Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Home Jeeves!

I should clarify something: I like going out but I like being home too. In the early haze of consciousness this morning at about 6:14am a week or so ago, I was thinking about nice things that will happen because I get to spend Christmas in Vancouver. I could see my little, cosy apartment with it’s little, cosy Christmas tree and then my little, cosy neighbourhood with it’s little, cosy Christmas lights strung up and people in their cosy (not so little) parkas. And then I started thinking what a great place to be from Vancouver is – really! It’s got everything: mountains, ocean, coffee shops, I can ride the bus without having to call the driver first and see if he’s eaten lunch yet (having a chauffeur can be harder than it looks). And ever since the Olympics, Europeans know that it’s not near Quebec so we can’t speak French and Americans don’t say “oh, Washington huh?” Yep, we have finally arrived.

You know Vancouver is a great place to be from and it’s a great place to come home to. I may not spend my whole life there, but I had the thought that morning that I am so grateful it is home base – because I never have to justify the $3200 plane ticket. I can go any time. Of course, being from the South of France or Buenos Aires would probably be just as cool. I wonder if people from other places say to themselves “I wanna live in Vancouver – if only for a year” like Canadians do about Paris or somewhere hot. I am sure they do. In fact, the French probably have an inferiority complex about our style, what with our classic sleek yoga pants and reflective running gear and all…

So, I’ve packed my (one underweight!) bag and am once again setting off home. Maybe, since I know I am coming back, it is much more exciting to be going home. There is no denouement to the return, it's just a pause - the plot thickens, maybe even! There’s a small chance that I might not be as happy to get on a plane (as “happy” as I can be about that task), if I were going back to job searching and sitting in my little, cosy apartment for another 6 months. But I was never really discontent while doing that either. So, I think I’ll just make this short and sweet and to the point:

I’m thankful.


Take me home, Jeeves!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Bizarre de Noel

December in a hot country again: It’s a bizarre experience for me every time. The decorations and music sneak up on you when you feel like you should be getting ready for a Canada Day BBQ or something. You’ll be wandering around in the blazing heat, and suddenly see Santa and his polar bear buddies socking back an old-fashioned Coca-Cola up on a billboard. In Managua, the roundabouts always had very snazzy over-sized decorations, usually in, ahem, alternative Christmas colours, like a 12-ft pink snowflake that was put to shame by the blooming bougainvillea. That year, all I wanted for Christmas – other than my two front teeth and you, of course – was this absolutely wonderful fake Christmas Palm Tree. It came with lights already strung up on it’s incredibly vibrant and – may I add – very life-like branches. About a week ago I walked into Jumbo Score (the big grocery chain here) and was shocked into December by the double-wide yuletide decorations aisle – which, distressingly, had replaced the double-wide wine-tasting aisle. This upsetting exchange notwithstanding, I was impressed with the quantity and quality of Christmas decorations available here – they obviously take trimming the tree quite seriously. And so they should.

So, into the Christmas Spirit we go. You will be relieved to know that I participated in shopping excursions to not one, but TWO Christmas Bazaars. The first one was at the French school last weekend and one at the American school yesterday. Now, I will just note that last weekend was my initiation into Malagasy Christmas Bazaars and I was highly unprepared for what awaited me. I expected something featuring picture frames with painted popsicle sticks and macaronis that the children of said school had made and were selling to raise money for new pinnies for their gym class or something. But lo, it was a real festivus and included pretty much anyone who makes anything cool in Madagascar - and then some more things that are only semi-cool and the occasional ugly item, that I am sure SOMEONE buys, because SOMEONE makes it - and I have enough economics to know that people don't just supply things if they aren't in demand. They don't. Trust me.

Anyways, these Christmas Bazaars are very serious affairs here. If the Christmas deco aisle was any indication – well, I just simply should have known. Any body who is any body goes to see and be seen and buy jewellery and throw pillows and baskets and purses and spices and shoes and soap and the odd quilted hippo (it’s very cute, trust me). The first round, at the French school, I was caught completely unaware of the cool stuff that was to be found. So the second round at the American school I came to well armed and was not disappointed. I was able to make out like a bandit with all sorts of things that I am sure will be lovely gifts for Christmas, if and when that rolls around - I am still unconvinced, but my Google calendar has never been known to lie yet.