Things have been busy, what with the mid-semester crunch and The Wedding just a week away. But last night, finding myself in possession of half an hour before I had to get the Divine Miss M. from dance, I took a trip around the world.
If you have yet to explore the wonder that is Google Earth, please download it now. I’ll wait.
Okay, now find your house. This is easy, because you can type in your street address and suddenly find yourself looking at your own roof. From your own house, you can go anywhere. Usually I snoop around my own neck of the woods, but last night I was really restless, so I went to Hawaii.
In truth, I found Hawaii by accident, but it looked interesting, a little dollop of islands. But it wasn’t exotic enough, so I decided to go on to Japan. Japan was harder to find than you’d think, since I was zoomed in pretty far. I missed badly and hit Siberia first, but tracking southward soon found Japan.
I also found, to my fascinated horror, that Google Earth has updated Japan since the tsunami. As I followed the coastline south, a few hundred feet above the ground, the damage rolled beneath me. I fled to the Himalayas.
If you visit Nepal via Google Earth, you can click on the little yellow squares and learn about the moutain villages. I did this for a very long time. I also zoomed into alpine valleys and soared over lakes that looked as lonely as the moon. I followed the snow line around Anapurna, Everest, Lhotse. It was time to move on.
Flying high over Afghanistan, I zoomed lower and wound up in Dubai. That’s a glitzy place, Dubai. It looks, from low-flying-aircraft level, like one of the richest cities in the world. You could see the yachts pulled up at the waterfront, and some of them were more cruise ship size. Who lives like this?
It’s a quick hop from Dubai to Jerusalem, and that’s where I went next, spending some time gazing in amazement at the Dome of the Rock and meandering along the Kidron valley. In Jerusalem, a click will show you the Lion Gate. I recommend it.
From there, I wanted to see St. Augustine’s northern Africa, so my fingers took me off to Tunesia. Northern Africa is dry, and brown, and featureless. The houses hug the landscape, the same color as the sandy ground. St. Augustine has been gone for a while. I went to Gibraltar.
It’s possible to count the cars in the parking lot on the little island that juts out from Spain. I wondered idly what they do there, but my half-hour was ticking away, and there was something else I wanted to see.
Africa sped away beneath me, and soon I was landing at the airport in Harare, looking at the tower that figures prominently in many of my Beloved’s photos. Just northwest, I find the place where he was, and look at the streets where Tendai, Ashworth, and their families live. Dust seems to float up in front of me.
And I have to go home. Up toward Europe, over the Atlantic, zooming in closer and closer until I see the familiar roofline of my own house. Around the world. Thirty minutes. Viva Google Earth!