It is all about the journey. It had better be.


I use that expression all the time, and I believe in it wholeheartedly. The journey though life is the destination, and noticing it and being present is a recipe for greater happiness. That said, Josh has booked us on a doozy of a journey today that will take us on a train from Oslo to Myrdal (which we are on right now and which will last 4 hours, 42 minutes), followed by a trip on the Flam Railway (1:27pm), connecting to a fjord boat trip to Gudvangen (3:10pm), followed by a local bus to Voss (5:45pm), and finally a train again to Bergen (7:20pm, arriving at 8:34pm). For those that are counting, that will make for over 12 hours of traveling, with some supposedly spectacular views, although it is raining and the part we are on right now is not very interesting visually. And some sadist at the booking office put our reserved seats in the “family” car of this train, where we are surrounded by screaming children and diapers. On the bright side, I have headphones and internet.

somewhat north


In every culture in the world there are questions, curiosities and concerns that preoccupy the mind. Although they are different in each locale, they all relate to placing ourselves in a cultural context. They allow for a classification and reassure the questioner that their world view is correct and that others fit within it. This maintains our illusions of order and keeps the chaos at bay. It is one of the ways we make sense of the world, and reinforce and comfort ourselves that our particular conception of the world makes sense and that we have our place within it.

In India, one of the first questions I was asked wherever I went was “Are you married?”

In Bali, it was invariably “Where are you going?”

In Mexico, almost always “Where are you from?” or “Where do you live?”

And here in the US, it is almost always “What do you do?” or “What are you going to do?”

Today is my last day in LA for awhile. Tomorrow I will board a bus (yes, a bus) for San Francisco, where I will be for about a week before entering a Zen farm in the Bay Area for a while to practice zazen. After that I will go back to visit my family for a couple of weeks and after that I think I will spend a couple of weeks in NYC.

And after that? Who knows?

Camino to Cancún


In a little over 2 weeks, I am meeting my friend Arnaud (remember him?) in Cancún so that we can travel the Yucatán Peninsula for two glorious weeks. I have been thinking that while, sure, I could fly there directly from Mexico City, it would be ever so much more interesting and fun to take a week or so to get there, seeing a lot of stuff along the way. To that end I have been trying to plan a trip this morning. I have set a few general rules for myself:

1. Travel by deluxe or first class bus to make the ride more enjoyable. Sadly, Mexico no longer has a passenger train system (and never really had one going to all the places I wish to go), but at least the upscale buses are quite a bit less pricey than flying.  Also, having been in Mexico a little while now, I feel much more comfortable with the state of the roads, quality of driving, and taking buses than I have in the past.

2. Never take a single bus trip longer than 7 hours. This helps me to avoid killing myself or someone else.

3. See interesting things that are new (to me). This one is easy, there is a ton of stuff to choose from.  The only potential problem is that Cancún is fairly high up on the Yucatán Peninsula, and thus the longest bus trip will probably be the last one. I want to avoid seeing too much in the Yucatán as Arnaud and I will be seeing it together.

So. Anybody out there have some “not to miss” suggestions for things in between here and there, keeping all of the above items in mind?

On a related note, while there is a multi-company bus website for planning and buying tickets, it does not work in anything other than Internet Explorer on the PC.  There is a special place in Hades for people that design sites like this.

Who’s afraid of the bus?


So I decided to take a shuttle bus service I found online called the California Shuttle Bus to get from SF to LA. I was surprised by all the upturned noses of several of my friends, warning me against taking a yucky bus anywhere anytime anyplace. Reminding them that in the past year I have shared many a vehicle with goats, chickens, crazy mobs, and insane drivers (not to mention leprosy and tuberculosis in close quarters) I decided to go for it.  I was very happy I did. The service was great, the people nice and there were movies on board. This is not like a typical greyhound experience. It was mostly people traveling from other parts of the world in California mixed in with a few locals. And the entire thing only cost 45 bucks.