Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Traveling Turtle

Welp! I'm back state-side, 5 months and three weeks of traveling notched into my belt, and thankfully not insanely jet-laggy. Waking up to a foggy San Francisco morning at my friend's place solidified in my head that I was back.
I hit the ground running in terms of getting back into my research, and after a day of organizing data, my friend Jessica and I went out for burritos, the divine SF Mission burrito. You all may argue over which joint is the best, Taqueria Cancun, La Corneta, Papalote, etc. but I'm just happy with a rotund, warm, guacamole-filled, super vegetarian, aluminum foil-wrapped burrito.

An Ode to Burritos

and guess what I'm having for breakfast? More burrito, two meals in one, helz ya
I <3 burritos ^_^

Re-entry into the US was.....exactly what I anticipated. After a 12-ish hour flight with two little kids behind me screaming and kicking my seat the entire way, I was herded, with the rest of the people on the flight, to customs. I was at customs for no more than 2 minutes, but that was apparently more than enough time to get into a dispute with the customs guy, who looked exactly like Teddy Roosevelt, over whether climate change was real or not. Yup, I was back in the US.

Then I had to collect my bag and re-check it for my LA to SF flight, which I would have had no problem with had they not stopped me for a "random security search". The guy pulled me aside and told me to open up my bag. I would just like to state that packing my bag had been a 3-hour long epic Tetris match, and after I unzipped my bag the security guy started grabbing stuff and dumping it onto the dirt and crumb ridden table. After he was done creating a huge pile on the table with my stuff, he told me to put everything back in....connard.

Delicately replacing my traveling treasures into my unhappily overfilled pack, I headed off to another security check. Pulling off my shoes, removing my belt, emptying my pockets, and placing everything into those standard grey buckets I was then directed into a giant x-ray machine, and afterwards patted down by a rather aggressive, large, black woman.
After all that and my flight to SF, I finally arrived home, weary from many hours of travel. Upon opening my pack discovered a note saying "Baggage security search" .....they had searched my bag again.

So, this is where I would like to ask a question for you all to contemplate. When does "security control" start invading personal privacy? Anal searches?
I agree that precautions need to be taken to ensure security, but living in the US I sometimes feel like Big Brother is taking liberties at this point.

Anyhoo, a week after I landed I was on a plane again to Seattle for my cousin's wedding, visiting family as well as the first farm I worked on when I was 17. I was so big eyed and bushy tailed at 17, now I return old and wise....kind of.

So here I close my final post for The Traveling Turtle with something that my mom always tells me, "you will never regret spending money on traveling," and I can truly attest to the validity of that statement. Another adventure come and gone....so what's next? South America I think, though I've always wanted to see Mongolia....but what about Africa......

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Hello peoples!

So, verging on the end of my travels I am currently meeting the difficult challenge of stuffing all my collected treasures into my backpack.....lots of gifts, some purchases, many many...many books (I have a slight addiction to Jean-Marie Pelt's books and so went out and bought every single one I could find), my clothing, and other items all need to be crammed into my burnt orange colored pack. It's a work in progress...

Anyhoo, Ireland!
Ever since I was little I wanted to go/live in Ireland. "It's green all the time, how magnificent!" I though. Well yes, but what I didn't take into consideration when I was little was that it is green all the time because it is wet all the time. The ground was so innundated with water that no more could be soaked into the soil, and thus just ran off the fields flooding the road and creating little rivers everywhere.
These soggy, wet conditions did not facilitate farm work...

I found myself at the Palmer farm with Rebecca (a seamstress/sewing teacher), Chris (the farmer), and Damelza (their daughter who boarded at her school during the week). The farm had three goats, two for milking, five chickens, a goose, a polytunnel, three cats, and four dogs. I helped milk the goats and prepare the polytunnel for planting.
The goats and the valley

Honey, one of the puppies, is very much a lap dog. You never see her preparing to claim your lap. You'd be sitting there, ever so innocently, and then all of a sudden BAM! you had a pup on your lap. Crafty devil. 

Here my turkish homework is very irritatingly in Athena (aka Beans Beans)'s way. She became extremely fond of me during my stay and I could not sit without her appearing on my lap a few seconds later. My catnip pheromone hypothesis is looking strong

Here is Lily, a golden retriever border collie mix, she had the gentle nature of a goldy and the intelligence of a collie. She was wonderful. You can also see Ralf in the back. Dogs overall are a very needy animal, but Ralf took it to an exreme, essentially trying to climb onto you for affection while you were trying to work.

I also got to do some sewing while I was there which I absolutely adored. Here are the beginning pieces of a bag I made.

This was my first project, a pillow, using a technique called the spider web. I had forgotten how much I liked sewing. Refound hobby!

My bag almost completed. I've since sewed on the strap and put it into use during one of my flights.

Here Beans Beans is rather perturbed by the cold morning and is sitting mere millimeters from the stove. Warmth, give me warmth black, heat-giver box!

On the 29th I left the farm after just two and a half weeks , earlier than planned because I had bought a ticket to Madrid to visit my friend Bea. I also left myself a day to explore Dublin. I couldn't go to Ireland and not see it.

I spend my day in Dublin just walking around lugging my packpack along with me. During my wondering, I found this magnificent restaurant called 101 Talbot. The food was orgasmic and the waiters chill and amiable. Seeing that I was there all alone they asked if I wanted a newspaper or book. The atmosphere and decor of the place was quite agreable as well, clean, lots of light, and welcoming.

I got pan fried plaice fillet, beetroot and pickeled ginger salsa, carmalized onion and parsley squashed potato....I cannot describe the magical melody of flavors that blessed my tongue with each masterfully cooked bite, and it was a reasonable 12€50.
After thouroughly savoring every morsel, I took a cafe and ended up staying there for another hour and a half just reading and milking the drink as long as possible....litterally. In order to get the coffee to last as long as possible I kept refilling the cup with the milk they had provided me. By the end it was so diluted it was more a cup of milk than coffee, but it bought me a good hour there. You might say I was milking the system...ok, I'm done with the puns. 
(Damn you Rat, your punny business is rubbing off on me!)

    I also had the brilliant idea to sleep at the Dublin airport so I could save a little of my pretty, colorful euros. I got to the airport around 10pm, read a little, and around 11:30 I curled up on my backpack, upon some seats, to get a bit of shut-eye...and that is about the same time the construciton work started. Sleeping to the blissful melody of jackhammers is not an easy feat. 
     It continued until around 2 or 3 in the morning during which I was only able to get a few intermittent naps. All throughout the night there is also cleaning and people walking around. When I was finally able to drift off into dream land the loud WHRRRRRRRRR of a giant floor cleaner would pass a foot from my head. Flight activity recommenced around 4:30 5:00am and the seats around me started filling up with people awiting their loved ones. At 7 I finally gave up the attempt to sleep and wondered around the airport to stretch my legs.
      So, at this point you might be asking me what time my flight was....1:30pm but I could check in my bags at 11:30. I just had to make it to 11:30. As the hour drew close I was so relieved it was all almost over. Soon I would be on a flight out of dark, cloudy, rainy, depressing Ireland headed to sunny Spain. I'm never willfully sleeping overnight at an airport again...never....again.
 Dublin to Madrid 13:30 flight 75165 Delayed to 15:25

CURSE YOU FATES! Due to airplane problems my flight was delayed until 3:30 and by the time we actually took off I had spent a total of 17 1/2 hours at the Dublin airport. Though it wasn't the most pleasurable experience I shouldn't be complaining too much as explained by Louis CK
 (WARNING: strong language used)

Oh, but I did find the point of no return at the airport.
The above is written in irish. All signs are in both irish and english, Irish being a mandatory class althroughout schooling in Ireland.

As mentioned before, I flew to spain to visit my frend Bea. We had met in Paris, via Robert (who was there for the roadtrip to Aix en provence), while we were all studying there. She was an absolutely amazing host as we ran around Madrid, drank with her friends, and I experienced spanish culture. 
 Old Madrid

Cool paintings

And of course I had to go to the National Museum of Natural Sciences! Poor Bea had to deal with my nerd spasms of excitment and incoherent babbling of random information about each spcimen.

There are only two mammals who lay eggs; the platypus and the echidna (the little guy above). ScIEnCe!!! ^_^

We also visited an Egyptian temple. Years back they build a damn in Egypt and four temples were going to be flooded in the process. So, they sent the temples off to other countries and Spain got one of them.

 "Adijalamani offers two cups of wine to Amon and to Mut"

 After the museum Bea took me to a really cool japanese restaurant called Kintaro where the plates of food are on a conveyor belt and you just grab what you want. We both gorged ourselves on sushi, seaweed salad, tempura, fried rice, and more. Mmmmmmmmhh delectable edible food substances

 Beautiful Madrid

One day Bea asked me what the house was called that people stayed in illegally. I knew that the people doing that were called squatters, and the verb was squatting, but I didn't believe there was a word for the house. So, Bea made up one: Squatty-house. She was so fond of her new word that she has decided that, that will be her child's first word. During the same time we also decided that if I have a child with red hair it's nickname will be brick....I'm really starting to believe that neither of us should breed....

Then, as quick as I came, I was off in a plane again headed for Paris. Madrid was definitely a place that made a mark on me and left me with warm, fuzzy, kitten-soft memories. I'd love to come back and see more of Spain as well pick up spanish. I'll be back!

I'm now chilling not too far from Paris for my last couple of days. Yesterday Yoan and I made a trip to Paris so I could pick up some more Jean-Marie Pelt books...yes, I might have a problem, Yoan could visit a massive hardware store, and we could go see the Hobbit in VO (version originale, aka in english). We ended up exploring a market in Bellville, an area with a lot of immigrants, so, there were items not normally seen in a typical french market. One being the pitaya, or the red dragon fruit, and the cherimoya. I had tried cherimoyas before, a fruit loved by my mom, but I had never before beheld the pitaya. Sadly, the cherimoya's weren't ripe but the pitaya's were, and so I had to get one so we could try it out.

It wasn't the most flavorful but we assumed that it was probably because it wasn't in season, or the fact that it probably was flown in from columbia or mexico, but it had a texture similar to that of a kiwi and was overall a delightful fruit.

I'll probably have one more post after I get back home. Philosophicolizing (to my non-anglophone friends this is not a real word) and summing up my voyage. If there are any questions you guys have for me let me know and I'll try and answer them. Flying back on the 9th. SFO here I come!