Lima, Peru

April 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

And so my South American adventures begin… with Lima.

Except, not really.  This two-month ticket to Peru was bought kind of spontaneously, in the middle of a hundred other things going on in life, so I had absolutely zero prepared before I got on the plane.  Not that I’m into planning, but… new continent, time to research a few options.  Thus, my few days in Lima have pretty much consisted of staying in my rented room, researching every single last hostel in Cusco, booking Inca Trails, looking up all of the good stuff, and putting together playlists for the next few weeks.  Tomorrow morning, I hit the road :)

Although, in my humble opinion, I think that it was three days well-spent.  Projecting and reading and booking and eating bananas, in this quaint little house:

Cozy room, with one wall that is a huge window that rolls open onto a little rooftop balcony.  Then, donwstairs are paper butterflies and old books from all over the world.

And while being cooped up inside is not exactly my travel style, Lima is also not exactly my type of destination, so that works out alright.  I know that one can’t properly judge a city after a few, pretty static days, but… still, not my cup of tea.  Everything is kind of flat and grey and full of noise.  Especially here in Miraflores, it’s a perpetual soundtrack of construction and car honks.  Vicious, relentless ones.  So, no thank you.

I did stroll around a bit though.  The first day was kind of disappointing, as I stayed mostly in Miraflores (although I did stumble across a really cool art gallery and theater line-up at the Peruvian-British Culture House, and had a very adventurous lunch at the least tourist-y nook in this neighborhood).  I did like the cliffs that accompany the entire coast line, except that there is a highway that runs all along the shore and kind of ruins the “silence of the sea” idea.  But, still:

And I do appreciate the many, colorful parks that dot the promenade stretching through the many kilometers of Lima’s coastline.  My favorite one on this side is the mosaic park (or, rather, the Lover’s Garden, because of the giant statue in the middle of it and all of the Love and Sea Quotes):

And then there is a pretty cool, traditional-looking lighthouse in an adjacent park:

And there are a few side streets that have an antique charm:

But, other than my pretty room, nothing to keep me here.  Yesterday, I did scale down the cliff’s highway (how many times can you get honked at in fifteen minutes?  A lot.), and strolled along the desolate beach:

Until I reached the emergency evacuation route that took you up from this grey shore to the bright and colorful neighborhood of Barranco.  Now, that is an acceptable nook.  This was a pretty good sign:

Lots of quaint, traditional houses and streets:

And I particularly enjoyed the little corner around the Bridge of Sighs (did they steal that from Venice?):

Street musicians, little coffee shops, art stores, streets without cars, and a yummy organic garden cafe’, in which I got my fill of freshly-squeezed juices and salads:

BarrancoBottegaVerde

And then, stroll through a quiet neighborhood, next to the cliffline, through more grogeous flower parks:

And getting back to the bridge between Miraflores and Barranco just as the sun was going down (although, with this season of garua, it’s hard to call a sunset a seunset if one cannot actually see the sun… or Blood Moons, for that matter):

BarrancoSunset

See all of those surfers that look like little ants?  Hah.

Tomorrow morning I leave to go volunteer at Eco Truly Park, a yoga/art/garden community for a couple of weeks.  And then, off to Cusco for a week (where I’ll be staying at a creperie!), and hikes up to Macchu Picchu, and then… open road, at which point the craziness and spontaneity will be much more appreciated.

I decided to devote this trip to well-being.  Mental and physical health.  Need to smooth out some tense muscles and reoccuring thoughts.

But now, off to eat a pound of mangoes and drink a bottle of wine (which is not as cheap as I though it would be down here… though cheaper than it costs to send a single letter, hah).  Not like I’m gonna lug it around with me tomorrow and weigh down my backpack…

Until next time, wherever and whenever that may be!

_______________________________________________________________________________________

PS: After almost six beautiful, glorious years, my loyal camera has finally decided to stop working.  So, I grabbed my Mommy’s point-and-shoot camera right before I hopped on that plane… and am having the most frustratnig time ever with it as I try to figure it out.  So, please, patience.  Between that and no real editing programs on this little lappie, the photographer inside of me is cringing.  I do recommend clicking on thumbnails if you want to see anything (like sleeping cats) though.

Keep Austin Yummy and Cozy and Fun

April 7, 2014 § 2 Comments

First, let me say that I honestly did not expect to come back to Austin, TX this year.  And definitely not in this moment.  And now that I have been here a week… it feels like a drop of eternity, and I cannot imagine ever not being here.  It didn’t take long to trade the heeled ballerinas for flip flops, the cappuccinos for iced coffees, the opera playlists for some indie mix, and the walking with zooming around on my scooter.

Let me also say that I do, in some way that I cannot yet describe accurately, miss Italy and (almost) all that it is.  And, it was a little difficult adjusting to the rhythm of living back at home, and there were some things that I couldn’t help but cringe at when I saw them here.  But, mostly, it feels good to be back.

In a week, I have had countless coffee/tea/wine/margarita dates with a large and colorful assembly of all of my favorite people, seen two shows (one about Canadian famers and one an operatic musical about quantum physics), read half a dozen books, saw a friend’s first reading of her own play, gone to intimate theaters to see world-renown artists sing, had the most intense and breakthrough-y therapy talk, danced my heart out at various improv salsa sessions, took my first yoga class, biked around, took long walks through new neighborhoods and down dried-out creeks, and much, much more.

Such as being domestic and chopping up lots of veggies:

to make meals for family and friends, all of them to be enjoyed on the back porch:

The day’s biggest dilemma is deciding on a cuisine.  Such a selection here!  And in the end, I keep going back to my favorite European dishes- Italian and Greek:

Even if the two main staples of my diet since I have gotten here have been cider (wine, we need a break) and avocados (daily fresh, homemade guacamole– yes, please!):

And then it goes without saying that there have been all of the mandatory Tex-Mex outings:

In addition to playing with and stuffing my face with food, I have also splattered some paint to create a series of paintings for the house:

And wrote up a 40-page guide book about Austin, which inspired me to go revisit a lot of awesome nooks in the (512):

Austin Guide Book

I promise that I will put up a post from Austin that is actually about Austin, but for now I am still a little bit overwhelmed and disoriented by everything that is surrounding me here, and my thoughts are racing in a million different directions, but in a wonderfully passive way.  Since I was last here a year ago, I feel like Austin has gotten more full and I more empty.  But who can say who lost what and who gained what?

But for now it doesn’t matter.  For now, I am going to keep on enjoying running around barefoot, staying up until dawn,  re-visiting old memories, and creating new ones : )

Casa, Colori, ii.

March 21, 2014 § 2 Comments

One more burst of paint around the Anconian nook before heading out for the next adventure.  It’s pretty much just a continuation of the last super-fun and super-secret house makeover attempt, seeing as I still had some paint left over.

In other words, the living room wall has now turned into a design chalkboard:

Wall Two

And the other chalkboard now has a handy little shelf underneath it,  on which the chalk pot (chalk pot?) can rest upon for maximum Chalk Access Possibility:

Other than that, this week has found me admiring all of the flower blossoms appearing throughout this beautiful landscape (and brought back home):

Ancona Flower Blossoms

And living off oranges (or, rather, tarocco, as these ‘oranges’ from the south of Italy are more red than orange):

Oranges
, which I butcher ruthlessly on a daily basis to turn into Red Orange Juice.  I think that this home-squeezed juice phase is still in me from the Cammino di Santiago, though last week’s Turkey trip certainly brought it back to the surface.  Hard to imagine life before these morning treats:

Orange Juice

And then there’s the fact that this morning I was supposed to get on a plane and go to Argentina for three months with my little (or not-so-little) red backpack.  Instead… I cancelled that flight last night, after a full week of contemplation, for no apparent reason and against my will (how does that work?!).  It was a very complicated thought method, but I feel like I am finally starting to get out of Thinking Too Much Vortex and finding my life’s purpose (haha), and then I will be able to enjoy it even more.  I have ten months to use the ticket and find all of my solutions : )

First steps include going back ‘home’ to Austin to really get it out of my blood system, do some self-reflection and volunteering work in Peru, and sew a dark blue dress.  If that doesn’t make any sense, it’s okay, because it really doesn’t.  But I’ve decided to stop questioning life and just take it step-by-step to get to that final, awesome situation we are all striving to find.  More coherent and concrete ramblings come next post or two~

Casa, Colori.

March 16, 2014 § 6 Comments

The more I travel, the more I would like a nook of the world to call my own and come back to.  A place where I can drop off all of the fabrics and souvenirs that I find in the world, a place where I can just “come home” to and not worry about anything.  Take a nap, be passive, hibernate, get reborn, then set out again when the toes get restless.

One day I will have such a place, I know.

For now, I am taking out my desire to make a cozy house at Mr. Italian’s flat– he doesn’t have much say in the matter.  This is what happens when you leave me alone for two days:

Welcome Home
Your entryway becomes a giant blackboard, as I experiment with chalkboard paint.  So far, I’m a fan!

Also… I told Mr. Italian that I would get a cat for the house before I left again.  I don’t think that he took me seriously.  But, now there is a cat, in addition to a couple of birds:

Of course, a chalkboard needs a chalk holder, so one of the mini flower pots of the house has been assigned a new role:

Chalk Pot
I also repainted some old, boring IKEA mirrors:

Mr. Italian and I were reading The 4-Hour Work Week, in which we learned that it is “better to ask forgiveness than permission.”  So, I merely applied that knowledge.  But, just in case, for good measure, I also laid out all of the goodies that I brought back from Istanbul:

Istanbul Goodies
And now that that mini-makeover is done, I’m ready to go find new colors in the world to decorate with : )

Turkey, pt. II

March 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

I do not usually re-travel to places, especially with people that have never been there, but I had to make an exception this year.  So, I flew over to Istanbul for a couple of weeks to see an old friend, meet up with Mommy, and drag Mr. Italian there for his birthday weekend and celebrate with fish kebabs and cay.

The weather was mostly grey, but I did have several sunny days and it was never bitterly cold, so I cannot complain.  Days mainly consisted of walking through tiny alleys, stuffing my face (especially for breakfast), and pondering about life.  The last day was a little more exciting, when we accidentally arrived in Taksim Plaza in the middle of the protests/police riots and had to run away… only to arrive at our hotel and find the building in front of it in flames.

And even though my enthusiasm toward cities is drifting further and further away, I do always appreciate the Turkish skyline and its many colors (even in the middle of rain storms):

However, Istanbul takes second place compared to our two-day outing to Selcuk:

And the excursion to Ephesus:

And wine evenings in Sirince:

If interested, I put up the rest of the photos from the trip in the TURKEY section of the photography part of Elefantini!  Happy viewing~

Costume sketches, continued.

February 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

The past couple of days have pretty much consisted of me being a hermit and splattering colors onto paper and trying to come up with some character sketches…

Both quick:

, and headshots:

BlueGown

, and full body:

GypsyGirl

, and concept ideas for Lucia di Lammermoor:

Lucia di Lammermoor la pazzia

, and still trying to come up with both a style and theme to start giving this theater portfolio some continuity.

Any awesome suggestions welcome.

Sunday Funday

February 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

This Sunday had a little bit of everything: a convent, stormy skies, exotic animals, and cous cous.  What more can you want from a day off (not that I have days on, but still)?

Woke up to sunny skies (this is treat after the past couple of months), so Mr. Italian and I drove over to abbadia di Fiastra, a monastery/natural reserve around Tolentino.  The grass was green and the skies were blue, and life was good:

At the end of the stroll, we ended up at an old farmhouse:

Abbadia di Fiastra Farm
, which had very lively hens and a loud donkey:

Donkey
Then, the plan was to grab a bite to eat somewhere… which sounds like the most reasonable thing on earth, especially in Italy, right?  But not on a Sunday afternoon, because everything is closed.  Shoulda taken warning from the dark silhouette of the hilltop city (Macerata) from afar:

Macerata
Instead, we proceeded forth and had another stroll, though this time around the abandoned town:

We then embarked upon a very roundabout country road back home, tummies growling and clouds starting to sprinkle.  Hope would have been lost, had it not been for a creepy circus sign that we saw from the road:

Circus
Which isn’t too appealing… but, behind, there was a pasture with all sorts of animals that were frolicking around.  And while, as a rule, I am opposed to circus animals, these guys didn’t seem too miserable.  So, we chilled with the zebras for a bit:

Zebras
, and made fun of the camels (lovingly):

Camel2
(but, c’mon… how can you not?!):

Camel
And then, it was time for cous cous and some art sketching:

GypsySketch
Tummies full and creative juices flowing, the perfect way to tie up such a day was go see La grande bellezza, which an alternative theatre put back on the screen for this week.  Can’t believe that it took me so long to finally see this movie- I loved it, every single second of it!  Beautiful and inspirational- though to do what, I’m not quite sure.  Get back to writing that book?

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