The Adventure Continues...

Rants, raves and random observations from an itinerant epidemiologist.

 
100 in 1000
  1. Spend a week up a mountain learning to ski
  2. Visit Karoline's place in Moravia
  3. Hold a conversation in Czech (only)
  4. Drink 500ml of each of the following beers:
    1. Pilsner
    2. Staroprammen
    3. Budvar
    4. Velke Popovice
    5. U Fleku
    6. Gambrinus
    7. Krusovice
  5. Respond to at least one GOARN request (WHO and MSF are also acceptable)
  6. Travel across the Atlantic
  7. Return to South America
  8. Read a book to, or with, an impressionably aged child
  9. Participate in one NanoWriMo Challenge and come within at least 10,000 words of the goal length
  10. Have my nose pierced
  11. Have my next tattoo drawn
  12. Purchase the perfect jeans (x 2 pairs)
  13. Attend a spin class 3 times a week for 8 consecutive weeks
  14. Bake Viv's cheesecake
  15. Make David's casserole
  16. Make David's Chicken Cashew-nut Stirfry
  17. Invite 4 people who don't know one another too well to dinner
  18. Ride from Vienna to Venice on a motorbike (pillion acceptable, those less desirable)
  19. Attend a book group for at least two books
  20. Go on a choir weekend (learn and perform difficult piece in two/three days)
  21. Visit Madame Tussaud's (in London)
  22. Take an architecture appreciation course
  23. Join an all-girl group and sing a solo
  24. Publish in a scientific journal (top two authors)
  25. Cook a duck or other 'waterfowl'.
  26. Locate the Al-Timimi's from Doha Veterinary Practise
  27. Have a pedicure
  28. Maintain a Brazilian (ouch) for three months.
  29. Find a trustworthy Czech hairdresser
  30. Treat my inner-6-year-old twice a week (at least)
  31. Do the liver-cleansing diet properly (12 weeks)
  32. Don't eat out for one month
  33. Find a flat and flatmate
  34. Purchase one Joseph sweater
  35. Purchase one of the following pairs of designer shoes (they MUST also be COMFORTABLE, and be able to be worn with 4 different outfits and 2 types of occasion): Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutin (Ebay or 2nd hand are acceptable)
  36. Send 5 books to the booksphere and track them.
  37. Go hanggliding
  38. Read 10 'classic' books (from 1001 Books to Read before you Die)
    1. Moll Flanders
    2. Everything is illuminated
    3. Madam Bovary
    4. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
    5. Catch-22
    6. Odysseus
    7. On the Road
  1. Run (non-stop!) for 5kms outside (preferably in a street race thingy)
  2. Send Christmas Cards on time
  3. Make a collage/mural out of street lights on my wall
  4. Buy a bed, build it, and sleep soundly in it
  5. Go to Africa
  6. Host an 'event' (classified as and when)
  7. Organise a 30th Birthday Party
  8. Wear a costume
  9. Sing on stage
  10. Buy a painting that evokes memories of Prague (cannot involve queues!)
  11. Learn a god-damned card game that stays in my memory (other than fish/snap)
  12. See sunrise. Be sober. Have woken for it. Excludes months Nov-Mar
  13. Take a walk and flip coins at each intersection
  14. Win something
  15. Draft a will
  16. Take a roadtrip
  17. Go to Italy already
  18. Sea Kayak around Abel Tasman Park (NZ)
  19. Get plants
  20. Take a train to another Eastern European Destination (accession countries are acceptable) alone preferably.
  21. Get UK to give me a provisional motorcyclists license and simultaneously get a 'card' license.
  22. Go SCUBA diving again - at least two dives lasting 30mins each.
  23. Go to a dentist. *sigh*
  24. Do a Czech Wine Trail. And live to tell the tale
  25. Make an 'outbreak emergency kit'.
  26. Go to bed prior to 11pm every night (inc weekends) for four consecutive weeks.
  27. Marvel over lack of tiredness
  28. Dine at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant (or Nobu)- preferably for free.
  29. Bet on the nags
  30. Do something for charity (applying and getting a 'red card' will count)
  31. Walk along the Champs Elysee
  32. Do 100 sit ups in a row
  33. Do 50 pressups (arms in tight)
  34. Make branston pickle (or nearest substitute)
  35. Cook something 'new' and 'adventurous' at least once a month
  36. Find a mentor
  37. Be a mentor
  38. Learn what mentoring is all about
  39. Meet an online person in real life
  40. Resist the flirt. Once. Just one night. It's okay if people don't immediately succumb to my natural charm. Really it is.
  41. Spend time at a spa (spa towns in the CR don't count)
  42. Send a care package to someone
  43. Get a Tata Bojs CD
  44. Take a French/German/Dutch course and SPEAK THE DAMNED LANGUAGE WHEN I HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY EVEN THOUGH IT MAKES ME SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT!
  45. Order new contact lenses.
  46. Make a list of things I take with me when I pack for different occasions
  47. Eat lobster. Prepared by someone else.
  48. Back up the blog
  49. Put everything onto an external hard drive
  50. Find a DDR mat and console and 'dance, I say dance!'�
  51. Go to the beach and lie on the warm sand. For an hour. (with sunscreen on, natch)
  52. Take and complete a course in either: Tango, Salsa or Flamenco
  53. Join the Municipal Library of Prague
  54. Move to another country
  55. Go to a live concert of a band I actually like
  56. Pay off debts (student loan excl.)
  57. Send thank you cards for every gift I receive (other than the gift of happiness, blah blah blah).
  58. Get an agent (literary or theatre)
  59. Go to a sports bar without cringing, by personal choice
  60. Ride a rollercoaster
  61. Hold a snake
  62. Spend a day wandering around a museum (not art gallery!)
Editing poor due to sudden urges of "inconvenience" according to usage instructions of Loperamide...
Sunday, 14 May 2006
Okay, so I know I've been remarkably slack in writing individual e-mails to you all, but is that ANY reason for you to not write back to me??? Grrr. I've had nothing but 'word of the day' and 'forwards' in my mailbox since i last updated the blog - which hardly inspires one's more authorly tendencies - that's for sure.

Rant aside, we're back in Marrakesh now.

See, what happened is we took an 8 hour train ride (charades for about 2 hours) south from Fez to Marrakesh a few days ago. We arrived here, located our tiny, tiny, sweaty, horribly-lumpy-mattressed double room (ie. room with two double beds), and went immediately for a walk into the major square here: the Djemaa el-Fna, and were hassled. Now, sure, we got hassled a little bit in Fez as well, as will any western tourist, but here it was different.

For one thing, we were the only tourists with our upper arms covered - and our legs too. Most wander willy nilly through teh streets of the Medina in singlets and shorts - where, believe you me, they'd be far better looking were they to abide by religious beliefs here and show more proprietry. I don't think these people would dress as they do here at home, so why do they inflict their considerable sartorial inelegance on the rest of us? Then there were the catch cries of 'hello' 'ca va la gazelle' etc. Which would have matched the cries in Fez, were it not for the accompanying tsks and whistles etc that make every stall holder sound like a victim of Tourettes. Then, when you fail to respond, you get asked (rather obnoxiously), 'why won't you talk to me?' so much so that I nearly turned around and said, "go on then, tell me what you want, I'm listening". People even step out of their shop and put their hand on your ARM here, which is completely unacceptable (according to most guidebooks, as well as my personal choice) so tempers rapidly fray here. Beggars are also abundant around the main square, and have no compunction at approaching you, thrusting their child at you and requesting 10 dirhams (1 euro).

I would strongly advise anyone travelling here to stop in Marrakesh for a day - see what you have to see, then get the hell out.

Astounded and bewildered at the heaving mass of teh worst of humanity (it smells here too), we regrouped and decided to take the three day trip into the desert (that'll be the big Sahara, folks) rather than previously uhming and ahhing over whethe rwe should go. Anything to get out of this stinking city, even if it DID mean forgoing the trip to the cascades.

So off we went the following morning, having secured three places in a people-mover the night before we turned in, to sleep on mattresses filled with (live) goats for all the comfort they provided.

Despite the early start, and Nis not feeling well at all, we spent my birthday traversing the High Atlas mountain range. The scenery is absolutely stunning (as you shall see when I finally edit my photos to the point of publication) with a mixture of red rock and green swathes in the valleys. It reminded all three of us of the Grand Canyon area. The switchbacks on the roads were insane, overtaking occurred when we could SOMETIMES see whether there was oncoming traffic. The driver had an ECOLAB keyring, which makes me think that those laboratory sales people get everywhere...

We spent a long time around an altitude of 2260m (approximately), and due to my cold, I was unable to clear my ears. So the trip occurred in a quiet, serene and surreal manner...especially for a birthday! Nis and Lira gave me a poof (a small fuschia one) which I get to fill with 'stuff' when I get back to Prague. It'll be far more comfortable to use as a seat than perching on the edge of my 'arm chairs' when I eat breakfast, and I'm really looking forward to having it in my new flat (wherever, whenever that'll be) so yay! We stayed overnight in a hotel somewhere by the Dades Gorges, which we would have gone to see were we not all feelng slightly nauseous and exhausted after teh 10 hours in the minivan by that stage. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.

Our group were an odd bunch. Two israelis (who told everyone they were from India - him, and Italy - her so that they didn't get into trouble. Odd, when the rest of our group were us...) and two belgian sisters - one with chronic fatigue. I would say we got along famously, except we didn't really gel. Ah well, the other van was teh 'sickly lovey dovey couple van', so we were okay in ours).

It was teh quietest, dryest birthday I've ever had, and I have to say, it didn't feel much like a birthday at all - despite the poof (which I believe is spelt pouf, but is much more entertaining this way).

Anyway, our co-car-iates were not v. impressed with the organisation of the trip, which was - admittedly - touristy. We stopped sporadically to see 'this kasbah' or 'that village', and weren't really guided at all - we were using guidebooks to find out where we were racing through. However, the three of us (stalwart travellers that we are) were aware of the fact we were travelling according to a timetable which would get us to the desert, on camels, in a caravan over the dunes to arrive at the tents by sunset. You can't ask sunset to 'hold off because I want to stop here for a while' unfortunately - so we couldn't see the point raising a mutiny.

Anyway, one of the stops was the Todra Gorges, into which we walked a small way, before climbing a bit and sitting watching the world go by. We reclined on divans under a sun shade and ate our lunch there, and while we did so: a bunch of motorcross bikes came roaring through. Sure - they might be smelly, noisy and dusty - but the riders looked like they were having a great time. Must remember that when I get my explorer...

A bumpy ride over sabkah took us into a riad (which I think just means 'place' - judging by the building) whereupon a string of camels awaited. The approach was filled with small pockets of sand dunes whose horns (the two ends) were starting to sweep across the single laned road - whcih put me in mind of New Club Reef. I remembered this as the land I miss...despite the ominous grumblings beginning in my belly, and the quick pelting of rain on the border of the desert and the fine sand that was already sticking to our skin.

The sahara awaited. Thankfully, we'd already condensed our packs to small backpacks (no shower facilities in teh desert = minimal toiletries...) containing not much more than a set of warm clothes and a set of spare clothes. We'd stopped at the 'last chance gas station' to use the toilets and purchase water and head scarves, the latter we'd been shown how to wrap around our heads/faces to keep the sand out of our noses/mouths. Since Lira got a blue one, and I chose red, we were suddenly the Bloods & Crips of the Sahara - such as we'd definitely taken on the appearance of windswept marauders.

The faces of the people we'ds een out here were more 'african' now, the bone structure less pointy, more rounded etc. We had camels chosen for us (unnamed - as it's un-islamic to name animals other than cats) and off we went.

It was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! The smell of crystalline glass talc filled our nostrils over the slightly sweet smell of our own breaths under our face scarves. We had shadows cast onto the dunes of our caravan, by the setting sun. Words really aren't enough - you'll have to believe my enthusiasm and the pictures I'll post instead. Sorry.

We reached the tents, dismounted (ouch) and then raced up a few dunes, to eke out the last few moments of sunset over the most amazing grandiose and scary landscape I've ever set foot upon. The sand is as slippery as I recall, but I did manage to walk some of the way without sinking (you have to do this weird hipmovement in order to shift your weight really carefully). For the most part though, my ankles were deep in the soft stuff...

...finally down to the camp. The moon was large enough that we didn't need to turn on our light - until we ate. Tasteless Tagine (again!) followed by Orange segments (yum). I'm not sure whether people have started cooking for the tourist tastes of 'bland' but so far, the food in Morocco has been significantly underwhelming, which has disappointed us all.

Lira and I also went up the other dune (immediately behind our camp) after dinner, and lay in the sand awhile, looking at the stars (the big dipper was right above us). According to our guide, they navigate by the stars, and the position of the dunes themselves. And (get this) "it's easy if you know how". ha ha ha ha.

Down the steep slope in about 2 steps (both of which had me almost hip deep in sand (there was sand in my back pocket which had only gotten there after the pocket had FIRST plunged groundwards, despite the dune-shaped obstacle directly beneath my feet) and we slept outside under the blankets we'd ridden in on (those camel humps are, um, awkward...how on earth do boys cope?) - which, surprisingly, didn't smell. EIther that or my cold was a life-saver! And despite seeing some bloody large beetles while our eating light was on, none of them walked over our faces during the night - bonus!!!

Small flies woke us all up at about 5ish, and we cleared camp after another stop 'behind the palm tree' which by now had several piles of disturbed sand (indicating 'do not dig here, someone else recently did...') since it afforded the only 'privacy' for miles. There's a certain something about having a gentle morning-Saharan breeze blowing gently across your 'privates'.

I worked out a few things (I was bored, my tummy wasn't well, what's a girl to do when lying prone dreaming of binding agents?). I've travelled over 548,090km so far in my life (as the crow flies - which means far more in actual fact). That's 1.5 times to the moon (not taking into account the increasing distance, which i cannot be bothered figuring out for each time I've travelled - there are SOME limits people).

And, if I wait until I'm 38 to procreate, Dad'll be 76. EEK! And I'd kinda like my children to have the opportunity to hear him talk about setting a field of wheat/straw on fire...and stealing one of those push-me-pull-you railway things, rather than have to relate them myself. Mainly because I reckon Grandad (his Dad) was kinda cool, and Grandma (Mums mum) keeps reminding me that her favourite memory of Stan (Grandad) was when he and I were walking up the road after she'd dropped me off at Nanny & Grandad's (I must've been quite young) - hand in hand with me looking up at him in my usual precocious manner and skipping alongside him (me? skipping???! What the prague?) and him looking down at me, walking stick (hunting stick - it was cool how you could fold it out and sit against it!) on his other side, off to the mobile library to get books for my brief stay in Aldershot.

I wouldn't mind a memory like that of my OWN child with my Dad. Of course, if Dad initiates the development of a persecution complex like the one I've nurtured...
posted by Nomes @ Sunday, May 14, 2006  
2 Comments:
  • At 9:47 am, May 15, 2006, Blogger Mums said…

    Hi GNomes,
    Not surprised Marrakesh fell short of the expected. It's been a tourist trap for so long that even my elder sister went there in the days when it was "hip" and they all wore Afghans (which was a kind of coat, not the dog!)
    Incidentally the "walking" stick your Grandpa carried was called a shooting stick - why the hell would I know - but that's what it's called. These days they make shhoting "chairs" but they just don't have the same cache.
    Sorry you had a drab birthday. Mine by comparison was great, starting with breakfast in the treetops over the turtles, but I think I've told you this IN AN EMAIL, so don't say you didn't get one!!
    I feel very virtuous today - I've done all the ironing, which included all the clothes we took to Brisbane for Dot's funeral. Black clothes are tricky for me to iron without burning myself, but I managed - yay.
    But now I'm cleaning everything in sight - all the glasses and the carafes cos we're having a champagne breakfast for six on Sunday morning. We've invited Richard and Stephanie (he works with Ron, she works for the Council and is French) and our next door neighbours, Darryl and Margaret. Actually I must find out if his name is spelt with one r or two, otherwise the name place will be wrong. I've already bought the smoked salmon and caviar, as well as the hoummous, although I will have to blend it with my own oil and lemon juice as I don't think much of the bought one, but at least I won't have to disintegrate the chick peas. Naturally there is loads of champers, only twelve bottles in the wine fridge but another box on the wine rack and a further one in waiting. Strange to be back to drinking Carringtons as we did in Doha.
    I'll even be able to break out the hostess trolly - it's first use in Australia. So I'm really looking forward to putting on our first breakfast party - apparently a first for the folk here, but then not everyone knows about "Friday breakfast".
    Better love and leave you, your Pa is home and requires attention, not to mention that I enjoy giving him mine. Don't worry about him being 76 when you produce, he's got to live till 110 cos I'm living until 96!
    Love you heaps, Mums

     
  • At 6:13 am, May 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Nomes,

    Not quite sure how to contact you so just thought I would let you know that Bevan and I will be in "what the Prague" from the from the 8th to 11th of September would be great to catch up it you are then.

    Take care
    Tammy

     
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