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Posts Tagged ‘Disneyland’

62006441If I felt more industrious this Sunday afternoon, I could easily list at least 50 things about this country that could come as revelations to newcomers and visitors, but it’s a lovely day and I’ve already put in time feeding birds, cleaning tenrec dens and picking up dog poop.

Funnily enough, the fact that people living here deal with such mundane things startles some who assume days on these lovely islands simply must be passed in sun-soaking, wallowing in the warm sea and strolling down sandy shores as birds sing and clouds drift overhead.

If only.

I’ve written before about the Disneyland mentality of some visitors and how annoying it can be when assumptions are made that we here are responsible for the weather and have nothing more important to do than make a holiday perfect, and new residents can be almost as exasperating in their giddiness at actually living in paradise.

“My toilet is broken. Do you know a plumber who’ll come out on a Sunday night?”

“I’ve been looking all over for authentic pork pies. Where can I find some?”

“The power’s gone out! What do I do?”

(The answers are, 1) No, 2) Yes. In England, 3) Hand wash the dishes … in the dark)

So … in an effort to help some stumble the Seychelles path (Watch out for potholes!) as they learn to negotiate their way around, here are 10 things to know about the country and the people who live here:

1) We don’t go to the beach nearly as much as you think. Often we choose to stay home, indoors, and do exciting things like laundry.

2) There are virtually no addresses. Although roads do have names, house numbers exist in only a very few areas, so if you are invited to visit someone’s home be prepared to take directions. You may want to write these down, as they’re complicated. For example: Turn left at the shop with half a mannequin by the door (a right turn will put you in the sea), drive up the road, pass the 5-to-10 guys sitting on a rock under a mango tree drinking, then look for a dirt track to the right just after the place where the road is white from squished breadfruit, etc.. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to be going along a trail of spilled paint … which is helpful.

3)  When we do decide some beach time should happen, choosing a beach is done by committee. Not just any beach will do, even though they are all lovely, so much consideration goes into the choice. Micro-climate has us calling people who live on the other side or up north or down south to check if it’s raining. If it’s rough on the east coast, perhaps it’s calm on the west. If we’re bringing kids, the shallow or inside-the-reef options are taken into account. If snorkeling is desired, we all have our fav spots. If it’s a Sunday and we don’t want our meditative communing with nature disturbed by picnickers with a generator hooked to fridge-sized speakers blasting crap music to distortion … well … we know where to avoid.

4)  We use the airport as a pee stop.

5)  We swap entertainment … books, movies, TV shows … so if you have any, share.

6)  We are annoyed when there are more than 10 people on a beach.

7)  We get really excited by new products. This isn’t quite as big a thing these days, so we hardly ever, now, call all our friends when we find mushrooms or nice cheese in a shop, nor do we tend (as much) to buy up the whole stock of whatever to share out or hoard. We do, however, continue to be right chuffed at discoveries of rare or never-to-have-been-available-in-Seychelles items, and given how much shopping we do when overseas, it’s a given that there are a lot of things that fit the category.

8)  We ALWAYS have candles.

9)  People are as recognized by the number plates on their cars as they are by their faces. Driving someone else’s car can introduce you to a whole load of people you’ve never seen before. (And it is amazing how many people you’ve never seen before on this tiny island.)

10) Mahé is 17 miles long … Praslin and La Digue even smaller … yet the idea of driving to the far end of the island takes almost as much contemplation and preparation as a plane ride of 12,000 miles. I live in the south and get to Beau Vallon (in the north), on average, once every 2 years or so. Friends in the north visit me about as often. Meeting up in town used to happen, but that was before Victoria became a traffic and parking nightmare and options outside that hellish perimeter were available.

So … that’s it for today. Hope it helps.

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The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Lovely, lovely rain on my veranda!

Lovely, lovely rain on my veranda!

Longfellow was a pretty smart guy, having grasped the reality of the world being big and the fact that communication between humans from different lands can be difficult when he wrote: Music is the universal language of mankind.

Is it wrong to wish it was more often employed as a replacement for words? (I know that’s rich coming from a writer who can barely carry a tune, but bear with me.)

More than two decades of life on an island touted as a ‘tourist destination’ can sure test one’s patience with … well … tourists, and nothing brings out the worst, the grumpiest, the most bellyaching sniveling in people on holiday than rain.

Yes, we here do understand that you’ve been looking forward to a getaway on a tropical island for yonks, that you may have scrimped and saved for a long time to dig your toes into sand and will be so disappointed if you don’t return to wherever you come from tanned to a crisp that will make every pasty friend you have back home go viridescent with envy. Yeah … we do get that.

We also get that your ideas of a great vacation may be based on trips to Disneyland where, yes, it does sometimes rain, but accommodation has been planned for visitors when it does and advice is available in advance:

Whatever you do DON’T BRING AN UMBRELLA! It’s a pain to carry around, and you will end up poking someone in the eye. DON’T DO IT!

We may even feel sorry for you when it rains every single day of your short holiday.

But …

This isn’t Disneyland! Not everyone is tasked with making your vacation perfect in every way. In fact, no one is. Really.

Those who may think hounding hotel staff, taxi drivers, restaurant owners, shopkeepers … anyone who lives or works here … need to get a grip on their own umbrella … because you will need one. And none of us can answer the oft-repeated question: When will it stop raining?

The sound of the rain needs no translation. ~ Alan Watts

You see, we know it’s raining, and we’re often really, really happy about it. We’ve lived through the dry periods when water restrictions force anyone without a big collection tank to round up buckets and pots and all sort of vessels in various shapes, sizes and colors, then stand on the roadside waiting for a water truck to show up and fill said vessels. We’ve seen our gardens shrivel up, fruit wrinkle on the vine and fruit bats searching long and hard for a bite or two that still has some moisture in it. We’ve shared out cups of hard-won liquid with birds about to tumble out of trees from dehydration. We’ve had our houses invaded by ants and spiders driven to the few damp areas inside.

See? It rains in the tropics!

See? It rains in the tropics!

Most of us would like to work up more sympathy, but, quite frankly, we rather tire of hearing the whinging. We would be happy to lead you to information you should have checked before you decided to holiday in the tropics, but we are too nice to rub it in. And if you catch us on a bad day you may have our take laid out like this: (1) Welcome to the tropics (2) How do you think this place stays so green and lovely? (3) It’s not like you’re going to freeze.

Climate Characteristics: Constant high temperatures throughout the year. Average monthly temperatures are very similar – yearly range is about 2 to 3°C (36 to 37°F). Monthly precipitation is evenly distributed and annual amounts are usually greater than 1500 mm (59 in.). These climates also have frequent cumulus cloud development with some of these clouds becoming air mass thunderstorms. Humidity tends to be high.

So …the sea is warm and swimming in the rain is a lovely experience that presents little diamonds of splash that bounce around before your eyes. We need the rain. We have no control over it or the timing of your holiday.

After all, when we come to your country do we complain … or did we do our homework and prepare? (Disclosure: okay, we complain in England, but isn’t that just adapting to the local culture?)

As Kermit so eloquently sang … It’s not easy being green.

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Adventureland for spirit development

Here’s a scenario to ponder …

Say you’re hanging around your garden when suddenly a group of youths enter uninvited and begin acting like they own the place and you’re the intruder. What do you do?

Let’s make it clearer …

Your garden is in a remote area that requires a great deal of effort to reach, therefore visitors are very rare. Not only is this where you hang, it also provides all your food and shelter and needs constant vigilance as life is very difficult, resources spare, and defending what you have is the only chance of survival for you and your family. Historically, trespassers create havoc, steal what little food can be found and leave a mess.

So … do you welcome this surprise visit? Do you greet the interlopers with open arms and a comfy cushion, then go hide in your room so as not to annoy them with your presence?

If you happen to be a polar bear whose garden is the frozen north of Norway, you might not.

As today’s news shows, hospitality may be lacking, and the cost of a less-than-warm welcome is high.

Four victims of an Arctic polar bear attack that left a 17-year-old British boy dead are recovering, according to the UK’s ambassador to Norway.

Jane Owen, who visited the survivors in hospital, said they were talking and responding well to treatment.

Horatio Chapple, 17, from Wiltshire, was killed during a British Schools Exploring Society trip near a glacier on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.

The four who were hurt – two severely – included two leaders of the trip.

While some of the uninvited are recovering, the bear, of course, is dead.

Yes, I feel sorry for the dead kid, for his family, for those wounded, and find the whole situation tragic, but I’m also sorry for the bear, for its family, and can’t help but be more than a bit pissed off about the idea that an experience for humans too often comes as the cost of life for the creatures who inhabit the small spaces left available.

Contrary to popular thought, the world is not Disneyland and not everything on the planet needs to include people, even when they can afford the E Ticket.

Lars Erik Alfheim, vice-governor of Svalbard, said polar bears were common in the area, adding that they are “extremely dangerous” and can “attack without any notice”.

Mr Alfheim said there was no policy to ban travelling to the islands, but he added it was a wild environment and there were “a number of precautions that one needs to take when travelling here”.

And some of those “precautions” just might include being ready to kiss your ass goodbye if the locals take issue with your presence. Seems appropriate prep for a group who, ” … organises scientific expeditions to remote areas to develop teamwork and a spirit of adventure.”

Where humans and polar bears cross, bears lose, and lose big time:

Between 1980 and 1985 in Alaska, there was only one recorded injury caused by a polar bear, and no deaths

Over a 15-year period in Svalbard, Norway, other researchers documented polar bears killing one person and injuring three others. At least 46 polar bears were killed by people in the same time frame

In a 20-year period in Canada, six human deaths and 14 injuries were attributed to polar bears. During the same period, 251 bears were killed by people “in defence of life and property”

The spirit of a bear dead in the cause of a “spirit of adventure” makes no sense to me, and I can’t help but think teamwork could have been just as easily developed through a scavenger hunt on the Jungle Cruise. After all, it is in Adventureland.

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Wiki Image

A bit of backseat kid talk overheard by Gay as she drove them home from school the other day:

Cj: Do you know about phones with circles? There are places for your finger, and you spin the circle around.

Sam: Yeah. Those are from the olden days.

Cj: How did they work?

Sam: I have no idea …

Seems time has been passing.

While I’ve been spending recent years surrounded by kids and kidults, water has been flowing rapidly under my bridge and the damned dam designed to deny the dribbling drip of days into decades has apparently sprung a leak and allowed splashes of senescence to wear the bloody thing away.

In other words, it’s now dawning on me that I’m old. Good timing, I suppose, since I have a birthday looming, but I could do without all the reminders.

Rotary phones, TVs that required a trip across the room to turn on and off, handwritten letters, Thomas Guides in spiral-bound form are all items that may now require explanation and illicit comments about the “olden days” when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the only way to see a photo without a trip to a lab and a wait of a week was with a Polaroid.

Living where I do I am limited to how much of the modern world I’ve actually seen and still find myself wondering “What the heck does that doohicky do?” when confronted by many items others take for granted already.

Yes, the speaking GPS in cars puts me in mind of HAL … we don’t have those here, as that would just be silly on an island 17 miles long and 4 miles wide … and I’ve not yet come around to loading some of the apps available for my iPad that might make life easier, but can’t be bothered to learn how to use.

I can be comforted by how much hasn’t seen some of the predicted changes we’d been led to believe would leave us in the dust. Since flying cars, robot maids, beds that pop you up like toast and other Jetsons / Carousel of Progress stuff haven’t been incorporated into daily life, we aging Boomers do manage to get along.

Although Sam and Cj may find it had to believe, airplanes, vacuum cleaners and televisions are all pretty much what they were when I was a kid. Blenders still blend the way they did, dentists continue to pull teeth out with forceps, babies come out of mommy’s tummies, cars move along on tires, and it still takes almost two days to get from LAX to Seychelles.

Heck! If I somehow instantly transported from my teen years to present day even much of my wardrobe would look like the latest thing …

Can we tell I still have more than a month before my calendar clicks over to a new decade? Yes … we can.

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The assault on CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan in Egypt stunned the news community, but it also drew attention to a growing problem: the world is becoming a far more dangerous place for reporters.

Uh … HELLLLLLO!

The quote is from the BBC and one of the more simplistic bits of “news” I’ve read in a while … and that’s saying something.

Yes, folks in Britain and America might be forgiven for thinking covering the news is all about straight, white teeth and proper enunciation, since, after all, that is pretty much what it IS about since Fox and Sky took over the world, but the point needs to be made that there is a difference between the infotainment served up tidily by pretty peeps and NEWS.

There’s so little journalism happening these days that consumers have taken to preferring the predigested pap they’re being fed daily. Tasty little tidbits served up by the attractive and well-dressed are so much easier to swallow than the rough grit of real-world happenings that require thorough chewing.

Given the popularity of reality TV, is it any wonder viewers have trouble spotting the difference between Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise and mass rapes along the Congo? With that being the case, it makes perfect sense that pretty girls with microphones should be sent into unpredictable masses of angry, armed people with the expectation they deliver the story through perfectly glossed lips.

Much of the rest of the world understands the dangers of reporting news, a comprehension that tends to garner respect for those who actually do that … who put their asses on the line to gather information, distribute it, and get the word out so those not in-the-know know something.

It’s not simply a case of Anderson Cooper being punched up, either, as made clear by Reporters Without Borders on a regular basis. For example, according to that organization (and reliable it is), so far this year … and we’re not even done with February yet … there have been five journalists killed, one media assistant killed, 152 journalists imprisoned along with 9 media assistants and 116 netzens.

This list of journalists killed in Russia since the 1990s gives a taste of how dangerous reporting the news can be in that country.

Those in power know the power of the press … they always have:

I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets.
~Napoleon

The Middle East is no New Orleans Square these days, and although the pretty blonde is getting a lot of coverage by those shocked at her treatment, not so much has been said about the dead journalist in Iraq, but it should be a very hot topic.

Iraq ranked first on CPJ’s [Committee to Protect Journalists] 2010 Impunity Index, which lists countries where journalists are murdered on a recurring basis and governments are unable or unwilling to prosecute the killers. Not a single journalist murder since 2003 has been seriously investigated by authorities, and not a single perpetrator has been brought to justice, CPJ research shows.

But back to Lara Logan for a mo …

For all I know, she may be the toughest news hound since Margaret Bourke-White, in which case she knew the risks and went for the story regardless. Maybe she even studied at Columbia under a Ms Matloff, who teaches a war reporting course at Columbia University’s prestigious school of journalism who gives this list of “precautions to minimise the risk and gravity of sexual assault in danger zones”:

* Wear a sturdy belt
* Don’t wear a ponytail or necklace that can be grabbed
* Buy a door alarm for use in hotels
* Don’t take hotel rooms with balconies or easily accessible windows
* Keep a can of deodorant by the bed
* Move furniture in front of hotel room doors
* Don’t drink alcohol alone with men, particularly in the Middle East
* Carry a rape whistle
* Take male colleagues with you in volatile situations
* Tell an assailant that you are pregnant, HIV positive or menstruating
* Urinate, vomit or defecate on yourself

Sounds like good advice for someone exiting Main Street after dark and parked all the way out in Goofy, but the world isn’t Disneyland. Really. It isn’t.

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Me younger

After having some 20-something-Eastern-European-wannabe-porn-queen-facebook-crawler point out to me that I’m older than Ernesto, apparently thinking attempts to reveal her skanky bits on webcam will win his heart … good luck with that, Bitch … I cast my mind back to a time when I was really bloody cute — pretty much most of the years between 13 and sometime last week — remembering the effect youthful beauty can have. (Not that she’s a beauty, but she is young and has a decent enough body she exhibits indiscriminately, although with the chest of a 12-year-old boy and destined to be terminally hag-like before she’s 45 … but that’s her problem. And it’s amazing, and pitiful, how many of these sleazy bags are insistently chatty with their cyber heros).

I have no problem being who, what and how old I am; conversely, I’m rather proud of all that stuff. I am not young, and although the world is full of girls who still are, their days are numbered. I’m not saying there’s any great advantage in age, simply that it happens, as does life in the process.

As Yoda said: Luminous beings are we; not this crude matter.

Crude matter that begins to decay immediately, is subject to stresses and toxins and gravity, the effects of which have more to do with our genes than we yet understand. (“Crude” being also otherwise definable, however, we can be happy enough with our matter a lot of the time. I’m a big fan of crude between consenting adults.)

It’s true, however, that the Sandra I am now doesn’t look as much like the Sandra I once was as I might like.

Recently a story popped up that reminded me again of what it’s like to be young and beautiful … as opposed to not-so-young and beautiful.

The setting is Disney land, and the story is about a 27-year-old woman not one bit happy after Donald Duck grabbed her boob.

“Who are the strange people in the furry costumes at Disney World, and are they pervs?

I’m not clear on how boob grabbing happens with the sort of mitts a Donald impersonator must wear to pull off the look, and I’m pretty sure it takes a certain je ne sais quack to opt for walking around in a duck suit for a living. I’m also not getting why this chick is being so fowl about the whole thing, unless the fact that he never wears pants has her freaked.

But this isn’t about the Romanian tramp, the Disneyland babe, or even about ducks … it’s about me and Goofy, some guys in stripes … and a monster.

It was a while back, for sure, as my gorgeous nephew, Colin, was about 4 at the time, and I was in L.A. doing the fam viz thing. Keeping to the tradition of the day, we headed to the Happiest Place on Earth, home to Mickey and Minnie, for a day of getting nauseous in teacups and going to hell with Mr. Toad.

It was far from the realm of my personal Fantasy Land, but somewhere near the border where Frontier Land meets New Orleans Square I was accosted by Goofy. He took me in his somewhat floppy arms, shoved his gigantic plastic nose toward my chest and started mumbling something that sounded … well … goofy.

My nephew was not pleased, thinking that he should be the one with such a photo op, so we soon moved along toward the frozen banana stand. A few minutes later, Goofy joined us on the bench, moved, maybe, by the sight of me eating a chocolate-covered banana on a stick. We eventually gave him the shake at Autopia where Colin outraced me, hands down.

Eventually, it was time for our day of the Diz to end, so we headed down Main Street where my brother did nothing to defend my honor when I was grabbed by the strolling Barbershop Quartet, plopped on the knee of the tenor and had “Baby Face” belted out around me… in four part harmony … as a crowd gathered, my brother snickered and I blushed.

And you know what? I wasn’t angry. I didn’t contemplate a lawsuit. In fact, I considered the day excellent in every way.

Two days later, it was Universal Studios for us all, and there things got a bit scarier … for my nephew. Every time we got off a tram or exited from an attraction, Frankenstein was there … pawing at me … growling in his mask. For a four-year-old, this wasn’t funny, and the sight of his auntie being monster-mashed had him in enough of a panic to send us scurrying for lunch.

I’d not thought of those adventures in a while, but even though over the years there have been plenty of men who’ve pursued me … some successfully … there’s something special knowing I’ve been desired by sweaty guys in costume.

So …

My thoughts on getting groped by a Disney character? Be happy Daisy didn’t slap the shit out of you.

My advice to slimy bitches slithering around the web, thinking that youth wins out? I don’t have any. Instead, I have my memories …

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Magnar and Calina ... beauties both

Magnar and Calina ... beauties both

One thing I can say for not having a husband in the house anymore … it sure leaves room, and time, for friends.

Over the past week I’ve had Calina staying with me, and Magnar most days and nights, as well, and it’s been great. Relaxed and easy, it’s felt a bit like an extended episode of The Waltons, only with different accents, Calina being French and English and Magnar, Norwegian, so very little of West Virginia happening vocally here.

Goodnight, Calina!
Goodnight, Sam!
Goodnight, Cj!
Goodnight, Magnar!
Goodnight, Sandra!

Last night the kids went to Grandma’s house and we big kids went to a Christmas Party at our friend Deb’s house, and, yes, there are photos …

The three of us ...

The three of us ...

Sleeping Beauty ... the nap before the party

Sleeping Beauty ... the nap before the party

Note: Calina really is Sleeping Beauty, or was … at Disneyland Paris. Just imagine her in a blond wig and you get the picture. Smile and wave … smile and wave …

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