With Us

"Even if you're not a seeker,

still, follow us, keep searching with us.
Even if you don't know how
to play and sing,
you'll become like us;
with us you'll start singing and dancing.

Even if you are Qarun, the richest of kings,
when you fall in love,
you'll become a beggar.
Though you are a sultan, like us you'll become a slave.

One candle of this gathering
is worth a hundred candles; it's light is as great.
Either you are alive or dead.
You'll come back to life with us.

Unbind your feet.
Show the rose garden---
start laughing with your whole body,
like a rose, like us.

Put on the mantle for a moment
and see the ones whose hearts are alive.
Then, throw out your satin dress
and cover yourself with a cloak, like us.

When a seed falls into the ground,
it germinates, grows, and becomes a tree:
if you understand these symbols,
you'll follow us, and fall to the ground with us.

God's Shams of Tabriz says
to the heart's bud,
"If your eyes are opened,
you'll see the things worth seeing."


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Goodbye Ireland, Hello U.S.

Ireland was green and cold and lively and homely and everything I thought it would be and more.

In Dublin we stayed with Abby's friend in Ranelagh. It was wonderful to have a warm place and a hot shower and great company. Dublin was... museums with mummified bog people, shopping, tea, coffee, ridiculously expensive but ridiculously delicious foods, boots and pea coats, foggy breath, Guinness, late nights, and taxis.

We rented a car and drove to Belfast where we then made our way to the coast to explore the stony steps of the Giants Causeway....

then we drove to Galway and spent an evening there before heading to the Cliffs of Moher... the wind there is enough to blow you in any direction it pleases - thankfully there were barriers to keep it from sending us into a plummeting death. For the birds it was the opposite - they were shot straight up from the cliffs like fireworks...made of feathers of course.

From Galway we made our way to County Cork were we explored the Blarney castle and did the upside-down back bend to kiss the Blarney Stone (which apparently local boys like to pee on...who wants a kiss?).

In Kilkenny we explored some more modern castles and hung out in local pubs packed with drunk Irish singing and dancing and enjoying their culture to the fullest.

And just before flying out of Dublin we went to the Guinness Factory to enjoy the freshest pint of Guinness I will have ever had (unless, of course, I go back)...

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Goodbye Africa....

The bus ride did not have toilets....and took 28 hours... and at one point did not stop for 7 hours... and it was HOT! I've never felt so sticky. The best part was when we stopped at the weight check point and had to wait 2 hours for them to decide to unload the overloaded luggage onto a truck that would later meet us at the border to reload. Atleast it was a safe ride... we started it with a prayer led by the bus driver. I found that to be extremely uncomforting to know that we needed to pray for our safety.

I'm going to miss all the oddities of africa... like the fact that the capital of Zambia does not have a single crosswalk within the city. Dodging speeding cars in heavy traffic is super fun. I'll miss how when people say "I'm coming just now" they really mean "I'll probably come, but definitely not within the next hour." I'll miss eating questionable street food and drinking questionable water and finding questionable insects in my hair. And I'll definitely miss getting caught unprepared in spontaneous lightening storms after suffering through 47 degree celsius heat.

Although I already miss Africa (despite the obnoxious parts) I've been exploring Dublin and loving it. I love the street performers and the living statues that poke you with sticks when you turn around. I love the buildings with bullet scars and bars and beer and people. I saw my first mummified persons and my first fur protesters. Both were equally scary.

Off to the country side soon...

p.s. more pictars on previous post.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Leaving Namibia

In the last week Abby and I have trekked around Namibia quite a bit...

We spent some time in Swakopmund which was pretty uneventful other than a wrecked ship that has become a luxury home to thousand of seabirds. We oooo-ed and aaaahh-ed at flamigoes and pelicans and spent time with friends on the purple sand beaches. From there we went to the Cape Cross seal colony which was full of angry seals beating eachother up over personal space and pups laying around next to piles of placenta....thousands of piles of smelly afterbirth. Among the thousands of pups were happy jackals chewing away at the ones that were either poorly protected by their mothers or had been crushed by there fathers. Awesome.

Then Spitzkoppe... a land of magical orange rocks that turn red with the sunset and 4,000 year old bushman paintings.... I've never seen a more beautiful night sky... it was like being in a planetarium.

Then Twyfelfontein...dolomite rocks in the shape of "Oragan Pipes," sandstone bushman rock carvings, and petrified forests.

Then Himba village... got to hang out with some lovely barechested ladies covered in red okre. They clean themselves with smoke from mopane trees... no water... interesting.

Then Etosha salt pans. Saw loads of creatures great and small. Abby and I definitley got our birding fixes in and were perfectly happy that everyone saw a leopard (yet again) except for us... and by happy I mean extremely envious.

Hiked up the Waterberg plateau and got lost in the forest and found wild Ruppells Parrots... the view from the top of the plateau was gorgeous.... of course.

Hopping on a bus to Lusaka for 24 hours in about 5 hours... yikes! Hopefully they have toilets... otherwise I'm going to have to get creative because I dont think my kidneys can handle holding it anymore.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

p.s. (from Kruger)

The journey continues

"Caitie I love you."
"I just met you 10 minutes ago."
"I love you."
"I'm engaged." (I lied)
"He doesn't love you."

oh man... the desperation for an american wife.

-Watched elephants playing in the river in Chobe. They were dunking eachother completely under and swimming!

-Baby spotted hyena!
-Took a mokoro (wooden canoe) into the Okavango Delta... ants poured out of a crack in the wood as we sliced through the reeds... landed on an island with elephants roaming around...pitched our tent in the elephants toilet... learned how to pole the mokoros and went swimming near some grunting hippos... sat with a local woman and learned how to weave.
-volleyball in Maun
-walked around with bushmen in Gahnzi and learned how they live... showed us root that you can get water out of and mix with another root to make soap and wash with.

-ate kudu, zebra, and crocodile... i think my zebra was still alive when i ate it.
-hiked around amazing red and orange sand dunes during sunset and sunrises in the Namib desert. Went to Dune 45, Sossusvlei and Deadvlei and Sesrium canyon... found puddle with catfish inside the gorge that were jumping up for air. Beautiful and serene and open and... breathtaking.

More on Namibia later... currently at the skeleton coast.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nyami nyami... the river god.

Abby and went for a little hike and saw Victoria Falls from the Zambia side. We wanted to see it from the Zimbabwe side but the visa is $55 and its $20 to see the falls.... lame. I supose it would be good to support Zim... but who is the money really going to?

We did however get to walk on the Zimbabwe side of the Zambezi. That counts right? We rafted 25 rapids for about 27 km... class 2 to class 5. Wasn't as terrifying as I thought it would be. It was hot out so all the crocs were out of sight in the river. The ones we did see were ittybitty. We got to swim one of the last rapids and I got a belly full of the Zambezi during that ride. I managed not to fall out of the raft... Abby wasn't so lucky. The gorge is pretty deep so we had to take a cable car up and out. That was the scariest part of the day. Right when we steppe dout of the thing horizontal rain started pouring down along with some crazy lighting. We took an open vehicle back to our camp in the rain and the driver saw an elephant on the way and decided to drive right up to it. The elephant whipped around and looked like it was deciding whether or not to crush us. So through the rain and wind I frantically yelled, "NO, NO, NO, TURN AROUND, LEAVE IT ALONE, DRIVE AWAY!" At which he proceeded to drive closer. I told one of the river guides still with us to tell him no and he finally listened. I survived the zambezi and a sketch cable car and was not about to get killed by an elephant.

In other news... its still ridiculously hot here during the day. Makes your head spin and legs wobble. Abby and I leave tomorrow or the next day for Botswana and will end up in Windhoek, Namibia in about a week and a half... then we figure out our next steps from there.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Notes from the bush

-the sounds of male lions growling while feasting on the corpse of a black rhino. a white rhino walks straight up to the scene on its way to the watering hole. it doesn't see well and is surprised when it suddenly realizes what is 10 feet ahead.
-the sound of canines raking against a giraffes skull tearing the flesh from its face.
-more lions eating a hippo... the baby wuldn't leave its mothers side... so they ate that one too.
-impala stuck to their necks in mud...struggling to free themselves.
-Sable antelope, greater kudo, steinbok, grey duikers, giraffe, elephants, zebra, wildebeest, nyala, vervets, chacma baboons, crocs, hippos, green tree snakes, kori bustards, bateluers, snake eagles, fish eagles, hamerkops, giant kingfishers.... etc.
-the sounds of elephants knocking down trees and hyenas at night.

Just arrived today and it is hot. Really really really hot. And beautiful. And hot. Election day... town is deserted. Riots yesterday. Hopefully no riots tomorrow. Outlook looks good.

Will update before leaving for Botswana.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What stories do your scars tell?

Again I will deliver my thoughts and notes at random because there is too much to recall. This is goign to be a long one, so feel free to enjoy, skim, skip, or ignore....

I think that when Swazi people whsitle it sounds more like the birds than the birds themselves.

I can spend hours watching geckos hunt moths on the ceiling. I will never stop being amazed at their ability to defy gravity and walk upsidedown.

There are many things that I can't stop staring at. A woman sat by the market in Swaziland with a live chicken wrapped in a plastic bag. The chicken sat calmly with its head sticking out the front watching people walk by. Inside the market I hear over the radio warnings that adulterers should be put to death. A billboard outside reads: "Thinking of raping a child today? Remember the consequences." Outside our camp in Mlilwane wildlife sanctuary a sign reads: "In Swaziland it is prohibited to possess illegal drugs, firearms, traps, snares, and catapults." Catapults?

Crossing the border into Mozambique our local minibus (the ones where you get to sit with people on your lap) had to wait while the man sitting behind me bribed the gaurd to let him through without his documents. Eventually the money was accepted and we were allowed passage. 30 min later we were pulled over by traffic police who inspected the goods on the bus and informed one man who had been told at the border that his "medicine" was okay that he couldn't have it... a nice corrupt way to ensure the border police can supplement their meager paychecks. All distances are further in Africa on a bus. Bus drivers are drunk or stop to buy things from eager sellers through the window... which is convenient when you need a loaf of bread or shampoo or literally anything because every time the bus stops you can make a quick transaction through the window. But the buses make up for lost time.... when one hit a small child it didn't bother to stop.

I wonder when I watch women carrying heavy loads on their heads with their babies wrapped around their backs if the bundle ever falls off and smashes their children? Probably not... they are very skilled at balancing.

Local music festical in Mozambique. Sangria. Local rum that will make you hallucinate. Thousands of drunk people falling over in the sand on the beach. Dancing. A drunk Tanzanian man follows us relentlessly and has to be paid off by our afrikaner friend to leave us alone. Our ride is too drunk to take us back to Tofo. It is 2 am. We walk down a dark road waiting to hitch a ride. Finally someone drives by and is nice enough to take us, They say they are happy to because we are American and they can practice their english.

Maputo is.... garbage, pollution, crumbled concrete, night life, portuguese/african culture, landmines, art, art, and art... we went to Ricardo Rengels photo exhibit on the history of oppression in Moz... unexplainable genius. It was freee and we were served wine and fancy appetizers. Tofo is.... seafood, palm trees, pristine beaches, clear water, seclusion, generosity. I can finally converse with people because the portuguese is similar to spanish. It is odd to be in a country recently riddled with landmines and to feel its new vibes. In the words of Neil from Isreal, "too much nice."

Yesterday we left Moz for Swazi again on our way back to SA. I walked across the border past a stray donkey walking the opposite direction. I wonder if he has a passport? In one day the weather went from brain melting hot to rain and explosive lightening storms. It was a candle lit night.

Rich, poor, generousity, greed, beauty, ugliness.... my head is spinning. I am learning things about the world and myself and that I never knew. I feel like I am living again. I am thinking again. Seeing again.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Big Fish!

At random:

Monkeys patrol St Lucia stealing bananas from vendors when they are away.

Kayaking in the estuary... hippos everywhere, a croc swims under our kayaks swirling the water viciously and lifting us. Our guide, Stiaan, looks like young Steve Irwin and tells us that Irwin himself said these were the most dangerous waters in the world and that he would not put a toe in them. Maybe he is bullshitting. We see a saddlebilled stork and goliath heron among many many other birds. Mud fight ensues afterward.

Next day we walk in the wetlands and mangroves. Cape buffalo keep a watchful eye on us, and us on them. We walk faster and they walk faster toward us.

Stiaan pretend to be a hippo and shakes our tent at night. To make up for it he takes me at night to find a chameleon. I am slightly wary of him, but he is true to his word and soon I am holding one in my hands inspecting it in the trucks headlights.

We go to a lake to find ducks.. . (bird list provided later for those who care). Trail smells of genets. Man tells us zulu and swazi stories (will tell later also...). We watch an ant lion eat its prey.

Zulu dancing.... pulled a groin muscle. Spastic...drumming...kicking legs over head and shoulders.

Ate impala stew. Stayed in Mliliwane wildlife sanctuary. Swazi dancing. Hiked up Execution Rock on my birthday. I wonder what it would be like to walk to my execution, and I think near the top that I might be ready to die by the time I got there. Eland, warthogs, crocs, mpala, blesbok, nyala on the way. Bee-eater birds fly out of their holes in the red banks by the river bed. Vibrant purple jaracunda flowers everywhere compliment the greenery and the red dirt.

The bus ride here is horrendous. We almost collide with stubborn and apathetic cattle several times and a man crossing the road. We arrive and soon I am learning german by the bonfire. Laughing. Next morning we launch the boat from the beach and the waves crash over us and people fall everywhere. We get out to the open ocean. I swim with 11 whale sharks, and a manta ray swims directly toward me. I look down and it is 3 feet under me and it is MASSIVE! A small hammerhead swims by. I am in heaven under the water. I never want to return to land.

There is so much more... but I will have to write it later. The internet place closes in 3 minutes.

Much love from Tofo.

Friday, October 10, 2008

oh africa...

Not much to report...

Its been a looooong couple of days. We left Outshoorn Wednesday and bused to Port Elizabeth (8 hours). We spent the night at a hostel where we were the only guests aside from and old half naked man that didn't speak. We got in late and went straight to bed. I had a cat sleeping on my feet all night... and periodically woke to a light rumbling when the cat would wake to sratch furiously at its fleas. I have felt itchy ever since...

The next day we bused through the Eastern Cape all the way to the Kwazulu-natal province (14 hours) which is where we are now. This was our bus driver: "I'll be your bus driver today. I hope you enjoy the ride. We will be going very very fast on very windy roads. If you have any complaints... tell someone else. I dont want to hear that shit." Later on.... " we are now driving through the poorest part of south africa, expect anything, shit happens here every damn day. Lots of shit." ..... "Look, dead bodies. I told you." I was expecting to see a human dead body...it was just a dog that had starved. Phew! Our bus driver then pointed out a large rock that was the "execution rock." He described it as a rock that people were shoved off of for punishment and that it was a "black thing... you know, like a tribal thing. (He was Indian). Believe it or not, you can still find the bones of dead bodies at the base." Then he pointed out the direction of a deep valley hidden by mountains that you can only reach by foot. That is apparently where most of the weed is grown. The officials know about it but can only get to it by helicopter and they spray it with chemicals to kill the crops. According to our driver, that is the weed that makes you cough like crazy. Lastly, he pointed out Nelson Mandelas house that he had constructed to be an exact replica of the last place he was held prisoner. Apparently he really liked that place.

Last night we slept in Durban and left in the morning for St. Lucia, which is where we are now until Monday. Finally we get to do something other than sit on a bus. And finally we are somewhere with more wildlife. We'll be kayaking and looking for birds and crocs and hippos tomorrow...

Our tent is pitched next to a sign that reads: Watch for Hippos at night.

That ended up being more than I thought I'd write... thats all for now!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's pouring rain today


Crawling through Cango Caves... with stalagmites and stalagtites larger than imaginable. Jaw dropping. Algae growing everywhere from humans breathing CO2 in the caves... feeling guilty. Getting stuck in small spaces...hitting my head (naturally).

Ostrich farm... secrets I wont tell. Ate one last night at a braai... would eat ostrich meat every day if I could.

Petting baby cheetahs... heart melting. They have good cheetah conservation programs here.

Losing at a game of pool.

Watching Blue Lagoon without sound with two Swedes and a cocky guy from Manhattan. Recommended.

Learning that I pee more than the average person... or atleast just a lot more than Abby.

Learning that I can't do anything with out thinking about my impact. It makes things difficult.

My stomach hates me.

And so that the moms know: Abby and I head from George to the St. Lucia wetlands today... it will takes us two days of busing to get there stopping in Port Elizabeth and Durban overnight. We spend two days there then we leave for Swaziland.

Monday, October 6, 2008

In Outshoorn... the karoo

We made it up Table Mountain on Saturday. Abby got to experience her first minibus on the way there... she only felt slightly nauseated afterward. The hike up the mountain was beautiful (I believe ecosystem is fynbos?) and very steep and very very windy. The veiw from the top was phenominal. The color of the ocean seems to morph into more beautiful shades of torqouise-blue the further up you get. We were lucky to avoid any fog that day... apparently people can get dangerously lost...I can understand why if the "table cloth" of thick fog comes in... the top is very flat and homogenous and their are a maze of trails to confuse you even on a clear day. The hike down was a little rough on the ol' knees but I survived and managed not to hurt anything.

That night Abby and I tried to cook ourselves dinner... I realize now how spoiled I was living in California with fresh produce. Our dinner was aweful. We did much better this evening though with a vegetable stir fry (thank you pre-packaged veggie bags). To be fair... the apples are delicious.

Yesterday we stayed in Mossel Bay and planned our trip up until the 30th. We were happy to be somewhere where it was safe to walk around at night and to be away from the city. Cape Town has a lot to offer but it wasn't really for us. I still haven't really felt like I'm in Africa... South Africa has so far paled in comparison to Kenya, but I'm sure that will change as we head up the coast and northward. Tomorrow we will go explore the Cango Caves and possibly stop at an ostrich farm... where you can ride the ostrich! I feel like it is horribly cruel, but the child in me REALLY wants to do it... I'm having some serious internal conflicts. The next day we might go searching for Meerkats if we can find a lift. Anywho... internet cost money at this hostel so thats all for now.


Saturday, October 4, 2008


The waxing moon sits in the sky like a bowl of star soup. Makes my brain spin.

We made it...

After being questioned by airport security, getting directed to wrong terminals (twice), getting frisked by a lovely young security lady, and 23 hours of being trapped in a flying metal object... we are here! We arrived in Cape Town 2 days ago and found our way to a friend of a friend's house (thank you greg!). They've been wonderful to use and have given us lots of great advise for traveling. They even cooked us an amazing meal last night - Springbok! yum. :)

Yesterday Abby and I took the train along the coast toward the cape and watched breaching whales feeding ridiculously close to the shoreline. Then we found our way with a little help to the african penguins! Aaaannnnddd (wait for it)..... I got video of some hump action! It was beautiful. Birds are so exciting.

Today we might try to head up Table Mountain if the weather permits... looks iffy. Then we leave on the BAZ bus Sunday and head up the coast toward Johannesburg via Swaziland with a detour in Mozambique. And four days in Kruger just before we fly to Zambia on the 30th.

I miss everyone. Meet me in Africa.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The start of something...?

For the past year I have been hiding away and dealing with (or mostly avoiding dealing with) life and death and love and pain and all those things that make us human - the things that shape us. I believe that I've grown a little from these experiences... the piles of shit I was dealt last year certainly added to my nitrogen base. But overall, I've felt as though I've been in a state of dormancy and I'm finally ready to emerge. So... since I'm leaving for Africa to get some sun on my leaves and rain in my roots, I thought I'd start a blog... gasp! I can't promise that I'll have much time to keep it up or the means to, but I'll try. The migration begins Sept 30th...