This is a picture I took of the State Capital of Minnesota through the window of a bus I never planned to take, in a part of town I never planned to visit.
Some of my most profound life lessons have come from my solitary travel and sometimes, the greatest travel adventures happen when nothing goes as planned. Despite what you see and read in the news (violent crime, kidnappings, and murder) America is a not the big, scary place we see on the news.
There is a warm web of community among strangers who meet at bus stops, and for every crime reported in the media, there are thousands of untold stories and numerous unsung heroes who lend helping hands to a frantic traveler like me who would be unable to make it to her destination without the kindness of strangers.
I realize that I’ve entered this place with the eye of a stranger in a strange land. An American expatriate who has lived in a developing nations for over ten years and who is coming from a lands with power outages, lack of medical care and extreme poverty, my perception of this mall is quite different to those who have made a visit to this place part of their summer vacation.
“We’ve made reservations for tonight at Otto’s in The Village,” said Madam Brooklyn. “If you’re into celebrity chefs, it’s owned by Mario Batali." I hadn’t heard of this famous chef known for his brawn, red hair, and habit of wearing shorts and bright orange Crocks in the kitchen. But, she soon filled me in.
For almost every day for the past eleven years, I’ve carried
the same, large leather bag. It has accompanied me to 14 countries,
crossing borders, oceans, continents, and times zones. My constant companion,
weathering the love and loss of friends and lovers, it looks no worse for wear.
When I recently met an ex-fiancé for coffee, the first words
out of his mouth were: “Are you still carrying that bag?”
“Yep!” I replied. “It has proven to be a much better
investment than most boyfriends, and it has certainly lasted longer!”
“What makes a place special is the way it buries itself inside the heart, not whether it’s flat or rugged, rich or austere, wet or arid, gentle or harsh, warm or cold, wild or tame.– Richard Nelson (as qtd in Beyond the Last Village by Alan Rabinowitz)
original image by shamash
A few days at Inle Lake is good for the soul. Read on for a photo journal.
reveler:(n.)one who engages in uproarious festivities and merry-making
Jeeps full of kids with super-sonic water pistols that look like they came straight out of Star Wars pump streams of water on passers-by. Loud speakers from the pandals pump techno-beats, rock and roll, and 80’s remixes, especially the remix of “What’s Up.” Street venders sell deep-fried crickets, barbequed sparrows, and hot samosas.
The wildest, wettest festivity in the world doesn’t happen in Thailand or South America’s Carnival, but in this country Somewhere in Asia.It’s four days long, and promises to bring out your inner child. Or inner monster. Or a little bit of both.
The garden. After school. A glass of chilled white wine. Free Spirit, fresh in from Hanoi, has just arrived, her guitar slung around her shoulder. Behind me, in my artist's studio, all sorts of pastels, and oil paints, and paint brushes sit waiting for next week's art class. Creativity seems to flourishing these days in this city "Somewhere in Asia."