Aloha from Sicily!
Friday, April 24, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
The island of Sicily teaches many secrets and truths. Here's one.
No matter what anyone tells you, life can go in many directions. There is no one way sign.
No matter how hopeless it feels, we're still making wishes. And when one light flickers out(I accidentally turned off someone's prayer light while trying to ignite my own! Egads.), three more flicker on.
It's okay to walk on. Don't be frightened of abandoned suitcases. They're rarely ever bombs.
The water is never as calm as it appears.
And in the struggle between the rock and the river, the river wins as it carves out channels and forges a path where there was none before.
And in the end, all that matters are the many friends who held your hand along the way.
I guess you could say that Istanbul was our farewell tour in Europe. My travels on this part of the world have included Denmark, France, England, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Hungary, Austria, Germany and now Turkey. As a college student backpacking thru Europe, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I'd find myself living in Europe for three and a half years.
Even as charming as Europe will always be to me, I can feel the tug of the tropics at my heart. And I noticed my own energy of change reflecting back in my photos. The things that once charmed me in every city no longer do - the big bling churches or the mile-long museums.
What captivates me now are simpler moments like a cat swaggering through a bustling marketplace. A bird playing in the rain. An amusing sign. Or pet food sold in barrels.
Funny how things change.
An ancient underground water reservoir from around 500 AD. Discovered in the mid '50s when an archaeologist noticed that locals were dropping buckets through holes in the ground and catching fish. The site was then excavated. Beautifully lit and remarkable acoustics. One of my favorite places in Europe.
Istanbul - Aya Sofia
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 08, 2009
We admit it. We're virgins! This was our first trip to Africa, first Muslim country and first third world country.
We were advised to go with a tour group. But tour group travel is annoying. So we tried to talk friends in to going with us. No luck. So we went on our own.
We'd done Munich, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and much of western Europe and we're craving something more exotic where the dollar is worth something.
We quickly learned to never judge a Muslim unless you've experienced a Muslim country. Moroccans were kind, honest, gentle and never once ripped us off. On the other hand, we could talk your ear off on how many times Romans tried to rip us off not a mile from the Vatican.
It's true what everyone says. Casablanca's an armpit. But we had great experiences there anyway. We had our first traditional hammam experience. About 2 and half hours (for $30) we were boiled, scrubbed in black soap, wet massaged, steamed, scoured, wrapped in bonafida sea sludge and bossed around while naked by big, burly Moroccan women. It's very humbling to be perched on a marble stoop in a steam room naked while they wash your hair and dump buckets of hot water over your head. We were thoroughly beat up and loved every moment of it!
Hawaii haunts us everywhere we go!
The Casablanca-to-Marrakech train system works beautifully. In my imagination on overdrive I expected to be packed into a cargo car with farmers and goats. Instead, it was safe, clean and efficient with no real difference between first and second class except for price.
The terracotta-colored countryside was impressive. And funny to watch donkeys and oxen trotting down Morocco's new, modern highways....
After the three-hour train ride to Marrakech, we were awestruck during the drive from the train station to the hotel. There were wide-paved streets lined with palms, and Vegas style hotels. After dingy Casablanca and the cobblestone streets of Sicily, we felt a surge of joy at something American-esque...
...that fled quickly when then the luxury van stopped and deposited us at what looked like a beat down village entrance - a narrow dusty alleyway with chickens on carts and donkeys standing about. Our luggage was placed in a homemade wooden wheel barrow and we were instructed to follow the toothless Moroccan - and keep up! - as he hustled his way through a labyrinth of musty and narrow passages and alleys, merchants and mayhem.
We were practically jogging to keep up with the toothless man with the wheelbarrow.
At this point, Rob was about to FREAK.
I didn't know what to be more scared of - where we were being led to or what Rob would do when we got there. Everyone looked like Bin Laden's brother, and I tried to assure him this was going to be fine.
After what seemed like an eternity in the maze of corridors, we stopped in front of a totally spooky doorway that looked like it was built for a short ogre or a really tall dwarf....and out pops a Frenchman welcoming us to the Riad Magellan. Through the doorway was a breathtaking home - complete with a trickling courtyard fountain full of floating rose petals.
We had arrived!
I loved worming our way through the dusty streets of Marrakech - being amongst the donkeys and the ladies dressed in their beautiful burkas. Every which way you turn there's something stunning to see - it's a city full of hope, desperation, ancient charm, peaceful resignation...and most of all hard, hard work.