Sunday, October 31, 2010

Note to self

In some countries, there are stray cats. In others, there are stray dogs.
In Mauritania, there are stray goats.
Note to self: resist all temptations to get out of the car and chase the cute baby goats.
Thank you.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Things I have foudn essential to have with me when traveling, especially because Im staying at super cheapie hotels:

Toilet paper*: oh the joys of shared bathrooms. Enough said.
Mid sized towel: works well for everyday as well as shower usage, and doesnt take up as much room in you luggage.
Small soap bar*
Laundry powder*
Shampoo, shower gel*
Shoes that double as slippers or shower shoes (such as crocs).
COURAGE to not be weirded out be creepy front desk men.

* = can be bought from any local convenience store if you dont want to carry them around.

Fez: Je T'adore... en plus chaque jour :)

Fez, Morocco, is a city that makes me smile and puts my soul at ease. Such a wonderful mix of old, new, tradition, modernity, spirituality, open mindedness... things I believe work together and not against each other.
Of the cities I've visited in Morocco so far, Fez has a certain... je ne sais quoi... which makes me sure that this will not be my last time here.
I'm off to Marakkesh tomorrow morning, with hopes of finding a similarly capturing city.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tunisia: Things I could get used to

Having gateau, or something sweet, first thing in the morning.

Lack of people (population of 12 million vs pop of 90 million in Egypt. Yah.).

How informative taxi drivers are.

The Tunisian-Arabic-mixed-with-French accent.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Updating from the city of Kairouan in Tunisia. I've been staying with a friend's family in the capital, Tunis, but decided to venture out and head south to Kairouan, a two hour louage (minibus) ride along some beautiful landscapes that turn from lush green and mountainous to desert wasteland in a matter of minutes. Known as the fourth most important Islamic site (after Makkah, Medina, and Jerusalem), there is a certain peace and simplicity here not found in Tunis. Even in the tightly wound central medina (old city) one can still find peace of mind and stillness.

The people in Tunisia are some of the kindest I've met. There are, just like in any other city, the creepers and the plain weirdos, but there is such a strong sincerity and helpfulness from everyone else that makes up for all of that.
And dont get me started on Tunisian food. Yum.

One thing I still cant get used to: the way the letters are all in different places on the keyboard at Internet (called: Publinet) cafes.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Travel sans laptop

So I'm leaving in a few hours to spend the next 26 days exploring Tunisia, Morocco, and Mauritania. I've decided not to take my laptop along on this adventure because it's dead weight and an expense. I will be trying my best to update the blog from Internet cafes but we'll see how that goes. However, I do promise an extensive report on North-West Africa upon my return.

Check back often!

BB :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 94: Gold Digger

October 8

Well, not a gold digger in that sense. Watched this gentleman make some highly intricate and detailed designs in gold plates today. Some people make me feel so un-artistically talented. And yet so inspired at the same time!

Day 93: Planning!

October 7

Planning for the next trip! Can't wait to get going again. Can you guess to where? :p

Day 92: Streeetccchhhhh

October 6

Lol. I love kittens. That is all.

Day 91: Archive 2

October 5

My thoughts frequently take me back to 6 beautiful days spent falling in love with London. This was a beautiful day spent at beautiful Kensington Gardens with a beautiful girlfriend.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Today I Learned...

That instead of tossing and turning for a what seems like a million hours (usually just half an hour) in bed while being wide awake, getting up and doing something is much more useful. It sure beats trying to force yourself to sleep. And eventually, you'll just get tired and get right to sleep. A psychiatrist once told me that the cure for not being able to fall asleep is to do something that makes you stop thinking about how much you want to sleep (like read a book). Don't make insomnia your enemy; use that energy wisely. Sleep will eventually show up.

Day 90: Really?

October 4

(Embedding is disabled. Song is: Ever the same by Rob Thomas)

This song has been a long-standing favorite of mine thanks to a good friend sending it to me way back in the day. Haven't heard it in a while, but listening to it now makes me think: can someone really stay the same over a long period of time?

fall on me
tell me everything you want me to be
forever with you
forever in me
ever the same

Is it not an integral part of human nature to continuously change and move forward? What if we remained completely static, unchanging in our behaviours, standards, and more importantly, our ideas? Does change make us hypocrites or innovators? What is it about personal change that very often terrifies us?

when you call on me
ill be there for you and you'll be there for me
forever its you
forever in me
ever the same

Personal Identity is a concept that runs amok in my brain. I believe in a flexible identity that learns and moves forward. But remains true to what it believes is essential in this life. Some disagree. I ask them to have courage to understand themselves and not be so self-denying and critical. They might learn lessons they never thought possible. Change does not have to be for the worse; change is very often the catalyst needed to push us forward to greater things.

Day 89: Creme Caramel?

October 3

I tried to make Creme Caramel. I discovered that I don't have a problem with following recipes, but with local ingredients. For example, vanilla powder in Canada is strong. Usually a pinch will suffice. In Egypt, vanilla powder is actually vanilla and sugar mixed together, so you need much more than a pinch. Hence, creme caramel that tastes like eggs (using vanilla powder makes desserts that have eggs in the ingredients taste less eggy). Another example: eggs in Egypt are kind of massive and really strongly flavored. Great for omlettes; terrible for creme caramel. Hence, creme caramel that tastes like really thick custard.
Lesson of the day: know your local ingredients before trying to feed people you love.

Day 88: Due North

October 2

Farmland on the way to Mahala, in the Nile Delta area, north of Cairo.

Transportation love:
Taxi from my house to the Metro (underground) station.
Metro to main train station, downtown Cairo.
Where I discovered there are no more tickets on the train from Cairo to Mahala (priceless).
Metro to bus stop area (Mazallat).
Microbus from Mazallat to coach buses stop area (SuperJet).
SuperJet to Mahala (finally).
Car ride to friend's house.

Fun times riding every possible method of transportation in Cairo...

Day 87: Dust

October 1

Construction at the Cairo train station, downtown.
Such a shame, it used to be such a pretty train station (or so I've heard). Maybe now it'll be nicer? Hope so.