Yesterday, December 17th, marked my 6 month anniversary of being on the road. In celebration I created a small film encompassing my journey between Murrieta, CA and Omisalj, Hrvatska. Looking back, I reflect on a series of ups and downs, mostly attributed to the illness and bad weather. However the hardest days were not spent climbing steep mountains (Norway, Slovakia and the road to Fuzine, Croatia) or digging holes in the middle of the night for waste (Poland), but rather being overcome with sadness and uncertainty when I said goodbye to my Mother and family at the start of the journey in California. I have since felt that family can exist outside of the general term, and have found my way into the hearts of many strangers. The theme of this trip was so easily verbalized by a Brazilian I met in Alaska last year, “the hardest part about traveling is leaving”.
Teaching Ashtanga yoga to a class of Croatians was a bit like of what I expected. Many of the students had never done a sun salute or even a downward dog before, and I took it upon me to give as much instruction on each pose as possible. After asking the class if English was understood, (I should have given a written test), I proceeded with some basic Kundalini breathing exercises and deep stretches. All went according to plan until I the sun salutations.Trying to advise the class on proper alignment in down dog and cobra, I instructed the class to watch as I demonstrated each pose, however instead of observing, everyone just followed my movements and got into each pose. The minute I stopped doing the sun salutes and tried to work with individual students everyone in the class would stop and stare at me. When I tried to teach the class what not to do in a pose and demonstrated the “wrong” way, they would all follow along and do the pose the “wrong” way. The mirror effect! I should be teaching dance, not yoga! Crank up the Gloria Estefan! I thought to myself, “if the class is so good at following along… I should introduce a few arm balances”, a few shrieks and gasps later I learned this was a bad idea. A lady in front said that her doctor advised her against balancing poses, hmm ok, but the other poses are alright? A few other students actually thought I had a pair of anti gravity yoga shorts on, and because of this futuristic technology I was able to lift into the arm balances. All in all class went well, but I received many complaints about difficulty.
I have recently developed a fascination with theology, especially early Christianity (pre-Constantine). My excitement is focused mostly on the Lost Gospels (the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt) and the Dead Sea scrolls (found in western Jordan). The translations of these texts have painted a new picture of early Christianity and Judaism to me and have inspired me to make a detour to the promise land. My overall route will not deviate but on February 1st, I will fly from Sarajevo, Bosnia to Sharm el Sheikh in the land of the Exodus (Egyptian Sinai). I will then cycle to St. Catherine’s to see the epic Mt. Sinai (location of the burning bush and where Moses received the Ten Commandment tablets) and proceed along the Red Sea into Jordan. Once in Jordan, I hope to cross the desert into Petra and see the ancient Nabataea caves, as well as traveling 400 meters below sea level to the dead sea. From there it will be a several days ride Israel where I hope continue the pilgrimage in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Hebron and Galilee. Please let me know if there are any places in this region that you recommend!