Cracked Wide Open

To say that this week has emotionally charged would be a massive understatement.  It is hard to even find the words to adequately synthesize it all.

Shared Grief

For many people, the American spirit was bruised by this whole election, culminating in the election results on Tuesday.  And the wounds are deep.  The notion that we had to once again expose all of the hatred, greed, ignorance and ambivalence in order to heal it seems like another band-aid statement on not only a decades-long struggle, but a centuries-long struggle.  The oppression of one group of people by another is not new to the United States, nor new to the world.  It’s just beyond disappointing, hurtful, and maddening that it’s still so rampant across our country.  We continue to be obsessed with being against “other”.  Humans by nature are what I call high assimilators, meaning part of the core of their quest for validation is to consciously or subconsciously seek out people like themselves.  That can be in mindset, interests, religious views, physical appearance, profession, etc.  What allows for true brotherly love, however, is when we not only accept people that are different from ourselves, through whatever lens we may by viewing them, but when we joyfully celebrate and love those differences as part of what makes the collective human experience a beautiful thing.

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The Beauty of Place

I left Seattle about six weeks ago, for what was going to be an open-ended road trip, perhaps for a month or so, and as with all things in my life the last year, the delight is in what’s around the next bend in the road.  I’ve spent most of my time in the southern half of California, with a couple trips to the San Francisco Bay Area, and otherwise between LA and San Diego.  I spent about two weeks right in San Diego, with visits to many places in the city, and it was just fantastic.

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Road Trip!

The open road.  Even better with an open schedule.  I love a good road trip, to just about anywhere, really, and the trip down the Pacific coast of the U.S. is just tops.  The other times that I’ve done this trip, I’ve driven the coastline down from Washington into Oregon and then California, taking I-5 back up to save a bit of time.  This trip I’ve done the reverse, which worked out well for planning visits with friends and family along the way.  So far it’s gone a little something like this…

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One of many stories that didn’t make my blog in real time is the one about the visiting buffalo.  And it was magical.

The Ngorongoro Crater is, well, a huge crater, with all sorts of wildlife on the crater floor, and in the hills surrounding it.  We visited in dry season, but there was still plenty to see, with animals taking advantage of the dwindling water sources.  Our lodge was perched on the edge of the crater, with a view over it, a simply stunning setting.  The rooms were a bit lack-luster in comparison with the rest of the lodge, but still comfortable, with huge windows.

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From the moment the wheels of the plane separated from the runway and I was airborne above the red soils of Africa, I already missed it.  It is a place like no other, seeping into every corner of your mind, every pore of your skin, every beat of your heart.  It can both frustrate and comfort you in ways you didn’t know were possible, bringing you to the edge of your patience, and then wrapping you in a blanket of its charm.  There is a disappearing wildness in Africa, like much of the planet, it seems, as people continue to take over every last bit of this earth, and glimpses of a desperation to save what little is left.  I think anyone and everyone who has even the slightest interest or curiosity about Africa should go, and really open your mind and heart to take it all in.

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Zanzibar: The perfect ending

We landed in Zanzibar and I made it into the small little terminal and a short while later our bags began to be carried in.  I collected mine and headed outside to find my name on a sign held by the person who welcomed me to Zanzibar and gave me my itinerary for the next few days.  They had me separate from the other six people that I had been traveling with, and I figured we would meet later, not realizing that I would not see them again, otherwise I would have said my goodbyes.  They must have had another itinerary here on the island, and I can only hope that it’s been nice.  I was actually thankful to finally have solitude, as it’s been a long time.  I’m used to having a lot of personal time, and that just hasn’t existed for the last 8+ months, so a few days on my own on the beautiful island of Zanzibar was just about perfect.

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Tanzania: Tarangire

My final safari stop in Africa was Tarangire National Park in northeast Tanzania.  It is notorious for its massive baobab trees that dot the landscape, giants of the land, and also has the highest concentration of elephants in Tanzania.  Our stop at the park entrance was very long, taking about an hour, a combination of seeming inefficiency and problematic systems, creating a long wait for everyone while all the guides dealt with the challenges of getting everyone through.  They have a tough job in so many ways, not the least of which is juggling all the various expectations of all these tourists, and doing it on a continent where things not working is a daily way of life.  The whole “make a plan”, and when that fails, “make a[nother] plan” thing is very real.  They have a nice display about the park at the entrance, as well as an elevated platform built around a huge baobab tree, so there were ways to pass the time, including just relaxing a bit.  Even a nearby vervet monkey took the opportunity to catch some sleep.

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