Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day in Panajachel

This morning we woke up & enjoyed a peaceful time kayaking on Lake Atitlan. Mom spotted a ¨porpoise¨ (in other parts of the world, it´s known as a buoy), a shoe she tried to get me to pick up, as well as a basketball that she wanted to take back with us to try to sell. Oh, the things that float in beautiful Lago Atitlan after a rainstorm.

We then made our way to a nature reserve where we enjoyed a long nature walk thru the jungle in the rain. We crossed rushing mountain streams (which Mom fearlessly & nimbly hopped across...leaving me with knocking knees fearful of going downstream over the waterfall only a foot away) and slid on the muddy trails. We watched a spider monkey play in the rain by swinging back and forth by each of his arms, then his tail, just trying to see how high he could get himself. We were quite tickled by his antics. Speaking of being tickled...last night over dinner I think we both had tears in our eyes when mom pointed out one of the chicken dishes on the menu was ¨the juicy breast of a big and obese chicken.¨

So, as we are getting ourselves ticked again at the thought of obese chickens, I will sign off so we can enjoy what little day light we still have (despite the rain)

Tikal - I visited on Monday before flying to Guatemala City & then on to Antigua where I met up with Mom.

Mom yesterday (Tuesday) in the Solola Market.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Waiting out the Rain in Panajachel

Today was a pretty mellow day. Mom & I got up around 6:30am & left Antigua around 8.30am. After about 2 hours we made it to the lake-side town of Solola where it was market day. It was so colorful; all the women have amzingly intricate blouses; each embroideried with more colors than I ever imagined existed, and they even braid colored ribbons into their braids that snake down their backs. They are all so beautiful, especially because they are so quick to smile. The market was a sensory overload with sights, smells, sounds & the touch of hundreds of people touching as you squeeze past each other. Dried fish, grains, fruits, underwear, vegetables, flowers, padlocks, crocodile meat (a first for me), live chickens, dead chickes, live turkeys, old-school water-bird-whistles (which of course I had to buy b-c I´d not seen one of those since I was little), corn on the cob, women making tortillas, soap, buckets, string, batteries, strawberries, and SO much more.

We had a bit of a corn overload for lunch in the market. We bought corn tortillas (freshly made & still warm of course), corn tamales (with a mystery meat inside) and corn on the cob (with lime & salt). Needless to say I think we may have overloaded on it a bit early in the trip, as I have a feeling many days of corn are still ahead.

We are now sitting in an internet cafe and have been for a while. I wish I could record the sound of the thunder booming and the rain pouring. It is coming down in buckets...and being the bad daughter that I am, I forgot to tell Mom it si the rainy season in Guatemala right now...oops, so she didn´t bring a raincoat. We were walking to find a particular restaurant & got caught in the here we sit instead. There are little tuk-tuks all over Guatemala, and this town is no different, so we may just jump in one of those after running across the street to a little pizzeria.

We are in Panajachel, a town that sits on Lake Atitilan (said to be the most beautiful lake in all of Central America). The lake is surrounded by 3 volcanos which makes for a magnificent landscape. I am hoping that the rain will bring in white puffy clouds & bright blue skies in the morning. We plan on renting kayaks to explore the lake, and hopefully hiking to a nature reserve that used to be a coffee plantation. However, we really have no back-up plans for pouring rain. I know we definately won´t venture onto the lake if it is as stormy as it is now- that´s a lightening strike waiting to happen.

So, I will sign off for now - the growl of our stomachs is making us not care about the pouring rain.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Floatin' Down the River

I'm in Belize, waiting for a cab to take me into town where I hope to enjoy a casual and inexpensive dinner.
I spent the day out & about. I did a zip line & went cave tubing. The second photo is where we put our innertubes into the water but this photo does not do the water color justice; the cave tubing was just jaw-droppingly beautiful at times. It was a little creepier than I remembered (I'd done a shorter version of it years ago in Mexico) but I soon got over that...well, not really, but it wasn't THAT creepy. It was peaceful and relaxing. Floating along a river on an innertube...having jungle all around when not in a cave-what a great way to spend a Sunday.
The zip lining was not nearly as exciting as I'd hoped. It was fun, but did not feel as "adventurous" as I'd expected. I think I need to head to Costa Rica & try one that is REALLY high & long.

Tomorrow I head to Tikal & then in the evening board a flight in Flores to go to Guatemala City. I will then go about 30 minute to Antigua where I will meet Mom. I'm looking forward to traveling with her.
So, I'm off to dinner for now. Thanks for all the "happy travel" messages!!

****Later this evening***

I finally got the photos up for you, though they are now on top of what I wrote before dinner.

I got into the cab to head into town & was completely transported into my dreamy world of travel; "real travel." The windows were down, my arm was laying on old, dirty foam where the pleather had come off the armrest & the the muffler sounded like it would come off on every corner - I always realized that nighttime is one of my favorite times to travel when I'm in another country. You're forced to rely on your other senses because you can't visually soak in everything you're passing. Instead I have to close my eyes & make little places in my memory to store the smells of dirt, smoke, families cooking & the sounds of the passing trucks, rivers running under the bridges, the squeak of the car as we go over one of the hundres of speed bumps. Traveling with windows open, multitudes of talismans swaying on the rearview mirror & bad music playing on the radio; that's what I remember most about my journeys - not the air-conditioned vehicle that I'm transported around in, or the restaurant that could be down the block from me back in NY.
Well, I'm signing off for the evening, as there is a new book & a box of cookies waiting in my room for me. :) Yes, I doesn't replace a man in my room waiting for me, but it sure is still nice & a girl's gotta make do with what she has. :)

Going to bed for the last night under a Belizean Sky - Steph

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hovering over Central Park

In celebration of 150 year since Olmstead designed Central Park, they have had a hot air balloon ride in Central Park.  You pay $25 for a 10 minute ride up to see the city from the middle of one of the world's greatest parks; a unique vantage point.  Well...I've been putting this off for a month now; "Oh, I'll go when it's cooler", "Oh, I'll go when it's not so close to the weekend", etc.  So, I decided today was the day (and because it ends tomorrow).  I got up early, ran a couple of early morning errands & made my way to Central Park to take a ride before work; a great way to start an ordinary day, right?! 
I got there at 9am & found that it was already a 5-hour wait.  I spoke with a woman who was just leaving the ride with her son & she was telling me how great it was.  I asked her when she got there & she said 6am! , even arriving at 6am, it took her 3 hours.  Because tomorrow is the last day, the operators were saying that we should arrive no later than 5am & even then we'd have a wait (the first ride isn't until 7am).  So, I think I missed my chance of seeing the city from a hot air balloon in the middle of Central Park.  So, since I saved $25 by not going up...I treated myself to a LARGE, skim-milk, iced, decaf, sugar-free-vanilla cappuccino - with extra foam (yes, I's the only part of my life in which I'm really high-maintenance).  :)

Natural History Museum Subway Stop

I love that some of the subway stops are pertinent to their location.  This is the Natural History Museum stop. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Hampshire

This past weekend was the memorial "party" for Drew's mother, Lee Robertson.  Though I only met Lee a handful of times, I felt like I knew her well after hearing Mel's stories of her on a regular basis over the past 5 years.  All of the stories were very fun & spirited; full of life.  One of my favorite memories was a winter day in our Andean Treks office, Mel, Peter & I were working away as any other day.  Lee sent Melissa an email that said "What retirees do in New Hampshire on a snow day."  Attached to the email was a photo of the Lee & Struan barreling down the snowy hills on inner-tubes, laughing themselves silly.  

She will be missed, but her zest for life is something that will linger for those that knew her well & those of us who knew her less.  
I think this photo of her is just amazing!

Lake Winnipesaukee
Sunday, August 17
Mel, Arty, Jody & Jackson

Walking from the Robertson house to the lake.
Drew, Mel, Jen, Arty & Jody

Monday, August 11, 2008

I LOVE this photo of Jack.  It's in the current GQ issue.  
Go Jack, Go Jack, Go Go Go Jack...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It Happened One Night

I just watched "It Happened One Night" for the first time & was completely enthralled.  It was a fun addition to my evening & a great way to wind down the weekend.  

I particularly liked when Ellie (Claudette Colbert) asked Peter (Clark Gable) if he ever dreams of meeting a woman.  His reply was perfect & one that I know is still in the hearts of adventurous, honest,  easy-laughing, loyal & single men in the world; 

"She'd have to be the sort of girl who'd jump into the surf with me and love it as much as I did.  You know; nights when you and the moon and the water all become one and you feel you're part of something big & marvelous.  That's the only place to live - where the stars are so close over your head you feel you could reach up and stir 'em around.  Certainly I've been thinking about it...  Boy if I could find a girl that was hungry for those things..." 

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Summer in the City

Today is another gorgeous day in the city.  Big, puffy, white clouds float across the bright blue sky and the temperature is perfect at 82.

I got to see my friend Jack's new condo this afternoon.  It was so nice to get to spend time with an old friend.  I'm so excited for him & all that is going for him.  From his place I wandered the UWS & stopped by my friend Roma's booth to see if she'd want to get dinner tonight.  So, it's been a perfect mixture of great company & down time today.  I'm excited to enjoy a good meal out this evening. 
I enjoyed an outdoor concert at Lincoln Center last night.  The performers were Burkino (as in Faso) Electric; a completely unique mix of electronica & West African traditional music.  There were a couple of pieces that were a bit annoying / "out there", but the others were great.  It was a cool & breezy evening & a perfect way to end the work week.
After the show, I justified getting a frozen yogurt by walking the 40 blocks home.  

It was an easy going, low-key evening that I loved.  

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Questions from Nisha

So, my friend Nisha sent out a mass email to friends & at the end she said "I look forward to hearing from each of you. If you're not sure what to write, how about answering these:" & then she listed the following questions.  I thought it would be fun t answer them on here.

I'd love to hear your replies to these questions.

What has your favorite experience of 2008 been? 

Fulfilling my dream of moving to New York; experiencing the city on a daily basis and feeling completely at home here.

Who has been someone you met this year who intrigued you the most? 

My friend Roma intrigues me because she escapes all stereotypes & I’ve yet to really figure her out.  I don’t know why I feel the need to “box” her into a pre-packaged person in my mind.  I guess it’s because I just never know what to expect from her & I’m trying to control my surroundings.

What new discovery have you made about yourself this year?

I’ve finally come to the realization that my best work comes from having clear directions and goal-oriented tasks.  I need to have something to mark off a list or something to show for the work in the end.  I don’t do well with open-ended assignments.  

Where did you last have a memorable meal?

An Argentine steak restaurant called La Rural on Amsterdam & has the dreamiest steak & garlic fries (and great sangria)...with a delectable dolce leche crepe to end the meal.   The crepe seriously tastes like the most perfectly browned marshmallow that’s been slowly turned over an open fire with the greatest attention.  It’s as if someone bottled the taste of toasted-on-the-verge-of-burnt-but-just-perfect marshmallows & they use just a couple drops of the essence.

When did you last laugh till your side was in stitches? What made you laugh?  I know I have a more recent episode of laughter...matter of a fact I had a good laugh with Melodie last night...the conversation went from getting on the “stomach flu diet” to my planning on licking subway poles to get whatever sickness I could to help me get rid of excess fat...but that wasn’t quite to the side-stitches (that sounds pathetic...but I think it was one of those “you had to be there” things).  Anyway...back to the side stitches...the one that makes me laugh just thinking of it is from a little ways back...and I feel a little guilty about it...because it’s at someone else’s expense, and bless his little heart, I hope he never finds out.  It’s Melodie’s nephew’s school picture from a year or two ago (yes Lesley...if you read this, I’m still waiting on one of these for Christmas or my birthday).  The other one is of my dad yelling “I’m going to ring this thing until the cows come home” at the triathlon that Mom & I were participating in.  I’m happy to tell the whole story of my dad humiliating himself some time if you wish.

How's your family?

My family is doing very well.  My couple of months in & out of Indiana between Boston & New York really brought me closer to my parents.  I talk with them on a very regular basis, whereas there were times in Boston that we could go weeks with no communication.  Now we talk at least every 2 or 3 days.  I really like having them as close friends.  

Also, they have friends who’ve recently & tragically lost family members, as have I & I think this has brought the three of us to acknowledge how lucky we are to still have each other.  We cherish each other by keeping in touch and sharing our love for one another & recognize that we never know when one of us may not be here; we make sure we have no regrets or words unsaid.  

Past Travels

Cuzco, Peru
I've been going through some of my favorite travel photos from years past & came across this one.  Even though it was taken by Fart-Bart, I still love it...I think it is such a dreamy image of a dreamy city.

Here are some other favorites...and I will add more later...

Santa Catalina Convent Arequipa, Peru

Freshly showered & feeling good after the trek - Marrakech at Night

Ait Benhaddou - Maroc

Fes Tannery

Casablanca, Maroc
This was my last night - I was so tired but happy & lovin' my henna from Marrakech.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I'm going through books so quickly since I ride the subway for an hour a day.  I'd love to hear of any "must reads" you could suggest.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Few of my Favorite Things

Spicy Basil Noodles

The little Thai restaurant 2 blocks from my apartment

I'm officially addicted; headphones stuck to the sides of my head & jumpin' around the studio.  Gotta love 'em even more since they're from Colorado.

The multitudes of Flower Vendors just steps from my front door.

The Flowers I buy from those lovely vendors.

St. Germain Elderflower Liquor
Another addiction...hoping I won't have to seek help for it.  This is the greatest addition to a regular gin & tonic, or just alone with tonic.

The new couch

So yeah, I have a studio and in this little studio I have a bed, a table, chairs, a computer, a tv, and now a couch. It is not as crowded as I had imagined, though these photos make it look crowded. I have not figured out what I'm going to do with the 3 rolling "box-tables" that I have. I know at least one of them will go into a closet & hold my art stuff. So, that will eliminate some of the clutter you see in the photos.
I'm happy with my place. I feel really at home here.

Blogging 101

I just hung up with Melodie & was inspired to create my own blog.  I'd looked at blogs of her friends & was blown away.  All of these women who were blogging are mothers!  Looking at the details involved in their blogs, I couldn't imagine having the time to set everything up & I have no children or spouse to work around either.

So, I've decided to give it a go.  I have been trying to document my first year in NYC with photos & short journal entries, but what better way than to just blog?

It feels a little egocentric considering I have no children to praise or be proud of...but I will document my time regardless.

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