The Yellowest House in Goa

I should have taken a picture of our homestay in Goa. It took so long to get there from the airport and our taxi got stuck in the sand on the beach. And then when we arrived at our destination, in the middle of the night, our new home was so brightly yellow it might have glowed in the dark.

In the last instalment of my insufferable reminiscence, I will admit that we were lazy fish in Goa. (as an aside: the fish curry they make there is heaven oh my god) We spent a lot of time just ambling around, took a few boat rides, and mostly  took things super easy. Our adventuring spirits were in recharge mode and we took full advantage of the easy slow life.

I imagine that it was all this relaxing that lead to the mad decision to rent a scooter while we were there. Luckily we didn’t die but I have yet to figure out what stopped that from happening…

My favourite thing about Goa is without a doubt the mystery of why there are so many single shoes on the beach. Like… where did all these shoes come from? Clearly they were washed up on the beach by the tides, but from where? Is there a shoe dumpster somewhere in the area?

If you’re wondering what this post is about, don’t worry… I have no idea either…

It also occurs to me that I should have called this post The Greenest House In Goa because actually it looks more green than yellow and green makes for better alliteration which I have a thing for.

Oh well…

Give Me Back the Greens of Kerala

As I have noted several times this month, my Facebook memories feed is filled with memories of our trip to India two years ago. I must admit: that was the year I kind of caught feelings for Instagram and I do owe anyone unfortunate enough who was following my Facebook and Instagram at the time an apology. Guys – I posted SO MANY PICTURES. I’m sorry. A bit. In my defence posting all those pics made me really happy at the time, even though it’s made me go wtf in the present. I do, however, admit that it is likely I will do it again in the future. I can’t help it. I’ve always been a bit naturally extra…

Those damn pics make the travel bug bite though. God we had such a good time. After spending Valentine’s Week around The Golden Triangle, we moved on to the Kerala district. This district is so green and beautiful. A stark contrast, of course, to the drought that our part of the world is currently struggling with.

This decidedly slower-paced experience was one I would have loved to extend, even though the mountains of Munnar made it so difficult for me to breathe! This sea-level girl can’t deal with altitude at all!! Cochi with it’s fisherman and crazy markets. Munnar with all that tea. Kumarakom… Oh Kumarakom, how I loved you the most. So many birds. So much life everywhere.

I am spoiled and grateful. And at the same time so hopelessly unsatiated in my lust to explore more. How glorious for me to be able to say I have been there and to be able to coddle my own wanderlust with you’ve made it work before you can do it again.

A friend told me yesterday that she is so glad she doesn’t have travel lusts. And I must admit I agree with her: she is lucky. Because I find myself at a point where I miss everywhere. I miss the Kerala district. I miss The Golden Triangle. I miss Mumbai and the crazy traffic there. I miss the hustle and bustle. I miss the quiet.

Travel can be a heartbreaking thing. But what more can be expected when your life’s goal is to leave tiny pieces of your heart all over the world?

Dear Friends, You’re Always Welcome Here

For the last couple of weeks India has been on my timeline, and so of course I’ve been thinking about how while I was in India I met the most fantastic couple: Ella & Jack. Silly, I know. In reality we only spent a couple of hours together, exploring the Taj Mahal on Valentine’s Day, but I love those two so much! One of my absolute favourite things about traveling is that there is always something so special about the people I meet while doing it. As someone who spends a lot of time feeling a bit out of place no matter where she is, it’s a big deal for me to ever be in the sort of space where I feel like I (*gasp*) fit in. I do recognize that this is no more or less true within travel circles than it is outside of those circles, but feelings are feelings and the good ones should not be denied.

Of course I have met people from all over, not just in India. Many of you have a special place in my heart and I appreciate the small amount of time that I shared with you out there in the big wide world. I think of you often and wonder after your wellbeing. I find my mind drifts towards a number of you as I get nostalgic about past travels or start making plans towards the next adventure. I find myself wondering if your next adventure is on the horizon, or if you know just how wonderful my little part of the world is. And if you do know, would you considering visiting it? (more…)

Valentine’s Day at the Taj Mahal

My husband and I have agreed that we won’t be faffing with Valentine’s Day. No, it’s not a trap. The suggestion to give it a skip was a genuine one. It’s Wednesday. We’re broke. We’re busy. We’re broke. Yes, broke times two. Actually make that times three. It’s all good.

We’re not that big on Valentine’s Day usually. Not enough to actually go out of our way to make a big deal of it at least. The celebration kind of either happens by accident or not at all. I’m good with this. Mostly because I’m not a particularly romantic human being, at least not about Valentine’s Day.

We did have one really good Valentine’s Day in India though. We managed to spend Valentine’s 2016 at the Taj Mahal, which I thought was poetically romantic when you consider that the Taj Mahal is a symbol of some dude’s love for his woman. I forget which dude of course. I’m even worse at history than I am at romance.

This is where I truly fail though: I’ve gotten to a point where stuff just doesn’t feel like a special occasion if I’m not away from home. And it’s not that I hate my home – I love my home! I’m very much a homebody, and being home snuggled with my cats and husband is its own special occasion in a way. But tomorrow we’ll just be here doing our here things and living our here life. Nothing extraordinary.

I like that I can say I once spent Valentine’s Day at the Taj Mahal though.

And why even am I telling you all of this? Because my On This Day feature on Facebook keeps reminding me that I was in India two years ago. The reminder is lovely. But boy oh boy the travelbug is biting holes in my feet…

Also I need to go back to the Taj Mahal because my pics of the place are all terrible! Someone needs to give me travel photography lessons… *sigh*

Feed Me in New Delhi

The best food I’ve ever eaten was in New Delhi. I’m thinking of it now with a twinge of nostalgia. There is something impossibly titillating about discovering new foods that you love, with a person that you love. Is it weird that I find making yummy sounds  with my husband to be one of my favourite pastimes? It makes me so happy. Oh my god you have to try this! 

Of course there is also the other feeling that plagues me now. The feeling of oh my gosh all that food was so good but I don’t remember what any of it was called feeling. Such a tragic loss of words.

I’m definitely getting to a point where I am longing for slower, more immersive travel. I know this is a tall order because unless you travel full time it’s kind of difficult to  pull off immersive travel. For now we go somewhere and experience as much as possible in a short space of time. But I long for the kind of uninhibited experiences where you are just in a place as a temporary citizen of that place. New Delhi especially inspires this longing. I would love to amble through her streets. Observing and meeting her people without the limitations of a tour schedule. Eating food from the streets or in little side street cafes. Visiting temple after temple. I could happily visit them all without ever being bored. Their peace would sustain me.

I wonder if my husband would happily amble through the whole of India for a year. Imagine it: Yoga retreats. Temples. Curries and naan bread galore. So many mangoes! A seemingly endless collection of caves all over the place. Intricate carvings. Beautiful fabrics. Everything that glitters…

I am ready, perhaps, for a different way of life to start, though I remain loyal to this one while it needs me. Children grow up though, and once they have their own lives I cannot help but wonder if it would be unreasonable for me to figure out how to live just about everywhere…

Monkeys Outside of Kanheri Caves

I’m busy having a grump with myself because in the name of stabbing nostalgia I am busy looking through my photographs from Mumbai and I see that I took zero pictures while at the Kanheri Caves. At least I didn’t take any with my camera. My google photos backup has a couple of blurry pics with too much HDR on them (oh Lordy I loved that filter for a while…) but beautiful pics taken with my camera?

Nada.

WHY WOULD I DO THAT?!

Oh yes… Because there was a “No Photographs” sign at the ticketing office and uhm…probably I shouldn’t have those pics on my cellphone either… How did we pull that off anyway? Did we go into stealth ninja mode? Is calling it “Stealth Ninja Mode” superfluous?

Luckily there were all these gorgeous monkeys hanging out outside of the entrance to the caves so I totally got to photograph them with all their little old man babies. How cute are they? So cute…

Oh my God so cute.

You can find more pics on my Instagram.

Meet Me in Mumbai

Facebook’s On This Day feature tells me that today two years ago I was waiting patiently (ha!) for a plane to take us to Mumbai.  Our trip to India was truly one of the craziest things I have ever pulled off. In fact, the reason we were able to go was because we were able to cash in all the medical aid savings that we hadn’t used for a couple of years. We got lucky. And that trip was the reward for our luck.

Man I wish I could go back… But I suppose that is the curse of travel. We live forever doomed to miss places that we may or may not ever return to. It’s an ache that is bitter as it is sweet.

We didn’t spend enough time in Mumbai though. In fact: I could easily see myself spending as much as a year touring the whole of India and never getting bored. I’d love to lose myself there for a while. Taking in the sights and smells and sounds. India is truly a kaleidoscopic carnival for the senses. We never did get to see the Elephante caves, on account of us getting there a little late. And we opted to miss out on a Bollywood tour for financial reasons, which I definitely regret.

We did get to go to the Kanheri Caves though, and those were so freaking cool I’d love to go again. The architectural tricks used to make sound and light carry throughout those giant rooms is just remarkable. And the echoing chambers are eerily beautiful.

And then there are the temples. So many temples! I wish I could do a temple tour of the whole of India but I imagine that would probably take six years.

I think for love and joy I might start sharing some of my pics on Instagram because sometimes nostalgia can act like soul food, right? And if I can’t have Indian food well then soul food will just have to do…

(hopefully my worse-than-now photography skills won’t depress me too hard!)

Travel Resolutions & Other Failures

My resolution for travel this year was to attempt to get away for the weekend once a month. Of course the last weekend of January has come and gone and we have yet to be away. Somewhere along the line I’m going to have to figure this stuff out. Although I suppose you don’t stop being a traveller just because you’re a little on the broke side. Thankfully we have a trip to Port Alfred happening around the corner, and even more thankfully, my parents are paying for it.

I must admit it’s a little tough though. I think we could manage a few mini-vacations in the area with relative ease. At least without crippling ourselves. And those little mini-getaways are truly soul-feeding and good for all sorts of things from mental health to relationship health! But… Isn’t there always a but? (more…)

The New Bucketlist

Last week I asked you for some ideas for what I could put at the top of my Bucketlist after my daft self went and actually completed my #1 travel dream last year. It’s kind of tough to come up with a new #1 I must admit. And I have not actually achieved this goal even though I’ve been thinking about it all year. I imagine the answer to this is that perhaps one day my #1 will instinctively reveal itself to me and I will just have to wait until that happen. So there’s no ultimate #1 anymore (why does this make me so sad?!) but I do have a list of things that make my heart soar a little so I thought I’d share those instead.

I should disclose up front that it is most likely this list will get neglected a bit. Not because I have no intention of completing it but because the things at the top tend to be the most costly and I am just silly little old me we a tiny budget so some of them are a little (a lot) pipe dreamy.

In no particular order:

  • Drive from South Africa to Kenya over a period of 6 months
  • Swim with the pigs in the Bahamas
  • Eat pizza in the place where Elizabeth Gilbert ate pizza in Eat Pray Love (where was that?)
  • Be in Japan when the sakura trees are blossoming
  • A cruise to Alaska (where I will hopefully see killer whales in the wild)
  • Rent a car in Iceland and drive around the whole island (when I’m richer than God)
  • Disney – I don’t even care which one I just want a selfie with Minnie Mouse
  • Dance lessons in Argentina
  • Tulip field photoshoot in Holland
  • Prague

Good list, right?

What’s at the top of your travel bucketlist?

So I have this problem where I start pretty much every blog post with the word “so”…but my other ridiculously over-the-top-and-yes-I’m-aware-that-this-is-not-a-real-problem problem is this: I ticked off the #1 thing at the top of my bucketlist last year and now I’m feeling a bit now what about it.

To be honest I didn’t even realise that this sort-of malaise had settled over me because of it. It’s not like I’ve forgotten the experience or haven’t put in enough time appreciating it. Of course I have!  You don’t forget hot air ballooning over Cappadocia in a hurry, and just the memory is enough to bring about a smile. But for so many years the one thing that I’ve wanted to do above all other things is climb into a hot air balloon. Funny enough it occurs to me that there is a kind of bittersweetness in achieving what I consider to have been a bit of a lifelong goal.

Now here I am staring down the wide-open possibilities of 2018 and I have no idea what to pick as a top contender. Because there was really just that one thing  at the top of my bucketlist followed by an ever-growing mess of other things that all sort of jumble together and have no specific ranking.

So (so!) tell me please: What is at the top of your bucketlist? Because I need some ideas.

Everybody Gets a Strawberry

So last weekend I found myself lucky enough to have an entire day in which there were no kids present and I immediately insisted that my husband take me to Mooihoek Strawberry Farm to pick strawberries. Partly because I really wanted to pick strawberries, but mostly because we were in serious need of getting out of the house and away from real life – just the two of us – and this was a kind of cheap and quick way to do it.

Of course, like mine was, all of your timelines for the last month have been filled with strawberry pickers, so you know what I’m talking about. But I wonder if any of you have marvelled at the success of this exercise the way I have. I actually haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, and quite frankly, being impressed by it all. It was such a great reminder of the power of social media and how so much can be achieved just by offering people an experience. I absolutely LOVED that “picking strawberries” was something both locals and guests of Port Elizabeth could add to their holiday itinerary this year. And I mostly loved that it was such a cost effective and “different” option. Is it weird to be so pleased at the success of someone else? Hmmm….

I think today is the last day that you can get yourself a strawberry or two from Mooihoek, so I have done a terrible job of being an influencer in this regard haha (unless any of you were re-tempted to get your strawberry on by my Instagram Timeline) but I do truly hope that the successes experienced by Mooihoek Strawberry Farm might inspire a few more similar experiences to start popping up around/near The Bay.

And why do I say this? Because what Mooihoek had to offer was doable. It didn’t cost the earth to take your kids out to the farm for an hour or two (petrol and R30 per punnet of self-picked strawberries). And you learn a thing or two while harvesting your own food. Things like “my goodness I really should be more grateful to all the people who are involved in putting food on my table because even though this is kind of fun for an hour it is actually seriously hard work and this hard work is what keeps our nation fed” which is a super important thing to acknowledge. I did also learn that factor 30 is no match for the sun beating down on Hankey… I really should practice being out in the sun more.

Granted I probably should have taken my kids with us like all the other “good” parents we encountered during our visit. You know so they could learn some of these things and pick their own strawberries so that I didn’t have to share… Hopefully this will happen again next year and we will somehow manage to go as a group (my older kids have a job now so they’re never home though!)

I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to have a point in mind when I start writing these posts. I guess the point is this: Sometimes simple is really awesome. And observing the success of something so simple was kind of cool. Inspiring. So much of the awesomeness that our little part of the world provides gives me the warm and fuzzies. This was one of those things.

Did you enjoy your Mooihoek Strawberry farm experience?

2018: A Year of Here

So even though I’ve just spent the last six hours (don’t judge!) trying to figure out if we can go to Thailand for my husband’s birthday, our travel plans for this year really just include a whole bunch of exploring around home. Luckily we live in Nelson Mandela Bay and there is plenty of exploring to be done right here which means I’m not too worried about being a dissatisfied adventurer. But you know how it is: sometimes those planes call us so hard!

Alas, no! No planes! In 2018 Nadine needs to stay in just this one country. Unless, you know, she doesn’t…

To be honest though guys: somewhere along the line the mom and the dad need to get away a bit. Raising kids works out better when you take a break. (as an aside: does anyone want my kids?)

Of course a good old fashioned roadtrip or two will be thrown in for the fun (and necessity) of it. Depending on the budget which is currently at zero but will hopefully climb up as the year goes along. I should sell some things. (aside: does anyone want my things?)

For now we’ll just throw around a couple of ideas perhaps and do a far better job than we usually do of observing our own surroundings. I’m the biggest culprit of observing a Home is Where We Hibernate lifestyle…so I fully admit that the challenge will be me.

Am I capable of change? Probably no, but I’m going to try.