Thursday, May 27, 2010

i heart carville

i keep seeing all these facebook posts with all this anger towards bp. i agree- they suck.

but, bp is a company- a company that cares only about their bottom line. not about our environment, not about the livelihoods of our citizens, not about the health of our wildlife.

where is all the anger for the obama administration for their lack of action?? why aren't they holding bp more accountable?? i don't want to hear obama voice his frustrations anymore. i want to see him act like the president of the united states of america and get things done.




also- just something to think about- i totally get banning bp. however, the gas stations are owned by franchisees, not the company itself. so when you stop going to these stations you're really just hurting the small business owner. maybe you could still stop in for a pack of gum or a cup of coffee?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tozeur


We took a late flight out of Tunis to the southern town of Tozeur. Our goal- the Sahara and a Star Wars set thrown in for good measure.

We arrived at our hotel to find a very rowdy group of tourists living it up with the keyboardist and vocalist they had playing in the lounge. They were pretty entertaining, but it was a relief when the "band" left and we got to finish our nightcaps without having to scream to each other to be heard.

We started out after breakfast for our 8 hour tour with Michael. I don’t know what his real name was, he originally told us his name was Michael something and he and Frenchie had a good laugh. Apparently this Michael something is a famous Formula 1 driver. Obviously this joke was more than lost on us.

We first went to an oasis called Chebika. After touching my arm while showing me postcards that I could obviously see myself without his aid I told Frenchie he was going to need to be my husband or we were going to have to start talking about my husband, because ol’ Michael was getting a little too close for comfort.

When we told him Frenchie and I were married he proceeded to offer 100 camels for me. Quickly realizing that a Frenchman may not have such a great need for so many camels, he threw in a Ferrari to sweeten the deal.

After a quick Google search I’ve estimated this offer to be worth anywhere from $300k to $500k, depending on the model of Ferrari and general health of the camels. Nothing to sneeze at, but needless to say I wasn’t flattered. It wasn’t until we really convinced him we were married by showing him my wedding ring that he stopped leering at me through the rearview mirror.

Aside from Stary McStarison grossing me out our day was pretty cool. We got to see the landscape go from the oasis on the other side of the Atlas Mountains to the salt lakes to the dry and sandy desert terrain…















We also got to see where the English Patient was filmed as well as Phantom Menace. This is the set where Darth Maul dukes it out with Quin-ion and also used for the background of the pod race…






I was really hoping they would have costume rentals for pictures and if they were smart they would get some. They did have a bathroom and I have to admit that was the best part for me. Mint tea after lunch and dune bashing do not mix, people.

We were exhausted after 8 hours of running around the desert and all took naps before heading to dinner at the hotel. After dinner we were still too exhausted to do anything but go back up to our rooms for an early night.

We spend Sunday in the medina shopping. The sales guys were much more aggressive than in Tunis, but we did finally buy a couple of things.

Our flight was delayed and delayed some more. We had planned on arriving back in Tunis late afternoon, but instead arrived in time for dinner.

This weekend we’re headed home with Frenchie to the south of France! He’s still finishing up his house and we want to make sure the guest room is to our liking since we plan on visiting him as much as humanly possible ;)

Friday, May 21, 2010

(the return of) flashback friday!

i love this peaceful soul just ignoring us gawking tourists. ignoring even the guide who was mocking his powerful howl...

video

from our trip to manuel antonio in costa rica.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2 mouths...

yes, i actually updated our foodie blog twice in one month! check it out.

it is right over there. look to your right. there it is.

just want to make sure everyone remembers it still exists.

especially now that i seem to have finally remembered.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sidi Bou Said, Dougga, Bulla Regia (“What are places I’ve never heard of before, Alex?”)


We had planned to stay in Tunis this weekend and check out the neighboring city of Carthage. We usually favor low key for the first weekend, especially when we are dealing with the demon known as jet lag. Then we decided to go ahead and do a road trip weekend out to some Roman ruins in Dougga and Bulla Regia. Then we realized they weren’t that far away and there weren’t any hotels out there even if they had been. So, we did technically stay in Tunis, but we also did a ton of sightseeing.

Friday night we went out to an area called Sidi Bou Said. It seems this country is going to continue to surprise me over and over. Sidi Bou Said has been the best surprise so far…



Whitewashed houses with incredibly ornate blue doors, I thought we somehow took a wrong turn and ended up in Santorini.

We walked around, dipping in and out of shops while I fretted over exactly how I’m going to get the 14 tons of pottery I plan on buying back home to the U.S. and eventually had dinner at a lovely restaurant …dinner that included a bottle of wine. It seems that the area where we live is dry and that is due to the very conservative developer who invested his millions or billions with that stipulation. Again, another happy surprise.

Saturday morning we went to check out the medina and souk. I was a bit worried about the hassle of haggling with what my book and a lot of reviews have called fairly aggressive vendors. I’m guessing the person who wrote my travel book as well as the reviewers on Tripadvisor have never been to India or to Egypt or maybe nowhere outside of Europe. These were the least aggressive vendors I’ve ever seen. I get more harassed and annoyed at the Ann Taylor at Atlantic Station.

That said, the shopping gods weren’t smiling upon me and I ended up buying nothing. Nothing! Unbelievable. I guess I'm still trying to work out how to get it home.

We wandered, almost aimlessly, through the medina’s winding narrow streets, had a coffee, saw the courtyard (as far as we could go) of a mosque, visited an interesting mausoleum and wandered around for a couple more hours.









We eventually found our way out of the medina and in front of some government building where we caught a cab to Carthage. We scrounged up some lunch and even went to the gates of the ruins before admitting we were all too tired to give it the proper attention so saved it for another day. We headed back to Sidi Bou Said instead. It had been pretty late in the day when we had arrived there on Friday and we wanted to see it in the sun...







Obviously we’re thrilled to have this area so close to us and are already planning on at least a weekly dinner there.

Our driver picked us up on Sunday morning for our trip out to Dougga and Bulla Regia. Dougga was probably the best ruins I’ve ever seen. Still high with walls it was so easy to how the city was laid out and operated. The beauty was actually pretty surreal...







Bulla Regia was not as well preserved or I suppose as well excavated, at least for the above ground levels. This is however, the only Roman town ever found where the Romans built underground rooms. Used for the summer to escape the heat these levels were incredibly preserved under hundreds of years of earth. The mosaics that were found on each and every floor were just fantastic...



The drive to and from Tunis was a charming one and made it very clear that this is a Mediterranean country…



Next weekend we’re headed south to take our first steps in the Sahara. Cannot wait!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2 days in...

I suppose we were lucky to get here Sunday night. The volcanic ash was causing loads of headaches for loads of people Saturday. Many of the people on our flight to Paris had been victims of flight cancellations and had already had very long days. We were delayed a couple of hours and the adjusted flight pattern added almost 2 hours to our already long flight, but it could have been much worse.

For some reason I refused to sleep on the overnight flight. Although tired I just couldn’t do it. Instead I watched 4 movies. It amazes me how many movies I actually catch on planes. I suppose this is really the only way I even see new(ish) movies. I finally saw Invictus and if you haven’t you should. It made me miss being in South Africa, even with all limitations that came with living in the crime ridden Jo’berg, it was still my favorite rotation of last year.

I digress.

When we arrived in Paris we had to wait in an endless line just to be told what we already knew. We had missed our flight and missed the next flight available while standing in line. We’d have to wait another 6 hours before getting on the last flight to Tunisia.

All my concern about the country's conservative and religious views,about how we were dressed and being two lone women were put to rest immediately upon getting to immigration. We stood in line for a couple of minutes before the guys from the transportation service found us. It was about 80% tourists.

Jules says the client is very gracious and she’s enjoying the short commute. Our hotel is only a couple of blocks from the office and although it is sorely in need of a renovation, we have a lovely patio overlooking the lake. There are also quite a few restaurants in walking distance which will be nice and convenient. As long as they can find us a room with carpet that doesn’t look like livestock has been raised on it I think we’ll be okay here.

For some idiotic reason I somehow thought I could sleep without the aid of my jetlag buddy, Ambien, last night. I was so exhausted I thought surely I would be out for the night. Not so much. Goal for today and tomorrow is to get my sleep pattern under control. And hopefully these weird dreams I keep having will cease. This in turn will help my brain accomplish my writing goals and aid my body in accomplishing my gym goals. It is all about the sleep people.

Friday, May 7, 2010

:(

Saying goodbye is a constant in our current life. Goodbye to places, cultures, people and sadly our friends. The only good part is in knowing there is always a chance we’ll be together again. So instead of goodbye it is more like “safe travels and hope to see you soon”.

Our trip to Tunisia is a little bittersweet. The only reason we’re even going is because two of our favorite people are rolling out today and moving back to their respective real world.



We love you guys and will miss you more than you know! We wish you the very best in your life back home in Brazil. Although you’re no longer on the team we refuse to say goodbye. So- safe travels home and hope to see you very soon!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

incognito- fail.

i respect all paths to God...christian, buddhism, muslim, hindi, etc...be a good person-the end.

that said, as i try desperately to find an outfit out of my already very limited wardrobe that will result in the least amount of hassle through tunisian immigration, i have come to this conclusion:

curvy latino girls are not engineered to be strict followers of islam. hiding arms and legs- okay easy enough. but, hips, butt and bust? practically impossible.

i wonder if i can find a burka in the last few hours left in costa rica?

Round 4!

The results are in and we're headed to.....(insert drum roll).....

Germany!!!

Wow. We could not be happier! Although were really torn between it and Korea as our most desired location,(they always seem to schedule all the good ones at the same time) we are really thrilled we are going to be spending our summer in Europe!

Especially since we'll get to hang with this girl...



We've obviously been friends forever- or at least since the 80's. Can't wait to see you KS!

To all of our many friends who have said "if you go to Europe we'll come visit"- start checking out flights now! We probably won't stay in Germany one weekend- which is really very sad. But hey, we can always vacation in Germany. We'll probably never live within a 1-2 hour flight of some of the most amazing European cities again...got to get while the getting is good.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

it's that time again...



As with most rotations, I find myself wondering where the past two months have gone. Costa Rica has been an incredibly easy location for us. The hotel let us keep our rooms every single weekend, thus allowing us to never pack up and get really settled in. The country itself had so much to offer we rarely had to even get on a plane. It was close enough we got to have visitors and staying in touch wasn’t impossible with the time change. The minuscule amount of Spanish I know was enough to get by...which probably wasn't a good thing since I still didn't really study. Oh and *hello*- we had American television channels!

With all the ease, I have to admit that we are both really ready for some adventure. I think Tunisia is going to prove to be exactly that- with all the challenges adventures bring, but also all the incredible rewards.

We’ve been in North and Central America for over 6 months now. We’ve had a great time, but we’re thrilled to have escaped yet another round in Atlanta and are anxious to see what life has in store for us in Northern Africa…

نحن لا نستطيع الانتظار!

Hopefully that translates to “We can’t wait!” in Arabic.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

3 countries in 48 hours


Traveling full-time definitely changes your perspectives. If the opportunity to go somewhere for a weekend included an hour long flight, 9 hours in a city, a 5 hour bus ride that left at 5am, 19 hours in a another city, a 4 hour van ride that left a 5:45am and then 6 hours in an airport before another hour flight back- you probably wouldn’t be too interested. I know a year and a half ago I sure wouldn’t have been.

Of course now our thinking has changed- if this is what it takes to go see some Mayan ruins in Honduras- we’re in!

So, that’s what we did.

We got to Guatemala City on Friday evening and grabbed some food in the lounge before heading out. We had been debating whether we should just go out all night before our break-of-dawn bus departure time or just have a couple of drinks and try to get a few hours of sleep. I’m sure it isn’t hard to guess what we chose.

GC is supposed to be a pretty rough capital city. The country is very poor and the city is apparently overrun with aggressive young drug addicts who will rob you blind to get their next fix. As with most cities though, this depends on the area. I can’t remember the zone we stayed in, but I’m fairly certain it is the nicest they have so we enjoyed being able to walk the tree-lined streets dotted with cute boutiques, restaurants and bars. It actually reminded us a lot of an area of Buenos Aires we used to frequent.

We got back to our hotel in time for a quick shower before having to head to the bus station. We had sprung for the executive bus line which had seats that reclined almost fully. We were able to catch a few winks on the 5 hour ride to the Honduras border. We surely would have been able to catch more had the guy sitting across from us not only felt the need to listen to his music at full blast, but to also sing along to it. He also really loved rattling plastic bags and seemed to do so each time I had drifted off.

After going through the motions at the Honduras border we quickly reached Copán and took a quick tuk-tuk ride to our sweet little hotel. Copán is a pretty little Spanish Colonial city with restored buildings and narrow cobble-stone streets surrounded by picturesque mountains. Our hotel hooked us up with our guide, Juan Carlos, and we were off to check out the incredible Mayan ruins.

Copán was home to a Mayan city considered to be the cultural and intellectual center of the civilization. Thanks to archeologists we were able to see their homes, their temples, their graves, their stadium, and tons of original sculptures…














It was all very impressive and interesting, but by the time we had finished with the ruins and hit the museum we were all pretty wiped out.

We had a late lunch, did a little shopping and then headed back to the hotel for showers and some down time. We even managed to drag our tired bones out for dinner later that night before finally getting into an actual bed…the first time since Thursday evening.

Thanks to my incredibly annoying crackberry, our alarm didn’t go off so at 5:40am Jules and I had exactly 5 minutes to get dressed and into the van for our ride back to Guatemala City. Thanks to the bus times we were unable to take the same bus back and had no choice but to hitch the earliest ride back on the shuttle to make our flight time.

The ride back was pretty miserable for me. Uncomfortable and cramped I couldn’t for the life of me find a position in which to nod off. This meant I had to take a Dramamine to avoid getting motion-sick which in turn meant I was drugged and wanted nothing else but to shut my eyes. It was a vicious cycle and I was more than thrilled that our driver got us to the airport in just over 4 hours. We had a long wait at the airport, but I was happy as a clam just to be out of the van.

We got back to San Jose early that evening and I have to say it felt incredible to get into the bed at a decent hour and know that we didn’t have to get up before the sun to get into a vehicle.

Although our weekend was tiring it was totally worth it to see Copán’s ruins- truly magnificent. We found Honduras to be really lovely and have definitely added it to the list of places we hope to get back to one day to explore more.