Sunday, October 31, 2010

Home From the Other Side of the Planet

Ian and I arrived back home on Friday around 1:30 pm, 29 hours after leaving our hotel in the Seychelles. We managed to stay frenetically awake until 7:00pm, at which point we fell into bed. At exactly the moment our heads hit our pillows, the phone rang; some friends calling me back. I brought the phone into bed with me and carried on a 15-minute conversation, about one foot from Ian's head. The next morning when I was telling him information gleaned from the call, he said, puzzled, "When did you talk to A.?"
"Last night, right when we got into bed," I said.
"But did the phone ring?"
"Um, yes, about 4 times before I got to it, and then I brought it back into bed with me so I could lie down."
He had no memory of the call whatsoever.
Anyway, we're here, and we've posted a bunch more pictures, many with captions, and until I find time (energy) for any more actual entries, I hope all you loyal readers will make do with these: and .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Last Day

There will be more postings after we get home, I promise (if only a [rather long] bullet point post), but today is our last day and we are planning to fill it up.

Yesterday on day two of our two days on La Digue it was sunny, and we rode bikes, and we're both a bit sunburned (not too bad) and a bit stiff and sore from, for me at least, an activity I am completely unaccustomed to (excellent planning for the 25 hours of upcoming travel). We don't take off until around 10pm tonight (and I'm going to go double check that in a moment, because there's still time to rush to the airport if it's actually 10am this morning), and today we're planning a four-hour tour of the island, and then packing and organizing and one last swim and hitting the road.

We were going to rent a car today--they're everywhere, the rental cars, and I've driven on the left a lot, and have already, in my almost two weeks here, readjusted my sense of right and left (which seems to be how my brain copes with the change: "I'm going to make a right turn up here," I'll say, and Ian will say "Don't you mean a LEFT turn?" which, indeed, I do--the near turn, that's what I'm making) . . . but, coming home tired after dark yesterday, in a taxi Ian had already used several times going to work last week, we decided to just hire the driver for the day and relax all the more. So that's what we're doing at 10am (provided I'm right about our departure time)--having a more or less guided tour of the parts of Mahe island Ian hasn't seen (I had a private guide in the form of the wife of one of Ian's colleagues last week a couple times).

Our trip out here really wasn't bad with the 10 hours in Paris and the Croque Monsieur and the airport hotel dayroom; our trip back only has 4 hours in Paris, which, from what we could tell about Charles DeGaulle, will really be just enough time to get from one gate to the next before cramming ourselves back into our coach seats.

But then we'll be home! Friends! Family! DOGGIES!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

No Pants

I've been Without Computer for over a week now, and although my cell phone is WiFi enabled, it really only works for short emails back and forth with Ian, at work on the other side of the island, and that somewhat inconsistently, because his connection is spotty and mine disconnects whenever my phone falls back asleep, which is often--it's a lazy phone--and I then have to reenter the password we bought for 50 euros for the week (just renewed this morning, for 50 euros for our last five days). The one major issue I've found with the touch-screen keyboarded Android phone is that the text box in blogger does not actually trigger the touch-screen keyboard, and so I couldn't even post that it was inconvenient to post, without waiting for Ian to get home. Anyway, it's Sunday morning here, we're planning to go on a trip to swim with whale sharks this afternoon (if they've been spotted, and I'm ambivalent about whether or not I want them to have been), and so I get to use the computer for awhile and Ian gets to entertain himself however else he wants.

And so.

Several days ago, I set off to take a walk by myself, described as relatively easy and not too long, to the beach at Anse (bay) Major, more or less west of us down the island. It promised to go through some of the forest as well as along the glacis rocks, and I was ready for a change of scene from all the glistening white sand and glinting turquoise waters. I started out by walking down the road to the next town (Bel Ombre), which was HOT and a little scary (roads are narrow, people drive quickly, cars are on the left if a particular side is chosen, personal space is on a smaller scale than we're used to). Along the way to the trail head, I meandered down to the beach and back, I surreptitiously took a picture of a small tuna catch being loaded into a refrigerated van, I saw my first of the now many GIANT spiders I've seen (about 3 or 4 inches long; evidently, if you have the bad luck to run into one of their webs, you bounce off because they're so strong), I chatted up a man at the end-of-the-line bus stop ("Hello, could you tell me when the next bus comes?" "Yes, in about 10 minutes, at 11:00am." "And does it come often, every half hour?" "No no, every one hour." Titillating conversation.), and I bought a Sey Pearl (local soda maker; division of Sey Breweries and cousin to Seybrew, the local lager) Fruit Punch.

I continued up the hill and turned right onto a narrow paved track, following the arrow to Anse Major. I walked along into the forest, glad for shade, drinking my ridiculously sweet but undoubtedly electrolyte-filled punch, and I came up a hill next to a house and was hailed.

"Hello!" called a man. "I have a fruit bat here in a cage! Would you like to see it?" I hesitated, because I usually don't go in for such invitations in foreign places, but I glanced at the man and he was very thin, as if he had some neurological damage or something, and he was friendly, and it was hot, and I was following whimsy rather than plan, so I turned off the track and went to say hello.

Sure enough, this man had a fruit bat, one of the ones we see diving around the skies at dusk every night, in a cage in front of his home. Once I was up the walk, he explained that he sewed some things, and had a little shop in his house, and would I like to take a look, take a look, a look is free. I felt a little helpless to avoid taking a look--I mean, why not just a look, after all--and so I went in.

The man, Richard, was a talker. While I looked around at the clothes lining the walls of the workroom of his house, and took in the couple of old photos, the ancient sewing machine, and the, unfortunately, ugly wares, Richard told me about his life. He had three children, and a German wife, who was not his wife anymore and was back in Germany. The children lived with him but were at school. The German wife came to visit every year or so, but stayed in another bedroom, not in his, no, not anymore ha ha. About 15 years ago he had gone to work on a boat (I don't know in what capacity)--a great job--room and board paid, plus a salary--but he had had an accident after 3 years and had been crippled. He had not walked for over six months; had not really been able to walk before nine months (and indeed, now, 12 years later, made his way across the room by holding himself up and creeping around the wall). I assume spinal cord damage; at any rate, something to keep his body from fleshing out in a normal way, in addition to the severe unsteadiness.

Richard noticed my shorts (knee-length Old Navy drawstring ones) and said that they were good for hiking--better than the really short things other women wore on this trail--but that he couldn't make such things because elastic was hard to get in the Seychelles. I pulled up my shirt slightly and pointed out that they had no elastic, just a drawstring, and Richard was suddenly enthralled. A rope, my shorts used a rope, just like the skirts and things that he made! He could copy them, could make a pattern from them, if I would only let him have them for five minutes, just to make some measurements and to study their form.

"Are you asking me to take my pants off?" I asked, somewhat incredulously.

"Only for five minutes!" he replied. "You can wear some clothes from here! Just to have a look, so that I can make some myself!"

I thought about it. Richard was obviously not a physical threat. I had, hanging on the back of my daypack, a kikoy (piece of 3X5 Kenyan cloth Ian and I bring with us on vacations to use as towels, skirts, coverlets, etc), because I had wanted to be sure to be able to clean off my feet after wading at Anse Major. I normally don't like to swim at beaches alone--too paranoid about getting my belongings stolen--but I did want to at least feel the water. "Okay," I decided. "I have this kikoy here; I may not use it for anything else--I'll just wrap it around my waist and you can look at my shorts for five minutes. They're very sweaty, just be forewarned."

I duly wrapped my kikoy around my waist and removed my pants. Richard made his limping way around the edge of the room, then spent some time trying to locate his measuring tape. I, who had brought one along with my plane knitting project had, unfortunately, left it back at the hotel. A (male, physically fit) neighbor who had been outside cutting fruits came in and Richard sent him into the next room where, sure enough, one of his daughters had taken the tape measure. It was delivered, and much was made about how large my shorts were, although "you are not a large woman, but maybe a 46 size."

Then Richard started in telling me not to walk on to Anse Major alone. "If you were my wife, I would not let you," he said. "I could ask some man to walk with you, but alone, you will be stolen [read: robbed] or raped. In my 12 years of living here, four times women have come back to me, naked, they were swimming and their clothes were stolen and they were raped. Four times! It is not safe for you to be going alone. I would not allow my wife. These women, they come to me and I call the police for them, and I give them clothes to wear, but there is nothing I can do. But it is not safe. You should not go. Go another time, with a man. A man alone, he might be stolen, but a women alone will be stolen and raped."

I sat there on his sofa, without my pants on, and thought about this. I was not feeling particularly endangered by the environment, or lurkers therein. On the other hand, I was hot and tired and sweaty already, and it was another 1.8 km up and down a relatively steep, stony trail. Richard, also, seemed very insistent, very worried.

"You can go another ten minutes," he proposed. "There is an Indian man putting in a big hotel, lots of workers, and a beautiful view. You would be safe that far, you can take pictures. But then you should come back."

"Okay, okay, fine," I said, yielding. "I'm hot and tired anyway, and I have no interest in being stolen or raped. I won't go. My husband and I have several days together next week, and so we'll come back then." Even though four in 12 years is a pretty small proportion, and even though I wasn't feeling any frisson of fear for my own safety, if I didn't go to Anse Major, I was absolutely assured of not getting raped there. "I'll go and look at the view close by, and then I'll turn around. Can I have my pants back now?"

"Yes, yes, I am done with them!"

I went ten minutes further and spent some time on a huge glacis boulder flying high over the sea below, then turned (marveling a moment at the sheer number of vehicles that had driven this far on this trail) and went back. I waved at Richard as I passed, proving that I hadn't been stolen, and wended my way back to the bus, which I caught about 1pm and took back to Beau Vallon, the village (and beach) where we're staying.

Two days ago Ian and I did have a chance to walk all the way to Anse Major, on an afternoon that he was let out early, and as we passed Richard's house, we saw him in the doorway with his three children, home from school, and the friend feeding the fruit bat with a bit of mango. I thought "well, now he knows I wasn't lying about the husband, and I know he was telling the truth about his kids." And the walk the rest of the way to the beach was long, and was beautiful in an Indiana Jones sort of way--clear brooks babbling and swirling over the glacis boulders or deep under them, tunnels through tumbled rock, rich steaming vegetation and rotting fruits--and the bay itself was exquisitely remote and empty, complete with a blue jewel of a lagoon, coral-littered sands and gnarled, weathered trees and roots curling out over the beach. And a full moon on the way home.

It was very romantic. I was glad to have waited for Ian, regardless.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I was expecting to not put many pictures online while being here, because I don't have my computer with me, but I thought I probably would have stories to tell, and I would probably get myself to an internet cafe to tell them.

Well, turns out I have rudimentary WiFi on my cell phone when Ian's not here (a shared 50 euro pass) that's good enough for short emails but can't figure out blogger, and so I'm way less interested in sitting indoors at someone else's computer than I thought I would be. I want to be outside in this movie-set environment!

On the other hand, I have actually been taking some pictures, and we've been posting them on Ian's Picasa page every evening (well, morning for most of all y'all). Some even with captions, so I'm not leaving you completely bereft.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More Pictures from Paradise, and a Definition

Ian, for the last couple days, has been waking before me (2 hours yesterday, just under one this morning) and spending time on his computer, both working for the conference here, and on some things from home, AND putting up pictures on a Picasa site. I'm guessing the number and quality of pics will fall severely over the next week while he's working, because I 1. have a less good camera and 2. have less mad skilz. But I'll do my best.

And now for the Definition of Paradise: NO MOSQUITOES.

Seriously, not only is there no malaria, no typhoid, no Dengue, no yellow fever, no cholera--there are NO TEENY WHINING DEVILS. How on earth???

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pretty Much Paradise

Before I follow Ian exhausted into bed, I just wanted to let you know we made it here after much of a couple days, and it's perfectly lovely, and I will titillate you with a few pictures.

Where we'll be hanging out hats for the next several nights.

Little orange bird. Very pretty. Some kind of finch?

The view from our bedroom window during this afternoon's warm downpour.

Just one example of the abundant flowers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ian's Brilliant

We are sitting in the airport Novitel at Charles de Gaulle right now, just off our flight from Seattle and just beginning our 8 or so hour layover in Paris. Instead of wandering around the airport getting tireder and tireder, or dropping our carryons (other bags are checked through) and wandering all day around town getting tireder and tireder, we're going to have a quick lie-flat, then go into the City of Light for lunch in David Sedaris's neighborhood (6th Arrondissement), then have another quick lie-flat before heading off to Golden, Equitorial Paradise.

I tell you, this man. He has the smarts.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Three More Stitched Pics and a Middle Panel

These are just three more views from around the property, and a middle panel of a failed stitched picture of some really mossy trees. I think a lot of moss must have grown this year; it's been a wetter year than normal, from what I understand.

More Early Autumn Pictures

Some of the multitudinous mushrooms out everywhere right now. *I* would NEVER pick any of them.

A noble neighbor horse, who huffed loudly and came over at a fast clip to investigate when Spackle wandered into his domain. He was perfectly happy to simply sniff and nibble my hand. But then, I didn't cross the fence and threaten his herd.

Just in time for hunting season!

The Beeves, arranged in their Grain Acceptance pose.

The Beeves in Nature, threatening to get closer to us than we were really interested in. They were coming toward us with purpose indeed, as you can see. We high-tailed it back out of their pasture.

Me with Sikem, today's Noble Steed, and my four Squires.


I would like to be keeping my I Thought I Was Done With This life separate from my Dilettante Traveler life but, as happens, because both those lives are, in fact, equally intimately mine, the two lives occasionally meet, and occasionally meet in a dramatic way, as happened this last week over here in Jerome Creek.

Originally I was planning to be here for three weeks--long enough to spend some time with K&A and my dogs and their dogs and all the horses and cows--no, beeves we're calling them now because they are all fixed but two are steers and two are spayed heifers--and then some time WITHOUT K&A (or anyone else), because they would be on vacation and I would be holding down the fort, blissfully alone in this wilderness heaven. Ian's singular job had us heading to the Seychelles, though, and so I planned to cut my trip here down with a razor to the very last possible day and leave here on the 13th, Wednesday, and Ian are flying out of Seattle on the 14th, Thursday (I have already packed my two bikinis and 3 sun dresses and crate of pills and medications. I'm ready to pop on the plane.).

Plans change.

I got: a migraine? Stomach flu? Food and/or alcohol poisoning (on one mug of hot buttered rum?)? A bacterial infection from throwing away a truly nasty bone the dogs were munching on, with my bare hands, and then forgetting and licking my fingers (I don't remember licking . . .)? Who knows, but last Wednesday, the day K&A were leaving, I woke up completely incapacitated. Roaring, jackhammering headache. Shivers. Nausea to the point of puking (only 4 times, I think). Orange diarrhea. Migraine auras of both visual and tingly kinds. Major anxiety.

This, of course, threw everyone (well, A. in particular) into a tizzy--because, what was going to happen with me? I couldn't be left alone (fair enough), and they couldn't stay with me. I began a preliminary rally around 3pm, A. managed to find a friend to stay with me for the night and pick up my mom from the Moscow-Pullman airport the next day, and Mom's been here ever since.

It's been a big, complicated stew of suggestions and proposals here since Mom arrived. Should she leave on Monday as originally planned, so that I have two days of renewed independence? But to save my nerves and hers for my drive home, should we have Marsh fly in Wednesday and I'll only have to drive as far as Moscow to pick him up and then he'll take over? Or, Mom can stay the whole time and, so that I don't have to drive with her, I take her to Moscow and she fly out while Marsh flies in? And how can she get to Medford, where she was planning to meet friends for the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland? Does this paragraph not make a whole lot of sense? Yeah, I think so too.

What we decided on is this. I did not sleep well last night (a ridiculous fly that would start buzzing about every 1 1/2 hours and, since it's so quiet here, rattle me awake), and I was worried this morning that I would not feel confident enough in my recovering health to take care of things for any time alone (although it was my overweening wish that I would feel comfortable), and it seemed that having two days in Seattle would be really helpful before flying to THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PLANET, and so Mom and I are leaving, together, tomorrow afternoon after a couple of appointments I'd already scheduled (therapy, for me, and a vet for Shadow to look at her eye).

Mom will get to Ashland, I will have someone to drive with me, Marsh will miss out on a lovely autumn trip back and forth across the state, and Ian will, after all, have a chance to see our dogs for a short time, the only time he'll get to see them in about two months.

I think that's the kind of cancer I have--Infiltrating ductal--and that's certainly what it's been doing the last several days, darn it all.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Early Autumn

All of us out for a ride--it was glorious. Well, that is, all of us but Tessa, who chose to stay behind on a comfy bed on the porch. Spackle was having none of that invalid thing.

Panorama looking over K&A's tree farm and pastures into the neighboring pastures. Dogs under tree at right, perfectly happy.

Panorama of horses and one of the big pastures. It was almost 60 degrees today--a perfect day to be outside exercising. It really is so beautiful here.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Going it Alone

I arrived at Jerome Creek this afternoon around 4pm after a perfectly lovely 5 1/2 hour drive. My goals were 1) Greet, pet, kiss, reprimand (mix, repeat) my dogs--Hoover squoke with joy for a whole five minutes 2) Unload my car and get my slushy fruits into a freezer 3) fetch Shadow and have a relatively short, easy bareback ride that all dogs could accompany me on. Shadow, of course, added a pre goal-3 constitutional because I'd come out with carrots as a lure and not grain--idiot--and so I trekked up the hill, then down the hill after flying heels, then back again and further up the hill into the trees after flying heels that were too fast for me to really track them, then back down the hill when no heels were to be found anywhere, flying or not, then to the Garagemahal for a bucket of grain, then, finally, to a fence post where I could acouter my steed.

The ride was absolutely lovely. Warm evening air, slanted sunlight, leaves just beginning to change, the smell of aging fir needles, horse who was, once caught, quite happy to be on an outing. Dogs ranging according to their ages and interests (i.e. Spackle right behind Shadow's now reasonably paced heels; Hoover covering ten times the ground). The worst thing, I mused, about riding alone, was that there was no one to benefit from the cleared path, from which I had taken 3,476 spiderwebs with my face, and 10,003 fir needles with the rest of my upper body.

Then, I mused some more, and decided that no, I was wrong, that was the second worst thing. The WORST thing was that there was no one here to perform those services for ME.