asking my hotel concierge, who spoke perfect English. I showed him the peace vase and explained to him that I needed some concrete.

He said, “Well, if you are interested in local witchcraft, there is a museum two blocks to the left.”

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