El albergue

El albergue

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cloudy day memories

It’s just one of those days. You know the kind I’m talking about, right? The kind where you lack the driving force to do anything at all useful to the world? Where you have no idea why you got up at 8 o’clock, but hey, that works? Where you’d rather cozy up on the couch and search out new and exciting food blogs to give you a stunning case of food jealousy? …yeah… that kind of day.

So what do you do on a day like this? That’s right, you toodle around the apartment, tidying this here and that there, lazily festooning the living room with wet laundry (it IS the best spot for those big white drying racks), brewing yourself a nice steaming mug of tea, and reminiscing through all the pictures you have clogging up your hard drive.

And that, of course, is what I have been doing. Which is why I find myself at the dining room table right now, scrolling through pictures on my laptop, comfy sweats and fuzzy socks teaming up with piping hot chai to defeat the gray skies outside trying to turn my mid afternoon into evening already.

The most recent pictures make me smile with the fondness of fresh memories. They’re from VIVID, a yearly event in Sydney that proposes to bring art to the general public through light, the major attractions being light shows projected onto some of the more iconic buildings in the heart of the city. Sure, like most overly hyped things, it wasn’t quite the extravaganza that the teeming crowds seemed to advertise it should be. And yet despite the throngs, the muddy grass churned up by millions of wandering feet, and a whole lot of walking, it was worth it. Why? For the few truly amazing exhibits, where I wanted to just sit and watch forever like a little kid, entranced by the brilliantly choreographed routines in perfect harmony with the contours of their very unique canvases.
Customs House

I mean, who wouldn’t want to hang out in front of the Customs House and watch the fantastic interactive display being guided by little dancing kids? The Museum of Contemporary Art’s stunning façade was also host to some really fun imagery, even if a couple of the sequences were a little bit out there.

Museum of Modern Art

It was the Opera House, though, that took the cake. Our little group found a relatively quiet spot above the crowds across Circular Quay, and with the lights and images playing out over its sail-like features in perfect sync with the music, that landmark was transformed from animal to metal to aquarium to rain and to everything in between. I could hardly look at anything else as I leaned against the railing, my camera generally left dangling in my hand, eyes open wide, and a smile of childlike contentment gracing my lips.

As I sit here now with that moment in my mind, that smile seems to be coming out for round two. Let’s see what a second cup of tea does to make it last…

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In other's words

I came across a few quotes the other day that seemed to speak exactly to my heart in this place I find myself. Words and thoughts about life, traveling, humanity, the world. It’s so strangely comforting to find expression through the words of others when you yourself can’t quite find the turn of phrase to communicate the nuances of your emotions. Perhaps the best example of this is a quote from good ol’ Carl Sagan, who seemed to be getting it all just about right when he said:
I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.

That’s so me! I have been researching several options for the near future, making lists and charts of information and pros and cons, trying to figure it all out. And I really don’t know where I’m going, but I’ve certainly started groping my way blindly through the dark.

The second quote to speak to me was from Marcel Proust:
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

I mean, how easy is it to get comfortable with our surroundings and take for granted the people and things in our life? I had to ask myself when I went running this morning, “Am I looking at the ground, or have I got my head up and my eyes taking in the world around me?” The colony of flying foxes screeching in the tree tops, their dangling black bodies looking like so many over ripe fruits weighing down the branches. Last night’s rain dripping from the leaves overhead onto my bright yellow sleeve. The ducks paddling about in a river burnished with the morning sun.

This idea of having new eyes to see the world is perfect in my mind for newer sights and experiences as well. For instance, when we went down to visit some friends near Adelaide in South Australia the other weekend, as it rained most of the time, we did most of our site seeing from the car. Keeping Proust in mind, I tried to soak in as much as I could of everything going on. The solid farmhouse built next to the ocean side cliff, alone with its cows in the open fields. That particular smell of nostalgia and old leather that perfumed a classic car. The luscious taste of local cheese in the warmth of a German creamery. Being open to the different sensations, flavors, colors, sights, like a child experiencing everything for the first time ever – that is what discovery feels like.

And finally, a third quote from Rosalia de Castro, less an expression of my current state of feeling and more an idea of bravely living that I would love to make my own.
I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.

Monday, June 2, 2014


The other day, after a few hours in town with shoes that just rubbed in that one little spot, my feet rebelled and demanded to be set free. So as soon as I finished coffee with a new friend from church at a cute café only one train stop away from home, I decided to go for it and be a little bit hippie.

I kept on the offending footwear for a block or two longer, and then as soon as I reached the big park on the way home, those shoes were swinging from my fingers, and my toes were practically singing with delight. It felt as though they were expanding, changing, molding themselves to fit perfectly into the ground beneath them. They nestled into soft grass, worn pavement, and those hollows that pit the packed dirt. Nestling might sound like a strange way to put it, but I really felt like the ground was welcoming my feet with open and joyful arms.

I walked gingerly, quietly, letting my feet seek out those moments of sweet softness and settle into each step so as to avoid as much as possible the more prickly things in my path. Those steps felt so elastic. Rather than the long stride of shoe-clad heels, my tender feet curled about away from pokes and my knees retained a springy bend. It felt like my feet were reading the surface below them. It felt like they were connecting with the earth.

Of course, I had to scrub my feet with a pumice stone once I got home to get off all traces of my rebellious stroll, but the smile on my face told me it was worth it. In fact, I think I should probably go barefoot more often…