Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
I hope you will read the last blog, "Eyes of the Snow Leopard," as it gives the reason I created this blog. I am keenly aware that many animals face extinction, because of man and his greed. I will tell you something else: We are endangered too. Global warming is real, is deadly and we are responsible for it. I hope with all my soul that we can learn to live in peace and be the stewards of this earth we are meant to be.
Along with my dear friend and mentor,Dr. Edgar Mitchell, I work daily to try to help in any way I can. I am tireless in the 'war' to protect the earth and her children all I can. I hope this blog will circle the planet and all will do their part too. We need to all work on this together! Ed has told people that he did not feel deeply when he was on the moon..but he did. I know that Allen Shepherd wept when he saw that blue jewel hanging in space. Not one of the men who walked on the moon was ever the same.
Ed is always working now, to try to get people to wake up, to see the danger we are doing with all our wars and stupidity. I fly all over the world. From up there, all looks neat and organized and beautiful. But when we land, it is another story. I see most of my brothers and sisters on this planet struggling just to live. Many of them are so poor that they cannot function normally. So they are prey to the fanatics who twist their minds into hatred. Lack of education is a lot of the problem. I have just seen that the author of 'Three Cups of Tea', Greg Mortensen, has another book out. I will eagerly get it to support him in his quest to bring education to the people of Afghanistan. This man should win the Nobel Peace prize!
Also Dr. Gary Young, a brother in spirit who is building schools in Equator and flying all over the world in quest of healthy foods and medicines! Dr. Young has helped so many people with his great essential oils, which heal better than the medicines we spend fortunes to kill us!Look up info on him at www.youngliving.com
Yesterday, I flew in Troops which had been in Kuwait training. These are the best passengers in the world, so nice and thankful for anything one does for them. Tomorrow, I will fly rich people down to the islands to escape the cold. I cringe to think of the difference! These people will most likely be spoiled, rude and obnoxious. Better get the bloody Mary's ready...
Americans are spoiled, I am sorry to say, troops excluded. I will tell you all about this trip tomorrow on the blog. Hope I can report a difference in my judgement, so let us see!!!
Upon arrival, the troops were met by the Pease Greeters, a group of Veterans of Viet Nam and other conflicts, dressed in their uniforms, their wives, children and dogs form a line to welcome the troops home, cheering. It brought tears to my eyes as I saw these people welcome the troops with open arms. They provided the troops with coffee, donuts, phone cards, hats and other freebies. I understand that the vets who were deeply depressed over Viet Nam have found their calling in welcoming our heroes home. Seeing the troops have reconnected them and given them a reason to retire from the Military with dignity.
God bless all of you of Pease Greetings for all your work and love. We love you all. Even the Crew who fly these boys home are warmly welcomed with hugs. Brings tears to my eyes to tell of it. In the freezing cold, our photos were taken as a memorial to our work in bringing them home. Tell you something: I'd go into Iraq (I have) and wherever I needed to to get our boys and ladies who fight in these terrible conflicts and bring them back home, even if I have to dodge bullets myself!
War is a terrible and senseless thing. But when one has to go off to war, it surely must mean the world to be appreciated and welcomed home. I only wish the Viet Nam boys had been.
Sometimes I wonder if this whole war thing is a business run by heads of state for money. I lived in Egypt for many years and can tell you for sure that my brothers and sisters in Egypt, Morocco and other countries want the same as us. Peace...it is only a small minority that run this so called Jihad. The Taliban are cruel and stupid and uneducated. Osama? From what I have read about him, he lived in a house in Saudi Arabia, with no furniture lounged on a dirt floor, a fanatic who did not think twice about indulging his lust for women,however. They are all the same. Power and that is the biggest drug of all. I think he is dead...but that is my opinion. He was very ill and I do not know how he could ever survive in those mountains. Been there, not a place for a man who needed kidney dyasilysis.
Enough for now. I will update this blog when I get back to sunny Florida. Love to you all!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Eyes of the Snow Leopard
K. S. Hammond
My eyes flew open. Terror seared my soul. Something was out there in the night stalking, smelling, waiting. Any moment it would leap through the tent and carry me away. I could almost smell its wild scent wafting through the Himalayan night.
"Get up Naresh!" My voice was trembling and I was shaking in every cell of my body. "Something is out there!" I kicked his sleeping bag to arouse him from a deep slumber.
Naresh was aware of my keen sensitivity. He'd experienced it a month before when I refused to drink the tea. He had laughed at me then, but the joke was on him. He came down with Typhoid fever and would have died if I had not insisted we get vaccinated in London. We'd only had time for one booster and had to fly to India, missing the second one. But the vaccine had saved his life. He'd only had a 'mild' case of Typhoid that kept him in bed for two weeks with a high fever. So he respected my intuition, which had warned me not to touch the tea from the local stall beside the road, as we'd made our way up into the high mountains.
So he crawled out of the sleeping bag, eyes wide open.
"What is it?" he asked.
"Something is out there, Naresh. I can feel it in all the cells of my body!"
"OK then, I will build up the fire. Stay close to the tent, Kat."
He did not have to tell me that. I was clinging to every shred of willpower I processed not to scream in terror.
We'd been backpacking for a week into the high Himalayas. The place we were headed is called 'The Valley of Flowers' and is nearly impossible for most people to reach. According to the Sherpas we met later, twenty people had lost their lives trying to reach these heights, dying from heart attacks or falling to their deaths from the narrow paths and dangerous cliffs. But this place was considered one of the most holy places on earth. Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion, had received enlightenment here, as had other countless sages and saints. So we were determined to reach these heights.
We had only a small axe to cut firewood, a tiny tent and enough freeze dried goods to last two weeks. We'd made our camp beneath a large outcrop of rock, underneath its shelter about 100 feet from a rushing stream and tumbling waterfall. I'd made fun of Naresh for spending the entire day dragging thorn bushes and piling them into a circle around the tent.
"You won't laugh if we are visited by a tiger or snow leopard. They are here in these parts."
"Well, as you know Naresh, the cat is my spiritual twin," I'd laughed. "We mustn't fear them. It is man with all his nonsense that we need fear. Why, I'll bet any bandit would love to lay their hands on the rupees in my pocket."
"Never the less, we have to build protection, Kat. There are no people here to help us and if one of us gets caught by a tiger, we are done for."
I'd laughed then and went to pick wild berries for our lunch.
Naresh's voice was laced with terror. The ring outside the firelight was pitch black. One could only see about three feet from the firelight.
"Oh my god! Something huge has just passed by. I can see its shadow!" The axe in his hand trembled. We drew closer to the fire. Hours went by. We stayed beside the fire, to afraid to move.
The fire roared upward at least ten feet. While I was picking berries that morning, Naresh had been gathering fire wood, and now he piled it branch by branch upon the seething inferno. Naresh's face took on a sarcastic expression. He turned to me and a sneer appeared upon his handsome face.
"Look at you Kat. The Cat is supposed to be YOUR spiritual guide and friend and you are terrified. What a hypocrite you are!" He turned around and fed the fire.
I stood looking at him from the back as he piled on more wood and the flames leaped higher. Suddenly something came over me. I took a mala (a holy necklace made of beads given to me by one of India's great saints,) and made a decision then, never to live in fear of another being, especially the great cats I so loved. If I was meant to be killed and eaten by a wild tiger or snow leopard, I would give myself willingly. Besides, perhaps she was starving due to our stupidity and stealing her habitat so that very few animals were now available. Or perhaps she was old and tired and unable to hunt anymore. In any case, we were toast, if she really wanted to eat us. These great cats are highly intelligent and she'd lie in wait for us somewhere on the trail. That being the case, we had no options at all. An axe against a Tiger or Snow Leopard?
I don't think so!
I turned around and quietly stepped over the thorn barrier into the black night, holding my mala and singing quietly a chant the Saint had taught me. If I were to die at the hands of a Tiger or Leopard, it would be quick. She'd simply grasp my by the throat and it would all be over. So I would make this last gift to her and her cubs willingly, if it were my destiny.
Facing my terror and knowing it could soon be over, I experienced a great calm. Then joy flooded through me, for I knew that I would be spared this night. I looked up at the figure of Naresh, small now, still with his back turned. He did not know I was gone.
I lifted my eyes up to the high mountains and caught my breath. The tips of the mountain were aflame with the first rays of the rising sun. All my senses were tuned like a harp and I could hear the rushing waters below me and smell the clear clean air of the pristine Himalayas.
Naresh suddenly turned around.
"Kat! Where are you?" "KAT!"
He could see nothing from within the circle. Yet I could see everything.
"I'm out here in the dark, Naresh." I snarled like a wild leopard, and then burst into laughter.
He was still blind as a bat and stepped over the barrier, holding the small axe high above his head. My hero. When he finally stumbled to where I stood, he grasp my arm.
"Come on Kat! It is dangerous out here. I saw something..."
"Naresh, look at the mountain. We are safe. I can feel it. She passed us by."
But I was exhausted and we had some hot tea and crawled into our sleeping bags.
"Get up Naresh!" I almost shouted. "Something is coming!"
Once more he struggled out of the sleeping bag into the early dawn.
"What is it this time?" He said. "Is the leopard here again?"
"All I know is that something is coming and we have to get out of here!" I said.
"Let us have some breakfast and coffee first," Naresh said.
"NO! We have to leave and NOW!" I was getting excited and could smell danger.
And so we broke camp, put out the fire and took down our thorn barrier. We took down the tent and crammed everything into our backpacks. We slung them on to our backs and began the strenuous climb up the side of the hill.
It was then that we saw them. Naresh's eyes grew huge and his face paled like snow.
A herd of wild buffalo thundered toward our camp site. We could observe them from the safety of the top of the hill. They seemed enraged as they smelled our presence, and bellowed again and again as they stomped and hurled the thorn bushes we'd left high into the air. They slashed the earth with their hooves and milled around in the area we'd been.
"Boy are they angry."Naresh said.
"This is their territory and they can smell our intrusion," I said. Then I remembered a story Naresh had related to me while we were on the train. He's been chased by a water buffalo and had stepped on a nail. His foot pouring with blood, he barely escaped with his life, as he'd slithered underneath a fence just in time.
I could feel the sarcastic smile spreading over my face. I just could not resist:
"There is your spirit creature. Why don't you go down and say hello?"
"Are you crazy?" Naresh exclaimed. "The water buffalo is one of the most dangerous if not THE most dangerous animal in the wild.
I just smiled. Great peace filled my soul from my adventure the night before.
"Oh dang, Naresh. I forgot my walking stick. I simply must have it!"I said.
"You are crazy if you think I'm going back down there!" Naresh scolded.
"What's the matter, you a scardy cat?" I teased.
"Well, if you think it is so easy, why don't you go down there? After all it is your damn walking stick."
"You are absolutely right," I answered, slithering out of my pack.
"Wait Kat, I was only teasing," Naresh said, suddenly terrified.
"I'll be right back," I said, going back down the hill.
The group of buffalo watched me as I made my way to the tree where my staff leaned. They backed up and formed a semi circle. I was less than ten feet from them as I quietly walked toward the tree. I talked gently to them. They could smell my scent and I am convinced they knew I was a vegetarian as I do not carry the scent of dead animals upon me.
I will never forget one cow. She had one blue eye and one brown. I told her how beautiful she was. She lowered her great head and watched me as I took the stick in my hand. She then backed up slowly. I know she looked upon that stick as a weapon, but I held it in a non confrontational way and climbed back up the hill.
Naresh did not speak a word as we made our way up to the government run camp beside the river. Then we went in search of The Valley of Flowers.
Fast forward twelve years into the future;
I was working for a charter airline and flying all over the world. I belong to Snow Leopard Trust (www.snowleopard.org) and was excited beyond words. I'd been a member of the Trust for several years and had yet to behold a snow leopard. I'd visited the web site and found out that they had a snow leopard in Leipzig, Germany where I was going to be laying over for 24 hours.
With my heart in my hand, we visited the Leipzig Zoo. My companions were part of the crew and they were overjoyed at the beauty of the zoo, at how well the grounds were kept and the wonderful gift shop. But I only wanted to see the leopard.
That day had dawned cold and rainy so few people visited the zoo. We had it all to ourselves. After an agonizing hour of visiting other sites with the crew, I was growing impatient.
"I can just see it now!" I whined. "After all this effort, getting lost while walking and fooling around with the monkeys and reptiles, the damn zoo will close and I will not have seen my snow leopard!"
"Come on Kat," Enrique said. "Let's go find him now."
The first of three huge cages caught my eye. They were surrounded by trees and the first cage was hidden. I could see a leopard there, but wanted a closer look. I gazed around and sneaked over to the side to get a better look. My crew had sundered off and left me.
The great leopard was not a snow, but beautiful never the less. He was guarding his meal and snarled at me. I loved it.
"Madam! Please come over here!" A voice split the quiet. Dang, they saw me.
Yet I was overjoyed to meet the biologist who was studying the cats. He forgave me immediately when I told him I was a member of the Snow Leopard Trust.
"Yet I have never seen one up close." I sighed.
"Well, we have two, a male and a female. We have to keep them separate, as the female will only accept the male during mating season which is in January. We had a cub last year, but we lost her. It is not easy to keep them. We'll try again in January, when she comes in season."
He then escorted me to the cage.
The male was frozen in time, his great head sticking into the wires of the barrier. He could smell the meal of the leopard in the cage next to his. Yet the cages were separated by about five feet and his enclosure was covered so he could not see the leopard next to him. But he could smell him all right and his meal. He did not move a muscle, as my friends returned and tried to get his attention. He totally ignored us. He's seen it all I am sure; whining kids and people calling out to get his attention. We were unworthy of his majesty.
After a few minutes, everyone left. The biologist to study at the next cage, and my friends, after being ignored by the leopard, to greener pastures.
Yet, I could not leave. I looked at his beautiful winter coat, more lovely than any mink. His graceful figure stretched out as he watched the blank wall for any sign of movement. I was beside myself with his beauty. It was almost too much to bear. Never in all of my life, have I seen such a magnificent creature. I so much wanted to see his face, his eyes…his soul.
Softly, I began to purr. I was only about ten feet from him yet it seemed he was light-years away. Then, he began to turn his great head. It was so slow, so graceful. I could not move and was stuck to the spot as though I was welded to it. I had begun to tell him how beautiful he was. How sorry I was that his kind was endangered. I'd closed my eyes and sent pictures his way from my mind...of the high Himalayas and the beautiful Valley of Flowers, fed by seventeen waterfalls and countless glaciers, a place that is heaven on earth.
I closed my eyes for an instant as that great head turned. When I opened them, his golden eyes were locked upon mine. In every cell of my being, I felt his magnificence, his glory. All barriers fell away. There was no more 'I' or 'He' only one great love.
All I could say was "I love you. I love you so much…"
Then he closed his eyes and opened them slowly, as he held my gaze. He had given me a kiss in the way of the great cats. Then, as he listened to my voice, he turned his head slightly and a look of absolute bliss came over his beautiful face. I knew then why I'd been spared on that cold night in the Himalayas. Perhaps it was to help his kin, to try to save his race from extinction that the Great Spirit had spared me.
I stood for five minutes caught in his power, and then he slowly turned his head again to sniff the barrier between him and the other leopard.
I was drunk with joy. We'd communicated in the way of all beings and the message was that we are all one. My heart felt like it was a wild rose blown wide open and filled with light. I will never forget that moment etched upon my heart, nor his golden eyes, full of sunlight. But if I could come back upon this earth as another being after my death, it will surely be in the form of a Snow Leopard.
"Endangered Beauty," Winner of National Geographic's International Photo Contest 2008. Stephen W. Oachs, Photographer
Living In Eternity
Kat's Travel Blog
October 28, 2009
What a fabulous country! The stark beauty and windswept coast is forever seared in my heart. I began a morning with the wonderful hotel staff's huge layout called 'breakfast.' (which by the way comes free with the room!) There were delicacies from fresh seafood caught in Iceland's pristine waters as well as fine pastries. It reminded me of my grandmother's table on Thanksgiving. The bread was mouthwatering and fresh, many grain and healthy, the coffee hot and delicious. They had so many types of breads and pastry that I had to close my eyes in order not to gain ten pounds. So I decided to eat healthy and had the hot Oatmeal with fresh fruit.
Hotel Keflavik has so much charm. The entire crew was treated like family and we were told, when we dragged ourselves into the lobby after a long weary flight, that they had prepared a special meal for us. So last night the entire crew sat down to mouthwatering fresh homemade soups and seafood. I have to say that the vegetable soup was the best I have ever had. The bread was piping hot and homemade too. The showers here are wonderful. They are walk in, so if you are older, you don't have to step over a tub. The showers were very easy to use too, and you can dial the temperature of the water. Downstairs they have a state of the art fitness center with a sauna.
But for me, I needed the fresh bracing air and went for a walk. I let my heart lead me as usual. I always have wonderful adventures that way. I must have walked six miles along the coast. The sun was just peeking out from behind the distant snowcovered island and bathed the craggy coast with quicksilver. The waves crashed against gigantic rocks of pure pumice, roaring majestically as birds of many species darted and dived into the ocean. I explored an old fishing boat, left high and dry for that purpose, then followed the coast all the way around until my eyes lit upon a strange sight.
In the distance, I saw a cottage built into the side of the cliff. It looked like something a Gnome would live in. The house appeared to be built into solid rock and huge majestic windows carved of wood looked out upon the sea. My curious heart pulled me there. I followed the trail around the cliff and came upon a mystery.
Before me huge tall doors, at least 50 feet high beckoned. I saw a gigantic whale bone lying beside the rocks and made my way up to the door. No one was around and I was alone. So I pushed upon the door with all my might wanting to see what lay beyond. Suddenly I heard a strange sound, like a snarl then a groan and jumped back! It sounded otherworldly and I wondered if a mammoth was in there! I backed away and fled back to the hotel to ask my new friend Mark (who works behind the desk) what in the world this place was.
Mark laughed and was delighted that I had found the "Gnome House." It is a place; he said that was definitely an "Island Thing!"
"Oh, you have to go back and experience it!" He grinned.
Then they told me what, in fact it was and I could not wait to return.
Iceland has a history of Celtic and Nordic roots. On the island are many fairies and Nomes and this is a place for the children to go. It is completely free of charge to visit, so with my good friends and fellow flight attendants, armed with cameras, we went back. After all, Mark had called and asked the gentleman to open it for us.
We hoofed it back and I was in the lead, having a fetish about keeping folks waiting and could just see this little gnome like man waiting for us before the huge doors! And of course, having already seen the sites I was way in the lead.
Imagine my surprise when I stepped into that 'house!'
It was a mammoth natural grotto enclosed to look like the hall of the mountain king. The sea has carved out a natural cave and the people of Iceland wanted to build something for their kids. At first, my eyes were blasted wide open in shock by the site of the gigantic bed. It is at least 100 or more feet long, and is the bed of the 'Grandmother of Shriek.'
Grandma Shriek is at least 100 to 200 feet high and sits in her rocker belching and farting and making sounds as only an old Gnome could! I doubled over in laughter. I will never forget the expressions of my companions as they came through that door! I was glad I was there first so I could see their reactions. Pure joy and childlike laughter lit up their faces. We were all 4 years old for a moment! Then we made photos to share with all of you.
There is also a chest with a four leaf clover painted upon the lid where Grandma Gnome hides all her treasures. From the great doors is a view (sigh…) that I will share with all of you. I will come back to write about Iceland again…as a welcome guest of this wonderful hotel.
David Jonsson and Markus Fry will welcome you and make you feel warm and cozy!
For those of you who want to visit Iceland, I cannot recommend a better place to stay!!
Here's the place!
Hotel Keflavik, Vatnsnesvegi 12-14 , 230 Keflavik, Iceland,
All the Best!
Kat and Crew of Gypsy Airlines