Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Window Seat 10A.

It's 4th of July and I am on a flight from California to DC.  As I watch the Bay Area fade into the Central Valley (the forests fading into the desert), I find myself admiring cluster after cluster of identical matchbox homes and circuit-board cities.  I am filled with an odd sense of patriotism- not 4th of July nationalism per se, but a larger, more general feeling of human championship.  

We are a people that build bridges and roads and air planes. We zig-zag across the earth, carving ourselves into the land we insist on taming and domesticating.   We've evolved past being survivalists- we are conquerors.   

Ironically, at 30 thousand feet in the air, I am quickly humbled and reminded of the limits to human enterprise.  As I look down at the Sierra Navadas, I marvel at their awesomeness and how, in one sweeping glance, they stop even the most arrogant sense of human entitlement to survival.  

So here's to a great 4th of July celebration from window seat 10A.  

May our victories always be remembered with humility and may all my future flights be this entertaining.  =)  

Monday, July 11, 2011

A little song, a little dance, a little heat exhaustion.

2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps
What a phenomenal week of events... and all involving partying in 90 degree heat at the National Mall.

(Garifuna is a musical culture from the Caribbean coast of Central America that blends elements of West African and Native Caribbean heritage and is, in one word, AMAZING) 

 These multi-generational performers from Belize and Guatemala continue the mission of their founder, the late Andy Palacio, to preserve Garifuna language and culture through music.

And in my humble opinion, they have truly done justice to that mission.  What an amazing group of performers.  

The Naro Giraffe Dance Group of Ghanzi, Botswana was created in 1996 in an effort to showcase and preserve the culture of the San people, who have been forcibly relocated from hunter-gathering communities in the Kalahari Desert to government-run settlements.

The healing trance dance, being performed this photo, is a traditional practice dedicated to the removal of bad spirits and ailments.  An important ritual of the San culture, the dance dates back thousands of years and is still practiced today. 

Aires Del Campo, a traditional string music ensemble from Colombia’s Coffee Region, performing Andean music as well as party tunes of the Paisa culture. 

Don't let their serious looks fool you- these gentlemen were belting songs that had everyone from grandma and baby out on the dance floor.   

And last, but certainly not least, food=)

This is a family festival folks, two cerveza limit.  Now, we don't want the Peace Corps celebrations getting too rowdy, do we?

Most the food was sold out by the time we got there, but I managed to fill my stomach with some delicious fried plantains, rice and beans, and that cute little beef empenada.  Not too shabby for festival food, eh?  and, maybe it was the 90 degree heat talking, but that little glass of Passion Fruit heaven was the best maracuya I've ever had (this side of the border=)