Tag Archives: beauty

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Travel Inspires

The space is what I loved. Acres of green land perfectly manicured by nature. A dense forest and green pastures then an opening where a Georgian style mansion stood. There was peace.

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There was real quiet. The kind of quiet that you actually notice. Only the sound of a few birds and the wind. No car horns, no hum of technology, just quiet. I could imagine myself in a quiet study with the windows open and a fresh cup of coffee. Maybe I would be reading or writing something myself. I would relax with a fire going and take a look outside the window for inspiration.

I felt the same way in Guatemala. On top of the mountain staring down at the coffee plantation and small villages below. Only a few small houses were this high. A modest brick home with two bedrooms and a rustic kitchen and a beautiful garden. In the distance a few dormant volcanoes. Here too the people are in no rush and the escape of the constant hum of civilization is gone. One thing I notice – the dark. The dark is deeper than at home. Sleep follows easier because of it.

When I return home from places like these I always have ideas of getting away for good. This time, when we returned from Ireland, I made up my mind I would buy 20 acres in South Georgia. Twenty acres away from anyone where I could build a modest cabin in the center of my own land. My own land where I could sit in my own little study, filled with old books, souvenirs from travels, and freshly ground coffee.

“That’s what I’ll do,” I tell myself. “I’ll move away from it all.” Maybe that’s my favorite part about travel – the inspiration. Maybe I will have that cabin and study one day.

Ants and Humans

Ants walk along the ground gathering dirt, piling it, making tunnels, storing food, and repeating. Then comes along some asshole kid who stomps on their perfectly crafted tunnels stirring their entire universe into a frenzy.

Of course the ants have no idea what just happened. A few chemicals go off in their nervous system alerting them to the fact an intruder has just crushed their pile of dirt. They automatically and instinctively begin rebuilding and trying to kill whatever non-ant being has entered their territory.

Some ants never cross paths with a human. Most live their entire lives crawling through the forest acting based on their instincts, happily. It never occurs to them they aren’t thinking. They have no ability to develop thoughts or complex ideas. They just crawl on the ground.

What if we are ants of the Universe?

What if we are ants to some other organism in the Universe. What if there is some being so complex and advanced that we don’t even have the mental capacity to even think to perceive what they might be. Almost like trying to imagine a new color – we simply can’t because our brain will not allow us to perform such a function.

Maybe it’s like a hypothetical shadow creature attempting to perceive the world in 3D. It simply can’t because the everything it understands to exist is on a flat plain.

What if the other phenomena’s existence – exist in such a way we can’t understand or even conceptualize it.   Like an ant solving complex physics equations – we do not have the ability to perceive the masters of our Universe.

To think we are the most complex forms of life in the Universe seems ignorant and impossible. I wonder if other people think about that?

Just a thought before bed.

 

Lost in Translation – What I learned about Communication with foreigners in a Bar

One of the things I love most about travel and meeting people of different cultures and languages is the learning that takes place within myself. Here’s a quick example of something I learned – something that I think I already knew, but didn’t really understand the vastness of until last week.

I was out to dinner talking to a few Brazilian students who were at a conference for architecture here in the States. Each of them were either working on their PhD dissertation or already a professor.

These were obviously some of the most intelligent people I have ever met – and each of them spoke English to a varying degree. I speak some Spanish, but no Portuguese, so we stuck to English. I began having a conversation with a Brazilian woman named Rosane. Even in English I could tell she was quite intelligent though sometimes when my vocabulary became too complex, I used a common expression, used sarcasm, or spoke a little quickly I could tell she didn’t catch part of my meaning.

After a while she mentioned how it was difficult to articulate what she wanted to say – especially regarding philosophical or highly complex thoughts in a foreign language. That’s when it hit me – the vastness of language and communication.

Here sits two educated people with the desire to communicate complex and interesting ideas, but unable to speak much above a high school level. I love Language and this fact makes it all the more interesting to me – what things can two cultures fail to communicate – what things carry over? I noticed an infinite number of both in the subtleties of our conversation.

I can’t help but wonder how intelligent these people really were. What would that same conversation sound like in English or if I spoke Portuguese. I imagine it would have been deep and informative.

There was a indie rock band playing so on several occasions I tried to explain the metaphor in a lyric, or the meaning behind the title of a book, geo-political issues, etc. Some things I could tell they were instantly clear on, other things truly are lost in translation.

I am ashamed at the level of English other nationalities speak and my inability to speak a second language fluently. I think my new goal is to really master Spanish. I’ve sat on the idea long enough, used it briefly in my travels, but how can I really get to know a person and culture without speaking their language?

Communication, in all its forms, is the key to understanding.

Revisiting Antigua, Guatemala – Photos of buildings older than our country

It is amazing to me that people from all over the world aren’t flocking to Antigua, Guatemala. It has been months since I was there and I still can’t get over how beautiful and historic it is. I have shared many photos already, but here are a few I left out that I think are worth posting.

click to enlarge

“Guatemala Changes You”

Central America is the kind of place you sit back and enjoy the slow pace, enjoy having an extra button undone on your shirt, and maybe have another cerveza. If you make that cervesa a morning coffee, add in a few 400 year old buildings, and surround yourself with the most beautiful mountain and volcanic landscape you can think of then you have some understanding of what it’s like to be in Antigua, Guatemala. But it’s more than that.

Gringos on Arrival
I remember touching down in Guatemala. We hustled through customs and upon walking out of the airport we were bombarded with people – people trying to sell their items and services to tourists. People begging to sell you a bracelet, give you a ride, or just help out a little for a modest tip. I didn’t know who to trust, so I just waited for my ride. Finally my “shuttle” pulled up. By shuttle I mean a 1995 Honda Accord.

My wife and I hoped in and it wasn’t long before I realized we weren’t getting on the interstate. We were pulling into a neighborhood. A neighborhood in Guatemala City. The driver didn’t say anything, he just honked the horn. All the things and warnings I had read began to shout themselves in my head. This was it – we were going to be robbed. I acted cool, but started shoving identification and credit cards into my shoe just in case they took everything we had. If I was nervous I could only imagine the terror my wife must have been feeling.

Then it happened. A guy opened the passenger door. “Sorry Guys! I’m Late” A guy from Azerbaijan hoped in the car. He was running late and was sharing the shuttle to Antigua. We later found out that he even knew a mutual friend of ours. What a small world.

Then on the radio, a sports program, Guatemala scored a goal. The driver screamed “GOOOOAAAAALLLLL!” For the first time I saw him smile and I knew Guatemala was going to be alright.

Antigua
Antigua is another planet situated perfectly at home inside of Guatemala. It is beautiful. Not just visually, but also evoking all other emotions it is possible to feel. There are 40 churches, each of them older than anyone living today. There are traces of tragedy and opportunity on every streets. Columns laying where they fell reminding everyone of the earthquake and volcanoes that rule the landscape – but a city to perfect and valuable to give up to nature.

Antigua is a foody’s dream, an artist haven, an architects museum, and a travelers Oasis. It’s the kind of place you visit for a few days and contemplate life and wonder why you spend so much of it in an office. Every street is lined with cobble-stone, every building reeks of history, and the the faces of the residents and visitors all melt together in some strangely constructed way that somehow makes perfect and wonderful sense.

Lago de Atitlan
Lake Atitlan is about 2.5 hours outside of Antigua. Upon arrival we took a boat to three villages which surround the lake. Each with a particular culture of their own.

The first was a village ran by Mayan women who produce textiles. They were among the most friendly and lovely people I have ever encountered. My wife befriended them immediately – even with broken Spanish and a lot of hand gestures they were able to communicate almost flawlessly. It is encounters like these that make such an experience priceless.

Without ruining Atitlan by an attempt to briefly explain it and its awesome beauty – hopefully sharing it will do more good.

The Guatemala Experience
Trying to explain Guatemala in a few hundred words is impossible. I can’t really explain what is what like to wake up every morning, walk down the streets of Antigua, and sip on coffee in the Parque Central – I can only say that I did it. I am not skilled enough a writer to describe the scene at Lake Atitlan, or the smiles on the Mayan women’s faces, or how every door in Antigua had more character than the most modern suburban home – I can just show you a few pictures and say it is so. I can’t even tell you how being in a Guatemala changed my outlook on things, changed the way I feel to live in this “modern” society, and helped me grow if only a little – I can only say it happened.

Over the next few weeks I plan to continue sharing photos and posts about my experience in Guatemala.

Antigua, Guatemala Day 2

A 3 hour walking tour took me to a few of the most famous churches, crypts, and museums around Antigua, Guatemala. I tried to capture some of the amazing things we saw, but a camera can never quite do it justice. I also scheduled a trip to the famous lake Atitlan, Pacaya Volcano, and 3 surrounding Mayan villages for Friday. I look forward to sharing that with you all too.