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, 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.