Children of Ethiopia

One of the most memorable trips I have taken past was to Ethiopia. There have been few trips that have left such a mark on my inner most being. Aside from the level of poverty I witnessed, it was the simple joy that the children displayed in the face of such hardships.

My partner and I decided to join a Humanitarian group that was bringing aide to the Great Rift Valley village of Sheshamene. We brought medical aide, new baby packages, hygiene kits and items needed for fresh water filters.  There were twenty of us in the group including doctors and nurses, engineers and workers.

The drive through the Rift Valley was beautiful and aside from a small village of round mud huts and the procession of women walking along the side of the road with jugs of water on their heads, the abject poverty was not apparent. The road soon turned off and we were on our way to the village. The closer we got the more people we encountered… the children appeared out of the bush and ran along side the bus for the last mile smiling and yelling hello.

The next week we would be living in a makeshift tent village surrounded by armed guards and bramble bushes to keep out the hyenas and other nocturnal beasts that roamed the plains. We assisted the hundreds of villagers… some walking days to get medical aide from our doctors. We went into the village and built raised stoves with proper ventilation, helped them with drip irrigation, and showed them how to build clean water filters.

This trip changed my life forever.  It always amazes me that people can live in such conditions and still find something to smile about… something to live for.  The children and adults alike loved to swarm around us to get their pictures taken with our digital cameras and then would want to see their pictures in the small screen. The youngest children would walk with us and hold our hands and smile up at us with their big toothy grins. I saw things and experienced things that no person should ever see… things beyond our “fixing”.  It made me grateful for what we have… made me sad for the seriousness of these peoples short tortured lives.

 

via Daily Prompt: Swarm

In My Mind’s Eye

In my mind’s eye I can see all things

My brain may not interpret these things as real

My hands may not feel these things as solid

My feet may be unsure of where to step

My eyes may not see these clearly and in the right light

My tongue may not taste the fullness of the flavors

But in my mind’s eye all these things are alive

All these things exist in vivid colors, tastes, smells and flavors

It is the interpretation of all things around me

All things without prejudice

All things without outside influence

All things that are real to me

In my mind’s eye…

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via Daily Prompt: Vivid

Doubt

There is no bigger obstacle than doubt. If the mighty explorers of the past ever listened when their peers doubted them… we might all be living on a very small and overcrowded continent. Planes would not streak across our skies everyday. The moon might still be made of green cheese. We might all still be using oil lamps and yelling from mountain tops to get our messages out.

When I was young, people including myself had doubts I’d make it to my 21st birthday… say hello now to 54! My life has been full of doubts, mostly from those around me, and like those explorers, I took on those doubts as a personal challenge.

In my present life we are starting to sell off everything we own and planning our getaway. Doubt?! OMG our minds are full of doubt… and on some days we have to pinch ourselves and slap ourselves out of the funk surrounding this doubt. We have planned carefully. Never in 25 years together has anything that challenged us, not been surmounted, conquered and accomplished with a little faith and hard work. We live for our dreams… as dreams are our stepping stones into our futures.

Doubt can be healthy or a huge detriment. It depends on how you approach it. We all have a grand purpose in our lives… it’s in our DNAs. We can choose to let doubt run our life or we can choose to take it in stride and take little steps forward around it. Doubt is a thought, an opinion, but don’t let it become a lack of action or something so powerful that you’re life stops

Rise-n-Shine

I open one eye… blurry is the world I see.
I open the other… the light is slowly growing.
I slowly turn over and look at the clock… 6am.
The pink hues of the pale morning light add a rosy glow to the parting night sky.
The grey sky turns bright blue and my heart quickens… my senses become alive.
The birds summon the day as the sun summits the mountain peaks and warms the still air.
The life cycle begins again… I rise to embrace it.
I stretch to the sky and offer up myself to it’s bidding.

Walking The Line

My whole life used to be centered around walking one path or another. I often chose the path of least resistance as a child… later I was a follower… then I swung from right to left in wild extremes. Now a days I find the center path is much more enjoyable.

Walking the center allows me to experience more of life’s variances. I’m not stuck in my ways and find it much easier to see others point of view without having to buy in or fight them. I haven’t painted myself into a box… quite the opposite, I have opened myself up to stepping outside the “box”. I don’t swing wildly to the right or left… I stay more neutral and I find this is a much easier path in my life. Not to say I don’t have strong opinions… I just allow myself to speak my mind, my position and then engage in insightful conversations.

While walking the center can be dangerous… say if you are walking on a busy street… but I find it is important when traveling abroad. The moment I start comparing my life with the lives of those around me, I become unable to share in their life experiences. I become self-absorbed and close minded instead of a foreign traveler in someone else’s homeland.

For me the center is a good place to grow and share in all of life’s adventures.

Mr Jiggles… a Childhood Memory

When I was a very young child, I am guessing 4 or 5, we had an old black man who lived in a small little shack situated on the edge of the drainage canal by the truck yard. I remember he seemed quite small compared to other adults I knew, and in Baltimore, in the late 60’s, the fact that he was a black man in a predominately white neighborhood, stood out more than anything.

Mr Jiggles was a kind old man and would sit on his porch swing in the heat and humidity of a summer evening and play his harmonica. The sound of the harmonica would drift over the sound of the traffic from the main street. Beside his house he had an old truck tire full of dirt that he grew tomatoes in. I remember he would wonder up and down the alleyway selling them for 5 cents a piece. Maybe that is how he made a living since I can’t ever remember a time when he wasn’t sitting on his porch swing.

The memories of a child. The tainted memories from an era of hatred and bigotry, instilled on me by the adults I looked up to.

Mr Jiggles… now that I look back… had a very hard life. My memories of him are nothing more that those mentioned above. If I was to meet this kind sole today, I wonder if I would have the same impressions of this gentle little man? Would I pity him? His life was simple… yet incredibly hard… but he always seemed happy.

The last memory I have of Mr Jiggles was a city crew tearing down his little shack and chucking all the items from inside into a garbage truck. Mr Jiggles was gone… his music could still be heard late in the evening, on a humid summer night… if you sat still enough and listened.

Daily Prompt

via Daily Prompt: Jiggle

Stock photo from The West Virginia Gazette

The Short Cut

via Daily Prompt: Arid

We don’t have many friends that can keep up with us. As a matter of fact at this point in our lives those friends are pretty much none existent. Maybe it’s because we have a small streak of bad luck ,that at times, lead the well planned trips into small disasters. This is exactly what happened several years ago on a backpacking trip in Southern Utah.

Our friends, Aaron and Ty, decided they were up to the challenge of a backpacking trip through Coyote Gulch in the Escalante/Grand Staircase National Monument . It was a pretty easy trip… all of 11.5 miles into a slot canyon and at a point about two thirds through the canyon we were to take the “short cut”, a class three scramble up to the rim of the canyon, and then a short one and a half mile hike across the arid desert back to the parking area were we left Aaron’s single cab pickup.

We packed everything carefully, including our water filter since we would be hiking in a slot canyon that a small creek ran through year round. We planned out our meals, divided everything up equally, fitted our packs perfectly and headed out at the trail head at the top of the canyon. It was a short hike across the arid desert at the rim of the canyon then gradually descended into the cool walls of the canyon.

The day was full of conversation and laughter as we covered good ground. At around seven we reached our camp spot… a set of cascading falls in an open area of the canyon. It was a night of sleeping under the stars. The campfire illuminated the red rock in eerie shadows, the silence enhanced the trickle of the water over the rock ledges, laughing at the arid desert surroundings. We finished up our beers and wine and bid each other sweet dreams and off to dreamland.

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The next morning came in brilliant pinks and reds and the light slowly crept into the canyon with a wave of hot air that broke the hold of the cool night air. We had a breakfast of re-hydrated eggs and some other food-like substance in a zip lock bag… just add water. The calories were gonna be needed for the day’s hike and scramble up the side of the canyon wall and back to the car.

If you’ve had the pleasure of desert hiking in a slot canyon… you’ll know the peace and solitude it can afford. The dancing colors at the canyon rim high above your head. The occasional screeching of the ravens. The sound of the hot arid breezes as they turn each corner hugging the fluted rock faces. It’s an other worldly experience not soon forgotten.

Around 11 am we came to the “easy scramble” to the rim as described in the guide book. We all looked at each other and our jovial demeanor turn quickly to a surge of panic. The “easy scramble” turned out to be an almost straight up and down 100 foot climb. We had no gear for such a climb, only about fifteen feet of cheap rope, gloves and good hikers. We hurried and filled all our water bottles and sat down to plan our assent to the rim.

Aaron and I had the best chance of getting to a small ledge about 2/3rds the way up where we would haul the packs then turn back to help our friends to the top. The day grew hotter and hotter and the sun climbed to its highest point putting us directly into the sunlight and turned the cool rock face into an oven. We continued our assent and by noon we had achieved our first goal and 2/3rds of our climb.

Finally around one o’clock, we all reached the top of the canyon and were faced with a hike across the arid desert to our takeout. Problem was there were cairns piled in every direction as far as the eye could see, and we had burned through most of our water on our scramble. We regrouped and headed off in the direction we thought the takeout was. It never dawned on us to pull out the compass we carefully packed.

For about an hour we wandered aimlessly from one rise to the next hoping to get a glimpse of the truck in the distance. The air and sun was so hot and dry we were beginning to over heat… it was just then Chris remembered that she had the compass.  Finally, with the aide of the guide book AND the compass we were heading in the right direction.

Another thirty minutes went by… we had been out of water for over an hour… we were becoming panicked and unable to think clearly. The heat from the sun was playing tricks on our eyes as the waves of arid air painted pictures of what looked like bodies of water on the dry desert floor. We even dropped our packs and agreed we’d find the truck then go back for them after hydrating.

Climbing to the top of another rise… there it was! Hiding behind an outcrop… the white Ford truck… our chariot.

Looking Back is Always Fun…

Playa del Carmen, Mexico: Day One 2/21/2016
We decided to take a “tourist” vacation this time to Mexico. Of course it helps to be a traveler when things go not as planned.

The flight went well and we hopped in the bus to head half hour south to Playa. Back packs and day packs we hoofed it a couple of blocks to the hotel.

The street was full of reminders of our tourist destination. Sunburned Europeans walked aimlessly through the streets.

Arriving at our hotel they informed us that we didn’t have a room but had made arrangements at another hotel. Reina Roja Hotel is a cool boutique hotel but it reminds me of the Red Light District in Amsterdam. LOL. Jokes on us.

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