Whoever came up with the idea of holiday/vacation, was brilliant.
Kol hakavod - good for him/her!
Our holiday in Peru and Chile was amazing, not only because of the fascinating people, cultures, landscapes and natural wonders that we saw, but because it gave us a break for a month from the stress, worry, and frustration that characterizes our social-political-economic 'reality'.
Here I am at the Tatio Geysers in Northern Chile, Sept. 2011
For one month, I was immersed in volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, geysers, llamas, alpacas and vicunas, in peoples from the Andes, Incan architecture, Amazon rainforest, snakes, parrots, condors, capybaras and pisco sours. Every day brought new, exciting adventures and experiences. David and I climbed up many many hillsides and mountainsides, experiencing lots of mud, high altitudes (4800 meters above sea level was our highest point, in the Colca canyon region). We walked through 80 km per hour winds to see a waterfall in Torres del Paine and got soaked to the bone (really, literally) in the 'dry season' in the Amazon rainforest. We went to sleep lulled by the sounds of the animals in the jungle (our room had one open wall, into the rainforest) and to the sights of the ice that had broken off from the glacier at Lago Grey (and I didn't even mention Machu Picchu...).
one of our neighbors in the rainforest adventure
the view from our hotel in Lago Grey, Torres del Paine National Park in Chile
But, as we know, all holidays eventually come to an end, and then it is back to 'real life.'
Hmm... what can I say...?
I saw that 'real life' is much, much more than the 'real life' that we experience in our everyday lives.
While I was overwhelmed with the wonders that we saw, I also saw that many peoples in Peru and Chile live very, very hard lives, steeped in poverty, with little to no opportunity to break this cycle, exploited by huge companies and global markets.
I am not jealous of the lives that many of these people live, and would not want to have to survive picking brazil nuts and transporting them (on my back) for many kilometers through the jungle, for $2. I would not want to work in the copper mines in Chile. I am glad, and very, very thankful, that I have options that are so much better.
But I do miss the calm and the deep relaxation and the deep feeling that I had during this month of holiday, that 'reality' need not be filled with violence and hatred and war.
We have the ability to change our reality, if we take the time to take in the glaciers and volcanoes and geysers and waterfalls and parrots and flamingoes, and woven colorful hats, and music, and pisco sours, and the myriad of natural and human-made wonders that we have in our Holy Land as well. We can change our reality if we take the time to enjoy the treasures that we have, instead of trying to claim them for one group or another, impose our will on the other, negate the other.
Holiday/vacation is a wonderful concept. I suggest that we adopt this concept for the 'real world', even as we go about our everyday routines of work, family, obligations.
Shanna tova, may this be a meaningful, just, peaceful, good new year for all of us. May we make this a year in which we become more aware of all of the natural and human-made wonders that surround us.