Travel

Fall, Winter…

Travel was one of my goals for 2017, and near the middle of the year I was disappointed with myself for not making more happen. I’d spent two weekends away – a conference in New York, and a wedding in New Jersey. Since I went full-time at my job in April, by the middle of the year I still had barely any vacation time saved up. I decided to make the most of my company’s liberal work from home policy, and stretch some long holiday weekends. Where that wouldn’t work, I bit the bullet and took unpaid days off.

I ended up packing in the trips in the latter half of the year: Morocco in September, New Orleans for a conference in November, Mexico City for Thanksgiving, and Palm Springs for Christmas. I never posted about these trips because I’ve been so busy, and then it felt like the time has passed. But I’ve been daydreaming about 2018 travel, and I thought it would be fun to reminisce, and to think about where else to go based on how I felt about these trips.

Google Slides apparently lets you import your Google photo albums, so I thought I would try that this time instead of individually uploading photos (part of the reason I put off blogging about these trips at all). Seems a shame there isn’t an easy way to make an embeddable slideshow with comments via Google Photos, but I had fun putting random text boxes as commentary all over my photos. There’s a ton of photos, but the sets get smaller as you scroll down.

September: Catching up with an old friend in Morocco

My friend Jill was spending part of her summer in Morocco in order to ride horses on the beach, and this seemed like a perfect chance to visit, especially since I’d missed visiting during the three years that she lived in the country. The trip itself was cathartic, something long overdue. But to start with, things felt difficult. I was anxious about offending people, wearing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing. And you know how in Thailand/Southeast Asia there is that saying: Same same, but different? Yeah, Morocco was just different.

Marrakech was hot as hell and stressful, but I didn’t find the stress invigorating, like in Bangkok or Phnom Penh. After checking out some of the sights of Marrakech, Ryan and I quickly moved on to Essaouria, a beach town where Jill had rented an apartment for a month. Once we got there, things became much easier. No heat, a nice breeze, plentiful seafood, oh and Jill handled everrrrrything – thanks Jill! Basically we ate a lot of tajine, drank a lot of NesCafe, checked out the sights, went to a winery, and just chilled out. It was nice.

Highlights:

  • Hearing the call to prayer several times throughout the day, including the wee hours. It was very moving.
  • We took a ‘grand taxi’ to the winery. It’s basically a large car going in a certain direction, and you can buy a seat. When all the seats are full, the car takes off. It was a new mode of transportation to me, and I definitely would not have coordinated it myself if Jill weren’t there to make it happen. On the way back, we caught the same taxi. The driver recognized us, I guess we stuck out as three foreigners walking down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere.
  • Meeting all the wonderful cats of Morocco. They were everywhere. The kitties by the sea were much more well-fed compared to the scrappy city cats.
  • Watching Girls Trip on a laptop, just like in college
  • Came in way way under budget, less than half of what I’d budgeted for.
  • Riding camels on the beach. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really fell in love with camels. Rudyard Kipling got it wrong, they’re sweet and hardworking animals.

Lowlights:

  • Being taken to a carpet shop on our city ‘tour’ and getting the super hard sell. We didn’t want to buy a carpet! Really, how often does that work?
  • Being hungover
  • The actual travel. Getting there takes forever!

November: RubyConf in New Orleans

I enjoyed going to the annual Ruby Conference in Cincinnati in 2016, so when I learned that the next event was in New Orleans, how could I say no? And I don’t even code in Ruby anymore, that’s how good it is. My mom had just finished up a job, so the timing worked out and she joined me for my trip. My conference was three long days, but we managed to fit a lot in during off hours.

Highlights:

  • Catching a couple of jazz shows casually
  • Visiting the oldest pharmacy in the US, now sponsored as a museum by Walgreens
  • Taking a plantation tour and being incredibly satisfied that our tour guide was a black man dressed in killer period appropriate costume.
  • Introducing my mom to grilled oysters
  • Going back several nights later to eat more grilled oysters 🙂
  • On the final day we lucked out with a private cemetery tour. I saw Nicolas Cage’s future tomb, y’all. There are lipstick kisses all over it, and I think they’re probably Nicolas Cage kisses.
  • Accidentally sitting at the VIP lunch table and meeting some famous Ruby folks. All incredibly friendly, of course.
  • Drinking hurricanes with my mom at Pat O’Briens

Lowlights:

  • Literally walking face first into a metal pole and bruising my face.
  • Being hungover from hurricanes

Thanksgiving: Birthday with Bae in Mexico City

When I think about it now, celebrating my birthday in Mexico City was a series of unfortunate events. I broke a tooth. Ryan got food poisoning and was in bed for a day and a half. The internet at our AirBNB died. We waited 45 minutes in line to pick up our lucha libre tickets only to learn that we were in the wrong line and needed to wait another 45 minutes in another line. Our airline pilots went on strike the day of our flight home. And yet… I was so determined to have a great birthday that I think I willed myself into letting it all slide. We made it through each shitty roadblock and I’m just left with really happy memories of Mexico City. It’s a great place. Putting it up there with Barcelona on my list of personal happy places.

Highlights:

  • Coming back to the apartment everyday and being greeted by the kitty of the house. She would follow us upstairs, run ahead and rush into our apartment, and then immediately start meowing for food. On the final day she lucked out and got some tostadas from the super fancy ContraMar. On that day we also learned that that our cat friend had a sister!
  • My first Lucha Libre match included a Trump worshipping badguy. I learned that Mexican grandmothers can be rather salty when it comes to their wrestling.
  • The Museum of Torture. Cruel, but fascinating.
  • Eating tacos on the street.
  • Going to the CDMX equivalent of a Denny’s
  • Climbing pyramids 🙂
  • Cramming into the local bus back home from the pyramids, and getting to stand at the very front of the bus, right behind the window. It felt like we were flying down the freeway, especially since our young and attractive bus driver was blasting EDM. He had good taste, BTW.
  • Visiting the most amazing public library I’ve ever seen. People actually come here and study, folks!
  • Rushing to the famous 24 hr churro place at 6am before heading to the airport, only to find the one employee hiding in the back of the kitchen, sleeping.

Lowlights:

  • Uh, basically the stuff that I mentioned above. Ryan was really sick, and I found myself Google translating ‘stomach flu’ before I nervously headed out in search of Pepto. Also, our apartment was in a great location, but right next to a crosswalk, so we slowly went insane from the crosswalk sounds.

Palm Springs: A Different Christmas

I didn’t want to stay in town for Christmas. Palm Springs is a chill place close enough to make going out of town not a huge deal, and with Ryan’s points, we got our hotel for free. PS is about an hour away from Los Angeles, so I invited my mom to come for the holiday. She didn’t know much about the town, but I think we showed her a good time 🙂

Highlights:

  • Last time we came to Palm Spring the aerial tramway was closed. Glad we tried again. It’s an amazing view and really a technically impressive feat!
  • We visited Elvis’s house you guys
  • Saw an amazing show at The Purple Room
  • My mom played her very first game of checkers
  • Visited some great tiki bars
  • Went to see The Darkest Hour, but stumbled upon a poppin’ Auntie Mame dress up boozy movie night

Lowlights:

  • I got food poisoning. It’s not a trip unless someone gets food poisoning. This time Ryan bought the Pepto.

Some Places I’d like to go in 2018:

I’d like to do more long weekend trips, but most of the places I had in mind are pretty far, and it would probably be hard to work from home, since the time difference is drastic… Hawaii, Cuba, South Africa, Ireland, Portugal, Hong Kong, Berlin, Senegal…

Next up: Atlanta. Right.. now. Seriously, going to the airport… 🙂  Going to spend a weekend visiting Jill’s new city.

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