The Labyrinth

Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone, for heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.
~ Joseph Campbell

Are You Calling Me White!?

I am a pasty white gringo. I have two shades: pale and strawberry. When traveling in the Middle East and Central America, you can see the sun shining off 'o me from a mile away. I stick out. I get asked all the time: "Are you American?"

I muster my best offended tone of voice, then ask in their language: "Are you callin' me white!?"

Americans have a bad reputation abroad... and we've earned it. My humorous approach to what could become a hostile situation has made me some of the best friends I've come across in this life. Racism and oppression come in many forms... and it is the traveler who has the opportunity to crack those close-minded ideals right back open. We meet so many people... often across many diverse lands... 'n that gives us far more opportunities than most peeps to challenge racist assumptions wherever we're traveling.

Hurly over on Thumbs Up Canada is doing just that. He was recently featured on The Martlet by Kristi Sipes, here in her article 'Opening spaces / Challenging "isms" one thumb at a time'. The article covers how he has turned his travels as a hitchhiker into a campaign to build awareness of racism and free speech.

Just yesterday, Hurly asked here on his blog for others to share their own stories of oppression. I know I've experienced racism and oppression... 'n many near me have experienced far worse. If you want to share, email Hurly at and send him your stories, art or poems. Share your voice.

At the same time, ask yourself: "How am I oppressing others?"

The answers I found inside myself to that question were startling... and it's a constant reminder to stand up for the rights of everyone. No matter how small or insignificant it may seem... it's EVERYTHING to someone else.

How to Skin a German Turkey

The Character of the Ages
"Portal" by Kantiki

Otterberg, Deutschland is a city built with rust, moss, shadow and stone. When the mortar begins to fail, they scrape off the rust and moss and layer on more stone and mortar. If the foundation weakens, they fill up the entire bottom level of the house and wall up the door (see above). Then the moss creeps back in... and then the rust. The moss is everywhere. It's not a question of what is and is not green, but what shade of green is it?

Before I found Otterberg, I thought cities with such ancient character were a thing of the past. But Otterberg has embraced its past. You can read more than a hundred years simply by staring at a wall in Otterberg. The family that took us in when we landed in Otterberg would go on walks with us... sometimes in the woods... other times in the city. What history was left out by the architecture was filled in while walking the streets in conversation. Christian -- the father of the family and a landscaper by trade -- truly knew the land... and his English put our German to shame. No, seriously... shame. Fortunately, their daughter Grace was glad to teach us more German. She used "Kim Possible" as a study tool.

It was one cold November day when the mother told us that the American base (just a few cities down) was going crazy over something. She asked us if there was a holiday or some other event. I looked at my two fellow travelers... they looked at me... then I saw the lights go on in their eyes even as I, myself, remembered. "What week is it?"

The mother (Tanya) said: "It's going to be December."

We laughed. It was Thanksgiving. We pooled our spare change with the spare change of our hosts and made a German thanksgiving. Saurkraut, wurst, potatoes and a lot of beer. With no turkey to be found in a hundred miles, we piled the wurst and potatoes into a mound that vaguely resembled a bird. Giving it a gobble for good laughs, we picked up our forks and skinned it alive. Our hosts were happy to have a surprise celebration... and to have our own cheerful spirits with them for it. To this day, it goes down as our best Thanksgiving ever.

The Life-Is-Travel Widget

Installing the "Life Is Travel" Widget
(estimated setup time < 3min)

Kicking off the first entry in the "Better Blogging" series. I want to help other travelers get the most out of their blogs (Facebook likes, organization, etc.). Of course, Other bloggers are free to peek in as well. The first is this widget. It auto-adjusts to fit into almost any sidebar or even a footer, then links to the Wayfaring Bloggers page. The same code that put the widget at the bottom of my sidebar put the widget at the end of this blog entry. Installing the widget is EASY!

Choose your blogging platform:
How to Install the Widget on Blogger
How to Install the Widget on Wordpress
How to Install the Widget on a Different Platform

How to Install the Widget on Blogger
1. Copy this code:

2. Log in to blogger, then go to the "Design" section.
3. Go to "Page Elements" (if you're not already there)
4. Above your sidebar, click "Add a Gadget"
5. Click the + next to the "HTML/JavaScript" gadget
6. Paste the code into the gadget's "Content" section
7. Click the "Save" button in the gadget window
8. Move the gadget by dragging it where you want in the sidebar
9. Click the "Save" button in the design window

How to Install the Widget on Wordpress
1. Copy this code:

2. Log in to Wordpress and go to the Dashboard
3. Under "Appearance", click on "Widgets"
4. Drag a new "Text" widget to where you want it in the sidebar
5. Paste the code into the area below the title area
6. Click the "Save" button

How to Install the Widget on a Different Platform
1. Copy this code:

2. Create a new html-enabled item for your sidebar
3. Paste this code into your new object and save it
4. If you need assistance, contact me.

If you have any troubles with the widget, or would like to see steps for a different platform on this page, then contact me. Same goes if you just have any suggestions or other comments. Same goes if you'd like to see something specific in the "Better Blogging" series. I've found myself landlocked and wintering in Austin, Texas at the moment... so I actually have a bit 'o time on my hands to play around with the Internet. What can I do to make your own blogging experience better?

NOTE: For any code-junkies out there: yes, this widget is image-free and is HTML5 compatible. It uses CSS styles inside HTML blocks, using JavaScript to underline/de-underline the links. The triple usage of "travel" also makes it great for SEO on any travel blog. We came to drop bombs!

With a Hatchet and a Cigarette

New Mexican Brave
"New Mexican Brave" by Kantiki
[here on GoogleMaps]
[non-mod on Panoramio]

Sadly, I didn't survive my first meeting with the native tribes of America. Shortly after pulling out my trusty soul-stealer, the warrior (above) reared back, knocked an arrow and introduced a new opening into my chest. You know... so that I could breath better. Good peep! Now... that's not what really happened... but it's how I like to remember it.

For those who don't know, Santa Fe is one of the richest cultural hubs in all the South-West. They have so many art galleries and museums that they've set aside an entire hill for even more museums. This is one of two towering statues at the very top of that hill. A single day spent on Museum Hill isn't enough to take in all the tribal folk art, native legends and rich heritage. But... in that same day... one can wander down from Museum Hill to the capitol and read the names of every tribe that once was... once lived and made this culture... and are now extinct.

No native blood runs in my veins... but I've been taken in by two different Apache tribes, given shelter by the Navajo and shared smoke with the Taos Pueblo tribe. I've helped them set up when the world's tribes gather in Santa Fe each August and I've been enraptured by their music. The names of those tribes that've been marked off the face of the planet as "extinct" strike in a way that stings. But the wars continue... don't they? And this is the world we're choosing.

One day, someone's gonna come gunnin' for this world...
...with a hatchet and cigarette.

The free society

This is an incredibly beautiful photo with no small touch of surrealism. As this site will become at least partially commercial, I've removed this piece of art from the site. Don't miss a chance to check out the original [Here on deviantART].