Reincarnation And ‘The Lost World’

The Land Time Forgot

The Lost World – Soaring above Tenejapa village in the mountains of Chiapas, MX

Do you believe in reincarnation?  I’m not sure that I do—but, then again, I’m not completely sure that I don’t.  I am drawn over and over again to a particular people, and a particular period of time.  The people are the English, and the time is the 19th-Century—the age of British exploration and colonialism.  Why should I be such an Anglophile?  I am German-American through and through.  My family, on my father’s side, hails from the small forest village of Bad tennstedt (our namesake) located outside of present day Berlin, Germany (formerly Prussia).  On my mother’s side we trace our roots back to Munich, Germany.  So why the English?  And why the 1800’s?

I have been an explorer and a quasi-adventurer all of my life.  As early as five and six years old I could be found exploring our neighborhood canyons (completely alone) in the early morning hours before my parents were awake.  This was in a day that parents didn’t have to worry about their children being molested or abducted.  I was never afraid or apprehensive, just full of wonder at my surroundings.  As I continued to grow up I always found peace, comfort and contentment when immersed in my natural surroundings.  Same today.  I am rarely fearful, and most often I am at peace and feel at home.

My favorite authors are mostly British:  Dickens; Doyle; Greene and so on.  And I’ve read just about everything ever written about the great British explorers:  Burton and Speke; Livingstone (and of course Stanley); Shackleton and Fawcett.  Can’t say I care much for British tea (I much prefer a good strong coffee), but I do love their habit of imbibing good Scotch Whisky.  I liked the way the British dressed in the Victorian age, and though they (the upper classes) were a pompous and bigoted bunch of blokes, I do admire their ‘Pluck’ and doggedness.  I’m not here to judge their society (especially this far removed from the context of the times), but I do get the distinct feeling I was there.

And the feeling is really upon me (most acutely) when I’m traipsing the wilds, whether it’s the highlands of Vietnam, the Maya ruins of Mexico or the jungles of Costa Rica.  The photo above (though not a great photo) is a case in point. On a recent excursion to some remote Maya villages outside of San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico, I spied this isolated plateau soaring above me.  We had just pulled into the decidedly ‘non-tourist’ village of Tenejapa at an elevation of approximately 8,000 feet.  I’m guessing this plateau was maybe around 10,000 feet in elevation (though I could be completely wrong on that estimate)—and it reminded of the book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:  The Lost World and Other Stories. The story recounts the expedition of a group of intrepid British explorers investigating the prehistoric world (complete with dinosaurs and primitive tribes) atop an isolated plateau in South America.  The plateau actually exists (sans dinosaurs) and is on my personal bucket list.  Anyway, when I looked up at this jungle and cloud shrouded plateau I had a real sense of deja vu.  And it’s not for the first time nor, I suspect, the last time.

Do I think I was Julius Caesar (or God-forbid Cleopatra), Abraham Lincoln or Napoleon? Absolutely not.  But I wouldn’t be overly surprised to find out (sometime) that I had been a young British Calvary Officer hellbent on exploration in the time of Queen Victoria.  Am I just a romantic, a ‘New-Ager’ or just plain nuts.  Does it really matter?

The Lost World

The ‘Real’ Lost WorldMt. Roraima, Venezuela (the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book)


3 responses to “Reincarnation And ‘The Lost World’

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