E. and I were able to stay in Toronto for about six weeks in May and June. I was busy with work at the time and wasn’t able to pull together any pictures. Our apartment was in the middle of a downtown shopping district called Yorkville and down the street from a city library.
Luckily (or unluckily) for us, we were able to take care of our landlady’s cat for about a week. As I’ve detailed in past dog and cat posts, I love animals, but I have a moderate cat allergy. After a couple of days, I was sneezing so much that I had to carry around a box of tissues. Our landlady must have had a guilty conscience because she dashed over one night and took our fake pet away.
Photo Credit: di_the_huntress
It’s been a while. Long enough that it’s a little awkward writing again, but it’s time to return here. Hello whoever’s still out there.
So where do I start after this long silence? We lived in Toronto, Canada, for a month before the G20 conference–subletted from an eccentric divorcee who left her cat with us for a week. He ate the houseplants to be naughty and climbed into the walls of the apartment, making a terrifying racket.
I stayed in central Illinois for some of June and July and helped my mom weed her garden and pick green beans. Now we’re in San Francisco, one of my favorite cities in the world. I was surprised to find that there really is no summer here. The temperature feels like a midwestern autumn.
In his collection of essays entitled The Nasty Bits, Anthony Bourdain discussed his Platonic ideal of fast food–his preference over the Chicken McNuggets and Whoppers that most Americans turn to when they want dinner fast. To him, fast food is street food served by vendors around the world. Walking the streets of Bangkok, I can see what he is talking about. You can’t walk down a city block without seeing a vendor roasting skewers of chicken or slicing up fresh pieces of pineapple and papaya. If people have to eat fast food, Bourdain (and I) would rather this be it–unprocessed, freshly made (sometimes), and independently produced.
Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar
As for many people, December was a month of family obligations, catching up with old friends, and last minute shopping excursions. I spent the month in the United States–the Midwest–a short respite before our next journey.
While home, I drove for the first time in a year. I had forgotten the freedom of going wherever, whenever. It called to mind the possibilities of road trips in my own country. I experienced a few pristine snowfalls and also remembered what a nightmare it is to drive in snow and ice. In the mornings I drank coffee with my mother while we watched the birds at her birdfeeder. I had never seen so many woodpeckers before–crested, furry, and red headed. There were also titmice, doves, chickadees, and nuthatches, but curiously no cardinals. My parents’ neighborhood is still surrounded by cornfields and blissfully quiet. After time with family and a holiday from work, I feel encouraged and charged for the new year.
What do you have planned for the Year of the Tiger? My forecast states that, “The Snake likes to make slow and steady progress and the Year of the Tiger will find [her] swept along with unexpected developments – [she] need[s] to adapt and keep up the pace.” A tranquil horoscope sign, I am admittedly slow to change and set in my ways. If traveling has taught me anything, it is flexibility. Still learning, though.
With this message, I would like to wish you an excellent new year. I would also like to say hello from Bangkok, Thailand. Hope you will follow me on this part of my journey.
Margaret at Cachando Chile wrote a great piece on her first experiences in Chile. She’s been here for 18 years now. Since she invited others to share their impressions, I thought it would be a good opportunity to write a less structured post than I usually write. Perhaps a more open post since I’m typically not a candid writer on the blog. These were my thoughts in the first month in Chile after arriving at the end of December, 2008.
E. and I arrived in Santiago after crossing the Andes by bus. About the moment we crossed into the Chilean side of the mountains, I started experiencing post nasal drip which by the time we arrived in Santiago turned into a full blown sinus infection. I knew to expect more pollution in Santiago, but I wasn’t expecting to get sick so quickly! (I have to admit to inheriting a poor excuse for sinuses.)
The first couple months, my lungs hurt certain days. This has stopped, which is probably a bad sign. My body has succumbed to the pollution.
E. and I have lived here for almost eight months now. This city has a magical aspect; I told a friend tonight that I’ve never heard a person say, “Don’t move to Buenos Aires–you’ll regret it!” Most people who have visited or lived here have also succumbed to its charms.
Perhaps it is always this way when living in all cities: there are days I love it here and days I detest it. Residents often say that there is no purgatory here–it’s either heaven or hell.
Inspired by J’s lists on Water and Soul, here are some things I love:
- Coffee usually includes a little glass of sparkling water and a cookie.
- Water is served in wine glasses. Every meal is a special occasion.
- Dogs are everywhere, and they all seem to get along.
- Piropos, or compliments on the street, are commonplace for women of all ages. “Hey Beautiful!”
- People don’t yell at you if you squeeze yourself into the last free inch of the subway.
- The laid back response to adversity. Go with the flow. Queue up and wait your turn.
- The waiters’ and waitresses’ no-rush attitude toward their tables. The objective is to enjoy the food and company.
- Passion for futbol.
- A kiss on the cheek for hello.
What are (or were) some of your favorite aspects?
Photo Credit: silkegb
It’s raining today in Buenos Aires, a steady rainfall perfect for grading papers and catching up with favorite blogs. I’m contented, as yesterday afternoon I sat in Parque Las Heras just feeling the sun on my face. It was the first warm day in a long time where I could go without my jacket.