Pinch me, I must be dreaming

Today one of my longtime dreams was fulfilled. I visited Mont St. Michele (still here actually). The experience of approaching the Mont as it loomed out of the fog was surreal. I took an enormous quantity of photos and my mouth might have been gaping wide open the entire time. I was in just as much awe four hours later when I watched the tide creep up to the island and flow past at its alarming speed. I am having the most amazing time and looking forward to taking advantage of the hotel to take an outrageously long shower tomorrow…. but what next?

Alright, that’s a dream fulfilled. A stomach happy. A bucket list item crossed off. But the point for me is to keep on dreaming. I desperately wanted to see Mont St. Michele and now I have seen the second highest tide in the world cutting off one of the only two part time islands. I guess that means I ought to set my sights on visiting that other island, in Asia. It’s a new and vague goal… but the idea is that I let my fulfilled dreams themselves inspire the next dream.

On a simpler dimension, I have visited three areas of France, so clearly the only logical aspiration is to visit a fourth and a fifth part of France. That forth area will actually be taken care of as soon as next weekend, as I venture forth on a school trip, during which I’ll even be trying foie gras (with considerable trepidation due to both anticipated taste and animal rights claims).

Dreams have to build off of each other, so that each one is more grand than the previous and life can continue to hold its wonder and mystery. It’s the dreams that keep wanderlust alive. And some days it seems that wanderlust is what’s keeping me alive.

Image (internet photo- mine haven’t been uploaded yet)

Cultural diffusion- exploding out of the textbook

I still remember clearly during first week of global history in my ninth grade year, over half a decade ago now (A long time when you´re just about to hit twnety)… During one of the first classes my teacher introduced a list of terms that were going to be important during the year and foremost among them was cultural diffusion. I don´t think a single week went by without it coming up in class. It was soundly pounded into our skulls… so thoroughly in fact that all these years later as I wandered into the city center of Cordoba, Spain, that word popped up in my mind once again.

I walked through the historical Sephardi Jewish section of the city and then stepped through a Moorish style doorway into a cathedral that used to be a mosque that stood on the ruis of an older cathedral and was just a stones throw from a Roman victory arch. There was more history and cultural diffusion packed into two city blocks than most areas of the world can boast over huge tracts of land. Sure, there had been war and destruction involved in those culturl clashes, but each had taken from the other and some level of cooperation had also existed during some points over the millenia.

Even though Catholic mass is held in the building today, it still looks distinctly Muslim until you reach its Christian heart. Rather than knock the mosque down and build anew, the christians recognized how amazing the building, the Mezquita, already wass and simply expanded on it. And it really is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever had the pleasure of wandering through. The Muslim style arches are a sharp and foreign reminder of the past, but also convery pure beauty with their gold detail and unique stone structures create a distinctive striped pattern with brick and sandstone (?). Most remarkable were the countless pillars that filled the interior. It´s so easy to imagine Moors from an age past kneeling among the pillars to pray and filling the enormous space with their solemn religious observance. It´s a kind of beauty that doesn´t need to be lavish to take my breath away.

Maybe that´s just an example of modern cultural diffusion… my culture has been touched by enough others that I find so much appreciation in a place so different from “conventional Western architectural beauty”