Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall Dreams of Escapism

It is late Fall in Wisconsin. The tree branches are losing their brilliantly colored leaves and becoming bare. There is a definite chill in the air that foretells of winter. We are also in an economic Fall, one which I hope does not turn into an economic winter. As I face both of these realities, my thoughts turn towards a time and place of beauty and tranquility.

Brittany is on my mind. If only the matter transporters found in science fiction stories existed, I'd return there in a flash. In any case, I'll use these photos to remember that Fall is not permanent, and dream of times yet to come.

I hope that your travels are safe, and that you too have a place that you can dream of and find peace of mind in these times.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Turkana (Kenya) 1970


Turkana is not the typical Kenyan landscape of savanna, forest, or tropical coast. The Turkana of 1970 was a dry, rocky, and desolate-a place where “roads” were rocks as place markers on plains areas or dry river beds accessible by Land Rover , foot, or imported camel. It was a land of ten foot high termite hills and Lake Rudolph with its gigantic Nile Perch and Nile Crocodiles. Turkana was a land of nomadic peoples who lived with the bare necessities at best, making those who lived there hardy and independent. It was a land so isolated that Kenyan independence leader Jomo Kenyatta was imprisoned there in the town of Lodwar, far from his supporters with nowhere to go even if he had escaped.

I traveled in Turkana along the western shores of Lake Rudolph for a couple of weeks as part of a World Health Organization group. Our goal was to inoculate the people of Turkana against smallpox. Turkana was one of the last places in the world to receive the smallpox vaccine. As a twenty-two year old Peace Corps volunteer, traveling through this area in a government convoy of Land Rovers with this mission was the ultimate way to spend part of the month-long break from teaching. Toto, I definitely wasn’t in Maine anymore.

In spite of the fact that it was almost forty years ago, certain memories are still quite vivid- holding my silvery bifurcated needle as I watched lines of silent, patient herdsmen and waited for the next person to come forward; rolling up my sleeping bag to find a scorpion crushed underneath; riding along the river bed looking backwards for dark rain clouds that would turn the “road” into a raging river; wading in cool waters of Lake Rudolph in the evening and feeling both terrified and incredibly stupid the next morning after being told about a Peace Corps volunteer who had been killed and eaten by a Nile crocodile along the shore of the lake. It was a time of wonder and purpose in which the lack of creature comforts were outweighed by an experience, so different than any that I had imagined.

I think that the black and white photos capture a sense of the time and place, I hope that you enjoy them. This will be the last series of the Kenyan photos that I have scanned and edited. Thank you for listening to my ramblings and reminisces. May your travels be interesting.