Morning Patrol

Reporting in from Sal, Cape Verde again. The killing heat of the first few days has let up to make way for stormy wind and nicer temperatures. A lot of wind, kite and wave surfers are starting to turn up here for the start of the surfing season. Every time I see them skimming across the sea I get the urge to join them. It looks like so much fun!

Being a sand island, Sal has almost no vegetation and accordingly, no local fruit or vegetables. The only thing they can actually produce here is probably goat cheese. A man in a strange floppy hat comes by the house twice a week to sell cheese. Other than that, dried things such as beans, chickpeas, peas etc. make up a large part of the diet here. Fruit and veggies are pretty expensive. I spend a good part of my free time experimenting with how you can variate bean stew to be more interesting. My newest successful creation is caramel porridge.

The work has become a sort of routine by now. Morning patrol, nap, lunch, hatchery, release tour, bed. I don’t really feel like going out very much. But since we’ve moved to the house next door, I have a room to myself, right at the top of the house, with a bunk bed and if you stretch a little you can see the sea.

To maybe illustrate what I do a little better, I’ve taken pictures of one of the morning patrols.When we set out its still not quite light. The sun slowly comes up while we work. The beach, called Costa Fragata, is quite long and toward the end of the season where theres not as many nests hatching, the part that takes longest is the walking, not the excavating. When we see tracks that look like the picture, we know a nest has hatched.

We dig up the nest and count the egg fragments and unhatched eggs, measure the nest.

Sometimes we’ll find stragglers in the nest, Babies that haven’t quite made it to the surface yet, like all their siblings. We let them make their way to the sea and watch out birds and crabs and dogs dont get them before they’ve even reached the water. After that they have to look after themselves and we wont see them again until they come back to nest, after 20 or more years.

As it is the end of the season though, the nests are getting fewer and the morning patrols shorter. Only two excavations today. Only a week or so ago there were 5-8 per day!

Good luck Babies!

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Cape Verde

Looong time since I have last updated. I can honestly say, its been a crazy couple of weeks. Took a train down from Montreal to New York, where I spent a few days with a friends friends friend (yep, thats a couple of corners!) who showed me around. Pictures shall follow in a few days, now that I have time to sort everything out.

Berlin for a week- far too short of a time to be in a place, especially when its home. That week took a lot of energy, seeing as how I wanted to just be there and be at home and hang out with friends, but couldn’t. There was too much going on, too much to organize, and too much that had changed since I left that I couldn’t quite process.

Flew down to Africa, completely exhausted. Each time I was asleep before take off and each time I missed the food (what a shame…).

Cape Verdian island Sal is, as you can tell even from the air, one of the most barren landscapes imgainable. The only patches of green you’ll find are rich people with too much money, planting a yard. Some shrubs line the dunes but even those are more brown than green. The town I’m, staying in is similarily dry and barren. Some houses are painted in vibrant colors, but most are not, and stand there in their crumbling grey, next to badly cobbled roads and patches of sandy ground.

Turtle house is a bright orange building right at the edge of the dunes that strech for maybe 500-700m before the sea. As it is the end of the season, there are only 4 rangers including me, and 3 monitors staying here.

Daily routine is morning patrol of the beaches, assorted tasks, tourist entertainment at the hatchery, and overnight watch at the hatchery. One person will not do all of these in one day… today for example I had morning patrol from 6-10:30, data entry, briefing at 3, then hatchery.

The patrol is the most taxing, 4 hours of walking on soft sand that gives way underfoot and looking for tracks. Baby turtle tracks look exactly like you would imagine them to look, considering it flips its flippers and slides on its belly: one fat continuous track with flipper prints all along the sides. Once found, a nest is excavated, measured and eggs counted and examined for the sake of science and any left over hatchlings set free. Continue walking and repeat.

If its not too sunny and hot, and you bring enough water its not too bad.

The hatchery is the same thing, just without the walking.

Other than that, life is very uneventful here. There is an astonishing lack of brain use required. So zombie-Lisa, switches off her brain and does as told by monitors (excavate, walk, data, tourists, sleep, repeat). Not a job Id like to have for the rest of my life, but for now, thats okay. I feel like I dont have to carry any responsibility as long as I do it thoroughly.

So here I am, and will be for the next 4 weeks or so. I have heard the other islands are more interesting, landscape-wise. I hope I will have the opportunity to explore with someone, getting around alone seems to be quite hard and less fun. Oh, in case that wasn’t obvious *hint, hint, nudge, nudge* visit mee!

So, to make this post worth your time, some turtle hatchlings from the hatchery!

Ps.: sorry, proper picture formating is impossible here, the internet is wayy too slow.

 

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Montreal

Just a quick update to share a couple of photos.

The firest were taken about a week ago, in a remote foresty area near Quebec City. I spent 3 or so days there, recovering from my trip, more or less successfully riding a quad ATV through the woods (does that sound quite canadian enough for you) and walking around old Quebec.

We were surprised to see northern lights this far souht. They were fainter on real life than in this long exposure shot but they were definately there and pulsing and moving. That night also showed of a splendid view of the milky way.

Appreciate, because messing about with a complecated camera at night left me frozen stiff.

The third one is just a view of the automn city, from the vantage point on top of the Mont Royal. Im sure there exist several million photos just like this one, but it has to be said that its an awesome view.

Since beck in Montreal I have been mostly relaxing, reading, bringing my French back to its former grandeur and enjoying good company… Thats not too bad after almost 2 moths of running around. In a few days, the running will recommence and Im looking forward to that as well, especially since I was lucky enough to be referred to (a friend of a friend) ^ 3 for a place to stay In NYC.

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Greyhound Adventure

In the past 60 hours I have covered 3800 km, from calgary, Alberta to Montreal, Quebec on a Greyhound Bus. Trust me, thats not half as romantic as it sounds (if you even consider old blues lyrics mentioning ‘takin a greyhound’ romantic at all.

Granted, I now know exactly why large parts of Canada are so uninhabited. I must congratulate Clemens of his perfectly accurate description of Saskatchewan as a frozen plain that I dont want to visit.. I can account for the endless plain part just as much for the 15 cm of snow that covered that entire area and the complete lack of attraction it held.

In the crossing of the country I was presented with tasters of almost all the seasons. Vancouver was warm and sunny summer. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were freezing, snowy, windy winter. And as soon as I hit Ontario the sight became exactly what you expect from October in Ontario: a landscape that looked a lot like a clums painter had spillt all his reds, yellows and greens. When the sun broke through the clouds for the first time in days a full, bright double rainbow appeared, actually making the full arc from ground to ground. Im kind of sad the picture I took isnt half as impressive as the actual thing.

As enlightening as the experience has been, I can now safely say that next time I’ll gladly take a plane. At some point sitting down in a bus just loses its appeal.We formed a group of  all the  hardcore people that were on the bus for a couple of days, occupied the back of the bus and tried to look mean and fat so as to get more space for ourselves. This worked surprisingly well and most people on the bus were very nice (I say most to include the deranged Quebecker that spent all 60 hours swearing at everyone under his breath and almost got thrown off the bus 3 or 4 times).

I have now arrived Quebec. Ive had a nights sleep, an awesome meal, some of the best ever pumpkin cheesecake, and a ride around the woods on one of those crazy four wheel off road ATV things. Feeling very much human again.

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Vancouver!!

Reporting in from Vancouver, Canada. I love this city! How does one city have mountains AND the sea AND, well, a city?

Lady Luck was with me for finding a bus all the way from Seattle to Vancouver for 10 dollars. She mysteriously left my side when it came to actually finding that bus. I’d bought a ticket for last Wednesday morning and left the house with plenty of time to spare. Now, as tempting, interesting and desirable as it may sound, getting lost in the Suburbs of north Seattle is not all its cracked up to be. Seattle is actually a very good example of what happens when team work fails epically. Apparently 3 guys were put in charge of the street grid of the city. All of these respectable gentlemen had their own ideas as to how the grid should look, and, instead of taking the burden of democracy, they decided to use ALL of the ideas. Their creativity may have had no boundaries considering the original grid, it was completely burnt out when it came down to inventing street names. This leads to a street system that has a 5th Avenue N, a 5th Avenue NE, and a 5th Avenue W.

All of this caused me to miss my first bus. I caught the following one up to Vancouver, where the first thing I saw was a guy get hit by a bus and die. And no, I am not making this up. Apparently it was on the news that night and everything!

All the same Vancouver immediately felt comfortable and friendly. I am staying with some people I met at Pacific Fire in their juggling studio. Its a beautiful space full of motivation and energy! From here I’ve been exploring the city. I spent an awesomely fun weekend with Brian, who came up here for a few days. Went running around 2 forest/park things, found Vancouver’s hippies at their annual Earth Dance, spent more than an hour building little leaf playground for a caterpillar we found, went to a really good juggling show… it just goes on and on. I don’t even want to leave at all, and Ive been here for a week now. I’m comfortable, with awesome people to hang out with and in a great city. Next stop: Calgary… but not YET! Right now its Juggle Jam time at Sideshow Studios!

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Up and up further up north

Up and up and up north I go! Burning Man was followed by the incredible Lake Tahoe Flow arts Festival. I fell asleep on the way from Reno to Tahoe, fell asleep in the desert and woke up here:

It felt like some kind of oasis. Just over those mountains was the desert, and here was this crystal clear lake with enough water in it to fill the entire state of California with a foot of water. Freezing old water. But I don’t think swimming ever felt better than right then, in the sunset, washing a 5 cm thick caked layer of dust off. The next days were filled with workshops and spinning fire in one of the most lush, beautiful locations imaginable.

The second consecutive festival didn’t do much for my sleep deprivation. On the way back to San Francisco I fell asleep curled up on a tiny seat, so painfully tired I didnt notice how uncomfortable I must have been. The first day back in the city was spent regenerating some energy. I was lucky enough to have met a San Franciscoian traveler in Berlin a couple of months earlier, who invited me to stay on his couch. This was great. Not only are he and his room mates awsome, fun people, but their apartment is rigged with interactive LEDs and is located in a very nice central neighborhood! So I had a great time exploring from there and relaxing. The City of hippies, sea lions and this supposedly golden (but actually red) Bridge. What can I say. Arf arf aaarf arfarfarf Arf. I love sea lions. They just chill there, in the sun and enjoy all the fish in they bay, going “arf aarf arf” all day long! Next stop Arcata for one night on the way to the next festival: Pacific Fire Gathering.

If Lake Tahoe was an awesome location, I cant even say what PFG was. A boyscout reservation sure enough (It said on the flyer: “no alcohol except if you disguise it”. I appreciate the authors realism). We were out of reception, in the middle of nowhere in the forest of the Oregon Coast. It was giant. You could camp wherever you wanted so it was up to you whether to be close to the action or all by yourself with kilometers of nothing surrounding you. Being the first fire specific festival Ive ever been to, I’d never seen a fire space that big or technically proficient! Just wow! With no problem whatsoever would I have stayed there another week!

Last festival on the schedule. Thats a sad thought to me. I felt like the fire community and the knowledge I would be going back to it gave me a lot of stability when traveling alone. Right now I don’t know there will be a familiar face around until I hit Montreal. At the other end of this continent.

Internet Cafe in Seattle right now. I didnt know I was going to Seattle until yesterday. Then I was offered a ride, and it was the right direction… so why not? Got a rough look around today, maybe explore again tomorrow- then onwards to Vancouver.

Love

Lisa

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Burning Man Madness

Internet Cafe in San Francisco with some of the most annoying music Ive heard in a long time. Cheesy vocal harmonics torturing my ears. I suppose Ive just never really gotten the hang of relaxing to pseudo-oriental meditation music without feeling remotely aggressive.

It feels like quite a while that Ive been out of civilization and its been incredibly intense! Burning Man just blew all expectations I might have had about it straight out of the water. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. First of all, yes its a festival in a desert… including all the issues that come with that: dust storms, alkaline dust eating your feet and lips (nom!), hot days and freezing nights and so on.

To say what its all about is harder. I expect every one of the 60 thousand people had a completely different experience of it. Best description I can come up with is that its an absolutely huge (about the size of Tempelhofer Feld) playground with masses of interactive art, random sculptures, LED lights, Flame throwers, and participating people.

A giant pier and shipwreck were constructed in so much detail and intricacy that standing on it yo could feel the waves. Around it a water was projected onto the desert floor.

An insignificant looking dome structure standing all by itself housed an incredible LED display that reacted to the sound around it. You could just lay there for hours yelling random things at it. One guy kept calling and singing his brothers name. It would interest me to know what exactly he was on!

One of my all-time favorite pieces was an art car with a 4-5m high movable octopus made of recycled cans. Each arm had an individually controlled flame thrower integrated. Wherever it went, a giant party followed, and it was visible from anywhere on the middle field called the Playa.

This inner circle of sculptures and artwork was surrounded by thousands of theme camps where you could go to do anything from eating ice cream, over playing giant Jenga or Legos, to making T-shirts or coins, and other more obscure activities. There was a surprising amount of spanking booths!

Getting lost is basically the first prerequisite to adventuring around at Burning Man. Wherever you go there are friendly people to meet, things to do and to see…Between floating around all day and spinning fire most of the nights, sleep seemed to loose its sense of urgency- at least until my body started showing serious signs of serious exertion around the 6th day. But even then I didn’t want to miss a moment.

The night the man burned to was a little windy. Windy enough for there to be little fire tornadoes that blew towards the audience. That was my side. But instead of fleeing along with most of the crowd a guy and me ran straight towards it, pelted by flying glowing pieces of wood. We stopped where the first row had been and enjoyed the show. I don’t think Iv e ever seen anything burn to the ground. Its quite an interesting sight!

I can honestly say I saw only a tiny portion of things that were there but even that tiny portion completely overwhelmed me. It was just so unlike anything Ive ever experienced before, its very hard to describe satisfactorily.

Thanks to all the people that spend so much time making it happen and thanks to all the amazing people I met there, those that I already knew and those that I know now!

Wow… long post. Hope I’m not pushing my luck here! After Burning Man I headed to the Lake Tahoe flow arts festival. Photos will follow as soon as I get them sorted out!

Love

Lisa

PS: I much appreciate the spamming! keep it coming!

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Phase 1

Phase one of the big trip (arriving and organizing) is completed. I arrived in San Francisco on thursday evening with most of my luggage and no clear idea whether I would even find the place where I was going to sleep that night. It was surprisingly easy to get into the city by train and with the help of a guy I actually managed to find my friend’s place without any large detours. So far, so good in the arriving phase! I like San Fran!

The trouble only really began the next day, in the organizing part of the deal. We found out our camping plans for Burning Man were somewhat thwarted by a useless car rental company. To make a long and stressful story short, we spent all day looking for alternative cars and trucks without the slightest hint of success. There was no company that had a car that was affordable, large enough and would accept a European drivers license.

This morning the search continued. Better luck this time! We finally managed to get a pickup truck and upgraded the car we already had into a giant hippopotomous of a car for a ridiculously overcharged amount of money. But they took us and all our stuff to Reno (about 2-3 h drive to Burning Man left), Slowly the organization of the camp seems to bee coming together which is a  large relief, especially since periodically things were going spectacularily bad.

All in all I think I’m doing well. Tomorrow I’m off to Burning Man festival. Its supposed to be the dustiest, windiest year for a LONG time. There is also smoke from forest fires around. My fire staff got lost by the airline still hasnt been found. Not sure whether its naive to be in such good spirits..

Ill give you an update when Im back in reception!

BURN!

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EJC and a little bit of Post-Covention Blues

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My discovery for the day is that, quite apparently, the well known post-festival blues is not very much deterred by having exciting future prospects. Pretty much, it’ll get you, no matter what. As anyone who’s spent more than a day in a happy-go-lucky festival world will surely agree, the first days back in ‘the real world’, which is inhabited by unsmiling, distant strangers, are always quite the culture shock.

This phenomenon manifests itself in several ways. For example when I logged onto my Facebook front page yesterday morning, the first 5 posts were by people sharing the fact that they were sick in bed, with no intentions of getting up that day. To be perfectly honest, I joined their ranks without further ado and my own bout of fever. My voice had apparently decided to stay behind in Poland anyways, and I wasn’t about to walk around without it. So it was a change of having 110% activity and input to (by choice) having only empty space to stare into.

The EJC is the type of event that since I first attended it out of a sudden whim, I’ve vowed never to miss it ever again. There just so many people doing so many different fascinating things and so many options of what to do next. Its possible to just run from one shiny exciting thing to the next. Its the paradise of hyperactivity and ADD. If you don’t already have either, this is where you’re gonna get it!

Whether it was the absolutely hilarious and memorable full-moon free alcohol party, epic 5 people fire tunneling on the firespace (there need to be more of those), spontaneous trick sharings, supremely annoying badge control sessions or just chilling in the beautiful weather, for example with a giant quiche-tart… it all just merged into one big moment which, try as I might, I can not put into anything even remotely resembling a timely order.

I do remember it ended in a hippie bus packed to the roof with camping and juggling equipment and awesome people, driving through the polish country side over roads in a state of, well, lets say minor disrepair.

My last European Con this year and already cant wait for the next one! But for now… On the 23rd I leave for Burning Man! Now for two weeks of enjoying the awesome Berlinians company, saying my goodbyes- I’ll be back by the apocalypse!

Love

…somebody walking an impressive high line in the historical part of Lublin!

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Hello World!

Vagabond. /ˈvagəbɒnd/

Even disregarding the meaning “vagabond” strikes me as a very intriguing word… it has a nice sound to it!

The itinerant wanderer, surfing on the vague whims of the moment, not following any predestined path, holds a sort of wild mystical fascination. All the best stories and anecdotes seem to have their origins in some sort of voyage. Maybe these unforeseeable opportunities and experiences can only open up away from that stronghold of all the ideas that have become the norm, removed from the shackles of routine.

2012, for me, has already been quite the kaleidoscope of impressions. To date, this year I have been in Austria; in Spain to visit my dad; in Paris which was a spontaneous and rather random idea with the same friend as Spain; in Cyprus for a long due visit to one of the coolest people in this world; in Thailand with my family; and most recently in Poland at the EJC. The end of all of these took me back to Berlin, to the home base. Now I am about to embark upon a journey that will hopefully allow me to tumble freely across the US and Canada, blown this way and that by the winds of festival and adventure.

…I kind of hope that line wasn’t too pathetically cheesy… Bear with me!

Along my way I want to keep this blog updated with what I’m up to and share some of the impressions, moments and pictures that I encounter on my way.

I would be super happy to hear from people. Any feedback I get will keep me motivated to keep going. Even an “I was here” is enough. Take it as creating an illusion for me, in which I’m not just wasting my time here!

Cheers!

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