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San Diego, California is a great destination for the traveller looking to unwind. La Jolla to be specific is ideal for that traveller that wants a little bit of both. The traveller that wants some calm but is willing to let loose and get a bit rowdy. On this trip, I stayed at a SeaBreeze vacation rental one street away from the beach in the affluent La Jolla community. The pacific ocean was so close to the vacation rental that you could smell salt in the sea as readily you heard the waves break and wash on the the shore.
Surfers in wetsuits lurked on their boards and they didn’t have to exercise lots of patience. While these were not the biggest waves I’ve seen, they were certainly pretty consistent in size and frequency.
Other lovers of the ocean, walked along the beach and others meditated to the symphony of waves and the occasional sea gull.
The well known Mission Beach was only a couple of miles down the road and comes with a classic and proper beach town boardwalk. If you are like me, you are already thinking about your longboard, your tank top and your drink/joint to take off the edge and cruise.
There are is no shortage of bars, restaurants and people (who make for great people watching ) in Mission Beach or Pacific beach and that means that when the sun begins to set, the possibilities of having a wild time are bright as day.
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Are you free? Do YOU KNOW that feeling? The last 48 hours in NYC have weighed on my spirit. In that short amount of time, I have been marginally estranged from my easy-wild coloradan gait and fallen for the New York minute. I have felt rushed and as a result out of balance and rhythm. I truly couldn’t exist in a city like this. I could never feel free always running towards, for or away from something.
That feeling of being Free is akin to the first taste of Spring. For me, that feeling is as close to levitation as my spirit can imagine. And as much as it can be elusive in the bipolar April weather tendencies of Colorado. I finally reveled in that spring vibe this past weekend. The resulting healing still lingers within me.
I spent the Friday night and Saturday morning enamored by mt. Princeton and the collegiate peaks in Buena Vista, before driving down to the village-town of Crestone in the northern part of San Luis Valley. This Saguache county town is renowned as a spiritual micro-mecca of sorts. The spiritual centers in their diversity are almost as many as the townees and the diversity in their peculiarity. The greatest spiritual center offering boasted by Crestone is undoubtedly the great outdoors in the western slopes of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.
Like most alpine-glacial lakes, Willow Lake is a site to behold. Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range close to Crestone Colorado, Willow Lake is surrounded by majestic 14ers ( fourteen thousand peaks ) and 13ers: Kit Carson, Challenger Point and Mt Adams. The lake overlooks an enigmatic valley that stretches beyond into Crestone and the San Luis Valley. From lush forests to wildflowers to marmots, pika, and bighorn sheep, this 9.6 mile hike this 11,598′ thousand in elevation lake zigzags through beautiful nature and stretches through wondrous pastures. It is ideal for Day hikes, but better for camping in my opinion. One night spent at the Lake could afford one access to the 14k peaks of Kit Carson and Challenger for short day trips the next few days.
Get out this weekend. Capture that feeling of being free and do not rush anything. Take your time.
Earth day is an annual event that is observed and celebrated on the 22nd of April across all continents. On this day, individuals and communities of diverse identities demonstrate their commitment to sustainable environmental protection and conservation. For example, this year’sEarthday.org’s campaign is to End Plastic Pollution.Unfortunately, plastic does not have a monopoly in the polluting and harming of our environment. It is paramount that all major pollutants, drivers of climate change, are weeded out (Pun). We should all be activated towards all environmental causes. From saving our marine life, to protecting our rainforests and ecosystems, to clearing the smog blanketing our towns and cities. The chief goal being surmounting climate change.
Behold, Earth day is upon us this Sunday. If you are anything like me, the aromas of Friday and the promise of the weekend get you excited at the prospect of spending time outside. If you aren’t like me, one guess is that your occupation is cool enough to afford you opportunities to enjoy the outdoors during the workweek. Whatever your occupation is, I hope that when someone asks you, “What do you do?“, you answers default naturally to those things that greatly animate your spirit. Be they your jobs or not.
What do I do? The things that I do are many, but most fall under one bucket which I own proudly. I do outdoorsy shit. I enjoy snorkeling to trippy fish and enigmatic coral. I find it hilarious when my dog Zizou relentlessly chases burning ambers in the veil of a starry night scored with whistling trees and chirping crickets. Its oddly refreshing to wake up to my pungent smell of fireside smoke and trail body odor. I savor the peril of grizzly bears in the back country. I love, Love, LOVE curving fresh deep POW powder, bobbing in and out of trees. Reader, this is a light sampling of my outdoorsy shit, and all of it is threatened.
While the threat to our winters ‘weakens the gnar’ and the POWder isn’t as good as it could be for shredding purposes, there are far greater implications. For example, dwindling spring snowpacks and shortened winters directly impact the snowmelt runoffs that make up streams and creeks. These streams and creeks, quench the thirst of the perilous bear, her cubs and her food chain. They water the valleys and the plains and sustain an entire ecosystem.
The diminishing spring snowpacks also result in longer than usual fire seasons prompting Forestry, National Parks and local authorities to impose fire bans as a preventative measure. Now, Zizou doesn’t get to battle fire ambers and I don’t get the joys of smelling ‘blackened,’ even charred. And while I can contend with a night without nature’s television, a fireless night, the unnerving forces of fire have dire implications. Forest fires are leaving ecosystems desperately fighting for survival.
I live in Colorado, it doesn’t get more landlocked than this paradise of a nest in the mountains. Because my early life and travels have gifted me many thrills on coastlines of 3 of the 5 oceans, I am drawn to crashing waves as much as I am to the frosted mountain peaks. I even have a Wes Anderson fantasy in which I play Steve Zissou in Life Aquatic. Its 100% self serving. One of the greatest thrills of aquatic life is coral and the countless life that is nestled in and within it. Rising temperatures have resulted in large scale bleaching and eventual death of coral with dire implications beyond subpar snorkeling opportunities. Aquatic ecosystems are desperately fighting of survival.
Reader, this is a light sampling of implications of climate change as they relate to what I do.
I urge you to challenge the value you create to your spirit and the environment outside of your 40hr work week.
When you are outside this Earthday, be mindful. Be mindful everyday. If you see a clif bar wrapping flirting with the wind, pocket it. Trust yourself to carry that responsibility. Whatever you can do, do it. Post your #Earthday instagram photo and get your people on board this wave to be stakeholders of mother Earth. The effort to protect mother Earth is an aggregate of individual accountability to her sanctity.
Get on a trail this Sunday and brush your fingertips against tree barks as you walk along the trail. Create awareness around the sources of the streams as you skip across them. Express your appreciation the ecosystem, in your own way and feel its health.
Drive somewhere. And like my brother and good friend Mo says, ” Take impromptu turns onto backroads because you are enamored by the framing of the mountains”. And there is delightful simplicity in that enamoration. Take those backroads, find yourself a slice of road shoulder to colonize, be aware of the privilege of pristine wilderness which a lot of people are not able to access or have lost. Enjoy the vistas. Rationalize them. Romanticize them. Awe at them. Inhale them. Promise to protect all of it. Be one with Earth.
I’ve lived in Denver for close to five years now. In that time, I have often found myself perched on a cloud of disenchantment whose bubble I get wrapped into when I think of the fact that I know what lies around every corner. Even as the cranes in their teens and twenties marionette and animate concrete and steel on a daily basis, the exciting feeling of novelty can elude. And as such the sense of wonder can only be sought in the wildernesses out west.
How powerful is a shift in perspective?
During a recent trip in San Francisco, I had a spur of inspiration. A cocktail of day dreaming about my upcoming journey back to East Africa ( Kenya ) and urges to create. I stood at a stop light waiting for the walk sign to illuminate with my eyes closed. I inhaled the smell of fresh mango, and piles of second hand clothes. I listened to the roar of a 250 cc motorcycle buzz by and the splashes of a mud puddle. I imagined myself a raven gently hovering past, witnessing life.
In the hours that followed, I reiterated that vantage point and awareness of life in the many other settings that evoked fiery nostalgia. In the countryside herding cattle, at the township football ground, by the river skipping stones and perched on a guava tree.
The Bird’s eye vantage provokes thrills!
I cannot wait to take this dji mavic pro back to East Africa and approach some of these settings as a bird would. I am thrilled to notice all that is unnoticeable here on earth. I wonder what I will perceive in spatial deliberateness and unconsciousness. I wonder what I will deduce from the rhythm of life depicted in movement.
I flew the dji mavic pro in downtown Denver and captured some amazing stills.
What do you deduce from the rhythm of life depicted in these photos? What do you perceive in spatial deliberateness or unconsciousness? Do Images like this refresh that your appreciation and curiosity for a place?
Engage me with a line or two.
Also, follow my IG to keep up with a fare share of some of the shades of ME.
I am moved by…”what does it mean to live artfully”
The next 40 days, I am committing to breathing life…creating every day. Experiencing creative expression. Submitting to the waves of the process. The triumphs and defeats. Honestly. Whole heartedly. Practicing and creating awareness around the liberation of those creative ghosts– reincarnating them with juvenile funk.
The last 40 days, my body wandered in search of understanding of strength. In turn the cultivation of trust in the ability to lean heavily against the frontier of its limits. Ultimately, the genesis of a fortification of the vessel with which I will play on this earth.
These next 40 days, my Spirit will wander. With creative artful immersive suspension as compass.
…The truth is my spanish is shit! It is utter garbage! While it is not entirely non-existent, it is just plain and simply shitty! However, three hours into arriving in one of the most populated cities in the world, I experienced a linguistic breakthrough albeit catalysed by an unfortunate event.
“No Mames!”… I screamed frantically grabbing my pockets, eyes bulging in a blend horror and angst. …”Pinche Chilangos!No Mames, Guey! “ I continued and sealed the curse!
Picture the dumbfounded visages in that train car, with mine the most distinct in hue. On one hand, there were the faces shocked at how Chilango-like the accent in my curses’ tongue had pierced the air and on the other, there was my face mourning the loss of an extension of my ‘SELF’. I had been liberated from my precious iPhone.
The irony of it all is that from the moment I descended into the subway underground, on my way to Zocalo, I acknowledged to myself that the conditions were prime and perfect for anybody to be pick pocketed, especially me, the eager visitor whose perceptions were tuned in to all the novelties, therefore distracted. It was about 4 pm and the trains were pouring over at every station. I in fact had a nerdy statistics hard-on when I thought to myself how interesting it would be if the percentage of people with communicable illnesses was almost equal to the number of occupational pickpockets in every train car at any given time. And how shitty it would be to catch the flu from the same person that picks your pocket. I even chuckled when I thought that a foreigner such as myself must have been like a game of Pokemon GO for a pickpocket.
For as long as I incubated my medley of thoughts, I exercised extra caution. Sometimes a bit too dramatic as I changed trains clutching desperately at my pockets and hugging worrisomely at my backpack. I thought of BBC’s, Conor Woodman’s SCAM CITY; a television serious founded on unearthing the most prevalent of scams in popular tourist destinations.Predictably, pick pocketing reigns supreme in swindle kingdom. To accompany those thoughts, my eyes darted back and forth endeavoring to savor the sight of a hand in action.
Suddenly, there was some unnecessary aggressive shoving and pushing at the Pino Suarez subway station while boarding the blue line to Zocalo. I raised my hands in the air, gesturing my American goodwill in the peaceful transcendence into every and all spaces as my precious iPhone ascended from my pockets. How stupid was that! Word of advise, if a situation looks like a pig, its probably a pig. I knew what was happening but somehow I convinced myself that I had a bias worth muting. I even looked at the bitch that did it in the eye as she retreated from boarding the train, thinking, yeah good idea, this is a mess! It happened so fast! It infuriated me! I sneezed! It was poetic! And now I sit with a sense of liberation that has been long estranged from my ‘SELF’.
A sense of liberation that was bought by a communion of mezcal and tacos coupled with an audit of pequeñahardships and pequeña blessings of my iPhone-less state. I took out a piece of paper and said to myself, “well, I guess now I’ve got to write shit down. ” Undoubtedly, in the 24 hours that have passed, I have enjoyed looking at the different aspects of my personality through my handwriting. I have scribbled a lot of meaningful and meaningless things. I have scribbled on receipts, on the back of my hand and I think I almost scribbled on a spare tortilla at a taco stand. I stopped myself short after considering foldability.
Not having a cellphone means that I had been stripped off my Uber superpowers. Now I am forced to power up my shitty Spanish and haggle with drivers in a taxi industry that is riddled with unregulated operators. On the upside, I cannot hide behind my Black Mirror for the next 8 or so days. And I have to be cognizant of directions, time and my surroundings in general. There is no precision to my sense of direction or time at the moment and there need not be. I am neither here nor there and the time is not now. I can best sum up my spatial disposition as an approximate actuality. For example, I am writing this from a taco stand in La Condesa. 3 tacos in with 2 left to go. I am approximately 150 pesos ( my willingness to pay as a function of my perceived distance ) by taxi to my next destination: Somewhere in Polanco where I intend to continue illuminating the night with La Comida y las Bebidas. The food and the drinks: The chief of all my reasons to visit Mexico this time around.
The inconvenience of not having a phone means that I am liberated form the persuasions of the barrage of notifications I suffer on an hourly basis. Not having a phone means that my first instinct is to experience and reflect rather than capture and share.
oh feuille d’air
vous qui porte mes semelles .
Luttez avec la gravité,
tourner dans le vent.
Me récompense avec la liberté,
sur la terre et sous l’eau.
Garder mon souffle vrai,
et ne jamais éteindre le feu
qui porte mon âme .
oh sheet of air,
you who bears my soles.
Wrestle with gravity,
turn into wind.
Award me with freedom,
over land and under water.
Keep my breath true,
and never extinguish the fire
that bears my soul.
I arrived in Zanzibar aboard the flying horse. A budget ferry that cost half as much as its competitor ‘Kilimanjaro’. That meant that I did not expect anything grand lux when I boarded the purported two hour trip that turned into three. It also meant that the bodies sprawled on the top deck had minimal shock value. Some had crawled under their seats where they sought the sweet relief in an afternoon’s sleep, while others desperately supplemented the insufficient sea breeze with folded newspaper fans. The heat must have been turned all the way up. Despite her shortcomings in speed and air conditioning, there was a kind of bravado with which the flying horse battered the waves bearing northeast towards Zanzibar. It was flattery at its best. I leaned against a rail the whole way fending off wind-dancing rastas from my face; my mouth blissfully frozen agape. My romantic recount of that voyage is testament to my enthusiastic excitement for finally arriving in Zanzibar. I was super stoked.
Immigration officers at the port were convinced that I was a musician coming to perform at the Sauti Za Busara festival that was set to commence the following day. My hair is dead giveaway. If someone doesn’t mistake me for a footballer (soccer) then the next best thing is that I am most certainly a musician. In the name of good humor, I played along in an attempt to get a taste of the perks. Only until I was led to separate room, where I was presented with a hefty government of Zanzibar tax fee that all performing festival artists had to pay. Imagine how awkward that was.
After checking into my off the beaten path cheaper hotel, I took it upon myself to conduct a self guided walking tour. A decision I questioned five minutes later as I stared down at my t-shirt that clung to my body curving out the contours of my lethargic shoulders, arms and entire torso. I was drenched! Completely drenched. Sweat lushed down my forehead and cascaded over my eyebrows. The entire island was cocooned in a blanket of sweltering heat. But not enough to stop me.
I kid you not, I didn’t return to my room that day. When I finally returned it was five in the morning and the sky was dimly lit by the promise of a sunrise. In the course of my promenade, I encountered a young Masai man in ‘civilian’ (as opposed to traditional Masai dressing ). Circular scars from childhood heat branding on each of his cheekbones and an unmissable gap between his teeth informed me of his heritage. He was a long way from home. But he wasn’t the only one. There are Masai men, (No women) all over stone town Zanzibar. And most are adorned in full Masai regalia. Out of curiosity, I approached him to ask why he had come to Zanzibar and how long he had stayed. He candidly responded that he came to Zanzibar from Arusha with his then Norwegian girlfriend, now mother of his daughter, eight years before. Since, their relationship soured and she left him with nothing. He decided to stay in Zanzibar to work in the tourism industry selling wares out of a curio shop.
Robert took it upon himself to deliver me to a variety of nightly entertainment venues around the city of Zanzibar. From Taarab to Bongo flava to Lingalala to American hip hop, there was hardly a genre of music that we didn’t cover. It was also during these escapades that the ineffable aphrodisiac quality of Supu wa Pweza ( octopus soup ) was emphasized to me. Outside a night club adjacent to the Zanzibar prison, Robert pulled me towards a man where he requested five hundred shillings worth of soup. He then told me that the soup would award me with sexual virility, stamina and an insatiable libido. A few other believers chimed in to profess this claim as truth, never raising their heads, deeply buried in their bowls of soup. I didn’t believe them and I had no reason to. “Agata, why do you think all these white women come to Zanzibar and never leave?” Robert asked. “And if they leave, they always come back!” Heckled another man. Later that night, Robert would bitterly reveal to me that his baby mama had left him for a local man; a mzenji. “Just drink it then, its delicious! Since you are not drinking alcohol, why not?”
When Robert had offered me a drink earlier on in the night, I respectfully refused boasting the three months since November 13th of 2014 that I had managed to stay completely dry. (That alcohol free run is now 113 days and counting ) I reluctantly gave in to his request and drank the octopus soup. What a delicacy! I savored every mouthful. It then came to my realization that the octopus was my first meal in Zanzibar, just like in Lamu a week prior. I oliver-twisted my way into three more bowls of soup. I was famished.
The walk back home was strange. Strange in the senses it evoked. Those of mystery, those of wonder and often those of a delightful loneliness. There was utter stillness; with nothing but the puttering of my footsteps. But every so often, I would get startled by a shuffling followed by the blank stare of the sleepy eyes of a man sheltered under cardboard boxes. He would look up but only for a moment before continuing with his posture adjustment. When I got to my hotel room, I lay sleepless in my bed gazing at the ceiling where a wobbling fan labored to whip up a breeze. How could I not think of the four bowls of octopus soup possibly conspiring an appetite within me? How could I not think of Robert and the misfortune of his love? How could I not think of his reverence of Zanzibar and his determination to persist in its habitation? How could I not think about me and Zanzibar? I laughed off the first thought and soon after I was fast asleep.
I didn’t sleep alone. Do I have your attention?
The morning was shorter than the night had promised having woken up a with trail of bug bites running down my shins. Bug bites paired with an unpleasant itching that pestered me in the course of my search for alternative accommodation. My price-distance compromise had not paid off. After a long search that initially seemed impossible, I landed new accommodation closer to the music festival in stone-town at Shylock prices.
Later that night, as Ali Kiba sang, Mapenzi ya run dunia (love runs the world) I reveled in the muddled symphony of love as the masses sang along. It was beautiful. Zanzibar is love. It is mystic. It is a serendipitous place that rocked my world many times. Once on a sandy island that was reborn every morning as when the ocean’s low tide bowed to the sun.
Whats the difference between people and places? Aren’t places personified in the experiences the afford us. Especially those of kindness, patience and love.