Nico concludes his long outer & inner journey in episodes 34, 35, and 36. Unfortunately, due to the moving houses process of the Child of The Earth base camp (previously mentioned in another note, here), there has been a big delay in getting these three episodes online. Our apologies for that.
Due to the before-mentioned moving process, Shanto has had to bring some work with him on his holidays, including the posting of episode 34-36; and so it is that this note is being written somewhere in the French Pyrenees. This situation has in addition brought another unwanted side effect: that episode 34-36 will, for now, have to be posted without pictures. (Simply due to the non-sufficient capacity of the French mountains internet connection that Shanto is using.)
We will, however, of course, add the pictures as soon as possible, meaning most likely before July 20th. Meanwhile, please enjoy taking part of Nico’s adventures through the written word!
To all dear followers of Nico’s guest blogging: As you may know, the Child of The Earth project is run on a voluntary basis, and we’re hoping for your understanding regarding the current circumstances.
PS, 2 August: Finally! Pics are up!
8,916 km by train…
I just finished them, with a 1,5 day break in Irkutsk, where I visited, during a private tour with Sonya as my guide, an open air museum, two russian orthodox churches (oh, those icons…!) and had a walk along the Bajkal lake. It was beautiful weather, so we could enjoy to the fullest, also the few monuments that we saw in Irkutsk in the morning.
Winter seems to take 7 months there (with 35 degrees below zero! Brrr!), and the other seasons need to be squeezed in 5 months, so I was lucky to be there now. The Bajkal lake itself is 636 km long and 81 km wide, with a shore length of 1850 km, is 1673 meters deep at its deepest point (730 meters average); there are more than 300 rivers streaming into Bajkal lake and only one flowing out of it: Angara, which goes through Irkutsk. It seems there is a very powerful place on an island (Oikhon) in the middle of the lake, where shamanic gatherings are held to honour that power. So far the “dry” facts (that I know) of the region.
The train ride itself was quite OK and comfortable: 3 days train from Beijing to Irkutsk and 3 days from Irkutsk to Moscow. Within China there was a lot of farmland to be seen (mostly maize, and later on wet grasslands and rice fields), in Russia it started off with open grass fields as far as the eye could see, later on more and more trees and forests (my God, what an incredible number of forests!!), mostly consisting of birches, pine trees and firs. But where I expected to see more and more vastly open fields (I love open fields because they make me quiet) in the Siberian plains (after Novosibirsk) it remained mostly trees and forests, although closer to Moscow it became more open.
The border formalities at the Chinese/Russian border were alaborate, at both sides of the border (so twice passport control and luggage check), and at the russian side the wheels of the train needed to be replaced because the rails in Russia are 8 cm wider than in China (don’t ask me how they did it, because onlookers where not allowed); it took a few hours, during which we had to leave the train and could walk around in the village. So different than what I know, but I learnt to love those differences: no concrete on the ground, sand/muddy streets, wooden houses (and stone appartment blocks), electrical wires all over the place, and a few derelict entrances to houses and gardens. AND it was only 17 degrees , so I had to put my jacket on!
I had a few meetings with nice people on and around the train: the “matron” (I called her like that, within myself of course) that took care of the wagon from Beijing to Irkutsk, Yunus (a german guy who I met at the Russian border and had been travelling for 1,5 years and was now heading home), in the train from Irkutsk to Moscow: Yuri (who gave me my first vodka experience), Denis (who gave me my second and who I loved, but was too drunk a few hours later to say anything sensible anymore and was put out of the train later on by the police (I heard) because of unappropriate behaviour), the lady who took care of the restaurant (who I called Madame Bagdad Café, because she reminded me very much of the main character in that movie) and Sergej (who I spent a nice time with drinking white wine and eating peanuts).
But most of my time I actually spent alone and quiet in my compartment, letting the landscapes go by and enjoying the quietness that sank into my being and gave rise to some new insights and poems that I’d like to share with you here:
Simply sitting and
nothing else to do but watch
my world go by… Oh!
Dreaming along the ways of Russia I see
far away the hills of highlands
that touch the skies of light and clouds,
ever roaming in the vastness of my soul.
That is what does this landscape to my mind:
it stretches and widens
a home of thoughts and feelings
that otherwise is so contracted,
but now can breathe a broader view
of unknown colours that fill with emptiness
the space of inner kingdoms to be.
Oh, how I love this sphere within,
where everything is said,
but yet remains unspoken
in the silence of this wondrous world.
June 20th (near Yasnogorsk)
Alone in my room
quietness is all around
hermit on the train.
On an iron path I’m on my way
through lands without a fence,
no sight of human boundaries.
What a freedom roams about
in the endless panoramas
of nature’s unlost voices,
where there’s only one cry,
one sigh that merges with the sky:
the cry and sigh of infinite perfection.
June 23rd (just passed Nizhneudinsk)
In the plains of Siberia
I was just about to moan and groan
about things going on in my mind,
when I remembered the words
inwardly spoken to me in Kathmandu
at the end of my stay there:
“You didn’t listen to the voice
of the higher worlds, of the stupa,
so you missed it”.
So now I decided to become still
and open my heart to
what wanted to be said.
And this was what came flowing
in the plains of my train-ing self:
“It is not bad to observe
the happenings in your mind,
but don’t get stuck
in the horizontal, in your humanness,
because that’s what we tend to do,
to forget or even oppose divinity; start to see
the spaciousness in your restlessness,
the magnificence in anger,
the wonder in sadness.
Your mind has the tendency to contract
when it feels those “negative” feelings,
but start in even those feelings
to see Me in them,
because I am in them too,
I am all-encompassing,
I am That.”
And the amazing thing is
that once I started doing that,
what I thought to be negative
began to dissolve away, to melt
in the space of a totally new world
that had been there always,
but could only now be seen
in the overwhelming realms
of never ending possibilities
and infinite joyous freedom.
June 24th (somewhere between Barabinsk and Omsk)
But even with all of this
I find my deepest joy, my warmest love
in this open stillness within
where I let me be touched
by the overwhelming beauty
of an existence never fathomed,
never imagined by my limit-mind.
It is my world of wonder,
where tears are never far away
like dewdrops that reflect
a purity of light that shines
through the heart of the beholder.
June 24th (Omsk)
And after all those flashes of lightning
that subsided to a glow in the earth of my being,
I feel this thrill inside of me,
this incredible roar
of inner power and gratefulness
for being graced and blessed
with this life, with just being alive,
for being allowed to be who I am
and to sound the tones I have to sing
out of that lion’s roar I feel
in the magnificence of this universe.
Don’t you see it? Don’t you hear it?
This life and world are so beautiful,
so overwhelmingly beautiful!
I implore you: please feel this roar!
And so there’s nothing more to say, besides the fact that I safely arrived in Moscow, for the last stage of my worldtrip; I still can’t believe I will be home next week!
Looking forward to closing the circle on Saturday, I send you all the love from my heart,
Nico – Traveller of The Earth
O yeah! Wanted to share this too: what I love especially about the Russian language, is that all the soft consonants remain soft when spoken; so B, D, V, Z and ZJ remain B, D, V, Z and ZJ (they don’t become P, T (at the end of words), F, S and SJ like tends to happen in Dutch language); in a way, I don’t know, they give me a very warm and cuddly feeling, I would just like to hug the Russian language, if I could!
Next, Nico reports from the very last day of his journey – in Moscow…