feelings, travel


“Was the weather in Greece pretty good?” Maga asked.

“Depends on your definition of good.”

“To me, that’s sunshine and warm weather.”

“Then, yes.” Not wanting to alarm or cause envy, I didn’t expand upon the suffocating heat or gloriousness of a country that focuses on finding the best angle for the sunset each evening.

“What was your favorite part?” Maga asked.

“Probably the island where J and G got married.”

“That was Paros?”

“You got it!”

“Very good, yes.”

“It was big enough to be interesting, yet small enough not to be too touristy. We spent five days there so we got to know the island as well. It was wonderful.”

“And G’s father. Did you make it up to northern Greece to see him?”

“I did yes. He is such a lovely person.”

“Does he speak good English?”

“He knows about 5 words of English, while I know about 3 words of Greek…”

“So you didn’t have many heavy conversations?”

“Not really, no, but he was so welcoming and generous and you’d be surprised how much you can convey over a table full of food and wine and smiles.”

And it’s true. You can have entire conversations through the lifting of a glass of ouzo or the pointing at a dish of squid with raised eyebrows. There are lessons available within the slices of honeydew and chopped bits of figs he brought to the table. I may have only learned 3 words of Greek over two weeks, but I learned infinitely more with the use of my other senses.

feelings, travel

snapshots of panama

Airplane view: ships lining up to enter the canal. Waves lining up to crash ashore.

Driving over the Panama Canal in the golden sunlight.

Puffs of dust clearing to reveal boys playing futbol.

Carnival: Half-dressed women, musically inclined men, alcohol and water flowing freely.

Carnival: Fish scales and smoky meat and ceviche in plastic tupperware and shady spots out of the blasting sunshine and $1 beers.

Margaritas so strong you remember the night you stopped drinking them.

Sustained 25mph winds that make 78 degrees feel chilly. Warding off the chill with only a scarf wrapped around your shoulders.

Using your phone as a camera only. Thick, salty, wind blown hair.

Familiar faces making an unfamiliar setting recognizable.

Air dried hair. Sunscreen as foundation and bug spray as makeup. Sunglasses. Chapstick.

Getting more smiles than stink-eyes from 2yo V. Rooming with 4yo O. Reading Curious George 4x a day.

Learning life hacks; bathroom edition. Dumb questions and honest answers and genuine support in the face of a dirty task and laughter and success.

Measuring my steps not via FitBit but by high tide (100) and low tide (500).

Swimming adrenaline junkie style. Accidentally unleashing helicopter and motor boat rescue efforts.

Thoughts of Camp Nyoda swim lessons keeping you calm in the face of a crazy current.

Getting the chance to experience your friends living their new life.

No water, no electricity, but, a house full of problem solvers.

Beach day. Showering in the ocean. Bravely battling but ultimately losing the fight against the waves and seaweed.

Carnival: night edition. Fancy dresses, glittering head pieces, dancing in the street, drums, a yodel that sounds like a mountain goat’s mating call, shots of Seco, cold beer.

Sandy feet, sandy beds, sandy floors, sand dollars, beach living.

Homemade meals, dishes for 7 done in a tiny sink with limited water and even more limited drying rack space. Using my dishwashing powers for good.

Plantains. Fried. Grilled. With honey. With aioli.

Broken Spanish. Clear intentions. Communication achieved.

Roadside fruit stands with limited, but the freshest most delicious produce imaginable. Frozen pipa. Not there or not available in terms we recognized.

Drinks in the afternoon, in the evening, in the least-windy-corner of the patio.

Secrets shared, personality quirks explained, friendships deepening as quickly as the setting sun.

Kickball competitions with O, the broom being an important tool, sticker books, the human body as a jungle gym, I spy, V’s gymnastic movements.

Well water excursions, grocery store adventures, sharing bills.

Panama brand beer (not delicious), Soberana brand beer (delicious), Balboa brand beer (delicious), ecto cooler lime juice margaritas, gin&tonics not made with Bacardi, Seco with muddled oranges or grapefruit + pineapple juices, instant coffee.

Pushing your limits emotionally, physically, gastro-intestinely.

The hammock. The beloved orange hammock gently swinging in the wind. Cat naps.

Rising with the sun (thanks, V Bird) (thanks, O Man), throwing open all the windows and doors, brightening the house and doubling its size.

L and N absolutely killing it with their driving (N) and navigational (L) skills. Me, quiet in the backseat taking it all in, wishing I had 1/8th of either of those skills. Learning the Google Maps app trick.

Memories tucked into my pockets with seashells and grains of sand.


northern lights

in a fit of procrastination, i typed “where can i go to see the northern lights” into bing.com (true story, brother G) and this was the result:

(1) Go to the extreme north of the globe, towards the North Pole, for ideal viewing. This is where the aurora borealis is magnetically drawn. The ideal locations for spotting the aurora are north Finland, Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska and Greenland.

(2) Visit these locales from October through March. Since the rest of the year is dominated by day-round sunlight, seeing the aurora is more difficult during that time.

(3) Keep up with ongoing solar activity to find out the best times for viewing.

(4) Watch for reports of unusually high solar activity if you live farther south. When solar activity is unusually high, the lights can often be seen at much lower latitudes than usual. Chances for viewing would be especially good throughout Canada and mid- to northern regions of the U.S. and Europe. It even may be possible to see the aurora farther south.

(5) Put yourself in the best viewing position by heading to the country. Even if the aurora borealis does make it far enough south to be seen by those outside of the scientific community, it will probably be drowned out by city lights. Find a secluded, light-free locale.

(6) Practice the art of patience when waiting to see the lights. You may have to wait several hours before finally catching a glimpse, so be ready to put your skills of endurance to use when aurora hunting.

(7) Be ready to go as soon as the conditions are right for possibly spotting the Northern Lights. These brilliant displays generally only last 2 to 10 minutes, so you don’t want to miss it.

a list! i love lists! it’s like it knows me. and a list of how to see something that’s always been on my life TO DO list? color me excited.

in other news, what’s something on your life TO DO list?



every sunday (well, barring any scheduling difficulties), i make a very important phone call to sister J. because of the wonders of technology, said phone call lets me see her, baby mac (3yo), bubba mac (1yo), and when he’s not doing his doctor duties, BILT. the kids are of the age where every day brings new changes and expressions and words and actions and it’s so so so much fun to watch them grow.

even if they like to push the button that hangs up on me.

this time, i’m not giving them that option because i’m forgoing one technology (the phone) for another (a plane).

bubba mac
being a baby is rough.
baby mac
dread pirate baby mac
easter 2013
happy easter, y’all.

with faces like those, you see why i’m powerless to resist.

i wish you a very happy weekend. see you on the flip side.


indian lessons

it seems fitting i begin the new year by reflecting on the old one and in the late months of last year, i went on a trip. a BIG one. one that’s taken until now to completely process because (a) the jet lag was so intense and (b) it was unlike anything i’d ever experienced before.

where’d i go? india. (delhi, agra, noida, and faridabad to be precise.)

why’d i go? work.

what’d i learn? all the things.

a beeping horn can mean many things, but mostly, it’s not meant as an angry sound. the drivers have one hand on the gear shift and one on the horn.

there’s always room for one more car, one more lane.

their main driving philosophy is “save yourself. everyone else is an idiot.” and you know what? it works.

(except for the time that 6’1″ guy cut us off and clipped the front of our car. i was looking in the other direction at the cow crossing the street and didn’t see what happened. to me, it felt like we drove over some loose gravel, but then our 5’7″ very mild mannered driver threw the car in park and got out to inspect the damage. words were exchanged and our driver slapped the other guy who then grabbed our driver by the lapels of his uniform jacket, lifting him off the ground. his name tag and the top button of his jacket were ripped off. (fortunately, that was the extent of the drama and nothing other than more angry words were exchanged. oh, and we got a picture of the other guy’s license plate. we are good passengers.))

on the way back to the hotel, you’ll realize a beeping moped + a pointing finger signals something is wrong with the car. something like a flat tire. which needs to be changed in the middle of rush hour. in india.

if you put three slightly socially awkward people together, give them vague directions and no dinner and tell them to properly represent your company…it’s not going to end that well. it’s not going to end horribly either because we came away from that party with two things, (1) i found out i like tofu and (2) an architect told us the best way to see the taj mahal. see it FIRST. you’re there to see it, so see it, then see everything else in the town. it’s the best possible way to avoid the rampant overcrowding.

the taj mahal is pronounced taj ma-hell, or if you’re speaking quickly, tajmel.

it does not disappoint.

a tour guide is essential though, even if he thinks of himself as an amateur photographer and you become his current favorite subject to photograph.

dahl (from the restaurant bukahra) is the single best dish in india.

when you go from walking everywhere at home to riding in a car everywhere in india, you will get car sick from all the stop and go traffic and you might even develop a minor pavolovian response to the beeping horns: nausea.

the trees in lodi gardens are not only gorgeous scenery, but they provide just the right amount of support for amorous teens to lean against while making out.

when traveling in a group, at least one of the three of you will understand what’s being said to you and can translate for those that don’t.

learn your driver’s name and the number of the car because all cars in india look similar.

if you take a nap without setting an alarm, the knock on the hotel door will result in you flying out of bed, hair askew, to answer the door to find your boss staring at you. your brain will not function as the adrenaline and sleep crash into each other as you stand there trying to remember something, anything about where you are and what you need to do. fortunately, your boss’s hair is crazier than yours, and he lets you have 15 minutes to get ready.

if you attempt to switch drivers, the one you’re trying to avoid will be the first person you run into the next morning.

the hospitality of india will render you breathless (not to mention slightly guilty).

the conversion of rupees to dollars is best done on the app on your boss’s phone, not in your brain.

despite the name IPA (india pale ale), you won’t find any in india. (or at least we couldn’t find it anywhere we looked.) indian wine however is everywhere and is delicious (especially the sula brand).

delhi belly does exist. it is painful.

so are the side effects of the malaria prevention medicine.

and when you experience both at the same time? you become not the most fun travel partner.

you can plug your technological equipment into the wall with no adapter! it will feel like you’re about to do something really dangerous, like plug a camera battery charger into the wall the night before you go to the taj and pray your battery doesn’t fry rendering your camera useless before one of the biggest days of its life.

the “winter weather” in india is the nicest east coast spring weather you’ve ever felt.

a layover in paris is a really good idea.

the third time you attempt to get into l’orangerie to see monet’s water lily display will be the charm. the other two times just heightened the anticipation (silly construction keeping the museum closed in 2002 and 2004!). it is absolutely worth the wait and is now probably your favorite museum in paris.

your high school french will return and you’ll understand a surprising amount.

jet lag is a beast.

traveling half a world away truly changes your perspective on your surroundings, on your environment, on yourself and what you’re capable of (or not).

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