Sunday, January 25, 2009
When the airplane carrying me from Phoenix to Albuquerque touched down, I felt a familiar delight course through my veins. New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment, and I have an abiding love for this place. During the drive to Santa Fe, my lungs drank in the clean, brisk, arid, winter air, while my eyes reveled in the vast unobstructed views of plains, mountain ranges, and sky.
In keeping with the grace I have felt all along on my journey, my former wife Jean gave me a room in her home for a few days, and then quickly, I found a new place to live that is fully furnished and comfortable. I am relaxed, and moving easily into my new existence in Santa Fe. Many items I bought abroad, are now in my studio, and more are still to come. They must be inventoried and put for sale, so they will find new homes, far from India, Thailand and Vietnam, where they have come from.
I will begin my creative work again, and have a plethora of ideas and wellspring of inspiration. Certainly, my experiences going around the world will inform my art, and I hope to share insights with the greater community around me.
Since Naomi died, the number eleven has come to be a sign of her continued presence in my earthly existence. She was born on the eleventh of January. My other daughter, Sarah, was born the eleventh of November. There were times while Naomi was alive that eleven figured in events, but after her death, eleven seems to be part of a grand design to keep me aware that she is here. Parking spaces come up with numerals adding to eleven, as well as motel rooms, tickets and seats. (Digit summing, as the name implies, involves taking the sum of all of the digits in a number, and repeating the process as necessary until a single-digit answer is produced. For instance, the numerals 1433 break down to 11 if you add 1 + 4 + 3 + 3. So does 29.) My social security number, with its nine numerals, comes to eleven. How fitting, that on the last flight of my trip around the world, I found myself in seat 11E.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Now that I returned to the United States after fifty weeks of travel, I do not feel as if I reached a goal or have landed safely home but rather I have evolved, and continue on a vast journey. When I began, I hoped to disappear into the matrix of the earth, and I had a dream before leaving in which a voice spoke to me and said, “The vessel he entered was a grand confusion between his world and the world outside of him.” The world is more tangible and intricately intertwined in my life than ever, and maybe this is a "grand confusion", since I do not exactly know what “home” means, but feel content as a world citizen and comfortable everywhere.
As I expected, people have been asking me what the best part of my trip was. I cannot say, because I do not want to take apart THE DREAM. It is whole, and if any part were missing it would not be complete. All the parts belong to each other and are inter-twined . . . and this is the way life weaves its tapestry.
Santa Barbara is beautiful and the weather is superb. Flowers continue blooming here year around. I have been enjoying standing amidst the roses in my mother’s garden and simply absorbing the pleasure. In a few days I return to Santa Fe where it is cold, and I do not have winter coat with me!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Summer in New Zealand is wonderful. It barely gets hot, there is plenty of fresh air, and dancing winds carry the scent of sea, forest and field. Moreover, well kept highways meander across beautiful and changing landscapes, and the sea is never far away.
Driving north from Queenstown on the South Island, I had my first and only “accident” on my world tour. I pulled off the highway to investigate a waterfall and fell down an embankment in the woods, landing with my head against a rock and momentarily knocked unconscious. Some Germans who had pulled off the road at the same spot helped me bandage a deep wound on my arm and suggested I needed stitches. My camera lens got smashed. As I drove north toward Greymouth on the coast, I realized it was my only serious accident and it had happened on Naomi’s birthday. Something similar happened a couple years ago when I had an automobile accident on her birthday. It seems something comes over me, and I blank out momentarily—then crash. Now that this has occurred more than once, I will have to watch out next January 11. My stitches were done at no cost in a hospital. The next day, I made the inter-island ferry with only two minutes to spare.
The drive north on the North Island took me through Rotorua, a place on the edge of a grand lake with outdoor activities of every kind. I soaked in hot springs, and then took off for Whangamata to stay nearby a beautiful beach. Salt water is good for wounds, and I relished the sun, surf and sand.
Now I am at the Auckland airport, waiting to board my plane at 7:30 PM to fly to Los Angeles, California. After flying overnight, I will catch another flight to Santa Barbara where I began my journey almost one year ago, and visit with my family for few days before heading on to Santa Fe.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
When I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, a native told me, “Ah, you saved the best for last!” No doubt New Zealand, with its sparse population, is among the very best places in the world for natural scenic beauty that has not been spoiled by man. For lovers of wilderness and the great outdoors—from volcanoes and glaciers, to fjords and endless coastlines, this is paradise, offering just about every open-air activity. Now, while it is summer and so far south of the equator, it is especially wonderful because the sun barely goes down before it rises again. Light comes before 6 AM (06:00) and does not completely vanish until after 10:30 PM (22:30).
I have rented a car for the two weeks I am here, and for the first time in my travel, have been staying in hostels. I get a room of my own, and usually share a bathroom and other facilities, such as a kitchen. It is cheap and for the most part has worked out, except for some lack of privacy. I mix in with a mostly young, international, set of fellow travelers.
New Zealand is comprised of the North Island and the South Island. Starting from the far north, in Auckland, I have driven south, following the western coast and stopping along the way at nearly deserted black sand beaches to walk and dive into slightly chilly surf to be invigorated. From Wellington, the capital, I took a three-hour ferry with my car to the South Island. Now I am in Queenstown in the far south, a major city that is a jumping off place to spectacular mountains, forests, lakes, streams, rivers, alpine meadows, lush pastures, and especially Milford Sound and the fjordlands.
I have been driving more than I expected, but at least I am close to the ground and can witness the changing scenery. Also, if I see something interesting, I stop. By the time I finish with my car, I will have driven perhaps 3,800 kilometres (2105 miles). Despite seeing so much, I feel a bit rushed and realize that two weeks is not enough time—rather, a year would be about right to get an intimate and insightful impression of the manifest and hidden wonders of New Zealand.
Strange, but when I arrived in New Zealand I had mixed feelings. I have seen and experienced so many places, and now, I am at the last step, standing on the threshold of returning home to the United States. I have some remorse and wonder how I will adjust to being “home.” My solace is that THE DREAM keeps going.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
This is the first time in my life that I celebrated New Year day in the middle of summer. For the people living in Australia and the rest of the southern hemisphere of our world, it is summertime. When I arrived, I rented a car at the airport, and set out to find a hotel. Easier said than done! Everywhere along the ocean, from high-rise to motel, the rooms were all taken. It is holiday time and Gold Coast is a premiere beach area, and now is the warmest time of year. After an hour of looking and finding only an oversize room at an exorbitant rate, I said a prayer for assistance, and then pulled into a motel along the ocean, despite the sign out front that said “No Vacancy”. To my surprise, I got a room for five nights at a reasonable rate.
Usually I like to explore surroundings, but now that I am at the ocean on a nice beach, I have been content to stay put, even though I have a car. I have barely gone anywhere, but everyday, walk on the ocean shore and dive into the frothy surf. The experience is captivating and I know why people become “surf bums.” To be at an ocean is to stand at the verge of something huge, primeval, and unfathomable. The sound of waves crashing and rushing onto sand is distinct and unstoppable. To walk into the ocean is to be challenged because it can easily swallow anything that dares venture into it. Waves crash and churn into a froth of tiny, bursting bubbles that buffet and caress, constantly moving.
Today, the surf is fierce compared to yesterday. It rained a little, the sky is overcast, and strong winds encourage bigger waves. I have been one of the few to venture in the water, along with some surfers. Immediately, I felt a strong push and pull, and realized I could easily be sucked out to sea and never heard from again. But the feeling is so magical to be in the swirling, crashing, frothing water, playing in it, feeling the swell and going under, being hit by waves and bursting through, falling and then getting up . . . being washed in salty lather, over and over again.
As usual, I have made friends. The second night here, I went to a Baha’i gathering and of course, felt at home among family. Tonight I am going dancing with a lady I met who owns a café along the beach.
Tomorrow, bright and early, my flight leaves for New Zealand, the last country I will visit on my world tour. There, it is three hours earlier than Australia, so, if I call Santa Fe, New Mexico in the United States at 9 AM (09:00) on Sunday, January 4, it will be 1 PM (13:00) Saturday, January 3.
I have almost completely gone around the world.