Still processing an amazing adventure. Came back to a country on fire. I will just leave you all with this snippet of a video of a Lutheran Choir practice in Karatu, Tanzania. A very special moment in the middle of my trip. Voices unite us all.
I write this on the shore of Lake Elementaita. Listening to the waves crash and the calls of the remaining flamingos. Most have moved on from here. Their food source depleted by pollution. Reality of conservation and sometimes lack of conservation. Kenya. A beautiful land facing such challenges to their north. Here in the south life goes on. And my trip back to East Africa carries on. No pictures can be shared yet. Come back in three weeks and I will add them. Dodgy wifi is the trade off to so much better. After all as it is said often TIA: this is Africa. I don’t know yet how to explain how this land speaks to me. It has a piece of my heart and always will. I don’t belong here forever but for a little while, cover me with dust, let me bump along the roads and visit the lions (and not for nothing a whole whole lot of cows).
(Update: added the lovely view! one by day and one by dawn)
“Africa has her mysteries and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them.”
Miriam Makeba (South African singer and civil rights activist)
Tomorrow it is – meanwhile, surrounded by piles of clothing, twists of plugs, missing adaptors, stray Euros, matchless socks, you’d hope that someday I get better at this part, the leaving.
Why do I go? Why must I go back? Zebras. No really, I travel because my mind gets too cluttered and being in new challenging places makes me a bit more honest with myself, helps me clear up the clutter in the face of the unknown. Who is the traveler in me that I meet on the road? She’s the best version of me now, I’d hope. The one who has an open mind, an open heart and let’s all she meets have a moment, even those on the hustle. I am not as good at that at home. I judge, I grouse, I get bogged down, I am petty on my bad days. The mystery of the unknown, unplanned makes it all better somehow.
I’ll try to update from out there but out there has spotty wifi. Be well, ten readers, thanks for reading, following along.
“Africa – You can see a sunset and believe you have witnessed the Hand of God. You watch the slope lope of a lioness and forget to breathe. You marvel at the tripod of a giraffe bent to water. In Africa, there are iridescent blues on the wings of birds that you do not see anywhere else in nature. In Africa, in the midday heart, you can see blisters in the atmosphere. When you are in Africa, you feel primordial, rocked in the cradle of the world.”
Jodi Picoult (American author)
One week. This space was called lions and cows for a reason. I have seen so so many cows lately, it’s more than time for the lions. Africa. Not a place I will ever understand. I just want to go, to see and to be.
“When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.”
― Karen Blixen,
Two week countdown begins….
I was rushing to work that horrible day, September 11, 2001, trapped in the normal Boston traffic listening to NPR. I knew I was late because it switched over to the BBC broadcast at nine am. I heard the news of the first tower falling in an English accent. It took me a moment to realize this wasn’t happening in a far away land but here in the USA, blocks from where my sister worked, in a city filled with my people, my buildings and streets I knew well. Not to mention, working for a tour operator, airplane travel was my day job.
And so began the first endless day. That would be followed by weeks of the same.
People know where they were when JFK was shot. I know where I was when Kurt Cobain’s death was announced, when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up and then the planes hit those towers. The historical moments that transform generations, that rewrite history.
This morning it started out windy and raining, so unlike that morning fifteen years ago. That day dawned as one of the most perfect late summer, almost fall days. The kind of day that makes people fall in love with the Northeast USA.
This afternoon, the sun broke out and I took this glorious picture of my cow town and one of my favorite views. I went to a loving kindness meditation session (we can talk about that another time). Fifteen years of wisdom tells that the lesson to take forward and think about today is that people are truly good. In adversity and sorrow, they show you how triumphant and solid their spirits are indeed. Trouble will find us all, in so many forms, but no matter what, the skies do always clear. It’s going to rain again, but today, blue sky. Nothing but blue healing sky.
The world churns madly on.
Yesterday, I went sailing. The wind was just puffy enough on our little bay. The sun was shining. It was perfection. The sun said goodnight in a blaze of orange goodness.
Except every year I forget that the sailing part can only follow the contortionist upside down yoga rigging the boat time, various bumps and bruises time and a required period of coordination that I never even have on land.
This past year has been a bit like that. Gorgeous peaceful bliss can only be earned by time proverbially banging my head and balancing upside down.
Today is my birthday. It’s been a triumphant twelve months round the sun but it’s also been horrible – not planning to candy coat it. Being in your forties is humbling. I have gotten so much better at so many practical things (please read that as it was implied, I am definitely more mindful and not an owner of a whole plantation of bananas, maybe I own just a small plot these days) but life never does let up.
Here is the great news – there are beautiful sunsets to start the next year right, I actually can balance upside down on a bobbing boat (in life and on the water) and I made it – heart healed, tougher, smarter and well, you get it.
Home. I haven’t been on any airplanes. I haven’t seen any exotic sights. I haven’t had jet lag. I have been with my people. I have been learning life lessons, the hard ones, the funny ones too. I am stronger, I am centered. Happier is a work in progress but it’s coming. And with that surely will come the airplanes and the lions, the jet lag and the weird curries. I just needed to catch my breath. Mend my heart (wasn’t so broken, just disappointed and dented) and needed to take a deep breath. Riding the wave of real life is the best kind of swimming there really is – you can’t dodge your fate, you can’t fool time, you can’t thrash around too much as you surely will drown that way. You have to be honest and when it stops being so terribly difficult, it’s like being at the top of the wave, you can always see the shore but you can also see the horizon and all the mystery that beckons there too. Balance. It’s a hard one but I’m going to give this a go before it’s too late to try at all. Love to my four readers and hello to the mysterious ones that pass by this space in the night.