Sunday, July 25, 2010

TERRA COTTA WARRIORS

I have a bucket list of places I would love to see, but likely never will this lifetime.
The Great Wall of China for one. Imagine walking in the same footsteps as people of so long ago.

I enjoy armchair traveling though. I read, late into the night, the soft light falling on the page, as I trek through Burma with a woman seeking her lost lover; or walk, footfall by footfall through the Himalayas, seeking a glimpse of the snow leopard. (Best book ever: The Snow Leopard by Peter Mathiessen!)


Machu Picchu.


courtesy of Wickipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Terra Cotta Warriors.

First on my wish list is Africa, of course, which I have loved and dreamed about all my life. My friend Lynette topped even this dream, when she went to Africa, by floating in a BALLOON across the Serengeti at DAWN. I did not even know dreams could be that big, and be fulfilled.
On Thursday I met a man who has been to Africa, and other exotic places, many times, in his work with the missions, building dwellings and wells for some of the world's most impoverished.

"That is what I should have done with my life," I told him.

He replied, "You're still alive."

Yes, I am.

I live in such a beautiful area that really I have little interest in exotic "vacations". Tofino, an hour and a half away, has everything I love and need. But there are a few places I would like to see :

I wish I was strong enough physically to walk the Camino. I traveled there with Shirley McLean, slept with her on concrete slabs in stone pilgrimages, leaned on her walking stick the whole way. It was glorious!

Dharamsala because the Dalai Lama is there. A dear Buddhist friend of mine was walking by a travel agency some years back and saw a poster of Dharamsala. Immediately she knew that she had to go there. She bought her ticket on the spot and spent six months in a monastery there.
I first learned about the Terra Cotta warriors, reading Annie Dillard's For the Time Being. She wrote about going to see them herself, life-sized clay figures of hundreds of soldiers, carriages and horses, emerging from a partially excavated archeological site in China. They were carved and placed there to guard the tomb of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang around 210 B.C., to protect him in death, as an alternative to burying his live soldiers and their horses, who had protected him in life. (Likely a good era to be a pacifist!) They estimate there are 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots and 520 horses still buried.

I can only imagine what it must be like to see them. Many trenches have so far been dug, and a great many of the soldiers have been excavated and stand in formation, row upon row. Annie wrote about entering what looked like an empty, uninteresting antechamber, then catching her breath in wonder as she stepped through a doorway to see men emerging from the clay - here an arm, there a leg or helmet, and some who seemed to be swimming upward through the soil, still partially entombed in clay.

There are many things on my wish list of things to see: African lions lying amber in the setting sun, and elephants, trumpeting gently in the morning mist; basically EVERYTHING in Africa!
(Thank heaven for films! I Dreamed of Africa is an all-time fave. True story.)

I would like to travel one more time along the Oregon coast down to northern California. Preferably when the Monarch butterflies are swarming the highway in the thousands during their migration.

The Queen Charlottes, far enough up the West Coast and in a severe enough climate that what has happened to Tofino has not occurred there yet. Beauty times a thousand. I would be living there if it was not so far away from my family.
Oh, and a trip by train across the Denali wild life refuge in Alaska. May as well take one through the Rocky Mountains again, too, while I'm at it. (Dream BIG!)

And those Terra Cotta warriors, swimming through the packed soil, to live above the ground once again.

9 comments:

  1. Dear Armchair traveler, do look up Mohenjo Daro and Nalanda in Wikipedia!

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  2. Oh wow! Machu Picchu is Amazing! I'm going to see some places, I'd rather that than anything. Not only is the earth an amazingly beautiful place (that we should all be familiar with) but it's full of interesting people, and i want to meet some! I love that response: "you're still alive". I'm going to remember that and keep remembering that. Nice post! xx

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  3. Lovely post, Sherry...great choices all of them, and I love your thoughtful commentary! If you and I were healthier, we could sign on to Habitat For Humanity...I can see us building a little, brick house in Kenya for a family that's never had one! I don't know that we'd be an asset in our current state, however...LOL.

    Keep dreaming...

    Lynette

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  4. I did look up Mohenjo Daro and Nalanda, which I had not heard of before. How fascinating, and amazing.Imagine an ancient population estimated at five million at Mohenjo Daro in 2600 B.C.! And the Buddha staying at Nalanda, and giving out alms during the famine. Thanks so much for broadening my horizons!

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  5. Yes,the Indus Valley Civilization as we know it now had brick mansions and covered drains that far back!

    Thanks for looking it up!

    And the pictures are that of Thane,a Mumbai suburb where I live, not Calcutta!

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  6. An amazingly advanced society. Wonder what happened to humans since then? Greed, I think. Sorry about confusing your location. I hear that Mumbai is very beautiful. Hey! I'll look it up!!:)

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  7. I love your journey! I want to go to Australa, Italy, Paris, Spain and Africa, and see more of the country I live in~

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  8. Oooooh, all good places. My sister hopes to go to Italy in 2012 - to Cinque Terra which looks FABULOUS, quaint villages along the sea and you walk from one to the next. Cool..........My daughter would love to see Paris and I think Spain would be great. You might enjoy reading The Hacienda by Lisa something or other.......true story of how she married someone who owned a plantation in Spain and what her life was like when she got there.......I have it but have so many books I cant put my finger on it just now.......thanks for stopping by:)

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  9. Hey! Let me tell you something I have noticed, its how the Spanish people so resemble Indians you know, including the midnoon siesta!

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Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!