Posts Tagged With: Travel

The Perils Of Packing, Or Having To Admit To Myself That I Once Listened To The Backstreet Boys And I Want That Way…

By Kiki Keane

Wow! Nearly two weeks since we lasted posted anything. I will admit that, per usual, part of the reason is laziness and/or avoidance. However, I can also say, with much relief, that mostly the absence is due to trip related business. I wish that I could spend the time to write at length and post some links, but I am stretched thin.

I am amazed at how much time it takes to pack 28 years of a person’s life into a large duffle bag, a small briefcase-sized bag and a backpack. I am still not done. I have packed and repacked a dozen times at least. Adjusting, refolding, taking out and putting in. Should I assume that certain necessities are available wherever it is I end up? Are they really even necessities? How can I live without cocoanut Jelly Bellies and Reese’s peanut butter cups? Then there is the question of books. How many do I take? Which one’s should I take? Should I bring my favorites or take a chance on new ones? Uplifting or depressing? Fiction, nonfiction or poetry? Classics or contemporary? Tennyson, Keats or Naruda? Homer, Dickens or Gaiman? And why doesn’t Las Cruces have a copy of Zorba the Greek?

I have to admit that I am excited to embark on this new and adventurous life, but I am also scared shitless. I am not afraid of the physical risks I will be taking once the Egypt leg of the trip is over. I am not worried about where I’ll sleep or if I will have enough to eat. I am a bit freaked about the great potential for complete and total failure. However, today I learned that you will receive what you need when you need it. I received two things today: 1) A gift of great value both literally and symbolically and 2) a bit of wisdom or, if it is not exactly wise than at least something I can cling to when I feel like jumping of cliff when this adventure turns out to be a disaster. It is from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and it goes like this: “But the person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. But perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same, so we must celebrate the changes because as someone once said, “Everything will be alright in the end and if it’s not alright, than trust me, it’s not yet the end.”

We have about a week until we leave for Cairo. Hopefully one or both of us will be able to at least do some short posts before we go.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Trip to the ABQ, Haiku, Tarantulas, Age Related Vision Problems AND The News

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Pardon our absence, but we have been busy social bees the last few days. Yesterday was filled with adventure (a trip to Albuquerque) and pain (Kiki had to get her Yellow Fever, Tetanus and Meningitis shots). We also ate more than any human being should be allowed consume. We went to an amazing restaurant called The Elephant Bar and had quantities of ultra delicious food that it surely had crack mixed into it. (Kiki wishes to state that the food was good, but would not go so far drug-laced.)  We also visited the mall, a great bookstore called Page One and Trader Joe’s, which we don’t have in our corner of New Mexico. We drove and drove. We passed the Very Large Array, which I (Rachel) very much wanted to see but alas it was too late in the day and we did not have the time.

Light filtering through

Blue-white cirrus clouds above.

Rio Grande gleaming.

I (Rachel) was very excited to find on my porch today a package of much anticipated tarantulas. Two Poecilotheria subfusca spiderlings which are, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful off all tarantula species. These guys are not for beginners though, they have precise temperature requirements and they possess a medically significant bite. I also got a freebie Phormictopus cancerides. For the sake of Kiki we will imagine I received a box of three precious kitties.

My (Kiki) day was not nearly as exciting. I got a new pair of glasses and then had to buy some reading glasses to use  when I wear my contacts. This is what happens when you age. Not only does your distance vision worsen, but have to correct the part of your vision that was perfect before.

On a less happy note: The News

1) Today is the anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica

2) Women protested the public shooting of a woman in Afghanistan

3) Photographer and Richard Engel remember Marie Colvin

4) More on Syria

Categories: Adventure, Books, Journalism, Life, Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chaotic Thoughts, Enduring Friendships, Change, Unlocking The Shackles Of Home, Spies And The News, Or Happiness Found…

By Kiki Keane

My thoughts have been chaotic lately. I fly from one lame thought to another, never staying long enough to get comfortable, which is kind of how I live my life and is a core part of who I am. You could probably call me a quitter. I mean how many novels and stories have I left unfinished, movies half watched, books unread? How many colleges and universities did I attend and how many majors did I have? How many friends have I happily let drift away because to keep them was to much work? How many places have I left because to stay was to be shackled? Why shouldn’t my brain work the same way? That is a long-winded way of letting you know that the following post will be about whatever things my brain chooses to vomit. You have been warned.

I was talking to my oldest friend about a week ago. We have known each other for ten years, which is no small feat considering my commitment phobia and that my longest previous friendship lasted maybe two years. One reason our friendship has endured is because I feel no real pressure to keep it going. For example, I know that I could (though I wouldn’t want to) go for a year or more without speaking to her and it would be no big deal. And if we should see each other again we would treat each other the same. Time and distance is nothing, really. Anyway, we were talking about how much we’ve changed over the years. She has seen me turn from a shy, rainbow scarf wearing, romantic, heart-on-my-sleave idealist complete with rose-colored glasses and a penchant for falling into one unrequited “relationship” after another and into the somewhat jaded, snarky, emotionally unavailable, relatively assertive, decidedly unromantic, eye-rolling, soon to be adventurer that is before you. And she’s changed just as dramatically. So, I guess it’s change that I’ve been thinking about. Not just how we change or that we change, but how we don’t. I’m still an idealist, I just understand moral ambiguity and grayness and impossible choices now. I still want a grand romance, I just don’t need it. I’m still nice, but I’ll be damned if I let you dismiss me.

We also talked about our nomadic lives. Neither of us can stay in one place long without experiencing depression, anxiety and, at least for me, physical pain. We even experience a kind of claustrophobia on behalf of others who have never experienced the freedom and happiness that comes from leaving behind “the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many cares and the Slavery of Home” (Richard F. Burton). Don’t get me wrong. I envy those who are content in their lives, those who don’t feel shackled and enslaved by obligations, family, friends and their local physical boundaries. I envy those who have never wondered what it would be like to ride a camel through the Sahara, or never needed to touch the Pyramids for themselves, or experience first hand the wars we see on TV and all that comes with it, or require nothing more than a picture or a travelers words to experience the greater world, or those who do not need to know for themselves why the wonders of the world are so…wonderful. I like to pretend that a nomadic life style is one of true freedom, but the truth is that every nomad is slave to the wind. Whenever it blows we are compelled to follow it to wherever it may lead us.

On a different note, I have also been thinking great deal about spies. Why? Because they are fascinating people and because I could never be one. I prefer fictional spies though, especially the outlandish ones, like 007. Of course, 007 may have been based on a real person. Geoffrey Gorden-Creed claimed to be the inspiration for Ian Flemings, James Bond. If he is to believed, I would say that my previous statement was wrong, or at least not entirely informed, as Gorden-Creed was perhaps more fascinating than his fictional counterpart, certainly a less discriminating seducer (if what he said is true than he would make Casanova look chaste). Here is The Daily Mail‘s article on him. Here is Alan Furst’s @Google talk. Lastly, here is Jennet Conant’s C-Span talk/reading about Julia and Paul Childs time in the OSS.

And not to disappoint, here are some news stories I’ve been keeping an eye on.

1) Richard Engel just got back from a trip to Syria and shared what it’s like there at the moment and also some analysis of what Clinton’s criticism of Russia means if anything.

2) Some DRC news

3) Libyans vote

4) New commitment to Afghanistan 

5) I may have shared this and this before, but the destruction of historical sites really angers me. I especially have a fondness for Timbuktu and grieve for the destruction that it has suffered the last few weeks.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Elections, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Leaving

By Kiki Keane

A family member recently asked me, “Why can’t you stay home?” I know she was really asking me, “Why do you insist on going to places that are so dangerous?” I have a number of set speeches, which I recite passionately and which she rejects with equal passion. But that question–”Why can’t you stay home?”–has been nagging me for weeks. After delving into my past I came up with the following: First, I don’t really have a home. I have moved 20 times in 28 years and I’m about to move again. I am both an island girl and a mainlander and I don’t really fit in either place. I’ve lived in small towns and small cities and big cities and foreign countries. When people ask me were I’m from I say, “Well, most recently…”

Secondly, I’ve got the bug. Not just the journalism bug, but the travel bug. I get happy looking at a map the way other girls get when there’s a shoe sale. I get this wonderful ache in my knees when I trace the outlines of countries on my globe. The only thing on my Bucket List are places (except for the item “Read Anna Karenina”, which I have never been able to get through). Leaving and the idea of leaving is so much a part of me that the idea of staying anywhere for a long period of time makes me claustrophobic. I get sick and distant and, at times, down right mean. I have to keep leaving because staying might actually kill me.

Third, I like that I can shed my past every time I go somewhere new. If I don’t like who I am I can leave that person behind like so much sloughed off skin. Travel lets you reinvent yourself and, if you do it right, you will be changed.

I’ll end with this: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Some News Items:

Syria

Egyptian elections and the ‘coup’

China’s first woman in space

And here is Richard Engel’s latest Hidden Planet (North Korea)

Categories: Adventure, Journalism, Life, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facing Up To Our Inadequacies, Nerding Out and Looking To The Future, Or Why We Will Be Looking Out On The Nile Come September…

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Exciting news!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We just booked our rooms at a hostel in Cairo! So at least we have a place to stay for our first 10 days. Still have to see about an apartment. Wow! This is getting really real. A bit anxiety inducing, actually. And yet so so so exciting, fantastic and (dare I use the most annoying word ever?) awesome!

We are going to do our goals today because we may not be able to tomorrow. So here we go…

Kiki:

Sadly, I have gone back to my old ways. The only goal I accomplished this week was number 2: watch a movie. Actually, true to form, I watched several movies. I sat through Mrs. Winterbourne (saw it when it first came out in 1996 during my Brendan Fraser phase). I also rectified one of my great failures as an 80s child, which is to say I finally saw St. Elmo’s Fire. And here’s a fun SEF fact: Andrew McCarthy isn’t just love obsessed Kevin he is also a very decent travel writer. Other movies watched this week because apparently I have no life: SerenityStealth, South Pacific and The Birds.

Oh. I studied a little Arabic. I can recite the alphabet and the words “pretty” “coffee” and “hotel.”

New Goals:

1) Read a novel and a book relevant to my trip 2) Call the visa people 3) Watch a movie 4) Not Panic 5) Finish 1984 

Rachel:

I didn’t do too hot on my goals this week. Shockingly I have not read a single book this past week! Very uncharacteristic for me! Instead I watched season 4 of Enterprise (Worst season finale ever! Very unsatisfactory and I am unhappy with the outcome for one of my favorite characters) and played Skyrim. I also watched two really crappy SciFi (I refuse to spell it with Y’s) original movies: Dinocroc VS Supergator and Malibu Shark Attack. They were supposed to be B Horror but it was more like D Horror! I applied for two positions so 50% accomplishment there. Finally I have not posted new photos but I have some I need to upload so expect that for the future.

New Goals:

1) Read a book 2) Watch a movie 3) Upload photos for the blog 4) Blog about GLBTQ issues as per the request of a follower

Joint Goals:

1) Study Arabic 2) Get Vaccinated

Categories: Adventure, Books, Goals, Job Hunting, Life, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So Called “Spring Break”

By Rachel Womek:

So I totaled out on books yesterday. I checked out three and I bought three (less than 2 bucks, woot!) and I am currently reading another. Did I mention that I have about 15 more books bought in the past to get through? So many books, so little time.

 

It’s “spring break” here in NM. They should really call it homework break, how those fratties find the time to party it up I’ll never know; it’s not as if they are being diligent the rest of the semester. My spring break actually is next week when school will be back in session. I am going to a conference in Albuquerque: The White Privilege Conference. Calm down! It’s not what it sounds like. The conference is basically about educating middle class white people about the race based social stratification here in the good ol’ U.S.A.  I am “white”, though not middle class, and am already aware of stratification (the very concept of race is a means of creating social stratification), but the opportunity arose for me to go and I jumped at it. I am leaving next Wednesday and will return that Sunday. Sadly, Constant Readers, I doubt I’ll have internet access, so you’ll have to go without any blogs by me for a few days. Never fear! Kiki will, with eloquence and humor, fill the gap. You can also expect a full report, photos included, upon my return.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Free Speech, Photography, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An “Old” Ladies Lament…

By Kiki Keane

One would think that a noon to 8:30 p.m. schedule would be doable. With it, one would still be able to workout, spend time with friends, keep up with the news and with one’s subscriptions and bedside table books. I mean look at all that time in the morning! Sadly, I have not been able to make that happen. I cannot, it seems, get out of bed before 10:15. I take this a sign of old age. I know, I know. Old people usually get up at the crack of dawn. Sleeping in is for the young! I know. But I have always been the opposite. I use to get up at 6 a.m. and go to bed at 10:30 p.m. Now, I can’t sleep before 1 a.m. and if I didn’t have to get up, I would sleep tell 2:00 p.m.

I write this by way of explanation for my lack of anything good to blog about at the moment. I promise, though, to rectify this. I am going to try REALLY hard to wake up early and do some reading at the very least. Well see how that works out.

But here are some things I have managed to read/watch/gather in last few days:

1) Richard Engel has a new series for iPad through the Rock Center app, called Hidden Planet. Engel is a reporter (a very, very good one) for NBC. This program, though, is focused on travel. My understanding is that the episodes focus on places and people that the average person doesn’t get to see or experience. This is the opening sequence. It was suppose to start tonight, but only the extras are up, it seems.

2) I am always, always going on about how the future will be a better place. By that, I mean better for me and people like me–introverts who like to be alone. According to an opinion piece I read in the New York Times, not only are more young people living alone, but more and more older people are choosing to live alone as well. Of course, this is mostly in developed and quickly developing countries–those where it is economically feasible for people to live on their own. I won’t bore you with the numbers. If you’re interested the piece can be found here.

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Job Hunting and the Art of BS

By: Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

In today’s economy, finding a job is like being in an endless parade of circus freaks and you are the clown. You have to put on your clown makeup and smile your phony smile and hope you don’t end up with elephant poo all over your face. There are a lot of clowns looking for a tiny car to squeeze into and we didn’t even graduate from clown school. After a few rounds of this endless parade, we have come to the conclusion that Bullshit is the primary skill sought and if you aren’t fluent, you don’t get the car.

Certain jobs require more Bull than others. The larger companies are especially fond of it. What is worse is that they don’t really want Bull about you, they want you to regurgitate the Bull they feed you in some twisted bid for confirmation about the validity of their existence. They want to hear their own overbearing notions repeated back to them with overzealous enthusiasm, as if there was a possibility of authenticity. In desperation we seek to fulfill their every desire. We stroke their inflated ego and silently appeal to the universe for employment in their cookie cutter institution. And what is worse, we are grateful for the opportunity.

We mention this because we are on a quest to fulfill a dream–a madcap adventure to the Middle East and Africa to try our hand at Freelance Journalism. This, of course, depends on the accumulation of cash and thus we posture at the whimsy of corporations. Our future success will validate any ass-kissing and soul-selling we might presently engage in. We hope.

Stay tuned for updates on our adventures and misadventures!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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