Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Year in Review

The year began
In the Capital of the Nation
Didn’t matter it was for work
And not a vacation

It was much more beautiful
Then I expected it to be
Especially in the cold and chilly month
Of February

In March I needed some sun
So off to Vegas we went
We saw “O” from Cirque du Soleil
And a few dollars at the slot machines were spent

I also switched jobs in March
Off to prison I did go
Doesn’t sound like a step up
But I should’ve made this move long ago

In April I did the Sun Run
For the very last time
Training out in the cold
Has got to be a crime (ok, I’m just lazy!)

My friend rented an apartment
In Vancouver for the summer
We rode the seawall and spent lots of time at the beach
That I didn’t have more time off, was a bummer

Had an awesome reunion
With a lot of the Borne clan
Then was visited by my friend Missy
And up to Whistler we ran

My birthday was in August
Celebrated with great friends
Michael Bublé stopped by to say hello
No, that is not pretend

Ok, maybe he didn’t “stop by”
As much as I went up and said hello
But he was extremely gracious and kind
A very nice fellow

Then off to Tofino we went
Of my friends surfing I took pics
But for me, up in the sky, paragliding
Is where I got my kicks

Got tattoo number 5
“Freedom in Christ” is what it reads
But to tattoo number 6
Is where it will lead

Was reunited with another “old” friend
Went to Osoyoos for Thanksgiving
Got in a kayak on the lake
And chipped away at my misgiving (fear of water)

October was finally the month
When U2 came back to town
Excitement was in the air
I could finally end the countdown

Standing in line for 13 hours
Paid off in a big way
When I landed a front row spot
It was the highlight of my day.

The concert was amazing
They put on such a great show
I got my picture with Bono & The Edge (kind of)
And I was all aglow

But then I shifted gears
And hopped on a plane the very next day
And flew to Argentina, via Chile
To see my friend, Leana, I will go a long way

Buenos Aires is amazing
Evita’s balcony we saw
Of the amazing Argentine tango show
I was definitely in awe

I got to meet Doug & Leana’s two little girls
For the very first time
They are adorable and sweet
And all over me they did climb (and I loved it)

It was an amazing trip
I’m so glad that I went
Came back to Canada and with SYTYCD and the ballet
Some of my November time was spent

This year went by so fast
I can’t believe that we’re through
What will 2010 bring, I wonder
Oh, I haven’t a clue

But for now I give thanks
For my dear Saviour’s birth
It’s in Him that I put my trust
In Him I find my worth

I pray you have a blessed Christmas
With family and friends
It really is the perfect way
To bring the year (and this poem) to an end

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Merry Christmas to my family, friends and even to my blog readers who've remained silent. I pray you all have a wonderful Christmas and take some time to remember the real reason we are celebrating. The best gift of all was given to us that first Christmas night in a manager in Bethlehem. I pray we never take that gift for granted.

If you're feeling like it's all so commercialized and materialistic and aren't sure what you can do to shake that feeling, here's a GREAT link where you can give an amazing gift that will really help somebody out this year.


I gave a goat this year and I can honestly say it was my favorite gift I gave all Christmas. :) Thanks to my friend, Sonya, who inspired me to do this.

Luke 2: 1 - 20

Thursday, December 24, 2009

One more day in BA

Landed back in BA and my cab driver actually spoke a bit of English this time so we chatted until he'd used up all his English and I was out of my Spanish. I feel bad for going on and on about how surprised I was at how little English was spoken when I don't speak their language any better then they speak mine. I guess it's just because I've done quite a bit of travelling and have gotten by with English and sign language most places I've been.

Anyway, I was booked into another nice hostel that was in a different part of the city so off I went to explore. Was I by myself, you ask? I'm going to keep you in suspense just a little while longer.

I think the thing I loved most about Argentina were the beautiful buildings. I couldn't get enough of them.

When I walked around the corner and saw this, I literally said, "I don't think my camera lens is wide enough to get all this goodness in one shot!" These were the congress buildings.

I think this is one of my favorite buildings because it reminded me of where Christian lived in the movie Moulin Rouge. You can see the full building a bit more in the picture above this one (beside the congress buildings). It was totally abandoned and has been for the last 20 years. I think if I win the lottery I'll buy it and renovate it into a hotel. That would be awesome.

Can't forget about the purple trees! :)

Look who joined me on the subway!!! I was so happy that Leana came back to join me in BA for the night. Sad that her whole family couldn't come, but happy that we could spend one more day together. Here we thought we'd gone back in time with this old fashioned looking train.

More beautiful architecture.

The obelisk (below) is one of the main icons of the city.

As we strolled down the walking street (we need more of these shopping streets blocked off to traffic here) we stopped and watched some tango dancers until they started pulling people into their act. That's my cue to move along.

We were in search of a restaurant that a friend of mine had told me about and as we looked, we of course had to stop in a few stores. In one store, I tried on a beautiful brown, leather jacket. As much as I loved it, I already have a brown, leather jacket so I was able to put it back and move along. Good for me for having some self control, right? Don't cheer just yet. There are leather stores everywhere along these streets and since Argentina is known for their leather, I thought maybe I'd try to find a purse to take home as a souvenir. I went into the store below and as I was looking at purses, I saw this white, leather jacket. I tried it on and really liked it. Leana wasn't much help in deterring me. I found a purse and put the jacket back. I thought I'd try on some black ones as they seem more practical. I didn't like any of the black ones. Figures! Ok, let's try the white one on again. The guy on the right was using Lea to translate to me and telling her that if she got me to buy them both that he would give her a deal on something for being his translator. Well, I figured I didn't need them so I started putting everything back but he says, "Wait! Wait! I'll get the owner to come talk to you." So, over comes Juan Pablo (the guy on the left) and he speaks perfect English ... let the wheeling and dealing begin. I think we were there for over half an hour talking about prices ... me telling him "But I don't need the jacket ... him telling me "if you buy this jacket, you will get married. You walk around here with that jacket on and you will get married for sure." I said, "But I'm leaving tomorrow. If I wear it in Canada will I get married?" He said, "Oh, that I can't guarantee," and we all laughed. He was quite funny. When I told him my name, I could see the recognition in his eyes, but he didn't say anything. I said to him, "Yes, just like in Shrek." He started laughing and said, "I wanted to say that but didn't know if you'd be offended!" Then he looks at me and says, "I never lose" and of course I wanted to be stubborn and make him lose ... but in the end, he was too nice and the deal was too good. I got the jacket and the purse for $140 ... and he won. Here we are with our new friends and my new jacket. I've already worn it twice but for some reason feel a bit pretentious when I wear it. Hopefully that'll go away and I'll get good use out of it ... and not get it too dirty.

Finally we found the restaurant that my friend had told me about (I think I should charge him for the jacket seeing as I was only on that street on his recommendation) and we had a feast.

My last Argentine barbeque.

We were exhausted by the end of the night. Tried to hop on the subway but it was closed so we hailed a cab and got a good nights rest.
The next morning after we checked out, we caught a cab to the bus depot where we would store our bags all day ... and we passed this sign on the way. I guess the whole world was gearing up for the excitement. :)

We had a bit of time to do some more sight seeing before I had to catch my bus to the airport and Lea had to catch her bus home, so off we went. I wanted to take a picture of this tower and as we walked up to it, we walked through the grass and were SWARMED by mosquitos!!! I got bit at least 20 times, if not more. It took all my strength not to scratch them. I find that if you don't scratch them, they go away faster and since I had to sit on a plane for the next 18 hours, I didn't want to be scratching all day. I managed to do it and got a couple of good pictures in the meantime.

We headed off to the river to walk along the boardwalk and see all the buildings they've converted into loft condos. I would've loved to have seen inside them and can only imagine how much they would cost. The weather was great and it was nice to get a bit of sun on my last day.

My buddy, Lea. Thanks so much for coming back to BA to hang out with me. I had SUCH a great time!
The loft apartments. Anyone looking to invest? ;)

We stopped for ice cream on the way back and as we were waiting for our turn, I looked at my watch and realized I had 2 minutes to be at the bus depot! What? How did that happen? Only by the grace of God did I make it. Seriously. We were so far away from the bus depot and there just happened to be a taxi pull up who was letting someone out right where we were waiting and we pulled up to the bus depot just in time. Phewf! Made for a quick goodbye with Lea, but maybe that was good. I still got teary eyed and was so thankful for the time I got to spend with her.
Ok, so get this. On the flight to Chile, there's a elderly lady sitting behind me and when they hand out the papers for people getting off in Chile, she reaches around and, with her whole hand, pokes me in the arm ... and not lightly. She starts rambling in Spanish and I have no idea what she's saying, so a lady across the aisle from her says to me, "She wants you to put your seat up so she can use the tray table." Uhm, I don't know about you, but my tray table usually works even if the person in front of me has their chair back. I guess the lady saw that in my facial expression because she said, "It'll just be for a few minutes." So, I complied. 20 minutes later, I turn around to check and she's LOOONG done her paper and I guess forgot to let me know I could put my chair back again ... so, I do it. Well, then comes time to eat our supper. Around comes the hand and poke, poke, poke. I ignored her. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to move my chair up every time you need to use your tray table. That's not how it works. I would never think to ask the person in front of me to put their chair up. Yeah, sometimes it's not so fun, but it's just a fact of life on a plane. About 30 seconds after I ignore her, through the slot between my chair and the chair beside me comes another hand ... poke, poke, poke. I turn around and it's the guy she's with motioning for me to move my chair because they are eating. I try to talk to him but of course he doesn't speak English so I just shook my head. Guess what happened next? The two of them grabbed my chair and physically moved it back up by pushing it! Can you believe that? I didn't know it was possible to do that ... but I guess when you use enough force, it is possible. I turned around so quickly and the lady on the aisle that had translated for her earlier quickly looked down. I don't think she was with them and didn't want to get involved. The lady behind me wouldn't look at me so I slowly moved my seat back ... ok, I only moved it halfway back (I don't know if it was because I was now scared of them or because I had a bit of compassion). If I didn't know that they were getting off the plane in Chile, I would've called the flight attendants over and told them, however, I decided to just seethe about it alone for the next hour.
Then, as if you want to read anymore, it starts getting a little bumpy. No problem. I've been through worse before. The pilot comes on and says (first in Spanish and then in English), "Ladies and gentleman, we're going to be experiencing some major turbulence over the Andes." Excellent. Anyone seen the movie 'Alive"? Yeah, that's all that's going through my head. Well, I wait ... and wait ... and wait. Nothing, which makes me pretty happy, until all of a sudden we start nose diving ... fast! You know how you can feel (and see the front of) the plane tilting downward when preparing for landing? Well, this felt way too fast for that. Everyone starts looking out the windows and all I can see ... the Andes. Yikes! My heart did start beating quite fast and then the pilot comes on and says, "Ladies and gentleman. You've probably noticed we've started our descent into Santiago." Gee, you think! Could've been a little slower for my liking, but Santiago is really close to the mountains, so I guess you have to stay high over the mountains as long as you can before descending. Since I wasn't sitting next to the window, I had to take a picture of them once we were in the airport waiting for our transfer flight.
So that's it. My trip to Argentina in a nutshell ... haha, largest nutshell you've ever seen, right? :) I am SO glad I went ... only wish it could've been longer. Where, oh where, will my next travels take me........

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Igu.azu Falls

You know how at the airport they have the "Departures" board up that will tell you what gate you need to be at? Well, this airport decided to only put my gate up 1/2 an hour before my flight departed! Usually you're already boarding at that time but no, this time I was making a mad dash to make sure I got to my gate in time. Sheesh! Nothing like leaving it to the last minute. The flight was uneventful and just over an hour so that was nice. Once we landed I found the person with my name on their sign (I always feel so important when I see my name) and boarded the bus to my hotel. Now I will quote from my journal:

My hotel leaves much to be desired (see pics below for what my "view" was like when I opened the window).

I'm trying to keep myself awake until suppertime (7:30 - remember, Lea and I had stayed up until 4:00 am the night before and I didn't sleep much on the bus). Watched Oliver Twist on TV while the jack hammer went constantly outside my door and the power went out twice. There's only 10 chairs around the pool. Hilarious. Found out I can't go to the Brazil side of the Falls because I don't have a visitor's visa and they don't give out day visa's anymore. :( Supper at 8. Bed by 10. Woke up a bunch of times throughout the night either to people in the hall or the torrential downpour at 4:30 am. I thought the roof was going to cave in! Crazy!

Not a thrilling first day, but adventures don't have to be fun all the time. Makes for an interesting story either way. :)

The next day I joined my tour and headed to the Falls. These Falls border Brazil and Argentina and were short-listed as a candidate to be one of the New 7Wonders of Nature. Upon seeing Igu.azu, the United States' First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed "Poor Nia.gara!" and I have to agree. It was spectacular!

When we walked through the gates we waited for our tour guide and while I was waiting, I heard 3 guys behind me speaking perfect English. It felt like awhile since I'd heard that from anyone but myself and Leana, so I turned around and said, "You guys are from the States, right?" They said, "Yes," and I said, "It's so nice to hear ..." and all 4 of us said together, "ENGLISH!" We discussed how surprised we were about how little English was spoken here and they said they had just come from Chile and it was worse there. I hung out with these California firefighters off and on throughout the day (not too shabby) as that's what you do when you're travelling by yourself. :)

Anyway, to get to the falls, you walk over these walkways they've built literally over top of the river and falls. At times it's a little freaky, but pretty cool.

Then you start to hear the roar and you get your first glimpse of the Devil's Throat ... yes, that's the actual name of them. Can you feel the power of this rushing water?

Another reason for meeting people when you're travelling by yourself is so they can take pictures for you.

And if you're not happy with the pics they take, you take them yourself. :)

Here's a nice pic of my 3 friends.

At this point we were happy when the spray off the falls hit us because it was quite warm and muggy outside. Even though the water was a little murky looking, it was still quite spectacular.

Looking at this walkway sure didn't give me much confidence in the ones I was walking on. I don't know if you can read the sign below, but it says, "Catwalk destroyed by flood in 1992." Freaky!
Next we took a little train to another section and took more walkways down to the lower section of the falls. Here I am looking over to the Brazilian side of the falls. Would've been nice to be able to say I've been to Brazil as well, but that will have to wait for another trip.

At this point it was starting to rain a little bit but as it was still warm outside, I didn't really mind.

Then ... it poured! See the dark cloud in the picture below? Yeah, they dumped on us and I've never heard thunder so loud directly above me. It was quite fun actually. I eventually caved and bought the lovely white, plastic poncho. My clothes were fully drenched by this point but I was worried about my camera getting wrecked so I bought it to cover and protect my camera.

Despite the rain, I still got my favorite shot of the day. Stunning. Remember the movie, The Mission? Filmed here.
Doesn't it look like I'm standing IN the water in this shot? I wouldn't have liked to have been the person who built those walkways.
These are called Dos Hermanos (Two sisters)

And again, you never know what you're going to get when you ask someone else to take the picture. A little blurry ... and where'd that dove come from? ;) Note the fashionable poncho.

There were a few critters I saw in the park. I believe this one's called Coates, but don't quote me on that. He looks like an anteater but apparently will steal food right out of your hand if you're not looking. Good thing this is the only one I saw.

This beautiful butterfly was my friend for quite awhile. At one point I had 3 on me and people around me were calling me "the butterfly lady."

I'm not exactly sure what this guy is, but he pretty much looks like a cross between a gopher and a guinea pig to me.
I really enjoyed my day at the falls. I was planning on going back the next day as well, but when I woke up it was POURING again so I decided against it and did some email, watched TV and read that day.
The day that I was to leave it cleared up a bit so I went and sat out by the pool for about an hour ... before it started ... guess what ... pouring again.

Now I see how brochures can make places look nicer than they are. haha Now I'm headed back to Bue.nos Air.es. Will Leana and her family join me? You'll just have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rosario, AR and last day at the Janzen's

Leana and I dropped the girls off at her friends place and took off for the 3rd largest city in Argentina, Rosario. Doug and Leana lived in Rosario when they first moved to Argentina almost 9 years ago. It is a beautiful city where I again, managed to do some shopping. There are so many gorgeous buildings that I had to take a few pictures.

After doing a bit of shopping, we found a hair salon and got our hair washed and straightened for about $10 each. Nice! After walking the 12 blocks of shopping streets that are blocked off to vehicles (the 2 top pictures above), we ended up at the National Flag Memorial (below - don't we look great with our freshly straightened hair-dos?).

This is the eternal flame and the Flag Memorial.

Here are some pics from the top of the Flag Memorial.

Funny story. When we got up to the top we walked out to one of the little balconies and I can't remember what we were chatting about but you could see the 2 guys in front of us stop what they were talking about and look at each other. They slowly turned around and when they say us they let out a loud, "Aaaaahhhh!" We just looked at them with this blank look on our faces and finally they said, "You speak English! Where are you from? What are you doing here?" They were suddenly very interested in us. We talked to them for a bit and when Leana finally told them she had been living in Argentina for 8 years, another gentleman pipes in and says, "Aaah, she tricked you. She wanted you to think she didn't speak Spanish!" We all had a good laugh and then walked away ... until we came to the next balcony and there they were again. Let me tell you, Argentine men are not shy. He looks at me with my camera and says, "Take a picture of us" and he takes my camera and hands it to his friend. We're standing there laughing and just as his friend is about to take the picture, he says, "Heads together!" and pulls us in for the picture below. It was quite funny. They did ask us to go dancing that night but we had to tell them we were heading back home. Phewf!
I thought the beautiful purple trees looked gorgeous next to the Merry-Go-Round.

The Memorial from the front.

It took me many attempts to get this picture of the flag flying just right.

And another shot from the front (different angle) because I couldn't decide which picture I liked better.

Aaaaah, the purple trees.

We went inside this church and we almost part of an infant baptism until we realized what was going on and that it was just for family. Oops!

As we walked back to our car, I looked up and saw this sign! Of course we had to go inside and find the store. I walked in and said, "Me nombre es Fiona" (yes, I said it in Spanish) and they were so cute. They handed me a bag and a sticker right away. I ended up buying some earrings from them. :)

We had enough time to stop for a "little" snack. I thought this looked lighter then the chocolate cake so we got this and man, was it sweet. Layers upon layers of dulce de leche (which is very similar to caramel) and then meringue on top. I LOVE sweet things so if you hear me say something is too sweet, it's off the charts. I ate as much as I could but got at least half of it wrapped up to go.

I also tried to get myself a bottled water at this place. Leana had been speaking for me almost the entire trip since she's fluent in Spanish, which is great, but I wanted to see if I could fend for myself. You'd think asking for bottled water (agua) wouldn't be so hard, right? Wrong! I went inside the restaurant (we were sitting on the patio) and put in my order (saying agua and using a bit of sign language) and they nodded to me. I asked (in English) if I should wait there or go back to my seat outside (pointing) and they pointed to my seat outside. I went back and waited ... and waited ... and waited. Finally, the waitress came outside and Leana asked her in Spanish and guess what? I got my bottled water. That really surprised me! I've done a lot of travelling and have been able to get by with English and sign language, so to not be able to get my own water was a shocker. Thanks goodness Leana is fluent.
After our wonderful day together, we picked up the girls and headed home. This is their wonderful home.

It's brand new and quite big. I forgot to get a picture of their huge backyard.

We did nothing the next day except sit in the sun and chat. It was great ... until it was time for me to pack. :( Doug came home that night and we all went out for supper.

Argentina is known for their bbq, so it was fitting that I had one of the best steaks ever that night. Look how thick it is!

We took a few last pics together ...

and I took a couple of their family when we got home ... sometimes dogs just don't cooperate. :)

There we go! Much better. What a beautiful family.

Leana drove me back to Rosario at 2:45 in the morning because my bus left at 4:30 (it's an hour drive) and off I went back to Bue.nos Air.es to catch a plane for the next 3 days of my adventure.
Bye Lea! At this point I was hoping I'd see the whole family again in Bue.nos Air.es before I flew out, but we weren't sure.

Stayed tuned for my solo adventure at Igu.azu Falls.