Monday, January 16, 2017

Indian Weddings and One Night (okay, several nights) in Bangkok.

I went to India for the first time over the Christmas holiday.  It was amazing.  Maybe it was because I went for a friend’s wedding and was surrounded by a fantastic group of people (plus I got to see two wonderful people say "I do" or at least I think that’s what they said since the actual wedding ceremony was in Hindi).  There was something about the vibrancy, organized chaos, intensity, food, people.  Sadly, I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to enjoy the city of Mumbai so I definitely will be back.  The wedding really was the main focus of my visit although we managed to do a bit of sightseeing.  The friend who got married had lived in Zambia a few years ago so there were a few of us that represented her "Zambian days."  She was kind enough to prepare a “Survival Kit” for those of us who were attending an Indian wedding for the first time.  It included information about the traditional ceremonies and what to expect at each one (this was very helpful).  I’ll give you a brief rundown:

Sangeet ceremony is a wedding tradition observed in India that involves singing, dancing and music. The sangeet with the mehndi ceremony, which is the ritual of applying henna (mehndi) to the bride in preparation for the wedding itself were combined at this wedding.  

Wedding ceremony is the main ceremony, the priest, groom, bride and bride's parents sit beneath a mandap, a canopy similar to a Jewish chuppah. The ceremony starts off with the kanya daan, in which the bride's parents give her away. Then the couple joins hands and circles around a small, enclosed fire (the agni) in a ritual called the phera. Then the couple will take the saptapadi, or seven steps, as they vow to support each other and live happily together. Finally, the groom will apply a red powder to the center of the bride's forehead and tie a necklace around her neck, symbolizing she's now a married woman.

Reception ceremony is celebrated after the main wedding. It is the first public appearance of the newlywed couple after their marriage and is sort of a grand party. This is a celebration time for both the families as they rejoice over their new accord. Reception parties are laid with sumptuous food to treat the guests.

We had a grand time enjoying and being part of all of these events and embraced every minute including wearing our traditional Indian attire!  Oh, and one of my favorite parts?!  The chai masala tea.  I mean I loved chai tea before but this?!  Sigh.  So, so good.   

I was also able to squeeze in some time in Thailand which was equally pretty great.  For the past several years I have traveled for New Year’s with my friend Heather to random places across the world.  This year we met in Thailand and I got to meet her and her husband's new baby girl (she is the adorable baby in all of the pictures).  We spent some time enjoying the beaches near Krabi…this was before everyone got food poisoning (except me since luckily I don't eat seafood, thank goodness)!  But after everyone recovered we flew from Krabi to Bangkok.  I wish I also had more time in Bangkok. While, yes, the pollution was terrible everything else was wonderful.  The city was vibrant and loud and the shopping was fantastic.  So many places I want to go back to and also to visit for the first time?  How does one fit all this traveling into such a short lifetime?  

I hope all my friends and family had a wonderful holiday and am wishing you all a happy, happy 2017!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thanksgiving and African Safaris.

Can you believe this was the 5th year I've celebrated Thanksgiving in Zambia?  Well, believe it because it's true.  I was able to spend time with friends eating some traditional Thanksgiving food like turkey (so I'm still waiting for the day I can get tofurkey here), stuffing, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie.  I also had the opportunity to spend the weekend tackling another tradition.   This one more African of sorts.  The safari.  There is a national park in Zambia that I had yet to visit so my friend and I decided this was the weekend to go.  Kafue National Park.  The largest national park in Zambia and the second largest in Africa.  We had high hopes of viewing amazing wildlife such as lions, cheetahs, elephants, wild dogs, zebra, leopards.  Then we got to the park.  And we saw none of these animals.  It rained the entire weekend and we only managed to see a lot of bugs.  Including the dreaded tsetse fly which I frankly don’t want to see again.  Actually, we did manage to see one very angry elephant who was particularly protective of her young elephant family.  I’ve never seen such a protective mama.  She trumpeted and charged our vehicle which I’ve never had happen before…the one exciting event in a very rainy and bug filled weekend.  

As we were driving home from our Thanksgiving/African safari weekend I was thinking how much these two very different things have become part of my world.  I love that I'm able to still celebrate with traditions from home and also engage in new ways of seeing the world.  It can be hard sometimes living away from the things you've known all your life.  But I also believe that when you do there is a richness, a vibrancy, a greater awareness that starts to shape your days (and years)!  And for this I am thankful. 

Sunrise in Kafue National Park





Thursday, September 8, 2016

Weekends back in Zambia.

This weekend my friend from Mozambique came to visit Zambia.  It was a fun opportunity to show off my “home” here in Zambia.  While I was living in Mozambique, I had done this annoying thing saying, “Well, in Zambia…” and then finishing the statement by sharing all the things I love about Zambia.  Since returning, I am happy to report (again) that Zambia really is an amazing country.   

We stayed in Lusaka for a couple of days and then went to Livingstone and enjoyed seeing the mighty Victoria Falls.  As much as I have visited the falls, I still enjoy indulging in a little vacation time relaxing by the pool, cruising on the river, and I even decided to participate yet again swimming to the edge of the falls (yikes)!  

It was a great weekend and I've posted a few pictures.  Have I made my case for y’all visiting?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Things are happening.

Things happen.  And you just figure ‘em out.  I believe that I was meant to come to Mozambique.  I also believe that I wasn’t meant to stay here (as lovely and wonderful as it is…and, man, will I miss being by the ocean).   But this week I will be getting on a plane and heading back to Zambia.  As crazy as that sounds, it also feels really perfect.  So, Zambia, I will see you (again) soon.   

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bilene.

My fabulous friend from Zambia came for the long weekend to visit me here in Mozambique.  Even though it’s winter here, we were determined to see the beach (well, I was anyway).  Since coming to Mozambique a few months ago I haven’t gone outside of the city and was feeling like I needed to venture up the coast to see some beach!  Bilene is a little town about 3 hours to the north of Maputo .  Bilene is located on Uembje Lagoon which is a huge stretch of water, about 8km wide and 27km long. The shores are shallow and are ringed by beautiful white sandy beaches with rolling sand dunes.  I had been told about a lodge that was situated right on the beach which you could either get to using a 4x4 vehicle or a boat (crossing the lagoon).  We, unfortunately, picked the driving option which was not the best idea because we got lost.  After driving on the sandy dunes for a couple of hours we finally gave up and just called the lodge to come pick us up….but when we did get there it was lovely.  Cold, but lovely.  Mostly we walked along the beach, enjoyed reading in our room and sitting on the porch with an amazing view of the lagoon (covered in blankets).   We did dip our toes in the water but that was about the extent of our “swimming.”  Anyway, we headed back to Maputo after a day of relaxing (using the boat this time) and were able to explore some of the city which was also really fun.  We had sundowners at the Polana Hotel (a posh hotel in the center of town), went to a fabulous Mozambican designer’s store (Taibo Bacar), walked around the market and had a fabulous dinner at a new restaurant.  Overall, a really great weekend (a few pictures over there to the side)!

Bilene, Mozambique. 



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Weekends in Maputo.

This past weekend I had a friend decide to visit at the last minute.  While I love having visitors, you have to realize I am in a new country where I don’t know…anything.  I’m pretty immobile without a car, I can’t really speak the language yet, I don’t really know anyone outside of work and I’m not that clear where things are if you were to ask me about shopping or restaurants or, well…anything.  So showing a visitor around is a bit tough.  But, luckily, we made it work and figured things out together.  Walking along the beach, sipping coffee at a small little cafĂ© (that we got lost trying to walk to), finding a very helpful person willing to do some sign language ordering (and using google translate to supplement), having drinks with extended family, and then taking a beautiful boat ride with some newly acquired friends to the most amazing little beach (although both of us got a bit sick it was still worth it).  All in all it was a great weekend and I always feel lucky in times like this when I’m struggling to find my way.  It’s like the universe knows that I need a little support.  Or maybe that’s just my friends who know.  So, thank you. 


I’ve put up a few pictures over there to the right so take a look!     

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Maputo.

I made it to Mozambique.  I have to say…it’s not Zambia.  But it is a lovely place.  It’s a strange feeling to leave your life on a Saturday, a life where you feel grounded and connected and loved, and end up in a completely new place the next day where you don’t know anyone.  Maybe that’s why I feel so unsettled.  And tired.  Why do I feel so tired?  Like I just aged 10 years in one weekend.   I’m trying to be my yogi self and embrace the change.  But it’s hard.  My first few impressions of life in Maputo (and remember I have been here for only 5 days):
  • The ocean.  Maputo is on the ocean which is so nice after being in a landlocked country. I took a nice long run...along the ocean.  Ahh.  
  • Yep. I must learn Portuguese.
  • I went from living alone in my cute, little rondavel to living in a college-like dorm (not my favorite part of Mozambique life so far).  See?  I sound so old and fussy.  I lived in a village with no running water for 2 years.  Why is living with a couple of 20+ year olds so hard? 
  • They don’t have chai here which makes me sad.
  • But, they do have very good caipirinhas which makes me happy.
  • I did find out that there are yoga classes in town which is fantastic because I definitely miss my yoga. 
I suppose I’m just in that phase.  You know, the one where you feel like your old life was so good and this one, well, it isn't quite measuring up.  Give me a couple of months and I will probably be singing a different tune.  Mozambique this and Mozambique that…I won’t be able to shut up about how amazing it is!  For now, I will work to embrace the change.  And have another caipirinha. 

Flying into Maputo...it is a beautiful city.