A Travellerspoint blog

CLUB MED…DAY 2! august 2, 2008



August 2, 2008

~The Med is my neighbour, but I haven’t met him yet! Apparently there’s a massive nudist beach in the neighbourhood…stay tuned!

~Day 2 shopping at Inno, le supermarché près de moi, and I discovered what was missed on day 1’s investigation…Smirnoff Ice…so I’ve decided I’ll stay in Montpellier!

~Had to buy a Virgin today…a new phone…NB a French user manual is somewhat easier to figure out, even without pictures, than the Spanish one I still can’t completely read!

~Here’s my new #:

From Canada:
(011) (33) 645638385


~Today I walked the periphery of the old, central and “c’est COOL” section of Montpellier. It took over an hour…a tad bigger than Jaca, and I only got temporarily displaced once and that was in the shopping centre looking for the grocery store!

~Carb and Gas update…not much to report. I think they’ve got the hang of this moving thing I do to them. They only spoke for the 1st hour of the 8ish hour car journey. They approve of our air-conditioned hotel room with the glass walled balcony, although gas’ fur is confused by the cool air and growing thicker as we speak, and he has only dived into the glass wall once…that I noticed!

~I, too, seem to have the hang of moving cities, cultures and languages! It just isn’t as scary here…have more confidence in my French education than I did in my Spanish pocket dictionary! Plus, now I have experience and just know what I need to do.

~So if you’ve got the notion to do what I’m doing…definitely read the following…

8 simple steps to sorting out your new life when moving to France:

1 Get there, somehow…trickier with cats…I can give you Anna and Phil’s
phone #.
2 Find a temporary place to stay…that likes cats.
3 Find a phone store that employs a Canadian guy named Xavier to help you pick out a new cell phone that suits your purposes, no frills. Then Xavier becomes your first and only friend and throws in a phone case for free!
4 Ask your new and only friend if all stores in France are closed on Sundays.
5 Learn how to say “carton” in French so you can buy cigarettes.
6 Spend hours in the local grocery store until you find Smirnoff Ice, Canada
Dry Ginger Ale and Werther’s candies. (Don’t even look for peanut butter
if you’ve brought residual gifts.)
7 Find a real place to live for a year…that likes cats.
8 Find a job.

Easy as pie and your sorted!

~Day 3 is reserved for reading French newspapers! Emma, can you google who invented the French-English dictionary…I really want to thank them!

~That’s all I know for now…and now the real work begins…finding my sanctuary and a job to pay for the sanctuary…it is exciting!

Je t’embrasse,
Dana, carb et essence xox

Posted by hiitsdana 14:02 Archived in France Comments (0)

MON MONTPELLIER…IT’S MINE! july~august, 2008



July~August 2008

~Cigarettes in Finland are sold in “Family Packs” (as Darin calls them), 28/pkg.

~Retraction from last update (July) “Men are slobbish”…amendment…”but not Darin!”

~I hope, Ali and Darin, you enjoyed your beer as much as I appreciated the lift to Tampere airport Ali and for lookin’ after me Darin…I miss you and the refugee camp…in a strange kind of Punkalaidun-ishy way! Still awaiting your updates!!!!

~My stint in Finland, July 13~28, was welcomed by a Finnish text message, which I received July 28th on my way out of Finland!

~I resisted Stansted airport’s floor, as inviting as it appeared, as a most hospitable Finn/Brit couple whom I met in the Tampere “International Airport” offered me a bed in their London home. My inflatable pillow, Thermarest and sleeping bag traversed Europe twice, for not! The bed was accompanied by morning coffee, a shower and a walking tour of Stoke Newington. Plus, they’re kindred cat folk. They took a risk inviting a complete stranger into their home…I never forget kind and sharing people like this…perhaps they noticed my cat hairy apparel. They definitely get to be added to my collection of good people in this world!

~Piko and Mike’s 1846 home is older than my country!!

~The 2 day journey to Finland, in perspective, was short, in comparison to the 3 day journey back to Jaca!

~I’m thankful I’m not young and attractive…waiting in bus and train stations would be even more annoying!

~Travelling teaches you there are good people worldwide…but it also confirms there are losers in every language!

~I had under 12 hours back in the Jac to drink and pack up! My boxes and bags are as disorganized as my emotions!


August 1, 2008

~You know the expression ”Get a Life”…well, I’m on it!

~If first impressions are true impressions…then, I LOVE Montpellier!

~Day one in Montpellier…international cuisine, copious grocery food selection (including Canadian maple syrup!), Gitanes cigarettes, French men, really yummy fermented grape juice, Mediterranean sunshine and heat, and clumping cat litter…yes!

~By the way, if you happen to be waiting for a personal invitation to visit me…you could be waiting a long time. Here’s the thing about me, I have an open door policy…you just need to confirm I have a door at the time you invite yourself to visit me! Once you have crossed my path in a positive kind of way…you make my email list…I only delete those who ought to be deleted from the human race!

~Brendah…you have no idea how often and regularly the word “Bella Bella” comes up in my day-to-day conversations!

~Lauren’s response to my last update…”it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me miss you!” Awwwwww. The next person to cross Lauren’s path, could you please give her a really big hug for me?

Well, all’s well east of the Pyrenees…French day one was wonderful…can’t wait for the next 364 to come!

À toute a l’heure,
Dana, Essence, et Carburateur xox

Posted by hiitsdana 13:56 Archived in Finland Comments (0)



July 1~31, 2008

~A year flies by quickly when distracted by a foreign culture, language and Spanish vino tinto! July 16th was the anniversary of my departure from Canada! But, don’t worry, I still say “Eh”, “for sure” and pronounce “about” correctly!

~Another first for me, straying for more than a year! A test of willpower, strength, endurance…how long can I withstand withdrawal from Mike’s Hard Lemonade, a bathtub, a clothes drier, my massage therapist…Canadian culture. I did cheat this year…accepted Canadians into my piso. Of 16 guests at Calle Del Barco, 9 (bajo), 7 of them were fellow Canadians, and 2 of them visited more than once! Helped me maintain my Canadian language skills!

~Aw, the joys of moving residence (culture…language!)! A new dot on the European map. It’s a bigger dot this time…about 250, 000 French men…I mean people. But as always, moving means packing up and saying goodbyes. Remember how I ventured away from Canada toting 2 cats and a backpack…well, I’ve added 6 boxes, a full wooden barrel (my coffee table), a laundry hamper, and a large duffle bag to my collection of worldly-need-‘em items. Goodbye psychotic, beeping, fucking-fridge! I won’t miss you! I always forget, strategically, else I mightn’t ever move again, discovering upon moving inspection, how dirty an oven can become (in only one year), or after I’ve packed the kitchen clock…how many times a day I continue to look for the time in that empty spot. Of course the cats have clued in to my intensions…Gas more slowly than Carb, and Carb is hating me in a vengeful kind of cat-pissy way!

~Post-packing and pre-moving, I took a 2 week reprieve from Spain’s perfectly beautiful sunny and hot climate and ventured to Finland!

~Saw…not much of Finland…actually felt more like visiting Latvia or Mexico, as I was teaching Latvian and Mexican students! Still haven’t figured out the “why part” of them travelling all that way to a non-English speaking country to learn English! They learned more about Canada than Finland I suspect.

~Lauren paid me back for my pay-back! I think she didn’t like collecting and cutting Canadian cans for me…I should have been suspicious when she offered to book my multiple cheap flights to Finland! Saving money cost me a couple of sleepless airport floor nights and way too many hours/D-A-Y-S of travel!

~The school is like a summer residential camp for international teens (and teachers)…teens being the same world wide…they just swear in different languages! We’re situated…well, actually I don’t really know where I am. Somewhere Finland, between Tampere and Turku, at 61 30’ north latitude. Santa lives somewhere close by! Really should have done the research, but I love surprises! Shoulda packed my parka! Shorts and sleeveless tops serve little purpose here except perhaps as thick underwear!

~Things I’ve figured out about Finland…
…it’s in the colder part of the northern hemisphere, there aren’t a lot of people around (5 millionish) but I’ve only met 6, Finnish is spelt with 2 “n’s”, their water tastes good, the light blue coloured carton of milk is NOT buttermilk, stuff is really expensive, they sell cooler-ishy type drinks, everyone has a sauna, saunas can double as a clothes drier, the vegetation looks like Canada, the air smells like Canada, (if you’re Belgian or Swiss, don’t read the next sentence…) Finnish chocolate surpasses Belgian and Swiss chocolate, the weather is ever-changing and only warm when the sun is shining…but the COOLEST thing about Finland is…it just never gets dark here (in July)! “Land of the Midnight Sun” in reality! I keep staying up really late, by mistake, ‘cause I just can’t judge the time of day by the amount of daylight in the sky!

~And they’re making me live with 3 men, 2 Scots and a Brit…two whom I would label as “special” and the 3rd who has become my sanity! Men are really slobbish, confirmation of remaining single! The best part of the whole adventure…there’s a sauna 20 steps down the hall from my bedroom! Yes, the best things in life start with the letter “S”! Siestas, sunshine, saunas and sex! 47 and I got ‘er all figured out! Thank God for the Roman alphabet and the letter “S”! Oh yeah, and the other good thing is I’m allowed to speak English here!

~’Twas a tough go adapting to the word “work” again…we were required to begin teaching at 10 AM and drinking at 3:15 PM, with 2 hours of lunch and breaks! As Punkalaidun’s Lansi-Suomen Opisto is far away from anything real, there was no choice but to drink a fair bit and enjoy a nightly sauna and our Finnish version of a Spanish terraza! Oh woe was me…NOT!

~Another experience to add to my collection! They’ve asked me to come back next summer…will see where the French wind has blown me a year from now!

~It’s probably a good thing I packed up the apartment before I left for Finland, as Lauren only informed me a day prior leaving Jaca that I would not be returning until the 30th of July! I have to be out of my apartment on the 31st!

So…thanks for sharing my learnings about Jaca, Spain, and elsewhere Europe/Africa/Asia for the year! Stay tuned for my France-Fuck-Ups in another month’s time! And thank you Jaca for providing me with a sense of home and friendships and comfort! A year’s paradise full of the freedom for which I was searching…and found!

Adios Jaca…you will always be a part of me, building more character into a soul that didn’t really require any additional building!

Muchos besos por siempre,
dana, carburador y gasolina

Posted by hiitsdana 08:28 Archived in Spain Comments (0)




June 1~30, 2008

~Now I understand why northern Spain can be so green while the rest of Spain is a dessert…it has rained here all spring! But, alas, Jaca is Spain again, too hot and too sunny!

~Honestly, how could the English speaking world adopt a word from the Spanish language that they know nothing about? Canadians are the forerunners in the department of mosquitoes! I’ve seen 3 mosquitoes here this year, and not at the same time.

~When I see a person burdened with the weight of a “wealth” of keys on their keychain, I feel sad for them! Keys are an indicator of the complication of a person’s life, perhaps one considers this wealth! I have one key, to my front door, that’s it! It only takes one key to open the door to happiness!

~So, I took the “scenic route” from Jaca, Spain, to Brive, France, to retrieve Cassandra. “Scenic route” seems to be one of my numerous middle names lately…so, understand Lauren, this explains “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” syndrome! 3 buses, 4 trains, a one hour taxi ride and I found the Canadian kid awaiting my arrival.

~I’m not sure who tainted who more, Cassandra or I? But that’s all I can say ‘cause her mom is probably reading this update, and if not, Karen’s in earshot of too many of my avid readers…but let it be known…Cassandra and I had fun!

~Spanish grocery stores don’t like tourists taking photos of their Spanish products! Aisles of “legs”, olive oils, cheap wine and Bimbo bread are tourist attractions!

~Karen arrived in Jaca, July 1st, Canada Day, with Cassandra’s Canadian friend, Cassie Bedard, and a tin of Canadian Maple Syrup! Of course I waited till the 3 ladies left before feasting on good ol’ Canadian pancakes and my annual ration of “Made in Canada” Maple Syrup…some things just aren’t sharable! Damn right I licked the plate!

~Muchas gracias Lauren for contributing to the “Canadian” content on this continent! I truly do appreciate your efforts of collecting and cutting up those 20 Canada Dry Ginger Ale cans, all for the greater cause of gift earrings in Europe. Mothers have discreet ways of paying back!

~If you’re watching TV in Europe…then pay attention to the Euromillion Lottery commercial…and look for the ”mature” face third row back, second from (your) right…that’s me, don’t blink! Paid 60  to hang out for a day on a mountain top in Panticosa with 149 other local Jacian Spaniards. A full day of drinking, beginning on the provided bus, which broke down en route, before 12 noon! More illegal work in Spain, but a step closer to fame!

Hasta Julio amigos,
dana, carb and gas xox

Posted by hiitsdana 04:05 Archived in Spain Comments (0)




May 4~11, 2008

~Latvia is only 18 years old! Although now finally independent from Russia… Russian language, Vodka and cigarettes still prevail. By “our” standards, Latvian stuff is “cheap like Borsht” and the Borsht is delicious!

~Immersed for a week in Latvia with representatives from Lithuania, Italy, Turkey, Finland, Sweden, Romania, Latvia and of course us Spaniards…I was the token Canadian rep…I truly think Canada should consider joining the EU! As English was the common language, and I, the only native English speaker in the crowd or country, I was relied upon as an idiomatic resource. A funny thing, translating the English language…imagine watching a fashion show amongst an international audience and they are relying on ME for the English vocabulary of modern fashion design…ME, wearing hiking boots, wool work socks, jeans, fleece jacket…you got a visual?

~As the group’s English language improved…mine got more worser!

~Fact: oral communication in a 2nd language improves proportionately with alcohol consumption! A week of a lot of body language and laughter!

~Although this European project’s focus is to develop “New Strategies for Promoting Foreign Language Learning in Disadvantaged Areas”…the week’s work felt more like play!

~We were fed to death, but man, was the food good! Imagine a country bursting with sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, rye bread…don’t know how those Latvians stay so skinny, I grew in one week!

~Latvia is green! Full of trees! Visited a Forestry Museum created by a fellow female forester…I was ecstatic, truly! Here I knew the vocab! Evidently women took over the industry, as the men were busy fighting in wars. That’s a hell of a way to achieve equality!

~We Spaniards stayed a couple extra days in Riga, the capital, to explore, Spanish style…slowly. The streets were rich with vendors of Amber, solidified tree sap…I wanted to buy it all! I love solidified tree sap!

~Opportunities always arise out of opportunities! Invited to teach in Finland for 2 weeks this summer and also to attend the project conference next May in Lithuania! If there’s a way…I’ll find it…if not, then I’m honoured for the invitations alone!


May 11~31, 2008

~Lauren and I are missing each other! An exotic life abroad doesn’t happen without it’s hardships! Just as a life at home doesn’t mean you can’t feel homesick!

~I’ve given Lauren a true Canadian task! I’ve asked her to purchase a case of 24 cans of Canada Dry Ginger Ale pop, then drink them all really fast, then roughly cut the word Canada out of each can, 2 Canada’s per can, then send them along with Karen who’s Jaca-bound in July, so I can manufacture some more gift earrings…for French women! I gave her other tasks too, but relatively speaking, they’re boring.

~Yes, I’ve made the decision to jump over the Mountains, where the “Los Pirineos” become “Les Pyrenees” (with a couple of accent aigus in there), to Mont Pellier, France. A year on the French Mediterranean, eating French crepes, listening to French men’s accents, continuing to drink cheap Spanish red wine, and confusing my brain with yet another fucking foreign language! It’s a simple move…HA…and what move would be simple I ask myself, in a language I haven’t looked at in 28 years with 2 originally-stray cats that are probably NOW wishing they had never entered my Canadian doorway…death might have been the easier choice…! Simpler than requiring veterinarian certifications to cross serious boarders and visas making life legal…I answer myself! Good answer self!

~Carburetor and Gasoline update…eyebrow-less Gas has taken to sniffing live candles, on a regular basis, while Carb now spends the majority of his mornings running retardedly around the apartment like he’s got places to go! No wonder I don’t watch television!

~Next, off to Brive, France, at the beginning of June, to collect a friend’s (see Karen above) kid, who’s completing a high school study abroad program. She’s going to hang out with me till July. Familiar faces are so refreshing when living abroad. People who already know your story and history…and people who can pronounce your name the way your mother meant it!

~3 months of hair growth, and I’m starting to get that Spanish Mullety look! 10 Euros will solve that!

~Before I close, I would like to thank all of those who reminded me, back in March, that I was once again a year older! Turning 47 has suddenly helped me to appreciate all of the advantages of aging! Here are just of few of those advantages being older…
~I can read faster.
~My hair is growing in thicker, grey, but definitely thicker.
~I finally know what I’m talking about.
~Being set in my ways makes me a lot less prone to peer pressure.
~Wearing glasses makes me look more professional.
~It’s now acceptable to like classical music.

Well, adios May and hasta Junio amigos…will let you know my decision about teaching in Finland July 13~26. I’m kinda leaning to the “Why-the-Fuck-Not”!

Dana, Carb and Gas xox

Posted by hiitsdana 04:01 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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