30 Second Escape – Petra, Jordan

July 8, 2009
Treasury at Petra

Treasury at Petra

As one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the ancient city of Petra in Jordan is an archeological marvel. Constructed around 100 BC, but not discovered until 1821, this phenomenal city provides a unique opportunity to explore. A narrow gorge of high, red sandstone, called the Siq (or shaft) leads to Petra’s most jaw-dropping find, Al Khazneh (or The Treasury).

Take a step back in time as you wander through ancient history in Jordan’s Petra.

ESCAPE DRINK OF THE DAY: Petra Beer, of course!


30 Second Escape – New Orleans

July 7, 2009
Jackson Square

Jackson Square

Where else in the world would a city’s “excess and eccentricity” be considered such a source of pride? Why in New Orleans, of course!

A visit to historic Jackson Square wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the famous Cafe Du Monde for a plateful of doughy, delightful, powdered sugar beignets. cafedumonde(576 x 768)

The city has a charm and grace carefully cultivated in it’s people, gardens, and magnificent balconies. And for those who enjoy savoring the culinary pleasures in life, New Orleans has honed eating and drinking to a fine art form.

One visit to this charismatic city and you’ll be hooked. New Orleans,”The City That Care Forgot”, is definitely a state of mind!

ESCAPE DRINK OF THE DAY: Absinthe at Tujague’s original stand-up bar


30 Second Escape – South Africa, Karongwe Reserve

July 6, 2009

When the workday pressure gets to be too much…

When it’s safer to click on a link than to head to the vending machine…

Take 30 seconds and ESCAPE!

Karonge Reserve, South Africa

Baby Cheetah

Baby Cheetah

Going on an African safari is a dream for many people. Getting up close, like we were able to do with this little furball, is a priceless gift.

A typical day begins at 4:30 am for volunteers on the Karongwe Game Reserve. Working with Global Vision International, we enjoyed a chance to see and interact with the animals in ways not always possible on a regular safari.

Africa is an amazing place. It becomes a part of you, even long after you’ve come back home.

ESCAPE DRINK OF THE DAY:
Armarula on the rocks

Enjoy and safe travels!


Voyeurism 101

July 2, 2009

I have a secret I’m ashamed to admit. Having never lived in a high-rise with a view before, I’m finding daily life “on the outside” to be much more exciting than ever before. I think I might be a voyeur!

So many interesting things are going on right in front of me and I can watch it all from my window in my pj’s – with binoculars and a hi-zoom camera lens, of course.

surf (826 x 664)

The dawn patrol surfers are out on the water before my eyes are even open yet, crazy people, that water is chilly! Avid tennis players run back and forth across the courts, chasing fuzzy yellow balls. Paddlers ply the lagoon on their stand-up boards while swimmers try not to get run over mid-stroke.

tarp(912 x 684)

The family of three who live under a blue tarp in the park gives me a chance to say a prayer of thanks every morning when I look to be sure they made it through the night.

fireboat(912 x 684)

I can see it all from here and I’m enjoying it way too much. Even what’s going on in the channel is interesting. Every am, like clockwork, the Atlantis Submarines are towed toward Waikiki Beach. Battleships and Coast Guard cutters perform routine maneuvers from the nearby bases. Parasail speeders and dive boats vie for perfect position in the morning hours, while the afternoon is filled with colorful spinnaker sails.

dragon (714 x 572)

I can’t walk through the door without running to the window and grabbing the binoculars. “Look! Those people are grilling a whole pig in the park. Let’s go make friends with them.” I understand voyeurism is a disease and the first step is admitting you have a problem. I admit it – my problem is that the binoculars I have aren’t nearly strong enough.


Humuhumu nukunuku apua’a

June 19, 2009

humu (468 x 374)
No, that’s not a dish on the pupu platter – it’s the Hawaiian name for their state fish. “Humuhumu” is much easier to pronounce, though locals are happy to give lessons on correct pronunciation of the full name for anyone interested in listening.

Andrew Doughty of OAHU REVEALEDexplains “At first glance it seems like a nightmare. But if you read the word slowly, it is pronounced just as it looks. Humu (hoo-moo) is pronounced twice. Nuku (noo-koo) is pronounced twice. A (ah) is pronounced once. Pu is pronounced once. A’a (ah-ah) is pronounced twice. Now wasn’t that easy?”

We had the pleasure of seeing these beautiful Picasso Triggerfish up close last weekend snorkeling at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.ambay (768 x 576) The amazing array of colors on this fish – blue lips, red fins, and a golden triangle at the rear of the body – make you wonder if Picasso didn’t have a hand in this design.

Now we can pronounce at least one Hawaiian word – and we know what to look for while out in the bay with our head under the water scouting for fish!

Aloha!


Island Time – Cart Racing!

June 9, 2009

It’s been just over a week since we moved into our Oahu condo, home for the next eight months. A place I’d never dreamed we’d be living (Hawaii’s incredibly low real estate market definitely was to our advantage). The view is amazing! We walk around in wide-eyed wonder most of the time.

View from my desk!

View from my desk!

There is so much to get used to, living in a high rise. Things I’d really not thought about before – navigating groceries through the elevators for one. Bringing loaded shopping bags in from the parking garage requires pulling into a “drop-off” spot, signing in the car (thirty minutes max), grabbing a grocery cart (or two), filling it up and heading for the elevator.
It can be quite embarrassing when someone else is going up at the same time as it seems to be a natural instinct to peruse what’s in the baskets. Typical conversation goes something like this, “Nice breeze today, isn’t it?”
“Yes, very nice. I see you prefer Northern brand over Charmin. Is it for the softness or the strength?”
By the time we get to the 35th floor, I’ve learned way more than I need to about our neighbor’s toilet tissue preferences. We say goodbye and now the real fun begins.
The elevator doors pop open and silent, wide, carpeted corridors await. I push out first, shooting headlong down the hallway with Cheryl in hot pursuit tagging my heels with tips of asparagus jutting out from the bottom of her cart. We race toward our door – carts tipping precariously, tomatoes rolling, milk sloshing, threatening to dump an entire afternoon’s shopping on the white carpet.

The RACE TRACK!

The RACE TRACK!

In minutes we reach our door at the end of the hallway – Cheryl usually wins by blocking my cart just as we round the corner (or as she tells it, she wins because I can’t keep mine from careening off the walls on the turn). We tumble into the condo in fits of laughter over our VERY serious competition – because whoever gets in last has to put away the groceries! We’ve discovered the lost art of cart racing and if a few melons get bruised in the process, we think it’s a small enough price to pay.


Pez Maya Revisited

April 13, 2009

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About a year and a half ago, my friend Cheryl and I arrived in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for the first step in what would prove to be a ten week, life-changing experience of personal growth and forging strong friendships. We joined with others from all reaches of the globe that were to be part of Global Vision International’s Coral Reef Research volunteer expedition in Pez Maya.
Last week, we had the opportunity to re-visit Pez Maya and speak with the staff and some of the EM’s (expedition members) who are following the same path we took for a greater good, as well as incredible diving opportunities.
The changes in Pez Maya we noticed were small. The kitchen looks incredible and there are walls around the palm frond shower. There are now three (wow!) toilets, instead of the one we shared during most of our stay.
The drive down the dirt road from Tulum hadn’t changed much either. It was long, bumpy, dusty, and hot. A bit similar to how we felt when we first arrived. My struggles were daily at first – I couldn’t pull myself into the boat, could barely swim the requisite distance, didn’t recognize my toes from all the mosquito bites, and missed meat more than you could imagine. But as time went on, those struggles began to get easier.
What had not changed, though, was the enthusiasm of the staff. Coming in from a chilly dive on a perfect day, Laura Mears (Expedition Manager) took time from her lunch to show us around and introduce us to the new group. Seeing Lluvia Soto again as a staff member, instead of the EM we were together, was a treat. I’ve missed her smile and I’m sure the Coral Geeks will welcome her knowledge.
Saying goodbye to GiGi and Luke as they made their way to Spain was tearful, but sweet. Getting a chance to catch up with Mo and Danny in Playa made us realize how fast time marches on and how the winds of travel can take us far away very quickly.
We spoke to one of the three young men on this expedition at Pez Maya and his thrill of being there at the beach, learning to dive, and giving something back at the same time was contagious. It brought back some of what we felt when we were there learning about the importance of protecting the coral reef systems.
Watching the people around us bind into a more cohesive unit, helping each other and becoming friends was a true study in how the world can be a better place. We made friends we’ve since met up with again in London, Athens, Malaysia, and our last visit to Playa del Carmen. While at Pez Maya, Cheryl became a Dive Master and I learned that I could swim much farther than I’d thought before.
But even more than those accomplishments are those made inside. We all challenged ourselves to move far outside of our comfort zones in ways we’d never before thought possible and came through different people. Seeing the base today, we were reminded of how important that time was and especially the people we met along the way. Many, many thanks to all of you who shared this experience with us!!