Weekend on the Rim of Africa

The Western Cape of South Africa is home to some very impressive mountains that stand as rocky monuments above the cape vineyards and farms. Connecting the Cederberg Mountains in the north to the Outeniqua Mountains in the south-east, the Rim of Africa trail has been born to lead hikers into this unfrequented mountain wilderness. Last weekend I followed the trail’s creators to witness part of the adventure of developing ‘a trail of no ordinary proportions’. Continue reading

return to cape town

i am working for greatguides.org again– doing website design tweaks, user-experience designing, media production, and more. it’s good to be involved again after being out of the loop for most of the last year and it’s even better to get back to freelance work. i miss it a lot, and i certainly hope to never do retail again.

i will be here until june, and until then expect more adventures from me- its one of my goals for the year. others include cycle a lot to prepare for my 2012 aids/lifecycle ride to raise money for hiv/aids awareness, outreach, testing, and treatment. and to shoot a lot of film and photos. and to read more. and floss more. make more friends. to really fight to be the person i want to be. at the end of 2011 (a dull and rather un-enriching year) i had a feeling 2012 was going to be good. now it’s time to do just that.

.   .   .   .

the other night i took a hike, and thats where these photos come from. check out this video of me during the same hike…

it was amazing. a moment when you stop and think “THIS IS RIGHT”… “DO THIS MORE”. just what i needed. time to explore, feel the ground move beneath my feet, sun on my face, and wind in my hair.

its about getting back in touch with the things i know are good and listening, learning, and being open to the new things in my life.

the other day i went to sit in a garden and listen to a south african poet ian mccallum talk about his poetry and about working in collaboration with a sculpter on a project on display in kirstenbosch gardens. a lot of his work focuses on how we can get back to wilderness, channel wilderness, and the future of wilderness with climate change. it was great chewing on nuggets like

“the rising” by ian mccallum

one day your soul will call to you with a holy rage.
“rise up!” it will say…
“stand up inside your own skin.”
unmask your unlived life…feast on your animal heart.

unfasten your fist…let loose the medicine in your own hand.
show me the lines…I will show you the spoor of the ancestors.
show me the creases…I will show you the way to water.
show me the folds… I will show you the furrows for your healing.

“look!” it will say…the line of life has four paths -
one with a mirror,
one with a mask,
one with a fist,
one with a heart.

one day, your soul will call to you with a holy rage.

and

We have to stop speaking about the Earth being in need of healing. The Earth does not need healing. We do. Our task is to rediscover ourselves in Nature. It is an individual choice. And how or where do we begin? We begin exactly where we are right now, when we look at the world as a mirror, when we discover that our sense of freedom and authenticity is linked to the well being and authenticity of others – and that includes the animals, the trees and the land. - Ian McCallum

(above is one eight-hundred-year-old tree- for the most part- as it sprawls across the ground and up as it wishes. i had lunch here and took in my reflection on ian’s thoughts)

i am lucky to be here, but mainly to be reminded that if you want something in life you can get it if you fight like hell for it. back in baltimore, i never got outside into really natural spaces. that was because i let myself get caught up in it all. now that i flew from the cage, i can see the places i could have escaped to but lacked the energy to do so. there were times that i tried, but they were few and far between. i need this. this is right. i know it with every bone in my body.

and i can’t stop thinking of one of my favorite lines from calvin and hobbes – “if people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, i bet they’d live a lot differently”

anyway, i hope all is well, and cheers to another year of adventure blogging.

-tbk

why i’m here

this trip to africa was all so i could come to ndera, rwanda. it’s just outside of the capital city kigali and but is just like most of rwanda– full of subsistence farmers that live in small rural communities. this is the land of a thousand hills with long and bumpy dirt roads and green plants everywhere. the rains that continue throughout the entire year make the earth extremely fertile– spit something out and in all likelihood it will grow– but when you go to a local health clinic and spend all day weighing 50 kids from the area with severe and moderate malnutrition you have to ask why is this happening and how can we stop it.

this is what the face of a child with malnutrition can look like. you would think all the children would just get thinner and thinner until their skin and bones– but you would be wrong. many times children actually start collecting fluid in their skin because their body can no longer hold it in the bloodstream (a condition nicknamed kwash). puffiness forms right under the eyes, the checks become rounded and the hair thins from the head. the tummy enlarges into a potbelly and the arms and legs become larger but with a skin that is pulled tight by all the fluid being collected. at first glance, the child can look healthy- making it hard for many people to notice. it’s the children with malnutrition that never develop kwash that are so striking to see- and let me tell you, when you see a seven month old baby that weighs six pounds, it’s hard not to start looking out to blame.

so how does this still happen? it starts with not eating enough and/or not eating enough of the right things but leads to issues of desperate poverty, education, access to land, local, national, and international politics, and flaws with how food aid works globally. all of these issues could be seen when we were at the clinic weighing and measuring the heights of the children to calculate their weight for height and weight for age measurements.

what got me was that this clinic had been reporting zero cases of malnutrition to fall in line with a new push to completely eradicate it from rwanda- which left many families and children hidden from aid for the sake of politics. to change this, brad had gone out to many villages himself to find them and tell them to come to get help. for the ones with severe malnutrition they get a fortified peanut butter called plumpy nut. for the moderate malnutrition cases, they should get a fortified corn and soy blend porridge (called csb) but because none of the supply has left the united states in a while they will get nothing.

and when the severe cases of malnutrition are healthy enough to be considered moderately malnourished, they will then get nothing. when production or trade of food aid from the united states doesn’t work out properly, people here will loose the little ground they have gained to have healthier children. this shows the dependency and sole reliance on handouts to solve global malnutrition.

and this is why food aid is broken. no more just giving out food assistance without realizing the true solution to this issue lives in the hands of the very families that can’t feed their children. let’s invest in them, believe in them, love and cherish them.

-tbk

SUPA KENYA!

off the plane, the bus, the taxi and into the maasai country of kenya. we headed out with my friend to see his family, who i had met last year. Continue reading