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Far Away Planet
If one is a small child, or pretends to think with a small child’s mind, or at worst or perhaps best depending on perspective possesses a small child’s mind despite being plenty old enough to be considered an adult, one may come upon an experience or sight that leaves them overcome with a sense of newness so grand that a detachment from the earth ensues, and one feels to be distant in space and time from the immediately preceding moment, and in some particular way, they have stepped foot on a far away planet. (Of course there is much in the way of religious terminology to describe such experiences, but we’ll ignore these)
There are myriad opportunities for such a feeling to arrive, and joining the latest commercial space flight along with bored/narcissist celebrities need not be the ticket. For the truly enlightened, simply staring at a porcelain toilet bowl or such could perhaps lead to an interstellar event, but for those somewhat more grounded a trip to one of the world’s geographical oddities is certain to increase the likelihood of losing oneself in space.
The Salar de Uyuni, a salt flat in the Bolivian highlands, once experienced, is an example of a place on earth which sings out to be dreamt of. The desolation and loneliness (if you can avoid the lumbering Land cruisers zooming this way and that) startles the imagination, and yes, allows one to escape.
Now these are thoughts of one standing on the brink of the salt flat, looking out as the sun sinks, and frigid morphing clouds stain darker and darker. The cyclists of our South American expedition appear as black dots on the white surface of the largest, flattest surface on earth. At first their sight is met with humor, as if they represent lost punctuation marks on a crisp sheet of paper, but as the appearance of 2 wheels and the human form appear clearer, a feeling of great respect for such a physical achievement grows. Practically all of our expedition participants cycled the breadth of the Salar. It was a daunting goal, and a splendid, if exhausting success.
How many of them left the earth, if only momentarily, during their human powered crossing of the Salar de Uyuni? Well, it is difficult to tell, as being spaced out is a rather common state during trans-continental cycle expeditions, but personally, I would say all of the bicycle riders finished the day with windswept smiles of those who’ve travelled further than they could have ever imagined.
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