Sunday, August 28, 2011

the French island

The evening of our first day sailing, we arrived in La Maddalena, an island north of Sardinia.  I found it beautiful, an Italian riviera feel. "It's nice," Tim said, "but it's no Bonifacio... just wait. You'll see."

I wasn't expecting to visit Corsica.  After all, I only had 3 full days of vacation.  But, early the next morning we set "sail" for the 30 mile journey to the north.  The thought of sailing always intrigued me, and I had a huge desire to experience it.  Sailing along the coast of Sardinia the day before was touch and go, but in the end we had enough wind to get us to our destination.  The path to Corsica, however, was as still as still could ever be.

We tried multiple times to catch whatever light breeze would blow in our direction.  But it availed us nothing.  Instead, we motorboated it at a whopping 3-5 miles an hour, sail-less.

I could have been left feeling disappointed, as though I was given the short end of the stick.  But with the view that awaited us at our final destination, all of those feelings would have disappeared anyway.

Tim was right, Bonifacio was spectacular.  Better than I could have ever imagined.  And a place where even pictures can't give justice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Deep blue sea

Sardinia, population 1.67 million, is actually the second largest island in the Mediterranean.  But, I didn't see much of its size in area or density, having spent all my time on (and in) the water.

Captain Jack Sparrow... and me
with water was so blue, we couldn't not go in... even with its freezing temperatures
steering in style

Sunday, August 21, 2011

When life gives you lemons...

A little over a year ago, my mom and sister sailed the Greek Isles... without me. (cue the gasps of horror) OH THE OUTRAGE!

Why didn't I go, you ask?  Well, I was being a good cousin, niece, sister, aunt, daughter, friend and went back home for two weeks.

Why did they have to go during those exact two weeks?  Besides the fact that it is a cruel, cruel world and I am clearly deprived,... it was the only week the sailboat had two open spots left, for the rest of the summer.

I'm sticking with the self-pity, obviously the world is against me, story though.

Now, fast forward a year.  I was faced with a 4 day weekend and a desire to be anywhere but home. I mulled over a few options, unsure of which I'd choose, when it struck me - like a brunt force to the back of my head.  Greece!  I could go sailing in Greece.

After receiving the contact information from my mother, I emailed Tim, the skipper, to see if he had any availability.  To my delight I was informed he did, in fact, have one spot left on his boat.  However, the boat would not be sailing anywhere near the Greek Isles this year.  Instead, I was informed the boat would only sail from Sardinia to Corsica and back.

I let out a sigh of resignation, and boarded a plane to Sardinia.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Barcelona: take two

 I could go again, and again, and again...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

making people happy

For all the times you wished a parade would walk down your street, just to make you happy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

the separation fence

In the time of Jesus, travel to and from Jerusalem and Galilee involved going well out of one's way to avoid Samaria - a land looked down upon due to their mixed Israeli/Gentile blood.  In our time, travel to and from Jerusalem and Galilee involves going well out of one's way to avoid the West Bank. Today's reasoning, however, is due to the barricade surrounding the land.

We couldn't go through it, but we did go in it... to visit Bethlehem. I just couldn't imagine traveling all the way to Israel without seeing the birthplace of Christ.  Now I wish I hadn't been so adamant about it.

Inside the lightly guarded walls, life feels different.  Cars are old, buildings are darker than the rest of Israel, and the landscape isn't as clean.  Bethlehem itself is cramped, modern, and very hilly.  In the tour guide's haste, we had a split second view of the old city as we drove past it.  That momentary glimpse is the only one we had of how the little town could have appeared when Mary and Joseph rode into it over 2000 years ago.

The Palestinians within the West Bank are vastly different from the Palestinians without it.  Their oppression and forced imprisonment inside the walls is the only conclusion I've been able to come up with to explain the hostile attitude and blatant disregard of some of the locals towards all tourists.  Not that I blame them; I'm sure it's painful for them to watch hundreds of people freely walk in and out of the West Bank, when they'll never be able to leave the 5,640 square kilometer space. 

the "exact spot"
After seeing the "exact spot" where Christ was born (and the three hour wait, which I had a hard time dealing with, preceding it) we stopped at the compulsory gift shop.  Boredom set in after my initial walk around the small store, but I took a second loop while my mom mulled over jewelry.  I stopped in mid step as I noticed olive wood bust statues of Joseph and Emma Smith.

Turning to the shop owner, I asked, "Is that...?"  "Joseph Smith," he replied, "many Mormons come here."  "Ah, I see."  "They like olive wood," he continued.  "Yes," I said lightly, "I know."  "They also like nativity sets," he added. "Yes," I responded with a smile, "I know."  After another minute or two of being shown items Mormons generally like, I thanked him and stepped outside for some fresh air.

The moment I sat down on the last available patio chair, a peddler, who already targeted the others in my group, turned to me.  "Necklace?" he asked, attempting to hand me a few. "No thank you," I responded, without reaching out to take the offering.  "Purse?  Do you want a purse?" quickly exchanging the handful of necklaces for a crochet bag to give me.  "No thank you," came my response, without giving the bag any regard.

He turned back to the woman in my group who naively took the necklaces handed her.  He proceeded haggling, as she made futile attempts to hand back the necklaces.  After a few minutes of his persistence, it was easy to see the growing frustration on her face in wanting to return the items.  "Just set  them down on the chair," I whispered to her as the peddler was speaking to someone else.

You would have thought I killed his only child.  The peddler whipped around, red in the face, and started yelling at me.  On and on he went, venom in his eyes. "I'm sorry," I explained, "she didn't want it."  I stood up and walked to the van.  The others followed, and so did he.

He threw snide remarks to the woman who didn't buy the necklace, from the opening of the sliding door.  And, feeling as though he didn't express himself well enough,  he stood on the opposite side of the window of which I sat and pointed at me, swearing... until the moment we drove away.

Then we visited Jericho, the oldest continuously inhabited city and the lowest city in the world.  And that was that.

Monday, August 1, 2011


The water was amazing, silky smooth... although not so amazing that I wasn't embarrassed when my mother filled empty bottles with dead sea water to take home with her.

But the mud, on the other hand, was amazing enough to take home... pre-packaged and overpriced, naturally.