Sunday, April 29, 2012

Head for the Hills!

Next Scoop is out:  A pleasent day trip in Gran Ca to Arucus includes all you can drink rum and dodging peacocks

Head for the Hills: Gran Canaria Island

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Natural Beauty

Cruising down the zigzagging motorway from my tiny village of Tao to the western edge of Lanzarote for my usual biweekly yoga class, I at last allowed my hectic stream of thought melt away out of my consciousness.  As I wound my way down the LZ-401, I casually peered up into the distance, as I always do on this stretch of road.  But this time my eyes were captivated.  The late spring sunshine was feeding the sky with one last pop of brightness and as I gazed to the expansive distance, over the blank desert and tiny pueblos sprinkled about the sporadic rolling hills, I could see so perfectly the monumental Famara cliffs, towering over the town for which I was heading, and the quiet neighboring island of La Graciosa.  I make this same drive on several occasions each week, but there was something uniquely stunning that kept my eyes unyieldingly locked on the view. 

The sun appeared to be grabbing every individual crevice of the craggy precipice.  The jagged edges of the rock face with its intricate abrasive contours gently softened into a smooth rolling valley as it crept away from the islands edge, sneaking inland.  The ridges along the fa├žade looked as though they were giant reaching fingers, outstretched to the earth’s floor, as the sun created shadows between each bend.  I watched the clouds slowly move above the sharp crown, kissing its curves to create that iconic image for which this landmark is known; the dramatic slope sliced out of the lid, rising to the heavens once more before tapering off into the ocean.  The scene presented the illusion that the entire planet was chiseled out of this one piece of remaining stone.  

As I entered my destination I pondered how a rock could have so much inspirational power. How could this colossal stone barricade create a profound emotional response, keeping me captured by its beauty and positively entranced?  But as I drove here quietly with not a sound but the idle rumble of my engine, eyes fixed on this incredible vista, I was connecting deeply with something simple yet profound.

I took one final glance at the now proximal vista until finally entering into my place of temporary sanction, the old community center of Famara, to partake in a fulfilling hour and a half of meditation and yoga.  After the time was completed, this particular session being an even more tranquil and centering experience than usual, I stepped out into the parking lot with a grin of contentment, slowly floating to my vehicle, deeply exhaling the last breaths of my previously busy day, now transformed into a mellow timeless existence.  As I began to depart, I recalled my tremendous drive down into town and took note of the now rapidly fading daylight, transforming into a clear starry night.

With my prized Famara cliffs still holding their bold pose in the night sky to the north, I turned my gaze to the south where a hint of sunlight was still peaking through the dark shadows of the rolling volcanic hills.  Only black outlines remained of the colorful mars-like mountain ridges.  It was now not the incredible presence of the rock formations that were being highlighted, but the breathtaking colors of the southern sky.  Rich deep blues hovered over head, filled with puffy dark clouds, kissed with a luminous magenta hue, and tiny twinkling pinholes poked out of the mystifying darkness.  As I scanned the sky toward the horizon, as the atmosphere met the black rolling hilltops it subtly morphed into a delicate purple hint before sinking into a feminine pink and at last revealing a tiny shimmer of white sunlight on the cusp of disappearing beyond the horizon line. 

I was once again captivated by the sheer natural magnificence that could never possibly be matched by any man made attempt.  This inconceivable view that I was resting my eyes upon took a hold of me, like a feeling of falling deeply in love all at once.  Never in my life have I felt so clear and pure, so naturally and fantastically centered.  This perfect melody of life in this one poignant moment stirred an emotional frenzy within me as I simultaneously came to the stark realization that this will need to be branded into my memory because my time here on this island is rapidly drawing to a close.  But I feel an incredible gratitude and there is no imaginable way to predict what it will feel like to be peeled away from such a peaceful existence and thrusted back into a concrete jungle filled with cars and people, noises and lights. At least I have time moment, this simply perfect moment, to look back on and deeply appreciate.  Thank you Famara cliffs and setting sun and peaceful Lanzarote.  Thank you for being so naturally and purely exquisite.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Turning the Page

Today I noticed that my suitcase has managed to collect a thin layer of dust.  How proud I am that I've managed to remain stationary for over a month, with an artificial sensation that I am home.  Yet the reason I made this trivial observation was because I happened to be fetching my passport from the outer pocket in order to book the next round of flights.  Soon the sixty days allocated to living in Lanzarote will come to a close, and I'll be up above the clouds again, en route to the next batch of destinations, spending the remainder of Spring bouncing from one place to the next, before ultimately landing in a yet to be determined "home".

The days have raced by, as they tend to do when each moment is relentlessly action packed.  Now, as the holiday weekend comes to a close and I recover from several days of over stimulation and socialization, it has dawned on me that this experience is winding down to a close just as rapidly as it began.  With less than three weeks remaining on this island (a chunk of that time being reserved for visiting friends in the upcoming weekends), the hard reality is sinking in that a copious amount of goodbyes await me in the near future, along with a plethora of staggering life changes that will inevitably shake my foundation yet again.  This is the life of perpetual travel.

Another stark observation I made today is that it is Easter Sunday, a day reserved for togetherness, family, rest, and reflection.  Instead of being in Raleigh with my own kin, I am several thousand miles away, purchasing more flights for solo adventures.  It has been a looming awareness for some time now, but the lure of international galavanting and exploration has up until this point, trumped the comfort of settlement- until now.  As these months pass, even as I live out another span of enthralling days, I have been gradually grasping that the time has come to end this chapter.  This chapter that is full of tales of new places, people, and experiences has reached a beautiful peak, but I am prepared to step into a completely different undertaking.

The other day I noticed that when I return back to the US in May, I will have spent exactly the same amount of time out of my past career as I spent in it; just shy of two and a half years for each.  On the same token, like my peers from the class of 07', I am approaching the five year anniversary of graduating university and beginning my professional life.  What a perfectly suitable time to embark on something brilliantly fresh. What an opportunity to collect all that I have gained from the journey thus far and apply it toward something bigger than myself, as I turn the page to the next chapter.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What the Surf?

Gulps of ocean are filling my mouth and getting trapped in my throat; my body is being thrashed continuously by the white water; sun screen is seeping into my burning, squinted eyes; masses of jelly fish float about and taunt me… My second lesson out on the sea to make a valiant effort to capture this peacefulness and oneness with nature that surfing seems to bring to people.  For me, it’s work.  Hard work, determination, and thinking, thinking, thinking. 

My Aussi instructor is shouting to me in frustration of my inability to follow certain seemingly simple tasks and the other girls appear to be dancing on the boards, no problem.  My arms ache from relentless paddling to only be flipped over by a wave I’m on the wrong side of and all I can think about is heading for dry land.  Finally, as I reach the green water beyond the break, I take a minute to compose and rest my throbbing limbs.  I see the next wave coming over my shoulder and our nearby trainer hollers at me to take position.  Like a drill sergeant, I begin to repeat the mantra in my mind:  watch the wave; paddle, paddle, paddle; toe on the board; 1, 2 down, 3, 4 come up!   And finally, like an invisible hand lifting me up, I pushed my body off the board, planted my feet, and at last feel the wave pulling me and the board all the way to shore.  

This is a silly story to an actual surfer who shimmies and swerves for days in a heavy pile of rolling waves.  But to a beginner it is no walk in the park.  It’s a humbling experience to be tossed and toppled, choking on water going down your windpipe, getting tangled in the sea weed along the shoreline, and spending 90% of the time using your upper body strength to reach the idea spot.  And once the opportunity finally arrives to take on a wave and attempt a ride, it’s another set of instructions to tell your body to do as the mind says.  The sport of surfing is not for the faint of heart and as I muster through my next day of tackling the sea, I feel a great deal of respect to those skilled individuals that make it look so damn easy.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Oceana Posting

Thank you to Oceana for bringing attention to dangers off the shore of Lanzarote and publishing my take on the issue:

Outrage Against Drilling in Canary Islands- Oceana: The Beacon, April 2, 2012