Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Next Life

If reincarnation is a real thing, then in my next life I want to be some sort of raptor. Maybe an eagle, a falcon, a hawk, it really doesn't matter too much to me as long as I can soar, swoop, dive, glide, and ride those endless thermals from one mountain ridge to the next. Those who know me well, know that I spend a lot of time in the mountains, usually in areas where there are cliffs. And in those areas I get to see the antics of these mountain aviators at work. I can't begin to tell you how many times in many different places I've been fascinated by what I've seen. There was the one time when I was in Linville Gorge above the Portabella Cave watching Peregrine Falcons dog fight in the sky right in front of me. There playfull game of aerial wrestling was one in which they would go from flying horizontally to dive bombing nearly a hundred feet in mere seconds. And boy did it make a noise. You could hear the birds' wings cutting through air from clear across the canyon. Then there was the time when I was hiking from Tenaya Lake in Tuolomne Meadows to Half Dome and saw right in front of my eyes some sort of raptor swoop in and in mid air grab another smaller baby bird and take it for dinner. It was amazing to say the least. Although I'm a believer that the human species is by far the most advanced species on the planet, I do recognize that we have serious limitations when compared with other species. The ability to fly being the one that I most envy. Just think about it; living in the mountains, flying from one craggy perch to the next, playing by running thermals through the air. Scoping things from above at all times must give one quite a unique perspective on things. That is one thing that I've always loved about climbing. The ability to get into places in which I have a unique view that I would never else be able to attain is one of the raddest things about climbing. Raptors always have that position. Humans have tried to replicate flight in many ways. Skydiving, Paragliding, Hangliding, basejumping, birdmaning, even slacklining are all attempts to tap into the sensation of being a bird. But having skydived and slacklined I can say that at least these two fail miserably. So if God's a granter of wishes and a man of logic he will reincarnate me in raptor form placing me somewhere in a mountain range with abundant rock and rock climbers in which I can "perform" my art and show the future generations of climbers what they are trying to replicate in their sport. Here's a great video of Europeans "birdmaning" (the closest thing to being a raptor for humans).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kam per te Kosovo!!

Kam per te Kosovo. That means I'm going to Kosovo in Albanian. I just signed a 2-year contract to teach at the American School of Kosovo. I'll be teaching high school History as well as creating an outdoor adventure program for the school. Needless to say I'm psyched. I've always dreamed of living abroad and now that dream is going to be reality. Not only will I be heading to Kosovo, but my girlfriend, Tracy, will be teaching there as well. My life is gonna change dramatically in the next 6 months. I'll have to admit I'm a bit apprehensive of all these changes, but mostly, I'm just really excited about the adventure that is front of me. I'll be living in the capital city of Prishtina. Prishtina is an up an coming university town with a little over half a million people living there. The crazy thing is that roughly 90% of their population is 25 and under. Kosovo is a very diverse place drawing elements of Eastern Europe, the Meditterranean, Islam, and of course the Balkans. From what I've read it sounds like a very beautiful country, very rugged with lots of mountains and forests, with fairly poor infrastructure save a few bigger cities. I'm picturing it as a bit Wild, Wild, West, a bit Borat, and a bit Eastern European Suave. One of the great things about this opportunity is all the travelling we will be able to do. It sounds like I can be in any number of countries in a few hours. Kosovo is bordered by Albania, Serbia, and Montenegro. From what I researched so far, Albania and Montenegro sound like hidden gems in Europe. Matter of fact, the entire Balkans sound amazing. Amazing beaches and coastlines, deep water soloing on Ceuse-like limestone, huge rugged ski resorts without the heafty prices of Chamonix valley, Old World architecture and charm that is truly still Old World in nature, and many National Parks and World Heritage Sites.