Thursday, July 29th, 2010
One thing I always try to remember when I travel is how much I have been touched by the kindness of strangers. All over the globe I have been kept out of rather icky predicaments because someone I didn’t know in the slightest helped me out of the goodness of their heart. For the most part, as I often was a gal traveling alone, it was a woman who helped me. The most memorable of times being in Hungary.
I had managed to get myself lost in the middle of rural Romania. I was trying to get from Budapest to a tiny, tiny town in Romania right on the Ukrainian border but was failing miserably. I had found a train that crossed from Hungary into Romania but then it seemed to be doing some strange loop. It turned out that it wasn’t looping but splitting and the part of the train that I was on was heading back into Hungary. It was nighttime, I have no idea how to say one thing in Hungarain or Romanian and I was about to lose my mind. So instead of sitting on the floor and crying I walked up and down the train and asked every single person on it if they spoke English or French. “Do you speak English/Parlez-vous français?” I bellowed to every last passenger. Finally, when I was in the last train car and asked the last woman on the train, her answer was, “yes, I am a French teacher.” I nearly kissed her.
When I told her my predicament, she helped me get into town, took a taxi with me, and offered me her apartment to sleep in. When I assured her I could pay for a hotel, she took me to one, made the manager to promise to take care of me and see me to the station tomorrow morning and then refused all the money I tried to throw at her. Basically, she saved my stupid hide and I hope one day I can repay the favor to any wanderer with no common sense, French-speaking, English-speaking or otherwise.
I think I would still be on this train going back and forth between Romania and Hungary if it wasn't for Lilla.
Friday, July 23rd, 2010
Today at 6 p.m., Craig and I leave on our very long journey to Nepal. First we have to fly to London, then New Delhi (where we spend two nights), before we make it to Katmandu. A day there and we are on another plane to the Himalayas and Lukla airport. That makes eight plane rides in two and a half weeks. Youch. But I think I would take 15 if need be to see Everest. And even better, we are going to hike the sucker. Well, a small part of the sucker anyway.
Two people told me yesterday that they saw a TV show called “World’s scariest airports.” My friend Lauren called me and said, “guess what number one is? Starts with an L ends with an ukla!” That’s right, Lukla, where we land to go hiking was rated the number one scariest airport on earth. But everyone needs a little adventure in her life, right! And on this adventure, I am glad to have Craig there. He has never been to Asia and I’m really excited to see him enjoy the wonders of traveling.
On another note, for many of you wonderful readers who have blogs, you know that you can back post your blogs and have them publish when you wish. Stacey and I actually never do this. We really take our “thank you a day” to mean one note a day and write our thanks on the day of publication 99.9 percent of the time.
But now I am faced with a hurdle called Mount Everest and no Wi-Fi. As much as it hurt me to do, I have had to back post my thank yous for when I am in Nepal. I am going to be camping on Everest for most of my trip, and as you can imagine, there is a lack of internet there.
In Nepal, I will still thank everyday, but it will have to be in my journal written by the light of a really ugly headlamp. When I get back to Washington, I will thank the heck out of all the amazing people I am sure to meet and blab all about Nepal. Everest here I come!
I can't wait to set foot on Mount Everest. Even if that foot is covered in leeches.
Saturday, February 20th, 2010
During the great snow in, Craig and I did a really good job of watching TV. We watched all of season 3 of Friday Night Lights, caught up on Greek, and have been obsessively watching the Olympics. Tonight, we of course tuned into the inthralling world of ice dancing, and also took advantage of the “past Oscar winners” category on my On Demand to see how much our eyeballs could endure.
For our viewing pleasure, we chose “Out of Africa.” Craig had never seen it and I am obsessed with it. One, I love Karen Blixen. We kind of share the same name, which makes us kindred spirits, and I also have a tiny little obsession with Robert Redford. And Meryl Streep. And anything filmed in Africa. So really it’s a win win.
Watching “Out of Africa” inspired me to flip through one of my favorite books, “The Earth from Above” by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand. On a UNESCO grant, Bertrand photographed some of the most beautiful landscape on earth in helicopters and balloons. I first saw an exhibit of his photos in the Jardins du Luxembourg in Paris. They were displayed outside and all I wanted to do after gazing at them was sell my wears and see as much of the world as I could.
Nine years later, I still want to. One of my lifelong goals is to go to every country on earth. Yes, this sounds a tad ridiculous, but why not? I’ve been to 41 countries and there are 195 total. So that’s 154 left to visit. If I do 4 or 5 a year, I will be done by the time I’m 65. Sounds so doable when you put it that way!! War torn nations may be rough. Can’t say I’m dying to vacation in sunny Somalia right now, but if I could meet a person, take a picture, and experience something in every corner of the earth, I would be a very very fulfilled human being.
If I wasn't a writer I would want to be an aerial photographer. We wouldn't even know this island was shaped like a heart if we didn't have an eye in the sky. One day I would love to masking tape my feet to something, stick my head out an open plane door and snap away.
Monday, January 4th, 2010
Over the holidays, we took six different flights to get to all of our vacation destinations. I thought I was prepared for this; I armed myself with an arsenal of toys and a massive amount of Benadryl. But of course, once we were mid-air, I realized that we are parents to a child for whom the antihistamine has the opposite effect; instead of becoming sleepy, Ollie acted like a toddler on crystal meth. Think: “Cops” + the movie “Con-Air” + “Sesame Street” = HELL.
Let me tell you, flying with a 1-year-old capable of breaking laws of physics with his scream isn’t a walk in the park — for our entire family, the flight crew, or the 100+ passengers who traveled with us on the plane. All the attendants were so friendly, you’d never know they actually felt like picking up Ollie and punting him out the emergency exit door. Even the other travelers were so extremely kind; I didn’t hear a single four letter word uttered from anyone, even when Ollie spit phlegm on the woman in front of us or ripped out a handful of her hair by the roots. Amazing!