14 May 2010

A Couple More of Your Questions.

Questions Answered

What was the worst place you've traveled to?

That's a hard one . . . is that worst as in: place I liked least . . . worst conditions . . . worst weather . . . least favorite adventure . . . biggest disappointment?

Well, since I dialogue with myself here, I think I might answer all of them . . . or at least give a reasonable answer to all of them (there are some travel stories I won't fess up to until I'm 95!)



Place I've visited that I liked least: This is easy for me, but I think most of you are not going to like my answer. I have to say China. It had always been a dream of mine to go to China . . . and it is a pretty remarkable place. I enjoyed my time there, it's just somewhere that I would be content to never visit again. I know many of you who read this blog regularly have lived and worked in China and absolutely LOVE it there . . . and maybe it's because I didn't have a chance to connect with any Chinese that it didn't really leave a mark on me.

Place I've visited that had the worst conditions: Hands down, India. I love India. I have wanted to go back since I was there in 2001. I have seen poverty in a lot of places, but nothing compared to that in India . . . what makes the conditions I saw in India so much more striking than someplace like Niger (which ranked last this year on the UN's development scale) is the contrast between the wealthy communities, even the middle class communities and the slums. I've been in villages in Mexico, townships in South Africa, and the ghettos of New York and Philadelphia, but from my point of view, NOTHING compares to the slums of India.

Worst weather: I'm going to go with London over Spring Break . . . that's what, mid March?? Cold and rainy! Yuck!

The place where I had my least favorite adventure: This one has been the hardest to answer. There have just been so many mis-adventures in my life. Lets see . . . ah, yes, Morocco. Getting to and from Niger by plane is pretty simple . . . "simple" in the sense of "there are only two options": AirFrance via Paris or RoyalAirMaroc via Casablanca. RAM is a bit cheaper, so that's how I went. Trying to get from Galmi to Niamey was an adventure all of it's own (
with a blog post detailing that excitement), but when I finally got to Casa, there was no flight out. That's right, my layover came and went and nothing. No boarding, no announcement, nothing . . . just an angry mob. Word finally trickled through the crowd that the flight was cancelled. I had been sitting next to a Moroccan man who lives in the US, so he asked the agent at the desk what had happened. She simply told him "The plane that was flying in disappeared from the radar. So you're flight has been cancelled." In my world that means "Our light-brite radars are pretty much crap. If I were you I'd find another airline that doesn't lose airplanes mid-flight." I'm pretty sure RAM is in one of those frequent-flyer-partner-groups with Oceanic. (Shameless LOST plug.  Digressing. Sorry.) A few minutes later the police showed up. They begin reading off passenger names. The guy I had been sitting next to, who spoke English, French and Arabic, was called and had to go. Not understanding what was happening or why my name wasn't being called . . . or if I even wanted my name to be called . . . or where all these people were going . . . or what the police were saying . . . left me feeling incredibly vulnerable and a bit afraid. Okay, a lot afraid. I had spent something like 16 hours in Morocco on the flight in. The airline had put us up in a hotel in the middle of the city for our long layover. It was alright . . . not my favorite place, but it was okay . . . but I didn't know anything about Morocco really, and I couldn't communicate. And now I was confused and unsure about what was going on. I wanted to get home, not be stuck in Casa. But as so much of my life goes, this was very unexpected. I found two American girls coming back from serving with the PeaceCorps in Togo. Thankfully one could speak decent enough French to figure out what was happening . . . the police were returning customs cards from the folks who had been in Morocco . . . those of us who had flown in that morning from elsewhere in Africa were not permitted to leave the airport, regardless of nationality. They put us in the RAM "First Class" lounge . . . keep in mind that I'm using the term "First Class" very lightly . . . for the whole day, until about 5 or 6pm when the lounge was closed. So they ushered us onto the tarmac. We stood there in the starting-to-get-cold dusk-ness for about an hour when someone finally came to escort us back to the main terminal. It was another several hours before we found out anything about our flight. Short-story-long, I finally made it back to NYC.


Biggest disappointment: another easy one.  Luxembourg.  Maybe it's because we thought we only had to drive another hour and a half beyond Reims . . . but three hours later we still hadn't arrived . . . or maybe because we only spent about an hour there . . . we ate dinner and had to turn around to get back to the hotel in Reims we had already paid for . . . or maybe because in my head I had built Luxembourg up to be a mystical magical place . . . but never bothered to do any research about what is actually there--I mean how amazing to have a country that is smaller than the state of Rhode Island?!?!  Who wouldn't want to visit!!  But I wasn't really impressed.  We ate in an Italian restaurant, took a few night shots of the Palais-Grand Duchal (not really sure that's what it actually was), got back in the car, and went on our way.  It was definitely a let down . . . probably because of my uneducated visit and misexpectations . . . so if anyone has any suggestions for a second trip, or any residents of Luxembourg who come across this and want to offer a better itinerary, I would gladly consider another voyage to change my opinion.
  

What one thing are you exceptionally bad at?

Better than that, I'll give you two:
Spelling and Math.
  

Also.. do they eat PB and J in France? b/c my Australian and British friends think it's gross.. but then what can you expect from the creators of Veggimite and Marmite

HA HA HA!! Great question!!

Peanut Butter can be found here, but unlike the US, where we have six hundred brand choices and twelve different texture types, we mainly get Skippy . . . chunky or smooth . . . in 4oz jars . . . for around 5euros a pop. Which, depending on the value of the Euro or the Dollar on any given day (right this moment it's 1e:1.258$!! WOO HOO!) which means, a 4oz jar of PB will run me $6.30. I'm not sure you'd find that price for an super-sized jar at home (okay, maybe at WholeFoods . . . WholeFoods!! Oh how I miss your organic-french-roast-decaf and Green Mt Gringo Salsa!), but hey, that's life.

But getting back to your question about the French eating peanut butter . . . it's a bit tricky to say, but I'm going to go with "In general, not really." But, just like with
la langue française, there are always exceptions to the rule. Like my French friend, B. that lives here aux Cedres with us. He can't get enough peanut butter! He loves the stuff! If I ever need help with homework, all it takes is a batch of fresh peanut butter cookies!

So PB, not really . . . it's around, but not popular. Unlike Nutella that gets it's own aisle at the grocery store.

As far as Veggimite and Marmite are concerned . . . I must confess that over my years of exposure (just like
la langue française, it's petit à petit . . . little by little) I have come to not only appreciate Marmite, but to actually enjoy it . . . a little bit of Marmite, spread over French butter on a fresh baguette . . . MMMMMMMMMM!!! It's DELISH!  (And if you're feeling adventurous, one of my British school-mates likes a spoonful of PB drizzled with Marmite.  Now that's a first!)



If you could go on a road trip with any person, dead or alive, who would it be and where would you go?
Hmmm. My first though on the "who" would be SurvivorMan. He's hands-down, without fail, my very first choice to answer that stupid question of "If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only have three things, what would they be?" . . . so since we're always stranded on the proverbial island together, I'm afraid I may grow a little sick of his company.

And I love roadtrips . . . who doesn't?!?! But I think I'd want to go somewhere new. I have yet to make it to SouthAmerica, so yeah . . . a roadtrip across SouthAmerica. But I speak English and (only on a good day and with significant divine intervention) French . . . not Spanish. So I choose my SouthAmerican friend S. Not only is Spanish her mothertongue (convenient!) but she loves to travel and camp . . . or maybe I'm just happy that she came for a surprise visit.

1 comment:

Sabrina said...

Mmmm... interesting choice... I don't know if I should feel honored by it or if it's just a handy choice ;) I think I'll go for option number 1. So thanks...I'll make sure that you'll have lots of fun :) !!

S.