Saturday Afternoon in a Paris Park

Nothing is more Parisian than this!
Nothing is more Parisian than this!

When the temperatures hit 33 or 34 degrees in Paris it is nice to pretend like you really belong here and head to one of the many amazing parks for some down time. One of my personal favorites is the Tuileries.

There is the main huge fountain in the center where you can see and be seen and simply just hang out with the ducks!

Hanging out with the ducks
Hanging out with the ducks

Or you can choose to slip off to either of the sides of the park and sit by one of the smaller fountains which have a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower in the background.

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And this weekend, I even got to enjoy the quintessential French yacht race!

Who are you cheering for?
Who are you cheering for?

Simply a lovely way to spend an hour or two, wouldn’t you say?

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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!

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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Happy Halloween!

It is my favorite day of the year and let me tell you that so far I have enjoyed it to the max!

A beautiful Miss Piggy
A beautiful Miss Piggy

 

Yes, I went to work dress as Miss Piggy and spent the entire day in costume through meetings, frantic typing and even lunch. I was also joined by Big Bird and the Cookie Monster

The Muppets visit the Assistant Deputy Minister's office
The Muppets visit the Assistant Deputy Minister’s office

Although I put in a full day’s work in costume we just had to find some time to go visiting….which included brief stops in our Department’s Senior Managers’ office. My Director couldn’t keep a straight face when she had to sit next to me in her office and at meetings. And Big Bird and I took our show on the road heading out on the streets and into the Downtown Mall in Charlottetown. I just wish that I had a dollar for every picture that we stopped to pose for. All in all it was a wonderful day including an annual  potluck luncheon at work that brought out all kinds but which was rather tricky for me to eat due to my nose job.

Halloween Spirit
Halloween Spirit

While I was off having some fun or at meetings, my man Herman continued to work on my highly secret and time sensitive file

Herman at work
Herman at work

He even had to assist me with unlocking my secret file cabinet this morning…my nose and eyelashes made it extremely difficult to get the combination right. Good job that I have such a handy man to assist me

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I love a man that can work a lock
I love a man that can work a lock

I am sure that my African friends could not understand my love of Halloween or how much I was missing it last year in Botswana. Perhaps these pictures will give them just a little taste of how bizarre I really am! Today I was in piggy heaven…Kermie, where are you????

Happy Halloween everyone!

 

Happy Halloween

Although my job is certainly dominating my time these days…welcome to working for a living. I can still find time to prepare for my favorite holiday of the entire year, Halloween.

Last year I didn’t get to celebrate it in Botswana as it is not a culturally acknowledged holiday, so this year I need to make it count. Within my immediate work area I have some friends and colleagues who are equally enamored of this special holiday. For about the past three weeks we have been planning our costumes for the day which includes wearing them to work for the entire day.

I had settled on the idea of Miss Piggy from the Muppets as my alter-ego this year. In support of my costume choice my colleagues are all adopting a Muppet theme. My friend Trevor has agreed to be my Kermie (Kermet the Frog) and rumblings have it that Big Bird and some of the aliens are also making an appearance for the day.

My only hope is that on Thursday while I am wearing my Miss Piggy attire that I am not called upon to brief the Deputy Minister or Minister’s staff of my government department on my current file 😉 It would certainly seem rather strange to presenting such a serious briefing wearing a blond wig, pig nose and ears. Actually it might be rather fun. I will post pictures of Miss Piggy and her colleagues so you can see just how seriously we take Halloween.

In the meantime, you can enjoy some of the decorating that I have done in my new apartment

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Our work space is even more decorated but my favorite Halloween accessory is Herman, my longest relationship ever. Unfortunately Herman is getting a little older and like most middle aged men is now experiencing a slow leak. However he is still my constant Halloween companion and is currently sitting guard in my work station protecting my secret file cabinet.

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Yes, I know he is a little skeletal…next year I promise to bring him out of the closet earlier and put some meat on his bones.

 

 

Fun in the City

Yesterday here in Prince Edward Island it was Farm Day in the City.

This is a large street market which takes places as part of the month long Fall Flavours Festival. It is a celebration of our province’s rural roots. It was a spectacular sunny warm fall day, so of course I took to the streets with some friends to browse the stalls, buy some farm fresh produce, fresh bouquets of flowers and one very special item which is a surprise.

During our browsing we came across Sir John A MacDonald, the founding Father of Canada’s Confederation dressed in his farmer attire happily participating in the day’s events.

Farmer John A
Farmer John A

But my favorite find at the market were special pink pumpkins. This year as a special fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness, local producers are painting locally grown pumpkins pink. Guess who couldn’t resist purchasing one…thankfully my mom was only too happy it give it a home on her front step

Cinderella eat your heart out!
Cinderella eat your heart out!

Now you certainly wouldn’t find one of those in Africa!

 

 

Potty Training

Everyone keeps asking me if I am experiencing massive culture shock from returning to Canada after a year in Africa. The honest truth is not at all!

I am simply not the type of person who ever has an issue with this. Where ever I go seems to feel like home for me and once I move on to somewhere else, it simply assumes the same feeling of home for me. I guess this is a lucky thing for me as I seem to pack up and migrate to new places so often during the course of my life.

However, this week I did make myself laugh. During my first day back to work I eventually was in need of relieving my bladder. As I stood up from my desk I found myself patting my bra to ascertain if I had stored the obligatory stash of Kleenex there as back up in case there was no requisite toilet paper in the necessary…old habits die hard obviously.

As I chuckled to myself that since I am now back in Canada I no longer had to worry about always carrying an emergency stash of toilet paper. I also was deliriously happy thinking as I entered our area restrooms that each and every one of the toilet stalls would not only have toilet paper but would also have a functioning door and working lock! Wow, definitely my idea of heaven.

So I will enjoy the pleasures that a Canadian restroom brings but I will still be secretly longing for the chaos and adventure of African toilets. What can I say, I am a sucker for punishment 🙂

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excuse me, is that your bosom ringing?

All right, I will admit that I have picked up a habit or two in Africa that will be difficult to eliminate once I am back in Canada and will no doubt establish my uniqueness.

There is one habit in particular that is now deeply ingrained and It certainly causing some eyebrow raising here along with chuckles and jokes.

What is this habit?

It is simply that I use my African purse to the best possible advantage. No, not my handcrafted African purse but the other African purse that rural and market women generally use, my bra!

As Peter, my landlord puts it, because of my generous bust size there is room for a million pulas in there if I wanted. However, what I carry there most is my phone.

my phone
my phone

And let me state that I have a definite love-hate relationship with this phone. I hate it but I need it to function on a day to day basis but it is a total pain in the butt to use. Airtime here is incredibly expense compared to the cell phone plans you can get back in Canada. It takes me forever to type out a text message on the stupid keyboard. I desperately miss my blackberry and the ease of which I can email, text or bbm. Yes, I am a Princess and proud of it now thanks to Buche! 

As for my Nokia Torch phone, I am notorious for losing it, forgetting it or simply just leaving it behind. The only time that I ever appreciate it is when the power goes out and I need to use the flashlight on it to light my way.

In an effort to ensure that I stop misplacing it, sometimes for a couple of days at a time, I now carry it in my bra. Generally it fits there well making it accessible exactly when I need it and I haven’t lost it once since I developed this habit.

However, it does create moments of hilarity – or at least I think that they are funny – when it beeps or rings while hidden from view in my bosom and I am out in public. And let me tell you, it has rung in some very funny places, not just the grocery store, Buche’s car or the like. Again, just another reason why a reality camera following me around would yield footage fit for the Canadian show “Just for Laughs”.

I am eagerly anticipating my reunion with my blackberry in a week’s time. However, I am providing advance warning to my family, friends and co-workers – please do not be the slightest bit surprised if you are standing by me when my bosom rings. It is just Africa calling