Sunday, September 13, 2015

My Love Affair with the South of France

“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.” ― Isabelle Eberhardt

I must finally admit to my ongoing love affair with the South of France.

I'm in love with it's colors, its fragrance, its allure.
I long for it, miss it, dream of it.
I long for the colors, the air, the sound of the language, the food, the outdoor cafes, and the beautiful people.
But most of all, I long for the sea.
La Mer.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku, Azerbaijan
With just two days to decide before leaving for Europe last August, I accepted this 3 month teaching job in Azerbaijan. When I tell people where I was, it usually doesn't register.  So here's a map.  Surrounded by Russia, Georgia, Armenia (with whom they have an ongoing conflict), Turkey, and Iran, and bordered on the East by the Caspian Sea.

The government of Azerbaijan has invested a great deal of money into building a modern city capable of attracting tourists and businesses.  Besides the Heyday Aliyev building shown above which was designed by Iraqi-British architect, Zaha Hadid, and which spells out the name of the former president when viewed from above). My other favorite in Baku are the Flame Towers, a set of three towering structures designed to resemble flames.  These towers are made to light up at night as if aflame.  Baku, the city of fire.  

Last, but not least, was my job in Baku.  Working with teachers and students from Khazar University.  

Some of my lovely teachers/students at Khazar University

Monday, February 17, 2014

Another Year, Another Adventure

Leaving Bora Bora Christmas Eve 2013

Bora Bora! Whenever I tell someone I just went there, I have to laugh, because it just seems too crazy, too wild, too...? What? You went to Bora Bora? By yourself? For two weeks? That's crazy! And it was. I didn't plan it for months in advance. I planned it one week before leaving, a weird spontaneous decision, an I-have-to-get-out-of-town decision, a push-the-button-on- decision. And there I was, December, leaving Seattle to LA, LA to Tahiti, Tahiti to Bora Bora. 19 hours and a very bumpy flight. From freezing in Seattle to I've-got-to-get-these-socks-off-before-I-suffocate-in-the-heat Tahiti airport. 

I love that I did it. It was beautiful, hot, relaxing, sometimes lonely and dream-like, but well worth every penny I spent.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Power to the Journey

India:  Chennai, Delhi, Kochin, Pondicherry, Tricky, Coimbatore, Mysore, Bangalore, Agra

Thailand: Koh Samui

Sri Lanka 

Spain: Mallorca, Barcelona 

France: Nice, Monaco, Grasse, Villefranche-sur-Mer, St. Jean-Cap Ferat, Cannes, Menton, Antibes

Life is full of adventures, some great and some small.  All begin with a dream.  Some change en route.  Bad things happen.  In the end, there is always a reward:  another room in the soul, another set of memories, a fuller heart.  It's wonderful to go home again, to friends and family, to our "stuff."  To rest and regroup.  To take out the bucket list and check things off.  To let the next dream be born.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. 

T.S. Eliot 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Carnaval de Nice 2012: Bataille des Fleurs

Battle of the Flowers, a parade along the Promenade d'Anglais, along the Baie des Anges.  Wonderful costumes and floats created with flowers, lovely women tossing out mimosa branches to the crowds, hundreds of tourists and locals lining the street, a camera in every hand, winter sunshine.  It's crazy to land in Nice for Carnaval by accident.  Most of the people here have been planning this for months, no doubt.  And my apartment is on Place Massena, again not by design, but right in the heart of Carnaval.

These were my favorite costumes, the pink flamingos

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Carnaval de Nice 2012

Last night was the opening night of Carnaval de Nice, 15 days of festivities & parades.  Thousands of people have descended on Nice in the last few days to take part, changing it from a quiet seaside village into a city teeming with tourists.

At one point in the festivities last night, there were spectacular fireworks in and around the Fontaine du Soleil in the central plaza, with the fireworks breaking behind the fountain's statue of Apollo, giving it the look of hell-fire and brimstone, the four horses on top of the statue's head like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The theme of Carnaval this year is the King of Sport (Le Roi du Sport), promoting Nice as a tourist mecca for all kinds of sporting activities, from skiing to sailing.  The giant floats represent the King and Queen of Carnaval.  The King has a rather creepy visage, staring down at the crowds with crazy, psychotic eyes that actually turn. Scared me.  

This comes close to my image of hell, Satan coming with his evil grin, people screaming, running, smoke in the air

There were three huge balloons that lifted off with beautiful girl gymnasts attached who performed, music accompanying them (Alanis Morisette's Uninvited, etc), in the dark plaza, shadows reflecting off the nearby buildings.  Stunning.  Captivating.

Towards then end of the act, a confetti machine spewed out these paper snowflakes making the whole scene even more spectacular.

History of Carnaval
The Lenten period of the Liturgical year Church calendar, being the six weeks directly before Easter, was marked by fasting and other pious or penitential practices. Traditionally during Lent, no parties or other celebrations were held, and people refrained from eating rich foods, such as meat, dairy, fats and sugar. The forty days of Lent, recalling the Gospel accounts of the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, serve to mark an annual time of turning. In the days before Lent, all rich food and drink had to be disposed of. The consumption of this, in a giant party that involved the whole community, is thought to be the origin of Carnival.