The scariest rendition of our Lord and Savior I’ve ever seen…
At what point do we say art is too damaged to be displayed in a museum? I’d say when baby Jesus’ face is eaten away.
Okay, so this story really begins back in 2008- so read this before reading any further.
We’re finally going to China!!!
Oh how naïve we were to think it would be so easy to get there. I love how I said we’d go “at least once”. After 2 1/2 years it became clear to us that just because everyone else gets sent there multiple times doesn’t mean you’re going. Next round was our very last shot and honestly one of the biggest reasons we wanted to travel this year. We got it. We finally got it!
After being disappointed each time China was on the schedule and we weren’t on it, I realize now God was saving the very best for last…
And yes, I’m still more excited to hold one of these guys than I am to see the Great Wall. Soooooo freaking excited!!!!!!
Hola! Bonjour! Hello!
I’m still struggling a little bit with what language I’m supposed to be using right now. When we got into Paris on Friday afternoon I was saying “obrigada” to the immigration guy and asking our taxi for a “recibo, por favor”. As the Wife pointed out, I was studying Spanish in a Portuguese speaking country while only really being able to speak English. Landing in Paris threw me for a loop. I asked a Pakistani waiter at an Indian restaurant in Paris who was speaking to us in both French and English for an “aqua sem gas” at lunch on Saturday. You can imagine his face.
Anyhoo…Jules took a day of vacay so we could have a little more time in Paris on our way to Dublin from Brazil. We hadn’t actually been in the city since 2009 and this time were really coming to see our friend, Frenchie. We got in Friday afternoon and immediately upon checking in crashed out on the bed. We were exhausted after the 10 hour flight and thought an hour nap would revive us. Not-so-much. A few hours later we were able to get up and get going. We headed over to the Louvre, which we had skipped last time to enjoy all my faves artists at the Musee d’ Orsay.
We hit as many of the highlights that we could. God knows you could spend 2 weeks straight in that place and never see it all…
After a few hours of art appreciating, we met up with Frenchie and spent the rest of the day and evening catching up over good food and good wine…
Saturday we set out for the Sacre Coeur…
Walked over to the Moulin Rouge…
and then headed over to the Opera House…
before heading back to Frenchie’s place to enjoy a bottle of wine and his ridiculous view…
We had a late and delicious dinner somewhere cute and all Parisian. That’s the great thing about having a local to help you. You can just relax and enjoy the best the city has to offer instead of trying to figure out what freaking train to take to what station. Aaaahhhhhh.
We spent Sunday morning walking through Frenchie’s neighborhood Sunday market and then through Le Marais where we had lunch.
It had been just over a year since we’d seen our dear friend and it was wonderful catching up and getting to peak into his new life in Paris. Although I came with the plan to con him into moving to Atlanta, I saw very quickly that wasn’t going to happen. I mean, it’s Paris. Paris, France. I just don’t think any city in the world can compare. Le sigh.
And hey, if he wants to live there forever, who am I to complain about having a friend living in Paris that I must visit on at least an annual basis?
Pics from the weekend…
When we left Rio just a few days ago it was chilly, cloudy and rainy. Today’s forecast on my Weather.com page…
Rio de Janeiro, BR59°F
We left winter in Atlanta to spend the end of fall in Australia. Then we had winter in Brazil. Now we’re at the end of summer in Dublin and I’m wearing boots and a sweater.
I know everyone back home is so ready for the cool temperatures of fall. I really wish I could send you some of our excess from this year.
One night at dinner during our very first round in January 2009 we asked the experienced nomads at the table if there was anything they would do differently. All of them said they would have sent postcards. Anything handwritten should be treasured these days and it really is such a nice way to tell family and friends back home you’re thinking of them.
We vowed then and there to send them and for the most part I think we’ve done a good job. Granted, we can’t send them to everyone all the time. A. Stamps are a lot harder to come by than you think. B. Postcards are actually fairly expensive to send internationally most places. C. Stamps are a lot harder to come by than you think. (read: post offices aren’t open on weekends and most of the time we’ve got a language barrier to hurdle over as well)
We try to send them as much as possible. We spend a lot of time looking for stamps. We also try to spread the wealth around to everyone we’re thinking about, which is a lot because we’re blessed to have a ton of incredible people in our lives. I will tell you that after asking people about receiving them we estimate that about 35% of them don’t ever actually make it though. There is a special place in hell for hotel clerks that say they will post them for us and stick that stamp money in their pocket and our postcards in the trash.
We’ve been pretty lax this year in our postcard sending and I apologize. I promise to step up our game…
and I just paid a small fortune in Reis to get us back on track.
We do not want for fruit in Brazil. Fresh squeezed juice can be bought on just about any corner, our breakfast always has a huge selection and the lounge has what I like to call my personal fruit market. My personal free fruit market. They have this big display just outside the door with apples, bananas, papayas, pears, peaches, passion fruit, star fruit and tons of other weird fruit that I’m unfamiliar with.
Anyway, every night I take some fruit from the display to have in the room for the next day. When you live in a hotel room having snacks at hand is a big deal. Just imagine every single time you want a snack you’ve got to leave your house and go to a restaurant or store. Snacks are important.
One night we were going out to dinner and Jules needed to go up to the room first. I sent my fruit bounty with her. When we came home later that night I see this…
Apparently, the key didn’t work so she just left it by our door. I can’t imagine what people thought walking by this little collection of fruit piled against someone’s door.
Remember when I pointed out how afraid I actually am of coming into close contact with animals?
Same goes for drag queens…
Note the raised eyebrows. I don’t like getting too close to drag queens. They are always so mean. I like them from a distance like all unpredictable animals.
Actually, this drag queen was delightful. Actually, I’m beginning to believe it’s only American drag queens that are so bitchy and snarky. It’s all fun and games until one of them calls you Snookie on your birthday.
Just 3 more nights in Brazil and I’m more than happy to be on our way. Not that I haven’t enjoyed Brazil. I have. I’ve loved, loved, loved seeing our friends here and I’ve really enjoyed the culture and cuisine of this friendly country. I think more than anything I’m just really excited for what lies ahead.
For those of you who don’t know, this is our last year of travel. It’s time for Jules to move forward in her career, time for me to get back to mine and time for us to sleep in the same bed for more than 5 nights in a row…with pillows I actually like.
We’ve got just 2 more rounds this year (maybe just 1 if the right job comes along) and although this year has been a little trying with departmental changes, most of our closest friends rolling off, far too much work, stress and long hours for The Wife, bad attitudes (ours included), repeated locations and just general travel fatigue- we’re determined to live it up the last 4 months.
Which should be fairly easy to do…
First of all we’re going back to Europe. No, actually, that should be second. First- we get to see friends, lots of friends!! Frenchie this weekend, our fave Irish lass next week, catching up with other team members in Dublin, Oktoberfest with our German friend, living in London with a dear old friend and closing out the round with 2 of our closest friends coming to Europe to visit us!!
We’re ridiculously excited to see everyone. When you live your life on the road there is nothing like catching up with people you love and who love you.
Secondly, we’re going back to Europe! Enough said.
Then, if the fates (read: managers) allow, we’ll close out our year and this whole insane adventure in Asia.
4 months and we’ll be back to the real world. We couldn’t be happier or more scared.
There are no flowers better than those you get for no reason other than you’re loved…
I have the most amazing wife ever. Apologies to those who have great spouses-I’m sure they’re pretty good and all, but mine is the best.
“I have found out there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them”.- Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer Abroad)
We enjoyed one last weekend with our friends from Sao Paulo and finally got a chance to catch up with our friends who live in Recife. AND finally meet their ridiculously cute baby. My uterus ached all weekend being around this little bundle of baby fat and preciousness. His Renaissance Fair turkey legs almost sent me over the edge of mild baby fever to full-fledged baby-napper. Seriously people, you’ve never seen a cuter baby leg.
Everyone arrived on Friday and all 10 of us went out to a long, laughter-filled, beer-soaked, meat-laden dinner. And yes, it was as fun as it sounds. Maybe more.
We went to my very first football match on Saturday night and enjoyed the perks of getting box tickets from the Sponsor…
The game was actually pretty good. There were like 6 goals. 6! By my calculation that is about 6 times more than an average game. Sorry, soccer fans, but you know it’s true.
Although the game was a small one, we got a glimpse as to how insane these fans are and had a good laugh at some of the crap the old men were yelling down to the field. Thanks to M & S for translating.
Sunday we spent around the pool saying our last goodbyes to our friends from Recife and their turkey-legged precious little baby before their afternoon flight. Then Jules and I went to lunch and took a walk on the beach with M & S before having to bid them farewell too.
Goodbyes are really a huge part of our life. We say them all the time without really knowing when we’ll see that person again. It’s hard. Especially when it’s people you hold so dear.
I’ve missed having my fellow hotel wives so much since they left and hope to see them both again very soon!!!
Sorry, no photos this weekend, well not enough to post an album. Especially since the Wife chose to ignore my two “don’t forget the camera” remarks and say to me in the cab “you got the camera, right?”. Hahaha, it was only slightly better than my bringing a battery-less camera to Vienna last year. It happens. All soccer photos credit goes to the new cohort. Thanks!
Seems Ireland isn't quite done with us yet. It's funny because I was listening to some traditional Irish music on the plane last Sunday and told the Wife how much it made me miss Ireland. I don't think I'd even listened to that album since we left Ireland last year and then this week we find out we're headed to Dublin for 3 weeks before going to London.
Although I'm disappointed to lose time in London, I'm more than happy to do it in a city and country I hold so dear.
Hang on, boys...
I'm coming for ya!!!
A neighboring neighborhood back home holds an annual chili cook-off/blue grass festival that I used to compete in. The chili cook-off part, not the blue grass.
I entered 3 years and got 4th freaking place each year. Each year I was the “first loser” and robbed of the glory of placing. I know I should have been happy to have beaten out as many people as I did, but come on, let’s be real- it stunk to be soooo close to placing each year.
I have a huge pot that I cook my chili in and always struggled with finding a spoon that was long enough to actually stir all the way to the bottom.
Brazil to the rescue…
I feel a 1st place chili coming on with this spoon!
The guy who sold it to me didn't speak English, but was able to demonstrate that it could be used for both stiring as well as beating people. 2 for 1.
I was finally able to fully cram it into the Wife’s bag by laying it sideways and letting it poke through the fabric. That is one big spoon!
As I was finishing up my post last night I was lucky enough to be joined by some other people to distract the friendly giant.
The second they left he came up to me- “It’s just you and me again, Miss Julie! You like fish???”…he disappeared for about 15 minutes and then reappeared with a bowl full of ceviche.
Our hotel has a lounge and I can’t begin to explain what a huge perk that is for us, particularly me. When you live in a hotel room 300+ days a year it helps to have somewhere else to go other than the actual room. To have a place where we can sit in a seat instead of our bed, have a cup of coffee without getting in a cab to get it, or just somewhere we can grab something to eat at night without a 3 hour “to-do” about dinner- it really is priceless to us.
Some lounges are better than others, but we’re grateful for even the worst ones.
The lounge here in Rio is one of the better ones. I like having breakfast up here as opposed to the kid-filled madhouse of a restaurant. I come up for my afternoon caffeine fix, we all tend to meet up here at some point in the evening and the Wife and I have had more than our share of cold cut dinners to save the hassle (and money) of going out to a long dinner every night.
The real gem in this lounge is one of the regular waiters. He’s like an overly friendly giant (he’s well over 6ft and his hands are the size of baseball mits) who will do anything to make us happy. Want a caipirinha with 7 different fruits 3 hours after the lounge is supposed to be closed? “Okay”. Want him to cut up a giant mango into bite-size bits? “Okay”. Want him to go in search of your favorite mustard? “Okay”.
Now, don’t go thinking we’re a bunch of divas asking for these things- he’s the one asking and we’re the ones saying “okay”. He offers over and over until you say “Okay!!”
We got in late one Sunday without having a chance to grab dinner. I was starved and ordered a burger with a side of gold (that explains the price-right?)from room service. I immediately recognized the friendly giant’s voice and he in turn recognized mine- “Miss Julie!!” ( He calls me by the Wife’s name and her by mine. I’ve corrected him numerous times, but now we just go with it.) When my burger arrived it was flanked by an almost overflowing glass of white wine- what I always drink in the lounge. He called five minutes later to make sure I got his gift.
This is the kind of niceness this guy possesses. He’s sooooo nice- too nice. He let that wild bunch of unsupervised kids run him ragged and he never stopped smiling. Not even for a second.
I’m usually in the lounge by myself until the crew gets home from work. I have come to dread being alone with him. I now find myself saying a silent prayer on the elevator that there will be other people present to act as my buffer. He smothers me with attention. I can’t take one sip of water without him asking if I’d like some more. If he wasn’t the sweetest man on earth I’d want to kill him.
Today he was out of control…
I was having a coffee and as soon as the last sip passed my lips he besieged me with other drink choices. “More café? Juice-y? White wine-y? Coca Zero? Agua”?
Five seconds later I heard water running in the back room. He emerged with a giant plate of washed grapes. I thanked him profusely, although I hate the sour and seeded grapes here. He’s asked me 5 times if I like them since he dropped them off. I’m doing my best to eat the horrid things, but it's going too slowly for his comfort.
He then asked if I wanted some quiches. Warm food is rare here but I had just finished my coffee and wasn’t hungry. Even though I had politely declined, he brought some over anyway.
1 minute later and he’s bringing over a bowl of nuts.
If you could literally kill someone with kindness I would have been dead weeks ago.
So I’ve had this tiny little mole on my nose for about a year. It really was tiny, but I thought it was getting bigger and when I looked down my nose with my left eye, you know because you’re always needing to do that, I could see its little raised self.
As with anything on your face, it felt magnified and enormous to me and I wanted it gone. Gone.
I had a hard time getting into the doctor in South Africa. When I finally did it was a GP and I was more concerned about the allergic reaction that had caused little bumps to appear all over my face. My face is having a rough go of it these days.
I thought with Brazil being the plastic surgery capital of the world and all, I was probably better off to wait to until Rio to see someone about removing my little friend anyway. This is the tip of my nose, people. One slip of the knife and I could lose the only nose I have or at least a large portion of it.
My first attempt had me waiting in a “mall doctor” waiting room for hours. No one at the front desk spoke English and they had to call a girl from the back to take my information. I may have told her 20 times I didn’t have any “documents” before finally realizing she meant my drivers license. I should have realized as soon as I walked into a mall that it wasn’t going to turn out well, but dang it I wanted this mole gone! After waiting for hours after my appointment time and watching about 8 people come in after me and be taken back I decided to ask. After they called the translator back up front she told me she didn’t know when the doctor could see me. I had caught a glimpse of ye olde mall doctor a few minutes earlier and she was wearing earrings the size of a child’s shoe. I said “obrigada” and walked out.
I thought, okay- I’ll just wait until London since there won’t be a language barrier. Turns out there is a medical care barrier though and I was advised by my friends living there that I’d probably never get in to see a dermatologist.
Going to the doctor is supposed to be fairly easy for us. We have this number to call, we tell them where we are and what’s wrong and they get us an appointment with an English speaking doctor who doesn’t reuse needles. Only once has it been even slightly easy and even though I don’t believe the guy reused needles, I did play medical charades with a Greek physician for about an hour- “frac-ture, bro-ken…you know breaky, breaky”. They never even found me a doctor in South Africa, we finally just asked someone at the Wife’s office.
That’s why I had gone to the “mall doctor”. It was a recommendation from one of the Wife’s clients.
When that failed I had to call the number.
They did find me a doctor. They actually found two, but the first one didn’t speak English. The second one did, but his receptionist didn’t speak a word. Our friend called and made the appointment for me with her.
When I walked in on Monday she immediately starting laughing. Through her laughter she was wheezing out my name. We both continued to laugh through the entire check-in process. She would talk away at me, look up to see me still giving her the “I don’t have a clue as to what you are saying” face and laugh even harder. She even thought my drivers license was hilarious. As she typed my address in she had tears coming down her face. I loved this woman.
The actual appointment went fine. The doctor spoke English very well and even knew medical terms. He was, however, really old- like probably in his 70’s, which normally I like in a physician. I like a doctor who has some practice under his belt. I want someone who has seen it all. However, I was there to potentially have something cut off the tip of my nose and no matter how sharp your brain may still be, your body can betray you. I watched his hands like a hawk through our preliminary consult in his office. I was ready to bolt at the first tremor.
We went back to the exam room and he proceeded to burn my tiny little mole right off. Easy. Peasy. 2 continents, 4 potential doctors, numerous phone calls and hours of waiting later and it was gone in two shakes of a lambs tail. No shot, no knife, no horrendous gouge out of my nose.
I do have a little scab which I’m sure will be very visible in photos this upcoming weekend. But hey, when I look down my nose with my left eye, as I do so often, I don’t see anything except my nose.
When Rio is nice it is very, very nice. It just turns out that winter has far more cloudy, overcast days than sunny ones. I took this on one of the rare beautiful days. Actually, it was very windy that day. See how the ocean is eating the entire beach? It’s normally a pretty wide beach. I’m kind of desperate to get some color before going to London, but I don’t think it is going to happen.
Do you think it is possible to have a few more of these days (see below) in the next couple of weeks?
My sickly looking skin and I would be eternally grateful.
We headed north to Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia, this past weekend. With all these lazy pool/beach/island hopping weekends we’ve had in Brazil it was nice to have a “normal” weekend of being tourists. We spent Saturday shopping in the market, touring around the lovely old city, and popping into some insanely ornate churches…
We had a very informative tour guide which you know my not-so-inner dork loved. He was very good about encouraging us to try street food and explaining everything we came across in the city…like when the random, smiling guy came and threw popcorn on us…
Apparently it was a blessing and hellooo, I’ll take as many of those as I can get. The popcorn symbolized a flower or blooming or something. I never really understood that part as you can see from my face as he was trying to explain…
Oh and there was this awesomeness…
We had just enough time to get showered and ready before heading to the evening cultural dance show.
Salvador was the first city founded in Brazil and was once the largest slave trade port in the world. The African influence can be seen throughout their food, music, culture and religion.
The first dances were the sacred dances of Candoble, the local religion brought over from African priests sold into slavery. Each Orixa represents a manifestation of their God, Olodumare…
We had seen statues of the one with grass over his face at the market and I have to say it was even more eerie in person. I realize how incredibly ignorant that sounds, but he is the Orixa of illness so I’m thinking he’s supposed to invoke some fear in you.
The show concluded with capoeria, the Brazilian martial art that combines music, dance and well, martial arts.
It was intense…
I never even knew some of these muscles existed in the human body. These guys were incredibly fit, insanely athletic and very hard to capture on film. You want to get in shape- start fight dancing. This stuff is no joke.
Everyone told us Salvador was a must-see in Brazil and I’m thankful for their recommendation. We really, really enjoyed it.
This weekend we’ve got our friends from Sao Paulo and Recife coming to visit! We’re so excited to see everyone and enjoy Rio!
Pics from the weekend…