Category Archives: People

A Heart for Service















Marian Wright Edelman

One of the many benefits of working in and around institutions of higher education, is the general plethora of socio-cultural programming available at most schools. Couple that with an Ivy-League nametag and you’ve got out of this world speakers, performers, artists and events. Everything from seeing Barrack Obama on the treadmill at the gym, to hearing Marian Wright Edelman’s MLK day keynote address.

As a contemporary/mentee of Dr. King’s, she pushed for the Poor People’s Movement, though Dr. King (and Bobby Kennedy) were both assasinated before the event (a march and “tent-in” on Washington, DC), Mrs. Edelman still saw fit to gather the troops, personal safety-be-damned, and mounted the attack on poverty which, of course, still continues today.

She spoke for an hour and a half, and if she’d kept on for another hour and a half, we would have all remained, rapt, inspired and called to duty.  She pointed out that King’s words still ring true. That injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice/freedom everywhere.” I loved her point that the gauge of a society’s morals is how it treats it’s children.

I forget sometimes what an honor it is to be an educator, maybe not in the traditional sense, but as someone who fights for higher education for populations who have not long had access and still face barriers, as a mentor, program director and coach. My heart beat warm in my chest, because I’m not alot of things, but I care, and I have a heart for service.

Check out the work Mrs. Edelman and her crew are doing over at the Children’s Defense Fund (which she founded and where she coined the phrase “No child left behind”). Whatever you stand for, whatever you fight for, whatever you’re passionate about. You count. Everyday there are people who can’t do, counting on those of us who can.


The road is long, and the battle is not yet won, equality eludes us on many fronts. But let’s take a moment and rejoice (versus debate) the fact that in the running for President of the most powerful nation on earth, we have choices. A man of color, a woman, a devout Mormon, a former NY mayor with a lisp and a whole cast of characters that Thomas Jefferson is probably rolling in his grave over. The only way that this presidential race could be more hilarious is if Tom Cruise-azy threw his hat into the ring. And I’m sure Dr. King would raise and eyebrow, but he would wholeheartedly support the right of each man (or woman) to pursue his destiny.

But let us not forget that he also said let freedom ring from EVERY mountain top, not just the ones encapsulated in North America, so let us remember our duty to the rest of our global bretheren and fight for the rights of all men, women and children, here at home and abroad. Ubuntu, is the word that Desmond Tutu would use here…it means basically, that I am, because you are. 100 years ago neither women, nor people of color could vote. Can you imagine what we can do in the next 100 years? Me either, but I’m excited by the possibilities.

Parent’s Parents, ii



Crying, originally uploaded by funchilde.

She’s gone. Thanks for all of your prayers and kind thoughts for my Mother’s Mother. She passed yesterday as if to say that a new year held no appeal for/to her, she’d had enough, seen enough, done enough. My heart aches for my mother and her siblings.

I hope 2007 treated you well and that 2008 is the year that your dreams come true. Nobody deserves it more than you do, so be the star of your own show and the captain of your own ship. Be the center of your universe and the superhero in your story. Be the sun in your blue sky and the moon in your inky midnight. Be you…fully, wholly, unabashedly, hope-drenched, dream-tranced, blinded by optimism, choose your own adventure, love-filled….you. And get better at it Nobody deserves it more.




Not Drunktastic


Sorry I’ve been off the grid the last few days. Work is getting busier by the week including new trips on the horizon (a return trip to Miami and a trip up to Toronto and Montreal). After the hustle of the last few weeks I was ready for a mini-road trip and headed down to Maryland where I met up with The Entreprenuer (TE) and The Attorney (TA). TE is a photography aficionado and TA is a “culture vulture” so we hit the Corcoran Musuem for the Annie Leibovitz exhibit: A Photographer’s Life.

The exhibit was really amazing. I loved her portraits of Jamie Foxx, Oprah, Colin Powell and a couple of shots of Serejevo and Rawanda the most. Wandering the museum with TE and TA was also a pleasure because we all felt comfortable going our own way so that we could linger where we wanted and get drawn into whatever compelled us. I loved how most of the photographs were black & white, but every now and then there’d be something in glorious color. Likewise most of the photographs were pretty large, but there were groupings of small prints that forced you to get intimate with the exhibit (wait, that didn’t come out right).  There was also an Ansel Adams exhibit in-house and that was interesting though I’m not a big fan of landscape photography.

We ended up acting a fool and having a good time which led us to drinks and bad, bad (but oooh so good) food at Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles in DC and a late night, raucous showing of Tyler Perry’s new movie: Why Did I Get Married? Now if you’ve ever been to an African American film, at an African American theatre, with a packed African American audience, I don’t need to tell you what went down. Let’s just say that everybody had a good time and thought that the characters on the screen could hear their individual comments.

Sunday, TA insisted on watching Inside Washington so I mustered up the energy to hit the workout room and put in some time on the treadmill to combat the previous evening’s fried goodness and preempt the afternoon’s revelry.  TE picked us up and we headed out to Linganore Winery where we met up with The Politician (TP) for the Jazz and Wine festival. And by festival I mean hundreds of people, in camp chairs with coolers full of crackers, cheese, grapes and summer sausage. It was great to see a diverse crowd (ethnicity, age, families, LGBT, groups of friends, etc) and to relax in the sunshine on a near perfect day listening to the David Bach Consort and wondering when exactly we became our parents? Wait, we’re not our parent’s yet but these two are.

Despite the wonderful nectar available (I highly recommend the Skipjack, TE’s favorite and the Sangria, TA’s favorite) no one was “Drunktastic” at least not in our group. But there were a few others who may have been. To include the 3 women next to us who drank at least 5 bottles of wine, the old white dude who kept hitting on all the older black women, the barefoot hippie teenagers twirling and kicking up dust, and the saxonphone player who kept coming out into the crowd to check out women. I joked at one point that there was only two ways that the day could be better, and one of them actually came to fruition. And thats all I’m gonna say about that!

Wish You Were Here


hard rock hotel pool, originally uploaded by funchilde.

[1] Dear Hard Rock Hotel, I am enamored of your pool area. However, all of your waitstaff look like extras from a bad teen Disney movie. I am impressed with your level of open-mindedness. I’m not sure I would’ve hired the guy with the tattoos on his neck, arms and knuckles. I was however, mildly amused that his right-hand knuckles sported to word “lost” and those on his left hand “soul.” Truth in advertising never ceases to amaze me, tell “Dru” I said hi. You all do however, brew the best iced-tea ever.

[2] Dear Ford & Volvo motor company(ies), Thank you for throwing the best “Grown and Sexy” party I’ve been to ever. I thoroughly enjoyed the indoor/outdoor fabulousness of the Blue Martini lounge. Your choice of DJ was superb, a mix of old school hip hop and R&B including a “Tupac retrospective” and an “ode to Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” album”-brilliant.

Also, your signature martini with the flashing blue “ice-cube”…lovely, in form and function. Thanks for the free drink tickets. We tipped Tiffany VERY well, considering we ate our weight in meatballs, german chocolate cake and had a “never ending” dirty martini (damn you Nate, Tammy & B!).

[3] Dear Shaquille O’Neal & Penny Hardaway, Thank you for gracing the Blue Martini lounge with your very tall presence. I’m just as glad as you are that everyone kept their cool, noone bothered you and that VIP was stocked with food to fill your ginormous bodies. I hope that you both avoid unwanted stalkers, paternity suits, STD’s and late night phone calls from all of the ladies throwing themselves at you. But you’re probably used to that by now.
[4] Corey Bayne Wowers (name changed to protect the guilty), Thank YOU for the most hilarious quotes of the week. You easily topped last year’s gems by being both endearingly ghetto-country fabulous and street-smart. My favorites (I swear this was from an actual conversation):

“I shoot good with a shotgun!”
“I swear, dude was fishin’ out the car window while we was ridin’ down the highway.”
“My wife is country, she can cook ANYTHING.”
“I don’t do violence against women, but a man…..he fair game.”
“I had to take off my clothes, so the cops couldn’t see me. It was night time.”
”With the right seasonings, alligator taste pretty much like chicken.”

[5] Stella, I don’t even know what to say. Pure foolishness and comedy. Thanks for dinner. You owed me after sticking me with that lunch check. Who orders a “triple” cocktail? You.

[6] Dear bed, I love you. I want to take you out behind a middle school and get you pregnant*.
*30 Rock Reference

[7] Denny’s we do not love you. Fortunately your more attractive cousin, IHOP, came to our rescue. Along with Tammy’s pleading and the driver.ever. I’m not sure that there’s anything better than french toast at 3am.

[8] Akil & Siddiq, how did you manage to escape my camera lens? And Siddiq, how many martinis did you have before you took this photo?

[9] Dear Reader, yes, yes in fact I DID get some work done!

PS: Happy Birthday DAD!!

California Love: Friends Near & Far


ryan ericka and sherri, originally uploaded by funchilde.

I’m back from California. It was just what the doctor ordered in terms of feeling more energized, focused and refreshed. I went out for work of course but had 10 days between the two events I needed to attend, I hit San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Jose and finished up in Palo Alto…and of course, there was that one day in Napa that shall never be mentioned again. You know your day can only get better when you wake up to the phrase “Yall still here?” (Thanks Blaine and Tawana!).

The work part was pretty great. We laughed, laughed, worked until we were so tired we were delirious and laughed some more. My favorite saying at the end of each day was “First round is on ME!” This is for my NY client and I love my colleagues more each time we meet, there are those I miss, but our mix of personalities and workstyles keeps everything moving fast and with alot of fun. You can’t beat that.

I was lucky enough to have gracious hosts and decadent hotels, but of the two I enjoyed the time I spent couch surfing the most. I stayed with Sherri (above right) for 5 days and got to see her beautiful home complete with orange, apricot, plum, and lemon trees (and something I’m forgettingooh, pears).

It was nice to feel domestic and pick lemons right off the heavy branches and make lemonade. No trips to Trader Joes/Harris Teeter/Von’s necessary. Likewise, mojitos with fresh mint from her garden were the perfect welcome. I enjoyed helping out with the fruit picking and clean up, loved cooking breakfast on the grill, we strolled through the Ventura Weekend Market and checked out the San Buenaventura Mission, read (Golf for Women Magazine), napped, read (Back Roads), listened to old school Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, and read some more. Oh, and watched a phenomenal movie (Half Nelson w/ Ryan Gosling).

We’re both foodies, so it was nice to indulge and be indulged-I grilled steaks and asparagus, portabella mushrooms and chicken-apple sausage. She made a crustless quiche, salsa from scratch and an amazing breaded Tilapia. Wine was a staple, a necessity. The weather in SoCal is so amazing that I worked outside on the back deck every day.

We had a BBQ that included Ryan and Ericka (above w/ Sherri) two of our Semester at Sea students who are absolutely adorable, gracious and wise beyond their years. I also got to hang with one of Sherri’s best friends and met this guy (one of my favorite OG’s of Hip Hop-note the capitalization).

I also got word that I’ll be going back to a project with one of my favorite clients, this time for a 9 month (oh lawd) stint. So this trip represents the slow closure of my immediate sexy travels, but I’m excited to be in one place for a while and work on my fitness and health goals, get to know some people better, and plan the next big phase/trip/thing. So, back to New Hampshire I go….!

I’m already researching Mexico, Thailand and an overland Europe to Africa Trip. And I am always game for another jaunt on the Green Tortoise. Whatever it is, I hope to keep making friends around the world because there’s nothing better than re-living your journeys with people who were with you.

More than anything I missed my nephew, and I can’t believe I’m admitting this…felt a touch of baby fever, not that I want to actually birth one, but the thought of nurturing and loving a little person crept up on me. But it might just have been gas from the asparagus. And while I’m happy to be home on the east coast, I can’t say that I missed either the humidity or the mosquitos.

So what’ve yall been up to?

Napa to L.A.: Bloggers Meet Up

Dia & Adrienne Bloggers Meet up, originally uploaded by funchilde.

Lala land is certainly interesting. I think people here take themselves a bit too seriously, but they are all about individual style which I like. Anything goes. And I mean anything.

I have enjoyed hanging out w/ Stella at her fabulous place in Studio City. I can now say I have a friend “in entertainment.” I know she will take Hollywood by storm. It was hard packing her up on the east coast a few weeks ago for the move out here, but she so obviously belongs here that my joy at her good fortune eclipses all that.

I must confess that I have been working hard (really!) and relaxing hard too. Stella’s corporate pad boasts a pool and hot tub in the courtyard which are great “carrots” for getting some work done. Stella is settling in nicely and has indulged me by vacating her kitchen so that I can cook to my heart’s content. She hasn’t even been in the kitchen since I got here so I’m pretty sure I’ll be welcomed back.

I also finally crossed paths with a blogosphere friend and colleague! Adrienne who also blogs for Gadling and her own personal site, is just as charming, charismatic and down to earth in person as she is in cyberspace. A talented writer and journalist indded. We met up for some sushi and drinks and talked late into the evening about all things travel.

I’m off to Santa Barbara/Ventura for a few days. Let me know if there’s anything I should see/do. This is definitely one of the best summers ever. I hope yours is too!

#15: Ambassadors Ball


As we wrap things up, I’m going to count down my top 15 things/moments/people/places on this amazing journey. I can barely keep tears from my eyes thinking that I have lived a dream, circled the globe, loved and lived from one corner of the earth to the other. Humbled by the fact that none of us can be, should be, or is…alone.

This is Drew and me at the Ambassador’s Ball. It is a dinner/dance onboard the ship as we sail home that raises money for three charities we voted on as a shipboard community. I normally don’t like this kind of event, but I have to admit it was hella fun for everyone to get dressed up after being in flip flops for 100 days.

Drew (fellow Wahoo!) was my date and isn’t he dashing? We both had suits made in Vietnam. His is a western style business suit, so well tailored that you could see the outline of the keys in his pockets if he had any. Mine is a traditional Odai worn by Vietnamese women. It is lightweight black silk and has black pants and a long hemline. So not something I would ever have imagined I’d be into, but one of the things you must do in Vietnam is have a suit/dress custome made. He made me a corsage out of red tissue paper and I made him a mixed CD of my favorite “Good Mood” tunes. We wined, we dined and I was asked to give a toast on the 7th deck pool bar. Good times.

And we raised nearly $20,000 for good causes, trying to live what we’ve learned. together. The money will go to a Cambodian Orphanage, A Vietnamese School for the disabled, and we also raised money for a Theatre Arts program in Capetown.

Beijing, China: Afro-licious


I decided not to buy these snacks (shrink wrapped chicken parts) before boarding my 22 hour overnight train to Beijing. Unfortunately I bought this (Diet Coke with Lemon) which tastes like a mix of lighter fluid and well…lemon. I really didn’t know what to expect of the train but I was woefully surprised when I realized that in China…they make things to their own physical proportions. So being 1.5 Chinese folks wide and about 3-6 inches taller I was in for a night of pure hell in terms of physical (dis) comfort. I had the last “hard” seat and there were no sleepers available. So I prepared myself for a long night of sitting upright with my legs crammed under a small table and a Chinese guy with the most awesome hair ever tucked up against my side. But here’s what happened:

The train was oversold so there were 13 of us in a space that “normally” would seat 10 people. I was the only American/non-Chinese person in a 200 mile radius. I hadn’t seen any of my SAS compadres in 2 days and I know 3 phrases in Mandarin (Hello, Thank You, You’re Welcome). I questioned the sanity of my solo travelling decision with no prospects for communication or company and a night with no sleep on the agenda. But, I ended up having the most hilarious time in my train car.

The Chinese are not a “warm and fuzzy” people. This at first took me slightly off guard being an over the top southern girl but I realized that if I lived with almost a billion people…I probably wouldn’t smile and say “hello” to anybody either, that’s a lot of grinning and waving. But the night on the train gave me the opportunity to observe the wonderfully warm, collectivist culture of the Chinese via two examples. First, in our car of 100+ people, 15 men didn’t have tickets for seats. So they were standing up, ostensibly for 15 hours. It never occured to me to proffer my seat to any of them but that is exactly what all the other men on the train did. All of the guys sitting in aisle seats would rise after a time and insist that a guy who was standing take his seat. Like they ordered them to sit down. There was no negotiation, no clock watching, no requests for someone to get out of their seats. For 22 hours I watched men who did not know each other, care for one another in the most basic way.

I was as you can probably imagine, quite the curiosity. Most Chinese people haven’t seen many, if any african americans and certainly none that are female, taller/larger than them and sporting an afro and settling into a cross-country train car like she belonged there. I got the normal stares and points and giggles (never mean spirited) that all of us of african american descent have gotten in Asia, but it didn’t bother me. I knew people were interested in my hair (huge afro at this point) and so I would bow and indicate that they could touch it and they did, which would send them and everyone else into a fit of giggles. Fun for them, fun for me. Breaking down cultural barriers one afro at a time (sounds like a t-shirt, no?). Plus, the guy sitting across from me was totally down with me stretching my legs out on either side of his to relieve my agony.

The second example of the warm Chinese spirit occured at dinner time. At about 9pm people started breaking out food from all sorts of places, one guy had drinks, another had some type of beef, someone else bought enough rice for all of us, and people started digging in. I was handed a pair of chopsticks and a spoon and via hand gesture, commanded to join in the food. Being my shy self I thanked them all, tossed in my ginormous bag of pretzels and a pack of gum, thanked the dude for the iced green tea, and joined them in the impromptu potluck. I should mention that only 4 of the 13 of us knew each other (two pairs of friends). So this was a touching moment for me, sap that I am.

After a while it emerged that two guys spoke a little english and a woman in our group of 13 spoke pretty good english. So the three of them served as translators. So while we sat up all night and I watched the guys play cards, someone would tell me the gist of what was going on in the conversations. They invited me to play cards, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the game, so I settled for shuffling and cutting the deck for the guy who was losing. We talked about their culture (what they did and didn’t like), USA culture, movie stars, music, what we did for fun…the usual “getting to know you” stuff with a Mandarin twist.

After 22 hours, awake on a train (no rats this time!) I felt a comraderie with my seatmates and it must have been mutual because:

-Gabriel invited me to a wedding the next day (and followed through with the address, etc via e-mail)
-When it was time to get off the train there were hand clasps and smiles all around and one guy kept saying “they really like you”
-3 of the other 12 wouldn’t leave me until they deposited me at my hotel in Beijing, despite being tired, ready for food and a shower, they escorted me (literally) to my hotel
-I met up with the aforementioned 3 and 3 of their friends the next night to chow down and hang out
-Gabriel continues to e-mail me despite our language barrier, and my inability to attend the wedding (no formal clothes and a pre-booked day tour)

What I did in Beijing

1. After 3 nights of little to no sleep, sketchy hostel sheets and an afro and wardrobe full of cigarette smoke (they can smoke anywhere here in China), I checked myself into the very posh Beijing Hotel and rolled around on the very comfortable featherbed after a long shower.

2. The Great Wall. Amazing, inarticulable. Worth the 3 hour round trip drive but next time I will go to a less popular spot. There were thousands of people. It was like Disneyland on the 4th of July. But the pictures you’ve seen don’t come close to the spectacular hugeness and longness (i know they aren’t words!) of the wall. Its like when you see the Grand Canyon after only seeing pictures your whole life.

3. The Summer Palace. Set on a man made lake, it was a great way to cool off from clambering around the Great Wall and the architecture is amazing. The history had me totally engaged and wanting more.

4. Tianamen Square. Impressive in size but after 5 minutes you realize its just a piece of outside with an intriguing and important historical moment attached to it. It is framed by 4 important buildings though. 3 of which we couldn’t get into because they are renovating in preparation for the 2008 Olympics.

5. The Forbidden City. Large pictures of Chairman Mao and amazingly interesting history of this home to 3 Chinese dynasties. Over 9000 rooms, lots of Feng Shui and architectural elements and also about a million people visiting on the same day.

6. The Jade Factory. I didn’t like the fact that tour guides pretty much have to take you here in an attempt to get a captive audience to buy something. It reminded me of the rickshaw drivers in India. But I learned all about the different types of Jade, how to tell real from fake, how it is carved and polished and what they are used for, etc. Totally nerdtastic which you know I love. Then I said thanks and figured if they didn’t mind wasting my time without my permission, I shouldn’t feel bad about not buying something I didn’t want. Plus the cheapest thing in the place was $25 US for some knick knack crap. I still enjoyed it though.

7. The Pearl Factory. Same concept, same method of captive audience but again I loved learning all about the pearls, oysters, harvesting, real vs. fake, and I even got two tiny pearls for free!

Cochin, Kerala (India): Pulling it Together

Yes, Indian Boys ARE Cute!, originally uploaded by funchilde.

“ is about family. humanity. community” -archbishop desmond tutu

No doubt some of you think I’ve suffered a nervous breakdown after my last two posts. I’m actually doing great, the last two posts were the accumulation and result of more than two months of travel and study of some pretty impoverished places, the sum of the knowledge gained in our Global Studies course on human rights indexes, women’s right’s indexes, health and family indexes, education and literacy indexes, environmental reports and of course, our day to day interaction with each other and the locals that we are blessed to meet.

As one commenter points out, of all of the people I’ve met and observed as we are traveling around the world, all of them have a base “joy” that owes nothing to materialism. Almost without fail, everyone I’ve met wants to talk about themselves, their family, their community and life. And there really isn’t much that separates us in the general sense. I’ve just come to a place personally where I’m “fully” (I think) aware of my privildge and acknowledging that I no longer want to keep my head up my @#$ about the world and my place in it.

What that means I don’t exactly know yet (maybe nothing beyond that?). Nor do I harbor condescending thoughts of “saving” anyone, colonialism already took care of screwing many people out of their land, culture, family and in most cases their freedom (think slavery in America and Brazil, Apartheid in South Africa, the plight of Native Americans and the indigenous ethnic groups of Mexico. And I’m not sure about missionary work which looks to me like it trades bibles for food, money and education-things I think should be free regardless of your religious affiliation. This is just my opinion.

That being said, despite my heart’s pain at the poverty I encountered in Brazil, Africa, Mauritius and India…I wouldn’t trade a minute of this trip for anything. I also hope that my descriptions of India in particular, do not dampen anyone’s desire to visit this amazing land. India and South Africa are tied for my favorite places that I want to return to. For very different reasons. In India I felt like a real traveler. The culture shock was larger than any I’ve experienced so far on this trip. The smells, the pollution, the bargaining, the traffic, the heat. The diversity of the Indian people, the beauty of the land, their unabashed love of all things Bollywood and sing along dance numbers. Their devotion to their families and communities.

I loved packing my backpack to head down to Kerala. The Pepto, hand sanitizer, headlamp and book. Check. Underwear, spare roll of toilet paper, bag locks, picture of my parents. Check. T-shirts, sarong, sunscreen and deet. Check.

I also enjoyed using the eastern style “squat” toilets which take a little getting used to. Fortunately, I quickly recalled my technique from using the “squatters” in Kenya. What else? I enjoyed the Welcome Committee, and the daily game of guessing how many people I would see on one moped/scooter (the most I saw was 5!). I couldn’t get enough of the Masala Dosa (potatoes, etc in a thin dough wrap spiced to perfection). Sweet, hot, coffee is a must on those early mornings when we had to get up before dawn to see/do more things in 24 hours than I ever thought possible.

My first overnight ride on the infamous blue trains of India. Even the rat that ran towards my feet made the adventure that much sweeter (and made me jump onto two bunks faster than I’ve moved since middle school!). We dubbed the Kerala trip “Rats on a Train” from there on out, but the cars were clean, the people were friendly and Man We are in INDIA! The daily surrendering of your life to auto traffic and rickshaw drivers really makes you face your mortality and move on. The markets for EVERYTHING from onions to fish. The Temples, Churches and Synagogues. Divine. Cooking Pepper Chicken Masal-I hope its not the last time.

You also have to love Squat Toilets! Even when we had the choice, I chose “squat” over “western”. For example in the trains there is a squat and a western at the end of each car. Sandpiper beer (and others) made the heat and dust almost worth it. Every night we’d drag ourselves to some restaurant or watering hole looking like all shades and sizes of Indiana Jones crossed with Laura Croft (Tomb Raider) with a little bit of Pigpen (from Charlie Brown) thrown in.

More than anything I enjoyed the people. The scenes of daily routine in a foreign land make me think about my own routines when I’m at “home” whatever that is anymore. I really enjoyed watching people go about their day in India in a way that made me feel like a cheerful voyeur. But it is their languid pace, the fact that everything has to be done from beginning to end, and there are few short-cuts. There are no Wal-Marts or Targets, no Ikeas or laundromats (outside of major metro areas). These scenes make us all reflect on how we spend our time, what “convenience” versus necessity really means, and how appreciative we are (or how appreciative we ought to be) for the many ways our lives are made easier.

I loved floating through the Periyar game reserve. The Monkeys! The trip down Kerala’s backwaters was something I’ll never forget. These are things that are indescribable and even photos do them little justice. I can’t tell you what it feels like to stand in a temple, church or synagogue that was built in the 1500’s. The craftsmanship, the caretaking and maintenance, the joys, secrets and pains those walls must know. I laughed my head off talking with the fisherman and hauling in a net of “catch” and strolling through the markets and seeing the wide variety of fresh fish and seafood. I enjoyed seeing the sights from the back of Adil’s (pictured) motorbike, zipping from church to church to snake charmer, holding tight to his beltloops and and even more tightly to the moment.

Snake charmers. Fishermen. Mothers. Daughters. Fathers. Sons.

Finally, here’s an example of the type of traveler that I am. We returned from Kerala via overnight train at 0600 (early morning) on our last day in India. I hadn’t slept much on the train but was in good spirits, if a little grubby and greasy around the edges. One of my colleagues (Erika) who was on the Kerala trip was also on another trip due to leave the ship at 8am and she feared that she would miss the trip because we were getting in so close to departure and she wouldn’t have time to shower, etc. I was like “eh, just dump your gear, and go”.

By the time we got on the ship it was 7:30am and after a long, pretty involved but very cool story…I ended up with a ticket leaving at 8:00am for that very same trip (a long day trip out to some amazing temples). I literally didn’t even have time to go to my cabin and change my t-shirt, shower, or even store my pack/gear. I just dumped it in the admin office, prayed it would be safe (aforementioned belongings including iPod etc) and grabbed my Nikon D50, a bandana and a bottle of water and ran for the bus. Erika laughed and said we should be seatmates since neither of us had showered, washed our faces or anything.

But the sunlight streaming into the bus windows on a beautiful morning as a foreign city wakes up and doesn’t feel quite so foreign anymore, is worth a missed shower any day. I pray that you all have a chance to visit !ncredibe !ndia one day, she’ll take your breath away and you’ll love her for it.

**Turns out from a spiritual perspective that I was “supposed” to be on this last minute trip. about 2.5 hours away at the first temple we visited, one of the students got really sick with diahreah (sp?) and vomiting, etc. Everyone on the trip was really into it (about 40 people and three other staff), and the student didn’t want to leave the trip and tried to make it through. I made the call and told her I was hiring a car and we were going back. It was only going to get hotter, dustier and more uncomfortable for her. Her face showed her relief that someone was making definitive decisions. We hired a car for $30 (for a 5 hour round trip for the driver-crazy) and got her back to the ship. The driver stopped along the way as needed so that she could be sick in decent facilities. She recovered nicely by the next day and I was only too happy to be in a situation where I could actually DO something. The upside is that I was also showered and in my pajamas by sundown.