Monday, March 12, 2012

the perfect day

I'm talking about the kind of day that from beginning to end, you just feel sated.  Things go right.  Food tastes good.  The company is great and there is something done or seen that is extra extra ordinary.  But above all, you don't realize how extra special the whole day is until it's all over and done with and looking back, you wouldn't change a thing!  That's the kind of day this was!

The place:  The town of Ancud in Chiloe Chile
The day: February 10th, 2011
The extra extra ordinary thing?  Penguins!

It started, as all extra extra ordinary days start....sweet!

We found a small European tourist friendly cafe that sold a special local nut and potato cake...these particular types of nut and potato being very rare and difficult to find anywhere else on the mainland of Chile, much less the world!

Then, we caught a small public bus that took us along the coast and dropped us in the middle of nowhere...or rather somewhere!


We walked the mysterious 2 kilometres up and down hills over looking the ocean on one side and rolling cow pastures on the other, all the time with me skipping/running/tripping along the dusty small road in anticipation to see one of the cutest animals on the planet!

view to the right!

view to the left!

After signing in at a small eco tourist office, we meandered onto a small 12 person boat with a bunch of other tourists, which whizzed us along to the small rocky islands filled with penguin love!

After all of the penguin awesomeness...we got a bit hungry, so we went ahead and bought a $4 king crab from a fisherman on the beach!  Even in Santiago, this treat usually costs around $50 or more!

We decided to hitch hike home and lucky for us, right as we began leaving the isolated penguin beach, a very nice couple stopped to pick us up and drove us back to the town of Ancud.

We walked the small towns streets hand in hand, stopping for some pints of Kuntsmann beer and a heaping basket of more special local spud french fries.  We then spent the evening sitting around a bon fire with fellow campers up on the side of a cliff drinking spiced warm red wine and talking about the day, listening/singing old songs, laughing at jokes and staring up into the sky at stars that seemed bigger and brighter than usual.

Like I said, a day like this can't be planned, it just happens!
I'll never forget it!

Friday, March 9, 2012

remembering Africa

Recently, I began reading the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver based on a recommendation from a coworker...I haven't been able to finish it from frutration and a bit of anger.   Just today I heard this piece done on a Hearing Voices episode called "Home from Africa" based on the culture shock and experiences of a young women working in the peace corps.  I have to admit, it's hard for me to hear these stories in the way they are told, but I'm glad to hear them all the same.

Although very different experiences than what I experienced in Africa...these run ins with stories of places/problems/crazy culture shock moments bring back shadows of memories...I don't know if I wanted to forget, but I find it slightly difficult to remember.

Throughout all of the traveling my husband and I did over the past couple of years, one thing we agreed on returning home was respecting the memories we had of our time in places with dignity.   We were careful in what pictures we took of people not to intrude on someone's personal space or disrespect them or hurt their feelings inapropriately in photos...this photo is one of just a few that we took of people at all.

A market in Zambia

I didn't do much writing during our time in Africa, mainly due to losing our power cord for our laptop shortly after leaving South Africa (the first leg of our journey) and even though the days were filled with long bus rides and lots of waiting, the feeling of wanting to jot down what was running through my mind at the time just wasn't there....thoughts were there, just so numerous and so fast, it was like watching them fly by as I stared out the window at a world that seemed like a dream.

Being in Africa is a beautiful, spiritual, life changing experience and some of the people and places and foods we were privileged to meet, explore and try there changed our lives.  I think about random things from Africa often at odd moments, but in slightly embarrassing ways for myself that I tend not to share out loud.

When I give away clothes, I wonder if they will find there way to wasn't unusual to see a Packers or Vikings t-shirt worn by someone on a street corner or being sold at a market.

When I look into my pantry at all the different options of flour I seem to be collecting, I remember the aisle upon aisle of the different brands and sizes of finely ground corn meal sold for pap/nsima/nshima/ugali....and nothing else....and feel a bit gluttonous with my stash of powders.

When I buy a tomato or an avacado at the grocery store and remember the texture, smell and flavor of a freshly purchased tomato from a local African market...ripe, delicious...real!

These moments trigger a certain feeling I can't quite describe, a longing for the beauty we felt and saw in our travels through South Eastern Africa and at the same time an embarrassing gratitude that I'm home again in a place where things make sense to me....where I blend in....where I feel normal and full and warm and clean with running tap water and an automatic ice maker....and that at the same time....that feels horrible.  It feels unjust to judge another culture as "not as good as mine" simply because their priorities are not my own, that I don't understand it and try to make sense of's not mine to make sense of....but then again...most people in Africa will never get to experience my life in the States, whereas I have the luxury of a U.S. passport.

I'll never know what it feels like to be African.  I'll never know how it feels to grow up in a small village surrounded by family and neighbors and love....this is something we also weren't welcomed into as an outsider, you remain outside!  It's rare to hear stories from this perspective and I wish there were more available....culture shock can be so blinding.