Hiroshima

Aug 12
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in Travel log

Hiroshima is most certainly one of the places on earth every American should visit. World War II is beyond the memory for me and for most of my friends, but it shouldn’t be far from our hearts even if it happened before we were born. When I was a high school student reading about the A-bomb in history class, I had no basis for understanding the travesty of nuclear power yielded against humanity. Most people I know never question that the United Stated “had to” use the nuclear bomb in Japan as a way to stop the war, and even the Hiroshima Museum doesn’t bring this premise into question. What it does instead is focus on the totality of the losses experienced due to the bomb dropped on August 6, 1945 at 8:15 am. More than a hundred thousand people and their entire town were instantly incinerated when the bomb hit the atmosphere.
Yesterday when I walked through the museum, it became quickly obvious that the agenda of all the memorials in the Peace Park—museum included—is not to accuse or resent what is in the past, but to say, “Let us never allow this to happen again.” One of the most powerful exhibits for me was the downsized replica of the “Dome,” the only building still standing in downtown Hiroshima from before the bomb was dropped. On the walls of the replica are posted small plaques with letters written by the mayor of the city to every leader of a nuclear state EVERY time a nuclear weapon has been tested since 1968! As soon as a nuclear test has been completed, the mayor (whoever he is at the time) quickly sends a telegram protesting the test and the existance of the nuclear warfare program. One whole wall was filled with the protest letters sent during 1985, the year I graduated from high school.

On this trip to Japan, as I’ve wandered about searching for “goddess” images and stories, I have to admit that the images of men’s hatred for the “other” and the resulting violence that I saw in the exhibits yesterday (and I mean that the hatred cut both ways during World War II, for sure), almost overpowered the moments of peace I’ve felt at the shrines and temples I’ve visited in the past two weeks. But not quite. The message on every corner in Hiroshima is about peace. Just as I was despairing over how violent the war was, I stumbled across a huge bell with a plaque that instructed all who stood in that spot to ring the bell so that the call for peace could be heard throughout the earth. As the town rebuilt itself, it has made the most profound commitment to opening its heart and spreading a message of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We saw more foreigners welcomed to Hiroshima than we’ve ever seen in any of the tourist locations in Tokyo! This town is (or should be) a Mecca pilgrimage for anyone who believes that the future of the earth depends on peace between nations.

Today we went to Miyajima Island and puttered around the shrines and temples there. I got to see one more image of the Benzaiten, goddess of all that flows. They requested that we didn’t take pictures of the image stationed behind the altar, so I respected that, but here is a brief video of the O-torrii gate that welcomes visitors as they arrive on the island. This is taken from inside of the big Itsukushima shrine (a world heratage site which is dedicated to the three Munakata goddesses of sea, safety, and furtune and accomplishment).

 

Tomorrow Bill and I head back to Tokyo for one last night and then fly home on Wednesday. What a trip this has been—so rich with adventures and new goddess myths to factor into my worldview! Cheers to you all. I hope whatever you’ve been up to this past couple of weeks has been as edifying for you as my trip has been for me, even if it was more mundane in nature.

Bruce Sheriff of Iowa Talks about his Seven Marathons on Seven Continents

Sep 26
Posted by Cami Ostman Filed in Advice, Conversations, Guest Blogger, Race Reports, Read This, Travel log

I’d like you to meet my pal, Bruce. He’s in his mid-sixties, an adventurer bar none, and a determined runner after my own heart. Recently he completed his seventh continental marathon, and I asked if I could interview him about his experience. Check it out! And scroll below for a smattering of Bruce’s photos (in no particular order). Thanks Bruce!

Bruce and Gerry in Australia

 

What made you want to run a marathon on every continent?

My quest for the 7 started in of all places Havana, Cuba after the Habana Marathon, which was the only marathon I started and failed to complete (five hour time limit, and after doing the first half in 2:30–it was hot, humid, and I was apparently not in as good of shape as I needed to be–I chose to stop at the half and call it an experience). After the race, I was having dinner with Lee, a friend I met on the run. We had good wine, wonderful Cuban cigars and a view of La Catedral de La Habana Church and Plaza with Havana Harbor as a background.  Lee told me I should consider the Antarctica marathon.  He sent me a DVD of his trip he had made the year before, and after watching it, I signed  up for Antarctica with Marathon Tours, making the trip in March 2009.  I had completed several Marathons in the USA and had finished Prague, CK in 2005, so after completing Antarctica I had three continents completed, including the hardest to get to: Antarctica.  I was still doing these trips as adventures and really hadn’t heard of the 7 continents club  \until Antarctica, where people were doing running to complete their seventh continent.  Africa, Asia, South America, and Australia were left for me, one per year and I could be done before I turned 65 years old. I finished my 7th at the Outback Marathon, Ayres Rock Australia on July 28th, 2012 my 65th birthday exactly!!

 

What were the 7 marathons you chose and which countries were they in?

I had run several in North America: Tuscon AZ, Reggae Jamaica, Brookings, SD, Phoenix AZ, but I chose Portland, OR to use as the official one since it was documented well.

So here they are:

2002 – Portland OR  5:09

2005 – Prague CK   5:43

2009 – Antarctica   6:29

2010 – Kenya, Africa  6:17

2011 – Tateyama, Japan 5:47

2011 – Buenos Aires, Argentina  6:08

2012 – Ayres Rock, Australia 6:04

 

Which continental race was your favorite and why?

Each one has a special meaning and experience, but the Tateyama Waskahio Marathon in Japan was our (mine and my companion, Gerry’s) favorite.   The race was relatively level, cool temps, with wonderful views along the bay and lots of people enjoying the runners. It was my favorite.  Thanks to you (Cami) the experience of being in a small race with friends of yours and now ours was something Gerry and I will remember for a lifetime.  As you indicated we got “the full treatment.”  And it was wonderful!!

In Japan with the Kawasakis

What was your favorite place you visited during your quest?

I enjoyed Havana very much.  I went there alone, and was concerned about that but upon arrival found the people extremely friendly, and the city architecturally amazing, with no western influence–and unspoiled beaches.  The people have very little to spare but would share what they had with you. Conversations were wonderful, be it about politics or whatever. And they loved to discuss political views with those of us from the States.

 

What was your most disastrous travel story?

Really we have not had any major problems.  We had our luggage stolen in Costa Rica from our little cabana on the beach.  Had nothing to wear but the clothes we had on!  Gerry lost her purse and billfold, but I had mine, so back in San Jose we bought enough items to return home.

In Brussels, we arrived by train about midnight with no hotel room reserved. Our taxi driver drove all over the city central trying to find us a room and only one could be found for like $400 per night. Finally we agreed to that one, blowing our budget in one night.  Gerry gets tired of me saying this, but I always say: “If you have enough money to buy your way out of a problem, you don’t have a problem.”

Then in Buenos Aries we got 500 pesos from a bank ATM machine and no one would accept the money.  We couldn’t figure out why they would take Gerry’s money and not mine.  Finally someone explained that the money I got was all counterfeit.  That was on a Saturday, and Monday was a holiday. Our flight left that same evening so we still have the bills as souvenirs.

 

What advice would you give others who are trying to do 7 on 7?

What was that old Nike commercial? “Just do it!”  I do think that anyone should try and get Antarctica off the list ASAP.  It is so environmentally fragile that anything that would happen to harm it in any way could cause these recreational trips to be curtailed in the future.  That is only my point of view, but I can see it happening.

Anywhere you travel, if you are a walker, jogger, runner, get up early some morning, put on your running shorts, lace up those shoes, head out the door, and no matter where you are in the world, you won’t go far before you meet someone on the streets running. You may not speak the language but you will receive a smile and a wave.

Don’t be afraid to travel out of the States, Homeland Security is the worst thing you will probably have to face.

 

Whats next on your bucket list?

The Des Moines Register Newspaper sponsors a bike ride across Iowa the last week in July called RAGBRAI.  Which stands for Registers Annul Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.  It is a big event, (10,000 plus riders) and takes five days. Riders stay in small towns each night and ride 40 to 100 miles per day, starting with your back wheel in the Missouri River on our western side, finishing with your front wheel in the Mississippi River on the east.  I want to attempt it this coming summer.

I also really want to go to Iran. Everyone I have spoken with (outside of the US) says it is a wonderful county to visit.  The people are friendly, well educated, and really like Americans, contrary to what our State Department says. Guess I just want to go see for myself.

Running on Snow

 

 

Antarctica!

 

 

Ice berg

 

 

 

 

Africa!

 

 

With an Australian Joey

 

 

Buenos Aires 2011