Visit to Durban

I took a weekend trip to Durban when I lived in South Africa.  I had always heard that there are a lot of people of Indian descent, and the stories did not lie.  They were everywhere you looked.

I had lunch at the revolving restaurant.  I can’t remember how the food was, but I liked having a revolving view of the city.

Yep, revolving restaurant!

Yep, revolving restaurant!

 

View one

View one

 

View 2 - loading dock

View 2 – loading dock

 

View 3 - Moses Mabhida Stadium view

View 3 – Moses Mabhida Stadium view in the distance

 

View 4 - Downtown Durban

View 4 – Downtown Durban

 

 

View 5 - ah, palm trees.  Beautiful view

View 5 – ah, palm trees. Beautiful view

I later took a walk on the beach where I saw some interesting and shocking things.    The interesting ones are shown in the pictures below, but I could/would not capture the shocking one.  There are open public showers where swimmers can clean up.  Well, one woman decided that taking a shower with her bathing costume was not good enough, so she showered in the nude and was laughing away.

There was a lot of sand art

 

The Titanic

The Titanic

 

The Calabash Stadium

The Calabash Stadium

I had heard of tides before, but had never seen one at work so to speak.  My guide took me to one spot and said it was very beautiful when the tide was high.  I could not believe that the water would come right up to the buildings in another hour, so I asked that we take a tour around town and come back later.  An hour later, the water  was right up to the buildings – what a surprise and an educational moment for me!

Baptism in the Indian Ocean

Baptism in the Indian Ocean

 

My favorite place was to the Valley of a Thousand Hills, a really beautiful place.  I did some gambling at the casino and decided that it was a boring way (for me, at least) to spend time.  I am glad, because I think it is an expensive pastime.  All in all, I had a good time in Durban.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pure Music

I just found this music and just fell in love with it.  Its simplicity and purity makes it have your attention and your spirit be moved.  This family is truly gifted.  I normally prefer upbeat music, but this band certainly has what it takes to get my attention.  Even the ‘simple’ presentation is uplifting.

 

 

 

 

Horrible 2015, but thank God for family and friends

Misery loves company, they say.  I had two devastating losses in 2015 one after another (as if one was not bad enough) and thought I would die just from the pain.

My brother sent an elderly relative to come and be with me in Austria.  The circumstances were so bad that I wanted to resign and return home to be with those who loved me.  My older relative who had come and a close friend in Zambia urged me not to resign when I told them of my decision to do so.  I told them that I was OK financially even if I did not find a job for a couple of years, but they stressed that money was not the issue.  They said the problem was that I would have too much time on my hands and keep on crying when everyone started carrying on with their lives.  My relative said she was going to stay with me until I felt strong enough to be on my own.  I listened to their advice, though with quite a bit of grumbling.  I am glad I listed because I was overwhelmed and could/did not reason.

Other family members and friends back home sent messages of support the whole time and even after.  Friends from DC and other places also reached out to me.  The Zambian community in Vienna rallied around me and my relative was comforted because she knew that I had a ‘family’ that cared about me in a strange land.  In fact some of the Zambian men rebuked me for ‘acting alone’ and said I could call upon them any time.  I really felt loved. I had not been an active member of the community before, but became quite active after my losses as I started seeing them as a family.

When I looked back a couple of years later when my emotions had quietened down, I realized how nasty (for lack of a better word) I was during that period.  It was not because I just wanted to be that way, but because I would get overwhelmed with even the smallest of tasks and had no control over my responses. I am grateful that people were understanding and did not retaliate.

I am grateful for my family and friends.  They supported me, put their lives on hold while they comforted and availed themselves to me.  I never knew the importance of loved ones until I needed them at my low point.

Thank God for family and friends.

Visit to Barcelona

In 2013, a Spanish colleague invited me to go with her to Spain.  Her family lives an hour’s train ride outside Barcelona and we went there when we arrived.  Her mother quickly prepared dinner at about 4.00 pm, but my friend refused to eat.  I had dinner on my own and we left to sightsee. One thing that stood out was the old infrastructure that was  incorporated into the new.  Apparently if someone was making any renovation and they found any old/ancient infrastructure, they had to inform the government department in charge of infrastructure and work with them on how best to incorporate it into the new building.

Around 8.00 pm my friend said we should go back to her parents’ place for dinner.  What?  Apparently, the 4.00 pm meal was a ‘snack’ and that’s why she had refused to eat. Anyway, we went home.  Her younger brother came and he shook my hand and greeted me in perfect English.  Her older brother came later and immediately hugged (OK more like grabbed), kissed me heartily on both cheeks and said how happy he was to see me.  My friend saw my shock and laughed and said: “Zambian Lady, my young brother wanted to learn about other cultures and English, hence his response to meeting you.  My older brother, on the other hand, is a real Spaniard and greets everybody with kisses and a lot of touching.”  Older brother’s wife was more reserved in her greeting, but the patriarch of the house also displayed a lot of love for me.

Dinner was at 9.00 pm and it was quite an affair and the table was covered with all sorts of food.  I mentioned this to my friend and asked if her mother had gone all out cooking because we were visiting.  I was told that this was how they ate everyday.  The whole family gathered every evening for dinner at 9.00 pm and the table was always full.  I was surprised because I thought that was a lot of work for her elderly mother who did the cooking.

I went to Barcelona the following day and stayed there for the next couple of days where I walked about a lot.  I liked it a lot

  1. See the red and yellow flag of Catalunya?  These flags were all over Barcelona even back then.

See the red and yellow flag of Catalunya?

 

2. Narrow streets in Old Town

Narrow streets in Old Town

 

3. Temple d’August – these columns predate Christ

Temple d'August

 

4. What ‘animal’ does this sculpture look like?  Apparently, the mason had never seen an elephant, but it was described to him and this is what he can up with.

What 'animal' does this sculpture look like?

 

5. Spear sharpening did this on one of the old buildings!

Spear sharpening did this!

 

6. Casa Battlo by Gaudi – I did not manage to go in, but it is quite flamboyant.

Casa Battlo

 

7. Casa Mila – another building by Gaudi.

Casa Mila

 

8. Barca! For the first time, I went to watch professional football and saw Messi score his 78th goal.  I remember that number for some reason.  I had a great time.  Barca opponents had come from another city and had only about 20 fans.  Barca fans were so good that about 100 of them joined the visiting fans and cheered for the visiting team.  It was really a fun time.

Barca!

 

9. For the love of Barcelona, I do not know what the back of this lady’s head and the lamp shot have anything to do with anything, but in the background is the 1992 summer Olympics venue.

Lamp post and back of head

 

I did not visit the Barcelona Cathedral, also by Gaudi.  It just looked too busy for me – it overwhelmed me just looking at it from the outside.  Maybe I am just not artistic enough, but I found the Cathedral a bit off putting, so much that I did not even take a photo of it even from the outside.  I am a simple woman, I guess.

 

 

 

 

Snow in Spring

 

I was ready for spring, when boom we got ourselves some snow!  I don’t mind winter though I like the snow coming at the ‘right time’, but I know Mother Nature’s time is the right one.

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Again, our office was closed due to ‘inclemental weather’.  I was not happy that this happened on a Wednesday, because I have Friday off.  Had Mother Nature checked with me, she would have hit us with snow on Thursday, so that I have Thursday and Friday off.

A few more weeks before we dive into the pool, yay!  OK, OK, a few more weeks before I splash and paddle in the pool while others dive and swim.  I can’t wait.

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Phew – That wind!

Last Friday was the worst wind gusts I have ever experienced in DC and in a long time in general! It seemed like the weather was ranting and raving against us mere mortals as we were walking to the metro station. It was so bad that a young woman I have never met before and I spontaneously held on tightly to each for stability until we were in the station.
I got to the office only to find it deserted – it was closed that day because of the wind! There was a technical glitch and I did not receive the office text to staff telling us not to come in. One male colleague I met the office lobby was shocked that the “little bit of wind” had caused the Federal Government and our office to close. He had just moved from Chicago where, apparently, the wind we had would not have caused anything to shut down. I wondered if the closure was due the fact that many people live in the suburbs outside DC where many trees may have fallen.
I did a bit of work for half an hour and went home by metro. I did not use Uber as he (Uber must be a man!) was charging exorbitant prices as he usually does during bad weather and high demand. I staggered home as the wind was still raging. I was lucky in that the power at home was only very low with dim lights and non-working stove for only a few hours. Some neighboring areas had absolutely no power for a couple of days.
The Friday weather did not deter me from joining a bunch of die-hard urban hikers for a walk in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday. Fortunately, the wind was sporadic and did not bother us. All in all, our hike was great and made up for the lousy Friday.

More of Cuba

Some photo memories of Cuba:

A new convert of the Santeria religion.  New converts wear all white and carry all white accessories.

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Che Guevara’s official house in Havana where he met political visitors.

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The vehicle that Castro used during the revolution.  See the bullet holes?

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There are a lot of stray cats in Havana.

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Interesting form of public transport in Viñales Valley

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Mountains (mogotes) in Vinales Valley, a UNESCO heritage site.  We were informed that they are some of the oldest mountains in the world along with those in China and a few other places

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Mural de la Prehistoria in Viñales Valley

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I have no idea what this woman was doing on this rooster sans clothes

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A  man on a donkey (horse?) which seems to be talking

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Public phones are still used quite a bit in Cuba

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I am sure I recognize that village gossip on the right

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Cristo de La Habana in Casablanca, Havana.  It is opposite Che’s house

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Malecón – it is usually busy in evenings with people strolling, families relaxing, couples loving each other and me gawking at everything and everyone around

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Jose Marti memorial

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