Well hello again!

Well hey there! Long time no chat 🙂

Who’d have thought that having this handy dandy smartphone would be so beneficial? (That’s right! You’re hearing from the proud new owner of an iPhone!) With all of its nifty apps and whatnot, I got a little curious and looked to see if WordPress got in on the handheld technology game. And here’s your answer!

I know it’s been a long while since I’ve written – in the words of a true nineties child, “My bad, guys.” But, now that technology has put me back in the game, I think now would be a great time to start back up :). Y’all ready for this?

Just so you don’t get lost, let me give you a little background about were I am and what I’m doing here. ¡Bienvenidos a Córdoba, Argentina! I’m here on a trip with 12 other students from my university for a 7 week immersion program. (We are now in about week 3.5). In our trip we’ve done a bit of traveling through the country – west Mendoza, northeast to Iguazú – and I’ve really gotten to experiencing Argentine culture. It’s been a whirlwind of ups and downs, with a medley of both tears of pure fun and of numbing homesickness, but as we just rounded the halfway point, I’m beginning to feel the evanescence of this experience.

So, as for this very moment, I need to take my clothes to the Lavadero. Stay tuned for my upcoming blogs about The Cataratas at Iguazú (new wonder of the world, baby! And I was there!) and trekking through the Sierra mountains!

Ciao,
Sharkbait.
OOH AH AH!

..I’ve waited a while to say that 🙂

Another field in Mouries

[Daybook entry 2]

Wow.
Is it lame that that’s all I can think of when I see this view?

It’s something I wish I had at home: Mountains. I’ve always found something so captivating about them. Maybe it reflects Leopold’s ideas in “Thinking Like a Mountain,” that the near-permanence of their structures is just so awe-inspiring. Or maybe it’s that we so underestimate them – that from a distance, a Mountain looks so conquerable, but up close, you’ve never encountered something so intimidating in your life. Or hey, maybe it’s just that they’re damn beautiful. But either way, sitting beside my care, parked along the side of a gravel road, I can’t say anything but “Wow. Those are some damn beautiful mountains.”

God am I going to miss France 😦

A Field in Mouries

[Daybook Entry 1]

I find myself here in this field feeling very much at peace. My hotel is located maybe 50 yards away, at least, just across the main street and down the road. I found this little field by accident – I had intended on walking into town, but there are some hills/mountains ahead that distracted me. I thought that maybe I could reach them, so I cut across some trees, and here I was. This perfect little field with purple and gold flowers. I thought it was no coincidence that I happened to have my daybook with me, so I decided to write.
So herein lies the question – what to write about? I think, maybe, I’ll just write about the feelings I get of being in a foreign place. Being a Wilderner Traveler, if you will.

It’s funny how, no matter where you are as a Wilderner, it still feels pretty much the same. For example, sitting here in this field in Mories, France, feels really no different than being in an abandoned field somewhere in the United States. I think the underlying meaning to that is that there’s some kind of universality to the Wilderness, no matter how small it may be. Here in this little field, I can’t see a language barrier. I don’t see different in architecture. I don’t see a difference in food or wine, and I’m not enough of a botanist to notice a difference in the foliage. It’s just me, some flowers, and a real big field.

I love it 🙂

A Time For Science

So, I have to admit, when I first came across this place in the car with Steph, I was a little sketched out. I thought maybe we had pulled over and asked for directions. Steph and I shared nervous glances as we mentally played rock-paper-scissors for who would approach the house. I think I must have won, or maybe because she’s the authoritative figure, because she walked up to the old house.

Turned out (thankfully) that we had arrived at the right place – turns out the guy had converted his house into a Nature Reserve – how cool is that?!

Well, after sitting around and chatting for a little bit (not to mention playing with the cute dog in the pond), we all went our separate ways to find a place to sit down and write. Joe, Megan, and I all teamed up to find a nice nook. After walking for quite a while, we found a little pond and took our seats there. Joe, of course, being Joe, managed to run ahead and try to lose us – we did locate him, using wild animal calls!

So I sat down and wrote my entry about the pond: the smells, the sounds, and focused a bit on the algae. It was a nice little spot, and I enjoyed my write, and before we knew it it was time to leave. As I predicted, Joe had some difficulty getting down from his precarious fallen tree over the pond. He almost fell in! (I kinda wish he did lol!)

So we came back after almost getting lost and made our way home. On the whole, I enjoyed the trip. It was great to have another opportunity to be outdoors and to get to know my classmates 🙂

Shark Teeth! (My Arch Nemesis!)

This is a transcription of my daybook entry from our Shark teeth adventure:

I am holding something in my hand that is at least 1,000,000 years old.

It doesn’t even sound ral when you say it. I had to write it down for the real weight of it to sink in. I mean, look at all those zeros! It’s tough to imagine what the world was like at that time. What sort of things did this tooth bite into? How much has it experienced, sitting at the bottom of a creek bed? Don’t get my wrong, I’ve never been much of a History nut, but how could you look at this took and NOT imagine the world turning?

Folding this tooth between my fingers, it makes me think of one word: timelessness. Nature, and all things a part of it, has its way of ensuring that it leaves a lasting impression. Sure, we are “the masters of the universe.” We take and utilize and kill with unprecedented force. But you know what? Nature isn’t going anywhere. For every tree we cut down, Nature can obliterate 100 buildings with a single wave. For every resource we deplete, Nature can annihilate an entire population with one of its natural disasters. We think we’re tough with machinery and guns in our closets, but Nature has an entire Arsenal.

Looking at this tooth, I feel a new and unfamiliar connection with Nature: fear. Just like a God – we can love and praise it dearly, but in the end, its power is awe and fear inspiring.

My eyes fixed intently on the perfectly preserved serration of its edges, I hear Mother Nature speak to me through the small pores in the fossilized bone: “The victor is the last one standing.”

Wilderness and Traveling

For our Wilderness Writing class, we have been reflecting on the definition of the word “Wilderness.” I’ve come to find that it’s a very difficult term to define. With some Google research, I see that the general consensus is that Wilderness is something that is untouched by humanity, or is considered “pristine” in that regard. While I see the merit in that answer, I have to disagree.

Wilderness, in my opinion, is an experiential word. It’s something that does not have a consistent or universal definition; instead, its meaning can only be reached by examining our own experiences with it. While I’ve always felt this way, it’s been something I have found difficult to argue. Until now, at least.

Well, to start, I think the Wilderness has something to do with familiarity. I don’t mean to say that if you come to know a place, it loses its status as “Wild.” But when you become so familiar with a place, when you grow so close to it that it almost becomes an extension of you, it is no longer “untouched.” Let me give you an example. Picture, for a moment, that you are in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. Your located a few hundred yards from a tiny, remote island, with a population that barely breaches 200 people. You are 121 feet beneath the surface of the water. When you look forward, you see nothing but limitless blue, a color you thought only existed in the movies. When you look behind you, you see what seems like an endless expanse of coral. You know that only a chosen few have seen this view, and you know that the beauty of it lies in the fact that no one has set their hands on this area.

Is this the Wilderness?

I would expect you to say yes. (If you didn’t, well, you’ve got me lol.) For me, this is not. In fact, I can think of nothing more familiar, nothing less wild. That image, the one I just described to you, is a small area located about 30 yards from a Dive Site called Randy’s Gazebo off Little Cayman, BWI. It is my favorite place in the entire world. It is untouched and adamantly protected by the Islands. (Literally – it is illegal to touch the coral.) However, this place rests so closely to my heart, that I could never think of it as anything but home. Maybe “home” and “Wilderness” are not mutually exclusive terms, but for me, labeling that spot as “wild” just doesn’t fit.

How about another one?

As I was walking through the crowded streets of Paris for the first time, the first thought to enter my mind was “Wow. This is wild!”

Wild. My use of that word was not a coincidence. In fact, I don’t think there could be a more appropriate word for the experience. Here I was in a place I had never been before. I didn’t know the geography, the customs, the language, nothing. The only thing I could do was explore it, and that is precisely what I did. I imagine I would have done the same thing if you had dropped me off in the middle of the Amazon Jungle, or the Mojave Desert, and those are places I would undoubtedly consider the Wilderness.

So, to conclude, I think the term Wilderness is a much trickier word to define than we give it credit for. For my own purposes, I evaluate the “wild” status of a place given two criteria: What is my experience with this place, and How do I feel about it now? It’s a loose definition, and it gives me the freedom to cater it to my personal experiences. However, for the purposes of “Wilderness Preservation,” I’m going to take the Laissez-Faire approach. (Pardon the French, it’s wearing off on me lol.)

The Wilderness is a place were we do, and have for a considerable amount of time, just Let it Be. Although I don’t agree with the concept, we have separated ourselves from Wilderness, and it is for that reason that we must define it with the notion that we are separate from it. So, here is my Nature-oriented definition of Wilderness:

“The Wilderness is a place in which Nature has total control, and all human influence either exists in harmony with the land, or has been recaptured by Nature itself.”

Sharkbait.