Day 18~ November 18th~ New York

a walk in the park

Every desert houses an oasis, and for New York City, central park is just that vital. One of the largest and most visited urban parks in the world, the park has bucket loads of charm to offer. Even when you don’t have time to visit during the rush of life, knowing that it is there, a slice of uninterrupted natural life in the middle of all the concrete, is a release of stress. Funny how despite all the gadgets we create, the technological advancements we champion, all it takes is little walk in the park to confirm our sense of being.

Day 30~ March 30th~ Egypt

a journey like no other~ boy on a camel in the desert~ Egypt

There are some places you travel to that remain alive in a very special place in your heart…

It really was a journey like no other, this adventure in Egypt. The pyramids, the sphinx, the desert, the camels, the ancient ruins, the mind boggling architecture, the friends, the strange carvings, the sense of being so different to the ancient culture that has been, the bedouins, the Nubians, and most of all the children of Egypt.

Our life experiences come together and culminate to make us who we are. This journey for me in this year to collect the salient bits of pieces of 12 of my life journeys, one a month, and to go through the process of examining them as one would a sand painting, with different colors, different essences and experiences and to then brush them away into the archives of my memories, hopefully learning a lesson in the process.

 

Day 23~ March 23rd~ Egypt

the boy who spoke to the camel

Our memories work in a funny way that we mostly remember the things that stand out, the odd things…

Have you ever met someone who spoke to animals in the most natural way as if animals understood every word they said? I have.

This boy in this 15 year old film scan was the camel herder during a sunrise trip we took to the pyramids at Giza. It was a very early morning hour exactly at sunrise and I heard him going on and on carrying a conversation that sounded to me like he was speaking to another person. He spoke of things that in my mind a camel could not understand and would have absolutely no interest in, but nevertheless the boy went on and on. And this made me think that if I were to spend hours everyday in the desert and in the company of very few people, would I find it necessary to speak to animals in such an intimate manner? This was another one of those moments that remained etched in my mind and that kept coming back to me each time I saw a camel. Each one of us has some random memories that keep surfacing in our conscious minds and leave us wondering why.

 

Day14~ March 14th~ Egypt

lost in the sand

I went to Egypt looking for adventure. I got far more than what I bargained for…

A group of 25 something friends from all around the globe, all eager to find the truth, we headed into the desert on a moonless night to gaze at the stars and dwell on the mysteries of Egypt. It was magical to say the least, until a few hours later someone looked around and we had a feeling one of our friends was missing. We called her name into the pitch darkness but nothing returned other than the eerie stillness of the desert night. It was the kind of darkness where you could not see your own hand, let alone another person lost in the sand. We desperately came up with a plan to separate into groups of 2 and walk around looking and feeling for our friend. We spent about an hour of very high emotional distress and thoughts going all over the place and expectations of the worst possible. We were each running the risk of getting lost ourselves, if not for a far away light that we left as a marker and a place to meet at the end of our search. Our local friend and guide who was with us walked finally to the nearest road and managed to call the hotel in Cairo only to discover that our friend was showered and in bed after having been lost, finding the road and hitchhiking to the hotel while we were busy searching for her.

That night, people of different religions, backgrounds, nationalities and ages worked together while faced with a crisis, an Arab with a German, a christian with a jew, a European with an American, all towards one purpose, the safety of another human being. Amazing how a real life situation can cause all the ‘stuff’ that does not belong to being human, to be shed away, dropped for the sake of our shared humanity. A great lesson was learned by all that night, as the deserts of the planet can do that to us.

Day 10~ March 10th~ Egypt

her smile~ Nubian desert~ Egypt

When ‘joy’ is able to attend you, life takes on a brilliant glow…

Imagine these simple moments of connection, when meeting some stranger’s eyes can cause you and them both to overflow with joy, with a contentment and a knowing that all is well and a great unexplainable happiness is present at the thought of meeting another human.

Joy, so difficult to come by in our day to day lives today, but so abundant in those places where people choose to live a simple and uncluttered life.

Even after 15 years, I can remember this face that glowed and radiated while the lady was trying patiently to tame her daughter’s unruly hair in a desert settlement in Nubia.

Day 9~ March 9th~ Egypt

Nubian woman in green scarf

We rode camels into the south of Egypt and there we met the Nubians.

Nubia, the desert region between southern Egypt and northern Sudan, along the Nile river and home of the Noba people, is where I met this beautiful woman. A stark contrast to the almost inhuman and eerie remains of ancient Egypt, the Nubians are full of gentle smiles, simple ways, and colorful surroundings. Most of the homes were painted in light blue and the faces radiated a glowing brown. Heirs of old kingdoms and a complex relationship with ancient Egypt, the Nubians have a great air of mystery around them and their ancient culture.

Day 4~ march 4th~ Egypt

eyes towards the sun

Ancient Egypt has the power to hold your attention and point towards the laws of nature, the place where that power arose in the first place…

To an inhabitant of the Earth, what is more powerful than the sun? The constant giver fo life, the provider of warmth and light, the great father. How much value can one give to a power as significant as the sun?

The sun and its symbolism played a very significant part in the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians and it is evident in the symbology, their art and their legends, like that of the God Ra.

Hathor goddess of love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy

Day Two Hundred Fourty Four, September 23, 2011

roots

This is Lea, she is 7 years old, she was born in Germany, lived there for 2 years, moved to Shanghai and has been living there for 5 + years. Her parents are a mix of Lebanese, German and American. She holds both the  German and the  American passports. When you ask Lea where she is from she has to think of the best answer to give you and in which language to deliver it. Most of Lea’s friends are just as mixed if not more and most have a hard time tracing back their roots.

I imagine what the world was like prior to integration and mixed race marriages. I wonder what this phenomenon of crisscrossed roots is causing on our planet. Everything that happens here is causative of something, a shift of balances. Our roots have a great influence on who we are, so I wonder what kind of role  all this mixing plays in our lives and in our destinies.

Lea has developed a great fascination with the desert the last few days and is determined that she will move there and ride a camel to school every day. Is that one of her roots activating? The root that made her hair curl suddenly in the last year?

 

Day One Hundred Nine, May 11, 2011

Urumqi to Kashgar

Today was a day of planes, airports, cars and more airports. I traveled over flatlands, grasslands, rivers, snow capped mountains, deserts and finally arrived at night in Kashgar after a few hours break in Urumqi. The first odd thing you meet in this place is that the locals, 70% Uyghur and other minorities, follow their own time zone, while all official clocks are set to Beijing time. So at any moment you have to be aware if a person is speaking to you about local time (which is 2 hours earlier) or official time. The languages spoken are not dialects of Chinese, they are completely different language and written in arabic letters. Exploring starts after a short night’s sleep..

over deserts and snowy mountains