Imagine you are going on holiday to Disneyland – a man-made paradise for adults and children alike. You’ve seen the pictures and are anticipating this dreamland up until the moment you arrive. You take in the exciting atmosphere, but something is off, something’s not right. Suddenly it occurs to you – Disneyland is deserted, completely empty. There aren’t people, no tourists, and the energy that you anticipated doesn’t exist. What happened here? Why is this paradise a ghost town, a shell of what it once was and has the potential to be?
My intention was to get a coffee, an accomplice to my escape from a 2 week-old-not-quite home, my retreat into Massachusetts to meditate. Pay attention, or you’ll miss it – Shelbourne Falls snuck up on me and completely captivated me. It has a desolate, quint, yet charming nature that immediately drew me in. I practically jumped out of the car to walk down Main Street, taking in the antique shops offset by magnificent trees standing tall on mountains in the background, historic decor beckoned to me, inviting my imagination to join it, as if walking through another time. Continue reading “Shelbourne Falls”
A rust colored dirt path leads me to the rock formations I’ve been so determined to see- Tsingy. Tsingy means to walk on tiptoes and it’s been said that Malagasy people crossed these jagged pointed rocks on their tiptoes (no idea if that’s true). I’ve spent a few sleepless nights googling these limestone pillars that point up to the sky and now I’m just a few kilometers from them.
My morning starts just after dawn before the bright Madagascar sun begins to bake the forests and radiate heat off the calm ocean water. I sleepily pull on my hiking boots and start hiking through the cool misty forests, climbing rock boulders, jumping over mud puddles, pulling myself up with vines, heading to the top of the lush volcanic island to watch wild lemurs. Continue reading “Wild Lemurs”
I wake up in the urban chaos of Johannesburg, and fall asleep in a secluded Madagascar island – no electricity, no light, no walls or even doors. The adjustment is quite hard for me. The first thing I notice about Madagascar is the heat- a wet heat that covers you in seconds, as if someone sprayed you with mist. I feel the humidity immediately and start peeling off layers before I even get from the plane into to the airport. I wait in about 5 lines, get stamps, signatures, my bag searched, then hop in a taxi which takes me to a small boat that takes me to my island home. I go rock climbing with my suitcase (backpack only next time) and settle into an island bungalow. Continue reading “Madagascar”
After about an hour wait at the border, we enter Zimbabwe and head to the final destination of out trip- Victoria Falls. But first, a few things about Zimbabwe: it’s expensive- like New York City expensive. Zimbabwe money is completely worthless, so they are using US money, and it’s impossible to get. There is only one ATM in town with money and you can only withdraw $50 at a time, with a $5 charge (and yes, there is a line). Continue reading “Victoria Falls”
Floating papyrus greets us early morning as we navigate to a small island where mokoros are waiting. We are truly off the beaten path- the islands we are exploring cannot be found on a map. I get into my mokoro- a hollowed out boat with a puller standing in the back, pushing the boat through the flooded delta with a stick. We push off into the flooded grass, pushing reeds out of the way. I sit in the bottom of the boat, almost level with the still waters, dodging the papyrus puffs that threaten to hit my face, my arms parting the grass as the boat pushes through. Continue reading “Hungry Hungry Hippos”
People who complain of too much night noise in the city clearly haven’t spent the night in the bush in Botswana. I lay awake in the darkness watching the shadows of trees on my tent, listening to a bird perhaps that sounds like a car alarm without an off button. The night hums, sings- a chorus of animals, birds and whatever else is out there. Twigs break somewhere nearby- donkey or cow? Sleep finally comes as a lay on my sleeping bag in the hot, sticky night. Continue reading “Okavango Delta – Part 1”
It’s been a long, hot day as finally arrive in Spitzkoppe. We are staying in a very remote place tonight- no bathrooms, showers, or water- but we do have Bushman caves, bright stars, and some really amazing rocks- with art painted on them thousands of years ago- not just any rocks. Despite the circumstances, this is one of my favorite nights of the trip.
We discover trees with leaves so fragrant they are used as perfume, another with bark so dry and flakey it’s used as paper. Nature possess so many functions if you look in the right places, if you are aware. Everything has a purpose. We explore the red/ orange paintings of the Bushmen long ago- people, animals, art. I slowly trace my fingers over a rhino somebody painted- art as a form of communication from thousands of years ago.
I climb up a rock wall, over massive rock boulders and discover a natural pool made from rain water within the rocks- a pool in the sky. We take a dip in the cool, swallow rock pool and wade amongst the hundreds of tadpoles swimming in the clear water- an occasional shriek emerging as I feel they might be poking at my feet. My hand sweeps the bottom of the pool, emerging with green rocks that resemble emeralds.
I sit in the rock l pool with girls that have become like my sisters, completely at peace. A moment of serenity as I watch the sun set over the hills in the distance- a memory I can reach for on a day when my mind is so busy that I forget to enjoy the moment. We lay on the heated rocks, warmed by the setting sun and allow them to warm us, the breeze acts as our towel.
My mind is quiet as I lay in my sleeping bag under the stars, listening to stories of animals around a campfire. I fall into a restless sleep, waking up as the wind blows my hair in the night, smiling at the shining milky way above me, sleepy pleas for bugs not to crawl on my face as I drift back asleep. Is there anything more natural than waking up to the sun rising? Than sleeping underneath the stars?
Swakopmund has a sense of emptiness, of desertion to it, despite the stores, coffee shops and markets. Oddly, I feel like I’ve been here before, like I’m walking through a sleepy dream, recognizing the familiar palm trees, rocky beaches with foamy waves breaking and spraying the massive rocks. Until yesterday, I didn’t even know this town existed, I didn’t know I’d be here, but surely I’ve seen this coast before- I keep waking up, remembering I’m in Namibia. Continue reading “Swakopmund”