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Seeking Liminality- Another View on Travel

Travel Philosophy Revisited

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Seeking Liminality- Another view on Travel

This definition is from Wikipedia. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality )
This article is about the concept of liminality. For the original video animation, see .hack//Liminality.
In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold"[1]) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage ofrituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold" between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.
The concept of liminality was first developed in the early 20th century by anthropologist Arnold van Gennep and later taken up by Victor Turner. [2] More recently, usage of the term has broadened to describe political and cultural change as well as rituals.[3] During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt.[4] The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established.[5] The term has also passed into popular usage, where it is applied much more broadly, undermining its significance to some extent.[6]

Sorry for the long introduction, and a quoted one at that. The topic made it necessary. I am always scanning travel blogs, and I discovered Travelerspoint had begun a section on “Travel Philosophy.” Since travel is often on my mind (blogged about in previous post titled “HegeMoney- One thing I learned traveling around the world.” Dated August 18, 2013. ) I decided to revisit the topic. I tried to delve a little deeper into the dynamics of why I craved travel. Travel shows and books about travelers also substitute here. A significant factor in my passion for travel is my experience of liminality through travel. This experience comes to bear from many directions.
First, liminality of path. Every country, town, culture you visit has its own history. It has arrived in the present moment through a serious of conscious choices, accidental events, historical figures, religious and political sensibilities. (To a lesser degree this is true even with cities and states in my own country compared to my own. It isn’t necessary to leave the country.) Coming to a sense of their historical journey gives a “sense of the other side of the threshold.” Depending on your ability to empathize and the distance between your culture and theirs, this can be a very emotional and disorienting experience.
Second, liminality of time. I often find a glimmer of resemblance with pieces of my past or with pieces of human history which still live in other places. This could be something as simple as places where washing is done in the river to something as deep as religious ceremonies and festivals engaged in whole-heartedly. This time liminality stretches my awareness beyond my present time and moment. It doesn’t mean that “their moment” is old fashioned or that we are “better” or “further along.” These time experiences touch me because sometimes they tap into my own deep longing. Not all of these time liminalities are good. Some of them have serious negative effects- for example, sometimes lack of access to the most current technology to fight illness and provide clean water has a serious downside. A downside which can include sickness and even death. Whether positive or negative, this experience of luminal time reminds me of my mortality and of the mysterious flow of time.
Third, liminality of perspective. Prepare yourselves for a shocker- “Not everyone thinks like you do.” I know. Hard to believe. Especially for those of us surrounded by the Hollywood machine and the steady drumbeat of US media. There is a whole world out there- a world where using a thinly veiled “Chinese” enemy may destroy a movie’s chances to be a global hit. It is also a world where 1.5 billion people name Mohamed as their prophet and nearly a billion people identify as Hindus. Their perspective is shaped by the history of their people and their political organization. In traveling, if you let yourself you might be able to get the sense of what it is like to live in a different world not just to walk in their shoes.

Liminality is not just the romantic vision of another culture. It isn’t just voyeurism- you don’t just come to see something. It isn’t “the grass being greener on the other side of the fence” and thinking what they have is better. You can come face to face with the mystery of people, places and culture. There are possibly more things that you won’t understand than how many you will. But not understanding does not prevent you from sharing. If you are the kind of person who seeks it and who is open to it, these liminal experiences can be truly transcendent. They can pull you beyond yourself into a union with the wider world. It can be the first step not just to “loving travel” or “adventure” but experiencing love itself.

Next entry: The Role of Travel as Ritual in seeking Liminality

Posted by tourdeflor 11:58 Archived in USA Tagged travel ritual philosophy union culture. liminal Comments (0)

Best of Tour

Tour de Floret
BEST OF:
Food – Italy
Public Transport – London
Beach – Sibuan
Island vibe – Kochang, Thailand
Place to meet people – Bocas del Toro, Panama
Wine – Argentina, Best surprise wine – Carmenere from Chile
Beer – Poland
Fashion – Poland
Hotel – Trieste in Rimini, Italy
Hostel – Chalet de Bassi in Mendoza, Argentina
Restaurant – The Fontabella Restaurant in Assisi, Italy
“Included” Breakfast – Trieste in Rimini, Italy
Money saving hint – buy groceries and avoid tours
Architecture – Poland and Italy
Ruin – Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Continent for a reliable Internet connection – South America
Museums – National History Museum in Canberra, Australia
Non-beach nature spot –
Place to take a walk – Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
Social spot – Bocas del Toro, Panama
“granola” vibe – Denali, Alaska

MOST…
Relaxing – Semporna on the island of Borneo, Malaysia
Hospitable and just plain nice people - London, England
Fun – Reuniting with old friends each and every time it happened!
Modern City – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Adventurous – Denali, Alaska and
Affordable – Thailand
Expensive – Australia
Likely to make you feel alive – Kochang, Thailand
Likely to relocate to (Top 6 in no particular order) – London, England, Wroclaw, Poland,Italy, Alaska, Thailand, Argentina
Likely to revisit – Poland, Italy, Thailand
Unique – Penang, Malaysia
Beautiful (to name a few) – Alaska/ Semporna, Malaysia/ The Great Ocean Rd, Australia/ the Andes, Peru
Exciting local festival – Independence Day in Bluefields, Nicaragua and the Corn Festival at Mother of the Divine Shepherd School in Managua, Nicaragua
Jungle hike – Cameron highlands, Malaysia
Breathtaking – Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Affordable booze – Thailand
Impact – Krakow/Auschwitz, Poland
Romantic – Kochang, Thailand
Memorable – Friends (new and old)

There are so many things to mention, so we can’t mention them all – each place was so unique and special to us for so many different reasons.

Posted by tourdeflor 18:46 Comments (2)

Farewell Europe and Coming Home

snow
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Miles traveled....877.

It was after much gimping and nearly a thousand rest stops and aching hands that we finally arrived back in London. We hopped on the bus to ride back into town from Stansted( about 1 hour north of London).

We arrived in the late afternoon after translating ourselves to the “Wheatsheaf” our favorite local pub. Sara plopped down by the fire, we ordered some pints, and we got on the internet to finish working on blogs and Mike's book. Rob was hard at work with his newly arrived wards in his lab so he wouldn't be home til a little later that evenening.
Back at the pub in London town!

Back at the pub in London town!


We arranged for a meet up with our buddy Neal the next day. We decided in honor of his stealthiness to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie at a theater on Baker Street down from the Sherlock Holmes museum.
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The trip to the theater involved an unfortunately large amount of crutching around. Even my extra padding on the hand supports only gave limited support. WA WA don't you feel sorry for me. The movie was quite enjoyable and we decided to find a new plug for our laptop which had finally given out. We were nearly cut off from the internet! Yikes.

It was only after visiting a half a dozen shops that we finally found a plug for less than $90. Then we found several around the $60 mark before finally finding one for around $35. I wasn't sure if I was going to survive the trip back to Ealing Broadway Station in my advanced state of fatigue.

Luckily my wife and Neal managed to help me along ...I made it to the station, but my energy gave out in front of the “Wheatsheaff” where I nursed my injured pride and we waited for Rob to get home. We all spent a nice evening visiting before hitting the hay to prepare for our 5:00 am trip to Heathrow to return to the good old US of A.
Neal sporting his Cleveland Browns attire

Neal sporting his Cleveland Browns attire

Sara and OON

Sara and OON

OOS, OON, OOM at your service

OOS, OON, OOM at your service

Mike

Mike


After minor delays due to plane problems in Newark we arrived in Chicago. After about an hour and a half on public transpo we arrived at the original “Posh Pad” Chicago. It was deserted! Tim was in Australia and Jeness was on call at her hospital in Elgin. We settled in and began to make our plans for the next couple of weeks. We emailed our local friends, worked on the book at the coffee shop, did laundry, and generally rested up for phase two of our travels: Family time.

We decided to make the drive out to the booming metropolis of Freeport to visit with my sister, her husband, and my nephew, CJ at the Hay household. We met Val at the clinic to get a house key and scouted the city to prepare for our first after school pick-up at Aquin elementary, home of the mighty Bulldogs. We waited with baited breath to see if CJ would still recognize us....

Posted by tourdeflor 09:37 Archived in England Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Krakow, Poland + Auschwitz

16 °F
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The Cracovia!

The Cracovia!


We successfully managed the relocation to the Orbis Cracovia. We got another fantastic deal…it was more affordable than our hostel. The hotel’s location across from the Krakow Gallery
Krakow statue

Krakow statue


, next to the Theater, across from the park, and only a couple of blocks from Wawel Castle.
the barbican

the barbican

Krakow statue

Krakow statue


I spent another day resting up for us to make our trip to Auschwitz. Sara visited the Jewish Galicia heritage museum and also the Gestapo headquarters of Krakow.
Synagogue in Jewish quarter

Synagogue in Jewish quarter

Art at Jewish museum

Art at Jewish museum

Art at Jewish museum

Art at Jewish museum

Jewish Memorial museum Krakow

Jewish Memorial museum Krakow

Jewish quarter decorations

Jewish quarter decorations


Gestapo building wall

Gestapo building wall

Memorial on Gestapo building

Memorial on Gestapo building


Of course, when we asked about regular trains for a visit everyone tried to steer us to an organized tour. The organized tours go for almost $50 per person, but then you are locked into their departure times and visit schedules. We decided to continue our renegade nature and investigated on our own.
Krakow tram stop

Krakow tram stop

Krakow Main train station

Krakow Main train station

train platform en route to Oswiecim

train platform en route to Oswiecim


It turns out there are commuter trains that travel to Oswiecem, the Polish village close to the three prisoner complexes named for it. They depart nearly every half hour and cost about $2.5. Score for Sara and I against the tourism establishment.
Polish countryside en route to Oswiecim

Polish countryside en route to Oswiecim


The first complex was originally a Polish army barracks which was converted to a prison for militia and activists against the third reich. Many of the building were brick and the first experimental gas chambers were set up in this camp. The conditions seemed nearly luxurious by comparison to the barbarity of its sister camp. Once inside the brick interiors, we learned quickly that the same atrocities transpired.
Camp I barracks

Camp I barracks

gas chamber camp I

gas chamber camp I

execution wall camp I

execution wall camp I

Gallows camp I

Gallows camp I

1st gas chamber camp I

1st gas chamber camp I

Crematorium chimney at Auschwitz I

Crematorium chimney at Auschwitz I

barbed wire camp I

barbed wire camp I


The most notorious and famous part dubbed, “Auschwitz Birkenau II” is the camp usually seen on films. This camp is absolutely huge and was mostly consisted of only wooden buildings. The gas chambers and crematorium are easily recognizable despite Nazi efforts to destroy them as the Russian Army advanced. At its peak the security region nearby and these camps held nearly 100,000 people at a time.
camp II from main tower #2

camp II from main tower #2

View of camp II from main tower

View of camp II from main tower

Bunk beds in barracks camp II

Bunk beds in barracks camp II

Latrine building camp II

Latrine building camp II

Sara & guard tower camp II

Sara & guard tower camp II

Brick Barrack camp II

Brick Barrack camp II

Inside brick barrack camp II

Inside brick barrack camp II

Candle outside barrack camp II

Candle outside barrack camp II

Visitors writing on barrack wall camp II

Visitors writing on barrack wall camp II

remains of crematorium at camp II

remains of crematorium at camp II

The gas chamber at Auschwitz II

The gas chamber at Auschwitz II

Entrance Building Auschwitz II

Entrance Building Auschwitz II


I can hardly explain the effect that visiting this place had on Sara and I. She had read extensively about the camps and the ‘Final Solution’ during her schooling and so was a little more prepared for what we would see. It completely stunned us to see the mass of human effects left by the extermination program. In one exhibition, hundreds and hundreds of pounds of human hair were displayed that was used to make cloth in Germany. Thousands of pairs of glasses, combs, shoes, it was unfathomable. Jews ( and other “undesireables”) arrived from as far away as France to the camps. It is estimated that somewhere between one and two million Jews died in this camp alone. It was not only Jews that were a part of the German extermination scheme. The Slavic races and the gypsies were also classified as undesirable. Nearly 140,000 Poles and about 20,000 gypsies were also killed in the camps. The prisoners lived in a constant state of starvation. Many prisoners who arrived in winter only survived for a day or two before dying in the harsh conditions. Seventy percent of women and children who arrived to Birkenau were immediately gassed.
Another Memorial

Another Memorial

Memorial #3 at Camp II

Memorial #3 at Camp II

Memorial at Auschwitz II   #2

Memorial at Auschwitz II #2

Memorial at Auschwitz II

Memorial at Auschwitz II


My experience was affected dramatically by my being on crutches. I was confronted repeatedly with the reality that if I had arrived to camp II as I was sixty years ago, I would have immediately been exterminated. Another display in one of the blocks was a collection of crutches, canes, and prosthetics taken from prisoners. Just visiting the first camp completed wore me out. The tour just to a sampling of the dormitories took more than an hour and a half. At camp II, we borrowed a wheel chair so that I could see a little more of the camp. The pain in my hands and wrists from using the crutches so much left me wincing with each step. Even with the wheelchair, it was very difficult to go far on the icy cold terrain. One nice young man from Leeds, UK, helped push me part of the way. Finally with my foot feeling frozen, I returned to the information office while Sara spent more time walking the grounds of the camp. Sara appreciated the time to walk alone and take everything in, although simultaneously it was quite an eerie feeling to imagine what it was like to be there in the cold, snowy months in those horrific conditions. January, consequently is the anniversary of the camp’s liberation.
train station at Auschwitz

train station at Auschwitz


I almost felt like we were drawn inexorably to this camp for the last sightseeing of our trip. We saw so many different races, religions, and nationalities on our travels. In 99% of our interactions fellow human beings acted with compassion and consideration to us and to the others that we saw them interact with. In contrast, at Auschwitz, we saw the first hand the evidence of the hate and inhumanity that can exist between peoples as well. It hammered home the reality of hate and violence that spring forth from even the most ‘civilized’ nations. It forced me to remember that Bosnia, Uganda, and the other violent expressions of human hate really do exist.
Okay, deep breath.
That night, we enjoyed a quiet meal in one of the neighborhood restaurants.
Krakow in the snow- Old Town 1

Krakow in the snow- Old Town 1

St. Peter and Paul Krakow

St. Peter and Paul Krakow

Nativity at Basilica of St. Mary

Nativity at Basilica of St. Mary

Rynek Glovny Krakow- Market square

Rynek Glovny Krakow- Market square


We went to bed early to rest up for our flight the next day. We woke up at 5 am, we packed our bags and headed back to the main train station. From there we took the shuttle to the John Paul II international airport for our flight back to London and the friendly confines of ‘Posh Pad London’.
Next: Last stop overseas.

Posted by tourdeflor 07:30 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

Krakow, Poland !

snow 28 °F
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Krakow
Miles traveled 170
Oh Krakow, I hardly knew thee. We took the train from Wroclaw to Krakow. Sara found us a cute studio apartment to stay in right in Old Town. I was a bit skeptical, but it turned out to be great.apt 2

apt 2

Our cute apt.

Our cute apt.

Tree outside our cute apt.

Tree outside our cute apt.

It was a good thing I loved it because I spent a beautiful four days snuggled mostly inside my apartment nursing my wounded ankle. Luckily, Sara braved the elements when she could sneak away from my amorous advances!! She visited four churches three, synagogue, a jewish museum, a coffee shop, a castle, and a tour office before I stepped out of the apartment!Artistic tree shot

Artistic tree shot

St. Mary's Basilica

St. Mary's Basilica

Krakow main square

Krakow main square

Sts. Peter and Paul

Sts. Peter and Paul

Old Church front

Old Church front

Wawel view 2

Wawel view 2

Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle

Krakow in the snow- Old Town 1

Krakow in the snow- Old Town 1


Sadly, my Malaysia belt (which was made out of paper with a faux leather sticker on it) totally gave way by falling into two pieces right in the middle. Finally, Sara pried me out of the room to look for a belt and visit St. Mary’s Basilica on the Square. My pants were falling down, and I was on crutches in the snow. It was not a pretty sight, but the church was beautiful. It had been mostly decorated in the Baroque style. They had a beautiful main altar, ceiling, sculptures, and stained glass. Sara tried to help me by walking behind me and holding my pants up by their back belt loop. But I was getting very cranky about all of this. We then boldly journeyed onward searching in vain for a belt. Finally on Grodska street we found one for 29 zloty! With my pants held up I was a new man, and Sara led me on further adventures.
It was time for a snack by then and we headed to Miod or “honey.” We had deserts and a delicious snack, first plum pierogies YUMMY. Sara led me on toward our final destination of the day, Wawel Castle. A few blocks down we stopped to visit St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, and then the Poor Clares Monastery. My hands were hurting by this time, and I was getting whiny again. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to the Castle and we still had to hike all the way home! YIKES! Sara happy at the restaurant

Sara happy at the restaurant

happy restaurant shot

happy restaurant shot


Finally, across from a tourist information spot I gave up. We went in and ordered a taxi and signed up for a tour to see Oskar Schindler’s factory the next day. The cab came, and I hobbled out. Luck would have it that he practically drove us around the Castle on the way home! I was nearly delirious with exhaustion, hand pain, and joy from seeing our final sight of the day. So far we are loving Poland. For our final days we will relocate to the Orbis Cracovia then back to Jolly old England for transatlantic preparations.

USA eta Jan 20th!!

Mike and Sara

Posted by tourdeflor 15:32 Archived in Poland Tagged foot Comments (0)

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