Just Doing It!
The best way to describe Jeni Beck is -
She is an adventurous free spirit, living life Jeni's way, on Jeni's terms.
On March 29th, 2006, Jeni witnessed the total eclipse of the sun that took place and she traveled all the way to Egypt to do it - by herself with no knowledge of the geography or the culture. She just did it!
...total eclipse of the sun...
Go Jeni, go!
This is what she shared with me about her experience:
I read a story by Annie Dillard awhile ago. It was about an Eclipse. That was in 2003. When I found out about the 2006 eclipse I just decided that I wanted to go to Africa and watch it. I have wanted to go to Egypt since I was fifteen.
A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and Sun and the Moon obscures Earth's view of the Sun totally or partially. This configuration can only occur at New Moon, when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction, as seen from Earth. A total solar eclipse is considered by many to be the most spectacular natural phenomenon that one can observe.
SALLOUM, Egypt, March 29, 2006 — Mother Nature worked her magic today and even though the show lasted only four minutes, the crowds went wild.
Thousands of people gathered in the desert near Salloum, a coastal town a few miles from the Libyan border, to observe a total eclipse of the sun.
It was just the 29th total solar eclipse since the 1500s.
The moon started sneaking across the sun from the lower right side. It took about 90 minutes for the eclipse to be total, at which time the temperature dropped 29 degrees Fahrenheit.
In only minutes, the sky changed from bright blue to a dark purple.
"I understand why ancient people got so scared. If you don't know what is happening, it seems like doomsday," said Barbara Alexander, who made the trip from Santa Cruz, Calif.
Many observers cheered seconds before the total eclipse as they witnessed what is called a diamond-ring effect, when just the top of the sun glows like a four-carat gem.
For nearly four minutes in the middle of the day the sky was dark, the wind was blowing, and it was cold.
"This kind of eclipse is important because it's the only time when one can see the corona, which is the glow around the sun, " said a German astrologer who has seen eight eclipses.
Most people watched the sky with their special red-and-blue-frame glasses to protect their eyes, while others peeked through telescopes.
The spectacle attracted people from Japan, Holland, Indonesia, Switzerland, the United States, and from nearby.
"We chose to come to Egypt because we wanted to see it [solar eclipse] where people thousands of years ago witnessed the same thing," said Jane Alpert, a teacher from Berkeley, Calif.
This was the first time Alpert had seen a total eclipse, but her travel companion had crossed the globe to see five already.
"It's a monumental mind-expanding experience," Barbara Lanier said.
A Kenyan boy, Deep Magda, 14, traveled with his class to witness the historic show in the sky.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," he said. "It's amazing to see so many people from all over in one place, especially when not everyone in this world gets along."
Libyan farmer witnessing the solar eclipse.
I had this moment recently...
You know when you remember some of the most important lessons that you've learned, that you forget, and you have to remember again? Well, I remembered that -
no one else is going to live my life for me and no one else will make my dreams come true and no one else will regret the things that I don't do.
So, I just did it!
The eclipse just resonated with me as an amazing thing to do in an amazing place. I just had to go and, I knew I couldn't wait for anyone to go with me. I couldn't wait to postpone things anymore that I knew were important to me and so,
I just did it.
I took a couple of Arabic lessons and I went to Egypt last week as a complete novice. It was one of those things where I knew that I just had to take the first step and then once I was there, I experienced "good wind" at my back.
And that is not to say that it was all easy. It took a lot of courage. For one thing -
We had to go through borders for the actual viewing and I found out after the fact that after we had passed through one of the borders that my drivers had to lie about my nationality. They shared with me that if it would have been discovered that I was an American we would've needed a lot of security. At that point I was thinking "Am I safe?" That kind of really woke me up to how deep the travel and navigation was.
It was challenging and I was lucky. I made some mistakes, with money, for another thing, but I was lucky. I knew that once I was there it would all work out and it did.
Seeing the eclipse and being with people from all over the world was amazing. There were hippies from Venezuela, Astronomers from Mexico, people from all over Europe. There were professionals and amateurs alike. It was exciting! There were people with all of these really high tech cameras and telescopes and lenses that were there viewing it for publications or just for their own personal reasons.
But the children, that was very charming and touching.
When I was there I met some school children from Alexandria, Egypt. They swarmed me because they had a million questions for me to answer because they had never seen a Westerner. They took a lot of pictures of me. The school girls were the most phenomenal, and this one in particular named Mona. She was eight years old. She was a full covered Bedouin Muslim so all that you could see were her eyes. There was a very pure moment for me when I felt like I connected with her just through her eyes. She had such a powerful character and I could feel it all coming through these small eight year old windows.
We became friends.
I experienced so many things that were other than what I am used to.
One thing that made an impression on me was that the people that I met, the people that lived there didn't judge themselves or each other by what they had materially. Maybe my thinking is a little limited but I think it's because they don't have television or these connections to the West. They don't know that they are poor. They judge themselves by their character. They haven't been told since the day that they were born that they aren't interesting enough or rich enough or handsome enough - all of these things that we have been told. For them it's about how their crops did this season. That makes them proud. There is a lack of self consciousness in their character that made me really sad to be so -
I remember meeting men that had these permanent marks, like calluses on their foreheads because they prayed so much. I thought that was very beautiful.
The eclipse itself was so memorable. It was frightening actually. You're watching through theses glasses. It takes about an hour to experience the whole thing but the full eclipse lasted about four minutes.
This thing happens in your gut where you almost want to scream because there is all of a sudden -
no sun in the sky, just this blazing hole!
Stars come out in the middle of the day and then there is Jupiter in the middle of the sky at 12:30 in the afternoon! As it gets closer and closer, everything gets grey and turns to strange colors. Everything was just a little "off". After you are watching this thing which feels like two seconds all of a sudden you realize that you are cold. It becomes night in an instant and you are cold. Flowers close up.
Imagine if people didn't know what was happening and all of a sudden there is no sun in the sky. Did people fall to their knees and think it was the Apocalypse? Is this why Revelations was written?
It was frightening and delightful, exciting and awe inspiring.
I didn't feel like I even existed, for a moment.
I stood and reflected on how, when we were driving through the desert, we stopped to help someone whose car had broken down. When I stepped out of the car, I looked up at the sky and I saw a shooting star and as I started to make a wish on it, I thought about how courageous I was to do this and I realized that for me, in that moment, there was nothing lacking in my life.
There was nothing that I needed to wish for --
and that felt so good.