Monday, August 11, 2008
Di and i are back in Asheville and our new number that now works is 828-225-6986. We have been able to see some of your friendly faces but can't wait to see everyone and catch up! We are pretty much doing house stuff so if you swing by we should be there!~ Hope to see you all soon!~
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Hey folks we have toured part of the east coast and are heading home soon! We can't tell you how great it was to see some of our friends and family thus far and can't wait to see a bunch more in SMASHEVILLE! Much love- enjoy the random pictures!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Here are some pictures still of Australia! A shot out to Delaware, a cool picture of Di and i biking, a trailer we stayed in and some cool plant life! Enjoy!
So we have made it to the North Island. Some fun facts about NZ. There are only 4 million people here. 3 million live on the north island and of that 3 million 1 million live in Auckland! Wild stuff! Two of those millions are Drake and Erica who we rocked out with for a few days in Wellington aka WINDington because it is freaking windy as anything! I had to get crampons just to stay upright as we walked around the town. No really it was wild. Drake and Erica were amazing hosts and there housemates rocked as well. We celebrated Christmas in July! It was fantasgreat! The Te Papa museum was amazing! a truly beautiful and education place.
We then headed to Tongariro to do the northern circuit hike- famous from Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately, after we had prepared 3 pounds of rice and beans because there is no way to cook while hiking out there a blizzard came through and threw us off the mountain. Their were winds of 200 km/h going on and snowing! About 2 hours into our hike di and i regrouped and decided that this was not the way we wanted to spend our last week on "vacation." So we high tailed it to Auckland and won a cut throat game of Cranium with Anne and her beautiful family!
We are now on Waiheke Island WWOOFing with a splendid family! We have been gardening, cooking, and hanging out with some rather energetic 4 and 5 year olds! It's been fun. We are very excited to come home and see you guys all soon!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Hey folks here are some picture of Australia-
Pictures of Di and i wine tasting in the hunter valley, some cool rock formations in the Blue Mountains, a puppet shop in Sydney, a cool tree in the sunset and the Cliff Mallee tree. I really like this tree b/c the bark is looking like it is melting off!
Monday, July 21, 2008
We are planning out return to the US and it will be a short and sweet tour down the east coast as we make a b-line to Asheville. We would love to see our friends along the way so if you live in any of these areas hopefully we can set something up. Below are our tour dates! Get excited!!!
8/3-5th- NYC- wake up on the 5th and head to NJ
8/5- NJ- wake up on the 6th and head to DE
8/6- DELAWARE- wake up on the 7th and head to DC
8/8 or later- Asheville!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
THESE PICS ABOVE ARE FROM THAILAND. WE WILL SORT IT ALL OUT EVENTUALLY. MAYBE WHEN IT DOES NOT COST 77$ PER HOUR ON THE EMAIL AY? We spent a few days in the Hunter Valley - Wine Country. It was great. We rented some bikes, stayed with an amazing family- The Towers, and went around tasting wines, cheese , and chocolate! It was fantastic to say the least. There were many new wines that we tried b/c they are specific to that region and they were lovely! We eat at Smelly Cheese for lunch twice and hit up a fantastic chocolate factory! not too bad! We made it to about 12 wineries out of 120 and learned a large amount of knowledge about wine. Fun times!
We also got to see a herd of Kangaroo's chillin in the bush and then hop off in line. It was fun to see. they seemed to hop in a line formation with a baby leading the pack and also pulling up the rear.
After that we headed up to Byron Bay and as luck had it we arrived in the middle of Farmers Market day and eat some fantastic foods. A beet, spinach, sweet potato, chick pea layer cake- which we amazingly colored! Good food!
We have done some whale watching b/c the whales migrate up the eastern part of Australia to have their caves. We have seen a bunch slapping the water and breaching as well. Byron Bay is the eastern most part of Australia so we are pretty close to home right now- can you feel the good vibrations coming your way?
Here are some random pictures from Thailand!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
DI and i sat for a Vipassana Course. It consisted of 10 days of not talking and 11 hours of meditation AND I AM HAPPY TO REPORT NEITHER OF US RAN AWAY FROM THE COURSE-(This happens quite often).
I will attach more photos soon. We have couch surfed twice thus far and it is great!!! Thanks Kendall and family, Rose and Lisa!!!
We also took a Thai cooking class in Bangkok before we left-thanks Emi- and we have learned that if you dislocate the the legs of this insect that is in the cockroach family it smells very sweet! look for it at your local international markets!
We'll see you all in about 6 weeks!~
Monday, May 26, 2008
So we have been living the island life pretty much. A lot of chillin', reading, relaxing, eating, meditating, and so forth. We have been to about 6 of teh 16 beaches on this island and we have even "Beach hopped" because some of them are about a 5 minute hike away. I don't want to brag or anything, but i was on 3 beaches in one day! Oh yeah. Here are some pictures from them.
The first is of Di hiking through the jungle as we went from Haad Tien to Haad Yan beach, then a picture of the twig walkway on the rocks, another great picture from our walk, then a picture of the sky, and a picture of Haad Rim beach as we went on a boat tour of part of the island! It was fantastic!
Here are some pictures from the party. it was real fun. You drink out of Buckets! it consists of an alcoholic drink, a mixer, and a energy drink. It's pretty tasty and funny at the same time.
The pictures are of di drinking from the bucket, a board of designs you can get painted on your body, the fire sign for the party, me dejected because i had to wear di's purse during the party, and some dude passed out towards the end of the night! Enjoy~
we just went to the largest beach party in the world on Koh Phangan Island! The pictures are not working right now but i will post some later. we are all good and we are happy and healthy! talk to you guys soon and see you all soon! 10 weeks left!~
Thursday, May 15, 2008
o we rocked out the Annapurna Trek in
Anyway the trip was great. We started our trek strong after a 5 day fast inspired by giardia and luckily is sprung up for us again about halfway through the trek. But we rested and made it through! Well done us!
Here are a few pictures from the trek. There is one of us, “looking the part, ehh?”
Another one is on these cages that porters wear and they hike and deliver chickens! How cool is that. We also saw some mules doing the same, but the porters out number the mule chicken carriers by a 30 to 1 ratio.
One is the sign at the top of the Thorong-La pass. Feel free to down load it yourself , show it to folks, and tell people you made the trek!
One is of the goat herders and their posse! It was cool, we got to be escorted by mountain goats!
And the final one is of a gorgeous mountain range who’s name escapes me but in was in the beginning of the trek. This mountain is BEAUTIFUL and the picture doesn’t do it justice!
All in all a great trek and you should do it before it “goes commercial.” The only road less section will be from Manang to Muktinath (about a 4 day section).
As a side note you really don’t need a guide if you have a decent map, and know something about the outdoors. We highly recommend going to the Acute Mountain Sickness talk in Manang- Very informative.
Also if you can stay where the porters stay if you get the change. It is a welcome changed from the hotels and you get to sit around the fire and hear their stories. It was a very rewarding experience for us!~
Saturday, May 10, 2008
We took a bus from Sunali
I truly feel that the three 18-year old boys who drove the bus pooled their money together to allow one of them to get a drivers license to drive the bus and the other two could collect money and be ticket collectors on the ride. The three musketeers were young, free, had a good job and could travel their county at their leisure and at the expense of tourist and that is exactly what they did! The bus was to leave at and arrive in Pokhara at . We showed up at and they rushed us onto the bus. We get on the bus and some crazy guys wants 200 rupees for putting our bags on the top of the bus. Another Nepalise young man is silently shaking his head now at us. We give him 5 rupees to quiet his banter. The guy shaking his head ended up being a jerk but he was quite helpful then and there.
So they rush us on the bus only to take us to a spot no more than 200 meters on the main road where we load 5 more people on and wait for a good hour. 15 people plus our 3 young hostesses with the mostest! We take off again to a “main” bus stop where 11 more foreigners and locals get one. The best part of this stop came when our friend
We head off from the “main” bus station and we travel for about 45 minutes- our longest continuous drive thus far, and we get to another “main” bus station. It is blazing hot on the bus so we alternate getting off and checking out the fruit and food vendors. The guy who told me not to pay the hawker for our luggage kept asking for smokes and was trying to be helpful. Every time I would get off the bus he would follow me and say, “hurry hurry the bus is leaving.” I’d rush back to the bus and get on. I would then seat out as much water as I just put in my body while off the bus. I would see that we were not heading anywhere fast so I would get off the bus again. This scenario played out 3 more times until we finally left. As we left the bus terminal, I say my Nepalise guide yell at the f\young foreign tourist he was sitting next to- “hey let’s make love” but he used a different verb.
It was getting pretty dark, which was a bit of a bummer b/c the view was supposed to be real nice. So from we had actually driven for a maximum of 1.5 hours! Great work guys! At about the young $ collector walks down the isle and announces that we are stopping for dinner. We pull up on this mountain side road with about 5 shops on either side. The young drivers and loving it. They are eating, flirting with the female waitresses, and bumming smokes from the foreign tourist. We are there for another hour and a half. The young men decide on a whim that it is time to continue on our bumpy voyage. As we struggle with warmth and trying to sleep we clumpity clop up the
We were told it was a continuous trip, but honestly nothing was going to surprise me now. As we try to get comfortable in the seats as the temperature drops, I realize my shorts and t-shirt was not the ideal PJ’s in the Nepal Himalaya’s. I see the isle as an option b/c the metal bones were fingering me through the warn out mustard yellow upholstery. The floor was filthy so I asked the young man if he had any paper to put down. He happily ran off and returned with a roll of paper that looked like it was designed for that exact purpose. He laid the paper down meticulously like he was lining the bottom of a hamster cage. He laid it down in an over lapping pattern as so if I turn during the night’s rest a crack will not appear. He seemed apt at this practice. I lay down, more comfortable, but still cold. People went at their own pace to decide when their personal bed times would commence. As I was waiting for the final conversation to subside and a blanket of freezing slumber to engulf the bus I thought about the different people who had entrusted the combined wisdom of 56 years to lead us on a overnight journey on the sketchy
Friday, April 11, 2008
and funny in these glasses so we took a picture. He has three fingers on one hand, is missing one arm and one leg. He had an accident on the train while using heroin. He now works for the NGO by doing random tasks, folding newspaper into usable bags, making beautiful lanterns, etc. He tried to teach me how to fold the bags correctly but I could not do it as well with my full appendages and fingers. I have tried to teach him a little bit about drawing because he is super excited about becoming a better artist. We don't speak the same language but this man is my friend and a huge inspiration to me!
I feel gratitude for having this experience because of the people. If I came to India to travel I would not have had the opportunity to meet a staff like this one. I have always done jobs that feel fulfilling to me, all social work based in America. To me it is worth it to do what serves the world even if you don’t make a lot of money. The staff here take this to a higher level then I though possible. Many of the staff are so devoted to this work to make their India and their world a better place. I have seen staff speak through their heart even when angry and even have the capacity to put themselves into client’s shoes. This is an ideal that most of us strive for yet few of us achieve.
I spent about a year working with mentally ill adults in America. The motto was “helping others, help themselves.” The work was very challenging. It is such a beautiful concept to get clients to rise and serve others like themselves. This, I believe is where the most potential for service and recovery is. In practice though, many of the clients were difficult to motivate. At this NGO there are many roles for addicts to fill as they recover as peer educators, outreach workers, or even folding paper bags. Clients are allowed to return again and again if they relapse. It is proven here that someone believes in them no matter what happens in their life. I wonder what it is like to be a junkie and meet a peer educator or outreach worker who is now wearing clean clothes and their head is high. I am so proud of all addicts who now work for this NGO. I am happy to know that helping others help themselves is possible.
I am most grateful to work with the clients. Being a tourist in India you see all kinds of new and unbelievable things from the temples to the slums. There are people everywhere in Mumbai. The most striking are the poor. You can observe their habits for they have no where to hide them as you walk by. Sometimes I smile as I pass, but interactions with street people I see everyday, are very limited due to language. Here, the staff was able to translate for me. I was able to have some communication with clients and learn a little about their lives and give them some care. The nonverbal sharing we did was fulfilling as well, taking a break from their struggles by playing games or processing some of their life in art therapy by drawing pictures.There is so much more that I have gained that I don’t even know yet. I think as I travel on and go back to my home in August the contrast between social work in America and my life here will continue to throw out new observations of life and growth. Who knows what I will leave behind me in India: new friends, a few murals, lots of memories, and hopefully new techniques for working with clients that will bring variety to the work that is done here.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
An NGO comes and delivers food to the young men who come to our “Drop in Center” on a daily basis. There is a different meal each day of the week but the weekly schedule is the same. Monday – Rice and Yellow Dahl, Tuesday – chapatti and Yellow Dahl, Wednesday – Rice and Mung Beans, Thursday- Sweets and Something that I don’t know the title of, You guys get the picture.
The attendance varies at our drop in center so sometimes the food is completely consumed and sometimes we have 20 pounds of left over rice and dahl. What to do with this food. They usually throw it out if no one wants to eat it. As a huge advocate for not wasting food I thought about what could be done and many questions arose.
I walk by 100 of beggar each day. Surely they could use the food. But then also there are 1000’s of working class people who work all day for Rs 300 ($7.50) and wouldn’t they like a free dinner every now and then?
The problem lies in the fact that this line was set on the prices of food in 1976! Needless to say food prices have risen in the past 32 years!
Back to the dilemma- there 1000’s of working poor. Working all day for about Rs 120 ($3). Surely they deserve the food more than the beggar on the street pulling in Rs 400 ($10) per day? Right? The worker hasn’t given up, he is contributing to society, he is earning a wage, albeit it is extremely low. Where as the beggar is just sitting on the ground and has given up.
I would much rather give it to a person who worked that day and wants a free dinner- let him keep the Rs20 in his pocket for maybe a cold ice cream that he can’t find enough money for in his everyday budget. Or maybe he could save it and use it towards a new pair of sandals because his sandals blew out last week and has been shoeless since. But these people are sometimes hard to find. They are working while I’m trying to give the food out.
A young man and I went up to a man who was sorting trash. We asked if he was hungry and he said yes. We had nothing to put the food is so we kind of stared at each other until we realized this could not happen and went on our way. It was sad.
Then we came to a group of 5 ladies with about 3 small children among them. They were obviously beggars. They had bowls and news paper to put the food in.
So the question I ask is this?
Is it better to waste the food then to give it to a beggar who has given up on the idea of trying to work? What is this young mother teaching their child? We have seen parents encourage their children to come up to us in train and bus stations to beg from the “rich white people.” What type of values and lessons are being instilled in this small helpless 5 year-old?
This is the conclusion I have come up with- I can’t let the food go to waste so I have tried to first find someone who made an honest living that day, if I can’t find someone who fits that description I then give it to beggars. To off set the fact that I feel I am partially responsible and enabling this beggar to stay in his current state I will only give food to a beggar once. This is what I feel is okay to do.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
As I was walking to the train station I happened to walk stride for stride with a tall good looking young India women and the questions instantly popped into my head, “Who are the India’s going to gawk at more? Me or Her?”
The answer came shortly because we were fortunate to stroll past a group of 3 young
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Getting on the train during rush hour is something I would not wish on anybody in 1 million years. It is tough, crazy, edgy and violent. The problem lies in that rush hour is more like rush 3 hour two times a day from and then it is utter chaos!
Men’s Second class- about Rs 110 for a monthly pass- 3 bucks
Men’s First class- about Rs 800 for a monthly pass- 20 bucks
Women’s Second Class-same price as above but can be as catty as the men’s.
Women’s First class – same prices but usually pretty empty
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
India. A place where an overabundance of every stimulation surrounds you. Where cheap plastic shiny crap is loved. Where the clothes designs have six patterns. Where women's hair is waist long and like black silk. Where when you earn a smile from a native, it starts in their hearts and ends through their eyes. Where men's waists are sized 12 inches and their excess beltage wraps around their backs. Where the guest is god. Tea is served at least 3 times per day. Someone makes it for you, brings it to you, and cleans your cup.
I put on my shoes by the door and slide the latch open. I am grateful some punk kid hasn't locked me in again. I step out on to the white tile landing and look out of the cage enclosed staircase window as I go down the stairs. The air is unusually less humid and smoggy in the early morning hours. I pass the flat with the incense going, devotional flower chains, and ghee oil lamps burning and smile at their intention. I pass my friends door with her assualitive Jesus picture, still sleeping...Lucky. I walk out through the elevator gate, while I look at the black paint hand print on the next building/abandoned house not three feet away. I smile at it. The ally has a chicken drinking from a cement dish with a cat lurking nearby waiting for his turn. A dog runs away from me, it's tail between his legs. "It's ok baby." I say. Down to the street that is already woken up. Rickshaws almost flatten me to the poop encrusted brick road, as women with six year old little boys in oliver twist overalls, white sloppy socks, and black shoes hurry by. The vegetable vendors are setting up, the cows are in the middle of the road as usual munching on imported grass. A rickshaw puffs out diesel smoke right by my face. The man driving it dressed in a kacki cotton suit turns around to stare at me as he drives past. The morning pooja is going on with Hindi music blasting, bells ringing, and incense burning. I see the red retro, puke green inside 220 bus nearing. "Why spend the 4 rupees when you can walk?" I am on my way. There is a scraggly puppy with patchy hair that waggles up. I pass my favorite bum. He is sitting on someones wall where he sleeps. There is a water bottle there partly filled i know with cheap mumbai alcohol. His wool blanket is draped over his head and he stares out looking so deep and philosophical it is beautiful. "one day I will bring him food and eat it with him, " I think. I pas the diamond stores, so many, the banks, and the saree shops. There is a deep fry samosa shop where I see the newly made samosas arranged on a stainless steel silver plate on the floor. "So fresh, that's the best place to get em." I pass the crowded ghetto sidewalk tea stall. Made from stolen sidewalk bricks in the shape of puzzle pieces and one piece of wood laying across. The owner shuffles the men out of my way. I smile at him. The park across the street is round and completely fenced in with only one entrance. It is only open in the morning and the evenings. There's a school with motivational sayings written on a chalk board that change daily. I pass the strange church made completely of bells. Each one purchased with the wish for a child or some other goal. Pantless beggar children get washed by their moms as their too thin fathers slumber on the sidewalk covered in a blanket. I fight my way through the crowd and rickshaws dodging to miss a stray mans hand, covering my purse to avoid its opening. "I'll make the 8:28 again." I go running up the stairs to the platform que for the women's bogie.