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Posts Tagged ‘Reflection’

Fountains. I am a fan. I always find myself taking a break to relax, unwind, and enjoy the cityscape around fountains. Big, small, historic, or just simply communal – fountains inspire and energize.

When in Mexico City, I worked as a consultant for Banamex. And when I think of my favorite spots in Mexico City – the fountain at Banamex’s offices in Santa Fe would make my list.

walking into Banamex, you can see the fountain

Every morning I walked down stairs, passed through security and stopped at the fountain. Call it my moment of ‘Zen.’ And actually any time I needed a break, I took a walk to the fountain. Stressful situations at work seemed to disappear when feeling the the mist of the water. Somehow, a perspective gained watching the water spray.

the fountain in the evening

Visitors to Mexico City can’t access the fountain. In fact, some days access seemed difficult for me even though I worked in the building (security). But my visits, those moments by the Banamex fountain, will always remain some of my special moments of my days in DF. Days I cherish.

stay adventurous, Craig

Day 14 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute

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I reached for the large brown crayon. Not sure how to put the experience into words I started to draw.

sitting down right before we take off the blindfolds

As we all opened our eyes after the Sense Adventure the guide asked us to share our thoughts on a blank comment card. And although we all experienced the same stimulation, we all reacted differently.  Some of us enjoyed it, others did not.

At that moment, I noticed the reflection of the mangroves in the cenote. My first impulse – to jump right in – didn’t seem appropriate now that we came back to the material world. Or perhaps I knew of the future. The very fact that I’d take a swim in the cooling waters later in the evening after our Temazcal ritual. Either way, I just continued to draw.

I focused on the reflection. It seemed to perfectly align with the guide’s final instructions, “…open your eyes and see yourself, your reflection…”  Ok. I handed in my art work, not sure what to make of the entire experience. All I knew was that I found myself. I discovered a gift, the present.

still with camera... not there yet.

The Sense Adventure started slow for me, but once I completely let go, and let go completely I really traveled some distance. Not a distance measured in miles, but an internal distance. A distance that sometimes can be further than I’d like to think. A distance to find myself and connect.

When we started, I didn’t know what to expect. I read “sense adventure” on the itinerary and said “yes.” Seemed to fit my mantra. But I made a mistake. I took my camera. Foolish because once blindfolded I didn’t get any good pictures. (Tip: take nothing with you)

With the entire focus to remove sight and augment other senses you don’t need anything but yourself. That’s the big idea. Eventually an assistant took my camera and I started to let go some and not worry about its safety. But then with the use of water, I worried about my phone in my pocket. Another distraction I planted on myself. But I eventually decided to let go completely. (I could use a new iPhone anyway I thought)

Only then did I start to truly realize the power and the gift before me. When the journey switched from water to wind, we seemed to be asked to fly. And although, few words are spoken during the trip when the guide or assistant moved my arms I responded. And at this point I soared.

a little wet, but good times came soon....

I truly and finally really let go of everything. Only then did I travel further inside. I started to really smell, feel, and touch. It changed. I changed. I reached “now.” I became present, it was truly a gift. Thank you (or Gracias)

Immediately afterwards, discussing the experience with fellow travelers, i learned people thought of it as  everything from lentil torture to a journey into zen. Honestly, the discussions seemed no different than how people judge or rate any travel experience.

Then a few days later, I realized our journey only highlighted four of our five senses.  Yes, the journey changes for each group. The guide reads the energy of the day, the people, and changes the experience accordingly.  No two times will be the same but the destination is the same for every participant – that connection.

On my experience we missed – taste. I wonder if he knew what Chef Oscar had in store for us. From the chef’s table, to tequila tasting and crusano (grasshopper) we definitely enjoyed the sense of taste during our stay. It is hard not to at Hacienda Tres Rios.

But, I wonder what the guide thought of my drawing. I wonder if anyone else ever drew the cenote. I wonder what others wrote on those cards that day and any day. Looking back, I realize that is not what is important.  What is –  the fact I let go and became present during the experience. I connected.

the cenote I drew... I also took a picture when i got my camera back...

Stay adventurous, Craig

Day 3 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute

Also,special thanks to Hacienda Tres Rios for sponsoring my trip, taking a few photos, and also allowing me to come to my senses during my visit.

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Cape Town, South Africa serves as an initial entry point for many travelers to Africa.  But some argue it’s not “True Africa,” Ok, then I ask, is New York true America?  The answer in both cases: Yes.

America as a nation cherishes variety and today so does South Africa. And both cities serve as a place where cultures mixed and continue to do so.

Cape Town, the modern cosmopolitan experience, provides a chance to see amazing views from Camps Bay or Table Mountain, entertain delightful and delicious dinners, and sip some of the finest wines. But, Cape Town also allows visitors to take a historical peak into the recent injustice under apartheid. It provides a chance to look and learn from the past. Two such powerful places now serve as museums and are must visits. One really shook my foundation.

Certainly, the prison on Robben Island, a place where Nelson Mandela spent seventeen years, is nearly on everyone’s must see list for Cape Town. I agree. The place tells the stories of the lives of the many political prisoners that worked to free the country from its racial divide.

inside the District 6 Museum

But when you get the chance to see the city, don’t miss the chance to walk through District 6 museum. The mere forty-five minutes I spent there left a more powerful impact on me than any other place in Cape Town.

As part of a ½ day tour of the city provided by Acacia Africa, the museum became our first stop. Here, my guide spoke about the injustices and the history of the mixed race district. A district eventually destined to be demolished by the government.  A place where all buildings were destroyed. A neighborhood essentially removed from the map.  Today, only a few churches and mosques (untouched) still stand on the empty grasslands.

A vibrant Richmond Street...

Inside the museum pictures display the districts history from its vibrant times to its post demolition. Street signs appear as art displays and also mark each stair as people climb up to the second floor.  Displays describe the history of the district, highlight the people who called it home and tell of the reason for flattening. Yet, some of the most powerful statements, the ones that initiate water in your eyes (and make you put back on your sunglasses) did not come from these artifacts. They were not from the pictures or historical text explaining this dark chapter in South African history. They came from the quotes.  Real people and their real words discussing the district years later.

after the demolition... just mosque and church remain...

Across the museum, quotes from ex-citizens of the district describe their experiences. Not the just the horrors, but more importantly the good times.  They speak of laughter and joy.  They speak of work, love, and music. They speak of  life. Humanity.

At times, it makes you unable to comprehend what happened. It makes the point needed to be made. Perfectly too.

That day, I left the museum in a different mood from the world cup fever I felt just the prior night on Long Street. I left knowing why Acadia recommends and offers this tour prior to traveling to the “Real Africa” on Safari or via an overland tour.

Then later that afternoon, I thought about it once again getting ready for the night on the town. On the very spot where division was the law, now the world united for its greatest spectacle – the World Cup. Incredible actually. A change for the better.

Stay adventurous, Craig

I’d like to thank Acacia Africa for opening my eyes to the District 6 Museum.

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A new adventure awaits on every trip. But that doesn’t mean you never revisit the places you visited on prior travels. Of course, your time might not be the same. New memories await. And even if the place hasn’t changed – I learned you have.

I AM enjoying amSTERDAM...

A recent trip to Amsterdam, my third, included both a few new attractions such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Heineken Experience and a return to an old favorite spot. Both new attractions, very popular spots, I certainly enjoyed. Yet I learned long ago a city is more than its tourist attractions.

Orange is the color of choice in Holland

To me, exploring a city is walking the streets and finding that cafe for a coffee or finding that special restaurant for that special culinary creation. And  sometimes it is just about finding a place to sit down and enjoy conversation with new friends, loved ones, locals or perhaps even just for some good alone time. From my past travels to Amsterdam, one such  place where I enjoyed such moments was the “Hill Street Blues Cafe-Bar”

I first stumbled upon the cafe on my virgin trip to the canal city. That was 12 years ago and in a different era for travel. A time when the internet was not mainstream (not sure when Al Gore invented it) and at a time when GPS or Google maps didn’t tell us how not to get lost. And frankly, a time I am glad to have known and traveled in. So for nostalgia,  I decided to let memories serve as both my guide and directions and not my iPhone on my quest to find the Cafe and Coffee Shop.

The beacon - Hill Street Blues Cafe

One evening just after sunset on the canal and after finishing up my walking audio tour I sensed a proximity. I was close. Ah, I knew it would come back to me. It did.

A left, than a right, guesses maybe, intuition more likely, I noticed the illuminated Union Jack and American flag. I arrived to the The Hill Street Blues Cafe-Bar and could not hide my smile.

Certainly, better cafes exist in Amsterdam, but this place holds my memories. It was a time in my life when I traveled with two other Americans and fellow fraternity brothers. As recent college graduates armed with money from our corporate jobs we traveled Europe, celebrated freedoms and planned to travel the rest of the world if not attempt to conquer it.

I entered. The time warp began. I imagined my friends at the table as a wave of emotion overcame me. Wow, twelves years flashed before me. The good, the bad and the beautiful.

I then wondered, did I accomplish anything I talked about inside these four walls?

a view inside Hill Street Blues

Eventually, I realized I did and realized how much I changed in those 12 years even as the placed looked the same.  We all had.

So, my first thought, why not sit down open my journal and write down some ideas for the next 12 years. But, no that didn’t feel right.

Then it hit me.  I wrote thanks. Thanks for twelve great years, thanks for the many adventures, and thanks for the opportunity to see Amsterdam both then and now.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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The sunset holds magic and memories. Many times I am fortunate enough to share that magic and memories with my Mom. And many of those occur when I visit the Florida Keys.

My most recent trip to the Florida Keys, however, I learned that a member of the community had passed away.  My parents knowing my love for sunsets handed my a part of the eulogy.  Touched by the power of its message, and the importance of the sunset, I thought to share a section with you.

This piece was written (and spoken) by a daughter about her Mother.

As the sun was setting on 2008, we found out that our mother needed to undergo major surgery. She was so sick that we were really concerned she might not survive.

Ginny was already at her side, Nancy on her way, and I was on standby.

The evening before the surgery, as I tried to think of something comforting to say to her, I witnessed a magnificent sunset. I took it as a sign that there would be beautiful moments ahead of us.

When I called, I told her about the sunset and what I thought it meant. I suggested that as she went to sleep that night that she try to think about the many spectacular sunsets she had enjoyed.

She thanked me for my thought, but said, “as I go to sleep tonight, I’m going to think about the wonderful daughters Daddy and I have.”

Well the sunset did fulfill its promise of more beautiful moments ahead. And since then, each time I am privileged to behold a lovely sunset. I remember that tender moment.  A sunset, the radiant refraction of light and color as the sun goes below the horizon, is one of God’s gifts to us at the end of the day.

The sun has set on Mommy’s days on here on earth; but I hope I hope each time you delight in a glorious sunset, you’ll remember the light and color she brought into our lives.

So let’s take a moment this week to reflect and recall one of those special sunsets we shared with our Moms. I know I am. I hope you are too.

typical sunset in the (upper) Florida Keys

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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