There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

20 December 2014

a moment to myself in Zambia

All the hard work in Nairobi...

Running an expedition team, building a school, unconditionally giving every last piece of myself for what I hope to be the greater good.

Exhausting.

All of the adventures in Zambia..

I needed a moment to myself. I find a path beyond the Chrismar hotel rooms that leads to unfinished construction on the edge of the Zambezi jungle. I climb the wooden planks to the highest point and sit on a concrete slab.

The sun is wrestling with the clouds to let rays of it's light reach the earth. A lake glistens between the tall grasses.
I take a moment to myself in Zambia...


19 December 2014

New Beginnings

I precariously step from rock to rock, trying to avoid the flow of raw sewage seemingly everywhere. A place most wouldn't dream of going, but amongst the horrid smells and visually painful sights around you is a hidden gem.
The New Beginnings Education Centre.

Build.Create.Kenya's In-country director, Justus Munyoki, is a powerhouse figure in the slum communities of Nairobi. He tirelessly is working to improve the lives of his fellow Kenyans. One such effort was in starting this school, by himself, in an area that was in desperate need of hope.

As BCK took our 2014 expedition team inside the school to see Justus's challenges, we are bombarded with smiles, singing and dancing. In fact, the students and teachers are rejoicing in the fact that we have come.

It's as though they are glad that someone recognizes them as people, and not just more discarded litter.
The songs the children sing sound more like church hymns from a joyous choir, sung with such infectious enthusiasm. Music truly has the power to uplift the downtrodden soul. BCK recognizes the power of music ourselves, and one of our goals is to incorporate music programs into the schools we try to support.

After the children were finished, Pauline and I decide, very impromptu, to give back to New Beginnings with our own song. I pull out a couple of harmonica's that I brought for the school, and we start to play. I'm not sure how it sounded, but it felt fantastic.

From the laughter of the children, the tears of joy on the team members, and the gratitude on the faces of the teachers, I'd say it went well.

We left some harmonica's and educational supplies with the school, said our goodbyes, and headed back to our rooms for the evening.

Just another day in Nairobi with Build.Create.Kenya.

14 December 2014

Belle Isle

A Friday in September in the Motor City, and the three of us had no idea what to do. I wanted to head downtown, and so with no complaints from my brother or his wife, we hit the Interstate....

As the GM towers loomed before us, my first views of Detroit were not at all what I had envisioned, which further entrenched my notion about how our country's media can manipulate anything.

The Detroit river is a effervescent aqua blue, shimmering under the Ambassador bridge that connects Detroit to Windsor, Canada.

We decide to park at the riverfront and start our exploration. Any trepidation of being unsafe quickly vanishes under the glorious September sun. We find a local outfit that rents bikes to ride along the riverfront. We decide to upgrade to the sleek black Detroit City bikes, then ask which way we should go.

"If you have a few hours, I'd recommend Belle Isle."
Picture courtesy of visitdetroit.net

We thanked him, and happily started biking along the river. After a few minutes, we had to venture off the river trail and go through what appeared to be an industrial section of town. The sound of construction machinery hard at work was ringing in my ears as I took in the colorful graffiti on the buildings.



The bridge to Belle Isle is before me. I stop to wait for the others to catch up, letting my own muscles rest for a moment. It's been far too long since I've rode a bike.
The park itself is full of grand views of downtown Detroit and Windsor, historic buildings scattered throughout the island, and plenty of bike trails through thickly wooded forests.


It's Detroit like I never imagined, positively upbeat and full of beauty.



*****

13 December 2014

the Chrismar

With all of the adventure opportunities in Livingstone, we certainly needed a base camp to relax and rejuvenate. The Chrismar Hotel was the perfect setting for us while in Zambia.

When we first arrived at the end of a lone road, I was a little uncertain about the location, as it appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. But that depends on what you want....

local song and dance for our first night.
The hotel is only a five minute drive to downtown Livingstone, but is literally a one minute walk to the Zambezi river and wild animal game park. It's only a two minute walk to the starting point of awesome adventures like Batoka Sky, helicopter rides, and four wheelin' through the African bush.

Zach and I headed down to the river almost immediately. Monkeys entertained us as we spoke with the locals, got our first view of Livingstone Island, and Zach met his first albino Zambian.

The food wasn't bad at all, if only the variety had been a bit more, but we were there during the off season. The caterpillars though certainly were interesting!
With a drink in hand, a local musician sets the perfect scene as the sun sets over the Zambian sky. After the set was over, you retire to a most comfortable bed to rest before a new adventure in the morning.

It truly was the perfect place for us while here.


07 December 2014

chasing Nature's shadows and light

On morning's first light, I rise from the confines of a warm sleeping bag and unzip the tent door. Today I will be chasing the changing light and shadows of an Autumn day in Yellowstone.
I hike a frosty trail to the summit overlooking Yellowstone lake. The steam escaping the volcanic fury deep beneath the earth creates a surreal scene. The mind escapes to mighty trolls standing guard to the underworld, their heavy breathing the cause for the hot air rising into the sky.
Canyon walls split open by Thor's hammer let me stand on the precipice. One misstep is certain death, I hang on between the edge of this world and the next.
Taking such chances stirs a ravenous appetite within. The wide, open plains with buffalo grazing and wolves overlooking from the distant ridge suits me fine for a quick meal to rebuild sustenance. I make quick work of the morsels though, as the smell of food can bring unwelcome visitors too close for comfort.
Fishing Bridge is empty today, except for me and the schools of spawning fish below. Crystalline waters showcase just another of Nature's marvels. I sit and listen to the occasional splash of trout in the shallows.
Afternoon has quickly past as the sun sinks closer the the lip of the earth. I find deep blue pools holding scalding water. The steam that is escaping temporarily blinds those that are near. The light breeze eventually brings clarity to both body and mind.
The Teton's are glowing in brilliant sunset colors and the sun goes to bed behind these wondrous peaks. I find small rivers and still lakes to observe this daily ritual.
I do find, as I think most humans do, that regardless of how many times the sun may rise and set, that each and every time creates a simple stirring within us.
A reaffirmation that life goes on, the world continues to turn, and that we all will rise with the sun, at least as long as we are able.