Archive for November 19th, 2005

Prince Albert in a Can

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MONACO (AP) – A solemn Prince Albert
II formally ascended to Monaco’s throne Saturday in ceremonies that mixed
royal pomp with an emotional remembrance for his late father, Rainier
III.

The festivities started with a Mass in the cliff-top cathedral where Rainier
married Hollywood beauty Grace Kelly in 1956 and where he was buried beside
her in April when he died at age 81, ending a 56-year reign.

Wearing a royal ceremonial military uniform, Albert blinked back tears
after kneeling to receive a blessing at the end of the Mass, which was
led by the archbishop of Monaco, Monsignor Bernard Barsi. His sisters,
Caroline and Stephanie, sat beside him and cried.

"By rising to the Grimaldi throne, Prince Albert finds his place in the
continuity of this dynasty and with the help of God, carries forward the
destiny of the principality dating more than seven centuries,” Barsi said
between strains of organ music and Handel’s "Messiah.”

Sounds a bit over the top for our tastes. Besides,
everyone knows what to do with Prince Albert in a can – let him out…

from the Guardian of London

Escaping the Belly of the Beast

4

Calendar
shock – one of the Boston radio stations has started playing exclusively
Christmas music. We’re not nearly
ready for this. Admittedly, it’s cold outside (41F) but we’re still in
the meat of the fall semester and haven’t even finalized our Thanksgiving
plans.

We guess the carols serve as a sort of seasonal alarm
clock, a not-so-subtle cue that the holidays are just around the corner,
and it’s nice to hear them now because when Christmas Day actually comes
we will be far from here, way up on the continental spine, over 4 thousand
miles due south. They don’t play The Little Drummer Boy or White Christmas
or the Chipmunk Song up in the Peruvian Andes.

Besides visiting Villa
Maria
, our son’s adventure tourism
hotel, and meeting our first grandchild, born a month ago, we hope to
get to three attractions during our two weeks in Peru. We really want
to
visit
Chavin
de Huantar
,
one
of
the
oldest
ruins
in
South America, nestled at the head of an almost untouched Andean valley called
the Callejon de Conchucos. It
is known as the Cradle of Andean Civilization, and is an archeological
jewel ensconced in an even more spectacular natural setting. In all of
our years and trips to Peru, we have never been there.

The
other two places we have seen, and have always wanted to go back to.
The Ice Caves under the Pastoruri
Glacier
have haunted
my dreams since we first saw them 25 years ago. They are at 5400 meters
above sea level, more than three miles, and we have probably diminished
our lung capacity since we were 27, but we want to give it a try.

The third thing we really want to see again are the
Puya Raymondi, an endangered cactus which only exists in a few isolated
areas of Peru and Bolivia, which lives 100 years, grows to over 30
feet in height, and only flowers, brilliantly, once in its life, then
dies.

Yes, now that we think about it, we are really ready
for a trip to the Andes. Somehow we have been feeling a little queasy
being an American in America just now. The panorama seems dirty and sullied,
like we are moving slowly through a gelatinous ether, formed from denial
and deception which only we can see. Perhaps we feel responsible for
the mess, somehow, if only because we voted for Dubya in misguided attempt
to jinx him with the weight of a seven-selection losing streak.  But
in a discomforting way, if only by extension and geography, as long as we hold the bright blue passport, WE are one of the invaders,
and WE are one of the the torturers.

But
we have long since reconciled with what it means to be an American in
this day and age.  You have to take the bad with the good. We have
no desire to go native, worship nature, or remove ourself from the Net
more than briefly.

Still, it will be good to escape from the belly of the
beast, if only for a
few short weeks. The thin air and untamed nature of those
mountains have always clarified our thoughts and rejuvenated our body.  Perhaps
from the vantage of 5,000 meters we will be able to see a rational way
out of the national nightmare fast approaching our beloved country.