Tag Archives: Saguaro National Park

Desert Living

Having lived in the midwest my entire life, it’s always been baffling to me that there are so many beautiful plants that thrive off of little to no water in the desert.

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A tall cactus in Saguaro National Park.

The vision of brightly colored flowers blooming alongside pricklies on cacti is like dipping french fries in a milkshake — two things that you’d never think would go together, but seem to complement one another beautifully.

Every time I would see beautiful flowers on cacti, I would stop and take a photo. I started thinking about parallels of plants that adapt and thrive beautifully in the desert, realizing that people have done the same thing in the borderlands.

Hearing stories of extreme poverty from migrants and Kino volunteers, it was constantly inspiring to me that everyone still remembered how to smile and laugh. Just like the cactuses have a beautiful flower here and there, the people of Nogales have learned to live beautifully, with joy, hope and faith despite such hardship.

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Adventure Time

While in Arizona we were able to do some sightseeing mostly of cacti, mountains, and old Spanish missions. Here are a couple of my favorite photos from our more touristy experiences…

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This is Saguaro National park. It is filled with cacti and mountains. This is what the desert looks like. Below is not what the desert looks like, at least in the American Southwest…
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I did not take this photo as I have never been to the African desert.
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Continuing on what the desert actually looks like, it is filled with plants like this. When going on our off trail desert hike it was a constant struggle to avoid these prickly bushes.
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One of the coolest things we saw at Saguaro National park was when a rainbow circled the sun.
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This was taken at a Jesuit mission in Arizona. It was ornately decorated and was a nice reminder of the  American southwest’s past  that felt, and is, much older than America itself.
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This shrine was inside a mountain, or what some non-Midwesterners would describe as a large rocky hill, at a Jesuit mission. This was a nice representation of the religious undertones of our entire experience on the border.
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More Jesuit stuff at missions…
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A flower in one of the park’s gardens. It was nice to see some color in a terrain full of neutrals.
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On our last day before heading back to Omaha we went to Patagonia lake where the water was so clear that the mountains and trees clearly were reflected in the water. Which, again, is amazing to me as someone who’s clearest body of water back home is a manmade murky pond no one really ever swims in.
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Though this was taken on a work adventure to Sassabe it was somewhat of a tourist event as we sat and just watched the mountains and the grass for a couple of hours.
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Since I have the attention span of a squirrel, watching the mountains for two hours ended in me playing with the settings on my camera and getting this photograph.

Our time in Arizona felt like a big adventure and I only have these few photos to prove it.

Beauty lies within the hearts of those you meet

Today we met up with two of Carol’s friends at Saguaro National Park. One is an accomplished herpetologist and the other is currently a journalism/magazine/editor professor at University of Arizona. They took us around the park and taught us many things about the plants and animals of the park. It was really a nice day and a beautiful park.

Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park

After the park we went to a restaurant with both of Carol’s friends. One of Carol’s friends is named Carol as well so we called her Carol 2. I got to sit next to her at lunch. We talked almost the whole time. She applied twice to work at National Geographic out of college as a writer and the second time she got in. She did some time in the office then became the editor at National Geographic for their travel magazine. She was telling me stories of the places she got to go and what she wrote about. Also she was on the launch team of the National Geographic web site when it first came to the Internet. I loved talking to her and seeing how excited yet humble she was. My teacher Carol told us that Carol 2 has won just about every teaching award possible.

Later in the evening Father Pete, Ivan, and a new guest came over for pizza. The new guests name was Mario. We talked one on one for a while before dinner started and then at the table. His story went a little like this. He was born in Portugal then did his undergrad in the states. Then he went to the University of Europe in Belgium to receive a masters. Their master programs are only 1 year so it is super intense. After that he served in the United Nations as a diplomat for 28 years. He lived for at least 2 years in 12 different countries and is fluent in 4 languages. He was telling me how he chose to live a life in service for others and how he always wants to give back. He said that that is the way to live a life and I totally agree with him. After his 28 years with the U.N. he got a call from the Vatican to serve there for 2 years. He did that and said it was a really good experience and now he is in between Spain and Boston in retirement. He is here in Nogales to do some consulting work for the Kino Border Initiative. I think it was God’s plan for us to meet because he left an impression on me and we had a great and meaningful talk.

Tomorrow is our last day in Nogales before we head back home.  I continue to meet these amazing people and there are so many stories that will be left untold.  I am now a witness to the raw reality of life on the border.   I alone can not change this reality but I highly encourage you to spend time reading testimonies or to even come to Nogales if you ever have the opportunity.