Heading home


The one-year traveling adventure has met its last day. I’m leaving Indonesia and heading home. 3 months in SAmerica, 3 months in Africa, 2.5 in Eastern Europe, the trans-Siberian train Russia to Mongolia, and 3 months in Asia.  It was the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done. The once unfamiliar landscapes and animals now have vivid places in my many stories. The adaptability of traveling through foreign land and cultures make me yearn to know more about my own country. And my sense of self, with all my oddities and faults, feels more grounded in this precarious world.  I thank everyone who joined me; I celebrate the friendships renewed, and the friendships that emerged. My heart feels strengthen by the graciousness and benevolence I found along this journey. I make my way home and look forward to not living in a suitcase.


I will update the rest of this journey without the distraction of having to figure out where to stay or go next.  I have so many photos and stories still to be told.

Just about right


Gili Meno, Lombok

Well this is one of my last weekly photos before traveling with my family for the holidays.  I will have a little time by myself before I leave after the new year but this is pretty much it.  In this shot I am with my wonderful sister.  We are staying on the smaller of the 3 Gili Islands, having only 300 people population and no motor transportation.  We chartered a boat for a small fee with a couple Australians and found ourselves in paradise.  We were in our bikinis for 2 days and became close friends with the lady selling mangos and pineapples.  And cocktail hour was just a little after noon.  Snorkeling, great snorkeling, right outside our hostel and pretty decent food.  I could get lost here and be very happy.

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Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

In the mountainous region of South Sulawesi,Indonesia live the Toraja people.  Renowned for their elaborate funeral rites, burial sites carved into rocky cliffs, massive peaked-roof traditional houses, and colorful wood carvings. Toraja funeral rites are important social events, usually attended by hundreds of people and lasting for several days. They practiced animism and were relatively untouched by the outside world until the early 1900s when Dutch missionaries worked to convert Torajan highlanders to Christianity. Now it’s a mixture of old rituals and Christian followings.

We were lucky to attend a funeral ceremony and watch over a dozen pig slaughterings (maybe not so lucky). We road motorbikes around the villages and payed visits to a couple families. Architecturally the homes in Tana Toraja are other worldly. This particular house is decorated with buffalo horns showing how important these people are and displaying the many buffalos that were gifted during the funeral ceremony.

A unique beauty

NamibRand is one of Southern Africa’s largest private nature reserves extending over an area of 202,200 ha; the project has integrated a large number of former sheep farms extending the desert frontiers.  It has developed a sanctuary free of fences, so that the wildlife could once again roam their habitat unhindered. Unlike many reserves in South Africa where property owners build high fences to keep their wildlife contained because for each animal there is a value rating and the more animals they have on their land the more worth a farmer posses.

Located in southern Namibia, the reserves conserve the unique ecology and wildlife along the eastern edge of the Namib Desert, which is critical to seasonal migratory routes. The place is surrounded by distinct habitats and over 4 days we covered major ground, enjoying a wide range of the area.  My favorite were the impressive dunes blanketed in vibrant yellow-green grasses with huge trees solitarily posting guard like the male orynx when looking for a new resting ground for their female herd.

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I was very taken by the saturated colors that decorate this reserve.  I really wanted to reenact Priscilla Queen of the Desert or do a really elaborate photo-shoot within this spectacular setting. It had recently rained on the reserve and the annual rainfall is so insignificant that when it does receive water it explodes with vegetation.  We felt very lucky.  Every color was so vibrate next to deep red dunes.

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When we approached the reserves by plane there was initial shock.  We were greeted by mysterious bare circles in the sand dotting the landscape.  They were everywhere, quite sporadic but consistently everywhere.  We later learned they call them ‘fairy circles’ and they stretch from the north-western Cape into southern Angola. While numerous scientists have researched these circles, no one has yet been able to ultimately determine their cause or purpose. Various theories of their origin have been suggested, including euphorbia poisoning, animal dust baths, meteor showers, termites and underground gas vents. In the modern world of advanced research, innovative technology and information networks. It is refreshing to know that nature can still keep some of her secrets.

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Though I’ve been to many reserves and grand parks in the United States this one will always be one of my favorite.  We managed to find some really unique animals like the bosbok and the dikdik.

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As well, I really love the huge communal swallow nests.  The birds fly into these huge nests from the bottom so that all the scat falls to the ground. Eventually they get too heavy and fall to the ground giving nesting grounds for another animal in the desert.

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One of our final visits was to the Namib Desert Research and Awareness Center, which promotes and assists with environmental conservation, education and environmental management research on the reserve.  Hosting camps and school groups all year long aiming at empowering Namibians to make decisions for a sustainable future offering hands-on, experiential environmental learning programs.  It was run by a really motivated and talented women that made me want to go home and start cooking on a solar cooker.

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It was a really sincere way to end our time in Namibia offering fond memories to this huge diverse country.

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Click the photo above to view the Namibrand album

What a view.


Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

After a long day of biking around the many Buddhist temples and pagodas in Bagan, we ended our day climbing to the top of Pyathada Paya for sunset.  Our sun-fatigued bodies were rocked from the quicksand roads on our shoddy bikes, but after walking through the beautiful 11th century pagoda up the candlelit stairwell we finally reached Bagan’s impressive skyline.  Allowing time for reflection it is hard to believe this country is currently having devastating religious wars.  With my sister by my side we embraced in hug and enjoyed the boundless view of a kingdom that once seemed unified.