Sunday, April 29, 2007

Back in BsAs, winding down, thinking ahead and moving forward

How has this trip changed me (besides the obvious, such as no manicures/pedicures in 9 months or the fact that I am now a lot poorer (!) and excluding the physicial, such as the 3 bug bites from early September which STILL itch)?

Well, I have acquired new eccentricities and amplified some others I've always had. New ones include I carry a set of 12 colored glitter pens arranged in ROYGBV, and I hoard plastic bags. Amplified ones include the fact that other language dictionaries are some of my favorite reading, and I can spend whole days with iPod earbuds installed in my ears listening repeatedly to one particular song that fits my mood, until I drain the freshly charged battery, and I can do this with the same song for days in a row depending on my mood and the song.

What remains the same? I still carry too many books, usually equal in weight or greater than all my other stuff! I have and always will write wherever I am in spite of all conditions, including lack of light, moisture, being in motion and/or in an upside down state. This blog has been a creative outlet for me, and a reason to keep writing all along the way. By the way, I have drained the ink of 4 pens on this trip.

It's come to me in a very powerful and personal way what I can do in this world full of poverty, injustice and evil, and that is first and foremost on a one-to-one level conduct myself in all my relationships (first of all with myself) in a generous, just and good manner. This may seem obvious, but when I look around the world, it seems rare -- there's plenty of unnecessary bullshit all around! And yes, Dan, in answer to your question, there is more to hope than to fear in the world as I've experienced it!!!

Probably the biggest change is my upcoming plans to move to Korea for about one year. I have always wanted to live in my ancestral homeland and wondered how I would fit it into my life with all else. If I am going to do this, I believe now is the time. In Korea, I should be able to work in my field and thus keep my career on track. So, I will be back in NYC for the summer and go to Korea in September. I say about one year, because I want to avoid the monsoon season (July - August, unbearable!) Of course, plans are always fluid and changing as the view must necessarily change from the outset as one moves forward.

Many thanks
Thanks to my family for understanding my desires, even though they are not your own! Mom, I know you told me to come back with less itchy feet, but that's not possible for me, at least not yet. Thanks, Sarster, in spite of your busy schedule for taking care of all the details that needed to be handled from the U.S. while I was away, I owe you a huge debt of gratitude for that!

Thanks Dan for your iPod after I lost mine and for the musical accompaniment to my feelings! Thanks Daniela for the maglight, the perfect, small-sized back-up to my headlamp for helping me to write in all these varied conditions! Thanks Magnus for loaning me your camera (!!!) so I could post photos on this blog to accompany my thoughts! Thanks for my sarster and my friends who in email have accompanied me all along the way of this trip! In the first entry, I said (and I quote), "For me travel is transformation, so when you read my blog and follow me in my adventures (albeit in the comfort of your living room or home office), you bear witness to me. For that I am grateful." So to my readers, thank you!

A parable for my return
A wise and worldly man told me a story about 2 gauchos who traveled to a nearby town one weekend. On their way back, the younger one said to the other, "We had a nice trip, but we didn't see much, don't you think?" The other, older one answered, "Well, the journey really begins when one returns to home, when you come back with stories about your experiences of the places you visited and people you met, and in telling these stories you realize how you have changed and now you must go through life in a different way. I tell you that one time I went to Montevideo and when I began to tell everyone what I had seen, I realized..."

Bests and worsts
And now for my list of bests (which is necessarily plural) -- not in any particular order:

Most amazing landscapes: Tibet, Namibia and Patagonia
Best wildlife viewing: Tanzania
Most amazing historical sites: Tibet, Easter Island, Cambodia and Egypt
Best places to feed the spirit: Tibet and Cambodia
Best food: Korea (of course!), Vietnam, Cambodia and Egypt (including previous trips, the list would be augmented with Thailand, India, France and Italy)
Best music: Brazil
Friendliest strangers: Brazil
Best for adventure: Tibet, Tanzania and Brazil
Best circus-life: Brazil and Morocco
Best for relaxation and natural life: Uruguay
Places you must see before you die: Tibet, Easter Island, Patagonia and Namibia
My overall favorites: Tibet, Cambodia, Namibia, Easter Island and Patagonia

Now for some worsts --
Worst bus rides: Laos and Argentina (yes, Argentina and even on the sleeper (full cama) buses! They intentionally never stop long enough to let you go to the bathroom, and they act only in accordance with their own convenience! and don't let me get started on how they treat foreigners trying to buy a bus ticket!)
Worst landscapes: Zambia and the east coast of Argentina
Worst food poisoning: Zambia, Tanzania and Tibet

Of course, this is just my opinion, and I reserve the right to change it at any time (wink)!


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