Monday, March 30, 2009

Color fixes everything

I'll admit, Saturday I was in bad mood... just in a pure ole' bad mood. I woke up that way. I don't know what brought it on, but I recognized it and decided that I should probably just stay away from people.

Well, for a few years now I have known about the Festival of Colors that is held every spring down at the Krishna temple... it is a celebration of spring. I have seen pictures and such from the past few years and have secretly been wanting to go. Well, it was Saturday afternoon... and even with a very convincing invite from my sister I was still resisting.

After some further encouragment (and telling my roommate that if I was going then he had to go) I decided to give it a try...


You know, throwing colored chalk all over eachother really lifts your spirits... at least it did mine!! The colored chalk is representative of new life and therefore throwing it all over eachother is a celebration of spring and all it holds.... It was actually super super fun.

There were an estimated 15,000 people there, complete with dancers, music, crowd surfing - just a huge party... and nothing like a party where you get to throw colored chalk at people and get insanely messy... all in the attitude of celebrating life!!!

(what I won't tell you is that after this "celebration of spring" we got over two feet of snow... haha. Gotta love spring time in the Rocky's!! Actually, I'm not complaining... now I get a few more days on the mountain to say goodbye to my new snowboard and my favorite views from the top of the runs.... then - BRING ON THE HEAT! I'm ready for a good tan.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Being a Mother to Adult Children is HARD

Today Mom and I went to Mermaid Class (also known as deep water aerobics) and she came over for lunch afterwards; it seems to be turning into tradition to go out to eat after, but I wanted to save cash (and calories) so I told her I would cook at home.

I made a tasty tasty lunch and enjoyed having Mom over at my place for a bit. While we were at the table eating she said, "It's hard being a Mom to adult children." I told her that I agreed that it proabably most definately is...

Tonight I sit here at work and I am wondering what made her say that. Was it that we had a snaffu about an ex-boyfriend of mine (at which point I looked at her and said, "Really? We are really going to fight about someone I'm not even dating anymore??") or maybe it was the fact that I kept trying to tell her what food was good for her....

Now as I'm sitting here organizing my stuff for my 2008 taxes, I realize that she is probably refering to the fact that she does my taxes for me every year! She is a pro!! That is probably what makes it hard...

Thanks Mom, I know there are probably a million things... but you are doing a good job!! Thanks for everything!!

p.s. I'll bring you the stuff for my taxes tomorrow :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

PICS, PICS AND MORE PICS!!

It's my first day back at work... so I'm doing what any responsible person would do, posting pictures on facebook! haha.

Here are links to the four albums I posted, one with pics from Paris and three with pics from Morocco...

I didn't post ALL of my pics, but I posted my favorites and I think I touched on just about everything I did.

They are on facebook, but you should be able to follow the links and see them all without having to log into facebook or anything...

I hope you enjoy them!!

PARIS:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2248432&id=17832368&l=7c150e8892

MOROCCO Album 1:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2248445&id=17832368&l=657b74e749

MOROCCO Album 2:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2248450&id=17832368&l=436e42744c

MOROCCO Album 3:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2248456&id=17832368&l=1cd6833273

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Heading Back Across the Pond

Here I sit, 11:45 pm, in Paris. I'm packed and ready to go... I'm happy to go home, but I've had the most wonderful time here.

Zannah has been incredibly hospitable and great to travel with. We've had a fantastic time and made many many memories.

The thought of getting back to things doesn't excite me, but it is a necessity I guess. I hear there is a family dinner planned tomorrow so that we can all see each other and I can tell my stories and show my pictures to everyone. I am happy that my first night home will be spent with family and I can ease into things... But the day after that things hit full force, nose to the grind stone, back to reality.

Right now it all feels like a dream, a dream that felt real enough to change me at my core, yet a dream that seems so incredibly wonderful that it couldn't have possibly happened. Lucky for me I have a whole suitcase of presents (for me and others) that prove that it did. The best part about it is that my best gifts aren't even something I can place my hands on, only things I can hold in my heart and my memories....

So, here I sit, nine hours away from loading on a plane to be shipped back to reality and 36 hours from being thrown back into the craziness. Another good part, I get to be seeing most of you sometime soon!! I've missed being home, I'm missing my family and friends and I miss my dog!!!! (dang, I didn't get him any presents.... I hope he dosen't mind).

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Gold Shoes are too tight. My Jet is too loud. Waaah.

I'm back in Paris and honestly, I'm not impressed... I want to be back in Morocco.

I feel like a complete spoiled brat saying that Paris does nothing for me. Sure, it's a great city, lots to offer, blah blah blah.... But after my last three days in a small country in Northern Africa, this place can't even compare.

My experiences in Marrakesh were beyond amazing. They were spiritually moving and thought provoking, life changing is definitely an appropriate term.

Last night I genuinely connected with women I hardly knew as they taught me how to eat with my hands and washed me from head to toe. Today, I drove in a taxi past women in high heels and bouffant hair and I felt nauseated.

I am grateful that I'm a girl that can hack it anywhere; sure, I know what fork to use when I'm presented with a table setting that includes four... but I can also hack it when I'm dirty and stinky and have to remind my friend that we aren't doing anything that a little bit of penicillin won't cure - and honestly, right now I'm definitely preferring the later.

I miss Morocco, my short time there seems like a dream now that I'm laying under a down duvet with consistent electricity filling the room. Maybe if I hurry up and fall asleep I can be there in my dreams quickly, because I know that I definitely won't be able to get back soon enough physically.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I've always been fast to fall in love

I've been in Marrakesh for three days and each and every day has been far and above better than the one before. Today we woke up with a whole agenda of things we needed to do: go see a few landmarks, meet our friend Adil for lunch with his family, go to the spa for our massages, shop a little and have a nice quiet dinner at our Riad... then pack and be ready to go in the morning.

All went as planned, up until the meeting Adil's family part... at which point none of our other plans mattered.

We met Adil and then after that decided to skip our appointments for the spa and dinner... yes, we stood them up, and it was so incredibly worth it.

I can't blog about it all tonight, honestly my heart can't even begin to find the words and my body and emotions are overwhelmed. All I can begin to say is that I have been more deeply touched today than I have been in a VERY long time, possibly ever.

Today we were greeted by our smiling Adil in the main square, he took us back to his home and introduced us to his mother who was squatting on the floor of the kitchen already preparing our dinner. We had tea and met his family and neighbors as they wandered in.

His mother showed us how to cook couscous, his sister-in-laws/neighbors/mother taught us how to eat with our hands, laughed with us as we failed miserably, took us to a traditional hammam (community bath house), washed us head to toe like little children, painted us in henna and kissed us goodbye again and again and again.

I was on the verge of tears for the entire day. As I sat there in their humble home and was the recipient of everything they could think of to give me I found myself so profoundly grateful for the experiance and the feelings of love that were shared. I can't speak a lick of arabic, they can't speak a word of english... yet we communicated, our hearts connected and I will forever feel that I have a family in Marrakesh, Morocco.


This is me and Hiba after our time in the hammam; they wrapped my hair for me so I wouldn't catch cold -- in the 90 degree heat :) Notice Hiba is in a coat, two hats, pants and full shoes. In the hammam we became fast friends when we helped eachother wash all of our soap off.


This is us... for the most part. Some of us are missing, Adil is taking the picture, the woman who did our henna had already left, one of his sister-in-laws is missing and a bunch of his brothers are elsewhere... but for the most part this is the group.

I wish I could tell you more, but like I said earlier. I'm exhausted and even if I had the energy to stay up and type for hours I don't think my heart and mind can connect to even find the words....

From the depths of my heart....
Salaam Alikoum (peace be unto you, in Arabic)

Call to Prayer -- video

Hi everyone, we are getting ready to head out this morning, but since I have gotten some requests for a recording of a call to prayer, and I was up all night getting this one, I thought I would post it so it could upload while we are gone.

We thought it would start at 4:00 am, so I got up five minutes before and waited for it to start... but it never came. So, I went to bed and was woken up at 4:25 by what I thought was the beginning, I decided I wanted to get more of it so I went to bed and said I would get it tomorrow. Instead I was woken up a bit later by a louder and prettier "sing song" call to prayer. I decided I would wake up and record some, just in case I couldn't get anything else later, all thought the other call to prayers I had heard were more of what I wanted to get for you.

Luckily, shortly after I started recording my favorite style of Call to Prayer started. Give the video time, it's fairly long. At the beginning you can hear the quieter "sing song" style Call to Prayer that woke me up... at approx 1:40 into the video the louder call starts, this is my favorite. It's a rather long video, but the entire thing is beautiful.

I recorded it from my riad window. It is pitch black, just like it is for me when it wakes me up in the very early hours of the morning.

I've grown to love the calls to prayer and cherish being woken up and laying in bed listening to them...

Here they are! Love you all, more updates tonight...


video

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How many dirhams can you spend in a day? Dosen't matter... it was all priceless.


Today we went shopping, lots and lots of shopping. We started into the souks on purpose and quickly found our way into the chicken market. We stumbled upon a lantern shop where we spent over an hour picking out my lantern that I've wanted and getting to know the shop owner... a very kind gentleman by the name of Mohamed (the second Mohamed of the day so far...). He fed us Morrocan mint tea and gave me a pretty good deal.

We assured him we would come back and visit and escaped to discover things on our own. We wandered by ourselves for about 10 minutes before a guy on his motorbike simply kept following us telling us how beautiful we were. He asked us if he could help (as they all do) and we kept telling him no. Finally, we decided he could help.... we wanted to go to the dye pits and buy yarn. He was happy to help and led us on a brisk hike (I do mean brisk) to where we finally, after much sweat and a little jogging, arrived at a small door in a dirty and stinky courtyard. We turned into the little door and found this....

Adil (the guy on the motorbike) took us upstairs at this shop first, on the terrace... we took pictures and looked at all the yarn hung around to dry, it was breathtaking. Then we went downstairs and met his friend that works there... he showed us all sorts of scarves and how to wear them (see my first picture) and was happy to pull down the yarn from the ceiling... Between the two of us we got A TON of yarn. It's naturally dyed, hand spun, organic wool; absolutely GORGEOUS.

After all the yarn Adil wanted to take us back to where his family works... the tanneries. We went on another brisk walk and finally arrived there. I was exhausted, we were carrying all of our stuff up till now and it was hot out!! Adil would get ahead of us and we were literally jogging after him, he was probably no less than 30 feet ahead of us the entire time! However, if we got to a corner and didn't know which way to go we simply had to look around and we would quickly spot him, waiting with a hand on his bike and another in the air waving at us with that charming smile of his... I must admit that I began to appreciate this guy. At first he was annoying, that was when he wouldn't leave us alone; but by this point I was so enthralled with all that he had shown me and so incredibly grateful for the sense of security that he provided for us. Sure, we were still being cat called and guys were definately still showing their affections (including Adil), but if something out of line was said or if someone wouldn't leave us alone all it took was a quick comment from him and the guys would leave. We were under his wing, it was comforting.


He took us to the tannery pits (see below) and they smelled awful. He found a guy that gave us a great tour of the pits, gave us bouquets of mint leaves to hold to help with the smell, explained the process, walked us around (even at one point walking us across a concrete barrier inbetween two pits, basically walking along a concrete balance beam... only if we lost our balance it would have been tannery pit instead of gymnastic pads, definately upped the ante); he showed us how they are dried, scraped, softened, etc... then he took us to a shop. Thank goodness they took credit cards... :)


After the tanneries Adil took us to another roof to take more pictures and then on the way down we stopped by this spice shop. We met this woman, the first woman we have done business with other than here at the riad; she was delightful. Here she is putting kohl on my eyes with a big toothpick... moroccan eyeliner!! It was not a pleasant experiance, but I smiled my way through it... It looked pretty good!! For about 3 minutes, then it ran down my face. Adil said I looked beautiful. I asked him if I looked Moroccan and he laughed for about two minutes.



After the spice shop Adil invited us to dinner tomorrow. We have had invitations for drinks with many men... but with Adil it was different. I had become accustomed to having him around now. After exiting the tannery store I was so relieved to see him and his beaming smile. We accepted the offer and set up a time for tomorrow, he says his mother makes incredible couscous. I had read in the guidebooks that we may be invited to dinner with a family, I secretly hoped it would happen but thought it was a long shot. I am eager for the experiance, it will be great.

Adil helped us get a taxi home since we now had so much stuff with us, he spoke to the driver, negotiated a good price (only the equivelant of about $3 USD) and then rode his motorbike to our riad so the taxi could follow him. He helped us carry our bags to our riad, confirmed our plans for tomorrow and kissed us both goodbye (on the cheek)...

After regrouping at the riad, soaking our feet in the pool and planning a bit more we set out for the square. We did a bit more shopping and ran into two kittens in the middle of the souks, these two were tiny!! We played with them a bit and I took some pictures...


Abby, you asked for what the women wear, this is an example, I'll try to get you more. I thought you would get a kick out of seeing the sling in action... The women are typically veiled, but their faces are usually uncovered. They do wear full length traditional dresses (as seen here, not the chick in the red... although she may be a younger moroccan woman, they tend to dress more like western women).


We did eat a late lunch at "One One Seven - Our Ticket to Heaven" as we promised... this is our "Starvin' Marvin Guy" in the white and blue with the Head Honcho in the back. Pretty good dinner for a street stand, not as good as the cooking at our riad, but a good experiance none the less.


Here is me drinking my sweet moroccan tea. I think we drank tea five times today, easily... We had some for breakfast, with Mohamed when I bought my lantern, with the guys at the tannery/rug shop, at One One Seven (as seen here) and with dinner. All the stores offer it to you, very hospitable, or probably more to keep you in their store longer.


Here is a quick video taken from the top of a house after we left the tannery and right before we went into the spice shop. You can see the skins drying on top of the buildings and a bit of the action on the walkways between buildings (sorry for the sideways camera angle); at the very end you get a quick glimpse of Adil... such a cutie.

video

More video and pics to come tomorrow!! I just set my alarm for 3:55 AM to get the "Call to Prayer" on video, it will be dark... but you will hear it.

Love you all!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

I feel suprisingly at home... and apparently I also have a brother here


Here I sit, on my leather cushion in a Riad in Marrakesh, Morocco. I must say, I'm in love with the place. We landed today in Marrakesh and immediately were enthralled by the tile mosaics and the smiles that we were greeted with, instead of the stone faces in Paris.

After we got through customs we grabbed our bags and headed out, looking for our driver who would be waiting with our names displayed on a piece of paper. We decided that was much easier than trying to find the riad on our own and it was really cheap!! Couldn't go wrong... when we saw him we were very grateful, he was even the cute one of the bunch. :)

Our fantastic driver greeted us with a smile and took our bags, he walked us to his car and loaded us up and off we went... From what I gather the traffic rules consist of "don't hit anyone or anything," that's it. On our way down the street it was FAST or STOP, no inbetween. We would pass at will, not obey traffic signs, merge when we needed... once we needed to go left at a round about, did we go right and 3/4 of the way around? Heck no!! We turned Left and carried on our way... He did a great job of getting us there safely, even pointing out a few things on our way. He showed us the ramparts (big red stone walls) that surround the original city, the kings groves of orange and olive trees, we saw a few stray donkeys eating out of the trash, lots of people on scooters (think Mexico style) and all sorts of other things that I've NEVER seen before. Soon he pulled up and stopped in a small opening and joked with us as he got our bags and we headed down small walkways between tall red earth buildings. We came to a wooden door and he knocked, an opening big enough to crouch and walk through opened within the door... we were "home."

Inside we found this place, it is absolutely GORGEOUS and very comfortable and welcoming. There are only four rooms here, very small and quaint. The entire staff is female and they are very welcoming and hospitable. They walked us into the main square and drew us maps on how to get back. We feel absolutely at home here and couldn't be any more comfortable. When we got here we were introduced to "Tootsie," the cat you see here in the courtyard in the center of our riad. Tootsie is friendly, until you try to pet her, then she attacks you with her massive paws...


Zannah took a nap while I went on a photo spree around the riad. It's absolutely beautiful and the light here is incredible. I don't think I have ever been this far south in the world, I think that combined with the earthy colors combine for a truly unique look.

After my photo spree I laid down to read a bit and I happened to be lying there while the 4:00pm "Call to Prayer" was done. It was honestly one of the most spiritual things I have ever witnessed. Although I was by myself in a small courtyard, I listened to the approximately four minutes of Arabic language as prayers were sung out. It was stunning.



After Zannah woke up we went into the main square and tried to take it all in. We definately are somewhere new and different. I don't even know how to start talking about the main square. I will try to get you a short video and pictures tomorrow, but honestly the thought of having a camera to my eye the entire time worries me. Today I used all four limbs and a keen sense of awareness to keep myself out of trouble and away from salesman... tomorrow Zannah said she will "block" for me if I wanted to start taking some pictures... Good thing Zannah and I both have a hockey background, I think we might need to use it tomorrow!!

When I mentioned that Paris is good for your self esteem I had no idea what to expect here in Morocco. I knew we would get attention because we are white, young women... but honestly, here in Morocco it's at a whole new level. The men here are quite obvious with their affections, apparently it isn't rude to stare (or they simply don't care) and we must stick out TERRIBLY. We got hissed at and commented at... combine that with aggressive salesman and we were practically accosted at least three dozen times in our two hour trip to the square this afternoon. Zannah and I discussed what we actually think would happen if we did go along with whatever they wanted us to do... We aren't quite sure, but we do know it would probably involve excessive "friendliness," if you can call it that.

There are two times that stand out from our experiances at the square today... Both involving boys, believe it or not.

We had walked through the square for a bit and decided to sit and people watch in a park that neighbors the square. The many park benches were filled with men and we were aware that we stuck out... but we enjoyed sitting and people watching. As we were sitting there a woman in full traditional dress was walking past us with a little boy in tow, he was probably about four years old. When they were about 20 feet in front of us she stopped abruptly and bent down to say something to him gruffly, obviously he was in trouble. Zannah and I noticed and watched him a bit. She straighened back up and marched past us with him in tow, again. We assume he got in trouble for staring at us or saying something, probably about us being different; because as he passed he tried not to look at us. I turned my head and watched them walk past us and he looked back at me, as he did he stuck his tongue out at me!! I laughed and looked back at him again, he did it again! This time I couldn't help it, I smiled and stuck my tongue back out at him. There was a brief exchange of sticking out our tongues and then as he got to the street with his mother he skipped a bit and threw up a hand to wave goodbye to me. I laughed, Zannah laughed and we decided that Moroccan children are adorable.

When they grow up they must keep some of that charm, but it gets quite a bit more aggressive it seems.

We were passing by the many food stalls in the market and were constantly accosted by salesman trying to get us to look at their menu and eat at their stalls (these guys work in herds, a couple tend the stall and a couple go out to recruit). One young man, in his early 20s, approached us and tried to get us to look at his menu. As we tried to ignore him and say "no" he kept jumping in front of us. He tried talking to us in english, as many do, but then he tried to persuade me by saying "You look like a starvin' marvin'!!" Yeah right kid, I'm overweight!! I started to smile... I couldn't help it. He continued on, "You are my Sista from another Mista!" I started to laugh, it didn't help that I could hear Zannah laughing behind me. He then finished, as we were finally escaping, with, "Remember, One One Seven (the number of his stall)!! Your ticket to heaven!!" As we quickly walked away I heard, "Hunny Bunny!!" We barely got away from him, laughing histerically. I had to stop and compose myself... Although, I have decided we will eat there tomorrow. A salesman that good deserves to get the sale.

After our time in the market we headed back to our Riad. We had dinner planned there and they were expecting us. We have heard that the cook here was the best they have had throughout the city, we were hungry and VERY excited.

I personally have never eaten Moroccan food and didn't know what to expect. But through these doors I was given one of the BEST dinners I have EVER eaten. We started off with three different dishes, one was a luke warm diced potato with cilantro and onion, one was chilled soft carrots with cinnamon and another was what I can only describe as Pico de Galo with cucumber and served in lettuce leaves. Tons of vegetables and SOOOO yummy. The main dish was served in a tagine and was amazingly tender chicken with figs, mint and onion, it was served with pasta and was INCREDIBLE. For desert we had a small coconut bread and I WAS CONTENT. Truly amazing food.

Tonight I'm going to bed in my riad, truly LOVING IT HERE. I am excited to be woken up by the call to prayer. I'm eager to go defend myself in the market again tomorrow. I am determined to take a ton more pictures and I'm going to soak up every bit of this experiance I can. This is easily the most exotic place I have been and it again teaches me that this world is a truly incredible place, with many fantastic people.

More adventures await.... Love you all!!

P.S. Tuffy!!! I wish I could show you all the cats here! You saw a picture of Tootsie, but there are seriously cats everywhere! When we got off the plane there was a cat laying in the middle of the floor at the airport by where we got our bags! A big empty airport... with a cat laying in the middle! Here at the riad (which is my hotel) there is not only Tootsie, but many other cats that try to come visit. They walk on the roofs and walls that connect their homes to our hotel and they peek their heads in to see what is going on. Tootsie dosen't like it much and chases them off; she is truly Queen of the House! When I'm out walking around on the streets there are quite a few cats, they seem to enjoy it here. I will try to get some pictures for you... Love you! Say Hi to Chiefy for me, all the cats here look a lot like him, they are the same orange and white color.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm a Country Girl with a City Girl Attitude

Today I ventured out to Versaille. It is a palace that was built out away from the city, now it's surrounded by town, but still stands in all it's glory. It is very lavish and the gardens are GORGEOUS. I would say the most impressive parts of this huge place are the grounds. I walked through the entire thing and saw many of the rooms that are now open for tour. The whole thing is very gaudy and over the top... tapestries, gold leafing, murals on ceilings, huge portrait paintings, etc.

When I was done inside I went out the back and started my way into the gardens; they have over 250 acres of gardens... I wish I could have explored all of them.

They have the typical english gardens with everything manicured and designed to the hilt. They have fountains and winding pathways through angled bushes and shrubbery. There are statues that line the pathways. They even have the "grand canal" that used to stage navy battles, today I saw a few guys practicing crew/rowing.

Zannah told me to NOT MISS Marie Antoinette's domain... this girl was spoiled... and as queen she was able to do whatever she wanted. What did she choose? An entire working farm so that she could "play shepherdess"... Today I went to her little play land. I wish I would have had more time there, as it was I closed the place down. Literally, there was a gate that I'm pretty sure they forgot to lock, thank goodness, or else I would have been locked in there right now.... I'm pretty sure.

She had an entire other "humble" house that is still incredibly luxurious... She had her many gardens, that appeared unmanicured compaired to the other ones. She had rivers and streams, animals (sheep, chickens, fish, horses, rabbits, etc). She had an entire little village built with houses, water mills, towers, etc. It was a fully functioning farm town, they used the produce and things in the kitchens at the palace. It even had a fully functioning dairy at one time....

Today it's simply standing there, it has some of the animals still, but it's just standing there... waiting for me to explore it. Today I went and found a little bench for myself and ate my lunch (of cheese, bread and fruit) and listened to the birds chirping and the water running. Then I went and explored her little village. I tried to take self-timed pictures, that was a bit difficult... but I think I got a few!

Honestly, I loved it. I loved being out in the "country" and I totally see why Marie-Antoinette made this little place. I understand why she got sick of the pagentry of the palace and needed a place to escape. I was only in the palace about an hour and I understood!! :)

Apparently I'm a country girl.... I like to be out in the open. I like to be in the peaceful surroundings and hear myself think, hence loving the gardens today.

Zannah informed me of this country girl vs city girl thing yesterday... She told me that I'm a country girl with a city girl attitude. I like being in the country, I like the simpleness and the openness of it all. However, I like being busy, I like being on the move - thats the city girl part of things.

After thinking that I was going to be locked in there when I realized how late it was I quickly hiked my way back out of the gardens and didn't see a single soul until I passed back out the gates at the palace. I told ya I closed the place down!!

I hopped on the train and connecting metro to get back to Zannah's apartment. On my 45 minute ride home I got two dinner invitations... Both were from men who were friendly, definately friendly, yet about 40 years old and apparently thought I would be interested. Instead, I politely declined... as well as I could (only the second guy spoke much english and even at that our conversation was rough). Another great thing about Paris, it is good for the self esteem... It never hurts to know that SOMEONE (even if they could be your father) thinks you are cute enough to invite you to dinner, or a late night drink, or breakfast in the morning.... yep, they tried it all.

Another great thing about today?? I navigated the metro and train system all by myself!! Sure, Zannah gave me good directions... but still, I did it!

With all that being said... we are leaving for Morocco in the morning. Africa, here we come!!

Next update?? From Marrakesh, Morocco!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Day of Museums

video

Here is a video I took today, it basically sums up the day... and to my surprise I got a bit emotional. Before I took this video Zannah and I had lunch in a wonderful French restaurant, we enjoyed our quiche and amazing hot chocolate and pastries afterwords. During lunch we had a conversation about when we gained confidence in ourselves (in relations to our conversation about the annoying American girl behind us who clearly hadn't yet). Zannah (who is always WONDERFULLY insightful) suggested that it is when we felt like we were making our own decisions and doing what we want to with our lives, I decided that I agreed with her.

At that point I realized that I'm doing what I want with my life. I've known it before, but today it hit me forcefully. As I walked through the center of Paris and took in some AMAZING artwork, I was proud with where I was and soooo grateful that I'm able to take these adventures. I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

As I was recording this video (saying "AND" a lot... sorry, I simply had a hard time formulating my thoughts into words) I did choke up a bit... My eyes turned that brilliant blue they do when I cry ....

After I finished I got up, enjoyed the Lourve and saw everything I needed to see... and more. I took some pictures to help me remember the emotions that moved me in paintings, the powerful stoic statues and other things that I thought family members would appreciate.

The Musee' D' Orsay was my favorite, honestly. I was so touched and honored to be able to see Degas' dancers... I have loved those ever since I was a little girl, obsessed and hopelessly devoted to dance. I enjoyed seeing a Picasso that was hung at the Musee' De L'Orangerie, it was of a nude couple, a pregnant woman and a man (presumebly her husband). I usually am not a huge fan of Picasso, but this was striking and moving. I loved it.

I would LOVE to tell you about all the great art I saw today, but instead I'll save you the time and boredom. I do have bunches of pictures of things tho... so let me know if you really want to put yourself through that! :)

After six hours of museums I met up Zannah to have my first fondue dinner EVER, not a bad idea to have fondue in Paris!!

Now? We are ready for bed... Zannah is knitting (I have to have her teach me) and I'm blogging..... and soon I'm hoping to be snoring, "daintily" as Zannah says.

Loves to all, tomorrow? A report on Versailles!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

BONJOUR!!

Hello to everyone from Paris!!

I got in this morning at 10:30 am and took a cab to Zannah's apartment. I won't tell you all the story about how she forgot I was coming in today (thinking it was Thursday) and therefore didn't pick me up... haha. But we won't talk about it. She already feels horrible. Besides, it isn't an issue... I had a great experiance because of it!!

I called Zannah and since she wasn't there she told me to take a taxi to her place. So, I collected my bags and followed the signs for a Taxi. Since I speak NO french, Zannah told me the address, I wrote it down on a piece of paper and gave it to the gentleman helping me with the taxi. I walked out the door and this nicely dressed, good looking, tall gentleman asked me something in French, I handed him the paper (thinking he would help me hail a taxi). He nodded and walked to the back of a very nice mercedes SUV, he opened the back, took my bags and put them in and then opened the door for me to get in the back. Leather interior, touch screen navigation/radio/phone, he was wearing a leather jacket, smelled good, etc..... I'm not in the U.S. anymore, Toto.

As we drove I was glued to the window. It's so interesting here. The graffiti is gorgeous and I laughed at a few of the english words they used. What would possess a graffiti artist to write "fish" on the wall?

I got to Zannah's street and it is adorable. It's cobblestone with bushes and things along the side, it was gorgeous! We hiked the five stories up to her apartment, lugging my suitcase with us. Then after a quick break we took off into the city!!

We are at a WONDERFUL place that had salads that I am already trying to figure out how to replicate back in the states. We rode the metro and went to see Montmatre and Sacre Coeur, both beautiful.... Then we walked through the city, went over to see Notre Dame and was able to witness a bit of evening mass.



After that we started off on our way back home, stopped to get some fruit from Zannah's "Fruit guys" and yes, they are as wonderful and hilarious as she always says they are. They are boisterous and happy, very welcoming! Then we got some cheese and bread and headed home for a traditional french dinner of fruit, cheese and bread.

I'm off to take a shower, then we will watch a traditional French movie and sleep so we can recharge for tomorrow!!!

Best quote of the day: I saw this cute little dog following his owners and commented on how well behaved he was, no leash or anything!! I took a picture, couldn't help it....
Zannah's comment -- "They're faithful here; the men aren't, but the dogs are."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Adios!!

I'm off...

Finals are done, and passed with flying colors I do believe. :)

I'm packed, and feel like I'm packing really light. I hope I haven't forgotten anything and just finally mastered not overpacking.

I even have a new pedicure for my "foot pictures" that Owen says I take on every trip.

I will try to post while I'm gone...

Love you all! I'll be back with pictures and stories!!

Paris and Morocco!! Here I come!!!

(Zannah, remember to get me from the airport!! See you soon girl!! Wahoo!)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cat and Mouse

Today I drove back from Colorado with my ski team. Time logged driving a 15 passenger van = 9 hours.
Everyone survived the partying last night and I only had to wake up once to attend to an injury that occured while dancing... I was very grateful that I didn't have to come up with bail, deal with any blood, clean up any vomit or track anyone down in the morning.
We actually even got out of town only 30 minutes later than I wanted.
I got the van cleaned out, unpacked, a note left for coach with all the awards we collected last night, got the van filled up and dropped off at the rental place and back to my car....
Then I got gas in my own car, loaded all my things from the school, left another note saying bye to all my coworkers for the next couple of weeks and started the drive home.
I was EXHAUSTED to say the least... I had been up all day, keeping things going myself and making sure we all got home. I kept thinking of all the packing and studying that needed to happen in the next 24 hours before I leave.... The only thing keeping me going... PARIS AND MOROCCO BABY!!! :)
I was flying down the highway (and I mean flying... pushing triple digits on the speedometer) and not paying attention to much else...
I pass University Parkway exit in Orem and a car passes me, yes... passes me while I'm going an easy 95 mph. Not only does the car pass me, but there is a smile and a wink coming from the guy driving!! WHAT??!!?
Ok, he can't get away with that... so I trail him till my exit, only about 2 minutes later. He exited in front of me... right off the exit he turns in to get gas and as he sees that I'm not turning he flips a U-turn (all while both of us are rubber necking and looking at eachother) and gets back on the road behind me. He follows for a couple miles then turns off... What?!? He can't do that!!
So.... I make an unnecessary turn and try to catch back up with him. He sees me and again we both rubberneck as the smile on his face is visable from at least a couple hundred yards...
Finally he's at a 4-way stop, I pull up along side him and we roll down our windows....
After a few witty lines we stop in a parking lot and chat for a bit...
Apparently we had been "driving together" since the point of the mountain... He noticed, I didn't.
He asked what I was doing tonight, I told him I have plans (WHICH I DO!!).
He asked my number.... I gave it to him...
Will he call in two weeks? When I'm back from vacation?? Hopefully he will!!!
CUTE, CUTE, CUTE!!! And such a funny story!! It never hurts to play a good game of Cat and Mouse, especially with a guy that can hang at 100 mph and has such a great smile. :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another Ski Town

Ski towns are always an adventure. I'm here for a week, into it about 3 days so far. We are staying at this quirky little hotel, honestly it makes strange noises constantly. It has a little resturant downstairs that feeds us breakfast and dinner cafeteria style. It is all wood paneling and very old school - think Grandpa's cabin. Everything is placed very awkwardly. For example, to enter my bathroom you step up about eight inches, the door arches open barely missing the toilet. The sink is on the right, but you have to squeeze past the toilet to get to it. To sit on the toilet you need to keep the door open so you can angle a bit and poke your knees out the door so they don't hit the wall (please remember, I'm only 5'2''). Once you close the door you can step past and enter the bathtub/shower from the end. That's right, the bathtub is in a little keyhole from the bathroom and you enter from the short end. Now, here's the funny part.... you would think that by entering at the end the faucet and showerhead would be at the other end, right?? WRONG. It's smack dab in the middle of the wall on the left. Now, some huge jetted bathtubs think it's fancy to put the faucet in the middle of the side... but this thing?? Not at all there... it's just awkward. I literally let out a laugh when I saw it.

Today I had breakfast with one of my skiers, he asked what room I am in... when I told him he said, "That isnt the haunted one is it?" It's not, but it didnt suprise me at all that this hotel has a haunted room.... it fits right in.

So, the hotel is funky... the internet is very tempermental and the front desk closes from 8:00 pm to 7:00 am, they don't have a gym (but you can buy a pass to the one down the street for the discounted rate of $15 a day...); but don't let all this fool you, it's pretty cool here!

The mountains are GORGEOUS. The skies are bluer than I have seen in a long time. It's warm enough to only wear a sweatshirt and snow pants to the hill and even though we are at elevation I'm hacking it quite well. I think being up here so often is really paying off, my cardio is catching up a bit.

I am stressing a bit because I have to finish three 30 page papers and another 5-7 page paper and study for three finals (to take monday morning before leaving for Morocco/Paris). I just really dont have the motivation to do homework!! I'm trying tho... and I'm just about done with all my research and I'm going to start writing soon.

Hopefully the creative juices will flow. My friend Robert (the artist, now video game designer) taught me a trick. I was having troubles writing one night... it just wouldn't flow. He told me to doodle or write the alphabet really large on a piece of paper and then go back to it. I tried it and it worked!! He said that writing, art, etc... it's all a physical act and sometimes it just gets caught. Well, regardless of the reasons it worked! I have a lot of writing to do this week, there may be a lot of doodle pages laying around my hotel room... but all for getting to Africa homework free!!! It will SOOO be worth it.

On that note, I'm headed off to the slopes. I'll do homework tonight. :) haha (see what I mean).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Family Hike - Zions!!!

It took awhile to get here... If you have spent any time around the Beaudry family you know that we can't get anywhere fast... well, this hike was no exception. I honestly thought we would NEVER get there and that we would have to skip it. But thanks to the family for making it happen... it was well worth it!


ZIONS NATIONAL PARK... I've been meaning to explore this treasure in Southern Utah for awhile now but haven't actually gotten there, until this weekend. The family went on a quick vacation and I was able to pursuade the family into venturing out for a hike... in ZIONS!!
The beginning of the hike gave us this great warning... I tried to distract Mom as we passed the sign, all the while telling her how easy it was and what a great time we would have.

We started off and these great little feet...
Led to this fantastic smile!!! At just the very beginning I was falling in love with Zions. My heart was content. It was absolutely GORGEOUS and I was sooo happy I was sharing it with my family.


There are quite a few of us! There were a few times when I would look around and think, "Wow, we are quite a group aren't we!!" 14 of us... I think. I lost count.

After about 1 1/2 hours of hiking, picture taking, laughing, talking and some great hiking we made it up to the upper pool... and this was our reward....



Sure, we were a bit tuckered out. But it was well worth the hike. Absolutely breathtaking, fantastic weather and great company. We divied out the few snacks we had, explored a bit, took a bunch of pictures and then headed back down...

Here are all the girls on the trek....
Here are all the boys....

Here is arguably the best picture taken on the hike (although there are quite a few wonderful ones... please checkout the full albums by clicking on the links below)....

I HAD A GREAT TIME. MOM SAID IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST HIKES WE'VE TAKEN AS A FAMILY. I AGREE.... CAN'T WAIT TO HEAD BACK AND EXPLORE THE REST OF SOUTHERN UTAH AND ZIONS!!!
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For full photo albums follow these links... You (as the public) can view them and there are 2 photo albums. Great pics!! Especially if you know us and love all of our smiling faces. :)