I just spent a long weekend in Vermont, with a small group of friends & family to celebrate a wedding. There were less than 30 of us there, which made it very intimate and special. And almost all of the guests stayed at the same Inn for the weekend, for a relaxing weekend together. With the perfect weather, and great company, I can’t imagine a better wedding weekend for the happy couple! Well, if the groom hadn’t injured his foot jumping off of some rocks into a swimming hole during the reception, I suppose that would have made it a better weekend, but injuries not withstanding, it was an ideal wedding weekend. With a simple ceremony, this no-fuss wedding was very laid-back and low stress. This is a couple that understands that what is important isn’t the wedding, but the marriage – that sentiment will undoubtably serve them well as they officially have started on their path together! I have no doubt that the life they share will be a happy one! I could not be happier for them, and I wish them all the best!!
The contrast between being in Africa and finding myself in an idyllic New England setting less than a week later was a little bit of a shock to the system, but the weekend away allowed me a lot of time for quiet reflection. It was a lush and beautiful setting – polar opposite to the arid, desert climate I was in so recently! It’s really amazing how vastly different various parts of the world can be. Vermont does seem to offer a more simple lifestyle, with a slower pace than the New York area, just as Africa does. But still the biggest contrast is the level of relative wealth in the various places. We were looking through some real estate brochures (just daydreaming, not truly looking to buy), and you can get a farmhouse on several acres for less than the cost of a townhouse a half hour outside of NYC. While the difference in cost (and taxes) in the various parts of the US is somewhat disturbing, the difference is relative cost of living and poverty levels around the world is absolutely staggering. For the cost of an average car in the US, you can buy a whole house in Africa – I saw a listing for a 3 bedroom house in Djibouti (1 bath) for $20,000 ($US). Then there’s the issue of relative lifestyles. It was a very warm weekend along the east coast of the US, and in a heat wave that brings us to lower temperatures than the average day in Djibouti we set up cooling stations for people whose air conditioning goes out. People walk across the desert areas in higher temperatures than that in Africa! They walk miles to wells to get water they hope is not contaminated. It’s absolutely a different lifestyle. It’s also amazing how quickly you can ease back into what you are used to and forget how lucky you are to have all that you do. Personally, I have realized that it’s time for me to really sit and take stock of all that I have and re-think my priorities. The beauty of nature in Vermont makes you take stock of the need to preserve our environment and live a more green lifestyle. The poverty in other parts of the world makes the need for the newest and best material possession (whatever the flavor of the moment) seem frivolous and petty. Recent experiences are really opening my eyes and I’ll never be able to totally close them again. And that’s a good thing. I look forward to experiencing even more and allowing the next trip to change me and my perspective even more than the last.