I finally had a couple days off (I work 8 on 2 off/ 8 on 4 off). My schedule is horrible. No one is able to work that many days in a row and keep their sanity. I have been struggling but fighting back. I hope to get a transfer this year. Wish me luck ‘cause I am going to need it. Well anyways I had a long weekend and my roomie and I decided to visit Winnipeg, Canada. We had been talking about it for some time and actually had days of together so we headed north. I have finally purchased my new truck and I wanted to take it to see if she was worthy of the purchase. She, Beatrice, did not disappoint. The drive was about 3 hours and I have to say there isn’t much in Canada. We drove through swampland and country side until about 40 minutes outside of Winnipeg where there was another small town. I understand that Canada’s roads are crap, I hear it all the time, but seeing is believing. They are really bad. I lost traction doing 30 on a dry road, that’s how bad. However, we carefully made it to our hotel in downtown Winnipeg. We were not able to get our keys but could park and then walk to get some food. We chose downtown because of a place called the Forks. It is a little artisans place with a bunch of handicraft shops and ethnic food. For our breakfast we had Caribbean and maybe a few local beers. Afterward we were feed and watered we took note of the other food places we would want to eat at and wandered through the stores. Then we worked back to the hotel to get our keys and unpack a bit. Maybe a nap. The room was large and very comfortable. On the way back to the hotel from the Forks we saw a sign for a Cirque du Solei show in the area. Tickets were the right price and we booked for the next night. We had a few recommendations for places to eat for dinner and went out for Tapas and drinks. Food was exotic and good and a pitcher of sangria made us quiet happy.
The next day we awoke early and went to our continental breakfast. I have to say that these other guest were the most rude people ever. Cutting in front of you to grab a fork or piece of toast. There was very limited places to sit and many people, having finished their meals, were sitting reading the paper. Super rude and inconsiderate. The food itself wasn’t anything to write home about. So we ate quick and made our way to the Winnipeg Zoo. Both of us are big zoo and aquarium fans and we stop at any that we can. This once was a little poorly designed and many of the exhibits were under construction. We still saw many animals such as, polar bears, camels, wild horses, tigers, and many smaller mammals and birds. It was a great way to spend the morning. We returned to the room and walked around down town looking for used book stores. We found a few and wandered. We found a place that was selling shawarma meals, which is a North African dish. You must try it. We found an Ethiopian place near there and we figured that would be perfect for dinner. Naps were in order to prepare for a long evening of entertainment and good food. This du Solei was called Kurios and was in an actual big top tent. Like the real circus are in. So cool. Our meal at the Ethiopian place ran long and we were a bit rushed to get to the show on time. We were about 3 minutes late and only missed the announcements about no cameras or recording. The next two hours went by way too fast. There was great music, outstanding acrobats, and fabulous tricks. It was beyond imagination and was the perfect way to spend a few hours. After the show and still floating on a cloud we parked at the hotel and walked to a restaurant bar that was open really late. Beers and munchies were delicious and carried us happily to bed.
The next day we needed to be back in the states to meet a friend who has a food wagon. For breakfast we went to the Forks (better than the hotels) and had good ol’ eggs and sausage, deli quiche, and porgies. All very good! We walked around the park and were trying to kill time to stop in a local brewery before we went south. Happily packed with beer and food we started back south. We stopped at the “middle of Canada” and made it in time to meet my friend to pick up some more food. All in all it was fantastic break from the dull grind of work. However, I am back to that dull grind and hoping for a break again… My mom is on her way up… gulp
The story continues with us traveling to Chefchaouen; the Blue City. It truly is the most beautiful shade of blue. To come into the city is rather uninspiring. You pass a very well preserved Roman ruin in Volubilis. It is fantastic to see each room still standing, plumbing that still works, and the Victory gate. You feel that you are in Northern Italy instead of Morocco. Mountains and vineyards dot the landscape. You come around a bend and there below you is Chefchaouen. It doesn’t look blue until you are in the city, from far away its white. Once you get into the city you find only the old parts are painted this blue. I am unsure as to why but I do know that blue means dead ends. We had my favorite meal here- the best food in all the trip. It might have taken a scary trip through stairs and alleyways but it was totally worth it. Leavening was sad but we were working toward what I had most looked forward to; Sahara. Traveling to Midelt really took you into the Morocco you think of. Craggy hills and barren lands filled the vista. You can tell you have left civilization behind as green started to disappear. And all of a sudden, in the horizon, red hills which turn into sand dunes. It is almost a let down. The sand dunes are magically there in the middle of nowhere. I expected a work up to the sand but nope there it is. Our drop off point is still on rough, rocky ground. However, spend an hour on a camel and you will forget that you are walking distance from a hotel. It was amazing to ride into the sunset. The camels tied to one another made a train around dunes and valleys until we came upon our camp. It was very modern for sleeping in a tent. Before sunset we climbed the closest, largest dune. If you aren’t expecting a workout you will be horribly surprised. I nearly gave up half way up the hill. It was deceivingly hard. However, up on top you imagine you are a scout for the tribe. Sand and stars are your only company. You can hear the drums from the camp’s music. It really takes you back 1000 years to when this was a way of life. All too quickly dawn comes and we move to our next location. In M’goun Valley we stay at a Gite or family home (turned into a hotel). The family still lives there and they are very welcoming. One of the many cousins take us on a hike to the next village. We follow paths that wind between family crop fields bordering a low river. I surmise this river, the fields, and path have been here for hundreds of years. This is a livelihood that hasn’t changed just because tourist are around. People still herd their flocks and wash their clothes in the river. It became my second favorite place. (I think, Chefchaouen is my favorite)
So after a long and frustrating day today I thought I would talk about something happy. So in a few weeks I will be going to Thailand. So super excited! I have never been to Thailand but went to China last year. I try to go somewhere new once or twice a year. I think it is very important to see different cultures and try different foods. If you spend time seeing how other people live you will get new prospective on life. So far I have been to China, Australia, Fiji, Mexico, and Canada (if you consider that a foreign country!) I have come to appreciate my home and way of life. However, I must say there are things I wish we had over here. In China, the food is fresh and purchased every day. In Australia, everyone is laid back and friendly. Fiji is a very poor country and still has a class system. Mexico holds family in very high regard. Canada love their outdoors and outdoor sports. Taking a little piece away with you helps you understand that the world doesn’t revolve around you.
Every place has a history, a story, a hope for a better future. The people are good and bad. Just like anywhere else. I feel that America is so out of touch with our roots and upbringing. China really opened my eyes to the Zen around you. They spend time walking the parks and spending time in self-reflection. In Mexico you are always family. I have been invited to the homes of people I just met. “You are new here? Come, we will have dinner!” Such good food too. Everyone surfs in Australia. EVERYONE. I noticed school children in wet suits for their PE class. Not fair! It is things like this that make me realize that the world is so much bigger that my little town, state, or country.
I have many more places I want to visit. Katmandu and Casablanca are high on my list. Yes, it is because of the song and movie. But hey!? Why not? Why not say I went to all of the gin joints in Casablanca but couldn’t find Rick. Where would you go if you could go anywhere? Why? Have you been to Thailand? What is one thing I have to do?
I will be using this Travel Group for my Thailand trip. I hope it will be a great experience. I am open to other travel companies if you know of any. I realize that traveling alone in today’s world isn’t safe. However, it won’t stop me from traveling. I just travel smarter now.