Conversational journeys over cups of chai, at home and abroad.

Archive for August, 2010

The Grateful Spider Hike…

This is what you missed today… my very first “Meet & Greet” with a tarantula.  That’s my friend Becky’s hand in the 2nd photo, trying to get the fellow to pose for his close-up. Becky said she’s had a few encounters with these in the past, that they’re actually quite gentle.  Too bad there’s no audio — you would have heard me squealing, “OH MY GOD, I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS!!!!” from behind the camera.  And if Becky wasn’t with me, you most likely would have heard me running in the opposite direction.

Our tarantula encounter took place while hiking along Garcia Trail in Azusa.  On our way back, we came upon this 15-foot graffiti-covered cross, which overlooked a panoramic view of the valley, and had a mailbox attached to it containing a well-worn notebook filled with luminous prose, and various other written artifacts… even a letter tucked inside a Band-Aid box.  There were spiritual and philosophical writings, sometimes prayers… and lots of gratitude.  So I’ve decided to name it Gratitude Cross… let’s see if the name catches on…  — Patty

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People Watching – Tanzania style

Tia, how different our people watching can be.  As you are surrounded by the hip and trendy sipping on lattes, I’m normally around a mix of street hawkers, bus conductors calling out for passengers, and the constant bustle of those coming and going to work, home, church or mosque.  Since most here don’t have cars, or housing that affords all the creature comforts of the US, much living is done outdoors and for the whole world to see.  One of my favorite sites while being out and about is seeing the Maasai guys.

Maasai embody the classic image of East Africa.  If you’ve ever seen anything on tv with a bunch of tall, skinny, African men, jumping up and down, with elongated earlobes, most likely they are Maasai.  The Maasai are a nomadic group of cattle herdsmen, known for drinking cow’s blood, and famous amongst other things for their right of passage into manhood, which involves killing a lion with a spear.  Basically they are the bad asses of the East African nomadic groups.   And because of their reputation, and because they are a tourist attraction, they often are employed to keep guard or more commonly to just hang out around the tourist resorts.   Basically these guys can get paid for just being them, looking all African exotic and fierce.

I have to admit that this fact alone makes me slightly bitter.  I mean after all, will someone out there please pay me to sit around and be a token American?  I’m sure I’ll do a great job of drinking beers, eating pizza, and becoming a couch potato.  If you know of any takers let me know.

And just to make you smile, check out this article on a new plan in Southern Sudan to design animal shaped cities,  I like that for the giraffe shaped city the planned sewage treatment plant will be no place other than…you guessed it, underneath the giraffe’s tail.  Right at it’s butt.  Gotta love it.  – Alyssa

People Watching…

I had an hour break in-between my own karate lesson and the kids’ group class today (I’ve been volunteering as a helper at my dojo once a week).  With a growling tummy, I slipped on over to a nearby food chain around the corner and got myself a spicy jalapeno turkey sandwich.  Subway charges a fee to eat in (what the heck??), so I got mine to go and went next door to Starbucks to eat it, where I was practically greeted with a great big hug just for ordering an Awake tea.  Love their customer service.

The temperature outside was about 88 degrees, but cool and breezy under a generously shady tree in their front patio.  A moment of quiet to observe and reflect… and eat.

Just then, a pair of detectives (??) approached the front entrance, straight out of a ’70’s cop show… think The Streets of San Francisco, Hawaii 5-0, Adam-12.  Clean cut, 30-ish with brown suits, boldly striped ties, sensible scuffed loafers and ankle socks.  It was apparent that they did a lot of walking.  For a moment I thought they might be religious recruiters, but I changed my mind when they refused to make eye contact with anyone and carefully glanced over their shoulders in all directions before entering the store — very Get Smart.  I thought something was about to go down, but then they came back outside with orange juice and cookies, found a table, and became engaged in a heated conversation about some actor being on the cover of GQ way too many times.

A moment later a 50-ish woman dressed in short-short hot pants, a too-tight tank top and strange fuzzy pumps approached the front door and tied her dog’s leash to a table leg.  The dog was small, sleek and black, and matched her peculiarity with a spiky collar and leash.  There was a quick blur of activity as I asked “Is your dog friendly?” and reached to pet him, just as she said “Oh, sure” but was now taking a call on her cell phone and didn’t seem to notice that his teeth were headed for my foot.  I pulled away just in time and consoled myself with my tea.

I got ready to leave and looked up to see two very well-built, shirtless, 20-something men, hairy-chested and unshaved, make their way across the patio.  One of them was wearing SpongeBob SquarePants boxers, which were bursting out over the top of his jeans. – Patty