A few of Rachel’s travel adventures
The wonderful sites and scenes of western Africa amaze you, the customs and cultures engage you and the differences astound you…Western Africa is living and yet dying at the same time.
For almost a month I travelled across Mali and Burkina Faso in Western Africa and was thrilled, amazed, frustrated and saddened all at the same time. The 5th and 6th poorest countries in the world, I often was saddened by what drought and defeatism has done but amazed at how safe, friendly and colourful the country was! Even after a month of travelling, I had yet to become complacent about the tradition of carrying everything on their heads – from 40 lbs of bananas, to water in calabash jugs, to bahalame (sweet milk drinks sold in the market) and piles of material from wood, clothes and straw – truly amazing and the posture and statuesque-like figures would put runway models to shame!
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Tibet is a land where an invader has demolished a country in order to try and flatten the spirit of the people – instead it has only served to strengthen the belief and solidarity of the people and the buddist following is stronger than ever. The mention of the Dalai Lama brings tears to peoples eyes and the devotion to their religion, peace, and reincarnation is gargantous.
A land where the people are beautiful and their smiles inviting, where men and women walk a kora (holy route) to gain merit…some spinning prayer wheels and humming OM MANI PADME OM (to the jewel of the divine lotus), some doing full prostrations (involves standing up and placing your hands in a prayer like gesture above your head, to your forehead, mouth and chest before lying down and spreading full length on the ground and then repeating the same gesture where your hands reached) where some walk a 53 kora in one day (these who gain more merit through the difficulty of prostrations take up to 3 weeks!).
A land that is barren and hard to imagine how one less than 30 years ago one could only travel by foot of by yak and it would take over 3 months to reach the holy pilgrimmage site of Mount Kailash.
A land where instead we traversed over 1500 km by foot and four wheel drive and the endurance test of such a trip will stay with me for many thoughts.
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Imagine camping under a glacier that creaks and groans all night long and after spending a day in your tent avoiding the hail and rain that enveloped you after a steep climb up to a mountain meadow. You emerge from your tent to see an avalanche tumble only 50 meters away and the moonlight glistening off the mountain peaks that surrounding you that make you feel like you are watching an incredible film or gazing at an Ansel Adams photograph