Saturday, July 22, 2017

Not Alone

Went to Zumba this morning and I'm not sure why I was surprised that Alisha made us rain. She has always been energetic -- even when fully pregnant.

Returned home after Zumba and wasn't sure what to do with myself outside of washing clothes. Eventually pulled myself together and went to the pool so I could alleviate my cabin fever.

You know that it's hot when you're warm while in the pool. When I got back home, realized how good it feels to be unplugged and, of course, I should never underestimate aquatic therapy. I felt less "woe is me" after returning. Having just the weekend to recuperate and get stuff done tends to make me gloomy and I know that I'm not the only one who experiences this soooo...

Went to run an errand around 8-ish and the temperature was still registering over 100 degrees. Listened to the Jill Scott CD that I randomly picked up when I went to retrieve The Wangs vs. the World from the library. I really like tracks five, six (Lovely Day) and ten. Had to give Scott's remake of Lovely Day a couple of listens before I stopped making comparisons to the original.



On the way back from my errand, enjoyed sky-gazing and wondered if the indigo clouds were heat-related.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

To Tame Or Not...

I used to be able to resist the siren call of the all-staff email announcing leftover cookies and cakes but it's been calling my name lately. Didn't even eat it at work -- brought it home. Somehow, I need to regroup...

There's been ongoing excessive heat advisories so I've had to resort to at-home exercise again -- not my favorite thing to do right now. Went to yoga yesterday and really enjoyed class. During savasana I was conscious but not and experienced a little float-like feeling just as the teacher started talking us back into an upright position.

Outdoor yoga was canceled today because of the heat and, last night, one of my colleagues texted me our Zumba teacher's Facebook "Sub Alert" post. I had really been looking forward to going to his class. The city pool has extended hours on Wednesday so I decided to go and it was such a nice evening. I kept telling myself "10 more minutes. 10 more minutes..."

Magical Evening at the Pool
As I read Gingerzingi's comment about Lisa Stansfield's song, it occurred to me that I should make a "vacation" playlist. Haven't been to La Jolla in a long time but whenever I hit that town, I am inspired to sing You're Beautiful and, in general, being by water makes me sing Otis Redding. Will have to think about, at least, seven other songs for this playlist. In the meantime, I also need to work on taming my wanderlust but I'm not sure if a vacation playlist is going to help me out with that goal.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Pledge

The song is my head right now is All Around The World by Lisa Stanfield...

I'm not sure why my brain associates songs with things that people say and whatnot but I heard so much Balkan music while traveling that the soundtrack in my head changed from English language songs and I found myself singing the few Bosnian ones that I know.

When I returned to work, I had the situation below waiting for me. So sweet -- even without the apple strudel and I enjoyed the world map napkins.



Something that was not sweet -- returning to a toxic coworker. I had an internal debate with myself before I concluded that I need to do everything in power, self-care wise, so that I don't behave in the bitter manner that my coworker does. I will get to as many yoga classes as possible, take as many lavender-infused salt baths, swim as many miles as it takes and walk as far as possible before I get to the point where I'm constantly spewing unhappiness on others...

Love the Instagram post below but, of course, I want both -- the actual retreat and mind retreat.

A post shared by Rewire Me (@rewireme) on

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Doggedness, In Action

My suitcase is almost unpacked and I've washed two loads of clothes, cooked my first meal since returning home and I've been to three yoga classes but I've also reflected on how it was, in some ways, nice not to have a yoga studio on every corner while on vacation and, thus, taking away the temptation to be at a studio for a set hour and, instead, practice a different kind of non-asana yoga.

I have handed out most of the souvenirs that I accumulated. Had breakfast with my aunt Debbie, my cousin Chiquita and Alison too...

Can't bear to put the ABC container in the recycling bin that held lokum cookies made by A, the 'Fugee's friend. When I remembered that I had the cookies in my carry-on luggage, delight.

In my last post, I forgot to say that I missed dates and not the dry ones that we got at the grocery store in Hvar but the imported ones from Iran. Those dates were such a filling snack as we traveled around...

I've downloaded the almost 800 pictures that I took and uploaded about 125 to a photo-sharing website. When I look at all the images, I think My God, we covered a lot of ground.

I still think about the Balkan people who had air conditioner in their cars but didn't want to use it. They also didn't want to roll down the windows because of the dreaded European draft. There was a woman at this restaurant, Biban, who didn't want to sit at a particular table, closer to the spectacular view, because she thought she'd be more susceptible to a draft.

I'm still baffled by A who is cautious regarding drafts but opened up the doors in the morning to let all of the Croatian mosquitoes in. Drafts are dangerous but mosquitoes are not? Also, isn't there a draft when you open all the doors?

The 'Fugee did an excellent job of organizing our adventure. She is well informed as a lot of her fellow Balkan people are and it makes me think of my first yoga retreat in Jamaica when one of my fellow travelers said that she was embarrassed by how much Jamaicans knew about American politics but she knew nothing about Jamaican politics. I felt similarly when asked about American stuff while abroad.

But I digressed... The 'Fugee did a great job. In her role as organizer, it also made me realize, again, what a great interpreter she is.

At one point the 'Fugee said that she wished that A and I could communicate so that I could see how funny A is... Obviously, our communication was much more meaningful when the 'Fugee interpreted but A and I found little ways to communicate. Necessity is the mother of...

Speaking of communication, there are times when I've perceived the 'Fugee's pursuit of what she wants as dogged but it was very enlightening to see her Balkan peeps, with equal or greater doggedness, in action. Alas, I  had taken the 'Fugee out of her cultural context... It's weird because I know other people from the Balkans but...I will chalk up my observations and understanding to being more alert and present nowadays.

On another note, the 'Fugee also deserves recognition for her budding photography skills. This woman has always been fond of taking pictures but is now fully participating in the process by being on the other side of the camera and it's been fun to see her pictures.

Photo Credit: The 'Fugee

A keeping her eyes on Buddy... Photo Credit: The 'Fugee
Thank you, 'Fugee, for showing me around and sharing your friends with me. Puša, two times...


Friday, July 7, 2017

Somewhere Again

Split Airport
I miss ordering cherry juice during beverage service on Croatia airlines -- even though I'm not a big juice drinker.

I miss drinking Orangina while in the Balkans; it doesn't taste the same in Missouri and, again, I don't usually indulge.

I miss the way the 'Fugee's friend, A, slowly drawls out "Ma da..." even though I'm not totally sure what she's saying.

I miss the waiter's (at our favorite Croatian restaurant) singsong way of saying Moze...  
I miss breakfast rituals with the 'Fugee and I even miss our dormitory-style sleeping arrangements.

Needless to say, I miss the sea and the seagulls.



I miss the way Europeans take an extra swimming suit to the beach then change into the dry one behind a towel. 

I miss the way it's okay to touch people if you need to get by them or get their attention.

I miss people's trusting nature. 

#10 Leading the way to the Mirabella Fortress

The 'Fugee and Emina (who drove us up some really hilly terrain in a manual, wow).

I miss the foragers.

Mulberry Bushes, Sarajevo
I miss the courtyard swing set in Omis and mixing up my various currencies. I miss the struggle of converting kilograms to pounds...

I'm ready to go somewhere again.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Journey Back

5 a.m.Goodbye View of the Sea
As my time in Croatia came to a close, I tried to concentrate on all of fun that I'd had but, inevitably, I got sad and wondered if I should have stayed longer.

Kept thinking that it was time to return to my regular life but that's not an accurate adjective because the trip was part of my regular life but, of course, vacation life is not the usual day-to-day grind.

I should be all kinds of grateful that I have a job that will let me take more than three weeks off, that I had enough stamina for such an awesome adventure and that my travel guide, the 'Fugee, planned such an adventure.

The 'Fugee's childhood friend, A, was super sweet when she asked what time "we" had to get up. We had to get up at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday in order to make it to the airport. A set her alarm clock way before I set mine. Also, the landlord was covering airport duty and said that if she wasn't up, which was highly unlikely, to wake her up. I was covered on all fronts...

The airport in Munich was super-confusing and I had such a urge to go with the crowd when we got off the shuttle bus but knew that I was supposed to be at a different terminal. The set-up was a confusing and I finally asked one of the passport control folks. It was like a maze when I got to the other terminal. This guy, traveling with his young child, was also trying to find his gate when I said to him that the airport was perplexing, he said that most airports in Europe are confusing.

I expected something different out of a German airport but oh well...

The plane, unlike the one coming from America, was huge. Three sections with four seats in the middle and two seats on each side of the middle section. I was in the middle and didn't move nearly as much as I should have.

I was knocked out from Split to Munich and kept losing control of my head on the Munich flight too. Woke up at one point and everybody had ice cream, LOL.

When we finally landed my feet felt numb and the numbness, together with my mild plantar fasciitis, made for an interesting task as far as getting my feet going. I can also see how people get in trouble with deep vein thrombosis. Someone else also mentioned that their feet felt numb...

This woman in front of me told two airport workers that her flight was scheduled to leave in about 20 minutes. Thought she might have been on my flight because I had the same issue. The workers shrugged and said That's just the way it is...

The walking time to my terminal was 15 minutes so I caught a shuttle but when I got to my gate no one else was there. This woman across the way spotted me and scanned my boarding pass. I was so grateful because I did not want to delay my marathon journey...

Got up this morning and 6:00 a.m. and the tears started rolling not too long after that. It wasn't an ugly cry but...

Went to yoga despite feeling like I needed a nap because my body is tight as hell. Thought about how the tourist agent in Omis said that there used to be one person who did yoga but people were looking for more of a workout and she started doing Pilates.

In The States, it's a yoga studio on almost every corner but it worked for me to do a little chair yoga while on vacation.

During this morning's class, Annie talked about staying in the present moment which was definitely a hard thing to do as my mind kept wandering back to Europe...

Best Thing About Munich...

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Crossing Bridges

There's nothing like taking pictures on vacation to give you an accurate how much weight you've gained.

I like to tell the 'Fugee, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it and that bridge will appear when I get home...

Went to the grocery store this morning and three feet separated me from the shelf that I was looking at. Somehow, it was still enough space for this woman to step, precisely, in front of me. I found her invasion quite amusing...

The 'Fugee's childhood friend, "A," joined us in Omis and I was a bit nervous even though I'd met her before. One of the things that I worried about was my night owlness. I usually don't get sleepyhead until around midnight or later.

The minute that I got up, "A" opened the doors which cracked me up... In Mostar the 'Fugee and I stayed with one of her other friends and the windows let in every ray of light that existed but I'm trying to go with the flow and if I am awakened before I normally get up, so be it...

Being in Europe reminds me of friends who used to stay in a big house in North St. Louis but moved to Baltimore. The wife said that they had gone from having beaucop space to spitting on each other...

Today the 'Fugee asked me how my tolerance was for Balkan music at this point and I told her that it was starting to get to me a bit but I'm in Rome sooooo...

We went to a cafe that we hadn't planned on going to but went to get out of the rain. There were these two little girls with their grandmothers and one, Marietta, kept stealing looks at me. When I smiled at her, she shyly smiled back. Marietta was so sweet. The other grandchild was a bit saucier and finally asked Who is the lady in the all black dress? So cute. Both girls were about four, I think...

View by the cafe and Mirabella Fortress


My day started off in the courtyard. I ate breakfast in my favorite seat, a swing, read my book, watched the sea and, eventually, we went to the beach and I got in despite the cooler temperatures. I feel like I have to take advantage of every opportunity that I have to swim in the open water -- especially as my trip winds down...

Our Beach Condo

At some point, "A" went to get crepes for us and I asked the 'Fugee if she needed help but "A" had told her no then the 'Fugee quickly added "When a Bosnian says no, it doesn't mean no." LOL...


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Seven Kuna

The 'Fugee's friend that was supposed to come with us had scheduled vacation time but was needed at work because of her unique skills etc. The 'Fugee sent her some pictures and told her that we were thinking about her... She told the 'Fugee that God had given this "time" to us and we should enjoy it.

If I had my way, I would have enjoyment for the masses...

I can't even remember what all the 'Fugee and I did before we headed off to Split the other night. What I do remember is that our bus driver drove like an aggressive bat out of hell. The third time that I mentioned this to the 'Fugee she told me what they used to say about such people -- He drives as if he has potatoes on his bus -- not people.

Split, wow, a lot of people in the Port of Split. Lots of people. Performers on the program and street performers trying to earn a kuna. Stunning architecture, lots of places to ear but too many people for me.

Port of Split

When I saw how much it cost to travel from Split to Austria, I had a moment of regret that traveling abroad never got on my radar when I was younger. The only person that I knew who'd gone abroad was an uncle who went to Germany because he was in the military.

At any rate, I've had a great trip and I'm not going to let "could have beens" diminish that fact...

Theatre, Split

Drama about what happened to people in Vukovar.

I had a superb juice of apple, pineapple, mint and something else and, of course, I had to use the bathroom not too long after that. I don't understand the scarcity of toilets -- especially in Split with the mass of humanity that visits. Eventually found a toilet and paid seven kuna then my iPod fell into said toilet. It came back on but there are issues...

We caught public transportation back home and the 'Fugee asked two young ladies a question and when she said thanks, they responded simultaneously in a singsong voice "Nista..."

The line to get on the bus was long and a single file line? Forget it. Personal space? Forget it. Air conditioner? Forget it.

This bus driver also took hairpin turns at an impressive speed. When we got off the bus, the 'Fugee asked me to slow down. "I'm walking as if I have doll's feet" she said.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Traveling Is...

Last night, the 'Fugee's trilingual friend told her, in Bosnian, that she didn't think that I'd have enough water to take a shower. The 'Fugee's response? Oh, she knows.

The 'Fugee gives me "The Rules" whenever we stay with her friends but what's funny is that she is usually the one who makes some mess. I try to be mega careful as a guest so I have become super efficient at taking showers et al. in Europe...
 
I am fascinated with the compactness of this area. There's a part of me that wants things to be a little bigger but I fully appreciate that things are not super-sized...

Also, the fact that you can't assume a public toilet will have tissue or that you might have to pay to use the toilet, gives me a whole knew appreciation for resources. In addition, people's reluctance to use air conditioning also puts things into perspective...

I have lost track of days and I'm doing a good job of not projecting into the future and staying focused on the present moment. Originally, I kept wondering what I was going "to do" while on vacation or that I could be achieving\doing things at home instead of doing some European Rumspringa but, in the end, traveling is a form of self-care if you can find the resources to do it. 

World's Smallest Washing Machine

Small Shower
The 'Fugee and I arrived in Croatia today and, as we walked around, after spending time on the beach, I wished for everyone a relaxing vacation surrounded by beauty, water and other relaxed people putting their best feet forward...

Makarska Riviera from the Bus


I've been jonesing to take a yoga class in the Balkans but, obviously, that's not a priority. I did find a couple of YouTube chair yoga videos since we've been doing a lot of walking and my hamstrings and feet have been talking to me...

I have yet to crack the pages of one of two books that I've bought and definitely have learned more lessons about trusting my packing instincts.

Post-Beach Grocery Shopping


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Not Right

The 'Fugee and I made our way from Sarajevo to Mostar. For some reason, I don't mind traveling by bus here -- maybe it's the scenery. I was surprised, though, when we stopped by a school and about 20 students hopped on. Personal space? What personal space? Passengers sat on the steps or on luggage. I had to share my arm rest with the woman who sat on the luggage. When it came time for her to get off the bus, she called the driver a name but I never called her name for coughing all over me, ugh, cover your mouth...


Passing through Jablanica
Let me back up a bit.

The driver was a little miffed with all of us who arrived with mere minutes to spare. You all show up at the last minute then get mad when the bus leaves without you. 

The customer is not always right in the Balkans. In fact, the customer is not right.

Even the bridge (Stari Most) jumpers get miffed when they don't collect what they think they should collect. I feel like they shouldn't assume that no tourists speak their language but I also think that they don't care about same language speakers especially when those speakers are from the diaspora. In the Balkans, you're damned if you stayed and damned if you didn't...

Jumping for KM or Euros
One of the 'Fugee's friends wanted to know how we were surviving on the hottest day in Europe. We fared reasonably well by staying by the Neretva River, taking a brief tour of a Turkish bath and thinking cool thoughts -- for the most part...

Stari Most Bridge, Mostar

Hamming it up in the Turkish Bath Museum.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Just Four of Us

It's been nine days since I took off for my journey and eight days since I've been in Bosnia. I have yet to open a book, peek at a magazine or listen to the many podcasts that I downloaded. Guess that's a sign that I am immersed in my home away from home...

On Tuesday night, we made a dash to the grocery store and I was surprised to look up and see three children warmly smiling at me. The youngest was really curious but hesitant to engage. I did give the older children high fives. It was such a sweet encounter -- the open faces and warm energy.

Yesterday we set out to catch a ride on the city bus tour. We had gone several days ago but the the tour was canceled because five people are needed and there were only four of us. Even though we all agreed to chip in for a phantom fifth person, the bus driver wasn't having it. 

There were the same number of people yesterday but, this time, the bus driver took us up on our offer to pay for a fifth ticket.

There is no air conditioner on the bus and, with the windows down, it was impossible to hear the tour guide who was on the first level of the bus. This woman from Croatia went to strongly suggest that he come upstairs. There was also a microphone port upstairs but the quality was questionable and I ended up moving to the seat behind the guide. Had I not had the 'Fugee to fill in the gaps, I would have missed a lot of information... I'm enjoying the directness of Europeans. It kind of cracked me up when the Croatian woman's husband asked for the English version of the tour map. The bus driver unceremoniously "snatched" the Bosnian version. He was not a rude person but fluff was not a consideration...

One of the things that the guide talked about was the poor condition of the trams which were made in the Czech Republic 30 years ago. There are a few new trams, one donated by Turkey. He also talked about funds, in general, that were donated after the war but how large amounts of money have seemingly disappeared which made me think of the funds mishandled by the Red Cross after the earthquake in Haiti.

Going down the main boulevard, mortar scars are everywhere. I remember the TV images of the Holiday Inn from the news coverage and when the guide mentioned that we were on Sniper Alley, also remembered that and thought about the horror of people being picked off while riding the tram or going to get water...

Former Holiday Inn
Sniper Alley


Olympic Venue, 1984
End of the Line, Bus Tour (Serb Republic)
Later on, we met up with one of the 'Fugee's friends for lunch then went to a mall for coffee and dessert. The mall was big but still seemed stylish and efficient. 

In general, love the Austro-Hungarian architecture. The 'Fugee's friend is appalled by an "awning" recently placed on one of the buildings. She was like How could they?...


The Academy of  Fine Arts (Green Dome)

Wooden Bridge
Offensive White Add-On to Entrance Area


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Oh, The People...

Yesterday the 'Fugee and I took a field trip to Konjic, a town about 75 minutes away from Sarajevo. It was a nice bus ride albeit a little hairy on the way back which was downhill and winding.

When we hit town, the 'Fugee asked this woman for recommendations as far as where to eat and drink coffee. She was pretty funny as she told the 'Fugee that we were NOT going to drink coffee in just one place. She also said that if she didn't have groceries, she would join us.

Konjic
After consulting with the advisor, we went to check out this wood shop and a wood museum then we headed across the bridge to a restaurant and that's how we spent our day in Konjic -- eating, drinking coffee, admiring the scenery and changing vantage points.

Mulicev Rekord

Enough food for...
On the way back, we asked another woman what was the best way to get back to the bus stop. She was hilarious... I asked her, as if she spoke English (with an expectation that the 'Fugee would interpret), had she lived in Konjic all of her life and she responded "yes" then said that she had studied English. She had difficulty speaking but understood most of what I was saying.


P.M. sun hitting the "Old Bridge."
When we got to the bus stop, I asked the 'Fugee where was the official sign and she chuckled and said This is not America -- people just know...

Sun hitting the mountains on the way back.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that today is World Refugee Day. What to say? The hashtag that sums it up is #WithRefugees.

World Refugee Day Sign in Sarajevo



Saturday, June 17, 2017

100 Of Your Friends

Managed to miss the celebration for the International Day of Yoga in Sarajevo. When I think about it, though, I really didn't have much of a chance to make it to the celebration.

Went to bed around 1:30 a.m. and felt like I had a solid night of sleep but I really didn't roll out of bed until 10 which was the start time of the celebration...


I'm feeling a bit like I'm in a TV series called 'Drea and the 'Fugee in the City or something like that.

Selfie A Games
When we went to eat today, we were approached by about 10 people -- mostly kids -- asking for money. One waitress politely asked them not to bother guests at the table but another waitress lost her patience and told one of the kids No one is going to give you money because 100 of your friends have already been here. 

I asked the 'Fugee if there are any agencies that are helping people and she said that there are such places...

On the other hand, I am eating my fair share of food and sometimes wonder if I will fit into an airplane seat again...

Buckwheat Crepes with Rose Hip Marmalade

Delicious Chicken with Humungous Bread
It seems strange to tour and see so many tourists in the midst of war reminders. I like the design chosen for the memorial for children killed during the war. In my mind, it's adults who were killed but, of course, children got caught in the crossfire too. The most chilling dates to me were 1992-1992. 

Memorial for Children killed during the war, 1992-1995.


Speaking of people that were killed, Philando Castile's mother hit the nail on the head: