Thursday, August 30, 2007


I do believe that this is Groenland...REAL ICEBERGS!!

The stage of "Poeta a Nueva York" (too bad I wasn't allowed to take photos during the action...)

This is the view from the Jose Guerrero gallery in Granada...I liked the floors, stairs and benches almost as much as the art!

The Alhambra - some incredible detail.

Yours truly in her summer dress!

Well, this is it. I'm signing off.
I've come back into Vancouver, welcomed by mountains, green, and sun. (and Stina's wonderful self at the airport!)

My last few days in Spain were heavenly. Andrew and I went to a show "Poeta a Nueva York" in the Alhambra outdoor theatre in Granada (quite a bit like malkin bowl, actually). It was a dance production based on Frederico Garcia Lorca's impressions of New York in the early 1930s. It definitely ranks in my top three awesome times in Spain...and actually, I found myself thinking about a course in French contemporary theatre that I took...learned about the "purpose" of theatre. And as I realised that my heart was fully engaged in the spectacle, I understood what all that talk about catharsis and importance of live art was all about.
ANYWAYS, Granada speaks my language. I will go back!

The flights were uneventful, I met interesting people, and slept fitfully in the Gatwick airport overnight (that makes all three London airports that I've crashed!)

But let me tell you how beautiful it is to be here...and how unexpected it is that I'm so overjoyed. I'm grateful! Nothing better than coming back happily and willingly!

Thank you to those of you who kept me company through this latest journey - communicating with you over the internet is something that I wasn't able to relinquish. (though giving up the cell phone was GREAT!) And I just feel so glad to have an outlet for these vignettes!

Until next time :)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tom Waits and Malegueta

Laying on the beach in Malaga like a lizard, roasting, flipping, roasting...eating melty chocolate cookies...and listening to Tom Waits...mmmmm YES!

It´s been a beautiful thing, coming to Spain, and meeting up with Andrew Dong.

I met my ghost last night. In this plaza...where I have been 5 years ago with Emma...
And 5 years ago, as I filled in the last pages of my journal at the time, I wrote that I´d come back here to live.
And I still feel the same way! This place has a magnetism about it. I mean, maybe not the city...maybe it´s the people, or the language...both of which are beautiful.
(really - Spanish people are beautiful)

I´m not finding it difficult to adjust to this western lifestyle again. Perhaps it´s because I wasn´t gone for long enough.

Back home in 5 has started to creep into my consciousness...but diligently working on pushing it out...not yet!!

I miss India though. And I feel like I´ll have to go back...I´m so glad, though, to know it a little...and have it live in my head and heart as it will...

See you soon!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Wasting time in Delhi

Hanging out in a lovely airconditioned internet place in Paharganj...darn it's hot hot hot and humid here! I'm caked in a layer of grime that I haven't been able to shake yet...waiting for my train to Varanasi...
Sooooo here're some photos!

The Tibetan cook at Rizong gompa, he fed us tea and Tsampa...a thick, filling raw dough.

This little girl watched me get ready for the day...studied the teeth brushing...the packing up...the eating...she asked me for a pen, I didn't have an extra, so I gave her a sleeping mask from the plane. She seemed pleased. (this was a family house that I stayed in during the "baby trek")

To protect from the sun. And what a lovely way to do it!

Yep, still me. On a walk in Diskit...through lovely fields. Post Dalai Lama teachings face.

Can you spot the three foreigners?? This is in Diskit, on the way to the gompa, after the Dalai Lama's teachings. Damian (one half of the lovely french couple that I tripped around with) is wearing the guesthouse father's traditional outfit. This was a BIG hit with the locals!!

The top of Namgyal Tsemo Gompa in Leh.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Road to Manali

I have a 'feeling picture' to share with you from my ride from Leh to Manali. (I wrote this in the jeep - very bumpy. Very illegible writing)

The mountains surrounding me on all sides are coated in short green grass, speckled with hardy wildflowers and slabs of rock. I imagine this is what Ireland looks like, less the jagged peaks and occasional distant glacier.
It's nearing sunset, the sky is a persistent blue, and white clouds play hide and seek around the mountain tops.
Looking up the side of the mountain I spot horses grazing. I look over the other shoulder and I'm confronted by an ever deepening valley.

A smile sits on my face, punctuated by wonder, gratitude and joy. I feel hopeful.

I'm in love with this planet. I'm in love with this life.

I wish I could bottle this up and send it to you!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Last days in Leh

"A man walks down the street
it's a street in a strange world.
Maybe it's the third world
maybe it's his first time around.
Doesn't speak the language, and he holds no currency.
He is a foreign man.
He is surrounded by sound
Cattle in the marketplace, scatterings and orphanages.
He looks around
He sees angels in the architecture - spinning in infinity.
He says 'hey! Hallelujah!'"

100 'awesome points' go to anyone who knows who sings this.
Answers must be submitted by August 30th, and you will be sent your complimentary 'awesome gift' within the following two weeks.

But really, actually - this song has left an imprint in my imagination for many years now. And I think I'm the closest I've ever been to finding this place. To being there.
Less the angels in the architecture. Unless Buddhas count.

I've just returned to Leh from walking. I started feeling concerned that I don't have much time left in India (I have...9 days - but travel between here and Varanasi will take me 2.5 days there...and one day back)...and wrapping things up here...Anyways, I was feeling like I have no time.
And then life just sort of goes - and I can worry all I like, but things work out perfectly. The way they should.

I caught the bus today from Rizong to Leh (I ended up walking with a Spanish man - 54 yrs old...full of energy. We walked from Likkir, but we started quite late, and so ended up staying in a family's home about an hour away from our destination - Yangthang. I shared a room with the aunt)...anyways, we made it the next morning, and then made the walk to Rizong monastery - BEAUTIFUL walk.
I caught the bus back and rode on the roof - this was so very local. I was joined shortly by the same family that I rode up to Likkir with! We shared apricots, peas, cookies...and we all had to squish back into the bus before we entered Leh was perfect.

Dad gets married today! (though I don't miss being home, I think about home quite a bit. What constitutes my ordinary life, I suppose. The foundation for this current fling!)

Anyways, I'm having a heck of a time trying to book this train ticket to Varanasi. Jeepers! Gotta go sort this out.

Best to you.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Enfin, des photos!

A man spinning the prayer wheels. You must do this in a clockwise direction. You also must walk around holy monuments in a clockwise direction - even if they're in the middle of the street. Akin to our aversion to walking under ladders.

View of the sunset from the roof of the guesthouse. Yes, I was the crazy woman on the roof.

Most of the guesthouse fam. Mother, Nilsa and I. Lovely!

(I've been speaking french lots these days. So now in my head is a meli-melo of language and expression)

This is purely for photo's sake.
To Nubra valley tomorrow morning at 5:30! Hurrah!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Mandala in Lamayuru

Oh hello dear folk.

I've just returned from a brief trip to Lamayuru where mostly I just hung out in the monastery.
I walked in after the very intense busride and saw a group of monks preparing a mandala. I've never seen this, though I've heard - it's an incredibly colourful and careful process.
I sat and watched them for nearly two hours, listening to the rattle and shake of the knives on the instrument that drops the pigment...and the hum and murmur from the monks in prayer at my back. It was a truly beautiful moment.
I was offered tea, and snacks, and friendship (it's true! one monk, Gyatso, asked me "will you be my friend?") Well OKAY!
So I was given a tour of the two other temples followed by milk tea and apricots.
I went back this morning for the 7am puja and had breakfast with them.

The busride back to Leh rattled my sense of calm...what with the NARROW escapes from CERTAIN DEATH on the mountainside by ONCOMING TRAFFIC. Jeepers. But it turns out that that's just the way it's done. So suck it up, Princess.

Anyways, I had a lot of time to think on that there bus, and realised something. I am, in fact, a walking contradiction. (isn't that a cheesy punk rock song?)

I love talking to people. Sharing stories. Smiling, and being a 'regular'.
I love being anonymous. Being quiet.

I love having a home-base. Somewhere to return to. A family to be accountable to.
I love arriving one day and leaving the next. No questions asked.

I love sharing an adventure. Making a shared story.
I love the solitude and autonomy of adventuring alone.

Now, I suppose that none of these things have to be exclusive of the other. They just highlight this need for an equilibrium. To know which route is appropriate for the moment. I am surprised, though, to feel anti-social at all. I know it will pass - probably has something to do with the smelly, shaky busride.

(that being said - I love your emails, please to be keeping them coming!)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Willie Nelson and Momos

I was sitting in a Tibetan cafe yesterday for lunch, and I think that, in honor of my american-seeming presence, the waiter threw on some real homestyle music. Just a little Willie Nelson. Really, who can go wrong?

Let me tell you that it brought a smile to this face! REALLY incongruous...sitting down eating Momos (these potsticker kinda things) and watching Ladakhis and tourists walk by to the sweet strumming of old timer country. Love-ly.

I'm still in Leh - loving it. Actually being a total brat and holidaying it up! I walk a lot, and sit and watch a lot. I was going to be heading to the Nubra valley tomorrow, but instead have been offered a ride (free!) with the father of the guest house - cause he's going up as well (I think to see the Dalai Lama also?).
So I'll take the ride!

Shopping for gifts here is a total nightmare and the only kink in my otherwise peaceful time. I think I'm being consistently overcharged, even when I talk them down 2000 rupees! Exhausting. Oh well, c'est la vie!

I'm realising how busy my "regular" life is: and how nice it is to simply wander, and talk, and write aimlessly. Maybe I'll keep this calm. That would be nice!
(maybe someone can remind me of this in late September?)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Full moon and the Dalai Lama

Today is the full moon and tomorrow the Dalai Lama will come through town. The roads are buzzing with activity!
The family that runs the guesthouse has just repainted their outside wall, and the mother was out yesterday sweeping the streets with her neighbours. People have built offering stands at the side of the road: made from mud bricks with a hollow cone perched on top in order to house the incense and offerings.
The Dalai Lama will be teaching for two days in Diskit and Nubra, so I think I'll follow him there (the 7-8th)...which means that I'll be doing a small "two day trek through roadless villages" tomorrow. Hah! I just drafted a rough sketch of a schedule and have realised (again) that time just won't stay put!

It's only been just over a week since I've been in India, and I feel like I've lived at least three. Leh has been wonderful, I've met some beautiful people (I'll post photos when I get back into a city) and I've seen so many beautiful places!

I was feeling conflicted the other day: do I see as much as I can? or do I take it easy and travel slower...missing out on variety, but increasing in quality (maybe?).
Nilsa, the daughter of the guesthouse family tells me I think too much.
It's true.

I've since decided that I'll just go where I want when it feels right - and make an agreement with myself not to feel regretful if I go home feeling like I haven't seen enough. Because the truth is I will never see everything. So - it's about quality. I'll just have to follow my gut.

SO the plan as it stands is to go do this walk from Likkir to Tsamisgang, then head to the Nubra Valley, then to the Dah Hanoo Valley...then back to Leh, and then to Varanasi.

So far, as of today, that's where it lays. But I'm not silly enough to think that this won't change! So voila.

And on to the next thing - the sankar gompa, and then a lecture at the ecological society. (very cool! ecological society, and Ladhaki women's alliance - free lectures! sweet!)

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I'm in Leh, and I love love love it!
So much so, that when I arrived at my guesthouse yesterday morning at 7am, I nearly cried with joy.
The family that runs the guesthouse is so wonderful, and the other guests are quiet, but friendly.
The Leh people (hah! get it? laymen?, we can blame this on altitude sickness) ...are very friendly. People smile in the streets, and say "ju-leh" to say hello, goodbye and thank you! How efficient!

I'm so so happy. I left this morning at 6 to see the monasteries in the region and sat in on a buddhist puja - this was beautiful. The young monks, old monks, all the monks were there. Very cool. But also kind of strange to sit in on something that I don't understand. Different than just going to Catholic mass and not being catholic. Though I've talked to some locals, and they think there's no problem with this.

Anyways, I'm going to be brief as the internet's expensive, and the streets are calling!

I love this life!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Swing of things

Venita and I : we really WERE there!

Okay, so they caught me not-so-surreptitiously taking their picture...

The Taj Mahal herself

2nd day dinner - a rather nice restaurant, and a cocktail each...the lap of luxury.

Monsoon season, yes.

A tomb at Qutb Minar, a Moghul construction from the 10th century (I think!)

Lunch with Sanjay and Shekhar (?), friends through a friend in Vancouver - LUCKY!

The view from the hotel on my first morning.


London is ridiculously expensive. But oh so so cool to lunch it with the Al girl.

4th day in Delhi and I think we're starting to manage our sanity...the first couple of days were rife with highs and lows! The constant honking of the cars now makes some sense (after driving for 6 hours to and from Agra, I've realised that there IS a significant use for the horn...believe it or not, it's all about safety!)
Delhi is also full of smell - not lovely foody smell, but rank, damp, pollution-y smells. And the bitch face that I have to wear in the streets to avoid the constant offers of rickshaw drivers, tourist information people, acrobatic children...well, it can get a gal down!

But we've found the metro, which is such a wonderful thing. No haggling, no worries about being taken to some shop instead of to your destination - aaaah independance. It's helped a lot.

So we saw the Taj Mahal yesterday - it is a beautiful thing. It's very busy with other tourists (mostly other Indian tourists) but it's got a kind of quiet in it. Probably because everyone needs to pay entrance, and so there are no beggars, or hawkers. Elitist, I know.
But we were asked often if we'd pose in pictures with people - and mostly Venita. We found out that it's because she's Chinese looking! This is a funny thing, we're like a freakshow! Good thing Venita's got the whole "don't bother me" thing going on - I'm learning a lot from this girl!

So in two days I'm going to be in Leh, where the air will be drier, and cooler, I think. I'm very looking forward to this! It turns out also that the Dalai Lama will be there on the 31st as well, which is just so perfect.

I realise here (and often) that I'm such a blessed, blessed person. That I'm here, that I'm well, that I can move around...

I was reading the Hindustani Times this morning and read an article about a 4 year old boy who uses a catheter from his bladder while he's waiting for an operation. He's just been kicked out of his school by the administration because he scares the other children.

This has me reeling. And this is why I'm here. Because these things DO happen. And I know I can't just come in here with my sheltered, Canadian privileged-girl culture and expect to come up with a solution. But at least I can think about these things, and question these things...

Woh. It's going to be a lot of processing over the next weeks.

At any rate, it's been amazing. And I've laughed and high-fived and sung in the streets. La vie est belle!

Until next time!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Kites over Delhi

Sunset on our hotel's patio, and all you see are these wildly fluttering kites swooping over the city's rooftops.

It's hot, and muggy, but I don't feel bothered by it surprisingly. Maybe it's because I'm still living in the travelling half-world - mildly stunned by planes, trains and automobiles.

I spent lunch with Allison in London yesterday, it was a beautiful thing! (and WAY too expensive!)
I'm still reeling over the fact that it's possible to hop across the globe incrementally, though quickly!
A totally uneventful flight to Delhi was welcome, and meeting Venita at the airport definitely ranks as one of today's top threes!

Delhi's not overwhelming like I had imagined it would - I mean, don't get me wrong, it's chaotic, bustling, smelly and people-full...but it reminds me so much of the Bourj in Beirut that it's almost comforting. This is not to say, however, that I'm not looking forward to moving it up north.

Okay, to dinner.

HURRAY for this life!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The countdown's ON!

Two sleeps!
And I haven't got NEARLY enough done!
I just wanted to lay down the first few words before I head out...I'm feeling...nervous, and excited, and overwhelmed.
I realised just two nights ago that I AM in fact going - I did it! ME! And that this experience will become part of my story. MINE!

It's also ridiculously good timing, since the community centre will, in all likelihood, be going on strike.

So here's to the next two sleeps, the marathon of preparation ahead, and the beautiful faces that I'll see before I leave.


ps. Below this posting are entries from previous adventures: Down the coast in winter 06, and Lebanon in winter 05. Just to avoid confusion!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Unintentionalized in Seattle

That's right. I made that word into a verb. We were unintentionally lost in Everett, and unintentionally ended up where we had initially intended to have dinner (in Seattle)! We unintentionally decided to come back home after Angie (my friend whose house we were intending to crash at) had JUST arrived in Seattle to live - she was in the process of settling into her new home, and so we thought that the extra 2.5 hour drive might just be worth the trouble!

So without trouble, we've arrived safely, and soundly (less Andrew's was a strange one, it started with a day of Hiccoughing...every time we drove into a city, the hiccoughs would start up again...the next day it was the sneezes.) I, so far, am still well!

Our last day in San Francisco was a delight! We rode bikes across the bridge, ended up in Sausolito, walked into an old english style pub, and got to talking to a woman - an ex cop...and well, we didn't so much talk as listen, but it was a riot in any case! We missed the ferry to take us back to the rental shop in time, and so kept the bikes over night - THIS meant that I had to finally get over my fear of biking in the city at night! I DID IT! Thanks to Andrew, our intrepid leader, who led the way, we made it back to the hostel!

We met up with Patricia and René, a lovely couple that we had met in Yosemite, to go to Amnesia, a bar in the Mission district. It was pretty cool to meet up with them and find a place that we probably wouldn't have found on our own. Following that, we had the hugest burritos of our lives. (see above photo - that's me with my little buddy, Burri)

OH AND I had the best coffee of my whole trip at Caffé Greco in North Beach. It was OH so good. We went back there the next day too.

San Francisco was amazing, and I will surely be going back.

Overall, this was a really smooth trip - finding a person that you can roadtrip with, without wanting to casually push them out the door of the moving vehicle is a difficult thing, I think. I didn't even ONCE get that urge with Andrew! (lucky guy!)

I feel mostly ready to tackle this final semester at school. I know it's going to be a busy busy one - have been offered more work with Leadership - but just not sure if I can take anything else on! I'll be returning to the Community Centre on Sunday, and back to the highschool on Monday...not to mention school!

Until the next adventure dear folk! (let's hope it's sooner than later!)


Monday, January 01, 2007

HAPPY NEW YEAR from ol' San Francisco!

Well guys, 2007. How's it feel so far? Pretty good over here on this end - a little warmer than we're used to...and there's that big thing in the sky, really off heat...sometimes we see it in the summer? It's pretty great.
Andrew and I got in to San Francisco last night and spent about an hour finding parking - can you believe that we have to pay $23 a DAY for parking????? This is crazy business. But better to have it tucked away than have to worry about driving it around all over this land of no-left-turns-and-one-way-streets.
But eventually we did make it out to ring in the new year - down at the waterfront (the embarcadero) with about a hundred gazillion other people, which made for some really excellent people watching. Nothing like smushing a whole variety of locals and other folk together to get a picture of what this place is made of!
So far I think Vancouver shares many qualities with San Fran, a real diversity of people and neighbourhoods, though it seems much more dense here. (probably because it is). But I do get the sense that the people here are a little...disenchanted by tourists. So it's harder to really tap into real conversation with the locals. I guess this is normal - and probably we're the same way in Vancouver, or in any major city for that matter. It's likely because I've juxtaposed my experiences in smaller towns where people are curious, with these first days here. Not fair really - apples and oranges.

In any case, we're still having a ball - AND I can safely say that Andrew and I are getting along swimmingly! (I just confirmed this with him - though he just admitted to trying to poison me in my sleep.) meh.

Happy New Year dear friends and family!
See you soon (or not)
Tomorrow is biking around town and over the golden gate. Hurrah!