Tuesday, 15 July 2014

17 things that change forever.

 From:  http://masedimburgo.com/2014/06/04/17-things-change-forever-live-abroad/

As we brace ourselves to move abroad for the third time in a few years, I look back and I know that squeezing our lives into a suitcase and leaving our native Barcelona was the best decision that we could have possibly made. Because when you move away, when you turn your life into a journey filled with uncertainty, you grow up in unexpected ways.
Mas Edimburgo The Hobbit
You face new challenges, you get to know parts of you you didn’t know existed, you’re amazed at yourself and at the world. You learn, you broaden your horizons. You unlearn, and after coming down and embracing a few lessons, you start growing in humility. You evolve. You feel homesick… and you shape memories that will stay with you forever. If you’ve ever lived away from home or embarked on a long journey, I’m sure you too have felt these 17 things that change forever when you live abroad.
1. Adrenalin becomes part of your life.
From the moment you decide to move abroad, your life turns into a powerful mix of emotions – learning, improvising, dealing with the unexpected… All your senses sharpen up, and for a while the world “routine” is dismissed from your vocabulary to make space for an ever rising adrenalin thrill ride. New places, new habits, new challenges, new people. Starting anew should terrify you, but it’s unusually addictive.
2. But when you go back… everything looks the same.
That’s why, when you get a few days off and fly back home, it strikes you how little everything has changed. You life’s been changing at a non-stop pace, and you’re on holidays and ready to share all those anecdotes you’ve been piling up. But, at home, life’s the same as ever. Everyone keeps struggling with their daily chores, and it suddenly strikes you: life won’t stop for you.
3. You lack the (and yet you have too many) words.
When someone asks you about your new life, you lack the right words to convey all you’re experiencing. Yet later, in the middle of a random conversation, something reminds you about ‘that time when’…, and you have to hold your tongue because you don’t want to overwhelm everyone with stories from your ‘other country’ and come across as pretentious.
Rune_G_3HR.tiff
© Copyright by the artist Rune Guneriussen
4. You come to understand that courage is overrated.
Lots of people will tell you how brave you are – they too would move abroad if they weren’t so scared. And you, even though you’ve been scared, too, know that courage makes up about 10% of life-changing decisions. The other 90% is purely about wanting it with all your heart. Do you want to do it, do you really feel like doing it? Then do it. From the moment we decide to jump, we’re no longer cowards nor courageous – whatever comes our way, we deal with it.
«It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.»
5. And, suddenly, you’re free.
You’ve always been free, but freedom feels different now. Now that you’ve given up every comfort and made it work thousands of miles away from home… you feel like you’re capable of anything!
THings that change forever Mas Edimburgo
6. You no longer speak one particular language.
Sometimes you unintentionally let a word from another language slip. Other times you can only think of a way of saying something… with that perfect word which, by the way, is in the wrong language. When you interact with a foreign language on a daily basis, you learn and unlearn at the same time. All the while you’re soaking up cultural references and swear words in your second language, you find yourself reading in your mother tongue so it won’t get rusty. Like that time when Homer took a home winemaking course and forgot how to drive.
7. You learn to say goodbye… and to enjoy yourself.
You soon realize that now, most things and people in your life are just passing through, and you instinctively play down the importance of most situations. You perfect the right balance between bonding and letting go – a perpetual battle between nostalgia and pragmatism.
8. You have two of everything.
Two SIM cards (one of them packed with phone numbers from all over the world), two library cards, two bank accounts… And two types of coins, which always end up mysteriously mixing when you’re about to pay for something.
9. Normal? What’s normal?
Living abroad, like traveling, makes you realise that ‘normal’ only means socially or culturally accepted. When you plunge into a different culture and a different society, your notion of normality soon falls apart. You learn there’s other ways of doing things, and after a while, you too take to that habit you never thought you’d embrace. You also get to know yourself a little better, because you discover that some things you really believe in, while others are just a cultural heritage of the society you grew up in.
10. You become a tourist in your own city.
That tourist trap you may not have visited in your country only adds up to the never-ending list of things to do in your new home, and you soon become quite the expert on your new city. But when someone comes over for a few days and asks for some suggestions, you find it really hard to recommend but a few things – if it were up to you, you’d recommend visiting everything!
Mas Edimburgo Oh The Places You'll Go
Part of the book «Oh, the places you’ll go!», by Dr. Seuss.
11. You learn how to be patient… and how to ask for help.
When you live abroad, the simplest task can become a huge challenge. Processing paperwork, finding the right word, knowing which bus to take. There’s always moments of distress, but you’re soon filled with more patience than you ever knew you had in you, and accept that asking for help is not only inevitable, but also a very healthy habit.
12. Time is measured in tiny little moments.
It’s as if you were looking through the car window – everything moves really slowly at the back, in the distance, while in front of you life passes by at full speed. On the one hand, you receive news from home – birthdays you missed, people who left without you getting the chance to say goodbye one last time, celebrations you won’t be able to attend. On the other hand, in your new home life goes by at top speed. Time is so distorted now, that you learn how to measure it in tiny little moments, either a Skype call with your family and old friends or a pint with the new ones.
13. Nostalgia strikes when you least expect it.
A food, a song, a smell. The smallest trifle can overwhelm you with homesickness. You miss those little things you never thought you’d miss, and you’d give anything to go back to that place, even if it were just for an instant. Or to share that feeling with someone who’d understand you…
14. But you know it’s not where, but when and how.
Although deep down, you know you don’t miss a place, but a strange and magical conjunction of the right place, the right moment and the right people. That year when you traveled, when you shared your life with special ones, when you were so happy. There’s a tiny bit of who you were scattered among all the places you’ve lived in, but sometimes going back to that place is not enough to stop missing it.
Mas Edimburgo On the Road
15. You change.
I’m sure you’ve heard about life-changing trips. Well, they’re not a commonplace – living abroad is a trip that will profoundly change your life and who you are. It will shake up your roots, your certainties and your fears. Living in Edinburgh changed us forever in many ways, and if it weren’t for that experience, we probably wouldn’t be about to embark on our next life adventure right now. Maybe you won’t realise it, or even believe it, before you do it. But after some time, one day you’ll see it crystal clear. You’ve evolved, you’ve got scars, you’ve lived. You’ve changed.
16. You fit your home into a suitcase.
From the moment you squeeze your life into a suitcase (or, if you’re lucky with your airline, two), whatever you thought ‘home’ was doesn’t exist anymore. Almost anything you can touch can be replaced – wherever you travel, you’ll end up stockpiling new clothes, new books, new mugs. But there will come a day when you’ll suddenly feel at home in your new city. Home is the person traveling with you, the people you leave behind, the streets where your life takes place. Home is also the random stuff in your new flat, those things you’ll get rid of in the blink of an eye when the time to leave comes. Home is all those memories, all those long-distance calls with your family and friends, a bunch of pictures. Home is where the heart is.
17. And… there’s no turning back.
Now you know what it means to give up comfort, what starting from scratch and marveling at the world every day feels like. And it being such a huge, endless world… How could you choose not to keep traveling and discovering it?
Have you ever lived abroad? Is there anything you would add to this list? Drop us a comment and tell us about your experience!
I originally published this article in Spanish a few weeks ago. Lots of people asked for an English version, but please bear in mind English is not my native language and this is only a humble attempt at a translation. I apologise in advance for any mistakes – if there’s anything you’d like to point out, please drop me a comment below. Thank you! Angie

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Dear Julie Bishop.

G'day Julie, from a fellow Aussie. You've just visited my adopted home town of Lae. What did you think? I'm guessing you thought it was either an exciting 'frontier" kinda place, or a complete shit hole. That's ok, I won't judge you for either of those views. We who live here often feel like that. Sometimes both of those points of view simultaneously.

Here's the thing. I don't think you have the SLIGHTEST idea about Lae. And Imma pretty sure your minders didn't REALLY clue you in as to what you were getting into up here. Apparently you were up here to (amongst other things) meet with Women's Groups. Noice. Supportive.. all part of the 'sisters under the skin' thing,, yes?

Well, here's the reality of your PNG sisters.

2 of them were pack-raped today. Pack raped by looters who were drunk on stolen SP, from the remains of the fire at Pelgen's. Albeit it, the women were actually part of the looting process, I'll give you that. Probably (although not certainly) come out of the settlements you were driven through so quickly on your way from the airport.

And they were probably looting for food. Cans of Ox and Palm, maybe a bag of water-damaged rice.

They were looting, almost certainly, because they were poor and homeless and probably had a couple of mouths to feed.

That pretty much describes most women who live in Lae.

How do I know this? My husband is the warehouse manager of one of the buildings burnt down in the fire, and he spent today watching this unfold. Yes. He saw the women being raped. He also saw one of them who tried to go to a G4S guard for help being pelted with burning cans of corned beef and being called a "lying slut".

Did you bother to research attitudes and violence against women before you bought your privileged white colonial arse up here?

And while you swanned through the market, probably shielded from most of the women that sell the remnants of their subsistence-garden produce there, women who live here and try to survive here EVERY FUCKING DAY were being raped.

They closed the market after you left. Did you know that?

Closed it because the looters from the Pelgen's fire were running amok only a block or two away.

I'm sure you took a photo opportunity or two, to have your pic taken with some suitably "appropriate local women". Maybe with a cute smoked fruitbat or two.

I can hear your cultural cringing from here.

Did your minders tell you any of this?

Did you realise that you were walking into a very VERY sticky situation, and that your presence alone made it worse?

Did it dawn on you at all, that the police used to protect you while you sashayed, all White Boss Mari, fucking Memsahib-like, could have been used to diffuse an incredibly tense and difficult situation only a few hundred meters from where, no doubt, you were more worried about getting buai-spit on your heels than the plight of the women who live here in Lae?

Can you even begin to understand that those police making the nasty, dirty roads of Lae safe for you, so you could go to the Yacht Club for lunch, had been taken off a powder-keg of poverty and internecine issues that you cannot even begin to understand?

So maybe the police diverted to your entourage so you can parade around Lae might not have made a jot of difference? Here's what I DO know. If you hadn't been in town, or you minders had had the fucking SMARTS to tell you about the ticking bomb that was Pelgens, then I GUARANTEE "sista", they would have been down at the fire site.

You should have, out of empathy (did I just use that word in regard to Ms Bishop?), have cancelled your appointments today and insisted that the police assigned to you be put at the disposal of the women of Lae.

I can hear the sirens. You're just leaving the Yoti right now. I hope every woman in Lae.. well the ones that aren't receiving treatment for pack rape anyway, line Aircorps road and give you our own version of the Death Stare.

What a despicable human being you are.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

My cat is a Tea Party Right-Wing Christofascist.

.. who clearly wants me to put the Christ back in Christmas.

Today has been earmarked for weeks as "Shortbread Baking Day". The Cat knows this. The Cat also knows that I call Christmas "Crimbo". I didn't think she minded. Until today.

Until today, I thought The Cat would be our last line of defence come the Zombie Apocalypse, but she's clearly not on my side.

I also thought that the Crimbo decorations, in various plastic bags on the table, were of no interest to her. They've been there for weeks and she's barely pawpatted them. I'm not so naive as to have put up a Crimbo tree. I know she'd be all over that like.. well.... like a 6 month old kitteh on a tinsel-laden tree.

So, the stage is set. Secular Crimbo music on the Ipod Of Doom, The Husbang out of the house, ingredients gathered, butter softening.

The second, and I mean the VERY second I plunge my hands into to shortbread mix, I hear the FUCKING HUGE THUMPY ROLLY SCRATCHY KERPHUFFLE coming from the dining room.

Dripping flour , I race to investigate, only to find:


That, my friends, is a picture of MY CAT STUCK IN A FISH TRAP.

And, while I was dealing with the aftermath of a 6 month old cat rolling around in a fish trap, she got into the kitchen and overturned the cornflour.


Oh, no.. It wasn't me that  SINGLEHANDEDLY (quadropawedly?) RUINED YOUR PAGAN ATHEIST HELLDEMON GODLESS SHORTBREAD despite the trail of paw marks.

And yet, there's more. Whilst cleaning up THAT little mess, she's gone and got herself caught up in the bags containing the Crimbo decorations.. the ones she hasn't touched for weeks and, in attempt to get out, has clawedshreded the Crimbo crackers and broken one of a pair of candle sticks.

She is currently sitting atop Kevin The Snake's tank, flipping me the bird, acting all "I'm totes just cleaning my paws" and smirking at the sound of Kevin striking the glass as she lazily flicks her tail at him.

I am an atheist with a pet snake and I have a fundiefreak jesusfish cat as a pet.

It's 10.46am, I am drinking bourbon and sobbing, so let me leave you with a picture of a cat in a fish trap.



Monday, 2 December 2013

Crimbo 2013

Fuck, it's December.

After last year's great Suet Melt Down In Andersons, I have decided to be vastly more organised. The menu is planned, and the ingredients are being bought as I see them.

We're having a Progressive Crimbo this year, starting off at our place, Casa Della Gecko. I'm planning a bagel bar; with salmon, creme fraiche, capers, bacon, eggs, tomatoes; bread and butter pudding, and bircher muesli.

Except Imma going to flavour the yoghurt with Christmas spices and chocolate.

This is no ordinary yoghurt. No hippie/macrobiotic/profuckingbiotic shit. THIS yoghurt is made with full cream milk, Hell, EXTRA cream milk, with extra cream. And fat. And lark's vomit. CREAM of larks vomit. It's going to harden your arteries simply by existing, bitches. It laughs at 'thick and creamy". It snubs its nose at Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota YIT902. It pwns that shit. 

And then, Imma going to add chocolate. And fruits soaked for a month in scotch.

THIS is going to be the Ermahgard V Nyan Cat V Chuck Norris of yoghurts.

This yoghurt is its own fucking meme, man.

My yoghurt will be an analogy for Tony Abbott, it will be so thick.





 thick and rich.

Okay, I could do better, but I'm on my 3rd bourbon and dry and I can't be fagged, ok? I'll take submissions, if you can improve it. 

Anyway, Imma making my own yoghurt and flavouring the FUCK out of it.. and then I'm adding muesli. 

I realise that for some people, the idea of adding muesli doesn't up the orsum.

It does, believe me. My museli will be like a step towards tastevarna for the yoghurt. 

And if you don't like, there is always bacon, my friend.

Anyway, that's the plan. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them here,  and I'll discuss. 

Oh, and breakfast Bloody Mary's with fresh oysters, but that's another post. 

Now, all I have to do is get over the 6th without a complete meltdown, and I'll be fine.




Sunday, 10 November 2013

Morobe Show

It's Show season in PNG. Every major city hosts an annual show, wherein all the local industries and culture of the region are, well.. showcased.

I missed the Goroka Show this year, with its mud men and Highlands attractions, but there's always next year.



The Kare Bras Ban, and their drum leader.

The finalists of Morobe Show Queen pose in traditional costume with the members of the Demonites (?) Motorcross.

Runner up in Morobe Show Queen, with Bird of Paradise headdress, bone necklace and lime pot.


A traditionally dressed Spirit or Skeleton man, casually wanders by.

Back view. Check out the tail.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Orchids.

One of my obsessions up here are the thousands of variants of orchids. I began my first orchid wall, back in 2009. I have no idea what became of it after we left for Saudi.

In 2011, I began another orchid wall in 4th Street, and transplanted the whole damn thing when we moved to where we are now.

The ongoing fight betwixt myself and my garden boy (read: psycho plant-hating hose beast) is well documented. He pulled out most of my orchids within a few weeks, including my rare and much loved vanilla vines.

So, imagine my joy today, when I returned from work to find my mari had harvested these for me:






IRL, they have a much more teal cast to them. Some are decidedly blue/turquoise. They're like nothing I've ever seen. They're glorious and they made my day!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Tufi

It's been a while but boy, has it been worth it! So much happening but one thing deserves a post of its own.

Tufi Dive Resort.

As part of The Lae Explorers Club ("A group of drinkers with a travel problem"), we get to see some of the most amazing and remote parts of PNG.

Enter Tufi. Tufi is in Oro Province, and only accessible by boat or plane.

It's about as a remote part of the planet as you can find. It's also the heart of PNG's fjord country.

Are you scratching your head? Fjords in PNG?

Yup. And plenty of NZ'ers on the trip said that the fjords of Tufi are just as spectacular (yet less ice-covered) than those in NZ.

The closest I've ever come to a fjord is to pine for them, a la Norwegian Blue styles, so my gob was rightly smacked by some of the most spectacular scenery I've EVER been privileged to see.

We stayed at Tufi Dive resort, and apart from a bit of disingenuous-ness on their web site, I can't fault them.  The service was amazing. From the 7 course degustation dinner, complete with Barossa Valley wines (introduced and matched by the winery owner), to the village visit on a dug-out canoe, the hotel, their staff and Oro Province excelled themselves.

It's a pain in the arse to get there. Tufi is only 45 mins flying from where we live, yet we had to cross the country, to catch a flight out of Moresby. But once you're there, it's worth every damn second of that 5 hour wait at Jackson's Airport.

Tufi has some of the best diving in the world, with waters and visibility that can only be described in "travel-brochure" terms. Pristine, unspoilt, magnificent all come to mind. The resort organised a spectacular walk to a waterfall flowing from a volcanic lava tube, a BBQ on a deserted beach and a village visit whereby you sail up one of the magnificent fjords, transfer to a dugout canoe, travel up a river as timeless as the Amazon, and meet proud, funny locals who are chuffed to show you their culture. (And where, on a personal note, yours truly managed to walk into said remote jungle and come away with a hat, matching handbag AND a new tattoo. **cue astonished applause**).

Travel in PNG isn't cheap. We pretty much have to go everywhere by air, but Tufi is a must-see on any intrepid traveller's list.