Summer Playlist

It’s been a while since I made a playlist post.  Below are the songs that I’ve had on repeat all summer for some reason.  You’ll need to bust out Google Translate for this one!

“Notte Bastarda” by Nek (English Translation here)

 

“Holiday In Spain” by Blof with the Counting Crows

 

And probably the only real “summer” tune here….

“El Mismo Sol” by Alvaro Soler (English Translation)

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Stormy Seas

Well.  In case you don’t have news of any kind for some strange reason, the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean are currently being ravaged by hurricanes.  Right now my home and family are pretty much in the direct path of one of the most devastating storms in history – and I’m thousands of miles away, unable to do anything.

This is not the first time I’ve had to watch and wait and pray they are okay from afar. Thirteen years ago (lucky number!) I watched helplessly from my dorm room in Georgia as Ivan skirted across Florida, as Frances crept up on it, and as Jeanne gave it a double whammy.  In fact, riding out Hurricane Frances with my family was one of the reasons I moved back to Florida.
I even made this whole story about it for my final class project before leaving the school.

 

This is, however, the first time I’ve had to watch it from afar while owning a house there. The idea of losing everything while you can’t do anything about it, is simultaneously terrifying and rallying.

I’ve always found that extreme situations kick me more into gear than anything else.  I secretly enjoy less devastating hurricanes (I stood by through Katrina in Florida, Rita, and Wilma), and I get a little excited every time I have a medivac at work.  It’s not that I enjoy seeing people get hurt.  I think it’s just that at that point I finally feel useful, like I have a purpose, something worthwhile that I can do.  Not many of my skills are directly useful in typical humanitarian ways, but organizing and logistics has always been a strong suit of mine.

In the past year, I lost my job, my dog, and my love.  Now, I sit here on the verge of possibly losing my house, and pretty much everything I own, and in the very same week get a new job offer.  But somehow, part of me is still not satisfied.

How can I even claim to be suffering when so many places have just been completely destroyed?  Many of the islands I’ve spent so many days on are practically gone.  My work has somehow always felt selfish in a way.  Cruise ships will change itineraries, go to less damaged islands, but how does that help those people who depended on their business for so long and now need it most?  I had the idea today that it would be wonderful if someone would charter a cruise ship to bring volunteers and supplies to some of the islands they are so used to visiting but that are now destroyed.  It would certainly be good PR!

At the end of the day, we have to remember that what is important is people.  Not money, not homes, not fast cars and smart phones and Apple Watches, but people (okay, and puppies).  I can’t claim that I’ve done much with my life thus far, but if I could do something good that even just one person will remember forever, I will feel better.  At this cross roads in my life, I might have that chance.  But for now, we must wait and see.

 

Objective Representation

Have you ever felt that a certain inanimate object represents you? Maybe you dreamed it, or saw it and felt a connection?  For the past few years, I have had just that.

I was visiting an old fortress in Spain, and from a turret you could look down at the water and see a little red dinghy just floating there.  For some reason, I connected to this red dinghy, I knew how it felt.  I’ve made drawings where I semi-consciously inserted a red dinghy on some body of water, to represent myself in the scene.  I have a few photos of various little red boats from all over the world, some moored, some floating, some motorized, some beached or overturned.  Can I say why this represents me?  Not a clue. Perhaps it is a similar feeling of “being adrift”?  I’m open to any interpretations though.

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Do you have an object you feel represents you? Please share in the comments!

Literally

What if every time you used the word “literally” incorrectly or unnecessarily, someone died (literally rather than figuratively)? We’d be extinct by the end of the year!

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Not Yet Independence Day

In one of my many online classes, someone (who had lived all over Europe before going to college in the US) brought up a very good point about cultural differences.  In most places in Europe, as a kid/teenager she pointed out that you can independently take your bike, bus, or train to go places.  The older you get, the farther you can venture.  In most places in the US, however, this is not the case.  She came to the US and felt helpless and stuck.  In the US, we have carpools and soccer moms.  There is hardly any independence anywhere until you get a driver’s license (then possibly too much independence!).  From what I have seen in children lately, it gets worse and worse.  Kids nowadays don’t seem to know how to do anything on their own.  It is my recent experience that this critical lesson in independence (and common sense!) translates into adulthood as well… or maybe it’s just a generational thing…..

Where do I really belong?

Every time I come “home”, I feel less and less like I belong there.  In my ADD efforts to not do the millions of things on my “To Do” list the other day, I decided to take a bunch of cheesy online quizzes to see in which country I really belong. (Google the subject and you’ll get pages of them, thank you PlayBuzz).

The results were pretty inconclusive, but interesting none the less.

At the top, came in Denmark (3), Italy (3) and India (3).  I already know that I could not live in India, too much dust and dirt and pollution – I’d never breathe again!  And, while I am Italian by heritage, I think it would take a long time to adjust to the “when I get to it” mentality of the bureaucratic country.  Denmark I could definitely see, even though I’ve only ever been in the airport there.

Other considerable options that came up included: New Zealand (if only it weren’t so far from EVERYTHING), Japan (perhaps too formal for my tastes), Sweden (similar to Denmark, but colder), the Netherlands (definitely a possibility, any Dutch friends want to adopt me?!?), South Africa (want to visit, not sure about living there), South Korea (I could actually see this for a few years at least – hello ARTBox!), Canada (duh, eh?), Austria (maybe), Great Britain (been there, could go back), and France (twelve years of French might FINALLY pay off!)

A few that were interesting and possibly way off…. Lithuania (okay, actually I know nothing about the country, maybe it’s like Denmark and Sweden?), Brazil (uh, yeah, no), Ghana (what?!?!?), Burkina Faso (I don’t even know where that is).

So, there you have it folks, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.  But if you too feel out of place where you live, it might open your mind to some places you never considered before!  Also, check out this TED Talk about having many or no homes.

 

Much Overdue Updates

It’s been a while since I updated this blog, I’ve been so focused on my travel blog (ABC TravelEye). I thought about this blog today though, when another “playlist” popped into my head.  Surprisingly, it hasn’t changed much from the one I made three years ago. But first, an update on my bucket list.

In the past two years, I have crossed numerous things off my list, some I didn’t even have on it.

  • I have made progress on my continents, by visiting South America and Antarctica, only Australia left to go!
  • I made progress on my Disneylands by visiting Tokyo and Hong Kong Disney parks.  Then they went and opened one in Shanghai, so still two to go!
  • I have ridden numerous animals, including Camels, Horses, an Ostrich, Elephants, Dolphins, and a Yak.  So I guess that’s a thing of mine.
  • Dancing happened. I learned how to Tango, and did it a few times in Argentina.  I also salsa danced in Peru, swing danced in London, and two-stepped in Ft. Worth, TX.  And I danced on a few mountain sides, so I guess that’s also my thing.
  • I did a multi-day trek in the Himalayas (something I hadn’t even dreamed of before!)  It wasn’t the summit of the mountain, but it was the highest mountain pass traversable by foot – at over 5400m high!  Next, Kilimanjaro….
  • I also reached my dream of spending more than a couple weeks in another country by spending five weeks in Scotland and six weeks in Nepal.  Still want to move somewhere new (but not there).
  • I managed to shop for shoes in Quebec in French and in Chile in Spanish – language win!
  • O yeah, and I got a new job, again.

So yeah, needless to say, you can see why I’ve been too busy the past couple years to post!

Things We Like

You know the song “These are a few of my favorite things”?  Well imagine if everyone you knew wrote a verse for the song….  it would look something like this: About.  I just stumbled across this fantastic idea.  If you’re at all like me, and love making lists, you’ll want to check out this site.

 

 

The Grass is NOT Always Greener

It seems that lately I come across many people who make assumptions about me and my life without any real knowledge of the things they are assuming.  When you work with people from all over the world, this happens quite frequently.  For me, this helps put things in greater perspective.  Other people, however, seem to forget that there are two sides to every coin.  For everything there is a tradeoff.  The world has to maintain balance somehow.

Let’s take the simple example of climate where people live.  People seem to hold living in Florida against me.  This isn’t meant to be some political global warming propaganda, just simple, time-tested truth.

 

“O you’re from Florida, you can’t handle the cold.”

There are so many things wrong with this statement, or any like it.  First off, because I’m FROM Florida, doesn’t mean I have always lived there.  If you took the time to know me, instead of judging me, you would know that I lived in New England for three years where I slid down a snowy hill on a trash can lid in a pink snow suit.  But thank you for making an assumption.  Secondly, we are having this conversation in Alaska, which is reasonably cold.  Think I did alright there.  I handled Norway and the northernmost city in the world just fine too.  Thank you for asking.

Now, you joke about me not being able to handle the cold, but can you handle the heat?  Have you ever been to Florida in August?  Just because it’s nice when you’re there in December/January thinking it’s a great escape from you snowy land, try coming back in August and then we’ll talk.  We might not have to shovel our cars out of the snow to get to work, but we generally have to put a towel over our seats to not take off the skin when we sit on them.  Or how about having to take four showers a day because the minute you walk outside, you’re covered in sweat again.  Or how about being told not to even go outside because the UV index is so high.  I wonder how your snow-white skin would fare in our August sun.

And rain; don’t even get me started on rain.  “O it rains every day here, you’ll absolutely hate it.”

Again, have you ever been to Florida?  It rains every day here too.  In fact, you can almost time the rain.  The nickname “Sunshine State” is such a misnomer.  Did you know that Florida is actually the lightening capital of the world?  Then there’s the whole other issue of an entire season called HURRICANE SEASON.  So yes, we don’t lose power and miss school for blizzards, but we do lose power and miss school for hurricanes.  Have you ever been put under “24-hour” curfew for 72 hours and stuck with your entire family in a house with no TV, no internet, no phone, no lights, and, worst of all, no A/C – in 96F/34C temperatures?  Have you had to bathe in a swimming pool and boil water to brush your teeth to go to work because you had no running water when there was no power to run your electric well pump?  Long story short, it rains in Florida too.

 

 

This is just an easy example that everyone should be able to understand.  I don’t know at what point it became trendy to “one down” each other.  “O, I have it so much more difficult than you.  You don’t have to deal with A, B, & C!”  Ok, yes, maybe.  But I do have to deal with X, Y, & Z.  Everyone has something they have to deal with.  Just because it might not be the same as what you deal with, doesn’t mean it is any less difficult.

Bottom line, don’t judge people based on where they’re from – especially if it’s not even a place that you have been (tourist trap towns do NOT count!)  You know what happens when you ASS-U-ME.

ABC Travel

I love travelling, obviously, or I wouldn’t be in the industry that I am in.  I love travelling by sea, waking up in a new place every day.  But sometimes, you wake up in a place where you’d like to stay for a few more days.  And there are so many places that aren’t even accessible by sea.  The more places I visit, the more places I realize I want to visit.     [I think this must be some corollary to Socrates’ “The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know” theory.]

When I was younger, I wanted to be a travel agent for a while (of course, I also wanted to be a lawyer and a pop star).  As I got older, and with the advent of the internet and bargain travel sites like Expedia and Travelocity, I thought travel agents were becoming obsolete.  But I suppose there is always a niche somewhere for these things; you just have to find it.

I’ve considered all of the places I want to go, and the best ways to incorporate them into cohesive trips.  There has to be a common thread tying them together.  So I thought of some itineraries (packing can wait!)

 

Disneylands

The easiest (and cheesiest) itinerary would be to visit every Disneyland theme park in the world.  I know many people have done this gradually (I, myself, am slowly checking them off as well), but wouldn't it be neat to visit them all in one trip?  It could probably be done in about two weeks if one didn't make any side trips along the way.

Itinerary for visiting every Disneyland!

Itinerary for visiting every Disneyland!

Most travel companies make itineraries for a specific region.  Here are two itineraries that can actually be driven and could be done well in anywhere from two weeks to two months!

Eastern Europe

I have a lot of friends in this region that I would love to visit and have show me around some of the lesser known areas of Europe.  The entire trip can be driven in less than 2 days, so it really would depend on how much time you want to spend in each place.

Eastern European Road Trip!

Eastern European Road Trip!

Southern Africa

I also have a lot of friends in South Africa.  It is quite an up and coming tourist destination, and I think paired with a stereo-typical Africa safari and a trip to the iconic Victoria Falls, this would actually make quite a popular itinerary for those looking for some adventure.  Highlights could include the Safari, the Falls, surfing, and maybe a winery tour.

South African Road Trip!

South African Road Trip!

Northern Africa/ Southern Mediterranean

Another regional based itinerary, and probably one of the most unstable, would be a trip across Northern Africa.  I don’t recommend driving straight across though, as many of the areas are quite dangerous.  Stick to major tourist towns.  Maybe even take a cruise for some of it. The trip could also begin or end in Europe (like Portugal, Spain, or Gibraltar.)  Highlights here would include Moroccan markets, the Great Pyramids and Sphinx, Petra, and of course a camel ride or two.

Northern Africa Itinerary

Northern Africa Itinerary

My real thought though, was how to combine multiple destinations in varied climates/regions into one trip without making a plain old “around the world” trip?  Simple, travel by alphabet!  I originally thought of the idea when I realized that most of the places I most wanted to visit started with the letter “I”.  For anyone who has ever read Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert also visits 3 countries that start with “I”, as I guess most of the good countries do 😉

Travel by Alphabet!

 

I went to Traveler’s Century’s List of countries and territories to see how many start with “I”.  Luckily, there are not many.  I then ruled out Iraq and Iran as they are probably not safe for a young American woman.  I also took out the Ivory Coast as it was out of the way from any of the other places (and, technically, it would be a “C” for Cote d’Ivoire!)  This gave me the following itinerary…

 

The “I”s Have It!

I_Countries

“I” Countries Itinerary – my dream trip!

Iceland (to visit the Blue Lagoons), Ireland (to visit the Guinness Brewery and the Blarney Stone), Isle of Man (because it’s close enough), Italy (Tuscany is the prettiest region),  Istanbul (while not technically it’s own country, this iconic city is considered a completely different region), Israel (Wailing Wall and floating in the Dead Sea – and probably a night out in Tel Aviv for sure!), India (Taj Mahal), and finally, Indonesia.  I reckon this trip could be done in three legs (Northern Europe, Mediterranean, and the Inds).  One could probably do each segment in about two weeks, depending on what you wanted to see. 

So 6-8 weeks would be the perfect time for this trip (and preferably in early or late summer for ideal weather in all countries!)  This means I could actually do this on one of my breaks between contracts (it would just take me a few contracts to pay it off!)  This is really my dream trip.

I then also thought about some of the other countries I want to visit, and came up with what I like to call the “A-List”.  Another trip that could be done in 6-8 weeks visits countries which start with the letter “A”. 

The “A”-List

This would include Argentina, Antarctica, and then Australia (with NZ thrown in since I’m there).

"A" Countries Itinerary!

“A” Countries Itinerary!

 

So there you have it.  Maybe I could even create an itinerary that systematically visits one country starting with each letter of the alphabet! [*] Check back for that one.  If anyone wants to travel any of these with me, call ABC Travel (i.e. – me!)  

 

P.S.  For the Alphabetical list of countries, click here.  For the list of countries by region, click here.

 
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