The evening is wet and cold. I shiver underneath my thick rubber coat and almost throw myself into the fire. Look at those horses! They stand there, quietly, even peacefully. Wished they could talk and tell me their secret.
Explorers represent a culture in which nature is defined in terms of economical and social use. I never thought much of it until I came to know the indigenous peoples of the Altai. It took a while for me to understand that the Altaian worldview is very different from mine. For the Altaians Nature is a living being, to be honored and worshipped for Itself, and not for the practical purposes It has for us, humans.
This afternoon I collected herbs in the forest surrounding the small village of Askat. I passed by an old shack and surprise, surprise, the trees over here had faces! Some faces looked sad, maybe because their creator – the sculptur Basargin – had passed away and could no longer protect the trees. He had worked here for many, many years in complete solitude. But now land developers have also discovered this place of magic. They would love to buy the land and turn it into a money making resort.
On the way Arita kept an eye out for rare plants and great stories. She also did a bit of detective work: why are some natural sites sacred and others not? But, uhm, how to report on things which escape pure logic?
Arita found a playful way to do just that. She created a map on a big piece of animal skin. In the middle a golden circle in which coloured lines represent moments. Gold=happy moments, red=bad moments, green=special encounters and blue=moments of insight. The inner circle represents the geography of the mind. The inner lines connect with outer lines, which represent the physical geography at that particular moment in time and space.
After the circumnavigation and the map were completed, the map pointed out Paradise! Results of the Search for Paradise appear in 2014 on this website as info graphics and multi media stories.