Reason #2 – Paris Bus Drivers

While Paris is certainly one of the most walkable cities in the world, it also has one of the best bus systems as well. And I love to take the bus as it gives you ample opportunity for adventuresome exploring of new routes and neighborhoods. Why go underground on the metro when you can visually see where you are going and find exciting new places to discover.

The added bonus of the Paris bus system for me is that Parisian bus drivers are definitely giving the Pompiers (The Paris Fire and Rescue Crew) a run for their money in the cute and sexy department. And I can personally verify that they love to flirt! What more could a woman ask for!

While I can count the number of times as less than 10 that I have been on the Paris metro system, I am on and off of probably two to four different buses most days so I can count myself an authority. And for you men out there wondering about the sexist nature of this blog post, I can also tell you that there is a rapidly growing number of  young and attractive female bus drivers as well.

Sure there can be an occasional grumpy bus driver, but I am averaging at least one flirtatious encounter a day if not more. For the small price of a transit ticket you get so much more! My only frustration is that while I am trying to practice and increase my French language skills, many of these utterly adorable men are eager to show off their English language skills.

And not to be forgotten, are their incredible driving skills on top of their flirting and enjoying being a knight in shining armour. These bus drivers maneuver huge buses down tiny narrow streets with less than an inch to spare on either side.    They have nerves of steel and cute smiles to match!

I would highly recommend that if you are visiting Paris, you hop on a bus and see just where it takes you – if you are like me it will always end in fun!

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Reasons why I love Paris – #1- Vive la Revolution!

Paris is one of those cities that divides people. You either love it or hate it! It is a very personal choice. I personally love it, although even I have eye rolling moments where the love affair swings perilously close to the other emotion. To celebrate why I love it so much I am launching my own personal list of reasons why I truly love Paris. Please keep in mind that there is no specific order to this list other than my own stream of consciousness and random events.

This personal blog moment was brought to you as a result of my sojourn Monday night at a Cafe on rue de Rennes. It was a cool and rainy evening as we sat outside on the Cafe terrace under the cover of an awning  enjoying the best Camembert cheese and baguette I think that I ever have had the pleasure of eating. Now this scenario in and of itself is a reason to love Paris. Sitting in the company of friends, eating and drinking and watching the movie of Paris life stroll by.

Ah, but it gets so much better. As those of us learning the language struggle to frame coherent french sentences intermixed with English words or those from other languages (as we are a multicultural gathering) the discussion turns to one of the most gloriously unique of French topics: Manifestations!

For those who are unfamiliar with French ways, there is no more frequent or celebrated activity than to strike, which enviably means marching through the streets of Paris descending upon either the National Assembly or some other significant French institution.

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These strikes or manifestations as they are referred to here in country, often at times have a rather parade like quality to them. This is because the French believe in the right to protest!!!! Hallelujah!!! There is no belief in just quietly taking what comes and conforming to the will of the political or economic powers that be. No, it is the right of citizen of the Republic to express their opinion. If only Canadians could get the hang of this concept……

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It is no wonder I love it here, the non-conformist that I am. And what better addition to the philosophy of manifestation and revolution than the fact that you can actually sit in a Cafe and discuss the whole concept whilst dreaming up possible reasons for which you would lead a revolution. Let me tell you that I came up with a few of my very own while a very nice French gentleman sitting next to me could not resist fist pumping and joyous expressing “Vive la Revolution!” in support of me.

Oh, I do so love Paris and a good revolutionary discussion!

Where in the World is Cheryl?

I know, it has been awhile but once again I am on the move finding adventure, new friends and living life to the fullest. A friend recently told me that she is always waiting for an email or new blog posting from me as she is never certain but always eager to know where on earth I will exactly turn up.

Well this time around I have made Paris the destination of choice. The city of classic architecture, grand and petite parks, pain chocolate and pompiers (those oh so good looking men eager to provide first aid that you are almost tempted to have a heart palpation just by looking at them).

While my heart still belongs firmly with Africa, Paris also feels like home to me. I lived here 27 years ago while completing my Masters in International Relations. And in a typical Cheryl fashion when I received an invitation for a Champagne launch of an International Relations Academic Journal in June it seemed like the universe’s serendipitous lure me back into the world. A month later I had officially ended my career as a Canadian federal public servant (thank god!!!!) and on my way to a Paris studio apartment located in the Latin quarter five minutes away from the banks of the Seine.

My Paris apartment
My Paris apartment

I have contemplated changing my blog’s name but knowing that eventually I will make my way home to one of the glorious 55 African countries is seems right to keep it. What makes it all the better is how, when and where I will go before I do. So I hope that you enjoy following my adventures where ever they take me!

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Home at last

Although I left Botswana almost four weeks ago…it is so hard to believe that… this weekend I finally got to settle in to my new home – for now 😉

While I am truly grateful for my kind friend Alexa, who took in this homeless waif while I navigated the drama filled environment of apartment/condo rental, I am delighted to be able to stop living out of a suitcase and access my warmer Canadian clothing. And to put the drama of dealing with real estate agents behind me.

My new home is not the original place that I had planned on renting….let’s just say that the motto “buyer beware” is so appropriate as you should never sign on the dot lined line until you can visually inspect a place. Thankfully, I was smart enough not to fall for the sales pitch and as a result am now happily ensconced in an apartment fit for an African Princess.

As I was lying in bed last night after a whirlwind weekend of moving and unpacking (barely scratching that surface) I realized that my new bedroom which comes complete with a huge walk-in (through) closet and en-suite master bathroom with both a walk-in shower and deep soaker tub was in fact larger than my entire Bird Cottage at Peter’s Place in Gaborone. It just doesn’t come with a housekeeper and laundry services but I do have underground parking and lots of other amenities.

My bedroom
My bedroom

While the recent renovations at Bird Cottage in Gaborone left me with a substantially larger closet in which my ever expanding wardrobe had to be stuffed, my new walk in closet is more than adequate to accommodate both my African wardrobe and all 4 seasons of my Canadian wardrobes. It is every woman’s dream let me tell you!

Walk in heaven

 

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So now that I have some place to call home I can promise more regular postings again. To bad I can’t just find someone to unpack for me, then I would truly be a happy African Princess living in downtown Charlottetown, PEI.

 

 

My welcome back to VAC

I am a lucky girl indeed.

While I had landed back on PEI last Thursday afternoon, it was today that I actually returned to my workplace at Veterans Affairs Canada. After days of running around moving my worldly possessions, car shopping and apartment hunting I was actually looking forward to sitting still for a few moments at my desk.

This morning after going through the signing in process that all Canadian federal government employees must endure to enter their secure work sites, I was taken to my new old work station where I was greeted by this wonderful thoughtful sight as my friends and colleagues had gone to considerable effort to welcome me back. 

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I certainly could not have felt more welcome or missed! It is nice to know that even though I was far away having an adventure of a life time that my friends and co-workers truly did miss me and welcome me home with open arms. How lucky can one person be? I know that I truly am.  My coworkers even loved my bright purple and pink African jacket and had left a brand new mug along with a special package of David’s Tea. 

As for culture shock, I am happy to report that I have not suffered even one twinge of it except to remember when I am driving which side of the road I really need to be on. The only shock around me is what I am causing in other people but that is just a normal every day occurrence for me 🙂 

 

 

I am back!

Literally and figuratively, ha! In Canada I mean!

Last Wednesday I boarded a plane in Gaborone and traveled for 31 hours straight before landing on Prince Edward Island, the land of my birth. All in all it was a relatively uneventful trip.

Buche didn’t make me totally cry when we parted at the airport. I made all of my connections and Addis Ababa Airport was certainly an experience as a true African airport. I was only sorry that I could get my camera out and snap some shots but my hands were too full and too little time. I would definitely highly recommend Air Ethiopia as a great airline to fly from Africa to Toronto, Canada on.

Although 16 straight hours on an airplane can be slightly claustrophobic  if you are in the window seat as I was. But I survived. It wasn’t until I hit Toronto Pearson Airport and Air Canada that I had any travel difficulties. Let’s just say that at one point I very loudly yelled at the Air Canada employees who were totally rude, disorganized and clueless that they needed to go learn a thing or two from African airports. 🙂

Once I had my feet back on Canadian soil, it was time for the whirling dervish to kick into full throttle mode. Who cares that I hadn’t slept in almost 48 hours, after being in a land locked country for a year I simply needed to stick my feet in water that was not full of crocodiles, hippos and various or sundry dangerous wildlife. Fortunately, my parents live on the north shore of Prince Edward Island a simply five drive had me waterside with toes soaking in the salt water…who needs the Peter’s Place pool when you have the whole Atlantic Ocean? Fortunately, I arrived in PEI to Gab like weather as it was hot and sunny and perfect for swimming.

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I really did miss the beautiful harbour and seaside

North Rustico Harbour
North Rustico Harbour

 

Not the least bit tired it was time to go for a nice drive to drink in the beauty of my homeland which is so green compared to Botswana.

The green fields of PEI
The green fields of PEI

It is hard to believe that I had gone from this

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to this

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Both are equally beautiful in my eyes!

 

 

The Many Faces of Kgale Hill

Thanks to my amazing friend Sheila, who is now running up Kgale Hill three times a week and participating in a Botswana Defense Force exercise program at the top of hill, I can now show the view from Kgale Hill.

I love Kgale and the surrounding hills. Since arriving at Peter’s Place one year ago and developing an immediate love for the beauty of the hills, the love affair has only grown. Kgale Hill stands as my own personal beacon showing me the way home no matter where in the city I am. And as you get closer to the hill it’s beauty changes throughout the day from the glow of early morning sunrise through sunset and the dark of night.

I hope that you enjoy these pictures of Kgale Hill and beyond.

A view from the top of Kgale hill
A view from the top of Kgale hill
The quarry
The quarry

 

 

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The top of Kgale Hill
The top of Kgale Hill

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Dancing the night away

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Saturday night was my last night of dancing here in Gabs before I board my plane back to Canada midweek. In the company of my closest friends I thoroughly enjoyed my dance party at Calabash, my favorite dance spot here.

Surrounded by people who love to dance as much as I do it was the perfect way to celebrate my time in Gabs. It was also the first time that my very diverse group of friends actually all got a chance to meet each other. I can happily report that everyone got along wonderfully and of course, I had no lack of dance partners.

In fact, as evidenced by the picture above the ubiquitous dance circle on the Calabash dance floor always formed around our group. While my group of friends was large many people we did not know continued to attach themselves to our group throughout the night at times causing lots of laughter and mayhem, right Naki?

Naki and her new admirer
Naki and her new admirer

Naki’s new friend tried throughout the night to impress her with his considerable dance moves but she wasn’t having it. She is a smart girl…although my friend Lawrence found it hard to believe that the girl on dance floor with me really is a chartered accountant. Naki is serious by day, a happy dancer at night! Any wonder we are such good friends. Fortunately fun was had by all!

Naki and Moira (the brat ;)
Naki and Moira (the brat 😉

 

Agatha the Dance Queen
Agatha the Dance Queen

 

Richard, Lawrence and guess who?
Richard, Lawrence and guess who?

 

Erin and Segale
Erin and Segale

 

Lawrence and Sheila
Lawrence and Sheila

 

Go Richard
Go Richard

 

Sheila, Lawrence and Noelene
Sheila, Lawrence and Noelene

 

Aren't Segale and Richard handsome?
Aren’t Segale and Richard handsome?

As you can see fun was had by all with lots of dancing, laughter and fun. I couldn’t have had a better last Saturday night of booty shaking…it turns out that I have been twerking long before Miley Cyrus. Thanks Africa!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pula

Pula is one of the most important words in Setswana. It is commonly known to be the name of the currency in Botswana.

However, it hold far greater significance. It literally means “rain” which in a desert country is critically important and why the term pula is often used as a toast and blessing.

Last night we experienced our first pula of the summer season. Sheila and I had just parted company after an incredibly enjoyable afternoon and evening together and the sky was lighting up with a wonderful display of lightning. All day Africans were saying that they could smell rain and sure enough the sky eventually opened up.

Evidence of the first rain
Evidence of the first rain at Peter’s Place

Gabby and I took this picture of the remaining puddles at 6:00 am this morning. Thanks to the storm, I did spend the night without power. A fact that made it a lot easier for me to clear out my fridge this morning in preparation for my departure back to Canada on Wednesday.

But the only benefits of the rain were not just for the trees, plants and general well-being…….it sparked the re-opening of the pool at Peter’s Place, yippee!!!!

Pool time!!!
Pool time!!!

Although I had been praying fervently that the pool would not be uncovered and ready for action before I left, as I was afraid that it would make my leaving that much more difficult, I am thrilled now. After a morning of baking to use up my remaining chocolate chips and pre-packing organization I was hot and sweaty now that summer is officially here. The day time temperatures are now in the 30’s range 🙂

Drawn to the action poolside and the contradictory comments of my landlords….Peter said I couldn’t swim yet; Jetske said I could! before I knew it I had my toes in, then my legs. And now I have my swimsuit on as I type and as soon as I finish this post I am diving in.

I figure what better way to spend the afternoon then in the pool as it will relax me and help me limber up for my final night of dancing in Gabs for now. In the company of my girlfriends, Erin, Sheila, Naki, Agatha, Nancy, and a few of my guy friends we are planning on spending the entire night on the dance floor. My toes and booty will be ready after an afternoon poolside 🙂

And I won’t worry about leaving on Wednesday yet….it might be Buche’s and Jetske’s job to haul me away from the pool so that I make my flight back to Canada on time or not! Right now the pool is beckoning me and I can’t say no!

Don’t Bug me!

For someone who can hug a lion, wear a snake around their neck, facilitate a meeting with ostriches, warthogs or baboons in the room and not miss a beat, you would think that I am a pretty cool calm person.

Well you would be wrong!

Last night, I had an encounter that was so horrific if I hadn’t of already had my plane ticket booked, I would have been in a huge hurry to do so. What could make me want to leave Africa so rapidly????

A very close encounter with a cockroach the size of a north american mouse!

After spending a very pleasant evening with my friend Sheila, I was getting ready for bed and didn’t turn on the overhead light in that area. As I turned the corner I noticed something big scuttling across the floor. Because my apartment door had been opened earlier with the lights on inside there were a couple of moths and preying mantis flying around which don’t bother me in the least. Except when I took another step the reality of the size of the dark shape on the floor hit me with a shriek.

The shrieks grew louder and longer once I had flipped the overhead light on and I truly saw the trespasser. Grabbing for the ever handy can of Doom, I proceeded to spray at least half a can full at the biggest bug I have ever seen in my life! As it scurried for cover I ruthlessly followed it spraying, removing obstacles in my path all the while shrieking. Yes, I am a wimp! I am surprised that Tanyala did hear me as her apartment is right next to mine on that side of the building.

After a sleepless night, I checked under my kitchen sink this morning in the light of day and could see the obviously dead body of the offender. Feeling somewhat relieved, I asked One to come identify the body as I wasn’t certain what it was. She calmly looked at it and told me it was a cockroach. She then even more calmly proceeded to remove the offender from its final resting place. Then the little imp tortured me with it. And even though the bugger was dead, just the sight of it was enough to send me into another fit of shrieking. After a good half hour of torture and laughter by all members of the staff here at Peter’s Place life returned to normal with Tanyala giving my floors an extra good cleaning so no more cockroaches would be tempted to a repeat performance.

I never thought that I would say this but I am happy to be getting on a plane in a week’s time heading somewhere that doesn’t have jumbo size cockroaches! Predators I can handle….bugs I can’t!