The Gods (and Lists) Must Be Crazy

I thought of more things that I have found out about while in Africa:

- Rats. Fried. On a skewer. : YUM

-It is okay to throw rocks at your neighbor's goat.

-It is also okay to throw trash/food/etc out the window of your bus/on the ground/in a hole in the ground. There is trash EVERYWHERE. (except Namibia... it is cleaner)

-There is a lot of skirt on skirt action. The women wear a skirt and then wrap another one around it. My mom would love it.

-Things you can buy from the window of your bus:
     Fried Pastries
Okay the list goes on forever, but if you ever want anything, just ride the bus! (ps the rats I mentioned before = CAN be bought from the bus)

Well, thats it for now. I am sure I will have more things to say about Africa later. I am in Namibia now, having hitched a ride (dont tell my mom!) for the first time in my life. From Zambia to Namibia, in a 18 wheeler (also my first ride in one of those!). I am alive now, so I can talk about it freely.

A quick list of animals I have seen! From the car! At night! Be careful on the road, that's what I have learned.

Zebra --- we thought it was a donkey, but then....STRIPES! Fun!
Oryx -- a large deer with huge straight horns and a horsey tail
Warthog -- cute, but ugly!
Porcupine -- I didnt know they had them in Africa
Wild dog -- looks like a dog with bigger ears
Unknown birds -- to be announced later
Rabbits -- or hares? about 50 of them!

I love it here! It is what I expected and it is not what I expected. I thought plains and grasses and animals and tribes like in National Geographic. It IS a little like that and so much more.

A couple of things you may or may not know:

Most of the countries in Southern Africa speak English: Mozambique speaks Portuguese. Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Malawi and Botswana speak English, Africaans and about a dozen (or so) tribal Languages. You thought I had to learn those clicking sounds to get around over here, but...as unglamorous as it is, I can mostly get along with English.

Namibia just gained their independence 17 years ago. Mozambique I think gained theirs in 1975 (from Portugal) but has been in Civil wars with themselves until about 1994. Wounds are still fresh.

A beer in each of the countries I have been so far in Africa costs about 1 dollar. This is very important information.

There is still a lot of racial strife here. In Zimbabwe the whites came and staked their claim on land and began to farm it. Not long ago, the government decided to give the land back to the natives. People are angry. Still.

Enough for today! Waka Waka Hey Hey!


This is Africa (T.I.A.)

10 things that you see and you have to say, "THIS is Africa":

1. Boobs. Yes, boobs. Many of them. Apparently it is okay to nurse your child, then leave your one boob hanging around afterwards. Literally "hanging", swinging loose in the breeze.

2. Obamas - Not the POTUS, but a little cake like donut made of bread and fried and sold on the streets of most Malawian towns. When your bus stops, the kids all run up to the bus with Obamas on a stick, putting it in your face and shouting, "Obama, Obama!!"

3. Minibuses - Normally a 12 seater van, minibuses have become 23 people capable, whether you like it or not. Like I said in my last post, you have 4 people abreast plus 2 kids on laps, usually a lady nursing a baby with her boob in your face and a chicken or two. And maybe a pot or a bag of maize.

4. Welcome - when you meet people, and you meet a lot, they shake your hand, ask your name and proclaim that you are "most welcome" to Malawi. The people are very friendly.

5. Supplies - we were going to go camping/hiking for a few days, so we went to find supplies, things to eat. Usually we can exist on tuna or a canned item and bread for a few days. However, there was none to be found. The only thing we could find were canned sardines in tomato sauce, which were pretty darn gross. But we ate them anyway. We also tried canned corned beef (gross but a little better with rice) and canned chicken (tastes like a hot dog...NOT like chicken!)

6. Nsima - this is a staple of the Malawian diet. I have had Cameroonian food, and they have the same thing, but it is called Foo Foo. In Kenya it is called Ugali (I think...or Ungali). In Malawi, it is called Nsima. What it is: crushed/ground up maize which is then boiled, like rice, to make a kind of lumpy rice type meal. They then pick this up with their fingers, make it into a kind of ball and use that to scoop up meat or vegetables.

7. Kids in Sacks - I guess a picture would be better, but instead of spending hundreds of dollars on baby carriers and misc products, they take a length of fabric, put the baby on their back, and wrap the fabric around the baby and their back like a sling and off they go. To top it off...see number 8.

8. Things on Heads - after strapping a baby to their back, they put their items on their heads, be it wood, luggage, water or the like and off they go again. They must have necks of steel.

9. Aging - The average age of people in Malawi is about 38. 52 percent of the people here are under 20. These figures may not be spot on, but I have heard this a few times. The main reason for this is AIDS.

10. TIA - This is Africa. This phrase was given to me by a fellow traveler. It basically means, chill out man, this is just the way it is. When your bus is 3 hours late, you cant complain, you can only say...TIA. When you go to a restaurant that has pizza thinking you are going to get a Naples pizza and you get a piece of bread with kale and chicken and some strange sauce on it, you say...TIA. When you get a cab and have to then go to 4 gas stations to find gas because they are all out, you say...TIA. When you finally get to your destination and the place you were going to stay the night has been closed for 3 years you say...TIA.

So, carpe diem! TIA!!!


The Walmart of Africa

I was talking to a guy the other day about traveling in Africa. He talked about Malawi, which he said was "the walmart of Africa". I made a comment about why this was, maybe because they greet everyone in a friendly manner at the door? I later learned he had said, "the Warm Heart of Africa".

We are now in Malawi, and the people ARE very friendly. However, it is interesting finally being in Africa. It is kind of what I expected, a little hard to get around and a little bit of a wait for things, similar to Island time. But you get used to that after a while. The buses are overflowing with people. It is not uncommon to ride 6 abreast in a seat meant for 3. And maybe with a child on your lap. Or a chicken. You never know.

We are currently in a place called Nkata Bay, which is in the middle of Malawi and is situated right on the shores of Lake Malawi which is a HUGE lake, and covers basically a third of the country. It is just like an ocean, it has waves and everything, but it is nice to swim in FRESH water! Our hut is situated just on the shore, overlooking the lake. It is great.

We next plan to go to Zambia and camp next to Hippos in a game reserve! Then we will go to Victoria Falls and then on to Namibia, where there are tons of sand dunes and more animals.

I have to keep this short; I am so glad to finally have internet. It has been few and far between! However it is a shared computer and there are always people waiting in line. I hope to get some pictures uploaded, but that has been a total bust lately. I am deathly afraid of losing my camera or memory card, as I have not gotten a chance to upload in a while! More later!


Randoms and Peeves

I decided I would like to have an apartment in Paris. Naturally it will be on the top floor with a balcony with flowers and it will be in a fun neighborhood. Realistically, I could barely afford an apartment in Paris and if I could it would be about 200 SF, in a basement, with no kitchen. Which isnt even that bad really. I would still want it.

I almost left my passport in Portugal. Can you imagine, getting to Spain, after an _ hour bus ride, and realizing you don,t have your passport. Thats one of my fears! Luckily on the way to the bus station I realized and voila, I went back and got it and still made it to the bus on time.

The keyboards in France are weirdly arranged. I guess they use certain letters more than we do, so they arrange it differently. But if you think my spelling or grammer are bad, its not me, its the keyboard. I cant even find the apostrophe or the question mark. The , is zhere the M should be. And obviously the Z is where the W should be.

One of my biggest pet peeves is pushy people, ones who dont wait in line or who cut or push in front of you. And that happens all the time in Europe. Apparently waiting in line is not something that anyone values. Yesterday I was waiting to buy a metro ticket and a lady, her husband, and two kids walked right up to the front counter and demanded the man tell her how to get to the airport from there. Apparenly if you have a question you are allowed to skip the line and go right to the front. However, if you are BUYING tickets, you have to wait. Unless of course you are that lady and in that case you get a quick pass to the front no matter what. I wish I knew how to say HEY, I WAS HERE FIRST, LADY!! in French, or Italian, or Portuguese.

You cannot always find a public restroom when you want it. But it is hot here and I am thirsty. Herein lies the "what goes up must come down" connundrum (otherwise known as the camel connundrum). How much water can you drink before you have to pee? (Look I found the question mark finally) I dont want to have to hold my pee but I am thirsty. Its not like at home, you cant just go into any place and use their bathroom, and I cant justify buying a coke or a water (hence the cycle continue) every time I need to use the potty. So, what is the answer? I admit, I probably dont drink enough water when I am out and about but when near a toilet, I GUZZLE it. Then pee like 3 times, then...camel time.

Sorry this post doesnt have any news. They will probably be pretty few and far beteen in the next few weeks...Internet qctiis getting sparce!!!


Photos a Day

I am still taking a photo a day, however, I am not posting one a day, as I am not in reliable internet areas all the time. So, please forgive me, but if you want to see a (very) small sample, you can do so here.

My 2010 Round The World photos on flickr.

The Traveler´s Diet and The World Cup

I have probably already talked about this; I can never remember what I have already said and what I haven´t. Anyway, I am going to let you guys in on my very secret diet plan.

1. Carry a 40 pound backpack around with you everywhere.
2. Eat only 2 or 3 meals a day since you don´t really have time for snacking (not like sitting at the desk all day!)
3. Eat something shady in Egypt (no idea what). End up sick, not able to eat for a few days.
4. Walk miles a day. Miles and miles.

It feels great. Except for the little slip up in Egypt, everything has been healthy. We are eating fresh food and smaller meals and walking a ton. Big K must have lost 10 or 15 pounds and me, little K, maybe 6. But all in all, we are happy and healthy.

And then....we went to Italy.

We arrived in Italy and our first stop was Bologna. This is supposed to be the home of some of the best food in Italy (they all say that but what the heck). Since we are scientists, we decided to test out the theory and see if we could prove it wrong (by multiple testing of course). So we went to a typical Italian meal, which consists of a starter, first course and second course. Unlike us, they eat it in a strange order. Your starter may be a meat platter, your first course is pasta and your second is usually a meat dish. Then there is always coffee and desert, which are generally delicious. If you are particularly brave, there is a cheese plate and a digestive. Of course we had to try it all.

And then we went to Venice and had to try the food there, because I heard that the Venitians have the best food in Italy. And then we went to Rome, where we met up with some of Big K´s family and of course had to prove to them that the food in Italy was good, as well as to find out for ourselves WHICH region ACTUALLY has the best food. We also made sure that Florence was not left out. All in all, I think that the bottom line is: all the food in Italy is good. Period. Sorry Neopolitans. You are NOT the best. You are in a 21 way tie with all the other regions in Italy. But....I have only tried 4 of them, so I never know, I may have to go back and keep trying out the theory.

So, now we are in Portugal, which as you know is Big K´s family´s origin. So we are trying to get a feel for the city, eating and drinking and walking. And most of all, watching The World Cup....watching the USA kick butt, even though the England goal they made was a little crappy...watching Portugal tie with Brazil to make it on the next round... So its a week of eating and soccer. Carry on.

Next, we go to a few more places in Portugal before heading towards Paris for our flight out of here. I made a map but the computer I am on would not let me save it in a format I could post here. Next time, I guess. Until then, Arividerci, Adios and Ciao!


If it is Called Monte, it Must be a Mountain

Okay so the verdict is in...Montenegro is the place to be! It is beautiful. It is tiny, with only about 700,000 people. It has ocean, mountains and beautiful old cities. We had a great time in Budva, which is a beach town, although we had no map and had a heck of a time finding a place to stay. The norm in Montenegro is to stay at someone's house, in their extra room. We got lucky the first time and the guy had an entire apartment with a separate entrance, its own kitchen, bathroom and patio. It was awesome. We got some wine and cheese from the store and had a picnic on the patio. The next day we went on a tour, which is not my favorite thing, but we did get to go on a boat and to see my favorite town, the walled city of Kotor, which is very midevil and has walls going all the way up the mountains to protect the city.

Next we headed to the mountains and took an all day hike up the third tallest mountain, which was very cool, but very tiring. It was only about 7000 feet (2300 m) maybe, but man was it steep, with lots of scree and snow so sometimes you had to bushwhack (actually to scree whack is more like it ) in order to get up the mountain. But we made it and the view was amazing. You could see for miles, rolling farmland and steep mountains together with little farm houses with steep alpine roofs. The walk back was the worst; downhill always gets me. And then we had to walk along the road to get back to our house and I think that in itself was about 4 miles! Or it seemed like it. We ended up hiking for about 10 hours in total. We got back to town and ate a horse and a half and passed out. Whew, real excercise makes me tired!

So then it was off to Croatia where we are now. Croatia is just as beautiful as Montenegro, but its about 3 times the price. So, we get on an over night ferry tonight and are headed to Ancona Italy. From there we will go to Bologna (has a first name...its Oscar!) and then Venice. More on all of that later. My posts are going to be quite sporadic, as the internet here is 6 dollars an hour and the internet cafes are surprisingly SCARCE. Booo..

I hope all is well back home. Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads out there!


My Mom Asked For a Map

So here it is....

Red = Where we are
Green = Last route
Blue = Where we plan to go

What's That You Say?

I only have one thing to say about Albania so far (arrived yesterday evening). Albanians are NICE. Waaaayyy nice. So maybe you are wondering, "aren't Spanish people nice? And what about the Greeks?" Yes, they are also nice, but I decided that the reason I like the Albanians, and maybe it is ironic, is that they don't speak English. Not really.

Yesterday we took a bus from Athens to Saranda, Albania, which is a cute little town sandwiched between the mountains and the sea. It is only about an hour from the Greece border and has had much strife. As little as 13  years ago, Albania was still having strife between anarchists and the government (see history of Albania here). However, now they are peaceful and the tourist business has supposedly picked up, although we have not seen more than a handful of other tourists yet.

On the bus, there were only about 6 other people. The whole time, even though we didn't speak the same language, they made sure we made it back onto the bus, bought us oranges and even patted me on the back as I finally got off the bus. They were very helpful and super nice!

Then we were looking for our hostel and a man came up to us and said, "I think I can help you" and since usually taxi drivers and everyone under the sun says they can "help" us when really they want to rip us off, we ignored the guy. Then he said my name. Turns out he was the guy from the hostel, waiting on the street to make sure we found it okay. Then when I asked him later where we could have dinner, he said, "I will take you there. What time would you like to go?" Its like a personal shopper! Anyway, this guy, "Tom" was/is great! He took us to dinner (we invited him to stay and it was very informative), told us exactly where to catch each bus and more!

Today we went to Gjirokaster, which is an old city, all made of rocks with slate roofs, and went to look at the Castle there. It was beautiful, very Gothic with many arches and stones and cobblestoned streets. The town was cute, with tiny cobbled streets, little shops and SO MANY MERCEDES! I don't know what it is about this country, but I think it is where Mercedes go to retire. There are a lot of new ones too, but there are TONS of 1970s 1980s Mercedes. They must have got like a buy one, get 100 free deal at some point. I love it!

Tomorrow we go to to Butrint, which is a UNESCO site with ruins from the Ottoman empire. More on that later.

It's All Greek To Me

We arrived in Athens and nobody accosted us at the door to the airport. In fact, it was all very civilized. We took the metro into the city and walked to our hotel without a hitch. We had a great time exploring the Parthenon and surrounding Acropolis area, then had a nice dinner of Gyros (I finally figured it out -- it IS pronounced "Euro", which is funny as we had 2 Euro Gyros) and wandered around the Syntagma Square area, which is where they do the changing of the guards. As we were leaving the square, a bunch of cops shut down the streets and a bevy of motorcycle cops came down it. We were not sure what was happening, but in the light of recent events (strikes and violence a couple of weeks ago) we got the hell out of there, after taking a couple of pictures, of course.

The next day we went to the beach and observed the customs of the Greeks. Actually, it is mostly older ladies. Here is the drill. Get to the beach. Take off clothes, put on bathing suit. Yup, I saw plenty of old lady boobs that day. Put on colored hat (note: each lady has different colored hat). Get right into the water. Make a circle with whichever friends are already there. Chat for a while, probably talk about your horrible husband and your wonderful grand kids (I couldn't understand them, but I am sure it is the same everywhere).  One lady would leave, after changing back into her regular clothes, and others would take her place, with a different colored hat. They never get their hair wet. It was great. They must do this every day. The funniest part is, the next day we went to a totally different beach, about 2 hours from that one, and the ladies were there too!

The next day we went to see the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion where apparently Aegeus, king of Athens, jumped to his death, thereby giving the sea the name The Aegean. The temple is very neat; it is surrounded on three sides by water and sits up on a high cliff. It was surprisingly uncrowded as well, which is not what I can say for the Parthenon. It still amazes me how they built these things (this was built around 700 BC). They are beautiful, all made of marble and columns and supposedly mathematically correct -- the columns go from wide at the bottom to narrow at the top so if you are looking straight at it, they look like they are all the same width. Pretty neat.

Oh and don't forget about the food! Great olive oil and tomato salads and tzatziki and hummus and souvlaki. Yum.


10 Things I am Happy to be Lugging Around

1. Wet wipes. Along with TP, these are invaluable. INVALUABLE. In case you don't realize, they don't supply TP or napkins usually. Enough said.

2. Sarong. Yes, it is a wrap, a skirt, a towel...whatever you need it to be. Even boys should have one.

3. DEET. The stronger the better. Mosquitos are everywhere! I hate them. And don't want malaria. 

4. Reef Sandals. Many people go with Havianas. Any sandal will do. I will be wearing these 99 percent of the time. Buy them in black and they can even pass as a dress shoe. Well not really but it's worth a shot.

5. Sunscreen. I already broke open my second bottle. What can I say, I am white...My traveling partner thinks he is invincible but has already been burnt twice while I have not. So there.

6. My penguin. You may remember Papa P. Well the whole family couldn't come, but the teenaged daughter is taking a gap year with me.

7. The Lonely Planet, aka The Bible of Travel. I have three. They each weigh about 10 lbs, literally, so the Africa one is going in the swap bin ASAP.

8. Camera. Charger. Extra batttery for camera. Adapter for charger. Extra memory card. Jump drive. Another extra memory card just in case. And I am still not sure I am going to have enough memory.

9. Journal. I have not been very good at keeping up with it, but I always like to look back at them and see what I thought, where I stayed etc. Memories are good.

10. (last but not least) - Zip-off pants. I think I spoke of these earlier, or maybe not. Dorky, maybe. But useful, yes. They are pants! They are shorts! They dry in a jiff. They barely weigh a thing. They are a backpackers dream.

City vs. Sea, Earth vs. Water

Cairo leaves a dirty taste in my mouth. Literally. There are cars and people and dust and fumes and smoke and smog and dirt. You can't breathe. You can't see. I have wanted to see the pyramids for ever but the rest of the city is pretty much null in my book. According to our first taxi driver, there are 18 million people in the city; according to the next, there are 25 million. Either way, that is a LOT of people. Most of them are poor; they live in dirt (kind of like adobe) apartment complexes and wash in the Nile (yes, I actually saw this). They look at me like a piece of meat, ripe for the taking. They hiss and leer and make kissy noises. You know they are ripping you off but can't really do much about it. I am all for letting the "journey not the destination" be the fun part, and it is, but sometimes you just groan and say, "enough".

Needless to say, after seeing the Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum, we got out of there fast. We headed to the Red Sea for some diving and relaxing. The Red Sea dive was fantastic. The water is so clear, the coral is multicolored, there are tons of fish, and I even saw an OCTOPUS. Two of them to be exact! That was cool. I have never seen an octopus before.

The last couple days have been very relaxing. We went to Nuweiba, which is a small town where you just relax on the beach and snorkle. We are now in Dahab, which is a bit bigger (Nuweiba didn't even have electricity or Internet or anything, just beach). We have been relaxing, enjoying the area, looking at many camels (they don't charge you to take picture of them here!) diving, swimming and snorkeling. It has been great.

Tomorrow we move on. The next stop is Athens and after that...the world! Egypt has been great but we have so many more journeys and destinations to experience!


A Small Flickr

Oh. I finally got flickr to work, so I put a couple more photos up, but I am on a public computer and the next guy in line is eyeballing me, so really I only uploaded about 6. They are here. More to come later!

Photos of Camels are Not Cheap

So, we made it to Egypt.

Oh, before I start, I have to apologize, I am only putting a few photos in each blog because the flickr doesn't always work on these public computers (and is not working now -- grrrr). I had some people ask me if I was: taking the big camera, taking a computer, taking a suitcase... The answer to all of these questions is: NO. No big camera - I am too scared of theft and HEFT!! No computer -- what I do usually is just log on to a public computer. In most countries, there are plenty of internet "cafes" where you can check your email etc for a fee. Unfortunately that fee is pretty hefty in some cases (in Southern Africa, I have heard it can be up to 10 dollars an hour! You won't be hearing from me much while I am there!). So, I have to put up with whatever the cafes have, which sometimes is not much. The hardest thing is uploading pictures too, as it takes a while even with a good connection, and most of the connections in these places are not good.

Speaking of photos, this is one of those things I wondered how I would handle. Does anyone have any advice? When you are traveling, what do you do with all the photos? My card (damn xD!!) is only a 2 gig; that is the max that xD has. I bought a 16G thumb that I plan to use as backup, but I am afraid I may fill it up. And what about ANOTHER back up? If I lost all my photos, especially toward the end, I would be heartbroken. So, any tips?

So..... we made it to Egypt!!! We spent today exploring the pyramids and THEY. ARE. COOL!!! I really don't have many words...I will add more once we get more into the country (we arrived at 1 am last night) so for now, I will just put a few photos...

I hope everyone is doing GREAT back home. Rick, do you think the Canadiens will pull it out? 

OH!!! A sidenote really quickly before I add the photos. I have had two friends whose emails have been compromised and the hacker has sent out an email using my friend's addresses saying something along the lines of "Urgent, Please help me. I am in ____ (fill in foreign country) and got mugged and need you to wire me _____ (fill in exorbitant amount of money here -- 3000 dollars etc!!) immediately". I just want everyone to know that if you get an email like that from me -- IGNORE IT.  It is NOT me! I am NOT in financial trouble! Do not reply. It may add your email into the spam trap. I just wanted to say that, since I am traveling and I know some of you are worried. I have additional email addresses. Email me on one of those. Or email my other half. You know who he is.

Whew. Enough about that. Pyramids and Camels and DUST!! PS the camel photo is illegal -- If they catch you taking it, you have to pay like 30 bucks! They call it a baksheesh, a tip, but I call it extortion.

Tapas and Futbol

When we planned our trip, we made a tiny mistake.... Mr L loves soccer. The original plan, like I have mentioned, was to go to the World Cup in South Africa. Once we realized it would be too expensive and a pain to get around during, we decided to do the next best thing, which was to be in Portugal during the Portugal v. Brazil game. Which we are still planning on doing. However, when we booked the first couple of flights, we planned to go into Madrid on the 19th, then fly to Egypt on the 21st. What we didn't know then was that the UAEFA finals were IN MADRID on the 22nd. It would have been fun to be there during the game, however, we were there the couple of days prior and that city was HOPPING!! In fact, our hotel that we stayed at was the headquarters for all the activities, reporters etc that were there for the game. Oh well.

We were pretty tired when we arrived at 10 am, but were determined to stay up all day so we would get into the rhythm of being in this time zone (Madrid is 9 hours ahead of California). We did alright...but it is hard when it is hot and you have a beer and some food. The streets were buzzing with people and we just sat in the shade in a plaza in the middle of the city and ate peanuts and had a coffee, in the true nature of the locals. In fact, my Spanish picked itself up off the ground and presented itself fairly nicely once it brushed off the rust a little.  I made it to about 9 pm, then passed out.

We made a little plan regarding lodging which I like so far, but I have to say, I have been royally spoiled! I usually stay in hostels the whole time, share a bathroom and can't really spread out or really dig into my backpack without making a total mess. BUT. Since we work away from home all the time normally, and stay in hotels, we have accumulated some hotel points. Our plan is to use them for Europe, where the hostels are about 30 dollars each per person. Once we get to Africa, they will be more along the lines of 5 dollars per person (or less sometimes!) so then it will be no problem. Otherwise we will be out of money in a month!

So, in Madrid we were in the Westin and our room was AMAZING!!! A junior suite in a 400 year old building with a sitting area and FREE FRUIT (okay I was pretty excited about the free fruit). Oh and did I mention free bottled water? Ha. We saved about 3 dollars by staying here! Anyway, it was a beautiful hotel and it was kind of nice to "ease" into the traveling experience instead of jumping right from niceties to dirty shared bathrooms. Don't get me wrong, I actually LIKE staying in hostels -- you meet a lot of great people who give you great travel tips for the next destination and oftentimes you end up traveling with them as well. But man it is nice to be able to take a long hot shower and then walk around naked in your air conditioned room. Okay, maybe that was too much information. Suffice to say, the Westin Palace Hotel Madrid ROCKS. Here's the crown molding. Made out of plaster!

Enough about the hotel...ON with the TAPAS! I love tapas. Little plates of heaven! My favorite is these little pickled (I think they are...) sardines. Oh...I have a picture. Its not the best picture, but you have to see these so you know what I am talking about. If you ever, ever go to Spain, make sure to get THESE!!!

Okay so basically right after I ate that plate of fish, we ran to the airport to catch our flight to Cairo... I am very excited about the pyramids, although a bit wary of the people trying to take advantage of me. We shall see. Wish me luck!

Hawaiin Shirts and Naked People

Whoa, what a week!

First I flew home from New Orleans, packed up my stuff, had dinner with my friend Nadine who is pregnant with her first child. A boy! Yay! She is still the same old friend that I have had since...well...forever. She and I have known each other since we were born. I don't have a photo...I did take some but I did it with the big camera....who is now sitting in my mom's closet gathering (yikes, I hope not!) dust.

I visited with my mom, which was great, but too short, and then headed to Sacramento for Uncle Jay's Celebration of life, a Hawaii themed Memorial. It was great. Many good people, drinks were flowing and everyone wore a Hawaiian shirt, just like Jay would've wanted it. Here is a picture of me, my two cousins, and Mr L enjoying the party.

Next we headed to San Francisco for some nakedness in the Bay to Breakers. It was great! We were joined by many friends, including 7 month pregnant K (I see a theme here...) and her new Husband A. The costumes were awesome. I did not dress up this year but had a great time getting ideas for next year. My favorite costume was either a king skipping along with a hunchback following him clacking two coconuts together (clip clop, clip clop -- you guys know that one? that joke is "not dead yet") or the oil spill -- two guys wearing black trash bags, joined by a red pool floaty noodle. Here is a picture of Alamo Square and the dreaded Hayes Street Hill.

Then it was off to Petaluma and the Lagunitas Beer Fest with my brother, who is a beer connoisseur. It was a little strange. The title was the Beer Circus, and it definitely was that! Ladies on stilts, bearded ladies and tightrope walkers mixed with 40 year old heavy metal rock bands and beer. Hmm... It was a great time and I found a penguin who was willing to take a photo with me. I am not sure what a penguin has to do with the circus, but I love Penguins, so I was stoked.

The next day I hit up the dentist one last time before the big trip and then...it was off to Europe. Woo hoo! Here we go....


Ash Cloud and Other Misc Worries

Did you guys see the news yesterday? Just when I thought I was in the clear...along comes the wind and the flights are delayed again. I thought I would be safe, since I am flying into Madrid, which is in the southern part of Europe. But yesterday, there were delays in Lisbon and Madrid airports. Crap!

picture (volcano.si.edu)

So, there are 9 days until my flight and I am a little worried. Not that I can do anything about it, so I am not THAT worried. The worst thing that can happen is that I am stuck in San Francisco...or Atlanta...or in Madrid if I get there but can't get on to Egypt.

The itinerary is slowly taking shape. So far:

May 18: Flight from San Francisco (through Atlanta -- ick) to Madrid, Spain
May 21: Flight from Madrid,  Spain to Cairo, Egypt
May 31: Flight from Cairo, Egypt to Athens, Greece

And that's it so far!

Days left until takeoff: 9
Things left to do until then: 148
Days of work left: 1
Items I will buy at the last minute: 7

I am getting excited! The Euro is down, I have been brushing up on my Lonely Planet reading and there are about 400 countries I would be happy to visit. The Canadiens are doing well right now so the man is in a good mood and my birthday is in 4 days. All in all, many great weeks are in store!

Anybody have any tips? Packing? What countries to visit? What food to try? A good hostel?


10 Countries to Visit

So, this Round the World trip...started as a trip to go see the World Cup in South Africa...and morphed into something resembling a crazy person's dream. That's me, the crazy person. However, there are SO MANY places I want to go (I will have to post THAT list another time) and it is HARD to choose where. I know, you are saying "big f*&^ing deal! your worst problem is choosing which countries to go to?! pshaw!" and I realize this is really not much of a "problem". All the same, we are having a hard time.

10 countries we will probably visit (to be revised about four hundred times):

1. Spain

2. Portugal (for sure -- the plan is to be there for the Portugal v. Brazil game in June)

3. Malawi (you may know it from Madonna's child adoption ordeal, but it has a huge lake with white sandy beaches!)

4. Mozambique

5. Czech Republic

6. Egypt (yay! I have been wanting to go here for a long time!)

7. India

8. Nepal (I see some hiking in my future)

9. Indonesia (and maybe a stop at Komodo Dragon Island)

10. China

They may be more/different but that is the list as of today.

Photo taken by me at Foz de Iguacu, Brasil 2008



 Courtesy of Jon Gustafsson/AP (taken from NPR website)

Did you hear about the volcano in Iceland? This story on NPR explains it a little. The Eyjafjallajokull volcano (can you say that? I can't) erupted and is sending clouds of ash all over the UK and Europe. Normally, this wouldn't be so bad, except that airplanes cannot fly through the ash cloud. 17,000 flights were canceled today. And this is not even the worst part! According the the NPR story, this could last for months. It could also ignite a sister volcano named Katla (much easier to say but this is a bigger and stronger volcano), which would "trigger much more disruption than what's happening now". Great.

This is from CNN: If the airspace closures continue for as long as three days, some 6 million passengers will be affected, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation estimated Friday. Those passengers may also not be able to make claims on travel insurance because the volcano's impact may be classified as an act of God, the center said.


What do you think? Will I be able to get out of the US in a month? How long with this last? Wouldn't you like to be a vulcanologist (if you were one, would you live long and prosper)?


10 Things To Take

And...10 things you can't live without when traveling the world:
1. Head lamp -- great for reading, playing cards or finding the bathroom in the dark. A must!

2. That tiny sleeping bag I mentioned earlier....OR a sleep sac. Puts a layer between you and god knows what in hostels and you can use it to keep warm on over air-condidtioned busses. And MAN they over-aircondidtion them, especially when its hot outside.

3. Malaria Pills - I went to the "infectious diseases" Dr today and got an Rx.

4. Sarong -- can be used as a head scarf, blanket, pillow, towel or coverup. In Muslum countries or the Vatican, can be tranformed into a beautiful skirt which you can promptly remove as soon as you leave.

5. Speaking of towels, a travel towel (drys in seconds, wicks moisture like no other) is another great thing to have. Unless you are my friend S, and you accidentally buy the wash cloth size which barely covers your XX and definitely does not dry more than your baby finger.

6. Books. Here is the connundrum. I read. A lot! But books are HEAVY. See, all of a sudden things are put in order of importance by weight. And book are important to me, but whewwwie! So, after doing the inverse relationship calculation, I usually decide to take 2 or sometimes 3 books, and trade them any time I get the chance. But --- sometimes you carry around already read books but never find a place to swap them. They are like gold, like currency, so you CAN'T just dump them somewhere or you won't be able to "pay" for another one.

7. Power bars. You never know when you are going to be stuck on a bus, on a plane, in the desert or in a place where the food looks like innards mixed with blood. OR the food IS innards mixed with blood.

8. Those straps I mentioned below in #6.  You can lash all kinds of things to the outside of your pack.

9. My pack. If you look at this and think WHY would you spend that much money on a BACKPACK, rest assured. You wouldn't. I got the 4 years ago version of this pack for about $150. And it's worth it. REI has a lifetime garantee.

10. A travel partner. I often travel alone, but this time I have a buddy. Yay! I wonder how long it will take before we kill each other and leave the bloody carcass in the Sahara. I give it...24 days. (wink, wink -- he doesn't read this blog, but I will make fun of him anyway and send links for it to his family so they can join in the fun).

More later. Excitement reigns supreme.

Oh and PS: I am NOT taking the big camera....too heavy, too precious!! My "little camera" ( the P&S) will be my travel buddy!


Things to Do: 10 at a Time

Okay, so I am NOT complaining, but I have so much to do! I am very excited to announce that I am quitting my job and traveling the world...The "Travel Spot" blog WILL talk about it's intended subject once again.

Here are 10 of the items on my neverending, alwasys getting longer, "to do list".

1. Get visas -- countries requiring visas BEFORE leaving the US: India, China, Vietnam (this one can actually be acquired abroad, but it takes a few days. Better to do it now) -- countries requiring visas upon entry: Indonesia, Egypt

2. Buy a new sleeping bag. Seems silly, but my existing one weight about 8 pounds, which is a lot when you are carrying it on your back. Did I mention I was going to carry around a 40-50 lb pack. Well I am. And the old sleeping bag is bulky, so I don't know if anyone has seen the new ones...but they are tiny. And light. Sweet. Something like this would be great. But CRAP, they are EXPENSIVE. Maybe I will carry the 8 lbs afterall.

3. Make packing list. (check)

4. Revise packing list (check)

5. Take everything out of camping/hiking box. Try to fit it into backpack. Take it all out again. Put half of the stuff back. Try to fit it again. Decide to strap 8 lb sleeping bag and half of clothes to outside of bag.

6. Go to REI. Buy more straps for outside of bag.

7. Buy flights within Europe

8. Make budget (ouch)

9. Quit my job (check! last day May 12)

10. Study Lonely Planet like there is no tomorrow.



My best friend got married this weekend! She looked beautiful and I am very excited to have a new best friend in her new husband. Oh, did I mention they are pregnant and have not lived together yet??!!! They are crazy!

The wedding was pretty funny. I know, that doesn't seem like a very nice thing to say. First, K forgot her bouquet. Her mom ran up to her to tell her and everyone was laughing...So then they started the whole thing over again (it was only about 1 minute in, but funny all the same). Then, she had her bearded dragon as the ring bearer. Next, when she went to take the rings off the ring bearer, she dropped them. There were many laughs and lots of funny times.

Anyway, here are a few pictures of one of my favorite girls and her special day! I will add more later to my flickr with bloopers included. You can see a couple more on my other site -- here and here.

A being silly before the wedding.

 K's Candy Bar

Putting on the rings.

The Happy Couple.

I just want to say Congratulations to both of them! It was a great day and a beautiful wedding!


Follow the Leader

So, it's kind of funny because on one of the blogs I follow, Jess mentioned that her sister just became a follower of hers (I will explain more later). In her post, she asks if her sister knew about "following" and didn't do it on purpose, or if she had just found out about it. I had been thinking about doing a post about following a few days ago, so it was funny that she has some of the same questions as I do.

I always wonder if people are reading what I am writing. I assume not, and am okay with that. I mean, I just like to write, to get my memories and thoughts down before I forget them and to keep kind of a journal/log of my travels. Sometimes I have an opinion and rather than make everyone at work listen to me, I put it on here and you can read it if you are so inclined. But I still wonder -- are you inclined?

I really have no way of knowing who is reading...like I said, I assume not a lot are. Until I go to visit my best friend and her mom says, "So, how was San Diego?" and I think, "how in holy hell does SHE know I went to San Diego?" Well, I did post it and apparently she DID read it! And that makes me feel good. Even if I am not completely sure she or other people are reading, I sometimes get a little boost from time to time.

In case you are like Jess' scenario A and you just don't know what the possibilities are, I am going to tell you a few. You can go to http://www.reader.google.com/ and then enter in the sites you like. The reader will keep them all for you and tell you when a new post has been posted on your favorite sites. You can also link to your reader by just clicking "follow" -- on my site its on the left. See those 4 people there...oh and one of them is me; I don't know how that happened! Oops. I guess I felt sorry for myself.

Another option is if you look at the top of this page it says "follow" "share" "report abuse". You can click any of those. If you click follow, again, that too will take you to your Reader (no Mom, not "take me to your leader"). You don't have to use Reader, but I am hooked on google -- this blog is owned by them and it all just links together so well. All you have to do now is check your Reader from time to time and it will tell you who has posted new posts since your last visit.

You don't have to follow; you can also subscribe. This also uses Reader (for me -- you can use any other feed reader). Just click the link at the very bottom of this page. It says "subscribe to: posts (atom)".

You can also forgo all that and just leave nasty comments on the posts. At the bottom of each post is a link that says "0 Comments". If you click on that, you can tell me to shut up or leave me a note if I need to pick up bread from the store tonight.

So, you still don't have to read anything, follow anything or comment on anything, but now you if for some reason you wanted to, you know how.

PS This is my 200th post. Stats: Started in April (ish) 2006, 4 years, approx 50 a year, approx 1 a week. If you haven't read any of them, you have saved approximately 5 minutes a week of your time, or 1000 minutes in the last 4 years.

Image taken from: Boldt (found using google images -- see, it's like a cult)


Awesome Dude!

This guy is an awesome photographer. His name is Clark Little and he shoots in Hawaii. You can see more of his stuff here. This is one of my favorites. I love turtles.


I was driving to work today and every lane was going the same speed. Three lanes, all going 58 MPH. I hate that. And there were miles of empty highway in front of them. I just couldn't get to it. I think getting over to the proper lane so people wanting to go faster than you CAN is not only a rule but a simple courtesy. I finally  passed the guy who had been camping in the left lane (I had to pass him on the right) and I tried to give him a really dirty look but he wouldn't look my way.

Yesterday I went into the lunch room to get a cup of coffee. There are three pots. All of them had about a millimeter of coffee in them. All three pots were on. The lunchroom smelled like burnt tar. I eeeked out about 2 inches of coffee into my cup and made three new pots of coffee. I went back a half an hour later. All pots were back to the millimeter point. I think there are about 4 people who make coffee and 400 people who drink it. I am going to sit in the lunch room and give people dirty looks if they don't make coffee when it's getting low.

My best friend is having a baby. Its a girl!! (yay!) That doesn't seem weird to you, but I still see her at 17, wearing converse and sneaking off to the river at night after her mom told us not to. She's going to be a great mom. I am totally going to go see her and spoil her daughter. I mean, isn't that what Aunties are for?

I think the IT department at work is reading everything I am writing...Hi guys!!! I wonder if they purposefully look at certain people's computers becuase they are more entertaining. If that's the case, I should be safe. I saw a guy looking at porn at work once. I mean, he couldn't wait until he got home? A little creepy if you ask me. Okay, a lot creepy.

When I sent out my Christmas cards last year, I sent them to people in 24 states and five countries. I think that is cool. Not cool like "look at me, I am cool" but just fun! I hope to someday sent one to someone in every state. I better get a move on. I need to meet some people from Alaska. Here are the states I have. AL, AR, AZ, CA, FL, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, MN, MT, NC, NJ, NV, NY, RI, SD, TX, VA, WA, WV. Where are you from? Is your state missing? Do you want a Christmas card?

So, do you have any driving pet peeves? Work pet peeves? Do you write Christmas cards to more that 24 states? Lets hear it.


Coffee-Pot Cookin'

I thought I was the only one that did this until I was talking with a co-worker about nifty ways to have coffee while you hike and camp. He mentioned an article he read about “100 things you can make with a coffee maker” (I googled it, but didn’t find anything). Then I told him (a bit hesitantly, I mean, how old am I?) that sometimes I make top ramen in my hotel coffee maker. He counter-responded with this website about “How to Cook Food in a Hotel Room”. Then I told him about this article I had just read about a guy who got laid off a year ago and has been living on his hotel points.

I guess what I am trying to say is….maybe all this traveling for work isn’t so bad after all. First, you cook eggs on your iron in your hotel, therefore gaining valuable hotel points. If you get laid off, you can use them to live. And you can always take these tips and use them at home once you get back on your feet.

All kidding aside, it is hard to try and save money when you are on the road. It’s hard to save money, it’s hard to eat right, and it’s hard to make time to exercise. I have eaten more Top Ramen, carrots with hummus (substitute for salad) and Lean Cuisines in the last few years than I did in the entire quarter century before that. These are not exactly the healthiest foods. However, you do what you can with a microwave and a mini-fridge, IF you are lucky enough to even have those. Otherwise, you eat coffee-pot Top Ramen.

Having said that, I am totally a point whore (excuse my mouth, Mom). If there is a promotion for extra points at a certain chain, I will go there. If it means checking in and out every couple of days, I will do that. If becoming a “frequent flyer” (Platinum, in hotel speak) means getting a free breakfast and/or happy hour, I will stay at a hotel for 75 nights so I can get a 4 dollar “free” breakfast. It may seem silly, but it pays off. I used my hotel points to fly first class to the Philippines four years ago. When I was in South America, it was a treat to stay in a nice hotel (for free) after staying in dingy hostels the rest of the time. The benefits are great, even if the getting there is hard sometimes.

I guess the bottom line is: coffee pot ramen is really not that bad.

photo: taken with my iPhone: Mama P and the Coffee Pot Ramen (May 2009)


Photos -- On the Map!

Hey, I got a couple of my flickr photos on a website with attractions in San Francisco! Deeee-lighted!

Subject: Schmap San Francisco Tenth Edition: Photo Inclusion

Date: 5th March, 2010

Hi Kyria,

I am delighted to let you know that your two submitted photos have been selected for inclusion in the newly released tenth edition of our Schmap San Francisco Guide:

Baker Beach

Fort Miley Golden Gate National Recreation Area


Adventures In Miniature

I have taken a couple of weekend trips over the last few months and I finally got some of the photos online. Here are the links below:

San Diego for a nice bike ride and some beach walking.
Massachusetts here and here. Boats and Farms oh my!
Montreal (Oh, Canada!)
Maine for some more coast, boats and lighthouses.
Home for some gardening with Mom and Dad.
Pacific Coast, CA for some gorgeous views, cliffs and the Mighty Pacific!

And I posted this below already...but I took a drive around the 9th ward and here are a few more photos of that.


Reading Is Cool

I am always looking for new books to read and I stumbled over this site - The Busy Bookworm. I am going to attempt to read her suggestions this year. (I have already read Her Fearful Symmetry, but I think the rest are new for me). I also have a book club in New Olreans that I have been to a couple of times, and usually keep up with the reading. The next few months worth of books for that are:

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (March -- I am already late)

Nine Lives: Death and Life In New Orleans (see review in post below)

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

The Busy Bookworm reading list:

To Be Read:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The Leaf by Jo-Ann M. Rodriguez

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Does anyone have any thoughts or comments on any of these books? Or do you have any other suggestions of what to read? I am always looking out for a good book!
Currently Reading:


Honestly, I swear.

The idea behind this honesty scrap is that you say 10 things that your readers may not know about you. Then you tag 10 of them (the ones you like and want to know more about!) and they do the same. Jess awarded me with this one.

To be honest (ha.ha. get it?), you could probably learn MOST of these things if you read all of the below blog posts, but since there are hundreds of them, and you are all very busy people, who has time for that? I will summarize so as not to bore everyone TOO much. Also, for those of you just visiting this blog for the first time (WELCOME!), I have to apologize in advance – I used to keep it up pretty regularly. I was passionate about things; I had adventures to share. However, with the picture-taking, work, travel, working out, sleeping and most importantly, eating, I have been totally slacking! I am ashamed. Whatever. On to the honesty part.

1. I grew up in a small town in Northern California. 5000 people total. My graduating class was about 90 people. Everyone knows everyone and don’t you dare do a Chinese Fire Drill on Main Street because your mom will know in about 3.4 seconds and you will be in trouble before you even get home.

2. In High School, I was on the ski team. A) Yes, I said a ski team B) Yes, we DO get snow in California. My favorite was the GS (the long fast course). I hated doing the slalom. Before every race, I would get butterflies and the whole time going down I just wanted it to be over with. I don’t really like moguls either.

3. I am homeless. Not in the hippy-panhandling-on-the-streets-of-Berkeley kind of way. In fact, for a homeless person, I really can’t complain too much. I travel for work anywhere from 300-342 days a year and when I am not traveling for work, I don’t have a job. This means I live out of a hotel when I am traveling and I sleep in my Mom and Dad’s guestroom when I am not. I did the math and there is no use paying a mortgage when I am only home a few days a year. Thanks to Mom and Dad’s Guesthouse, I am saving money to buy my dream home. I am doing it very slowly though. That brings me to number 4.

4. I spend pretty much all my money on travel. Not the 342 days a year of work travel, but fun travel. I work to travel. Will work for vacation. And all that jazz. When I am not working and sleeping at M&D’s Guesthouse, I am staying in hostels and seeing the world. I love it. I may never buy a dream house because I am living my dream right now.

5. Right now I am working in New Orleans, and have been on and off for about four and a half years. I still don’t consider it home. My “home” is San Francisco.

6. I have one brother; he works at a winery in Sonoma County, CA. All I can say about that is: free booze. I want to say for the record that I love him very much. Just saying.

7. I am in my 30s and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. If I could be Samantha Brown or Anthony Bordain, I think I would be pretty happy. Anything that combines eating, traveling, taking pictures and writing would be nice. Dream on, right? Until I find a job like that, I will sit in an office, gaining weight and pushing papers. Hey, it allows me to travel. I am not knocking it.

8. Random Fact: EXACTLY two years ago, I was in the EXACT place in Chile where the earthquake hit. If it happened on this day in 2008, I may have been in trouble. Interestingly enough, I was also in Thailand EXACTLY a year before the Tsunami hit the place where I had been.

9. I am hoping to go to South Africa for the World Cup. Not to actually go to any games (they are thousands of dollars a ticket) but just to be there, in the hype. And of course I want to see some lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

10. I have hiked the tallest mountain in the continental US. I was 16 and I hated it until I got to the top and realized what a cool thing I was doing. If I ever have kids, I will probably make them do it too.

Now, lets hear what are your 10 things we don’t know about you?

M. Hassan

There are many more people I would love to know more about (and some that already got this award...so I will leave them out, but love their blogs) but it is getting late and I am tired and I have not even posted my picture of the day yet! Keep up the good work people!


Come Back

I took a photo drive around the 9th ward the other day. I know most people think that New Orleans is "back to normal", but it is not. Sometimes it is things such as the fact that many schools are not up and running, nor will they ever be, at least not in the same way they were before. Sometimes you still see trailers, sometimes roads are closed. And...the fate of the 9th ward is still up in the air. Brad Pitt is there with his green architects, building houses that look like they belong in a different city. But that is not what I am talking about.

Some people have renovated, if their house was still standing. Some houses have been torn down and only the slabs remain. And many are still standing, empty and sad. Here is a photo collage of some of them.

Here is one of the Pitt Green Houses.

Do you think New Orleans will come back? Will it be better than before or will it have lost something along the way? Do you think the 9th ward will come back?

February Book Club

Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans. This book is actually for the April book club meeting, but it was available in the library first, so, I got into it early. Dan Baum writes about life in New Orleans, from the 60s on to today, from the perspective of nine different people. I really enjoyed it. You get a glimpse into what it was like living in the 9th ward, the Garden District and New Orleans in general. This city has a lot of history and Dan Baum tells it in a fun and interesting way. Also, since I am here because of Katrina and each character tells their story of that day, of that time, I get a little more insight into how it would have been to have to live through that disaster.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars. A good read.


King Cake

It's Mardi Gras time again and the king cake is flowing! If you don't
know, there is a plastic baby inside and whover gets the baby has to
buy the next king cake! Fun times had by all!


365 Day Project

As I mentioned before, Lucy posted a blog regarding the Shutter Sisters and their One Word Project. They also do another project, which is to post a photo a day for 365 days. I went searching, and many people are doing this. And I like it! So...even though there may be weeks where I am away from the computer and may have to do a few in a bunch, I think most of the time I can keep up with this. And I like to take pictures and always need more experience doing so. So, Lucy, sorry to copy you with this one, but it's such a fun thing!

Please check it out: My Eye on Things - A 365 day view on things, one day at a time.


I Need a Distraction

Word Play - First Word: Bored (donated by Ruth)

Bored: (wikipedia definition: Boredom is an emotional state experienced during periods lacking activity or when individuals are uninterested in the opportunities surrounding them. The first record of the word boredom is in the novel Bleak House by Charles Dickens, written in 1852,[1] in which it appears six times, although the expression to be a bore had been used in the sense of "to be tiresome or dull" since 1768.[2] )

I decided to make bored my first word, since part of the reason I am doing this project at all probably has something to do with boredom. Not that I am experiencing a “period lacking activity” nor am I “uninterested in the opportunities surrounding” me, but more that I am looking for something new to try. So, does that mean I AM “uninterested in the opportunities surrounding” me? Or am I just unaware of them? It could be that I am interested in ALL the activities surrounding me. It seems like the opportunities surrounding each of us are infinite; we only have to find them and attempt them. This project is an “opportunity surrounding me”. I just didn’t know it until I went looking for it.

The antonyms of boredom are “excitement, diversion and amusement” (from Dictionary.com). We each seek out these things. However, my idea of excitement, diversion and amusement are different from many people’s ideas of the same. I am diverted by reading a book. Many people may say THAT is “boring”. I am excited by The Discovery Channel’s “Planet Earth”. Many would find that “tiresome or dull”. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and one woman’s boredom is another’s amusement.

I think these days, people become bored more easily than before. We have surrounded ourselves with so called “excitement, diversion and amusement”, namely through the internet, computer and television, that when we have an absence of these things, we are “bored”. Since when is riding a bike, playing a game, talking with your grandmother, eating, cooking or reading boring?

I am at a place where I am not sure where I am going or where I am trying to go with my life. I want to eventually find something to do that I love, but I am not sure what it is so I am on a continuous search for something “exciting” and lasting. I don’t consider myself bored. Confused maybe. Unsure. Hopeful. And distracted. We just moved to a new office where instead of a cubicle with high walls, we have an open room with low tables and even lower partitions. You can sit at your desk and see each and every person that walks by. Every time someone goes by, I catch a movement in the corner (or middle) of my eye and I have to look up to see what it is. Then I look back down to my work and I can’t remember what I was doing before. So I move onto something else.

The same thing happens with the internet. We are getting used to distracting ourselves with endless information, each thing segueing into the next (cooler) thing, that we never really finish doing any one thing completely. And this is why, when we take ourselves away from the internet, we get “bored”. Our synapses have stopped rapidly firing. Our eyes have to focus on one thing only. We have to wait for satisfaction. Boooooring, right?

Maybe I have been watching too much Julie and Julia (both of them are looking for something to do to combat boredom in their lives and turn to cooking, blogging and writing a cookbook). Is it in our natures to be unsatisfied (or as wiki says, “uninterested”)? We are always looking for more money, a better job, a cuter hairstyle or something more “exciting”. Will we ever stop and say, “That’s enough; I am satisfied now”? Or is our thirst for amusement what keeps everything in the world moving forward, what keeps us striving for knowledge, for love, for happiness and for life?

Maybe we will never cease to be bored. And now that you mention it, I wonder, is that really such a bad thing after all?

Note to readers: The words “bored, boring and boredom” were used 16 times in this document.


January Self Imposed Read

If you haven’t already read it, read The Time Travelers Wife, also by Audrey Niffenegger. I read it and loved it, which is the reason I decided to read her most recent book, Her Fearful Symmetry. This book is set in London and is about a ghost in a flat near Highgate Cemetery. It is a pretty fast read, interesting enough, but without the pizzazz that The Time Travelers Wife had. When I read The Time Travelers Wife, I couldn’t put it down. I was at my parent’s house for Christmas and I was sleeping in an unheated room in the winter time and I still would lie in bed with my arms and head exposed and freezing cold, reading it until the wee hours of the night. This book is good, but not that good!

I also read Julie and Julia which if you haven’t already heard, is about a young girl just about to turn 30 who decides to cook every single recipe from Julia Child’s famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In one year. Five hundred and some odd recipes, each with pounds and pounds of butter all cooked within 365 days. And she writes a blog about it.  But the book is about more than just her adventure. It is a story about a girl who has hopes and dreams but is not sure what they are or if she will ever accomplish them. She is bored of her job, her life and her apartment. She takes on a task, a meaning of life, something to look forward to. Its not an easy one; she has some trials and tribulations, but you like her more for them. She is human. She is all of us. I liked her. She makes me want to cook every recipe from MtAoFC. I give it 4.5 stars.

Word Play

It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about, but I wanted to branch out, to write about something other than travel, food or weather. Yup, most of my blogs are about one of those three topics, either directly or indirectly. So, I thought, why not get some suggestions from someone else, to see if I can write about something else, or if the things that interest me, namely eating, traveling and commenting on the weather, really are the only thing I can elaborate on. Also, researching/finding out about new things is one of my favorite things to do and this will give me knowledge about things that I may not have known about before.

My inspiration comes from Aunt Lucy, who tipped me off about the  Shutter Sisters, who are photographers who are doing a project called The One Word Project. They give you a word every month and you send in photos associated with that word and they post a photo a day from someone who has sent one in. If you get a chance to check out their site, do so, it is very fun. Lucy is also doing a project where she takes photos of things with words on them and posts one every day, which is also really interesting (check it out here). So I guess 2010 is the year of the word.

I will take their idea and add a twist – I am asking people to send ME “one word”, whatever comes to their mind. Once a month I will write about one of the words that have been sent to me. Obviously, I am not going to steal the Shutter Sister’s name or project, so this will be the Word Play project. (Version 2k10). –


Central Park in The Snow

I took this as the sun was going down and the snow was starting to fall. It reminds me of Christmas and so much more! You can see more NYC photos here.

January Book Club Read

So, the January book club read. One by Jodi Picoult, who, if you haven't yet read, is DE-PRESS-ING! However, I am always looking to learn something new, and this book taught me a little bit about osteogenisis imperfecta, otherwise known as "brittle bone syndrom". However, one can only handle so much strife, even though it does provide insite into what it may be like having to be a parent in such a difficult situation. I give it an "okay" but not a "great".

As a side note, I finished the Hemingway and am not in a hurry to read another.

Next up: its a toss up --  Skinny Legs and All, Her Fearful Symmetry or Julie and Julia. What do you guys suggest?


December Book Club Read

The Sun Also RisesI am almost done. I should finish tonight. However, I am not quite sure that I like the way he writes. I feel like I should becuase he is "one of the greatest writers of all time". However, although I like what he writes about, I dont like the WAY he writes. Pamplona just isn't as exciting to me when Hemingway is the one telling me about it. We will see if I change my mind in the next 20 pages.

You can find out what else I have read and suggest books for me on goodreads.

Magic in The Air

As Kermit says, there is magic in the air. The magic in New Olreans is a little different than the magic at home, maybe becuase of the lack of cold and snow. However, decorations have been put up and people at work are going out for last minute Christmas dinners before we all fly away to our respective homes. I, for one, can't wait to go home and sit in a warm room with a view of the snow outside, drink coffee, chat with the Mom and Dad and watch...Christmas movies! I have been getting in the holiday spirit by watching clips on youtube. I have included one below for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Viewing Pleasure

I was reading Lucy's blog the other day and I really liked Lucy's idea of checking to see the "most viewed" on Flickr. It seems sort of fun to see what the "invisible people" out there are interested in (or just need to see more clearly, I guess). So here is what I found.

This was the most viewed, with 244 hits:

Tarshier - World's Smallest Primate

This one, which is probably one of MY favorites, was second "most viewed", with 177 hits (maybe because it has the word "naked" in the title?):

Tan Naked Man

The next category is "favorites". People can add your photos as one of their favorites. I personally am not very highly followed, but whoever is following me must be a tad perverted, becuase the most favorite is.... "two asses".

Praia de Barra: Two Asses

So....of all the landscapes, foreign cities and beautiful vistas.... you see what people really like? I think, judging from Lucy's site, that tagging the photos makes all the difference in the world. I guess I need to get on the ball....or the tan naked man.