A thrilling and overwhelming day, as I finally arrived in Marrakech. In Morocco. In AFRICA.

My luggage had other plans. Or rather, some dunce at MIA (I mentioned it’s my least favorite airport, yes?) didn’t do his job. Color me surprised.

This little transgression threatens to derail the entire trip, or at least the next week or so of it. I can’t very well go into the desert with only the clothes on my back, and I was supposed to leave Marrakech at 7AM on Saturday, leaving little over 24 hours to get the bag back. Which I need to carve out time to return to the airport to get, as they don’t deliver bags here. A little panic took me over about all this tonight and I’m trying very hard to get past it, and wrap my mind around what happens if I don’t get my things back tomorrow.

But back to the day.

 

The Marrakech airport is rather small, and has no arrival gates: you get out on the tarmac and walk up to the terminal to passport control. When the plane taxied down the runway and took a right toward the terminal, it felt like we were pulling into a Wal-Mart. Actually, it occurred to me that I think I’ve seen strip malls with Wal-Mart Super Centers in South Florida that are bigger than this airport.

After the discovery of the luggage debacle and a solid hour at baggage claim, I met my ride from Riad Shaden who drove me into the Medina. On the way in, at one point he turned to me and casually said, “This is the King’s palace.”. We were driving through it to get to the Medina. The Riads always suggest you hire their car service to bring you in from the airport and I fully understand why; to say that there is a “street system” would be overstating it.

I was met at the Riad by Youssef, the manager. He took my bags and walked me the last bit to the building itself, and we worked up a sweat doing so (it was 96 degrees today – a cool day when compared to the weather they got yesterday). “Come in and sit down, it’s cooler in here.”

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And then he appeared with some mint tea, and some tiny biscuits (cookies) I thought were cashews because of their shape and size. Yum.

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He showed me to my room, the Amir Suite. Even more charming than it had been on their web site.

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Marrakech, so far, at least the Medina and the souk, remind me a bit of Lima. They make the Limeños look organized, though. The souk twists and turns, one shop after another, and even out of the souk into the Medina the “streets” are pathways shared by pedestrians, motorbikes, horses, donkeys, and the rare automobile.

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…and of course vendors. Everywhere.

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Best orange juice I’ve ever had. Squeezed to order. 49 cents US. I think I drank 4 today, all said.

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It was a good day.

I made some new friends:

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I always pick favorites, though.

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Próxima Estación: ???

February 25, 2014

Nighty night.

Monday’s over. I’m still feeling a bit used up, but that’s on its way to remedying itself; aside from the fact the Disturbance In The Force has gone on long enough, I simply don’t have time for it. The work schedule for the next seven days is a doozy, contains several double-shifts and the numbers we’ll be tending to are through the roof. It’s an incredibly busy time at the restaurant/bar, starting with The Wednesday, as we refer to it here. When referring to the days leading to Mardi Gras (this year the 4th of March), we don’t even bother saying “The Wednesday Before”. It’s just the Wednesday, the Thursday, the Friday, etc.

I have yet to plan any travel for the year and I swear it’s making me antsy. I was comparing travel notes with a friend the other night, telling her how I’m mean to continue my annual goal of Five New Cities this year, even with the move. She indicated she’d rather know one place well rather than five in a more cursory manner; I know that’s what many prefer, but I guess I’m just World-Hungry.

What’s slowing me down is the sheer number of happenings in my new city which I’ve never experienced before: Carnival/Mardi Gras, French Quarter Fest, Jazz Fest, etc.; there’s a space of 11 days in April between FQfest and Jazz Fest where I might be able to sneak away. Since I’m not starting the travel until we’re 1/4 of our way into the year, these will have to be longer, more robust trips, which is fine. Bring on the carryon suitcase, the black clothing and the scarves; I’m ready.

For now though, I’m focusing on the days leading up to Mardi Gras. I wandered the CBD this afternoon with some girlfriends, and at one point I caught a reflection of myself in a window: a woman with a big smile, wearing pink glitter Sperrys and carrying a pair of bronze wings. Just a regular Monday afternoon in New Orleans, and a lady with a plan.

I travel for the…

October 6, 2013

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Staring off at La Tour Eiffel
Paris, June 2012
(Photo by Florent Ferrasse)

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N.B.: Fathom Away has an awesome questionnaire they often post by different people. I decided to fill it out, because I’ll do anything to avoid packing.

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Hometown: A sum of my historical locations: New York, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, and Chicago

Favorite destinations: New York, San Francisco, Madrid, Paris

Dying to visit: Marrakech, Istanbul, Cuba

In-flight relaxation regime: Sudoku, This American Life podcasts, Melatonin

Always in carry-on: Headphones, kid-type snacks (applesauce, fruit leather, nuts), pen, notebook, iPad

Concierge or DIY? DIY!

See it all or take it easy? See *everything*, time naps for when smartphone needs a recharge.

Drive or be driven? Be driven, and mass transit forever.

Weirdest thing seen on travels: On a bus in Lima, a lady with a chicken in her handbag. Cannot decide if it was her pet or her dinner, but I can guess…

Best hotel amenity: A powerful blowdryer, a big bathtub, free bottled water.

I dream about my meal at Quimet y Quimet in Barcelona. That cheese plate!

Everywhere I go, I check out the local food market, and the snack aisle in the grocery store.

When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by Google Maps with stars I’ve been placing in that city for who-knows-how-long.

I always bring home a piece of jewelry, and some honey.

If I never return to Florida it’ll be too soon because it’s the land of strip malls and chain restaurants.

I travel for the new way, and the fresh perspectives.

Barcelona  (95)

Double-fisting juice at the Mercat de la Boqueria
Barcelona, September 2012
Photo by Angie Faralli

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“Kissing” Gaudi’s Casa Batllo
Barcelona, September 2012
Photo by me! Had to get just the right angle…

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Snippets: 1-5 September, 2013

September 5, 2013

1 September

An email from the yoga studio in Barcelona where I practiced a year ago today brings back the ache for Spain. It also reminds me of wonderful experiences and adventures, and of just how vast our fortunes can be. Next adventure!

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2 September

There’s nothing quite like spending time with people who know you, the real you, and your history, even the parts that aren’t so pretty. I imagine this is the feeling a lot of people get from spending their time with family, unfortunately not so with me. For years now, actually most of my life, I’ve been a creature of these families we make up as we go along. A “Bliss of another kind”.

 

3 September
Weekly horoscope from Madame Clairvoyant:

Leo: This is a week for joy and a funny kind of sweetness, even if it’s hard to find, even if you have to make it up, even if you have to rip it straight from thin air. It’s a week for settling into calm patterns of motion, for tracing the threads of goodness that run through you, for feeling open to the sky, open to different voices, open to the wet sweet smell of the early morning. Go to bed early and dream about colors, dream about flying. Listen to old love songs, pet the dogs on your street, eat fruit.

Read yours: http://therumpus.tumblr.com/tagged/Madame-Clairevoyant

 

4 September

We lie together in the dark, whispering and touching and probably more comfortable than we should be with each other. It’s new, it’s nice; there are no promises, no expectations, no hopes, no letdowns. Just the exploration of each other’s bodies. I’ve craved this for quite some time, I realize.

 

5 September

More than ever, and this may be a product of the age we live in or my chronological age, I seem to be surrounded with people who are actively chasing their passions, making their loves and hobbies their careers, in some cases sacrificing the traditional paycheck for doing what it really is they want to DO.

And this is key. I’ve got the same fire, but I’m trying to narrow my focus while staying motivated. This applies to so many things: the geographical move, the “what’s next” in my career, etc. I’m in the middle of “Do The Work” by Steven Pressfield. Fantastic read if you’re looking to light your own fire.

Two quotes from it. Good stuff.

 

“Picasso painted with passion, Mozart composed with it. A child plays with it all day long.

You may think you’ve lost your passion, or you can’t identify it, or that you have so much of it, it threatens to overwhelm you. None of these is true.

Fear saps passion.

When we conquer our fears, we discover a boundless, bottomless, inexhaustible well of passion.

When art and inspiration and success and fame and money have come and gone, who still loves us—and whom do we love?”

 

“Don’t prepare. Begin.

Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project, or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.

The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.

Start before you’re ready.

Good things happen when we start before we’re ready. For one thing, we show huevos. Our blood heats up. Courage begets more courage. The gods, witnessing our boldness, look on in approval.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw Marilyn today, and we did much probing today into my desire to get out of town for Christmas, my indecision about the destination, my uncertainty about whether the potential trip is just a form of avoidance so that I don’t have to grieve for my Mother, which we decided I finally started doing (actively) last weekend. (Delayed much, Diana?)

Of the 36 Christmases I’ve had (I’m heading into my 37th), I can think of at least six that happened in Lima, Peru (1977, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1989, 2009); there were numerous ones celebrated on Florida winter-break vacations when I was a kid. I’d estimate well over half my holiday seasons have been spent traveling, almost always celebrating someplace other than at home.

I travel over Christmas. It’s what what I’ve always done, and what feels natural to me. But it took answering a half-dozen questions to get there, to the most obvious answer.

I’m a bit scattered, lately. I’ve started carrying a notebook around — a NOTEBOOK! Filled with pages! Made of paper! With a cover! — and a pen (double !!) to write down my Things To Do / Things I’ve Been Meaning To Do / Don’t Forget To ongoing list. My thoughts pop in and pop out just as easily; I walk around my apartment making a horseshoe shape as I pace (bedroom, hallway, living room, kitchen, living room, hallway, bedroom) and wonder what was I doing? Why was I coming in here?

What day is it? What month is it? Which season?

This will get better, I know. I think my brain is working overtime placing memories on a shelf; I get to see and enjoy each one as it is put away for later. Part of my brain and my memory and my soul wonders, “Where is she? Where did she go?”.

I constantly have to remind myself she’s gone. It’s way more painful some times than others.

Tucson

January 17, 2012

Soundtrack: Jolie Holland, “Old Fashioned Morphine”

My mind is emerging from a darkroom of sorts; images are blurred but becoming crisper, clearer. I have yet to sort it and put it all in order, to be attempted shortly but I may never be able to.

*my brain is elsewhere, locked in this darkroom i think.

On the descent into Tucson I was greeted by a gorgeous desert sunset, full of reds and oranges; sadly my aisle position and my stodgy seatmate did not allow for any photography, but it is one of those things I won’t soon forget: the warm sun coming through the small, rounded rectangular window, the richness of the colors, the slight vertigo mixed with euphoria as the airplane maneuvered its landing.

The memories accelerate a bit from there: the airport pickup by Robin Douglas, the drive to Fourth Avenue in Tucson, the warm desert air starting to shift to its nighttime chill. We arrived for dinner at Delectables where most were waiting: Kate McKinnon, Doriot, Jean, Gabriella and Jeroen (rhymes with “maroon”…ask him!), and of course the incomparable Kyle Cassidy. I was most intimidated to meet him; having followed his work for a while now I know he is an artist with a talent to be reckoned with. Happy to report that I was wrong, wrong, wrong. He is so very warm; I could not have encountered a more elegant, gracious spirit.

From the memory of the dinner on for the next three days, it is as though the vehicle tasked with transporting me through it all revs up, quickens to the point it loses its wheels, and leaves me to soar forward, and I am propelled by the kindest of slingshots onto an invisible path that leads exactly where I ought to be.

So much was learned, absorbed, drunk, experienced. Along the way even more remarkable beings were added to the mix: Bri and JoJo, Sarah, Emma Bull and Will Shetterly, Allison Shock, and dozens of girls from Tucson Roller Derby. Oh, and in there somewhere, there was a belly dancer.

You cannot make this stuff up; the story writes itself. I’m so lucky to be around to turn the pages.

The Flickr set lives here.