Embrace Culture Shock | Encounter

Embrace Culture Shock

Culture Shock. It was market day in Tanant, a dusty Berber village in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Morocco. I was on my own and miles away from the tourist crowd. Stalls of fresh honey and sweet toasted almonds nestled beside hooked goat heads and enormous dried out cow tongues. People thrust hand-woven rugs and live chickens in my face. I saw a sheep being skinned to the side a blood splattered tent, and another being led calmly in. It felt like I’d been sucked into a maelstrom of brutal sensations, too raw and unfamiliar to understand. Leaving your comfort zone, I decided that day, is, well, uncomfortable.

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Nevada Mustang Monument | Encounter

Nevada Mustang Monument

The mustangs are running. At the base of the Goshute Mountains, in the Great Basin of Northern Nevada – a vast plain of white salt beds, scraggly sagebrush and sways of apple green crested wheatgrass – a herd, forty strong, cuts through the high desert in a bleached storm of pale yellow dust. In the distance, spring snow slips off shaded mountain slopes and wildflowers paint the unfathomable emptiness of America’s western range. What would it be like to ride in the midst of those galloping hooves, I wonder? Clay Nannini, a local cowboy whose swagger would run John Wayne out of town, looks at me with the glint of a knowing eye, “like thunder.”

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Navajo Medicine Man Ceremony | Encounter

Navajo Medicine Man Ceremony

The medicine man sits before a pile of hot coals spread out on the compacted red earth floor of his Hogan – the traditional home of the Navajo.  “This is Native American church,” he tells me, pulling shiny black arrowheads and Golden Eagle feathers from his wooden medicine box, and twisting a thick translucent crystal before the flames.

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Interview Ryoei Takagi: Shugendo Monk | Encounter

Interview Ryoei Takagi: Shugendo Monk

Whilst walking the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail in Japan I had a rare opportunity to interview a Shugendo monk.  The entire Kumano region is sacred to the followers of Shugendo who have  lived and walked these arduous mountain slopes for thousands of years. read more…