…continued from: Travels through Sudan VII – The Temple of Soleb
Day 7 …no shower. Ouch. It’s not so bad, its a dry heat. Yeah, right, a dry, searing, heat in a part of the world that hasn’t seen a drop of rain in almost eighteen months, resulting in a dry searing heat albeit with some cloud cover caused by the foot of bull-dust stirred up every time you take a step or drive an inch. If your into the dust/dirt ball grunge kind of look though, it’s kind of cool. You need some shade, just do a little dance. No problem, a cloud of dust to block out the sun like a canvas unbrella. Continue reading
Niokolo-Koba National Park, Senegal.
Another one of those “I never knew it existed but now that I do I’m glad no one else does” kind of places. After an almost six-month drive from Istanbul, down trough the Sahara, than across the Sahara, than partially back up through the Sahara, Niokolo-Koba was basically our last stop before we ended our trip in Dakar.
What an ending too, with fields full of animals, sunsets blazing with color, and a camping site up on the banks of the Gambia River. We would watch the monkeys play in the morning, watch hippos and search for lions in the afternoon, and than come down to a viewing hut in the afternoon to watch a virtual Garden of Eden type setting of animals under the setting sun. Perfect.
March 20, 2008
Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.
Just look up, it’s all around.
Half awake, lookin’ for momma, outta milk, hungry and wanting some cereal…
This little girl would wander into the compound of our hotel just about every morning around eight. Her mother was our cook during our stay at Chez Monique in Abomey, Benin. This little one wanted breakfast, and didn’t care where she had to find mom to get it. By the third day we would have a bowl of cereal waiting for her, as her mother did the big inhale, and all the other workers laughed and slapped their thighs. This girl wasn’t shy. She was hungry…
I met Hank every morning down on the steps of the ghats that surround the sacred lake of Pushkar. He was a quiet fellow. Contemplative, laid back, gentle, almost rotund in a beer belly kind of way. You could tell he was smart, maybe not in his speech, but more in the way he studied things. You could see it in his eyes, his movements, and his overall demeanor. He didn’t get into all the chatter of his fellow ghat hanger-outers, almost like it was beneath him, knowing there were more important things in life. He had better ways to spend his time. Comtemplating life on the holy lake, trying to understand the theory of flight, just watching the people coming and going around the lake.
Eyes without a Face…I think that was a Billy Idol song. Wonder if he spent any time in Nepal.
Anyway, feelin’ Nepal today. This one is the top of the Boudhnath Stupa in Kathmandu. If you feel like your being watched in Nepal …just look up, because you probably are. I really didn’t get out of the Kathmandu Valley much when I was there (I HAVE to go back), but my god. I have no regrets. What a city, valley and culture.
Off the beaten path and well out-of-the-way of the tourist trail, the back streets of Old Varanasi are a maze of catacomb-like alleyways. I would highly recommend walking them as much as possible. There are sights back here that would be hard to find anywhere else, including museums. From thousand plus year old statues and architecture to people just living out their lives.
You enter what looks like tunnel only to come out into a thin strip of lighted roadway, paved with ancient cobblestones, only to have to side-step a cow, look up to see an ancient statue over the archway of a newly appointed guesthouse, people working and washing in the street. A maze of wires above, turn the corner and there are none, turn another only to run into a temple, round another for another amazing view. It all sounds quite quaint and normal here, on the internet, but its anything but, almost anywhere else in the world but here that is. If you’re there, don’t miss the chance to walk these streets, it’s well worth the effort, the heat, the smell and everything else you can’t experience in a picture.
Another shot that goes well with my recently posted story on Varanasi. A shot of what I think has to be one of the worst jobs in the world, or at least that I have witnessed. The guys in the water, well, they’re panning for gold. No, that’s not bad really, until you realize they are in the Ganges, at the Manikarnika Ghat, and the fire in the foreground is not just a fire, it’s a funeral pyre. The Manikarnika Ghat is a cremation ghat along the Ganges River. There is a body in there. OK, so they’re panning for gold in front of a burning body, no biggie, right? Wrong. They are panning through the ashes of the dead and burned looking for any gold or precious stones or metals that may have gotten through. Gold teeth, jewelry, hair pins, etc, etc. They are panning peoples ashes. What makes it worst is that the occasional body part makes it through the fire, which they just toss further into the river, yikes.
It’s a holy river, it’s a revered site, it’s considered very lucky to die and be burned here. I’m not arguing that, and I do have to say that it is fascinating (to me at least) but man, I wouldn’t want that job, no way. It’s a different world though, and I’m sure I would be happy just to have a job if I lived there as well.