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!

Baby it is snowy outside!

The first of many winter storms yet to come!
The view from my balcony of the first of many winter storms yet to come!

The day started with the continuation of a major rain and wind storm that has been sweeping through our area. My walk to work this morning was in wind and rain, but my walk home today was in the middle of our first official winter storm in PEI.

While the very cute hat that I wore to work adequately protected my hair from being dripping wet this morning, it wasn’t up to the job of providing any warmth at all during my trudge home through snow covered streets with winds gusting to 100 km per hour and the icy cold snow blowing in my ears and eyes. Luckily there was zero traffic so I wasn’t in danger of being run over by a vehicle as the police have asked everyone to stay off of the roads as driving is too dangerous.

It is only the 4th of December and already this is the third snowfall that we have experienced so far this winter. I can only imagine what is in store for the coming months. All I can say is that Jetske has been reporting to me that temperatures have been soaring in Gaborone into the 40s while we have been experiencing windchill levels of -15 to -18 degrees on a regular basis. And now the snow storms have started in earnest knocking out power and closing offices, schools and other essential services.

I would happily take the 40 degree African heat (even with the five days without water) that Botswana offers over a winter storm Maritime style. Jetske, do you want to trade homes?

A Cheryl Moment

First of all I have to acknowledge that I am truly back in the land of snow and ice. This week I have been walking to work in fluttering snow flurries, bone chilling winds (-6 degrees) and icy sidewalks. Oh how I long for the warmth and sunshine of Africa. Let’s just say that neither my body or psyche are adjusting well to cold Canadian weather.

Now on to my Cheryl moment of the day….while I may be back at work with the federal government of Canada taking on serious policy work that will make a difference in lives, I remain the typical Cheryl disaster just waiting to happen.

Today, I took a couple of hours out of my incredibly busy work schedule to accompany my dad to a medical appointment. My adventure in the doctor’s office proved that you might be able to dress me up but you can’t take me anywhere and I seriously don’t know if my dad will let me accompany him to any more medical appointments.

While I looked the part of a serious professional caring daughter, I am really nothing but a complete doofus 🙂

After patiently waiting in the outer waiting room we were escorted into the inner exam rooms and I quietly waited while the very professional healthcare worker did her thing and properly recorded all of dad’s very important vitals. Once she exited and we were waiting for the doctor I grew a little tired of remaining standing. Dad was in the only chair in the exam room so my options were to either hop up on the examination table (thank heavens it was minus stirrups) or the little round stool that the doctor sits on.

Well, like a good policy analyst, I seriously weighed my options and chose to avail myself of the doctor’s stool until he entered the room and required it. Did I happen to mention that this stool was on very well oiled wheels? Yes, you can only imagine as I backed up to sit down on it, the stool decided to do its own thing and rolled half way across the room without me.

Picture this me with my professionally dressed bum more than half down to the ground hovering in a position that could only resemble break dancing….I guess with my departure from Africa and no longer being able to participate in weekly dancing a girl has to do what she can. While the stool rolled, I gyrated and somehow managed to prevent my tailbone from making a sudden and painful connection to the very hard floor.

Fortunately both the stool and me were restored to respectful positions before the doctor entered the room saving me from having to seek my own medical attention for what would have been an incredibly sore tailbone had I made impact.

Thankfully it provided a moment of levity for my dad which fortunately wasn’t witnessed by anyone else and I returned to work with no one any wiser to my rolling debacle in the doctor’s office.

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.

 

 

Cheryl’s not in Africa anymore!

This morning was a very rude reminder that I am no longer living the good life in the desert of Botswana.

I woke up to an outside temperature of -5 degrees. Brrrr is all that I can say.

So as I was getting dressed for the walk to work (it is only two blocks) and the day, instead of reaching for my usual wardrobe of dresses or skirts, only dress pants would do thanks to the below freezing temperatures. My short walk to work was brisk but lovely and I arrived with frozen hands as I forgot to grab a pair of gloves to wear.

Oh the joys of Canadian weather. While fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year with it’s sunny days, brightly colored leaves, crisp mornings, the smell of wood fires in the air and who can forget my favorite holiday, Halloween, this year my body and soul are not quite so enthusiastic. I guess you could say that I am truly missing not only my friends and family in Botswana but the sunshine and heat as well. But I am Canadian through and through and unlike my good friend, Buche I don’t need to bundle up too much against the colder temperatures. I just need to adjust my perspective….Jetske, can I meet you in the pool????

 

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.

 

 

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 🙂