Saturday, September 10, 2016

Five Months Later



On April 10th I posted the embryo of an idea. Now it is reality!
I am beyond happy.                                                                                                          
I am excited like a little girl going to enjoy a carousel for the first time! With the help of only a very small group of enthusiastic people who believe in this idea and the wonderful collaboration with High Country News that I respect and love (and read religiously) more than anything, I will soon be on the road. The thing I like most since I moved to the Southwest, to be on the road.

This tour, On the Wild Road, is the first of many that HCN and Seven Directions will develop in, about, for, in defense of the American West. And its WILDLIFE.

I already have learned a lot, talked with incredible people for their knowledge and dedication, met with organizations whose support is very important to our cause.
Combining the business skills with one's passion is undoubtedly the best thing that could happen to a person. Work and interests, technicalities and passion are combinations that many of us have searched through our life. After a long and varied career in many different areas, I now feel fulfilled and happy. 
The purpose, or purposes, of these travels through the Western organizations dedicated to save, help and support our wildlife will become even better defined on the road through the participants' discussions and the learning process brought by talking with the people on the ground.
The overall objective is

TO EDUCATE OURSELVES AND SPREAD KNOWLEDGE.
We have assembled a wealth of books, articles and papers to help us navigate through the wildlife world. An original e-book is provided by HCN with articles published over the recent years pertaining to the different animals we meet with day by day.

Some lessons learned:

  1. when you feel you can't go any further, look at the award, your dream coming true. You will find the strength to continue.
  2. risk taking becomes for a while your best companion. It works only if you believe in your dream.
  3. read anything you find around you...even Facebook posts! One word can lead you to incredible new ideas!
  4. Trust your friends, mostly offering negative advice...The energy the anger created in your soul by hearing their remarks is fuel to go forward! Some though may suggest interesting ideas!
The serendipities that brought people together on this project, the new friendships, the bonding that a common cause creates, the ongoing learning process, expectations and thrills are but a few rewards I am already enjoying.

What I cherish more than anything is having the opportunity to see up close a lot of wonderful animals, big and small, threatened or not. They never betray us. I found a place where people like me, meaning with no specific expertise in caring for animals, can stay at to just be and feel their wonderful spirit. That's my next vacation! 
 
 
 
 
 

It is freedom as the absence of other people’s influence, manifested as the nonhuman world around us, realized as a place we can go but should not change. It is the freedom environmentalists restoring wilderness, and animal rights activists liberating animals, fight for every day.

Thoreau wrote of in Walden.

 


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Why travel?

Not for sheer amusement, nor to brag about it with your friends when you are back home, nor to show your boring pictures.
This is my honest view.

I know that nobody would say they travel for one of those reasons, but....they do! I remember when, back in those days, we produced tons of slides and then we struggled to have all the equipment ready to entertain a terrified audience of friends! The most common comment by the person showing the slides was "here we had so much fun"....

It really doesn't matter how one prefers to travel, whether in a group tour or with a deluxe travel company, what is important is how one travels.

I would highly recommend to start with an open mind and forget your world and habits for a while. Many travelers I've seen tend to look for the same things they have at home. Italians, for instance, always complain about not finding good pasta...Really, it happens more often than not.

I think that there are a few qualities and steps to be taken which make a trip worthwhile:
  • having read books about the region one visits, and written by authors native of that place
  • choosing a book to read while traveling
  • an open mind attitude
  • curiosity for the "otherness", rather than judgment. To compare the "new" with your own traditional world destroys the pleasure of traveling
  • interest in discovering the local music and knowing the instruments it is played with. Same for textiles and other forms of craft
  • human beings! Here it gets tricky. There are ways to approach them and ways that are bad. It is very annoying to be the center of interest and picture taking followed by a complacent look of the photographer and a quick thank you look. Since humans have the same feelings in every corner of the world, it is a good rule to think before acting and to remember not to do to others what you would not done to you (or something like that...!)
  • knowing a few words of the language used in the country one visits helps creating a thin but important bridge with the locals
  • get loose! Try to find time to explore on your own, meet whomever is on your path, be surprised in silence!
On a trip anyone of us can touch somebody's heart and mind. When traveling we become ambassadors of human relations and we can offer something to remember or...not.

Traveling is one of the best things that can happen to you! and since it is so relevant for  your mind and heart it becomes really important to be the best of you when reaching out to other worlds, whether around the corner from home or days away.

Our world has become very fragile. Who knows for how long it is still here for us. Tourism is becoming a huge threat to our planet, and no traveling format is safe anymore. When we go out discovering untouched sites it is the beginning of the end for it. When we approach a member of a far away tribe, his or her life is changed forever, often for the worse.

I would say that traveling on own, or in a small group of like minded friends, with the consciousness of what is right or wrong, it is the best. Speaking against my business interests, going solo is, probably, the best in terms of leaving the least tracks behind your passage. If you know how to travel well!

Please, remember that each footstep and each selfie can pose a threat to the object of your interest! Since I'm passionate about wildlife and animals in general I want to mention this, an example among many: by taking a picture too close to a mom bear means she gets scared for her cubs and attacks you and then she has to be killed as "dangerous" for humans. Who is dangerous here? I'm biased, yes, I know. And happily so!

To sum it up, traveling means pleasure for the traveler and often destruction for the destination.
Let's try to create a balance between what we take and what we give and leave behind our passage.

So the title of this blog has changed to: How to travel.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Hot Summer

Yes, the climate is changing, faster every day.
But also the world is going crazy and hotter in many ways. There is a joke I loved when I was little, where one can say "stop the world, I want to get off". I want to get out now!



However, looking at the past, when I was already walking on Mother Earth or just by reading history books, I understood that the now is only bigger. Bigger evil, bigger weapons, bigger criminals, bigger lies, bigger territories, bigger wounds, bigger..bigger...
Because we talk and act globally, not because it was so much better in the good old day.

The clamor of the news is nerve wrecking. It wakes me up in the middle of the night. I try to think of possible solutions, useless.

I can't refrain from reading, constantly and obsessively, the news, comments about the news, the contrary of the first news, what my friends think, and my enemies.

I am tired. Very tired. I'm not alone but at the same time we are too few to feel this shame for the inhabitants of Planet Earth.

So if it's not worse than before, what do we have to complain about?
Several obscenities.
How is it possible that after WWI, WWII, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the genocides-well known and not so much-, the nuclear tests on p-e-o-p-l-e, the assassination of people fighting for their country or causes at the hand of unclear "interests", or maybe very clear but unspeakable, child labor, racism, wildlife extermination...and so on, and on, and on, things got even worse? How is it possible that humankind is viscerally cruel? Most are the terrible decision makers of the planet destiny, but many are us, are people we know. From global to local, evil is rampant. Often disguised as egocentrism, jealousy, envy.

Should I add that "they"-"they" are the perpetrators of 100% of today's evil - must also be blind and plain stupid if they think to be able to survive their own cruelties?

Some have died, in peace...alas! But others won't.

How is it possible to rejoice after seeing the consequences of wars, terror, illnesses and suffering?

Maybe not rejoice, rather just be care-less, because they only focus on their own personal return. Can be their mothers' fault??!!
I suppose they are totally numb, and callous.

We are all the same, made of the same stuff, and ending in the same way. Nobody will survive the cataclysm it's being crafted day after day!

The hippy mantra "live in the now" may have gotten to these people too, although at the opposite spectrum of life style. They can only see themselves "in the now". Taking advantage of their crimes. Not in a grave of some sort, dead forever.

So, maybe, it is worse than before, at least in sheer numbers.

But I didn't begin this rant to point fingers. I am openly asking a question: why we (1) transformed over the centuries in this un-human thing, only ready to kill, steal, abuse, cheat, threat, and, again, kill?

(1) We doesn't include you, I, and our dearest friends!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Here we go!

It's been a roller coaster. But worthwhile for sure. As I felt that things were moving in the right direction and that I was able to juggle all the tasks to get on time to the launch, I began to feel happy.

I am now able to tell you what my new project is about.

1. It's a tour. No big news here
2. It's about animal, specifically wildlife. My passion
3. It takes place in the West, the US West. The reason I moved here. No across continents flights required!
4. It takes place at a great time of the year, mid September
5. It is limited to a small number of participants. 18.
6. The tour takes to three states: Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota.
7. The lucky number! These tours are a joint venture between High Country News and its new HCN Travel and my Seven Directions|Cultural and Sustainable Tours!!! This publication has an unmatched reputation among all the people who care and are interested in preserving the beauty of the West, its natural landscape and wildlife. Through in-depth journalism, it informs and inspires people to act on behalf of the West. What an honor for me!


In the last blog I left you with an image of bison....here is another one! The strength of this animal is in our logo and, we hope, in our project. It is an ancient and majestic animal, the strong symbol of this country. Unfortunately in danger. Not the country...the bison!


Throughout the tour you can visit different kinds of animal sanctuaries, see animals in the wild, and speak with experts with interesting backgrounds to better understand the current wildlife situation, the challenges, the efforts being made to help which in no way are the ultimate solution. Freedom is! Together we can envision new approaches, ways to help and contribute, and by educating ourselves better understand how to reach out to the new generations.

This is not a safari! It is a journey of love, love for nature and its inhabitants, with the purpose of becoming, all tour participants together, a support to those on the ground and an ally of the wildlife.

The overnight stays offer moments of relaxation in fabulous places and historical hotels. The food is also, in most cases, a protagonist. It is excellent and often a farm to table experience.

More details can be found here: http://www.sevendirections.net/wild-road.html

I would be very happy to hear from you and understand if you share with me the love for wildlife in the wild!

JOIN US ON THE WILD ROADS!



Sunday, April 10, 2016

New Vitality

Both physical and intellectual! I am happy.
Thanks to the determination of quitting smoking, the 2 years anniversary is in two days, I went crazy, down, up, and in all direction. This unpleasant situation helped me think just about everything. Me and myself in particular. Life and death. My dear friends whom I will never speak with again.

Some of my past blogs full of ideas of change and questions about me, my life,  reflect those months.

Hey, I got over it, not only feeling better, but feeling creative and excited. My usual me is back!

I am a senior and happy to be. It is such a huge achievement to be senior but young at heart. I feel I am a very lucky person, both my parents genes made me sturdy and open. My own life's ups and downs taught me a lot and I put it aside in the "experiences to use" drawer. Very useful. After repeating the same mistake many times I finally learned to tell myself "wait a moment, I remember this!"

Soon I will talk about my new projects. I am back planning tours. But I also found a path I hope to be able to walk because it's what it really matters to me.

I have no ideas about who reads my blogs. More people than I thought or signed up because sometimes someone tells me they read a story from my blog. I hope to have you all out there in the universe with me for a while still.

To the next with my secret dreams!
Coming soon

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Now and Then. Chapter Two

 
NOW AND THEN
A Random History of my Life
 
 
Chapter Two
 
In the late 60' I was trying hard to become a businesswoman! Since most of what happened to me, happened by chance, I landed in the communication business because someone-met my mother- at the Venice Biennale (!!)-who thought-that his ideas were interesting-and told me to find out more-and I hadn't a clue-but thought it was cool- and began my career!!!
Ha..ha..ha...the first three month I was alone in a room inside a much bigger office and my boss (the one who met my mother at the Biennale!!) didn't himself have a clue of what to do with us!! He said I had to learn how to type. True! He said to write letters to the Chamber of Commerce's lists of companies....I wrote an infinite number of letters using an old typing machine, carbon copy and so on! I used at least a forest of trees in those three months! But I learned to type!
 
Later, a few years later, I went to Moline....yes, in Illinois! But I'm going too far too quickly. Food for more chapters.
 
With a University degree in Political Science one can do everything, but that everything was hard to break down in viable careers. I was told at some point that I could have a career in the Police or become an ambassador. Ehm...not me! I'm not violent nor diplomatic!
Besides, I didn't know what I wanted, forget about knowing which career to embark on! I only knew that I wanted to work, something respectable young ladies were just then beginning to grasp!
I strongly believe in example, meaning give good examples to kids if you want them to be good people and citizens. My mother worked despite being banned by the "hi-society" of the times. My dad did too and fought against fascism. So there you go....I had to follow! But how??!! I was no where near them in terms of intelligence, culture...you name it. Hence...where could I look to find something to do not too miserable and hopefully even respectful and fulfilling??!!?? 
The communication deal seemed acceptable and unknown enough to make it attractive.
 
So I was busy learning to become a career woman, juggling my marriage and "follow-ups", and dealing with life. It took me a while to grasp the Press Release concept, and to learn to write in an acceptable PR jargon. All I had in my head were question marks!
 
 
 
Look what I found! I was looking for some pictures just before continuing writing. I have tons but all mixed up so I don't really know what to expect when I open a box. And...incredible...never saw this one in years...me standing with Leon Panetta whom I invited to a conference in Milano!

 
I had moved from Torino to Milano a few years earlier and I was still trying to find my way in a new city. I loved it, so much more lively, great night shows, open minded people. I spent a lot of free time walking borough after borough, understanding what my husband work was, locked in a huge room with gigantic computers...What I loved about his work was that he could write to me the most "techy" love letters...using an IBM 360!!

Everything ends, at least in my life.

The only family members I have providentially lived in Milan. My cousin, Franca, luckily had married a guy who really knew how to dance. During those early Milanese days I danced my way through the nights, rock&roll, boogie, Charleston, mambo, rumba and cha-cha-cha ...and so on!
Franca and her son FIlippo, no more a baby...

Those two and their 2 kids also began traveling quite a lot. And report back, which is not always such a wonderful experience (we were here...we had so much fun there...this was amazing but you can't see it in this pic...and so on...) also because in those years we had slides, with projector, wires, lenses, bulbs, and tons of uncatalogued small slide containers...discouraging!
Short....one year they came back from the West/Southwest in heaven with red rocks in all the pictures they had! I couldn't believe my eyes. It all stuck in my head, and deep in my heart.

The person who was in charge of their travels was someone who quickly became my friend too, Riccardo Rietti. Over the years we followed each other through continents and capitals of the world (well, kind of...), he helped me in the business with sound advice, with my life decisions when I was lost. In brief, he became a wonderful friend.
He died on December 2nds, ten days ago.

Riccardo, you would not have imagined in those days that your trip to now "my" country would become such a game changer in my life! It was almost 30 years ago....I never thanked you for this because I never saw the story the way I'm telling it now. So, please Riccardo, accept my heartfelt thank you! I will miss our long conversations from the homes of your sons who live back East.



Riccardo loved taking pictures. He self-published
some great photography books
                       

 
























So, here I am at Hopi Reservation! I designed the trip without a clear idea of where and what. I wanted the red rocks! Maybe someone remembers that for a short time there has been a hotel at Hopi! Burned down. We had already driven quite a bit, slept in a camp with a deer (in Milano this kind of things don't happen!), etc. Hopi though was indeed a big change!

This memory helped me often; when taking customers to visit I know exactly what goes through their mind before they even open their mouth! It's not easy to come straight from a big developed international city and...be ready for Hopi!

As we pull in, a second car stopped besides us.  we were the only two groups there, Two girls. We met again at dinner, chatted, fell in love with each other, promised to write (we then saw each other many times, I went to spend a month in Bali with one, spent wonderful times in NYC, what a lucky encounter!). Most importantly, we decided to meet again in a place they knew. Later, years later, I realized it was Chimayo'!!!! Funnily enough, we decided to skip Santa Fe because apparently there was not much to see!!
 
I remember I and my friend stopped in Albuquerque, went in a music shop and asked who was the hottest singer at the time. You know, in America everything was better (THEN!!!). I was informed that the first Bob Marley (Marley who???!!!) 33 record was out. I bough it. I still adore him today!
 
The then Chimayo' Restaurante is still clearly in my mind, stone steps and parasol.... it didn't change much!!
 
On that trip something else stopped my heart for a moment: Canyon de Chelly's Massacre Cave!
We got there without any expectations. We walked down the trail leading to the overlook and...Oh my god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I saw it again when I was already living here, in a snowy winter evening...amazing too!
There on the rim there are illustrations depicting scenes of that place. At massacre cave there is one that really struck me: the drawing is very realistic, almost childish. Terrifying. A Navajo woman grabs a Spanish soldier and not strong enough to kill him there and then she tightly grabs his body and jumps off the cliff taking him with her.
 
Massacre Cave
 
When I finally saw "RED" it was when we got lost and decided to follow a sign pointing at Painted Desert. Oh, I wish I could do it all over again!
Chapter

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Being mature (old)

I'm really, really excited to have reached my age and to be able to discover that maturity and wisdom do indeed go hand in hand. It is an amazing feeling when answers to questions about things that happen around you come to you, like crawling from your guts up, up into the stomach, your chest and finally out of your mouth. And you don't have to do anything! It is a spontaneous process, it just happens.

Bla...bla...this and that...once upon a time...


I often considered doing what many friends have been suggesting for a while: write about my life. My answer has always been the same: I don't write well, particularly in English (!!!); my life is not so special to deserve to be shared; there are too many books out there that go unread into the black holes of the Universe. The truth is though, that each life is unique. Your life is unique, just  like his, hers, ours. But they are unique for ourselves, seldom for others.

But..., ok, yes, I want to try to jot down some memories and current experiences. We shall see. Be good to me!

NOW AND THEN
A Random History of my Life
 
Introduction
 
Because memory is a gift no longer available after a certain age, it's difficult to remember the name of the person you just met, or the article it took 30 minutes to read. We have to accept this. But memories from one's past come back, during the day, when you read but your mind refuses to focus, when you listen to a long chat on the phone, and during the night when you dream or have nightmares, when...when...when. Luckily most go away as fast and mysteriously as they came to us! And these memories sit at the bottom of your corners, scattered around in the mind and body to create a useful basket of facts our brain can manipulate to create...WISDOM!

Chapter One

Since about a year ago or so, I realize that it became easy for me to be a "counselor". Until then, if someone would ask for advice, I knew I was not going to be able to open my mouth quickly as my teeth were sticking together in terror... waiting for something to say to come up. Not anymore. The memory of a long life full of amazing experiences, people, fun and sad events create a sort of alliance among them and, voila', my opinion is ready and clear and I can advise, in a way that makes sense, and can even prove useful!

Here is where memories from the past come in! While listening to the friend in trouble, I receive an image of myself. University, studying with two friends, sitting on a pale green couch overlooking, through a gable, the river Po, that runs through Turin. We have on our laps those gigantic law books that I never managed to find interesting. I couldn't understand much, nor follow the discussion among THEM. My friends who learned quickly, who even understood what we were reading. Those two who didn't see my struggle, didn't pay attention to me, didn't care about my panic attacks. Didn't say a word to convince me that I was OK. I panicked, tears would begin dropping on my skirt (no pants then, unless when you skied!). I wanted them to SEE me, talk to me, and tell me that I was not stupid. Nothing. I saw my friends like in a cloud, happy, chirping, repeating long sentences about law...I was invisible. My heart was aching. I would resolve to screaming out loud: I think I'm stupid!!!!

The result was always the same, after quickly staring at me they would laugh and say "What??!!"

The same feelings, other circumstances. A Greek Island, gorgeous, hardly any tourist. It was my third visit. Many friends came with me. 16 hours between blue sea and burning sun (I am now covered with freckles and dark spots...), then dancing sirtaki all night. What was I doing when we were all walking up to the house I rented for us? I would gradually slow down my pace in order to stay behind and then get depressed! I would wait for someone to turn around, noticing I was not with them but alone, far away (not so far, really...) and sad, very sad. I needed someone to say "why are you behind? Something wrong?" Nothing of that ever happened because nobody could imagine that the most vivacious of all, laughing, diving, and dancing happily day and night, had something like that in her mind. Who would?
I can assure you that I was more than miserable, I was desperate (although it was over as soon as we reached home and change for dinner!). Truly.

Now I know that things happen for a reason. Since I was the happiest little girl during childhood and growing up, I had to experience, although not seriously, the feeling of depression and of being alone and misunderstood if I wanted to fend my way through life without a lifesaver. I did, I indeed survived all the bad experiences, each time feeling stronger, each time feeling I was equipped for victory. By myself.

My friends never found out how "cruel" they have been with me. Some are no longer with us. But I remember their happy and intelligent faces while I was feeling stupid, weak, alone.

Thank you for not noticing, now I can help others. If you had noticed I would always look for help outside myself.

Something else. A few days ago I read about an Italian organization that takes care of young people from poor countries who come to Italy to study. I first searched on Facebook, then I also searched for more information on the Internet. And BANG...the name of the village where it is based is that of a place where I have been incredibly happy while growing up. A hilly area famous for its vineyards and small farms. My family bought that place to hide during fascism, when possible. For me that place is synonymous of happiness, freedom, where I learned the friendship with animals and about their loyalty.
Thanks to that Google search and to my never ending curiosity I travelled back to the twin calves of my beloved cow Mora, that allowed me to raise one with the bottle while she was nursing the other (I will never forget the lovely nose covered with milk!!);

the goose chicks who lost their mother, the eggs laid under a helpful mommy turkey, and then in my shirt's pocket. I can still feel their tiny beaks eating bright yellow corn flower directly from my mouth!

Then, during my search I found a new page talking about restoring a beautiful gate now in disrepair. OMG....it is MY gate that opened to the farm!!!!!!!! That I didn't remember, until I saw it and suddenly it was like a movie. Me with the boy I grew up with, Marco, on an oxcart. getting the oxen from the stable, tying them to the cart, opening the gate and off into the fields! We were less than 10 years old for sure. With big pitchforks we would work hard lifting hey until the cart was so high we could hardly climb to the top. I can still feel the pride of coming home to the farm, open the gate having accomplished a tremendous job.



The search blessed me with another image of the farm. The label of a wine now produced there has the design of the building that saw my most exciting and "extreme" adventures, never again to be performed! The hayloft and the stable, which you can't see but that it was right below the lofts. Those were the places for "extreme" activities (i.e. forbidden to the children...) like jumping many levels of hey stacks, hiding for hours, and talking with the cows all with their warm look in their eyes who would turn around to greet me every time I would open the stable door. This was not forbidden but only BEFORE the evening bath....



 

Going to bed now hoping for some dreams and late night Google searches to give me some other bits of memories, enough for another chapter.