• Simply… woman

    Sara Luna e Claudine
  • I support ANIMAL RIGHTS

  • me and my girl :-)
  • Mi sento unicamente una "Cittadina del Mondo"
    figlia, madre, amica, compagna, donna...
    Ho viaggiato lungo rotte conosciute ed altre ignote, per lavoro ma anche per curiosità o solo per il desiderio di scoprire nuovi luoghi!
    L'esperienza a contatto con altri popoli, religioni e culture, mi ha insegnato a venerare Madre Natura ed ogni forma di vita che ci conduce a valutare precetti inconfutabili, ma che purtroppo troppi ignorano nel più assoluto egoismo.
    Vi apro le porte del mio mondo virtuale... seguitemi lungo l'itinerante scorrer d'acqua lasciando traccia di vissuto.

  • What to say about Claudine? She is passionate about living a present, balanced and authentic life, with a healthy dose of humor! She loves to travel the world, explore new places, people and food, but equally loves to retreat into silent solitude. She is a writer who follows a hidden path, into an unfamiliar world. If you just surrender and go with her on her eerie journey, you will find that you have surrendered to enchantment, as if in a voluptuous and fantastic dream. She makes you believe everything she sees in her fantasy and dreams. But as well you take a journey to the frozen mountain peaks of the north of Europe, to the crowded sweating streets of Mexico or Africa. Her characters are wonderfully real and wholly believable perfectly situated in her richly textured prose. She’s a lovely person and she writes with exquisite powers of description! She’s simply great! R. McKelley

    ***

    Chi è Claudine? Lei è appassionata nel vivere al presente una vita equilibrata e autentica, con una sana dose di humour! Ama viaggiare per il mondo, esplorare nuovi luoghi, persone e cibo, ma ugualmente ama ritirarsi in solitudine, nel silenzio. E' una scrittrice che segue un sentiero nascosto, verso un mondo sconosciuto. Se solo vi arrendete e andate con lei in questa spettacolare avventura, realizzerete che vi siete confidati all’incantevole, come in un sogno fantastico ed avvolgente. Vi farà credere ad ogni cosa che lei vede nei suoi stessi sogni e fantasie. Ma inizierete anche un viaggio verso le cime ghiacciate del nord Europa, verso le strade affollate del Messico o Africa. I protagonisti sono magnificamente reali e totalmente credibili stupendamente inseriti nella ricca trama di prosa. E’ una “grande” persona e scrive con uno squisito potere descrittivo. E’ semplicemente magnifica.

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Strands of Crystal in Paris * Fili di Cristallo

above image courtesy of Pam Renault – Poitier

A blanket of dark clouds covers the sky of that gloomy afternoon, yet an indefinable joy drags my thoughts, through those same alleys where, a few weeks before, an autumn sun had radiated over our steps.
The smell of wet leaves and grass, tickles the desire for a moment of intimacy in some bistro; the man winks amused as if he had read my mind.
“Shall we have a cup of tea? I know a very special little place not far from here, I’m sure you’ll love it.”
He holds me tightly against him, then ruffles my hair in an affectionate caress and, raising my coat collar, adds:
“I am mortified, I had ordered for you four days of sunshine! I will have to work so that you don’t get bored. I’m so glad you agreed to come back so soon, you can’t imagine my joy!”
His eyes contemplate my amused face, I feel his gaze pierce my boldness as in his voice I perceive an indefinable, tender but at the same time too rational bending. His face appears very pale, surrounded by long raven hair that with spite of every puff of wind descend to hide his eyes decorated with delicate and almost feminine eyelashes. His lips are dry; he moistens them with the tip of his tongue, gesture which brings a shiver down my spine.
The song of the birds perched on the almost bare branches, and then further on the screeching of the tires on the wet asphalt, brings us back to the present. He smiles and two dimples on the sides of the mouth give to that man’s expression a touch of childishness.
Along the avenue, the stalls selling caramel-covered apples or toasted almond brittle, remind me of the first time I visited Paris, about thirty years ago. Nothing has really changed. Only my mood has changed over time; but the young girl, at the time a little fearful and a bit shy, gave way to a woman who pursues dreams and reveries.
Mistletoe garlands and other decorative objects with winter smells and colours attract my attention. I stop looking at the elderly seller who smokes a cigar, sitting on an old and worn straw chair. Every wrinkle is a story; the basque lowered on the forehead, hides a lively intelligence ready to confront the harshness of life.
I could find myself anywhere, in any city in Europe, yet something is different from ranting sellers in a market in Rome or from the brusque shouting of shopkeepers in the squares of Hamburg. Here the faces take on a different expression: French is such a romantic language that it softens and appeases.
Looking up, in the direction of the gray slate that gradually dyes the vault of the sky, the dome of the Sacre Coeur appears illuminated and shines as if a ray of sunlight had crept into the dark tents of the coming night.
“Viens, je t’en prie… suive-moi, ont y est presque. Derrière la prochaine route, tu vas l’adorer, mon amour!”
The words whispered in my left ear, with that deep and so sensual voice of his, tighten like crystal threads around my heart. I let myself be dragged along semi-dark corners where the light from the street lamps fails to make a breach: this is the Rive Gauche, the Saint German des Près of the artists.
Entering the small atrium, I perceive the aroma of cinnamon and orange. It appears deserted: curiously amused I walk around; passing between the shelves filled with very old dusty volumes and certainly one more interesting than the other.

Oh yes! Joshua, in his most intimate, undeniably knows my every passion. For many months he studied me carefully reading all my writings, my every poem. Who could have thought of giving me this emotion by leading me for tea in a literary Café? Who would dare to rummage among the buds hidden in the fertile earth of my intellect, and do it in such a shamelessly delicate manner?
“No, I don’t ask you how you did it – I miss a breath while with one hand I pull his scarf towards my face – you have stripped me of every secret… but now you deserve a kiss!”
I feel reddened cheeks, with extreme gentleness I place my lips on top of his and remain motionless for a few seconds.
“Thank you. It is the most beautiful surprise you could make me. Je t’adore… merci infiniment!”
I follow him through a labyrinth of corridors then to the back, an old leather sofa crumpled by the wear of time, stands at the bottom of a large secluded room. Overflowing shelves of books are lost towards the dark ceiling, the light is tenuous and soft and next to the sofa a huge silver candelabrum releases golden flames.
A large bouquet of white chrysanthemums and royal lilies decorates a corner; the scent of flowers is so intense that it eliminates the smell of cinnamon and orange that I initially perceived when entering that place. For a moment I close my eyes as I recall the immense bouquet that had accompanied the body of my beloved father on his last journey.
I try to hold back the emotion that chokes my breath and I try to chase away the anguish. The man looks at me, surprised. I betray myself as water crystals fill my eyes and then overflow and descend along my already purple cheeks. With a polite gesture the man helps me to take off the cloak that he puts it on a chair: then he passes both thumbs on my cheeks holding my head in his cold snow-white hands.
Serious, with a voice that is now worried, asks me: “What is it? Did something bring you distant memories? I perceive it in the soul that you suffer, come, and let me wrap you in my arms, so you can let the anguish out. I’m here, my love, you can trust me. Tell me your visions: I would like to share your feelings even if I later may suffer too. I can accompany you along that abyss that sometimes divides beings. I’m here for you. I’ve been waiting for you for so long, for so many years.”
I don’t know how long I hang onto that rock that brings me shelter and comfort, the storm inside me subsides and I finally manage to return to the present.
“You feel better? How beautiful you are… like that, with shining eyes… and with this dress you remind me of a lady of the early nineteenth century.”
Then he still caresses my hair by passing his long fingers through it, I feel a slight tremor and feel a tightening in my heart. My God, but why this crazy devotion? Why did fate make it known to me? When in past lives did we share the same love and who were we? Everything repeats… as in the plot of a novel of mine, and here Thanatos releases visions and memories. But Joshua is here, as real as his strong arms, with his incredible tenderness, is not a dream but rather concreteness that drags me into the pure madness of not knowing who I really am and what I pursue. I feel so vulnerable, yet so human!
“Can I order tea? Then I want to read you something special. I’m sure you’ll like it.”
He bends down to kiss my forehead and then disappears behind an olive-coloured damask curtain with large black flowers in relief.
I am blurred in perceptions, a part of me feels tightrope while the other wishes to accept its condition and temporal reality, with its obligations and its constraints.
This strange place reminds me of something indefinable, the smell of old paper, printing ink and leather is mixed together and allow so many images to resurface in my memory.

I had always loved to spend hours and hours in bookstores, leafing through the books that attracted me the most or looking for a special gift to give to a friend.
When I was studying in the United States, I discovered that in Boston there were several bookstores where you could comfortably stay and read for hours: nobody bothered by asking if you needed something specific. Sometimes I stayed there for a whole afternoon and so I ended up making friends with the people who worked there. Even later, traveling across continents, I had kept the habit of visiting, in every city, its bookstores. I had also known wonderful ones in Great Britain, places where a ghostly silence reigned and the lights were always too dim and did not allow you to sink into long readings or there was always the risk of falling asleep, curled up in some armchair.
All in those places there was not the same atmosphere that was found in the squalid public libraries, where everything is arranged according to a precise scheme and everything is catalogued. Even the smell is not the same. But perhaps even this is just my feeling because I prefer the ancient, the antique, the strange, the particular.
I close my eyes again but this time the memories are pleasant and I feel transported back in a few decades.
When I open them again, I see before my eyes the figure dressed in black who looks at me with dreamy eyes: Joshua.
“I found the volume where I left it last week! Madame Favre, the owner of this bookstore, will bring us tea with almond and honey biscuits – then he smiles at me again showing those two delicious dimples on the sides of his face – they don’t have Cantucci with Vin Santo. I am mortified.”
In his hands, he holds a large book of black leather, bound and with gilt bands engraved in relief; strange doodles in shiny metal adorn the volume.
Intrigued, I observe the hands of man caressing the skin of the book with an indescribable delicacy. I mentally feel the touch and feel my stomach tighten in a strange grip.
“It is very old; it contains great mysteries that have remained hidden for centuries.”
Again he smiles and his eyes shine in the light of the candles, I feel a touch of fear and the strange sensation begins to dilate like amber crystals left in the intense light of Sun. I don’t break the magic of that moment by asking the question that burns in my mind, I’m sure it will be something special. That’s what he did .. and every time he wanted to surprise me, he always left me appalled.
His voice caresses and seduces me, leading me along a past filled with spells that become thinner like needles to finally penetrate my flesh. Every once in a while his eyes rise from the pages to stare at me, as if to point out the emphasis of what he is reading: a look full of mystery that touches me bringing my skin to feel disturbing sensations. His mouth whispers certain words, breathes and then for a fraction of a second damped in mid-air in the rickety candlestick light. Perhaps it is the beauty of this language that manages to weave emotions of infinite sensuality and sweetness, perhaps it is the pure passion that shines through every gesture of man, perhaps it is only the inescapable need of my Nature forced to seek its traces of Soul.
It is difficult to tell every imperceptible emotion that touches on the most profound intimacy. Wrapped by the caress of his voice, I slowly slide along those crystal threads that lead the Being to vibrate with a desire for belonging. My mind runs following the plot of the story, pausing at each pause to catch my breath while Joshua, delighted, realizes my state of mind.
“I knew you would love this text… it’s like it was written for you, by your nature, for your Research! I knew… I know… I have always known you… and I am immensely happy that you are here, with me, to share this magical seduction of words.”
“Joshua – I try to answer, but my voice is full of trepidation and again, with difficulty, I can hold back my tears – please, don’t interrupt the reading… go on, seduce my Soul like you are doing! Je t’adore… oui, s’il te plaît, continue à lire.”
He smiles at me but closes the book and lays it on the low table above which our tea has already cooled. He approached with a slow movement, at first I perceive his smell that reminds me of the woods of southern India, then it is his warmth that meets my hands and my face. In the background, the oriental melodies of Loreena McKennith fill my every sense: the breath is accelerated by the pulse of the heart that seems to want to burst in my chest.
Then Joshua’s hands take my shoulders, I can’t hold his gaze for a long time and then I close my eyes. With the lightness of a flap his hair touches my face as I perceive his lips on the neck; they are warm and humid, they touch the jugular vein and then gently grasp the skin of the neck.

Everything is transformed, while with my thoughts I run beyond that place of magic that smells of ink and ancient. There is no longer the small road, there are no longer crowded bistros of shouting people and cheerful laughter, and there is no longer a shadow of the screeching of cars along the boulevards of Saint German des Près.
I find myself embraced at Joshua in the central nave of Notre-Dame, and then along the ambulatory, while he tells me the story of that majestic temple of veneration built on the remains of a pagan one dedicated to Jupiter dating back to the 3rd century. The light that breaks on the apse windows projects its multicolored kaleidoscope, creating a dreamlike atmosphere. Joshua recalls its true story… as if only he knew the existence and the reason for its construction.
Then, in confiding that secret to me in that place of magic, he kissed me making me feel every molecule of my body as it had seldom happened to me.
In that beautiful Cathedral, in the middle of the Seine on the Île de la Cité, I would have left an indelible trace that, secretly, I still guard in my heart.

(c) Claudine Giovannoni

Notre dame

Un manto di oscure nuvole ricopre il cielo di quel pomeriggio uggioso, eppure un’indefinibile gioia trascina i miei pensieri, attraverso quelle stesse viuzze dove, qualche settimana prima, un sole autunnale aveva irradiato sopra i nostri passi.
L’odore delle foglie e dell’erba bagnate solletica il desiderio di un momento d’intimità in un qualche bistrot; l’uomo ammicca divertito quasi mi avesse letto nel pensiero.
“Andiamo a berci una tazza di tè? Conosco un posticino davvero speciale non molto distante da qui, sono sicuro che l’adorerai.”
Mi stringe a sé con più forza poi mi arruffa i capelli in una carezza affettuosa e, sollevandomi il bavero del capotto, aggiunge:
“Sono mortificato, avevo ordinato per te quattro giorni di sole! Dovrò impegnarmi affinché non ti annoi. Sono così felice che hai accettato di tornare così presto, non puoi immaginare la mia gioia!”
I suoi occhi contemplano il mio viso divertito, sento il suo sguardo trafiggere la mia baldanza mentre nella sua voce percepisco una flessione indefinibile, tenera, ma al contempo fin troppo razionale. Il suo viso appare pallidissimo, contornato dai lunghi capelli corvini che con dispetto a ogni sbuffo di vento scendono a nascondergli gli occhi decorati da ciglia delicate e quasi femminili. Le sue labbra sono secche, le inumidisce con la punta della lingua gesto questo, che mi porta un brivido lungo la schiena.
Il canto degli uccelli appollaiati sopra i rami quasi spogli, poi più in là lo stridere delle gomme sull’asfalto bagnato, ci riporta al presente. Lui sorride e due fossette ai lati della bocca danno a quell’espressione d’uomo un non so che di fanciullesco.
Lungo il viale, le bancarelle che vendono mele ricoperte di caramello oppure croccante di mandorle tostate, mi riportano alla memoria la prima volta che avevo visitato Parigi, una trentina d’anni or sono. Nulla è cambiato, in verità. Solo il mio stato d’animo è mutato nel tempo; ma la fanciulla d’allora, sbarazzina ed un po’ timida, ha lasciato il posto ad una donna che insegue sogni e chimere.
Le ghirlande di vischio e altri oggetti decorativi dagli odori e colori dell’inverno attirano la mia attenzione. Mi fermo guardando il venditore in là con gli anni che fuma un sigaro, seduto sopra una vecchia e logora sedia impagliata. Ogni sua ruga è una storia, il basco calato sulla fronte nasconde una viva intelligenza pronta a confrontarsi con l’asprezza della vita.
Potrei trovarmi ovunque, in qualsiasi città d’Europa, eppure qualcosa è diverso dallo sbraitare dei venditori in un mercato di Roma oppure dal vociare brusco dei negozianti sulle piazze di Amburgo. Qui i visi assumono un’espressione diversa nella parlata: il francese è una lingua così romantica che addolcisce e rabbonisce.
Alzando lo sguardo, in direzione del grigio ardesia che a poco a poco tinge la volta del cielo, la cupola del Sacre Coeur appare illuminata e brilla come se un raggio di sole si fosse insinuato tra le oscure tende della notte che sta per giungere.
“Viens, je t’en prie… suive-moi, ont y est presque. Derrière la prochaine route, tu vas l’adorer, mon amour!”
Le parole sussurrate nel mio orecchio sinistro, con quella sua voce profonda e così sensuale, si stringono come fili di cristallo attorno al mio cuore. Mi lascio trascinare lungo angoli semibui dove la luce dei lampioni non riesce a fare breccia: questa è la Rive Gauche, la Saint German des Près degli artisti.
Entrando nel piccolo atrio, percepisco l’aroma della cannella e arancio. Appare deserto: divertita curioso attorno, passando tra le scansie ricolme di vecchissimi volumi impolverati e certamente uno più interessante dell’altro.
Eh sì! Joshua, nel suo più intimo, innegabilmente conosce ogni mia passione. Per lunghi mesi mi ha studiata leggendo con attenzione ogni mio scritto, ogni mia lirica. Chi avrebbe potuto pensare di regalarmi quest’emozione conducendomi per un tè in un ritrovo letterario? Chi avrebbe osato frugare tra i germogli nascosti nella terra feconda del mio intelletto, e farlo in maniera così spudoratamente delicata?
“No, non ti chiedo come hai fatto – mi scappa un soffio mentre con una mano tiro la sua sciarpa verso il mio viso – mi hai spogliata di ogni segreto… ma ora ti meriti un bacio…”
Mi sento le gote arrossate, con estrema dolcezza poso le labbra sopra le sue e rimango immobile per qualche secondo.
“Grazie. E’ la sorpresa più bella che potevi farmi. Je t’adore… merci infiniment!”
Lo seguo attraverso un labirinto di corridoi poi sul retro, un vecchio divano in pelle sgualcita dall’usura del tempo, troneggia in fondo ad un amplio locale appartato. Scafali straripanti di libri si perdono verso il buio soffitto, la luce è tenue e morbida e vicino al divano un enorme candelabro d’argento sprigiona fiammelle dorate.

Un grosso mazzo di crisantemi bianchi e di gigli reali decora un angolo; il profumo dei fiori è così intenso da sopprimere l’odore della cannella e arancio che avevo inizialmente percepito entrando in quel luogo. Per un attimo chiudo gli occhi mentre ritorna alla mia memoria l’immenso bouquet che aveva accompagnato la salma del mio adorato padre nel suo ultimo viaggio.
Cerco di trattenere l’emozione che mi strozza il respiro e provo a scacciare il magone. L’uomo mi guarda, sorpreso. Mi tradisco mentre cristalli d’acqua mi riempiono gli occhi per poi traboccare e scendere lungo le guance già imporporate. Con un gesto garbato l’uomo mi aiuta a togliere il mantello che ripone sopra una sedia: poi mi passa entrambi i pollici sulle guance tenendo la mia testa tra le sue fredde mani candide come la neve.
Serio, con voce ora preoccupata, mi chiede: “Che c’è? Qualcosa ti ha riportato memorie lontane? Lo percepisco nell’anima che soffri, vieni, lascia che ti avvolga tra le mie braccia, così potrai sfogarti. Sono qui, amore mio, di me ti puoi fidare. Raccontami le tue visioni:
desidero condividere con te ogni tua sensazione anche se dopo soffrirò anch’io. Posso accompagnarti lungo quel baratro che a volte divide gli esseri. Sono qui per te. Ti ho attesa e cercata così a lungo, per così tanti anni.”
Non so quanto tempo resto aggrappata a quella roccia che mi porta riparo e conforto, la tempesta dentro di me si placa e finalmente riesco a ritornare al presente.
“Ti senti meglio? Come sei bella… così, con gli occhi lucidi… e con quest’abito mi ricordi una dama d’inizio ottocento.”
Poi ancora mi accarezza i capelli passandovi attraverso le lunghe dita, percepisco un lieve tremito e provo una stretta al cuore. Mio Dio, ma perché questa folle devozione? Perché il destino me lo ha fatto conoscere? Quando abbiamo nelle vite passate condiviso lo stesso amore e chi eravamo? Tutto si ripete… come nella trama di un mio romanzo, ed ecco che Thanatos rilascia visioni e memorie. Ma Joshua è qui, reale quanto le sue forti braccia, con la sua incredibile tenerezza, non è un sogno ma bensì concretezza che mi trascina nella pura follia del non sapere chi veramente sono e cosa perseguo. Mi sento così vulnerabile, eppure così donna!
“Posso ordinare del tè? Poi desidero leggerti qualcosa di speciale. Sono sicuro gradirai.”
Si china per baciarmi la fronte e poi scompare dietro una tenda di damasco color verde oliva con grandi fiori neri in rilievo.
Sono offuscata nelle percezioni, una parte di me si sente funambola mentre l’altra desidera accettare la sua condizione e realtà temporale, con i suoi obblighi e i suoi vincoli.
Questo strano luogo mi ricorda qualcosa d’indefinibile, l’odore della carta vetusta, dell’inchiostro di stampa e del cuoio si rimescola e permettono a tante immagini di riaffiorare nella mia memoria.
Avevo sempre adorato passare ore e ore nelle librerie, sfogliando i libri che più mi attiravano oppure cercando un regalo particolare da donare ad un amico.
Quando studiavo negli Stati Uniti, avevo scoperto che a Boston c’erano diverse librerie dove si poteva comodamente rimanere a leggere per ore: nessuno ti importunava chiedendoti se necessitassi qualcosa di specifico. A volte ci restavo per interi pomeriggi e così avevo finito per fare amicizia con le persone che vi lavoravano. Anche in seguito, viaggiando attraverso i continenti, avevo mantenuto l’abitudine di visitare, in ogni città, le sue librerie. Ne avevo conosciute di stupende anche in Gran Bretania, luoghi dove regnava un silenzio spettrale e le luci erano sempre troppo fioche e non ti permettevano di sprofondare in lunghe letture o c’era sempre il rischio di addormentarsi, accoccolata in una qualche poltrona.
Tutti in quei luoghi non c’era la stessa atmosfera che si trovava nelle squallide biblioteche pubbliche, dove ogni cosa è riordinata secondo uno schema preciso e tutto è catalogato. Persino l’odore non è lo stesso. Ma forse anche questa è solo una mia sensazione poiché prediligo l’antico, il vetusto, lo strano, il particolare.
Chiudo gli occhi nuovamente ma questa volta le memorie sono piacevoli e mi sento trasportata indietro nel tempo di qualche decennio.
Quando li riapro, vedo davanti al mio sguardo la figura vestita di nero che mi guarda con occhi sognanti: Joshua.
“Ho ritrovato il volume dove l’avevo lasciato la scorsa settimana! Madame Favre, la proprietaria di questo salotto, ci porterà il tè con dei biscotti di mandorle e miele – poi mi sorride mostrando nuovamente quelle due deliziose fossette ai lati del viso – non hanno i cantucci con il Vinsanto. Sono mortificato.”
Fra le mani tiene un grosso libro di pelle nera, rilegato e con fasce dorate incise in rilievo; strani ghirigori in metallo brillante ornano il volume.

Incuriosita, osservo le mani dell’uomo che accarezzano la pelle del libro con una delicatezza indescrivibile. Mentalmente ne percepisco il tocco e mi sento stringere lo stomaco in una strana morsa.
“E’ molto vecchio, racchiude grandi misteri che sono restati occultati nei secoli.” Nuovamente sorride e i suoi occhi brillano alla luce delle candele, provo una punta di timore e la stranissima sensazione inizia a dilatarsi come cristalli d’ambra lasciati alla luce intensa del sole. Non rompo la magia di quell’attimo ponendo la domanda che mi brucia nella mente, sono sicura che sarà qualcosa di speciale. Così è fatto lui… e ogni altra volta che ha voluto sorprendermi mi ha sempre lasciato sgomenta.
La sua voce mi accarezza e seduce conducendomi lungo un passato ricolmo d’incantesimi che si assottigliano come aghi per infine penetrare la mia carne. Ogni tanto i suoi occhi si sollevano dalle pagine per fissarmi, come volesse rilevare l’enfasi di ciò che sta leggendo: uno sguardo pieno di mistero che mi sfiora portando la mia pelle a provare conturbanti sensazioni. La sua bocca sussurra talune parole, respirate e poi per una frazione di secondo smorzate a mezz’aria nella traballante luce del candelabro. Forse è la bellezza di questa lingua che riesce a tessere emozioni di sensualità e dolcezza infinite, forse è la passione pura che traspare da ogni gesto dell’uomo, forse è unicamente il bisogno imprescindibile della mia Natura costretta a ricercare le sue tracce d’Anima.
E’ difficile poter raccontare ogni impercettibile emozione che sfiora la più profonda intimità. Avvolta dalla carezza della sua voce, scivolo lentamente lungo quei fili di cristallo che conducono l’Essere a vibrare con un desiderio d’appartenenza. La mia mente corre seguendo la trama della storia, soffermandosi a ogni pausa per riprendere fiato mentre Joshua, deliziato, si accorge del mio stato d’animo.
“Sapevo che avresti amato questo testo… è come se fosse stato scritto per te, per la tua natura, per la tua Ricerca! Sapevo… so… ti conosco da sempre… e sono immensamente felice che tu sia qui, con me, a condividere questa magica seduzione di parole.”
“Joshua – cerco di rispondere, ma la mia voce è carica di trepidazione e nuovamente, a fatica, riesco a trattenere il pianto – ti prego, non interrompere la lettura… continua, seduci la mia Anima come stai facendo! Je t’adore… oui, s’il te plaît, continue à lire.”
Mi sorride ma richiude il libro e lo posa sulla bassa tavola sopra la quale il nostro tè già si è raffreddato. Si avvicina con un movimento lento, dapprima percepisco il suo odore che mi ricorda i boschi dell’India del sud, poi è il suo calore che incontra le mie mani e il mio viso. In sottofondo le melodie orientaleggianti di Loreena McKennith riempiono ogni mio senso: il respiro è accelerato dalle pulsazioni del cuore che sembra voglia scoppiarmi nel petto.
Poi le mani di Joshua prendono le mie spalle, non riesco a sostenere a lungo il suo sguardo e quindi chiudo gli occhi. Con la leggerezza d’un battito d’ali i suoi capelli sfiorano i mio viso mentre percepisco le sue labbra sul collo; sono calde ed umide, mi sfiorano la vena giugulare per poi morbidamente afferrare la pelle della nuca.
Tutto si trasforma, mentre col pensiero corro oltre quel luogo di magia che profuma d’inchiostro e antico. Non c’è più la piccola strada, non esistono più i bistrots affollati di persone vocianti e di risa allegre, non vi è più ombra dello stridere delle auto lungo i boulevards di Saint German des Près.
Mi ritrovo abbracciata a Joshua nella navata centrale della Notre-Dame, poi lungo il deambulatorio, mentre lui mi racconta la storia di quel maestoso tempio di venerazione costruito sulle vestigia di un tempio pagano dedicato a Giove risalenti al III secolo. La luce che s’infrange sulle vetrate dell’abside, proietta il suo caleidoscopio multicolore creando un’atmosfera da sogno. Joshua rievoca la sua vera storia… come se solo lui conoscesse l’esistenza e la ragione della sua costruzione.
Poi, nel confidarmi quel segreto in quel luogo di magia, mi aveva baciato facendomi percepire ogni molecola del mio corpo come poche volte mi era accaduto.
In quella cattedrale, nel mezzo della Senna sull’île de la Cité, avrei lasciato una traccia indelebile che, segretamente, custodisco tutt’ora nel mio cuore.

(c) Claudine Giovannoni

FINDERORIÉN

Italian Text * Testo in italiano

In a place difficult to reach by land, an ascetic lived and probably still lives. He was no longer young, but the years had not yet marked his flesh with aches and pains that are typical of aging. Time seemed to stand still for him!

Many came from afar to ask for his advice or even to hear him tell his Thousand Stories. Sarabi Al-Surfa, this was the name of the Sage, he had searched the streets of the world for the secret of happiness. Evidently, somewhere he had also found it, since no one had ever seen him sad or angry, indeed the elderly ascetic was always smiling and for each visitor he had a special story in store that seemed tailor-made.

Some spoke of magic, others claimed that Sarabi Al-Surfa could read the minds; still others were saying that the good man was just a lunatic. Over the months, every time I listened to the stories of the people I accompanied during the flights to India, I was more and more curious and after returning home I spent hours and hours talking to my cats telling them how famous the old Sage who told the Thousand Stories had become.

Having travelled the world of Earth – Water and Air, I had heard of several oddities, but never as particular as the story of Sarabi Al-Surfa. This singular man had begun to interest me in a disturbing way: I wanted to meet him personally; I wanted to listen to some of his stories designed specifically for me. I was sure he could have given me a lot of important information to share with all our cats, since I was sure of one thing: they were the keepers of a huge secret!

A dozen domestic cats lived in our house and another dozen wild cats visited us regularly to receive food. The more I devoted myself to them, the more the belief that our cats were not there with us only by chance, they had chosen us as owners for a mysterious reason that I wanted to discover at any cost.

Several years have already passed since I finally decided to go and look for Sarabi Al-Surfa in his hermitage. I was still young, just married and I was flying around the world following the routes outlined by my job. I had asked for a couple of weeks of vacation, sure that it would be enough to set off on the arduous path that leads from Delhi to the immense Himalaya Mountains.

When I arrived at the airport in New Delhi, I looked for my Indian friend Govinda. I had immediately spotted her in the crowd, she wore a fiery red sari with edges embroidered with golden thread. She was shaking her hands in the air trying to attract my attention; pinned to the dress, clearly visible, was the identification badge of the ground staff. Delhi airport was quite large, so it was easy to get lost when the gaze was drawn to the many varieties of shouting people.

I met Govinda in 1988 during one of my first flights to India, immediately becoming friends and accomplices of many adventures. She worked for Air India, there in Delhi, as a ground-hostess. When I had explained to her my crazy idea of reaching Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, Govinda had darkened her face.

“But are you out of your mind? Don’t you know it is dangerous to venture up there? The border with Pakistan is close and that is a disputed territory between the two nations. They are always at war and every now and then, there are terrorist attacks”.

Govinda was a brave woman; I could almost say that she was a daredevil, so the reaction of hers had put me a little alarmed. I had explained to her that I would not stop in Srinagar but that I absolutely wanted to reach Leh. Her face had relaxed a little, and then she laughed:

“Ah, what are you going to look for in Leh? The Yeti? On the other hand, have you met the son of the Jammu Shri Karan Singh Maharajah on some flights?”

Evidently, Govinda believed that I was joking or that it was one of my usual quirks. However, I was very convinced and damned serious! I knew there was also a small airport, Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpocee Airport. From Srinagar, when weather conditions allowed, there was a flight every 3-4 days and therefore in just over half an hour you reached your destination. When I asked Govinda to give me some more detailed information about Sarabi Al-Surfa, my friend became serious:

“And for what reason do you want to venture to know the old Sage of the sacred Mountain? It could cost you your life… many have never returned and several who have returned have become… crazy.”

“But many visited him and he gave them a story. I only want one that allows me to understand the language of my cats; I wish to be able to share with them much more than what I can now! In addition, I want to know why they chose us as masters!”

I had replied in a voice full of conviction and determination. Govinda had stared into my eyes for a long time, a gaze as dark as moonless nights, when the clouds also cover the soft glow of the stars of the firmament.

“Maybe… maybe Sarabi Al-Surfa won’t want to give you the pleasure of seeing him. He is a very old man; perhaps he has already been dead for some time. Are your friend’s cats so important? You talk about they were humans, not animals.”

How could Govinda even doubt the deep affection that bound me to my felines? I replied in a resolute voice:

“My cats are a sort of Key… I have to find out which magical door they can open to me… for this the Old Wise Man will have to tell me MY Story!”

Shaking her head and gesturing in the air with her hands, Govinda had accompanied me to the boarding counters in the Domestic Flights terminal.

“Look, I’m going with you. In short, I accompany you! You don’t know how to speak Hindi, and even if you try to disguise yourself, you see a kilometer away that you are a westerner and I feel responsible for you.”

My Indian friend had said with a smile. Speaking with a colleague of hers, who occasionally peered at me with a very amused air, Govinda had managed to reserve two seats on the plane to Srinagar which would leave the following day. The connection from Srinagar to Leh would however have been after 3 days, so in Srinagar we should have spent two nights. Govinda had specified:

“My friend, the one who issued us the ticket, will be able to do my work shift. I have already done her many favors in the past and I gladly reciprocate them; but when we are in Leh, to the old sage, you will go alone. Too many stories have become legends, you see, I’m afraid that knowing my story then too, many things could change.”

“So be it, Govinda. Thank you for accompanying me… do not fear for me, there is something that I have not yet revealed to you, but as we walk along, I will tell you.”

Hard to think that she would believe my words… perhaps revealing my secret to her, she would change her mind and I should have gone to Srinagar alone! However, there was time, a long time…

In the afternoon, Govinda had accompanied me to the antiques district, the Thief’s Market, where I hoped to find a specific Object… to bring as a gift to the old Sage. I remembered seeing several of them, displayed on the rickety vendor’s stalls, during a previous trip to Delhi. Years ago, I had bought three similar in size, but completely different in colour and execution. I had kept the less flashy one for my husband and myself, and after inserting it on granite support, it was on display above the half-tailed piano.

Several times that Object had attracted the appalled gaze of friends who had visited us, while cats had quickly learned how to use it and it seemed that they were enjoying themselves. This strange and dark detail had convinced me that it was a magical artefact!

I had given away the other two: one to my parents and the other one to an elderly woman from my hometown who lived isolated, in a patrician house without running water and electricity. The woman had already seen some similar objects, almost everywhere in the world that she too had turned when her health still allowed. My dad had been fascinated by the accurate and precise workmanship on sandalwood with inlays of mother of pearl, lapis lazuli and ebony.

“It’s wonderful, my daughter” the whispered words still came back to me while with his big hands he stroked the object as if it was something of inestimable value, “all people should have on, to help remember… and not to forget.”

I had never been able to discover the real name of the Object because in each country and culture it was called differently, and as well as used for different purposes. My husband and I had decided to call him FINDERORIÉN. I felt, deep inside, that my father was right! Sarabi Al-Surfa would need to own one, if no one had already thought of giving him such a present. It was as if a little voice inside my ear was advising me to bring him a FINDERORIÉN in exchange for my story.

 “You are weird, you know? If I have not known you for so many years, I think I would not have listened to you. Moreover, are you sure that you will be able to find that thing… what did you say it is called? FINDERORIÉN? Never heard of it.”

Govinda was tugging at my arm, she was serious in the face and certainly also a little worried. She was always apprehensive when I shared with her my thoughts, she believed it was a sort of curse that is borne on us Westerners, that of having the mind always occupied by the tomorrow without ever being able to appreciate the instant, the here and now.

“Listen Govinda, my friend, you must not feel compelled to come with me to Leh. I appreciate your offer and generosity but at the end it is my Mission; you see, there are things in life that are predestined from conception and there is no use trying to ignore the existence of fate… or kismet… or predestination or all three things combined.”

Shaking her head slightly, my friend added:

“Maybe I don’t have so much faith in instinct, my dear; otherwise I fear that I would not be in Delhi for a long time! Maybe I should have left this city and gone to the Maldives as my brothers did. I simply would not want something bad to happen to you, the story of the hermit has put me on agitation. There has been a lot of talk about him, he is always talked about, and there are those who after knowing him are no longer the same person as before. The power of his stories is very great, they say, so great that he has the power to change the listener permanently! Are you sure, you want to change?”

That was a question, which had caught me off guard, I certainly did not expect Govinda to worry so much about me, nor did I imagine that she was aware of so many details about Sarabi Al-Surfa. However, more convinced than ever I had replied in a firm voice:

“Yes, the story that the Sage will tell me, as long as I accept it, will help me to communicate with my feline friends. No, please do not look at me with those eyes… I am serious, I do not have a fever and I am fine. I have already told you that my husband and I share the same passion for cats: 10 live with us and another ten visit us regularly to receive food. Just once Nebuchadnezzar and Amneris were touching our FINDERORIÉN with their paws, I had a strange vision: the object had become bigger transforming itself under my incredulous gaze. Later I had heard a powerful voice speak to the two cats…” I had a short pause to catch my breath, “but I did not understand the meaning of those words.”
Govinda was amazed, a couple of times had swallowed with difficulty and then stammered:
“Ah… so you had a vision? And did you hear the strange object… speak to your cats; evidently, the cats will have replied something you didn’t understand?”

I had been watching her in silence, and then I had looked around us to see if other people had followed our dialogue.

“Govinda, it is too long a strange story to tell you about it like this. I already showed you the photos of our cats the last time we were together in Jaipur. I am also convinced that the names of our cats are not random.”

Govinda smiled smugly:

“Yes, they are really special names, but even more I find the vision of FINDERORIÉN surprising. Maybe the mystery is contained in these strange objects!”

We had finally reached the end of a narrow, dusty and crowded lane. The heat had become unbearable, the sweat was sliding down my forehead while the orange linen kaftan was literally gluing on me. Suddenly, from a corner of the alley, a child rose from the ground and came to meet me: he held in his hands the most beautiful FINDERORIÉN I had ever seen!

“I kept it for you, ma’am!”

He said giving me a white smile of innocence and authenticity. The object shone between his tiny fingers, dirty with earth. In that moment, I understood: that this was the right contribution for the story that Sarabi Al-Sufa would tell me.

With trembling hands, I took over the object and then I looked for Govinda to show it to her, but when I wanted to pay the child, he was gone! I looked for him in the crowd, hoping to see the whiteness of his smile… I took a few steps around. Maybe he was intimidated and went to curl up in a corner. When Govinda finally joined me, she immediately noticed the object I was holding in my hands and, of course, she had read the dismay in my eyes.

“Holy God, where did you find it?”

I had no words to answer her, still I was trying to understand what was happening to me. With my eyes, I had looked again for the boy who seemed to have dematerialized; on the street, there was only the usual large multicolored crowd that shouted and gestured to passersby trying to attract their attention. However, there was not even the shadow of the boy. Yet somewhere he had certainly gone… I had felt a sort of panic, while I was holding the Object firmly in my sweaty and dusty hands.
Govinda looked at me with inquisitive eyes:

“What are you doing? You are not going to stay here for the rest of the day. I have been calling you for a while. Look, they all turned to look at us!”

In the meantime, I was smiling a little forcefully while I realised that two women were staring at me by pointing finger in my direction. A kind of respect shone from their eyes, mixed with disbelief. I had just smiled back but now those women dressed in blue and cardinal red saris came towards me with their hands outstretched.

“Blimey! Govinda, what do these good women want? Why do they keep pointing at me? Moreover, why are everyone else looking at us with startled faces?”

The girl had needed a few more seconds to realize, and then she had approached me with an abrupt and very rapid movement:

“Listen, better get away from here, they say they saw the Little One who gave you an object… they say it’s an auspicious Sign… they say you’re a lucky woman and they want to know who you are… Here in India, these things happen and it is not good to stop, come, let’s go quickly before it’s too late!”

Without even realizing it, we both were running, measuring the whole path strewn with stalls and various knick-knacks that led to the main road. I felt my heart in my throat and the initial panic sensation had turned into anguish!

Who was that boy? What had the women seen that escaped my attention? The questions continued to haunt me when, more or less comfortably sitting on a seat of the economy class of Air India, I was struggling to put together the details of the story of the day before.
Govinda, sitting next to me, slept soundly. She had spent the night awake looking out the window at first at the full moon and then at the rising sun. She had told me that she suffered from insomnia… I knew it was a lie, I had heard her whispering Mantras all night. I was wondering if what I was doing was right, involving a friend in an adventure perhaps full of dangers and risks. Then I thought about the times I had discussed philosophy with my father, when he had suggested that I follow my instinct.

“Inside each of us” he confided to me “there is an immortal soul. It is a kind of bridge with all previous lives, with every teaching that has been given to us over the course of countless lives. You must trust your instincts even if many times you are afraid of making mistakes. Always put love in your every thought, in your every action. If Love will guide your every breath, then your instinct will be fully awakened, and will as well allow you to see into the future and to do wonders. But don’t forget that every action must be virtuous and linked to love for every living being: nature, animals, and men.”
I had always listened to Dad’s teachings; I felt that they would take me far, very far!
When the pilot announced the landing 15 minutes later, Govinda had recently dozed off. It was going to be a long day!

Initially she had avoided asking any more questions or looking at me with those inquiring eyes. However, the girl had teased my memories:

“Here, look over there, those are the lakes… very similar to the ones you have in your small town, aren’t they?”

Indeed, that area in northern India was very similar to our small Switzerland. Thinking about the house, the cats, my husband, had increased the urgency and revived the real motivation for my presence in that remote place on the slopes of the Himalayas.

In my bag, I felt more and more the presence of the FINDERORIÉN, as if advancing north and to the eternal snow made the object vibrate in a pronounced way. Govinda had a nice surprise in store for me: instead of entering the city of Srinagar, the rickety little taxi with no suspension, took the road that skirted a lake. After about half an hour’s journey, from a height I saw the large lake below which mirrored the blue sky covered with huge white and plump clouds.

“Here we are. I thought you would spend two slightly different nights on a floating barge.”
Govinda watched me with half-closed eyes as if she wanted to go through me to read the unspoken thoughts.
“You will see how special it is, we could sail along the waterways and then in three days, we will return in time to take the flight to Leh. Therefore, you can say that you have experienced the emotions of Jammu and Kashmir!”

I was truly speechless, a little disconcerted that my friend initially so terrified of the idea of ​​going to that disputed region between India and Pakistan, could even think of a pleasure trip rather than barricade herself inside a hotel for scary tourists.

From our floating house, the great Dal Lake shone in the rays of the sun now at its zenith. The nature appeared lush and green, the air was fresh and crisp and in the distance, the crown of mountains overlooked the city of Srinagar as if in an embrace. There are no adequate words to describe those places, where Mother Nature concentrated suggestive wonders; then humans continued the work by inserting many temples that rose in height as if they wanted to reach out to Heaven in imitating the height of the mountains of Ladakh: the Himalaya chain.

The skipper, if I can afford to call him so, was not very inclined to the conversation. Apparently, he did not understand English, even if it seemed very strange to me because in general those who worked in contact with tourists knew a few words of courtesy. He said his name was Sabibar and he wore the usual turban typical of the followers of the Sikh religion, present in that area of northern India.

Sabibar prepared our meals with great care and attention to detail, on the tray resting on the stern of the boat, there were always flowers, pink bougainvillea and a beautiful yellow flower with an unpronounceable name. Having got used to spicy food again, I had started to appreciate the typical fragrances of Jammu by explicitly asking Sabibar for my vegetarian preferences, and the different ones he had cooked with paneer, were sublime! The man was very intrigued by our conversations because, more than once, I had caught him earesdropping from behind the panel that separated us from his skipper position.
The sensation had become very pronounced even during the second day on the boat, as we quietly slipped on the dark cobalt surface of the lake.

“Govinda, I have the impression that the skipper is a little too interested in our conversations. Did you choose him for this stay in Srinagar?”

The young woman had looked at me with her usual puzzled look.

“No. I turned to the Delhi travel agency, the one where we have also been on our trips to Jodhpur and Agra the past few years. However, why are you so full of doubts? Since we left, you have seen oddities everywhere… come on, try to relax a little. You have an imagination to envy! There is still a long way to go to get to Leh, we do not even know if your Sage will be there waiting for you when the plane arrives!”
Then Govinda laughed heartily, as if for her this whole story had taken on an adventure yellow character. For me it was very different. The impression that something was getting out of hand was becoming more and more pronounced, but I did not know whether to try to get a few words from Sabibar’s mouth who apparently knew how to use well only his ears to listen to our discussion, and his hands to cook.

On the third day, during breakfast with fruits, yoghurt and nan, Sabibar finally decided to let us hear the tone of his voice:

“Madam, I humble apologize, I wish to present my availability with pleasure. I understand that you are going to Leh, I understand that the foreign lady is looking for Sarabi Al-Surfa. I met old Sage many years ago when I lost my family. I can take her to him.”

Govinda had let drop the buttered piece of nan which had slipped from her hand ending up on her sari, leaving an evident grease stain. Then she looked at me without saying a word, evidently leaving me the responsibility to answer. I had observed the face of the man who was now smiling affably; all my doubts about him had vanished and now I found myself alone in front of a person who offered his help, I thought for some reason related to the disappearance of his family. However, I had waited a couple of minutes before replying to Sabibar, my gaze had first moved over the surface of the water, then along the shore that was slowly approaching, marking the imminent departure towards the airport for Leh. Wouldn’t there have been only this man in trouble? Govinda did not want to follow me in search of Sarabi Al Surfa… should I perhaps have trusted a perfect stranger?

“Why are you now offering us your help?”

The question had surely struck him in his pride since Sabibar had become a little annoyed; it is possible that he did not want to tell me too much about himself, but he had cut short stating:
“I owe a lot to old Sage, ma’am. This must be enough as an explanation… I do not want to receive compensation; my help is a gift since you too will bring a gift to Sarabi Al-Surfa. He awaits you, ma’am, to give you your story.”

I was more and more confused: yet on the boat with Govinda I had never mentioned the FINDERORIÉN. Furthermore, I had never separated from the object that had been carefully stored in the bag from which I did not detach even when I was sleeping. How could Sabibar know of its existence?

“I… should bring a gift to the old sage. Oh, yes? Moreover, as you know, I am curious to hear this part of story too!”

Evidently I had slightly altered, my voice was shrill, Govinda had politely put her hand in front of her mouth: she was laughing. Her eyes betrayed her hilarity as she replied in place of the Skipper:

“Ohh, but this is the land of mysteries, my friend! Do not forget that India is Magic and you do not know which are the powers that are amplified here, in harmony with the beauty of nature!”

Sabibar looked at me seriously, staring into my eyes and, without looking down, added:

“Lady, let your heart guide the Mind, as your father taught you.”

At that precise moment, everything stopped, I no longer felt the perception of the boat swinging on the water. I no longer felt the sparkling air that entered my body charging oxygen into the blood. I no longer saw the blue of the sky, with the circle of mountains that joined the cobalt of the water… every sense of my perception had eclipsed in the most complete lack of size. Dismayed, I observed Sabibar’s face, which gradually seemed to modify its molecular structure, taking on that of the face of the child I had seen in the streets of the Tief-market. A fraction of a second more, and I would have passed out if it hadn’t been Govinda’s readiness to call me back to reality:

“Come on, let’s prepare our things, we have to get off the ground in a while and you can decide if you want to take him with us.”

In the end, I had decided to take Sabibar with us. Listening to the language of my heart, something suggested to me that I would need his help very soon.

At Srinagar airport, thanks to Govinda, we also bought an Air India ticket for Sabibar. It was a flight of about half an hour, but which would have saved us more than 400 kilometers on roads not always feasible without engulfing. Moreover, I had collected several wild memories consumed in the Gilgit region of northern Pakistan! Those roads on the Roof of the World were not a Sunday walk, without forgetting that unfortunately I did not have a month vacation.

Sabibar had looked out the window throughout the flight; I had wondered several times if that was the first time the man had sat in an airplane! Nevertheless, he had appeared calm and confident; on the plane, there were chickens in iron wire cages and even a goat that kept wiggling. I had to hold back my usual hilarity in the face of such scenes: but this was another reality. A sort of parallel world where everything took on other meanings. To our left, the Zanskara mountain range stretched up to encircle these of Ladakh, enchanting our gaze with a sort of unreal apparition. Even though I am used seeing these helpless titans at the mercy of their destiny, from more than ten thousand meters above sea level, I was amazed every time by the beauty of our planet Earth. Here the forces of the wind and the sun appear extraordinary: as if, evolution had not yet completed in this corner of the earth.

Among the soft clouds like the foam on a shore, the Indus river and the valley where, further down, the members of the Brokpa tribe still live appeared. Light-skinned men with blue or green eyes; individuals whose roots descend from Alexander the Great’s Macedonian army, for centuries forgetting the glory of the past.

I knew that in those places below many Buddhist temples were inserted, like jewels set in green oases. I had seen representations of the temples of Likiri, Lamayuru, Ridzong, Archi, Thiksey and Himris. Vestiges that tell of flying monks with mysterious and extraordinary powers, of lakes and seas now dried up, of sea lions and myths of the Bonpo religion. They were the tantric and shamanic rites of Buddhists, which link the esoteric to the reality of our presence in this body.
Time had literally flown, while I was busy on one side spying on Sabibar who was sitting in the opposite row from mine and on the other admiring the view. Govinda had embroidered a sort of belt, which, she had revealed to me, she wanted to give as a vestment to her sister who would be married in 4 months.

The offer of our former skipper to act as a tourist guide to the mountains did not give me particular concerns, except for the phrase concerning my father who still distressed me. I was now sure that the presence of this man was not accidental; eventually he would reveal the mystery to me, the reason why he had so taken my pilgrimage to the mysterious valleys of the Himalayas in search of the old Sage.

Landed at Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpocee, everything had taken on another priority. Sabibar was watching me with a cloudy look, while from under the front seat I extracted my bag containing the FINDERORIÉN. At Srinagar airport, I noticed the deference shown by the airport employees towards Sabibar. On his ruby-colored turban, a large diadem depicting the Khanda, symbol of the Sikh religion, appeared out of the blue: two scimitars and a central dagger. Who was this man? As an experienced helmsman across the lakes and coves around Srinagar, had he turned into something fearsome and dangerous? What was his real purpose in wanting to accompany us?

Sometimes, I perceived with a certain annoyance his scrutinizing gaze; after all, I still couldn’t trust him completely, and why would I have to? In life, I always had had to fight for my ideals, argue my every thought and I had never received support from anyone in a disinterested way. I then concentrated on a story, of which I had heard a lot, about the monastery of Matho, the only convent belonging to the dark Sect of the Sakyas, monks-shamans who practiced occult rites and of which it was said that they could even fly. Maybe they, these Sakyas, could have given me some information about Sarabi Al-Surfa? It was said that these monks also knew how to predict the future! But Sabibar apparently also read in my thoughts, or had some other supernatural gift that at the moment I was unable to catalog.

“No, Madam. This is not how you will find the old Sage. You must follow your heart, the path is not easy, but the teaching you will receive is the goal that everyone is looking for during a lifetime! The Sakyas cannot help you.”

The man had apparently touched a weak point of mine since I immediately felt judged. I hated, above all else, to be examined by strangers. Govinda had read a certain annoyance in my eyes:

“Come on, let’s hear what Sabibar proposes us to do,” she had whispered in my ear. Then turning to the man she asked:

“But do you know this place? I mean, have you been to Leh and the surrounding areas before?”

The man most likely had little desire to speak and limited himself by adding:

“I know him. We will discuss when it will be time to do so.”

We had walked to the small Homestay, a sort of guesthouse, whose owners made some rooms available to tourists. They were traditional places where you could share the life of the inhabitants. I was cold and unfortunately, not even the thick sweatshirt protected me sufficiently. I regretted not having considered that in those valleys, during the night even if it was summer, the temperature could drop below zero. The evening had passed quickly, it had darkened soon but Sabibar had not thought it was the right moment to speak and therefore he had remained silent as a fish.

“I preferred him when he told his nonsense”, I confessed to Govinda after dinner.

“What on earth is he waiting before telling us where to go looking for the old Sage? Moreover, why all these mysteries?”

Evidently the man knew of the discomfort he had created, his eyes had become dark and sometimes it seemed to me that a light of evil shone there. After the tea I had revealed to my friend the intention to speak with the owner of the house, but in response she had only advised me not to look for trouble.

“Let the night bring you advice, my friend. I do not think you can do much; much less find Sarabi Al-Surfa like this on the spot. Patience is a virtue of the wise!”

I had a strange dream that night: an immense snow leopard had chased me along a frozen river. I had been able to take refuge in a Chorten covered with a thick gold foil inside which herbal incense burned. The smoke was thick and the aroma penetrating, then the great Leopard had managed to enter but it had not hurt me. The animal had only spoken to me and I had understood its language!
I had woken up with my heart pounding. Next to me, lying on a mattress slept Govinda. I knew it was an omen: the Leopard is a feline. All this was certainly connected to the reason why I was in Leh. I thought about my cats, only God knows how badly I missed them, as much as they missed me too!
I was no longer able to go back to sleep, so I decided to get up as soon as the light would allow me to walk without the risk of stumbling; there was no electric light in that house.
At half past four in the morning, I was on the wooden terrace watching the awakening nature. With a start, I realized that I was not alone. Sabibar smiled at me as he waved in the direction of a ripple in the mountain.

“It’s up there that we have to go. However, perhaps with a little luck the Sage will still come to you. He does not always take the form of a snow leopard!”

Dazed, I was left with my mouth open without being able to say a word. I thought it was because of the height, we were at 3,500 meters above sea level.

“No, it is not the lack of oxygen, Madam. I can really read your thoughts, as well as I have other faculties that may seem rather strange to you. You do not have to fear me, I reminded you to leave the task of guiding to your heart. Love never fails, even if many times it makes us suffer. You must also learn to use the FINDERORIÉN and for this, Sarabi Al-Surfa is waiting for you. He looked for you in the dream, but you was afraid despite the leopard being a feline… a little bigger than your cats, it’s true.”

He continued to observe me while with his hands he traced strange signs in the air. Later, still sitting on the terrace with a blanket on my knees, I had patiently waited for Govinda to wake up. Sabbiar had certainly strolled on his own, without adding any more details to our brief morning interview.
That strange individual intrigued me more and more: even our innkeeper was very respectful to him and to me and all those salaams and bows, had started to annoy. And what, if he was some important person undercover? Maybe he was of royal lineage. On the other hand, maybe he was an incognito Maharajah.
Nevertheless, deep in my heart I knew that I should not fear anything from him. Life had taught me that many times, we meet a person who is very close to us for a few days, another accompanies us for months, and some others share our worries and joys for years. However, when the reason for their presence ends and the teaching we were supposed to receive was given, that person can leave us.
A bit like the awareness that every living being dies one day, and then be reborn in another body and therefore continue the Path that should lead him to true Happiness and Freedom.
Sabibar was a sort of tool that allowed me to know and learn something new and important for me.
I had admired the sunrise, while the sky was tinged with peach and cherry blossoms colours; very few clouds stained the horizon to the west, perhaps heralding the arrival of a storm brought by winds from the south of the highest mountains. Many birds chirped from the early dawn, festive trills and warbling that revealed the arrival of the sun to the world.

My gaze had escaped several times in the direction indicated by Sabibar: Sarabi Al-Surfa lived up there.
The mountain appeared barren and with little vegetation of low bushes but I could not see anything alike the landscape of the dream of the previous night. In the dream, it was winter and the mountains were covered with snow that shone in the light of the full moon while the river was frozen and it was terribly cold.

Cradled by the whining of birds and the lullaby of people who were praying somewhere in the building, I must have dozed off for a while. I awoke with a start feeling the hand of the innkeeper who was shaking my shoulder slightly; there was a big smile on his face as he persistently repeated in English to follow him. Several people had already gathered at the back of the building, including a monk dressed in his wine red and yellow vestments. They spoke softly, indicating a passage by the stream that meandered like a crystal blade through the emerald of some fields. After a couple of minutes, Govinda also arrived with long black hair loose on her shoulders, who looked a little worried on her face.

“The owner told me there are traces of a large leopard! He is joyful because this has not happened for several decades; he says he called that monk you see below: he is a kind of expert. In the monastery on the easternmost mountains where he comes from, four days’ walk from here, the monks receive a visit of these beautiful endangered animals every day. In fact, it is very strange that there is one here in Leh; he managed to find the trace of the path that the animal has made. Somehow, it crossed the small river and immediately came in the direction of the building. The tracks end right under the window of the room where we slept!”

Govinda’s gaze had become inquisitive:

“You obviously don’t know anything about it? Moreover, tell me a little bit, how long have you been out here getting the morning fresh air? I also searched for Sabibar but there is no trace of him. His bed is intact; he certainly has not spent the night here.”

Now I had felt seized by the usual discomfort in the mouth of my stomach. What was I supposed to answer my friend? I decided to tell the truth, but without going into details, I took it aside by gently pulling her by the arm.

“Listen Govinda, do not fret, I think Sabibar was out at night… in fact, I saw him this morning on the terrace where you first found me. I woke up shortly after four o’clock, you slept soundly, but later I was unable to go back to sleep. I had a strange dream: I had a vision in which I met a snow leopard… it was a specimen of exceptional size and was there for me! I thought he wanted to attack me and so, in the dream, I ran away going to take refuge in a stupa like there are many here. However, the Leopard joined me and then spoke to me in an authoritative voice.”

I looked sideways at my friend, initially convinced that she might have an irritated or annoyed reaction, and then I continued whispering:

“Unfortunately, I don’t remember what the animal had said to me but I understood its language. I woke up, a little disoriented, and when it was clear enough to see where I was putting my feet, I went to the terrace. There I saw Sabibar, he seemed amused and he knew about my dream… as if, well, as if he too had been in the dream! One thing is now certain: I have to follow the footprints of the big cat, Govinda. Could you please ask the monk to show me where the tracks lead? Something tells me that, beyond the small river and then down on the valley floor among the pines, they will go up to that point of the mountain,” I indicated the valley marked a few hours earlier by Sabibar.
“There I will find Sarabi-Al-Surfa, the old sage.”

The host had shown himself a little worried at my request to follow in the footsteps of the Leopard, but he seemed amused, I do not know if it was fear mixed with hilarity.

“Ma’am! What do you want to ask the big cat? Do you know its language?”

I answered his question with a shrug, a little irreverent, but very clear:

“Already already… and here everyone who cares about me. I know cats very well; I have a habit of sleeping together and listening to all their gossip… believe me, there is not much difference between a cat of 5 or 6 kilograms and that big big cat that wanders around here!”

Evidently, I was bluffing, and I only became aware of my wit when Govinda translated my sentence to the innkeeper and the monk into Hindi. They both touched their heads, where there is the fountain and the monk smiled talking to Govinda who then translated:

“He says that perhaps in a previous life your Mind was in a feline body. On the other hand, that perhaps you lived here, in their monastery, where the monks speak to the leopards. He still says that this is perhaps only the beginning of a new story.”

Govinda had then tried to add more details, but the monk appeared cheerful and had already ventured along the path followed by the Leopard.

“He says that now he will check where he went, and then when he has traced the path, he will return to instruct you on what to do… even if, well, I do not think it is a good idea to go to the mountain alone. You have a fixation on this cat story; do not forget that that animal weighs more than you do! I would like to know where Sabibar ended up, not even our host saw he… it is macabre, but have you thought about the possibility that the Leopard ate him?”

I had felt a shiver down my spine, for a moment my heart had missed a thud, I felt a sensation of ice around the head and then down to the tip of my feet.

“No, I do not think so. The Leopard had no fierce appearances. The animal had caught up with me in the dream and Sabibar had known this too. Something else is escaping me, Govinda. I have the distinct feeling that if I follow the tracks of the leopard up there in that valley, I will discover much more than I intend to discover! Even if I just wanted to get to know Sarabi-Al-Surfa to ask him for a story in exchange for the FINDERORIÉN.”

After a couple of hours the monk had retraced his steps, had joined us on the terrace of the wooden and stone building. The sun shone high at the zenith, while a fresh breeze moved the purple flowers of the Leycesteria with extreme sweetness, which decorated the wall less exposed to the cold north winds. His face was always friendly and smiling, he showed me an object he had found on the ground, he said, halfway down the slope that led to the valley. I took it with the hand that trembled a little:

“It is the Khanda of Sabibar! The tiara that stared at his turban… Was there only this? I mean… well… wasn’t there anything else around?”

The monk waited for Govinda to add some other details in Hindi by spelling the words to make himself better understood. Then Govinda translated the monk’s answer:

“No, nothing else. He reports that you should know, monks live here who also know how to fly! They are members of a sect, but this is not their symbol. However, it is a diadem of great value!”
He turned it over in his hands showing me the back of the effigy depicting the two scimitars and the dagger; the back was a large faceted and very bright red stone.

“Damn!” said Govinda “looks like an egg-sized ruby!”

I looked more carefully at the tiara turning it between my fingers. There was something else: an engraving was visible representing none other than the FINDERORIÉN. The object I had received, as a gift, from the boy in the Thief’s Market in Delhi.

“It’s amazing, look,” I said, taking the object out of the bag “portrays precisely this FINDERORIÉN. What will it mean? Why behind Sabibar’s diadem?”

The monk had remained as petrified, observed the FINDERORIÉN and the Khanda that I held in my hands, then he had touched the top of his head again and had begun to recite a strange mantra. I did not recognize the words although the melody had a familiar twist. I looked sideways at the man, trying to sense what was happening. I did not want to interrupt his prayer because I was convinced it bode well for tomorrow’s adventure.

The following morning, after a hearty breakfast, Govinda reluctantly saw me leave. I had taken a minimal supply of food for the emergency and if I had to spend one night in the open air, the innkeeper had given me a sleeping bag. To protect me from the cold when the temperature would drop further, he had given me as well a heavy jacket of goose feathers. At that time of the year, it could happen that during the night the cold wind also brought some snowflakes.

The monk had walked quickly, making the tightrope walker along an invisible thread that allowed him to find flat pebbles above the surface of the water. Beyond the stream, which I too had crossed easily and fortunately without ever putting my foot in the wrong, I found myself walking on very green moss and covered with tiny white flowers. Large bushes of pink hydrangeas and thick tufts of blue poppy decorated the landscape here and there. Small cedars and pines imposed their presence reminding me of the Alps of my little Switzerland.

“Wait a minute, please!” I had shouted in a hoarse voice, “at this rate, I won’t reach the goal, if I don’t take a little breath.”

The good man, he had appeared to me as a reddish and yellow stain as he disappeared behind the bark of the pine grove. However, he had stopped a little further, sitting quietly waiting for me on a large boulder. At that height, I had difficulty breathing: the air contained little oxygen and you had to get used to taking things with greater peace of mind. Every movement seemed impossible to do, even just lifting one foot off the ground seemed like a difficult undertaking.

‘How much I would like to be more agile and fit! I hope to be able to continue alone, I bet that the monk will not be very inclined to the idea of ​​being a mountain guide among those cliffs and stony ground.’
Thoughts buzzed in my head without giving me respite; the visions of the snow leopard, ever clearer and more involving, returned to torture me. I was convinced that the animal was the key to the mystery; deep inside I imagined how soft his hair would be and I dreamed of stroking it. The thought of my cats, staying home with my husband, had stabbed my heart.

‘Damn how much I miss them! Who knows if everyone will sleep on our bed.’

I arrived a couple of meters from the monk when he got back on his feet:

“Well, let’s separate, Madam.”

“You thought!” the idea made me angry and I answered a little annoyed: “Ahh, and I thought that your generosity would urge you to accompany me to see the Wise!”

The monk smiled as his eyes got even smaller, he replied in very elementary English:

“I cannot. Already had my Story as a gift from Sarabi Al-Surfa, Madam. This is why I am now a monk. Before I had a family, I was a wool merchant and I had a good life. His story has shown the way to true happiness.”

I was left with my mouth ajar, confused and embarrassed. Suddenly I did not even want to know other details; curiosity had died out in my heart as a bucket of frozen water can put out a camping fire. I felt my head aching, even if I was convinced it was the lack of oxygen, I knew that my boldness was turning into worry… in reverence… maybe even in fear. What would the History of the Old Wise teach me? What, if I also wanted to change my life? At that point, of the journey, of that path in search of Truth, I could not go back. I was sure that at the end of the search I would be satisfied and happy!

“Okay, well, thank you then. It was kind of leading me this far, now I allow my heart to show me the way. I have done it many times in my life; it is not that difficult, I know. I just have to trust myself and use love!”

I turned around a couple of times, to check if the monk had stayed there perhaps thinking that at the first obstacle I could have ruined to the ground and maybe fractured my leg, but he had immediately retraced his steps and without even turning around. He was certain in his heart, having already reached his destination, his goal.

I had tried to intensify every bodily perception; now I felt more clearly the underlying ground on which I rested my feet, I carefully checked each small stone for its stability. About halfway from the valley, it was there waiting for me, a whitish and speckled spot stretched out on a spike of rock. Its long tail, as big as my arm, appeared darker towards the tip where the spots were concentric and black. A majestic specimen of Snow Leopard with a proud look, its ears pricked over his head showed interest in the human who was about to enter its kingdom.
I had perceived every muscle in the body tensing; the sense of smell had become more subtle while, almost without realizing it, my legs had assumed such agility as to allow me to jump easily from one rock to another. The presence of the big cat about ten meters away did not intimidate me. I tried to speak but the words remained unspoken thoughts, so I just thought.

‘Here I am. You called me and I ran, as agreed by fate… by destiny! What have you, O majestic Creature, to bring me as a message? You appeared to me in the dream and I followed you.’

I did not have to wait long to receive a nod from the big cat: he had risen on all fours, and with an agile leap, he had approached. I had stopped, respectfully. My gaze had landed in reverence; the animal had approached and with its muzzle in the air, smelled to understand who was in front of it. A faint and hoarse mew had confirmed his approval: he had come closer to being less than a meter away from my body. I then crouched down, holding my hands forward with my palms facing upwards in a sort of gesture of submission. The great snow leopard had come up to touch my hands then it had also crouched on his hind legs and was watching me. His yellow eyes with a slightly dilated pupil due to the intensity of the light, shone with a sweet and at the same time proud awareness.

‘Welcome foreigner, my name is Siramian. I have been waiting for you for a long time, your path has been perilous and difficult over the years, but it will be even more so in the future. I know that you are looking for your story, which can make you decide to change your life forever or… it can confirm what you will do in the awareness of the reason why you live. Follow me, please.’

Its words, nothing else, were thoughts expressed by my conscience; they had opened me to the Truth: I could already communicate in that mysterious language. It was the same language used by my cats, after all, I had always known it, and I had always used it! Only now, I was aware of it.
I had stretched my right hand up to touch the head of the big cat; he had turned his head slightly towards me, narrowing his eyes. Therefore, I gently stroked it down the neck and down the back, just as if I did with my cats. Then Siramian had continued to communicate in thought.

‘You must always trust what you do. Within every human being, there is a great potential, few realize it, very few find their FINDERORIÉN but only a negligible percentage listens to the words of the heart that should lead them to discover the reason for their life. The knowledge of countless existences is stored inside every human being, you have all discovered the Magic several times and you should be able to use it… This is what Sarabi Al-Surfa wants you to know, since your story is already written and he knows that you can follow your path in peace. Your cat friends, who are so similar and dear to me, are already helping you understand!”

I had carefully received Siramian’s revelations, staring him straight in the eye, trying to understand if its message concealed a new mystery.

‘I think I can trust what I do…’ I said mentally. ‘Will you take me to Sarabi Al-Surfa? I have a gift for him!’

Without adding anything else, the big cat had risen and retraced its steps; a couple of times he stopped to check if I could follow him without problems. The Snow Leopard chose a path that was easily accessible to me. Every now and then, he stopped to wait for me or to give me the opportunity to drink some tea from my bottle.

The sun had for some time gone beyond the zenith when we finally reached a clearing among the rocks with a few brushwood and some bergenia with pale flowers that gave the only touch of color. In the background against the blue sky, the Chorten that I had seen in my dream stood out. I had stopped, assailed by a strong doubt: did I really want to know my story? On the other hand, was it simply the curiosity to see the old Sage personally? Perhaps fear had taken hold of my thought, while these words still rang in my head like a threatening omen.

‘Well? Have we lost our determination? You do not have to fear, let Love guide your steps.’

The Leopard had walked towards the Chorten, covered with a thick solid gold foil, which shone in the sunset light. I realized that the night would soon come and that there was no time to return to the hostel. I had no choice. I had to follow Siramian.

Inside the Chorten, I found myself surrounded by a soft light emanating from several candles while an intense scent of incense had rekindled in me ancient memories. When the gaze had grown accustomed to the twilight, my eyes scanned the interior of that place of prayer. I was not immediately able to see the dark shape crouched in a corner: however, I sensed the eyes of the old Sage who were peering at me.

“Welcome, finally! I have been waiting for you for many moons.”

The voice was melodious and a little trembling; the great snow leopard had approached me and now I felt its breath on my right hand. Instinctively I stroked it on the head and it immediately began to purr.

“I am delighted to see that you made friends with Siramian, the big cat… but in the end it is only a little bigger than the many cats with which you share everyday life! The cat has been worshiped for over 5,000 years; the Egyptians believed it to be sacred and the goddess Bastet, protector of humanity, was depicted with a cat’s head. However, you already know this, don’t you? You came here for another reason… you want to hear your story!”

At the same time I had perceived a gust of cold wind coming from the opening behind me and the snow leopard had slightly gritted its teeth turning towards the entrance. Something or someone had penetrated inside: the presence had become noticeable, I sensed that it was coming in my direction.
“Do not worry, it is Time! I need Him to be able to tell you your story… but tell me, will you be willing to fulfil our desire?”

The old sage’s voice was serious and determined. The presence had become certain, I could hear the rustle of Time echoing in the semi darkness while the Snow Leopard had crouched at my side again and the old man had approached us. Sitting on a sort of stool, which I had not initially noticed; Sarabi Al-Surfa had stretched out his gaunt hands towards me.

“Well, now let us see what you brought me! I learned from Siramian that it is very beautiful, one of a kind! I am curious to see it and I thank you for this delicate thought!”

With a slightly trembling voice, I replied to the Sage, offering the gift:

“I think it has a great virtue, my husband and I called it FINDERORIÉN but I know for sure that it has many names. My dad, many years ago, told me that all people should have one: to remember… and not to forget. I know there is a symbolic meaning in this, since magic is linked to the object and to our cats. Is this perhaps the meaning of MY Story? Is there something I must always remember and do, and our cats will help me do it?”

Sarabi Al-Surfa had narrowed his eyes, stroked the object and started humming a lullaby. The air had become fresh and I sensed the presence of Time around me. Finally, the old Sage had begun to tell a long story, a very long story. My Story!

In a place difficult to reach by land, I had known an old sage and a large snow leopard, which changed my life.

Sarabi Al-Surfa had asked me to tell the world the story you are reading now, since he wished that more and more children could find their FINDERORIÉN and therefore finally bring peace to this beautiful Planet Earth. Using the eyes of the heart and letting yourself be guided by Love, you too can find your FINDERORIÉN and erase all traces of evil and pain from the world!

Later, when you are ready, you can go to the old Sage of the Mountain yourself: he is waiting for you!

Jordan * Giordania

jordan

The desire to escape, even if the years pass by quickly, is always extremely alive!
Fortunately, I have a very understanding husband (he knew my problem with the adventure even before I got married), so it gives me great pleasure to have him by my side even though sometimes the goals are particular.
Petra and her wonders had been on the waiting list for a long time. The political situation has always made me desist, even thinking about our children. Now that they are big and perfectly able to cope with life, with my husband I can “dare” a bit of pure adventure. I leave you with the images, then for a detailed story I send you to this page.

…oOo…

Il desiderio di evadere, seppure gli anni scorrono via velocemente, è sempre estremamente vivo!
Per fortuna ho un marito molto comprensivo (conosceva il mio problema legato all’avventura ancora prima di sposarmi), così mi fa estremo piacere poterlo avere al mio fianco anche se a volte le mete sono particolari.
Petra e le sue meraviglie erano sulla lista d’attesa da molto tempo. La situazione politica mi ha sempre fatto desistere, anche pensando ai figli. Ora che loro sono grandi e perfettamente in grado di destreggiarsi nella vita, con mio marito posso “osare” un po’ d’avventura allo stato puro.

Vi lascio con le immagini, poi per un racconto dettagliato vi mando a questa pagina.

 

 

La Salette e Laus tra le Alpi Francesi

2019

From May 30th to June 6th 2019 with my mother I made an exciting journey of a thousand kilometers, along the Italian and French Alps, to discover new spiritual emotions.
We spent the first night in Sant-Pierre at the Hotel Lo Fleyè, near Aosta in the homonymous valley. Arriving in the early afternoon, we took a ride in the town of Aosa, appreciating its beauty and ancient Roman and medieval monuments. Unfortunately we had not planned to spend more nights in the Valle d’Aosta, but certainly it would have been worth it, so it will be for another time!
The following day we continued our journey passing under the Mont Blanc to reach France, making a second stop in Lescheraines in the Wild Park of the Bauges Massif (B&B Eau Vive Base de Loisirs). In the middle of a protected area, we particularly appreciated the peaceful nature with woods and lakes, great for relaxing a little before resuming our journey to the south.
The following day we visited Chambéry, then arrived in the late afternoon in Les Côtes-de-Corps (B&B Au fil des Saisons), a town 10 km from our final destination: the Sanctuary of the Virgin of La Salette and the Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Laus.
In Les Cotes-de-Corps we stayed 3 nights with the aim of first spending an entire day at La Salette and another at Laus. The streets to reach both sites are quite tortuous and therefore the time cannot be quantified correctly because I prefer to travel at 50/60 km per hour and appreciate the beauty of the landscape.
Finally, we set off again for Alba in Piedmont (Cascina Baresane da Amabile) in the heart of the Langhe, where we spent the last two nights. This town is well known for its excellent culinary specialties: just mention truffles and wine. We visited the wine estate Cascina Principe by Federico Vacca in Neive; unfortunately, having to drive, I could not taste their wines but I trusted the advice of their winemaker. On the second day, we also made a stop in Asti to visit the historic center and literally “get lost” in its streets despite having GPS.

 

Dal 30 maggio al 6 giugno 2019 con mia mamma ho effettuato un viaggio emozionante di mille chilometri, lungo le Alpi Italiane e Francesi, alla riscoperta di nuove emozioni spirituali.
La prima notte l’abbiamo trascorsa a Sant-Pierre nell’Hotel Lo Fleyè, in prossimità di Aosta nell’omonima vallata. Arrivate nel primo pomeriggio, abbiamo fatto un giro nella cittadina di Aosa, apprezzando la sua bellezza ed antichi monumenti romani e medioevali. Purtroppo non avevamo programmato di passare più notti nella Valle d’Aosta, ma certamente ne sarebbe valsa la pena, sarà quindi per un’altra volta!
Il giorno seguente abbiamo continuato il nostro viaggio passando sotto il Monte Bianco per giungere in Francia, effettuando una seconda tappa a Lescheraines nel Parco selvatico del Massiccio del Bauges (B&B Eau Vive Base de Loisirs). Nel mezzo di una zona protetta, abbiamo particolarmente apprezzato la natura tranquilla con boschi e laghi, ottimo per rilassarsi un tantino prima di riprendere il nostro percorso verso sud.
Il giorno seguente abbiamo visitato Chambéry, per poi giungere nel tardo pomeriggio a Les Côtes-de-Corps (B&B Au fil des Saisons), località che dista 10 km dalla nostra destinazione finale: il Santuario della Vergine di La Salette e il Santuario della Madonna del Laus.
A Les Cotes-de-Corps abbiamo pernottato 3 notti con la finalità di prima passare una giornata intera a La Salette e un’altra a Laus. Le stradine per raggiungere entrambi i siti sono piuttosto tortuose e quindi il tempo non è quantificabile in modo corretto poiché io preferisco viaggiare a 50/60 km orari e apprezzare la bellezza del paesaggio.
Da ultimo siamo ripartire alla volta di Alba nel Piemonte (Cascina Baresane da Amabile) nel cuore delle Langhe, dove abbiamo trascorso due notti. Questa località è ben conosciuta per le sue ottime specialità culinarie: basti citare il tartufo ed il vino. Abbiano visitato la tenuta vinicola Cascina Principe di Federico Vacca a Neive; sfortunatamente, dovendo guidare, non ho purtroppo potuto assaggiare i loro vini ma mi sono fidata dei consigli della loro enologa. Il secondo giorno, abbiamo anche fatto una tappa ad Asti per visitare il centro storico e letteralmente “perderci” nelle sue stradine malgrado avessi il cellulare con il GPS.

Central America: Guatemala the land of volcanoes

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Volcán de Agua, Volcán de Fuego e Volcán Acatenango

 

The next day, in Antigua, I was delighted to see Tito, the writer friend whom I greatly appreciate for his huge literary talent, and we made the acquaintance of his wife Patricia. In Antigua, we were hosted in the country house of his friends Olivia and Noël and there we spent Saturday and Easter.
Among the foliage of the plants and shrubs of the park, hummingbirds and many other birds of various colors peeped out without being intimidated by our presence. Certainly in the Petén jungle in the north or in the region of Las Verapaces in the east, the multitude of birds would have allowed us to meet the Pavo Ocelado, the Cacho, the Chipe de Cabeza Rosada, the Tangar Cabanisi or even the wonderful Quetzal, which is the bird-symbol of Guatemala. Suffice it to say that in Guatemala there are 700 species of birds, of which 150 are endemic.

The ancient Mayan culture, following the conquest of the Spaniards was dominated by Catholicism which is very much felt in Guatemala, and perhaps more than in Italy or other nations of the old world. The Holy Week lasts for weeks (!), without considering the preparations that require months of planning. We were able to witness a couple of processions of heavy “carts” carried by men and women on their backs, one for each Saint and his/her relative Brotherhood, parading through the cobbled streets trampling beautiful “carpets” of colored sawdust wood and flowers. People, adults and children, work fervently on these “carpets” sometimes all night, and pure faith transpires at the end, in the truly unmissable result.

(see the full text and pictures at this link)

L’antica cultura Maya, a seguito della conquista degli spagnoli è stata sovrastata dal cattolicesimo che è molto sentito in Guatemala, e forse più che non in Italia o altre nazioni del vecchio continente. La Settimana Santa… dura settimane, senza considerare gli allestimenti che richidono mesei di preparativi. Abbiamo potuto assistere ad un paio di processioni di pesanti “carri” portati sulle spalle, uno per ogni Santo e la sua relativa Confraternita, sfilare nelle stradine acciottolate calpestando stupendi “tappeti” di segatura di legno colorato e fiori. La gente, adulti e bambini, lavora con fervore a queste vere o proprie opere d’arte a volte tutta una notte, e la fede pura traspare nel risultato finale davvero imperdibile.

Ma ad Antigua, vi è molto più da scoprire: è una cittadina dal centro coloniale fatto di palazzi massicci, chiese molto belle color canarino e dagli addobbi esterni di stucco bianco, ma anche di manufatti risalenti al XVI secolo in parte distrutti dai diversi sismi ed eruzioni vulcaniche che più volte hanno sconvolto le viscere della terra, e questa è la ragione per la quale i guatemaltechi decisero di trasferire la capitale del paese a Guatemala City. La Antigua è stata dichiarata patrimonio mondiale dall’UNESCO e tutt’ora vi sono in atto diversi lavori di restauro.

 

 

Tito Bassi scrittore svizzero-guatemalteco

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London a place to discover

See some more descriptions and pictures at this link

Actually, between 1985 and 1997 I had been hundred of times in London! When flying with the Airbus 310 (Swissair), the night’s stop in LHR were the great occasion to visit the city and attend to many musicals, or classical music concerts. I loved (and still love) London! It’s a cosmopolite city, full of interesting places to visit, without getting bored.

My daughter Sara Luna (for obvious reasons related to the Harry Potter saga) wished to see London, Station King Cross’s platform 9 3/4 and much more. The 2018 year-end holidays were the perfect opportunity! For me it was also the opportunity to meet Marianne… whom I had long wanted to meet in person. Unfortunately, Dina and her husband could not reach us because their lovely Sam was sick and had urgent surgery,  I was very sorry, but I’m sure there will be other occasions. England is a nation to be discovered… and you never have enough of it (Brexit apart)!!!

The last joke befor leaving:  LHR  Airport  – security control.
Did you know? It may seems a stupid joke but a muslim Security lady , with niqab and an awful makeup good for a disco drag-queen, considered the pots of marmelade to be “liquids”… (I buyied them from Fortnum&Mason, they were bearing a special seal).
Actually, maybe I’m wrong, but for me “liquid” means “fluid” and marmelade is “solid”.
It looks like that for the muslim officer is different, or maybe she only was frustrated and pissed off of her job and wanted to show her “woman’s-power”, the one which isn’t allowed in her culture.

…oOo…

In realtà, tra il 1985 e il 1997 ero stata centinaia di volte a Londra! Quando volavo con l’Airbus 310, il lay-over degli equipaggi Swissari a LHR era la grande occasione per visitare e vedere molti musical o concerti di musica classica. Ho amato (e amo ancora) Londra! È una città cosmopolita, piena di luoghi interessanti da vedere, senza mai annoiarsi.

Mia figlia Sara Luna (per ovvie ragioni legate alla saga di Harry Potter) desiderava vedere Londra, il binario 9 3/4 della Station King Cross e molto altro. Le vacanze di fine anno 2018 sono stata la perfetta occasione! Per me è stata anche l’opportunità di incontrare Marianna… che da tempo desideravo conoscere di persona. Purtroppo Dina e suo marito non hanno potuto raggiungeci poiché il loro Sam ha dovuto avere un’operazione d’urgenza, e questo mi è molto dispiaciuto, ma sono sicura che ci saranno altre occasioni. L’Inghilterra è una nazione tutta da scoprire… e non ne hai mai abbastanza (Brexit a parte)!!!

L’ultimo scherzo prima di partire:  Aeroporto LHR – controllo della sicurezza.
Lo sapevate? Può sembrare uno scherzo stupido, ma una mussulmana, impiegata della sicurezza, con niqab e un trucco orribile buono per una drag-queen, ha considerato i vasetti di marmellata come “liquidi”… (acquistati da Fortnum & Mason, perfettamente sigillati e impaccati).
In realtà, forse mi sbaglio, ma per me “liquido” significa “fluido” e la marmellata è “solida”.
Sembra che per l’ufficiale musulmana le notizioni di fisica sono diverse, o forse era solo frustrata e incazzata dal suo lavoro e voleva mostrare il suo “potere della donna”, quello che non le è permesso nella sua cultura.

 

 

Roma e Calabria

On the road to Calabria, in the most southerly part of Italy, we stayed two nights in Rome.
The Eternal City has always fascinated me and every occasion for a visit is always welcomed with joy (see more photos here). But long-standing friends also live in Rome, and with Nunzia I share the passion of writing and manual work.
Going south on the SS18, we took a break near the “Spiaggia dell’Arco Magno”, along the coast on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The final destination was Pizzo where we stayed for a week. From there, we visited Crotone on the Ionian Sea, at the extreme south Bova Marina and Tropea.
These areas of Italy I knew only from photographs, it was a pleasant surprise to discover very beautiful and little known places.
The beaches are still “clean”, perhaps more cared for tourism to take advantage of it. In Bova Marina I found Caterina, a dear friend I met in Catania about ten years ago. She has revealed to us the various problems related to local politics, which has a dramatic influence on the socio-cultural situation of Calabria. Not everything is as it appears … there is always a downside!

 

Sulla strada per la Calabria, nella parte più meridionale dell’Italia, ci siamo fermati due notti a Roma.
La Città Eterna mi ha da sempre affascinata ed ogni occasione per una visita è sempre accolta con gioia (qui vedi altre foto). Ma a roma vivono anche amici di lunga data, e con Nunzia condivido la passione della scrittura e dei lavori manuali.
Scendendo verso sud sulla SS18, abbiamo fatto una pausa in prossimità della “spiaggia dell’Arco Magno”, lungo la costa sul Mar Tirreno.
La destinazione finale era Pizzo dove abbiamo soggiornato per una settimana. Da lì, abbiamo visitato Crotone sul Mar Ionio, all’estremo sud Bova Marina e Tropea.
Queste zone d’Italia le conoscevo solo da fotografie: è stata una piacevole sorpresa scoprire luoghi molto belli e poco conosciuti.
Le spiagge sono ancora “pulite”, forse maggiormente curate affinché il turismo ne possa trarre vantaggio. A Bova Marina ho ritrovato Caterina, una cara amica conosciuta a Catania una decina d’anni or sono. Lei ci ha svelato le diverse problematiche legate alla politica locale, che influisce in modo drammatico sulla situazione socio-culturale della Calabria. Non tutto è come appare… c’è sempre un rovescio della medaglia!

On the Atlantic coast: Portugal * Portogallo

portogallo1

For a long time I had promised my mother to take her to Fátima, a Marian place of worship linked to the apparition in 1917 of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three young shepherds.

I had already been a couple of times in Portugal, several years ago. I had visited Lisbon and Porto during the rotations with Swissair, then in the company of my father we had visited Sintra, Fátima and Coimbra and then continued with the car up up to the extreme north on the border with Spain. I have vague memories, and the pictures of that time have faded. It was a period at the end of winter, early spring and it was cold because the Atlantic currents affected the temperature of the whole country. In 1996 I went back with my husband and we visited the city of Porto better.

In life we must seize the moment: and so I did.
I wanted to take mom to discover some special little corners, so that our journey would remain alive in her memory.
This year, having received more days of vacation for the jubilee, I decided to keep my promise. Last year I had brought her to Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo… and being able to stay with her in another place of profound religiousness, makes her happy!

The 8-day itinerary was as follows: Lisboa, Sesimbra, Cabo Espichel, Sintra, Ericeira, Fátima, Tomar, Monsanto, Castelo Branco, Castelo de Vide and back to Lisbon.

See more pictures * altre foto

Peace of mind and body in Kerala

More pictures here * ulteriori fotografie

 

I desperately needed rest, to recharge the batteries and to dedicate myself solely to my health and mind care.
With Nadia, a friend I’ve known for 40 years, I knew I could easily do this kind of experience.
Ayurveda is a complete science, thousands of years old, that I already had the opportunity to discover with my family few years ago.
Being able to do it alone, dedicating myself solely to physical and mental health, has become a necessity.
In this last period I have been confronted with deeply touching aspects, a sort of rejection towards the society in an advanced decay, it was the result. The insensitivity to animals, nature and everything connected to it, filled me with annoyance and pain. Moreover, the stress related to my activity and the impossibility of seeing possible future improvements, really put a strain on my immune system.
The need to “find myself” and to think only of myself and my priorities, allowed me to regain hope and confidence and to recharge the motivation to continue to fight for the animalist and naturalist causes… as well as to face the sad reality of the sector in which I deal in my professional activity. Nadia and I have visited an orphanage for girls, a little help is always precious for these young people without a family. I have also been to the extreme southern tip, Kanyakumari and we hiked on the Backwaters…

I shall cherish a vivid memory, full of fantastic flavors, scents and unforgettable therapy sessions that have really put me back into top form!

 

…oOo…

 

Avevo disperatamente bisogno di riposo, di ricaricare le batterie e di dedicarmi unicamente alla cura della salute e della mente.
Con Nadia, amica che conosco da 40 anni, sapevo di poter tranquillamente fare questo tipo d’esperienza.
L’ayurveda è una scienza completa, vecchia di migliaia d’anni, che già avevo avuto modo di sperimentare con la mia famiglia qualche anno or sono.
Poterlo fare da sola, dedicandomi unicamente alla salute fisica e mentale, è diventata una necessità.
In questo ultimo periodo sono stata confrontata con aspetti profondamente toccanti, una sorta di rigetto nei confronti della società in avanzato decadimento, è stato il risultato. L’insensibilità nei confronti degli animali, della natura e di ogni cosa ad essa collegata, mi ha colmata di fastidio e dolore. Inoltre, lo stress legato alla mia attività e all’impossibilità di vedere dei possibili miglioramenti futuri, mettono veramente a dura prova il mio sistema immunitario.
La necessità di “ritrovarmi” e di unicamente pensare a me ed alle mie priorità, mi ha permesso di riacquistare speranza e fiducia e di ricaricare la motivazione di continuare a lottare per le Cause animaliste e naturaliste… nonché affrontare la triste realtà del settore del quale mi occupo nell’attività professionale. Nadia ed io abbiamo visitato un orfanotrofio di ragazze, un piccolo aiuto è sempre prezioso per queste giovani senza famigia. Inoltre sono stata alla punta estrema sud, Kanyakumari e abbiamo fatto un’escursione sulle Backwaters…

Serberò un ricordo vivido, ricolmo di sapori fantastici, di profumi inebrianti e di sedute di terapia indimenticabili che mi hanno davvero rimessa in piena forma!

Kazakhstan: Astana and the northern territory

 

I never dreamed of reaching this nation between the East and the West, where the new capital Astana is located in the northern part of Kazakhstan which is the ninth country in the world by extension. The western provinces of Atyrau and Manystau overlook the Caspian Sea, most of the territory consists of steppe without trees, meadows and sandy deserted areas of incredible beauty. There are also large forest areas that include rock canyons, and then still high snowy mountains and crystal clear lakes. The northern province called Saryarka is part of the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
Kazakhstan is not (yet) in the list of popular tourist destinations, but it deserves to be visited even only for its culture, tradition and hospitality of the ethnic groups that live there.
Kazakhstan confine to the north borders with Russia for nearly 7,000 kilometers, to the south by the Caspian Sea, a few miles to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and the smallest corner to the east, with Mongolia. There are the Altai Mountains with the Belukha Mountain of 4506 meters high, which is the highest of the chain. This is also the area that attracts most mountains lover tourists.
Even though I had seen Astana’s photos, I never thought I was in the presence of a pseudo-metropolis just like many other western cities.
Exterminated steppes, sandy deserts and snow-capped mountains are confined far beyond the edge of the urban extension of an idle city, breathing in the unbridled rhythm of capitalism and the negative influence it has on civilizations and peoples.
Everything is different, as it was half a century or so ago: and there are silent witnesses  as the photographs and tales of those who have experienced this change on their own skin.
Communicating with natives is not easy: if you don’t speak Kazakh or Russian or one of their dialects, there is no way to comunicate because English is a non-widespread language. In restaurants or bars, you can talk to the staff, but only with regard to catering topics.
After the USSR’s dissolution in the 1990s and 1991s, the various states were born to the south of the former Great USSR, rich in culture and natural wealth, which is the case of Kazakhstan and its new capital Astana, contributed to the birth of a certain well-being which, in my opinion, is not distributed in an adequate and regualar manner.
It is a fact: poverty, destitution, lower social classes… are also here a reality that stings the soul.

I try to mentally immagine these places as they were decades ago, but it is not easy even if the archive images help the imagination. Perhaps I had a more precise and fulfilling idea,  traveling to Shchuchinsk and the Burabay district, between lakes and mountains that remember me of Switzerland. But I wish to come back with more time; to go far away from the cities, where you can dip youself in what is the true nature of these wild places!
But basically, I am here precisely because of Kazakhstan’s economic opening up to international partnerships. And a good example is Norman Foster, a world renowned British architect who is the creator of the curious “Palace of Peace and Reconciliation” (and many others), a structure that leaves the visitor with so many questions. Although it was not allowed because of a political meeting, thanks to the young Kamila (a security officer), we were able to visit the building. It is a certain emotion to think that in that circular room, suspended in the middle of the pyramid, every two years meet representatives of all religions of the world. But to make it even more emblematic of this place are the noises that relate the symbolism linked to our star in the heaven, and the veneration of the same: the Sun. In fact, we find the symbol of the pyramid linked to the Templars up to those of the Freemasonry… but I’ll stop here. You could write so much!
Indeed, contemplating architectural works is a kind of “nail-minded” considering that my husband is an architect and I sometimes follow him right in his professional itinerary.
I could bring an extreme comparison, which I have already learned and followed in its evolution, in the Arab Emirates and the city of Dubai.
Astana is really huge: extended urbanistically, built in height to “capture” with the imperiousness of its palaces, the visitor’s eye.
It is well-known that its economic well-being is mainly due to mining resources, including oil and gas (especially in the Caspian Sea area), uranium, zinc, silver, lead, chrome, copper, gold and many other less known. But to benefit, it is always the small part of the “Dominants”.
By now the yurts and caravans belong to the narrative of collective memory.
It is a fact that 21st century technology allows rapid urban development, where there are specific interests, always linked to the economic factor.
This kind of development is not found in some poor states of Africa or in certain rural regions of India. Urban development is where we find the pecuniary interest, which then creates a dependency situation, a sort of Ouroboros of the eternal return, the beginning after the end, which will lead to the destruction of many other values on which it should be able to refer to present and future humanity.

Somewhere I read this sentence that deeply impressed me, once again I’m wondering when the change could take place, and whether to reach it humanity must be a kind of Phoenix: to rise from its ashes.

“When the mob governs, man is ruled by ignorance; when the church governs, he is ruled by superstition; and when the state governs, he is ruled by fear. Before men can live together in harmony and understanding, ignorance must be transmuted into wisdom, superstition into an illuminated faith, and fear into love.“

 

…oOo…

 

Non mi sarei mai sognata di raggiungere questa nazione a cavallo tra l’Oriente e l’Occidente, dove la capitale Astana è situata nella parte settentrionale del Kazakhstan che è il nono paese al mondo per estensione. Le province occidentali di Atyrau e Manystau si affacciano sul Mar Caspio, la maggior parte del territorio è costituito da steppa priva di alberi con prati e aree sabbiose e deserti di incredibile bellezza. Vi sono poi grandi aree forestali che comprendono canyon di roccia, e poi ancora alte montagne innevate e laghi cristallini. La provincia settentrionale chiamata Saryarka rientra nella lista dei patrimoni mondiali dell’UNESCO.
Il Kazakhstan non è (apparentemente non ancora) nella lista delle ambite destinazioni turistiche, ma merita d’essere visitato anche solo per la sua cultura, la tradizione e l’accoglienza delle etnie che ci vivono.
Il Kazakhstan al nord confina con la Russia per quasi 7000 km, al sud col confine del Mar Caspio, per pochi chilometri con il Turkmenistan, l’Uzbekistan, il Kirgistan, la Cina e nel piccolo angolo più ad est, con la Mongolia. E lì si ergono i monti Altai con il Monte Belukha di 4506 metri d’altezza, che è il più alto della catena. Questa è anche l’area che attrae il maggiore numero di turisti amanti della montagna.
Anche se avevo visto delle foto di Astana, non avrei mai pensato di trovarmi al cospetto di una pseudo metropoli al pari di molte altre città occidentali.
Le sterminate steppe, i deserti sabbiosi e le montagne innevate sono confinate ben lontano dai margini dell’estensione urbana di una città che freme, respira al ritmo sfrenato del capitalismo e dell’influenza nefasta che questo ha su civiltà e popoli.
Tutto è diverso, da com’era mezzo secolo or sono: e ne sono testimoni silenti le fotografie e racconti di chi ha vissuto questo cambiamento sulla propria pelle.
Il comunicare con i nativi non è semplice: se non parli il kazaco il russo o uno dei loro dialetti, non c’è modo di conversare in quanto l’inglese è una lingua non molto diffusa. Nei ristoranti o bar, si riesce a parlare con il personale, ma solo per quanto concerne l’ambito.
Dopo la dissoluzione degli URSS negli anni 1990-91, sono nati i vari stati al sud della ex grande URSS, stati ricchi di cultura e di ricchezze naturali che, è il caso del Kazakhstan e della sua capitale Astana, hanno contribuito alla nascita di un certo benessere che, a mio avviso, non è però distribuito in modo adeguato e uniforme.
È un dato di fatto: povertà, indigenza, ceti sociali inferiori… sono anche qui una realtà che punge nell’animo.

Cerco di concepire mentalmente questi luoghi com’erano decenni or sono, ma non è semplice anche se le immagini d’archivio aiutano l’immaginazione. Forse un idea più precisa e appagante l’ho avuta nel viaggio verso Shchuchinsk e nel distretto di Burabay, tra laghi e montagne che ricordano la Svizzera. Ma desidero ritornarci con più tempo a disposizione; lontano dalle città, ci si può immergere in quella che è la vera natura di questi luoghi ancora selvaggi!

Ma in fondo sono qui proprio a causa dell’apertura economica del Kazakhstan verso collaborazioni internazionali. Un bel esempio è Norman Foster, architetto britannico di fama mondiale, il quale è l’artefice del curioso palazzo “Della Pace e della Riconciliazione” (e molti altri ancora), struttura che lascia il visitatore con tanti interrogativi.
Anche se non era permesso a causa di un meeting politico, grazie alla giovane Kamila (impiegata della sicurezza), abbiamo potuto visitare la struttura. È una certa emozione pensare che in quella sala circolare, sospesa nel mezzo della piramide, ogni due anni s’incontrano i rappresentanti di tutte le religioni del mondo. Ma a rendere ancora più significativo questo posto, sono i rumori che riferiscono del Simbolismo legato all’astro celeste e alla venerazioni dello stesso: il Sole. Troviamo in verità il simbolo della piramide legato ai Templari e a quelli della Massoneria… ma mi fermo qui. Si potrebbe scrivere tanto…
In verità, contemplare le opere architettoniche è una sorta di “chiodo mentale” considerando che mio marito è architetto e che io a volte lo seguo proprio nel suo itinerario professionale.
Potrei portare un paragone estremo, che ho già vito e seguito nella sua evoluzione, ad esempio negli Emirati Arabi e la città di Dubai.
Astana è davvero enorme: estesa urbanisticamente, costruita in altezza per “catturare” con l’imperiosità dei suoi palazzi, l’occhio del visitatore.
È risaputo che il suo benessere economico è principalmente dato dalle risorse minerarie, tra cui petrolio e gas (specialmente nella zona del Mar Caspio), uranio, zinco, argento, piombo, cromo, rame, oro e diverse altri meno conosciuti. Ma a beneficiarne, è sempre la piccola parte dei “Dominanti”.
Ormai le yurte e le carovane appartengono alla narrativa della memoria collettiva.
È un dato di fatto che la tecnologia del XXI secolo permette uno sviluppo urbanistico rapidissimo, laddove esistono degli interessi specifici, sempre legati al fattore economico.
Questo tipo di sviluppo non lo troviamo in taluni stati poverissimi dell’Africa o in certe regioni rurali dell’India. Lo sviluppo urbanistico lo troviamo dove c’è l’interesse pecuniario, che poi genera una situazione di dipendenza, una sorta di Ouroboros dell’eterno ritorno, dell’inizio dopo la fine, che porterà alla distruzione di molti altri valori sui quali dovrebbe poter fare riferimento l’umanità attuale e futura.

Da qualche parte avevo letto, questa frase che mi ha profondamente colpito, ancora una volta chiedendomi quando il cambiamento potrà avvenire, e se per raggiungerlo l’umanità dovrà essere una sorta di Fenice: risorgere dalle sue ceneri.

“Quando governa la folla, l’uomo è governato dall’ignoranza; quando governa la chiesa, è governato dalla superstizione; e quando è lo Stato a governare, è governato dalla paura. Prima che gli uomini possano vivere insieme in armonia e comprensione, l’ignoranza deve essere trasformata in saggezza, la superstizione in una fede illuminata e la paura nell’amore.”

What about some USA vacations?

USA 2017USA 2017 2USA 2017 3USA 2017 4

My girl and I were planning this trip since a couple years! Actually, I wanted to go back to these places but as well I desired to share the emotions with my daughter and Sara Luna wanted to share this with her school mate Melissa.
We flew with Swiss from Milano to Zurich and then took the direct flight to Los Angeles.
For the first 5 days, we stayed at Dave and Dede’s House in Burbank. I first met David 38 years ago… the emotion to see him after so long was quite great, but he didn’t change much apart from the color of the hair… They did took good care of us and David showed us around L.A.


We had as well the chance to go to the Hollywood Bowl where the group Pentatonix had a fabulous concert on Sunday, July 2nd. We also had the opportunity to meet people who, unfortunately, because of the short time available, we could not stay with them longer.

The next day, we spend Sara Luna’s 15th birthday at Disneyland… and that was really something special!
We left Anaheim and started our great tour around California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.
There is so much to say about the different places we visited, most of all I found California completely changed from what I remember the last time I was in L.A. on Swissair rotations or with my husband.
Driving around with a GPA and a really comfortable car isn’t a big deal. Sara Luna was my co-navigator and we managed to get through (quite) many inconveniences along the way… I guess you have to be open-minded!

Traveling around mainly on highways or country roads, we could find stalls with fresh fruits just collected… fantastic and yummy flavors! But well, when you’re on an adventurous trip, you all time may expect some sort of “strange” things happens. And when you’re terribly tired, you may stumble in your own feets… fortunately without serious consequences, but generate a lot of laughs.

After Santa Barbara and Monterey, where we did our first laundry, we spent one day and a half in San Francisco with the usual sightseeing and shopping (for the girls). The wheater, even if with a warm sun shining, didn’t allow us to bath in the Pacific Ocean. Actually, as far as I recall, even when I used to live in California I never did totally immerse myself into the ocean’s water: for my taste, it’s too cold!

We left Frisco, and we started our “National Parks Adventure”. Well, I admit that if you really are interested in doing something awesome, only for the Kings Canyon and Sequoia you need at least two weeks. It’s such a great place to stay, spend the nights in a cottage in the forest, for example, or taking a camping tent. Unfortunately not having made a previous reservation, there was no place available directly in the park, and we booked for the night outside, in a small town. We went through the Giant Sequoia Nat. Forest on the US180 to Hume Lake and then on US198 South… a breathtaking beauty! These plants are millenary… (fortunately now protected in this park area), impressive is the well-known Mark Twain Tree stump, a 1’350 year (some says is 1’700) old sequoia that was felled in 1891 after a team of two men spent 13 days sawing it. And so lovely, few times, despite the presence of too many humans, we had the joy to see some little animals.

All the way South on US65, we entered US178 and US395. We went all the way through Death Valley on US190 allowing us a couple stops in Furnace Creek (temperature of ~55° Celsius / ~130° Fahrenheit and 18% humidity) and Zabriskie Point. Definitely, this is not a place to camp. Before dipping ourselves into the frantic and chaotic life of Las Vegas, we visited the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area which is situated west of L.V.

After getting a singular example of the Las Vegas’ nightlife, which didn’t convince either one of us… the trip continued South in direction of Arizona and Route 66 with a lovely stop in Peach Springs where the girls had their most delicious hamburger (I had to be happy with the homemade french fries). Next stop: Flagstaff.

You can say and write a lot about the Grand Canyon, but each time you’re there you remain silent. Considering the great force of water, the strong winds which are modeling the earth… man can only consider the great gift we have been given! Our marvelous Planet Earth…

But the highlight of this trip was Monument Valley (the Navajo people say in their language: Yá’át’tééh – the spirit of Good). The 3 other times I visited this place in the past, I never could go down on the earth trail… this time, even if the car wasn’t a 4×4, I did it! And it was fabulous… and as well special was the night at the Kayenta Monument Valley Inn.

Next stop, and I regret having paid the entrance fees since I didn’t want to stay in a queue waiting to take a picture of Four Corners, the place where the states Arizona, Utah, New Messico and Colorado meets.
We followed the street US160 and US491 to Dove Creek for the night; next day we visi