On the 17th of this month I reached the four year mark since I flew to Tanzania. I’ve been so busy with work that I’ve really been slacking off with my blogging, but this is certainly an occasion worth writing about.
Going to Africa had been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. At least since I saw the Lion King for the first time. Travel has always been a passion of mine, one that has been slow burning in its fulfillment. When I first started college I had no idea I would go to Africa by the time I graduated. I first entertained such an idea when I transferred to my four year institution. During orientation week I found out there would be a trip to Tanzania, rather timely since I was taking African Civilization I at the time. Once the applications went live I filled one out and submitted, and to my utter shock I actually was accepted (though it turned out everyone who applied was accepted.)
The acceptance email came during Fall semester finals week, so I finished that first term on the highest possible note. During that Spring semester the other students and I attended weekly classes in order to prepare, I additionally took African Civilization II. We embarked about a month after the school year ended and were their for five weeks.
Four years. Damn. As a child the thought of traveling the world as an adult seemed like a distant dream. Hell, being an adult was a distant dream back then. Yet four years have slipped by with me hardly noticing.
When I was in France I had the fortune to visit a few of their famous caves. Like any other tourist in Dordogne, I visited Lascaux II. While Lascaux II faithfully reproduces most of the great art of the original, it is painfully obvious you’re in a tourist attraction the whole time. I also was able to visit Font-de-Gaume, a lesser known cave which has original paintings and reliefs. Mammoths, bison, horses and reindeer are all found throughout, though most of them require you to look hard to notice them. We had a tour guide who pointed each one out and gave us background about each work. Voices echoed whenever spoken.
Reaching Font-de-Gaum requires a laborious hike up steep stairs to the top of the hill. It was well worth it and I was conditioned for it, I had been in the Parisian Catacombs and climbed to the roof of Notre Dame just a few days earlier.
The pictures are not my own, they don’t allow tourists to take photos:
I guess it’s a good opportunity to post some pictures of my trip to France back in May. Here are some pics from the Musee d’Orsee, Musee Cluny and Notre Dame.
Story: Zeby Stanczyk was jester of dubious historicity who served under three Polish kings. Though nobody is certain whether he existed or not it he has had a major significance in Polish culture because of his outgoing sense of humor which enabled him to say what needed to be said. He was always quick to point out wrongs, but was able to deliver them in a way that was palatable. His knowledge of the events around him was also something of a curse, as he would be grief stricken when others where blissfully oblivious. This was especially true when Smolensk fell to Russia in 1514, and Stanczyk was the only one in the palace remotely bothered by it; everyone else was too busy having fun a ball to realize their country would soon be dissolved.
Attributes: People born under the Stanzcyk sign love interacting with other people and are very good at amusing them. They also are very good at analyzing situations in an understandable fashion. However they are deeply cynical and skeptical, and this makes it difficult to see good; but they are very aware of their own weaknesses. Also the type who are quick to point out that astrologers, mediums, diviners, etc. are just charlatans out for the money.
The most fitting more distant family member I can think of is Charlemagne. I don’t know for an undisputed fact that I am descended from him, but it is thought that ALL European people (more accurately anyone with European DNA) living today is descended from him. Unless you have no European ancestors whatsoever, highly unlikely in the Western Hemisphere, that would make him your ancestor. That and probably pretty much everyone you know. Maybe even every singe person you know. That’s a lot to think about, and the implications are very interesting.
When I was young I was decidedly indecisive about my future, the title pretty much says it all; the careers mentioned being the favorites. Knights and cowboys fascinated me growing up, I thought they were really cool so I thought it would be cool to be one. Most little boys like those sorts of jobs and buy into the romanticized pop culture images. I am no closer now to realizing my dream for either than I was back then, chiefly because now I have no desire. Knighthood is out of the question for fairly obvious reasons, at least the shining armor variety. I suppose it is technically possible for me to be knighted I would have to live a lifetime of truly exceptional greatness, especially since I am an American. The United States doesn’t have any knighthood orders; most countries that do only give them to prominent foriegners, usually heads of state and high end military officers. Being a cowboy is considerably more plausible, surprizingly so considering that I live in a rural area in close proximity to horses and cattle. However I do not like riding horses and I can’t stand the smell of livestock. That and I don’t like to risk physical harm, which is also a reason why I wouldn’t have been a good knight. As unlikely and unfit as I was and am for these careers, they were much more realistic than my other dream job: Men In Black agent.
What might shock some dead ancestor would greatly depend on who this ancestor is, for what may mortify one may not even cause another to bat an eye. However there is one thing that all of them in recent memory probably would get shocked by, and that is the fact that we don’t sit at the dinner table when we eat. We used to, but that was many years ago and now we never do with the exception of Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes New Year’s. At this point it feels plain weird to sit down together for a regular meal, in fact that wouldn’t be “regular.” The table is used to store stuff, and it is rarely cleaned off. Dinner at our house is usualy eaten on the couch in front of the TV. Ten Years ago that was not normal, and I’m sure thirty years ago that would have been unthinkable. I can only imagine what a great great grandparent would think about all that.
Actively standing up to the powers that be isn’t habitual for me, though I’m very proud of the times I’ve done it. Back in Pre-K I remember coloring a picture and the teacher kept pestering at me to stay in the lines. My eye-hand coordination and gross motor skills were impaired (and are still somewhat lacking) and was simply not capable of staying within the lines. I did try to stay in the lines, but didn’t really care if that I couldn’t. My teacher sure did. That really pissed me off. It was art, and I thought something to effect of “f*** your rules I can make my art however the f***” I want, so I just started scribbling all over the picture. Boy it felt good to rebel against such an asinine and unjust policy. First they start off regulating creativity, what would come next? I had to nip it in the bud. Man did the teachers get upset with me, but that was the best part.
One of the things I love about going to a Catholic university is getting to know several monks. They are all surprisingly outgoing, and most of them do not live up to what I imagined monks would be like. One who teaches one of my classes one day told us how there was an anonymous underground newspaper on campus around ten years ago. It was heavily critical of certain school policies and officials, and he said that he agreed with what the paper said entirely so he contributed to every issue until it was cracked down on. Most of the contributors were identified, including him and he had to have a little sit down with the Abbot about it. Unsurprisingly amongst students he is the most popular of the monks, though I can tell his reputation is rather tarnished among the monastic community. This just goes to show that anyone can be outlaws. Monks are no exception.
Some of you might remember My Second Meaningful St. Patrick’s Day, which I posted a few weeks back. It didn’t get the attention I had hoped it would, but I was sufficiently happy with it to submit it as a freelance article to the school paper. I had to do some
censuring editing, chiefly because I don’t think they would publish something with the phrase “dirty Prod Anglos.” After changing that to “Anglophone Protestants” and doing a little fine tuning I submitted my piece. On Monday someone I didn’t even recognize approached me and said “hey you’re in this month’s paper!” So I rushed to the nearest newspaper rack and picked up a copy. I found it very satisfactory to see my work printed in ink. Now can say that I am a published author, which has been a dream of mine for years. Many people have told me that they really enjoyed my article and learned a lot of interesting things from it, which was exactly the reason why I submitted it. Bernardo O’Higgins seems to be of particular interest to many readers, so I’m glad I mentioned him. Some people have said I ought to join the newspaper staff, so I have decided to apply.
For those who didn’t read it, here it is in its uncensored glory: https://djgarcia94.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/my-second-meaningful-st-patricks-day/