Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Dark Side of the Moon

And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes

I'll see you on the dark side of the moon. about communications break-downs! I have been hemming and hawing over how to start this entry for months now. At first, I thought I would wait until I got back from my 30th college reunion (that, for you loyal followers, was back in the beginning of JUNE!). But when I got back, I went smack into the end of school (no time to write, I claimed) and then, a whirlwind trip with Steph to Greece (also something I should have written about, but didn't) and then, the doldrums of staying here in Alexandria for the summer (nothing really of note there) and then a trip to Scotland (lots of things to share there) and an end of the summer trip to Istanbul (worth writing about yet....) and then school began and then, and then, and then..... Can't explain it, but I just couldn't get my act together in order to fill in the gap. I equate it to being on the dark side of the moon...just waiting until my orbit brought me back around and out of radio silence. So, Houston, we have re-established contact with the mother ship!

And just as I am now reunited with my blog, the theme of the past few months has been reunions. Beginning with my college reunion and ending with the trip to Istanbul, I was able to reconnect with friends from my past, often in new locations and settings. I'll spare you the details and just go for the highlights...

My Old School

At the time, it seemed a rash decision to travel from Alexandria, Egypt to Syracuse, NY for what was really going to be just a long weekend for me. The school year was not over and I had to take a couple of personal days off, not to mention the jetlag that would undoubtedly take its toll on my no longer college aged body. But when I heard that my friend Nancy (yes, the one for whom I went to the Pyramids of Giza to complete the Race for the Cure last October) was going, there really was no decision to be made. And am I glad I went! Not only was I able to spend time with my college girlfriends (and a boyfriend as well, if truth be told), but I managed to reunite with my cousins Pat, Pam, and their families in Skaneateles and my son, Alex, who came up for the weekend from Philadelphia. It meant shuttling back and forth between family and old friends, and explaining ad infinitum to the reunion crowd that I really lived in Alexandria, Egypt, not Virginia or Louisiana, but it was well worth the trip. Go Dolphins! (Yes, that is the mascot for a college located in the center of New York State...go figure.)

Mamma Mia (June)

It was really hard not to start humming Abba songs when Steph and I were toodling around Skiathos Island even if we were consigned to a very low powered scooter since neither of us had a proper motorcycle license. After all, it was the island where they filmed much of the movie Mamma Mia and it did have that light and beautifully relaxing feel to it. Hard not to be happy there, I must admit. It was the ideal place just to hang out, soak up the sun, swim in every available beach and to eat amazing food!

Skiathos was part two of our trip to Greece, the first being our stay in Athens where we were reunited with our friends Chuck, Kirsten, Maddy and Nick Piacentini. The Piacentinis were the first friends we made when we moved to Costa Rica in 2006, and Kirsten was working for LLBean 's only overseas office (yes, the famous Maine catalog company). Our trips were not coordinated in advance, and we only discovered our mutual destination via a chance Facebook posting!

You Take the High Road (July)

Bored with sitting in Alexandria all summer long, I decided that I ought to go and check out one of the places where we are investing our money these days...the University of Edinburgh. Adrie was staying in Scotland for the summer, working a couple of college student type jobs, one at the Edinburgh castle and the other at the Fringe Festival. Of the two, the latter was the most interesting and lucrative. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend going to the Fringe...venue upon venue of stand-up comedy, theater, music, dance---some of it good, some of it passable and some of it...well, I know at least one comedienne who will not become tabloid fodder. And, if you are in Edinburgh, you simply must go to the Scottish National Museum, not to see the sarcophogus of Mary Queen of Scots or the Lewis Chessmen, but to gaze upon the taxadermically preserved Dolly the Cloned Sheep! No joke.

In keeping with my reunion theme, and again, as the result of a chance Facebook comment, I met up with a former colleague from my days teaching at FDR in Peru, Kathryn Freeburn, who was home in her native Scotland between jobs in China and Switzerland! Adrie and I also popped over to Dublin (you can do that when you live in Europe, you see) and stayed with our friends from our Virginia days, Lara Henry, Alistair Hodgett and daughter Albha.

Istanbul, Not Constantinople (August)

With another R&R trip on the schedule, Steph and I took the opportunity to end the summer with a trip to Istanbul. While some of you may remember that I went last December with a group of students, that hardly counted as seeing the city, nor was it a vacation. This time, we had a leisurely week where we could take our time and see the real sights of Istanbul...Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkopi Palace, and of course, all the wonderful restauants and shops. I will give a word of caution, however...if you are approached by anyone who wants to talk to you and find out where you are from, invariably they will want to sell you a carpet. It became a game to see how long we could keep them talking about politics, the weather or anything else before they made the carpet pitch..and no, they didn't break us! Istanbul is an amazing city and I would go back again in a heartbeat, if only to buy their amazing sour cherry jam! Once again, we were able to reconnect with old friends-- from our DC days, Jonathan and Pelin Rau, with son Jordan who live and work at Robert College and another former teacher from FDR in Peru, Terrie Mueller and her daughter, Kalani. Great fun in a wonderful city.

So that is what kept me busy and incommunicado for the past few months. I will try to be a bit more timely in my musings, especially as things may heat up here as our Arab Spring turns into an Arab Summer. Keep an eye on the Tunisian elections as a potential barometer for what Egypt might experience in November with elections. As I watch the news on the killing of Gaddafi, I am thankful that the events here in Egypt never rose to that level. Yet one never knows what to expect. I will try to stay in touch with this blog, but if I should go dark again, rest assured I will re-enter your orbit eventually.

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