Saturday, January 29, 2011

Epcot. What an Amazing World!

Well that was fun! Yesterday, for the first time in a little over 14 years, Rebekah and I spent the day at Disney. We parked Scout at a friend's farm, cruised on over to Orlando, and enjoyed cool, clear walking weather with absolutely nothing on our minds other than a day full of relaxation and holding hands.

As you can see from the photos, we chose Epcot. Our friends did the research when they heard we were going and told us that the attendance Friday was predicted to be a "3" on the "1-10 Crowd Scale." (I guess you have to be some kind of a "go to Disney" pro to even know that info is available!) Consequently, there were enough people to animate the park with extra life, but not so many that they got in our way or annoyed us!

The longest we waited to do anything was 10 minutes, but mostly we sauntered around and enjoyed the "World Showcase". We started out in Canada which was, to be honest, a bit of a disappointment. Our friends beyond the 49th parallel are well-known for understatement, but 15 minutes of it, filmed in 360-degree-surround, begins to verge on the criminal.

So we headed over to the UK for lunch in the pub, where I had the most expensive fish & chips ever while Rebekah polished off a plate of "Sunday Roast". The beer was good, the tea was decent, and the Beatles fake band on stage next door sounded tolerable.

Next was a stroll to Italy for an after-lunch cappuccino. Rebekah had promised Andrew she'd meet him there (virtually at least). They've done a good job creating a hybrid "Italy on an acre", with echos of Pisa in the piazza, Milan in the markets, Florence in the fountains, Capri in the cafe and Sienna in the siesta (OK, I was reaching with those, but it was worth the try!). The cappuccino was creditable, but once you've had the real thing in the real place in the shadow of a real Duomo... well...

The Japanese drummers were spectacular, then we walked past the USA - where a line of 1776 era soldiers were fife & drumming their way through "Yankee-Doodle" - and paused to view Mexico before stopping in for a serious visit with China, where we were overwhelmed at the natural wonder and intrigued by the rich cultural history. China def gets "two-thumbs-up."

Next was - in my mind - the highlight of the day. "Soarin" is a virtual ride that completely fools the senses. What made it better was I had no idea what we were doing. I stood in line not knowing if this was going to be a "ride", or a movie, or an exhibit. All I knew was what the man next to me in line told his eight-year-old: "We're going to California!" So when the lights went out and the machine lifted my feet off the ground I immediately had the sensation of hang-gliding and I never lost the effect.

Then it was a walk over to Morocco, where we made reservations for dinner at the Marrakesh, followed by a jog back to our car for Rebekah's jacket, and then a nice visit to France. I've got to tell you, I thought the "Impressions of France" audio-visual presentation was awesome! Now it was annoyingly French, inasmuch as it didn't bother giving the viewer much specific information and had an overlay of arrogance that was hard to miss. But it was a rich, gorgeous overview of a simply beautiful and often under-appreciated country.

We completed our tour with first-class dinner in Morocco. The cuisine is very much Mediterranean, but with a distinct North African twist we really enjoyed. Salad, appetizer, lamb, chicken, seven vegetables, couscous, three kinds of baklava and Moroccan coffee.

The day was relaxing, as planned, and something wonderful to enjoy together. But I also couldn't help but come away with a sense of how amazing this world is, and full with wonder. Each country is beautiful and diverse. There is so much to see, so much to enjoy, and so much to learn from one another.  Yet people want to dominate, conquer, control and restrict...?

... I am completely frustrated at the needlessness of hostility and conflict, when we live in a world so full with riches and beauty and wonder. There is enough that we all could enjoy one another. To think that so much of this amazing planet is destroyed on a daily basis, and to hear continual reports of murder, torture, rape and armed conflict in the face of so much potential for celebration and joy...!

It's no wonder that Paul writes the following in Romans 8: For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God...

This is our world. Mine and yours! Its people are our brothers and our sisters. Surely we can live in peace?

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