Banjo on Her Knee*

When the new year rolled around, I didn’t really think about how much travelling was in my future.

I regret that lack of foresight now†, but I have hopes that the dashing about will end in July, when I’ll have moved back to my team and friends on the opposite side of the world. I like to travel††, but I don’t like being unsettled. And while half of my wardrobe (and toothbrush, and contacts, and shampoo) live in one city, and the other half lives 90 miles away, I will continue to feel somewhat adrift. It gives me some compassion (and empathy) for those business men and women who travel all the time.^

At the same time, for the slight inconvenience of lots of travel, I get to see lots of my friends. And there really isn’t much I wouldn’t do (if it was within my means) to visit those I love and care for. So it’s worth it and I like the fact that my car is still dependable at over 276,000 miles.

However, I have gotten off topic. I was merely going to rave (and therefore thank) Jenna for taking me to a wonderful little‡ bookshop where I went a little book-crazy. Thankfully my luggage and my budget constrained my desire to double my library‡‡ though thoughts of those low prices could still make me drool a little.

Thanks for having me, Jenna! You win the award for the farthest I’ve traveled to visit someone this year.

~ ~ ~

 

*That was a bad attempt at hinting where I went over the weekend.**

**Sorry, Jenna.

†Mostly because I could have emotionally prepared for these months better than I have(n’t) done. Oh hindsight… you always get to teach me something.

††I may be addicted. But I’m not admitting it’s a problem yet.

^I couldn’t do it. Not for any amount of money. Living out of a suitcase year-in and year-out is apparently Not My Thing.

‡It wasn’t really little. At all.

‡‡Which at around 600 books would be quite the undertaking.

Finally, More Pictures Part 1

As promised a few posts ago, here are more pictures from my photographer friend. That’s right, these are not mine, though I had the pleasure of seeing it all and smelling it all.

Naan being made on the street.

Other than his plastic sandals and the rubber wheels, he could be from 300 years ago, right?*

There’s someone you know, eating yogurt with granulated sugar added in.**

The colors of life here. They really do wear clothes with this many bright and lively patterns and colors. Considering the land itself is brown, brown, brown, it makes a sort of sense. A feast for the eyes. And a fashion sense very different from the western ideal, but still beautiful to my eyes.

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*He wasn’t the only reason I felt as though I’d been transported into a history book. But he’s a good example.

**It was amazingly good. We also had tortilla-like bread with lamb skewers. Plain but tasty meal.

The West, Part 2, More Pictures

The third city was quite beautiful, and we had the advantage of staying at a hotel close by the ‘old city.’ To give you an idea besides the photos, I felt as if I was walking into a National Geographic magazine. It was as dusty as the pictures looked. And also an amazing history lesson at your fingertips. I should have scooped up some of that dust to scatter into my notebooks, to have tangible proof that I have walked along paths that likely millions of people from centuries ago have walked.

I wish I had a blue door like this. Don’t you? Totally fashionable, and you would never get mistaken as a cookie-cutter house. That someone also painted the balcony a matching blue is just too cool. Can I live here? But I like rain (have I mentioned that yet?), so that’s probably out.

Just some neat architecture.

These people know how to do balconies. Can they be packed up and shipped? I’d also like a garden, if you could please fit that into the box too.

Is that my scooter? Well no, it’s not. I missed my scooter. My feet missed my scooter. However, I did get to walk around in some truly stylin’ footwear, which is not the norm for me. I’ll try to find a picture of me and my new sandals later. For new shoes, they were surprisingly durable and comfy.

And the juxtaposition continues. Old city, meet new city. They both look like rabbit warrens from this angle, to me*.

Cue cool bazaar photo:

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*One whole post without footnotes. I just couldn’t let it be.

The West, Part 1, and Pictures

I’m going to hold back on the best of the pictures… because I didn’t take them. Really. My much more talented (and bold) teammate was snapping some amazing shots, and I will splurge on sharing those at a later date… like when I get my grubby hands on them. For now, here are the cream of my crop.*

Mountains bordering our first city, seen from the plane. They really are as tall as they look. Which is tall… in case you were wondering.

Fancy pantsy restaurant we stepped into for lunch the second day. None of us had any idea it would be like this. Also, amazing food. For two stomach-sick travelers, a delicious salad and perfectly flavored rice pilaf were what the doctor might order for us.

Isn’t this neat? There are apparently walkways like this all over the region, with grape vines growing on them. They had just recently been harvested, but several bunches were still hanging. An intrepid youth was climbing onto the bench and pulling one down for a snack as we walked by. Very cool** and social spot to be in the evenings.

So that was the first city we visited. We were in the second for less than a day, and this is my only nice picture of it:

It looks pretty, but it’s the only water around for miles. I like rain†, so it was a jarring difference. Though the cool weather was nice.††

On a business note, we were able to meet with some connections and also some family, and heard fun stories about trying to start business here. The culture is really neat, but it takes time to get a grasp on it (not even counting language). The side business with guitars I will talk about later, for those who’d like to order a guitar for their muscially inclined love one. The trains were fun, but I didn’t sleep well (altitude changes), so I was grateful to get off the plane in our home city. If you’ve seen ‘The Pacifier’ with Vin Diesel, it was a little like the scene where the girl falls out of the minivan and kisses the ground.†††

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*Along with some necessary editing skills.

*Literally, it provides shade and a breeze-way for those seeking shelter from the hot, dusty days. Again, why do we not have such genius things in America?

†It was pouring down like the flood as we took a taxi home… but I was happy to get wet, and my skin was happy too. My hands alone were starting to look like the ground in Texas.

††Yes, it’s already fall there. I was shocked to arrive in the desert and find it about 20-25 degrees cooler than in my home city.

†††I didn’t kiss the ground, but I would have if I hadn’t been exhausted.

Return from the West

Amazing land and people. All the sights and sounds and impressions will take a while to process, but for now, I’m back! And only slightly weary from motion sickness from all the travelling.

Missed the first* day of class while we were flying back. It feels a little like being flung from a slingshot into this new season of classes, students and a different season.

Lots of pictures to follow.

*Other students have not started, so we’re confused.

Heading Westward

We leave in two days, bright and early. Though I’ve known about our trip for a couple of months, now that it’s close, I’m wondering where the time has gone. With my days shortened by commitments, I have little time (and little scooter power, incidentally) to get my few errands accomplished. Like buying a long skirt. That shouldn’t be hard, right? Especially when there are clothes stores right outside the entrance to my complex.

But if I want a cheap skirt, that’s a little harder. Why has this city become one of the shopping destinations for this country? I see more Prada, Gucci, Luis Vitton, Versarce, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co* in this city than I ever did in Austin or Dallas combined.

Um, in case you didn’t know, those labels are not on my Christmas wish list. And in no way do they equal a “cheap” skirt.

Someone gave me a scarf a week before I would need it. I love useful gifts.**

I want this to be the lightest I’ve ever packed for a trip. Three changes of clothes, max. I don’t aspire to be a backpacker, but since it’s culturally o.k. to re-wear clothes several days in a row, I will take advantage and blend!†

The other thing to look forward to (other than packing a lot of disposable diapers for the baby, who has been needing about 6 per day), is the sleeper trains! We just don’t have these in Texas. Or many in the US, at all. I sort of wish they’d make a comeback; I imagine training would be much cheaper than flying†† and a larger percentage of the customers can lay down and sleep! Planes might be faster, but I don’t mind taking my time travelling, as long as I have some room to stretch.‡

What do you think? Someone want to buy up a lot of old trains and start a new/old business? No? Your loss.

BEAUTY & TRUTH: Caring for Dad’s Art

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*You get the idea

**And it’s pretty!! Pretty and soft!

†Maybe not blend. I’m pretty American once you try to engage me in conversation.

††Feel free to correct me on this.

‡Reading time, oooh. Writing time, aaah. Sleeeeep. 😀