Sand Through My Toes

My big adventure in the sand

Back to the Sand…..

and not the sand that allows for basking in the sun or frolicking in the crystal clear blue waters (with water shoes on, of course!).  Seventeen days pass by so quickly yet when I was preparing to leave, seventeen days seemed to drag on and on….but then again, I guess that happens when you are so excited to get somewhere and then apprehensive to leave.  Heading back with fantastic memories of fun times with family and friends.  Albeit to short, and not enough time to see everyone, it was great to have the chance to chat for a moment, have a drink to catch up, and/or a bite to eat with a beverage :-), and best of all, to spend quality family time with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. Although we didn’t make it to a Waffle House, Dairy Queen, or to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, there were plenty of laughs, ball games, skate board riding, goofing around, shopping, hanging out at the pool, and eating delicious meals. Shrimp/Scallop Dinner   Enjoying Shrimp Pasta, Shrimp, Scallops, and a cold beer with Dad and Dee.  Off to the airport….. 

Okay, best not to poke your niece, I get it now!!

Okay, best not to poke your niece, I get it now!! No poking!

I am a nice person, why does my new niece look so scared?

I am a nice aunt, why does my new niece look so scared of me?

The follow through was great, A BASE HIT!!

The follow through was great, A BASE HIT!!

Don't worry Mom, I got my bag after a tough loss -- 3-2!

My nephew and my sister..  “Don’t worry Mom, I got my bag after a tough loss — 3-2!”

Yes, my 15 year old nephew is taller than I am!!  WHAT???

Yes, my 15 year old nephew is taller than I am!! WHAT???

My brother, supposedly the photographer but truly the ham!

My brother, supposedly the photographer but truly the ham!

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Back to Reality… Stateside

Welcome Aboard

Welcome Aboard – Majesty of the Seas

Yes, reality from cruising the ocean blue to reality of another 9 days of vacation! A fantastic three days cruising towards Coco Cay with a day at Nassau in the Bahamas. On the ship, loved having a sea view room even though not in the room long enough to enjoy it!  But the short time in it getting ready, nice to see the sea!  Plus, my stateroom was decked out 

Welcome to Your State Room, enjoy chocolate covered strawberries!!

Welcome to Your State Room, enjoy chocolate covered strawberries!!

with a belated “Happy Birthday” sign on the door, birthday banner, and to boot, chocolate covered strawberries along with red velvet cupcakes!   Thanks Dad and Dee for a true post birthday month celebration!!

Familiarized ourselves with the ship on Friday, enjoyed a beverage on the upper deck for our bon voyage wave, participated in a game of Bingo (damn, no luck), super dinner and then off to the casino for a bit of gambling — nope, not my day for winning!!  Saturday was a day at our private island, Coco Cay — you would think if a bird shit on my hand and sprayed a bit of it on the side of my face while I was eating lunch, I would have some good luck — well, I am throwing that theory out the window b/c once again at Bingo and in the casino later that evening, lost again at both!!  Sunday, since my best friend and I had already done Atlantis on Paradise Island, we opted to be true tourists and shop a bit (came back with nothing — oh sorry, one item) and enjoy the atmosphere of Senor Frogs!  Ah, to taste “The Yard” of beverages and bop around to the dance music, always a good time!! 

Thirsty - needed not just one yard but two yards!

Thirsty – needed not just one yard but two yards!

I had a wonderful time with my parents and my best friend and only wish it could have been a 7 day adventure at sea! Here a few pics of the three days……

Love a lighthouse to help guide the way, plus the crystal clear blue water!

Love a lighthouse to help guide the way, plus the crystal clear blue water!

So many to foo foo drinks to choose from, which one should I drink first??

So many foo foo drinks to choose from, which one should I drink first??

Relaxing outside Senor Frogs!

Relaxing outside Senor Frogs!

Ah, the ferry back to the ship!

Ah, the ferry back to the ship!

Damn, her tan is better than mine! Next summer......
Damn, her tan is better than mine! Next summer……

Ah, to be home……

After three solid days of wonderful traveling (please do read with sarcasm), I am finally home and believe that I have conquered the jet lag!  The 14 hour flight across the globe wasn’t too bad as I had the whole row to myself — able to use the extended strap on the seat belt to keep myself safe and secure during the flight while I laid out and slept off and on for the majority of the flight :-).  Caught my next flight and it was a flight from hell — two rows from the back of the aircraft — but that wasn’t the bad part, the storms that the pilot had to maneuver through were horrific!  Bumpy, bumpy, and did I mention, bumpy for the majority of the flight! AARGH……..   my Fresca went flying off the table and got this prissy lady sitting in the diagonal aisle seat nice and sticky — sorry prissy lady!

I have been able to spend great quality time with my parents, two of my three siblings, meet my new niece (okay, 8 1/2 months old but new to me), do a bit of shopping, and enjoy some great tasting home cooked food!  I can already tell that it will be difficult to head back but knowing that my time is limited makes it all the better!!  My best friend arrived  yesterday and we are off this morning heading to the port to sail the ocean blue!  Can’t wait to relax on the seas, have a drink, see a show, have a drink, eat at the Captain’s table (oh yeah, we’ll get there – maybe??), have a drink, hit the slots, have a drink, and hey, possibly win at bingo again! Yep, thirsty just thinking about it 🙂

Great to be stateside so far for 4 wonderful days — sorry, no pics at this time, but after the cruise!  Happy Weekend to all….

 

 

 

Soon, Very Soon…… Leaving on a Jet Plane

at least trying to get on one!  The journey for my R & R begins tonight at midnight when I need to call to verify if the flight I signed up for is still a go.  When I get that confirmation, that is really when the trek home begins.  One sleep over at my first stop in country, then off to another country for another sleep over, and then hopefully on a commercial flight heading home.  After re-reading what I just wrote, it makes the journey seem rather fluid and easy — from friends who were wiser that actually took their leave around the sixth month mark would have a hell of a story to tell about their sleep overs and connections.  But, along the way, did mention they met some great folks — so that is a perk! 

Many fun things planned while home but seriously just can’t wait to be with family and friends!  Cruising on the ocean blue, a baseball game or two, a seafood place aptly named “Kelly’s Landing Seafood Restaurant”, meeting my new niece (okay, she’s almost 8 1/2 months old but new to me),  a bit of shopping, and yes, a nice cold beer and a glass of red wine — can’t wait!!  Oh yeah, sand too but with waves crashing at my “water shoes” covered feet.

A big thanks to Trish, Susan, Carrie, and Jennifer for heading to my place and “shopping” in my closet for some clothes to send my way — gotta love Face Time!  Didn’t even think about not having a single thing in the states and obviously I am not in shorts or short sleeved shirts here!!  🙂 Krista, your rolling duffel backpack is making another trip around the globe — gotta love duct tape to help keep the wheels in tact — sorry friend!!  Don’t fret, keeping it light — backpack and a rolling duffel suitcase with a sleeping bag, fitted sheet and fleece blanket neatly packed away — how far I have come in my packing abilities!! 

Off to have a photo taken for Pat’s Shadow Run — ah, another organized event for a great cause! 

One rolling duffel backpack and a backpack --- love traveling light!!

Ah, traveling light — one on the back, one being pulled!  

 

Sleeping Bag a necessity in the duffel backpack!

Sleeping Bag a necessity in the rolling duffel backpack!

 

Believable :-) and Unbelievable :-0

Why does time move so slowly when something wonderful is looming on the horizon?  After eight months and 21 days, I can finally see the light shining on my packed rolling duffel bag and backpack,  and my name on the Space A flight (hopefully I’ll get a seat) out of here to begin my trek to the States.  Although it will roughly take between three to five days to get there, I can already smell the ocean breeze, feel the warmth of the sun on my body, the taste of a cold Yeungling on my lips, and all the sales at the shopping mall!  Oh wait, I mean the excitement in the eyes of my family and friends seeing me after such a long time!  🙂 Can’t wait to see everyone!!

For the unbelievable, my students were all on time after lunch when I walked into my classroom.  They were all actually working diligently without any instruction b/c they remembered what they were tasked with prior to lunch dismissal.  As I stepped through the doorway, I stopped in my tracks and stared at my student that sits in the neutral seat at the table.  I expect to see nuts and tea on the table after lunch. No biggie if it doesn’t interfere with the lesson.  But today, what I am so dumbfounded about?  Well, Mr. Neutral opted for a Krombacher in the middle of the day in lieu of his tea!  I started laughing and told them not to move so I could go get my camera. I laughed so hard I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  So, the posed picture is just that, posed.  The all natural photo is truly him working with his beer in arms reach!  I NEED A BREAK!!!

Take my picture teacher, I am thirsty too!

Take my picture teacher, I am thirsty too!

Who needs tea after lunch when you can drink a beer?

Who needs tea after lunch when you can drink a beer?

Juma Fun – Flying High!!

Let's take a ride to make sure everyone gets their mail!

Let’s take a ride to make sure everyone gets their mail

A friend of mine told me that a great personality can get you many things that you would like and I must say, I agree with him! I was fortunate enough to meet a few helicopter pilots that transport passengers and mail — yes, mail!   They were asking me what have I been able to do since I have been here and I stared at them dumbfounded as though every day is a journey outside the wire to see the sights.  So, they were kind enough to manifest me on their trip to Farah to get the mail delivered.  You could say that I was overwatch for the mail, the pilot/co-pilot and I assume load master (sorry, don’t really know what his official title is).  They had me ensure that the bungee cord was securely keeping the important packages in place — truly though, to make sure that they didn’t jostle about and fall into my lap.  🙂

Flying in a plane can be a great experience, especially if the passenger next to you is friendly and may want to play travel scrabble, but there is something about being in a helicopter that is so exhilarating.  Watching the pilots doing their cross checks, starting the blades to get the bird humming and just sitting there for two minutes waiting for them to warm up (I really don’t know why, but it sounds good), and not propel forward but lift up off the ground and somewhat hover as you get ready to begin the mail run!  The helicopter shakes and rattles and hums and shakes some more as you sit and wait for lift off.  The headphones that they wear — you think it’s all business with those covering their ears — think again!  It was fun to laugh with them as I had the pleasure of listening in and yes, adding my two cents to their banter.  All in all, they appreciated having a witty (yes, they did say witty) sarcastic, sports enthusiast passenger on the two hour round trip journey to Farah to unload the mail!  When we returned, we headed over for a quick bite for lunch and they did say to come again anytime on the mail runs as it is nice to have “a scent of a woman ” on board!  How sweet is that? 🙂 

Farah is the home of the Citadel of Alexander the Great.  I wasn’t able to hop off and tour the grounds but if you have a zoom feature when you click on the picture, you may be able to see the ruins of the fortress.  The Citadel was a stop along the Silk Road between Persia and India back in the day! The other pics show the landscape of this country — mountainous terrain (I do have to say at one point I thought we were heading right for the peaks of the mountain, but nope, just scaled right above them — I did have an “Oh Shit” moment while watching us approach the mountain ridge!!), our battle buddy in the sky, and a neighborhood in the desert!  Enjoy….  I must say that I did have a fun filled morning on Juma!  

The ruins of the Citadel of Alexander the Great

The ruins of the Citadel of Alexander the Great

Just in case, Huey's fly with a Buddy
Just in case, Huey’s fly with a Buddy!

Boy, I am thirsty....can I find some water?
Boy, I am thirsty….can I find some water?

And your address is.......

And your address is…….

Nope, Not the Same Ole Day in the Sand…..

Even though not in Germany, still get my sign!

Even though not in Germany, still get my sign!

Today is a unique day – yep, not my regular groundhog’s day b/c so much is being packed in to today!  I can’t quite recall a time when I celebrated my birthday in the sand – well, there were a few years that b-day festivities took place at the beach – with co-workers, acquaintances, and students, and not my family or my overseas family and friends!! Having a wonderful b-day sign to enjoy, a special b-day party hat, party hats for others, balloons, and b-day plates and napkins made for a great start to the day!  Worked out, taught for a bit, had lunch with a few Special Forces acquaintances who are going to take me the range, enjoyed a spiced chai tea latte’, and opened my presents that came in the mail!  I love all my goodies and can’t thank you enough for thinking of me and sending gifts my way!! Below you can see some of the items that I received 🙂.

 
Tonight a group of us will head over to the Italian Pizza place for dinner and then we’ll enjoy some cranberry juice while envisioning pouring some vodka in it to truly enjoy its taste and toast to my day!  Look forward to next year when I can actually have an adult beverage to celebrate my birthday.  Thank you to my fantastic friends in Germany who are heading out to the Klein Konig to have an Andechs in my honor – look forward to skyping with you when you are there, plus celebrating once again upon my return! 
 
Here are few pics from the day!  My students seemed to enjoy singing Happy Birthday to me and especially enjoyed the oatmeal raisin cookies that were consumed in place of birthday cake which is hard to come by here!  But my acquaintance James at the DFAC, he hooked me up with my b-day cookies!!  Ahh, friendliness pays off  🙂 which reminds me, check out the pic of one of my presents – and thank goodness Linus and I share a bond with our special blanket because we both agree on being Outrageously Happy!!  You all have made my day just that and I can’t thank you enough for making my Birthday in the Sand a memorable one!
Friends know me well :-)

Friends know me well 🙂

 

 

Love all my goodies -- from decorations to tv series to sportswear to a happy place in my mind!!  THANK YOUI!

Love all my goodies — from decorations to tv series to sportswear to a happy place in my mind!! THANK YOUI!

 

 

 

 

Love Linus -- if only we both could have our blankets with us!

Love Linus — if only we both could have our blankets with us!

Birthday Photo with Students

Birthday Photo with Students
Birthday Photo with Students

 

Only Day Off….

of the week and spent it at the neighboring compound enjoying the “1st Annual Sports Day”. (Internet has been extremely finicky, so read this as if it was last Friday)   Although an extremely long day, all the students and  other participants had an athletic fun-filled day with the opportunity to participate in soccer (football if you will), volleyball, basketball, ultimate frisbee, horseshoes, and corn hole!  Added bonus, mid-day, hamburgers and hot dogs were on the grill although it took a bit of convincing the students that hamburger was not made from pork — but stay away from the hot dogs, not so sure what’s inside those dogs! 🙂

Our students signed up for soccer (in the yellow jerseys), we had a volleyball team, a few playing corn hole even though that was new to them, and a few for horseshoes.   Yes, both teams for soccer and volleyball kicked ass and came in 1st place for each event.  One photo below shows their excitement on the soccer field and the group shot was taken at the end of a very long day! (Have been trying for an hour to download a volleyball pic, no such luck).  Although our compound took first place in two events, it wasn’t enough to secure the first ever Commander’s Cup of Sport’s Day!  Maybe next time………..Soccer Fun???
The Future Pilots

To be in Paris……

Although I can’t recall exactly when the Paris 1/2 Marathon first weekend in March tradition began for my friends and I in Europe, it sure does elicit wonderful memories! Not quite Paris  The first weekend in March has been a time to leave school right at the end of the duty day, head to the airport to hop on a cheap 99 Euro flight straight to Charles de Gaul, navigate our way through the subway system, and pop up right at our hotel when we exit the station!  Tasty meal that evening at the restaurant caddy corner to our hotel and a few beverages to boot and then call it a night.
The excitement of Saturday as we all headed to the Parc de Flor to pick up our race number and souvenir t-shirt (who cares that one year I wanted to take the “scenic route” along the waters edge that doesn’t quite make it to the gathering point for runners) which should roughly take 15 minutes to get there, yet ended up on quite the scenic route through the wooded area by Grandma’s house and 45 mins. later, we arrive — thirsty and cursing my name b/c we will be running part of the same route tomorrow!!  Photo ops, fun, and then it’s off to  sightsee, sit at a cafe and enjoy two glasses of wine, and head home!  Sunday morning, up and adam, quick breakfast at the hotel, down to the subway to join all the other 20,000 anxious runners, and forge your way to the starting point.  The starting gun is shot, and we stand there — yes, stand there, why you ask?  Well, we aren’t running to place in the top 3, so we are in the “pink section” indicating that we’ll finish between 2:15 and 2:30 mark :-)…  about 4 mins. later, the crowds begin to move forward and we are off……not quite to the start line yet, but to jog to the start line to make sure we hear “beep” as our feet cross the checkpoint!   

Lauf Kelly Lauf....I am not sure how many participants there are this year but I wish you all the best of luck and hope that the weather is like our first year running!  Sunshine and just about 60 degrees!  In your honor, I wore my old Paris shirt and ran a 10K instead of the entire 1/2 Marathon!  Can’t wait to hear about the weekend — sure you all had a fantastic time!!  

A TRIFECTA!!! 28th of the Month……

An update with three wonderful events!! 🙂
Event #1 – Feb. 28th
Thirteen select pilots have graduated in the first graduation class of 2013! My Three Grads
I am so very proud of all the students that accomplished this feat
along with those students that are still hitting the books to reach their goal.
Three of the graduating students started out in my classroom last August
and are now receiving their English Language Diploma.
Here they are – Hamid, Amani, and Shirzada – I am one proud teacher!!
Event #2 – March 28th
Just in case it has completely slipped your mind, it is MY BIRTHDAY in one month!  Yes, one month until I will celebrate with no carrot cake, no alcoholic beverage, and no Indian food.  At least I will remain sober and I know that my mom is smiling about that one!  But, please feel free to head out to The Ratskellar and enjoy an Andechs in my honor!  I promise to buy a round for those of you around in August when I return. 🙂
Beer and Beach
                           Not quite an Andechs nor my beach at home but sure did enjoy myself on this vacation a year ago!!
Event #3 – July 28th
I AM COMING HOME!  YEAH WOOH, YEAH WOOH, YEAH WOOH! Five fabulous months until I am back on my home turf with family and friends!  I look forward to my life returning to a non groundhog’s day status and sharing this wonderful experience with those that want to hear about it, and/or possibly see it, too!

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