Monday, August 5, 2013

Mom does Dallas!

The whole fam damily!  Hilton Head, SC 2006  Fiftieth anniversary trip.

 Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

My clock radio went off at five a.m. today, screeching some unidentifiable song as always since we are not able to get it to lock on a station no matter where we put it in our bedroom.

If choosing to see the positive side first thing in the morning I can take comfort in the shrill static and tell myself "good, the worst of the day is already over!"  On the flip side, I can view it as a sign of things to come, which is what this morning turned out to be.

The early rise today was due to me volunteering to take my mom to the airport this morning to catch her eight a.m. flight to Dallas, Texas.  Of course I really didn't mind at all as I certainly didn't want her driving herself there in the dark, and accumulating a hefty parking fee after eight days.  And I didn't want Steve to take her and then have to pay up with sexual favors later.  With odds like those it was easy for me to make the decision I did.

A quick shower and a cup of coffee and I was ready to leave to go pick her up.  After putting the garage door up I walked briefly out onto the driveway to smell the humid, tropical air of this predawn late July morning.  The sky was still black, a few stars remained, and the full moon had almost completed its descent, low on the western horizon.  Our black and white feral cat, Crooked Head (due to a neurological disorder and aptly named) sat on the sidewalk and stared me down, ever hopeful for another delicious dish of dry Friskies
This would not be his morning, however, as I had an agenda and wanted to be at my mom's house by six a.m.  So far I was on time
The first two minutes to be sacrificed from the ETA were spent on a quick pitch, toss and reorganization of the car prior to departing.  At the risk of hearing comments from my mom with a slight innuendo regarding the state of my car interior I thought this was best.  Pat on the back, however, as I had proactively gotten gas the night before.

Ten minutes later I arrived at my mom's house and parked in the middle of her driveway.  Walking through the courtyard I let myself in through the sliding doors and was greeted first by Lily, the shih tzu, who is considered to be the fourth child in our family and has far more toys than us three kids ever did, cumulatively!   I had to step over three stuffed hedge hogs and a yellow monkey, a loon, and several tennis balls in order to give my mom a hug.

She looked so cute in her matching lime green Capri slacks, short sleeved sweater and fun accessories.  Still trim, beautiful and well-put together at almost seventy-nine I am hopeful that I will hold up that well as I age.  I know I inherited her experimental cooking gene, but the fashion gene was apparently on hiatus during conception and I have struggled to put outfits together ever since day one.

1957.  My mom pinning on my dad's Navy wings of gold!

My mom was leaving on her first big trip since my dad passed away one and a half years ago, to spend time with her sister and mutually discuss what had gone wrong with all of their kids.  It was going to be a grand reunion no doubt, after getting all of the tears out of the way first that had been held back during these difficult eighteen months.  That, and lots of chardonnay.  I was very happy for her! A quick run-down of what she had packed, what was in her carry-on that wouldn't be confiscated, a review of Lily's daily schedule, and then several unexpected minutes of discussing the upcoming fall adult continuing ed classes, none of which she has ever taken, and we were off!

Well, not really, as she decided we would be taking her car, so now I had to shift a few things from my car to hers, then back out of the driveway so she could back out of the garage and into the street, and then I had to pull back into the driveway.  Which now meant that I was going to have to come back to her house after the airport to get my car so I could go get Steve so we could go to the gym and then come back to her house to get her car again and the dog.  Oh, never mind!  I'm going to keep that next thought to myself.

So now we're off, again!  But slowly, really slowly, as the warm humid air collided with the cooler temperature of her car windows and fogged them to the point I couldn't see a thing!  Fortunately we were not even a block away so I was optimistic that this would clear up shortly.  I put the wipers on which made a difference, but it only lasted for a second after passing over the glass.  I hunched down a little where the window seemed a bit clearer thinking this would at least be an okay position until it cleared up, probably by the time we got out of the subdivision.

Turns out I stayed in this position the entire way to the airport.  Seems like we would have stopped along the way to clear this up, but early on in the drive I looked at the clock in her car and in horror realized we were now twenty minutes behind schedule and I was going to have to do what it took now to get her to the airport on time.

We flew like the wind up the interstate!  Well, not really, as there was lots of traffic and the glare from the headlights made the fogged windows look like ice crystals and prisms.  I raced along at about sixty-three miles per hour with the wipers on full blast, hunched over like a blue hair, looking out of my one square foot of true visibility.  No matter what we did, air-conditioning, no air-conditioning, defrosters, wipers, no wipers, windows open, windows closed, it made no difference.  I was a little annoyed to say the least, but who knows what I would have written about for this blog had it not been for this!

Finally we arrived at the airport just in the nick of time.  Well, not really, as it was at this point that I learned that the clock in her car was about fifteen minutes fast!  Yay!  One accomplishment so far -- we were in fact early!

We pulled up in front of the American Airlines curbside check-in and I helped my mom get her bright cobalt blue bag to the attendant and made sure everything was in order for her to head on into the airport.  I left the car running hoping that those few extra minutes might make some sort of difference with the fogged windows.  I hugged my mom good-bye and watched her walk with a little pep in her step into the airport.
Turning to walk back to the car I saw no improvement whatsoever.  Now I really had to address this situation.  Deciding I had better start by at least wiping the windows as dry as I could I looked throughout her car for maybe some napkins or tissues, a rag, maybe an item of clothing.  Nothing.  In my car of course all of those things would have been readily available and visible to boot!

Alas, I rummaged through one of Lily's toy bags in the backseat and found a furry, rather grotty, chewed up, saliva covered, stuffed hedgehog that I was banking on being absorbent.  I grabbed that hedgehog and started cleaning the windows as best I could.  I know I looked silly wiping them down with a rodent, but most likely it would have gone unnoticed by everyone around me if it weren't for the fact that this hedgehog had a squeaker in it.  Of course.  I wiped and squeaked, squeaked and wiped, sadly with no positive results to share.  Just embarrassment.

So there I was, finding myself on a Tuesday morning in late July, wiping the windows of a car down with a squeaky, non-absorbent hedgehog in a busy, public setting and wondering, just for a moment, what the hell had happened to that life I had planned?

And then I asked myself, is there anything I would change?  Well, not really….

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Our first night in Morocco...

The entrance to Chellah Gardens - Steve, Antonella, Veronique and Vincent

Isn't it amazing to reconnect with friends from a long ago chapter in your life and find out that you can pick-up where you left off, twenty-five odd years ago?

One of our main reasons to visit Morocco, apart from sharing the journey with our dear friend Veronique, was to see our mutual friends Antonella and Vincent who were at one time a big part of my life when I lived in Belgium in my twenties.

I moved back to the states in 1988 at the age of 28, and we all went on with our respective lives and careers, staying in touch a little here and there.  Between my three friends above, they have since then collectively lived in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Jordan, Hungary, The Philippines, Malta, Turkey, and now Morocco and I suppose I am forgetting a few places along the way.  Can you imagine how jealous and cheated in life they felt upon realizing that I had been in Atlanta and Naples that entire time?  I know, I know...I hate it when it is so much more obvious that my life has been super-duper exciting compared to theirs.  Being the friends they are though they bore me no ill will and pretended that they were happy for me.

Arriving in Rabat was so exciting I was actually without words, a phenomenon that rarely happens to me.  Here I was, about to reunite with dear friends, I was in Africa, I had been up at least 36 hours while traveling from Naples, and I still had good hair!  That in itself was most remarkable, and between you and me that counts for just about everything these days.  It takes something like seeing old friends on a distant continent to knock that out of first place.

We pulled up curbside, in front of their four story apartment building, and began unloading our bags.   I closed my eyes and paused for a moment to take in the humid smell of the cool evening air, interspersed with fragrant and exotic aromas of food cooking from the restaurant across the street.  I then turned and looked at the handful of steps I was going to have to navigate to get in to the lobby and lost my train of thought about the smell of the air and the food from the restaurant.  Now I was just thinking "good God I have a lot of luggage with me!"  I had not even been in Morocco for two hours before I started questioning what all I had packed.  I would continue to entertain that thought daily for the rest of the entire trip.

Caretaker of cats and chickens at Chellah Gardens, Rabat
In our excitement to get up to their fourth floor flat Veronique, Steve and I decided we would all three pile in the lift with our bags, our carry-ons and backpacks, our cameras and our purses (although Steve prefers a small clutch so that didn't really count as a space taker-upper).  Seeing as we are all about six feet tall, maybe more, this posed a load bearing risk for this tiny lift.  In fact when we arrived to their floor we had to wait for Vincent to open it from the outside as none of us could move easily enough from inside to open the door. Even getting out of the lift proved comical, as the first two of us had to extract ourselves backwards and sideways.  It reminded me so much of silly things that Veronique and I had done in our twenties and I was glad to see that we had not matured much since then.

Waiting in the hallway to give us a big hug was Antonella -- still the beautiful, dark haired Italian girl I remembered from her twenties.  She and Vincent had met right around the time I moved to Bruxelles, and they were still together and madly in love, getting close to thirty years now.  A testament to the possibility that relationships can and do endure. We all began chatting simultaneously and didn't pause for a breath until Sunday morning when we departed for Fes.
Antonella and Steve on the balcony

 After hugs we then went through the brief ritual that all of us women now do in our fifties, which is to pretend that none of us have aged a bit since we last saw each other.  "Oh my gosh, you look fantastic!  You don't even have any wrinkles, and you are so thin!"  This is one time when lying is highly recommended, but in our cases, of course, it was all true and we didn't even have to cross our fingers behind our backs.

Breakfast is served!  Fresh apricots, pastries, jams and fresh juice!

We gladly set our bags down in our respective rooms and walked out onto their large balcony.  Night had fallen, but the glow from the street lights illuminated the bright fuchsia bougainvillea that climbed out of the pots and on to the rails.  The smell of jasmine perfumed the night air, and as we looked over the balcony we could see Rabat unfolding, down this street, out over the rooftops, and beyond the hills to the faint ribbon of orange red from the remnants of sunset.

A jumbled mishmash of buildings lined each street as far as we could see.  Traffic honked and beeped and scooters rattled on by, four stories below.  Conversations drifted upwards and then floated away, and then the coolest sound I've heard began.  Something was being broadcasted live in the streets.  It sounded ancient, primitive, masculine and hypnotic.  In that moment I realized I was hearing the muezzins perform the last of the evening's call to prayer.

Mosques were in view wherever we looked, and the muezzin is the man who calls the Muslims to prayer from the minaret of a mosque.  What I also found interesting is that wires spanned from one building to another everywhere, and speakers hung from these wires.  When the prayer call went out from the mosques it was in fact being transmitted live, and it traveled from mosque to mosque, street to street, throughout the city, creating the sound of a swarm of insects that had a lot of inflection in their voices.  It was mesmerizing, and most mornings we were awake enough to hear the first call of the day, just before sunrise.

Steve and Veronique in the medina

Eventually it became part of the background and blended in with the sounds of the street, the people and life in the cities and villages. It is that sound that will always make me think of Morocco and my time spent with dear friends in a fabulous country.  I am ready to go back!
Hilly streets of the medina, Rabat Morocco

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wide Awake in the Sahara... a journey by camel.


Sunset in the Sahara

The Sahara Desert -- how does one even figure out how to think about it?  3.6 million square miles.  Almost as large as China or the United States.  Sand. Nomads. Dromedaries. Scorpions. Snakes. More sand.  In its harshness and severity I ultimately saw extreme beauty and solitude.  I would go back in a heartbeat.

Having crossed the Atlas Mountains days prior, we had been working our way south and quite a bit east, getting deeper and deeper into Morocco.  Our destination was the village of M'hamid, the last outpost at the edge of the Sahara, and the last town before the Algerian border about 25 miles away.  If I were still in my twenties I might have found a way to cross over into Algeria to get another stamp in my passport.  That, however, seemed like more effort than I wanted to make, not to mention I would probably not be able to re-enter the U.S. and then who would feed the cats and our one remaining fish?  That's part of being in one's fifties -- you actually think about the consequences of your actions before you do something stupid.

Fortunately I was extremely content at being in M'Hamid and near the Algerian border, not to mention the compound where we were staying for part of the time had a pool and a spa.  It was also owned by the French which meant there was wine available too.  Algeria dropped off the radar in no time.

Arriving at Dar Azawad, our small kasbah style hotel, we dropped off our bags and prepared a quick overnight backpack of clothes to take with us into the desert.  What does one wear while riding a camel and sleeping in the desert?  This was a fashion question that I had never dealt with in previous years, and seeing as I have no fashion sense whatsoever I actually didn't give it too much thought.  In fact, not thinking much about what I was wearing had been my modus operandi regarding my clothes during the entire trip, which I would unfortunately live to regret when I later saw all of the photos from the journey.   And having to listen to Steve tell me "I told you so" when he questioned my attire I put together before leaving the states.  Another regret.

With bags in hand we were back in the car, headed to the rendezvous point to begin our trek into the desert.  More dust and sand, our Berber guide and a couple of camels awaited our arrival. A handmade, hand-painted sign with an arrow indicating 'Toumboktou' swung from a post.  Veronique dropped us off and I noticed her speed quickly back down the road knowing that there was wine and a comfortable bed awaiting her.  I was beginning to wonder if we had been tricked.

Tombouktou Market
After a fifteen second lesson on how to mount a camel we were positioned and ready to go.  Our guide took my scarf (called a chesh) and twisted it, wrapped it and spun it around my head and face to block the sun and sand for the journey.  Steve didn't want to be mummified like that so he wrapped the chesh around his neck so he could pull it up if needed.  He also had on his cool leather outback hat which on its own created a dashing "Indiana Jones" kind of look.  However, with the chesh wrapped around his neck and flowing behind him it sort of took on the appearance of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert", but I didn't tell him that.  He'll find out when he reads this blog.  I had to get rid of some of those photos too.

Steve, before the scarf
We set out on our journey with our guide leading our camels as we paralleled the town of M'Hamid for some time.  To our left was the Sahara.  To our right was, sadly, the negative effect of civilization with trash littering the way, the occasional single sandal that must have fallen off while on a camel, tires, big pieces of scrap metal, and plastic bags galore that swirled in the dust storm and desecrated the beauty of the countryside.  None of us probably think about the impact of those plastic bags from the grocery store that we use regularly, but when you are in Morocco and see the direct repercussion on the landscape you will vow to never use one again.

We couldn't do anything about the trash, so we chose to look to the left and focus on the austere beauty of the desert.  A light sandstorm whipped up and we watched it sweep and swirl across the desert floor, listening to the ghostly sound of it whooshing in the otherwise silent space. We soon turned east and now were heading directly into the Sahara.

Once the remnants of civilization disappeared, except for the occasional mud-walled kasbah, I slipped into my suspended state of disbelief that I was actually where I was.  The vastness of the desert and its beauty engulfed me and I was without words.

Beautiful, ancient kasbah along the route...
We continued on in silence, interrupted sometimes by the grunt of a camel or the squeak of our saddles.  The lilting rocking rhythm of the camels' gait was somewhat meditative and every step of the way I felt connected to a higher source.  It is such a timeless feeling being in the desert; the past, present and future all intertwined at once.

After an hour or so of rhythmical plodding through the sand we arrived at our camp and a beautiful, mystical and exotic scene unfolded.

A few small, mud-walled buildings made up a communal area, and spread out on the sand were enormously beautiful Moroccan rugs, one scattered on top of another.  Small, low tables with leather poufs and stools were scattered about, and the traditional pierced tin lanterns sat atop the rugs, waiting to illuminate the night after sunset.  We immediately stopped in our tracks, sat on the poofs, drank our mint tea, and took in the beauty of the palm trees and sand dunes and gnarled and twisted trees shaped by the winds over time.  It was magic.

I love this tree!

Rosa joins Steve for some mint tea!

 Our camels, taking a well-deserved rest.

Beautiful rugs and pillows, ready for us to relax...
Asking our Berber host if there were others that would be joining us he said “Ah, yes, the Swiss will soon be arriving by camel”.  It was delivered in such a matter of fact way; as if the Swiss are always arriving daily by camel.  Statements conveyed in that manner amuse me.  It seemed a very English way of stating the obvious, and I felt for a moment as if I was being filmed by David Attenborough for a PBS special.

Sure enough, within about twenty minutes, the Swiss did arrive by camel.  We made our introductions to Judy and Roger, and were quite happy to learn that English was a common denominator for us all.

The Swiss, arriving by camel!
Finishing our tea we made a quick trip to our individual campsites to drop off our bags.  These sites were made of mud walls, and the roofs were handmade woolen tarps from goat hair that were impervious to the weather.  The floors were sand, covered with rugs, and two single cots were pushed together to make one larger bed.  We found out that it would be okay to haul the beds outside and sleep under the stars, so that was added to the list of things to do after dinner.  In fact, it was the only thing on the list of things to do after dinner.
Our cot, moved out into the open...
Dinner was another traditional tagine cooked in the open air kitchen at the camp.  It was good, but the meat was unidentifiable and none of us wanted to inquire as to what it was.  Judy just ate the potatoes.  I couldn’t identify the taste and I knew right away there were several things that I hoped it wasn’t.  Never did find out - somethings are best left unknown.
After our leisurely dinner we wound our way back to our campsite.  There were no lights anywhere, no glow on the distant horizon, just an inky, midnight blue-blackness and a trillion stars above our heads.  In fact, the sky was so crowded with stars and the Milky Way itself that we had trouble picking out the constellations.

With nightfall the desert grew cold and we ended up wearing everything we brought all at once.  While putting on our layers in the walled hut a small, quick motion caught my eye.  I looked at the wall but didn’t see anything.  Then the motion again, and now a scorpion came into view.  And might I point out it was where my side of the bed would have been had we decided to sleep inside.  This was not good, and as much as it goes against our nature to kill anything except mosquitoes this little guy met his demise from the heel of Steve’s shoe.  It actually made us both sad because we were the guests in his town.  But then we got over it, …sort of.  We weren’t afraid of it coming outside but rather taking up space rent free in our backpacks or tennis shoes.  Neither of us like those kind of surprises.

Layered in all of our clothes, we also dragged several heavy, handmade woolen blankets outside with us.  I had my paisley pashmina from Italy with me and as I wrapped my head up in that I thought I probably look like a homeless person who has done their clothes shopping from the dumpster at goodwill.  I was very glad that Judy and Roger’s site was over the next sand dune.

Crawling under the covers on the cots we laid there and looked up into the sky, trying to take in the magnitude of what we were seeing.  Rightly so, the first constellation that came into focus was Scorpio, and it was huge and bright and pulsated, emitting its disapproval of our recent actions. Ironic, isn’t it?  

The wind was blowing and a light spray of very fine sand covered us in no time. We lay there, not saying a word as there really are no words to describe sleeping outside at night in the Sahara.  There was a three-quarter moon that kept us company, the Milky Way blazed a brilliant trail across the sky, a trillion stars twinkled and pulsated and sometimes fell from the sky while we watched them shoot across our heads, and we lay there in silence all night, wide awake in the Sahara.

Early morning view from the cot, just after sunrise...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Chez Pauline, Goulmima, Morocco

 Arriving at Chez Pauline's compound was what I had always imagined Africa would be.  Having left  Fes that morning, we had a long journey ahead of us to our first remote and slightly uncivilized destination.  Passing through one primitive town or village after another helped bring my expectations lower and lower.  The scenery was amazing and the people intriguing along the route, but as things got scruffier and dirtier I was beginning to wonder what our final stop would be like.

As we entered into the village of Goulmima, a one road town as I soon found out most of them would be, we turned off the main road and began bumping along broken pot-holed pavement, then gravel, down alleys, through pastures and forest;  little roads no bigger than a goat path that included 90 degree turns and dropped off on either side into piles of rocks and debris.  Men and women dressed in their djellebahs with the women covering their heads and faces with scarves, walked the alleys, rode their bikes, or straddled their donkeys while on their way to wherever.  I was never sure where they were going as it appeared there was really nowhere to go.

After what seemed like quite some time we started to see crudely handmade signs indicating Chez Pauline was just around a few more corners and down a few more alleys, 400 meters here, 600 meters there, none of which was accurate although that didn't really matter in the big scheme of things.

(.....yes, this is one of the roads we took to arrive at Chez Pauline's!)

Still in a skeptical and somewhat anxious mode, wondering what we might be getting ourselves into, we arrived to the edge of the property.  Parking our car on the gravel  we were immediately greeted by Andre', the very friendly and humorous husband of this French duo.  In grubby clothes and covered in grease from working on his Mitsubishi Trooper that he had driven up from Conarky, Guinea West Africa with all of their cats and dogs, he instantly made us feel welcomed.  So far, so good!

The grounds were lush, overgrown and primitive.  We made a quick decision to not haul our suitcases across all of the dirt and gravel and pulled our luggage from the car and plopped it on the ground.  The three of us then proceeded to dig through our bags in search of clean underwear, a change of clothes for the next day, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and of course a bottle of wine!  Once everyone had their gear we zipped up our now dirty luggage and put it back into the trunk for the night.  

(....found it!  Digging for underware, pajamas, deodorant and toothbrushes, with Veronique Stalmans)

Next came Chantal, out to greet us in all of her Frenchness, tempered by twenty plus years of running a hotel in Guinea, West Africa, and another ten years in Morocco. These two were true ex-pats and living a life that I had always imagined.  As we strolled through the grounds a beautiful property unfolded and again I was reminded that I was actually in Africa!  Enormous palm trees were planted throughout the terrace and outdoor dining.  Apricot trees were heavy with fruit, and the sultry scent of jasmine and honeysuckle hung as if suspended in the hot, dry air.  Hibiscus, cactus and bougainvillea added brilliant bursts of magenta, red and orange into our field of vision.  Dogs lolled about in the grass chewing on the bones of I don't want to know what, and cats lazed around on the chairs and warm stone terrace.  The property was enclosed by a high wall done in the typical Moroccan fashion of mud mixed with straw, and as far I could see beyond the compound walls were palm trees and forest.  We could hear the donkey braying in the background and dutifully went over and introduced ourselves to him after we had settled in.

As we entered into their home another world opened up.  The rooms were filled with hand carved wooden furniture from Africa, sitting atop large, colorful Moroccan rugs.  Tribal masks hung from the walls, and one room was dedicated to a collection of what seemed like a thousand books and French and Moroccan magazines.   Another sitting room appeared to be a tribute to their French origins, with antique European furniture and lace doilies on the end tables,  These two were ex-pats to the nthn degree and I loved it.  

As we walked down the hallway to our rooms beautiful blue oriental rugs showed us the way, and black and white photos of them as a younger couple on their worldy adventures were atop every cabinet and hung from the walls.  At this point I was pretty sure I didn't ever want to leave.

Later that night an evening meal of Tagine and moroccan salads, wine and bread under a beautiful night sky was the perfect ending to a fantastic day.  The primitive sounds of crickets and frogs were our symphony during dinner, and we had front row seats!

I know I have painted a pretty picture for you so far, and it is at this point that the story takes a sharp turn.

Our bedroom for the night was pretty in an simple kind of way,and the bathroom too, done in beautiful tiles and decor.  However, there was no door to the bathroom or the toilet, which is key to the rest of the story.  

Under normal circumstances the lack of a door would be of no concern after 23 years of marriage.  But, with intestinal problems looming for Steve, I know he was really wishing for some privacy.  I didn't help matters much by laughing hysterically when the problems officially started.  Over the course of the night we eventually shared many intimate " first" moments totally unrelated to sex.  The sounds of trumpets and a small three piece ensemble bellowed from the bathroom.  It was like attending a free concert spontaneously set-up near a raw, open sewer.  This is really fun I had to keep reminding myself as I smothered my own head with my pillow.

To top it off we ran out of toilet paper in the darkness of the night - not a spare roll to be found.  Digging through my purse and tote bag I managed to come up with enough Kleenex to get us through till daybreak when we were finally comfortable to knock on Veronique's door and grab some from her.  I think for the rest of our lives we will always refer to intestinal issues as having a case of the "Chez Pauline's"!!!

The tables eventually turned and I got to experience the unpleasantness of 'Marrakech Express' without a bathroom door to protect me either.  Fortunately, as the author of these tales, this is where my story starts and ends!  Poor Steve, I bet he wishes he had been the one taking those writing courses along the way....

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The flight over....

9 May 2013   

(I'm feeling compelled to write my dates in the European/African format for the next few weeks)

The Flight Over....

Is it the anticipation of the trip, setting out on the journey, the destination, or the memories that are the best part of traveling?  

One thing I know is it is not sitting folded up up like a dormant locust, waiting for what seems like seventeen years to be released, while riding coach overseas on a Delta flight.  I am tall, and Delta should not really be my airline of choice, but it seems to be the one that works the most easily to get me to my destinations.  Just the simple act of crossing my legs looks like one of my cats trying to groom her inner thigh with her leg stuck straight up in the air.  I remember when I was younger and executed that type of move for entirely different reasons, but now I was just simply making a fool of myself.  Not really an attractive sight, but I guess the positive spin on this is that I'm still able to stick my leg straight up in the air.  One day I may actually miss that....

So the countdown, which started a few months ago, has brought the beginning of this journey to Morocco into our lives.  Right now we are crossing over the tip of northeastern Canada, directly over Labrador and  Newfoundland.  I love the real time maps that we can tune into while flying.  In fact, Greenland just came into view and somehow that just seems very cool to me.  We are about halfway there to our first stop in Bruxelles, Belgium.

Our lovely dinner of chicken something or other is finished and everyone has pretty much settled in for the rest of the journey.  I love walking back to the bathroom when the passengers are trying to sleep.  Not a pretty sight with mouths hanging open, people sleeping face down on their pull-out trays (been there done that one many a time!), heads are bobbing and jerking as people fall in and out of sleep, and some people look like blue ghosts with the Delta blankets draped over their heads.  Like I said, very entertaining!

So, the baby has finally stopped crying, the line to the restroom is down to four people, Steve is sleeping which is how I was able to confiscate the iPad, and the sneezing, wretched coughing and hacking around us has settled into a nice rhythm.

Coach is in fact not much different than our regular daily lives, just a lot less leg room.

....Steve and Cynthia, working their way to Morocco!

Moving flight map below - 30 minutes out from landing in Morocco!

View of Casablanca unfolding below.....

We have arrived!




Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Snail Shopping

Reactivating my blog means I have to actually start writing again!  I should have thought of that sooner.....but until that happens I will post a few things I have written along the way, and eventually the new writings will overtake the old stuff!  With a trip to Morocco looming in the immediate future (37 days and counting!) I know I am about to throw myself headfirst into a sea of inspiration for future blogs.  In the meantime, however, just so I can get my groove back on, I will be relying on my unpublished archives of miscellaneous thoughts.  So, here ya go!........

Today, November 23rd 2011, I am 52 and 14 days old. Earlier today I was asked by Steve to do something I have never done before in my life. He wanted me to go buy a live snail with him!

This had suddenly become a major focal point on the Wednesday to-do list.  The aquarium I gave him for his birthday was being taken over by algae and apparently a small snail was going to be given the task of cleaning up this mess.  Caught up with the other important things in my life like laundry, vacuuming, and some pretend dusting around the house I decided “why not?”  How often does one get invited to go snail shopping? I bet none of you reading this article have.     

In the back of my mind I still think there is time in my life to become a game warden and move to Africa and rescue all of the wildlife before they go extinct. 

However, when I look at what I have generally mapped out for my average daily existence I will admit that I might just be in a teeny tiny state of denial about the reality of accomplishing this goal. It’s not that it can’t be done, but there obviously are other significant things for me to achieve while here on earth, snail shopping being one of them.

The good news is I will be able to check that off my bucket list soon, it appears.

Unless of course I jilt him at the last minute and declare “I am not going to stand for it anymore! I am fifty-two and I want to do other things with my life besides shop for a snail!”

I had not verbalized this yet when we pulled into the parking lot at Petco. Struck by a moment of clarity I realized that Jo-Ann Fabrics was right next door! What a stroke of luck! I hopped out of the car and waved “see ya! I’m off to Jo-Ann Fabrics instead!” Steve looked surprised and ever so slightly disappointed that I would not be sharing this moment with him. I felt a twinge of guilt. Oh wait a minute, no I didn’t! I skipped off to the fabric store and went and hung out with the leopard skin prints. It may not be Africa, but I know how to make the best of any situation I am handed!

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