About Me

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A constantly curious and melancholic wanderer...

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Me and Mr X


 My favourite photos of the day of the Grumpy Little Bunny (this time I did manage to get some smiles - especially when we had an unexpected photoshoot in front of an abandoned old bulldozer... 



















Rubble Art

I picked up my camera again after my semi-fail earlier this week (one must always get back on the horse!) and decided to take photos of something that different this time. I love going for morning or afternoon walks with Xander.  Mauritius is such a beautiful country and we don't even have to walk far, to experience the beauty of nature all around us.  Unfortunately in most areas here in Mauritius, with the beauty, also comes the rubble.  I find this very sad and disturbing. 

And I guess then I do what I always do when I find something sad... I try to find some beauty in it....

So here goes:  Rubble Art Take 1
























The times they are a changin..

There are a few things that have drastically changed since I became a mom...
  • I killed the OCD-me and embraced the MESSY-me.  I used to feel so wonderful when my house was so clean that I could actually smell it (yes, I have a few screws loose I know), now I feel wonderful when I see the smile on a little boy's face as he spreads peanut-butter play dough all over the floor after leaving a trace off Lego blocks over the whole living room area.  I have a really messy house now, but I think it is a happy one.  
  • I almost never go to the bathroom alone anymore.  This was something to get used to, but if I go to the bathroom and leave Xander alone, he will be crying and wanting to know what I am up to behind closed doors or he might climb on top of a chair and reach for something and fall, or just create more havoc than you can imagine possible in a minute or two.  It's not so bad really, at least I have someone handing me toilet paper now...
  • I am never sure anymore when last I washed my hair, which leads to me washing it either everyday or possibly leaving it one day too long without washing.  I really try to remember, but it's like my brain is too full with routines, nap schedules, the next meal and a million opinions about how to discipline your child in a loving way, that it just decided to stop remembering the trivial things.  
  • I watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and especially the "Hotdog Song" on a daily basis.  
  • I stare for hours at the adventures of a little 14 month old boy and are amazed every step of the way.  I struggle to remember what I did with my time before I had Xander.
  • I shower with a toilet brush.  This one might sound very strange, but the only place that I can keep the toilet brush away from curious little hands (gross) is to put it in the shower and close the door.  So usually when I take a shower at night, I realize that I have company (gross again), but I am usually too tired to move it and besides, it makes me smile because I am reminded of those curious little hands.  
  • When I drive these days, I make animal sounds.  Or I dance like a crazy person, swaying my ponytail from side to side, singing to the top of my voice (oh wait, this one I might have done before)... This makes Xander laugh and there is nothing more beautiful in the world than the sound of his laughter.  
  • I spend part of my day in a cage.  We have a playpen for Xander and off-course the idea was that he would spend some time there on his own playing with his toys, while I prepare supper or clean the kitchen.  I mostly use it now to take a break from life, with a toddler climbing over me like I am mountain he needs to conquer, trying to send a message or two to family or friends (usually a failed attempt), usually just lying on the floor and watching him happily playing because he knows I am there, and smiling because at least the chaos is now restricted to a smaller area.  
  • I plan my life around naps, not mine (how I wish) and also speak in nap-terms in most of my conversations. "Yes, I will meet you after his afternoon nap", "No, he hasn't had his morning nap yet, so I couldn't look at your email yet."
  • I plan my day by dividing it in two parts:  things I can do when Xander is awake and things I can only do when he is asleep.  For now it seems to be working. For instance, I can shower, make my bed, clean the house etc when Xander is awake, but I cannot read from the Bible or respond to emails when he is awake.  Some days, I actually cannot even achieve the goals I set out for myself to do while he is awake, but who actually needs a clean house and to shower? 
  • 90% of the reading I do, is on how to be a better mom.  The rest of the reading is distraction-books to keep me from going insane from all the mommy-information.  
  • I use boxes not only for recycling, but also to make creative spaces and play tools for a inquisitive little boy.  I am a big fan of boxes. We eat in a box, draw and paint in a box, use a box for a push-car and make tunnels from boxes. 
  • I use the sink, not only to wash the dishes, but to calm down, entertain and distract this little boy at least two times a day.  Thank goodness we stay in Mauritius and I can do this even in the winter time.  
  • My husband and I used to have a date night every week, now we are thankful for a 30 minute coffee date in a busy week. 
  • We talk and laugh together even more than before, because we have a common interest that both of us get so excited about.  
  • We adjust our lives everyday around a little man's schedules, moods and preferences.  But we are okay with it, because we have so much fun together no matter what we do or how we do it. 
  • If possible I am even more in love with my husband than before.  I used to see his soft side only with me and now I get to see it with my other favourite little person and it just makes my heart and my knees week. 
  • I used to feel good after I exercised quite intensely for at least 5 times a week.  Now, I feel like I earned a medal if I did two good sessions a week.  
  • I used to be very strict with my diet and were what people would call a "health freak", now I eat a piece of (dark at least) chocolate everyday, just because I can and I feel I deserved it.
  • I used to drink a glass of wine or two per week, now I have one almost every night (except for at the moment, where I am actually fasting from alcohol for 40 days - what a bright idea right?)   
  • Most of the things I said I will never do when I become a mom, I have done a few times already or at least once out of desperation and I am okay with that too.
  • I sometimes blow-dry my shirt or pants to get rid of a few creases because I simply don't have the energy or time to change into something else (this doesn't always work).
  • I sit on the floor a lot. 
  • I eat scraps of left-over food throughout the day and some of it I find later in my clothes or in my hair. 
  • I jump like a frog, leopard crawl, go down slides and show my belly-button a few times in a day all to get that special smile I love so much. 
  • I used to love my life but now I absolutely adore it and I find it an even bigger adventure than before... (this does not mean that I think parenthood is easy, it is the hardest damn thing I have ever done).








Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Insomnia


The night was darker than it has been in a while...She enjoyed the comfort of it. It was the kind of darkness that you could feel and almost touch.  That complete darkness you can get lost in after a while. Where the world seems so different. Less real, but much more alive than when everyone else opens their eyes.

It reminded her of when she was little and used to wake up early in the mornings. When the dawn was still dyed dark and everyone was chasing chasms in their sleep. And her room looked different and the world was upside down and she saw these little specks of colours in the darkness. And the specks of colours formed pictures and the pictures formed stories... And those stories were woven into her dreams. 


Sometimes she would fall asleep again. But most of the time she would just continue to dream with her eyes wide open... 



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Die mooiste taal...

Soms moet ek net in Afrikaans skryf.  Al is dit net om geleende woorde te deel...

Ek praat so baie Engels, dink in Engels en lees baie Engels (die internet is vol Engelse artikels), maar die taal van my hart is en sal altyd Afrikaans bly...

"Die dag wat kom, sou sy lig gooi oor die vars jong spriete en stengels van die somergras wat al deur die geel winterstopsels gegroei het.  Daar was nuwe blare en bloeisels aan die bossies en bosse.  Die doringbome het al vars volblaartjies aan blink nuwe tyge.  Die landskap sou al somer-sag wees, en agter hulle in die riete het die skerp nuwe groei al deur die droë stele van die vorige jaar begin breek asof hulle haastig was, want hulle moes al die groei in een seisoen klaarkry.  Van die vinke wat hulle vroegaand so versteur het, het nog in die riete geslaap en hulle sou wel aan die stele hang, so naby moontlik aan hulle voltooide meesterstukke.  Op die vlakte voor hulle sou daar ander voëls slaap:  die luidrugtige dikkopkorhane, die kwartels en koestertjies in hulle knus holtes.  In die doringbome en taaibosse sal daar tortelduiwe wees en naby hulle sal `n laksman slaap.  Daar sal `n jakkals  êrens draf en `n rooikat, `n muishond en `n vlakhaas.  Pofadders en kapelle en akkedisse, geitjies en koggelmanders sal stram wag vir die son om hulle reptielbloed weer op te warm vir beweging, en daar sal bokkies wees op dun stelte - duikers, steenbokkies, springbokke."  
P.G. Du Plessis 
Fees van die Ongenooides

Eendag wil ek so skryf.  Eendag wil ek harte bekoor met my eie beskrywing van die dag wat ontwaak... En siele aanraak met hoe ek woorde wik en weeg en aanmekaar weef.

Mens mag maar droom.




New Adventures

I love photography... I love looking at beautiful photos.  This has always been a hobby of mine, but I have never had the confidence or the extra time to take it further. And to be honest, I have no skills.  I just shoot from the hip and hope for the best.

A few weeks ago, I decided to take up a photography course.  Unfortunately I was not able to complete it as my camera was only able to use automatic mode and this course is focused on how to use the manual mode on your camera.  This allows you to be in control of the photo you take instead of the camera being in control, but you need a lot more skill to understand your camera.  I decided to wait until we could buy a new camera (and hoped it wouldn't be too long) and then the photographer called me with a wonderful deal -  one of her friends selling her camera for very affordable and in very good condition.

So at the moment I am waiting to complete my course as soon as my instructor returns from her overseas trips, but I have decided to start my journey so long...

I found this awesome blog (Click it Up a Notch ) on photography for beginners and teaching you the basics of using the manual mode on your camera.

Here are 5 reasons to shoot in manual mode as well as the basics of shooting in manual mode.

I recapped some of the knowledge I got from my first lesson and learnt a few more things and then decided to try it out on my little model... Mr X.  Unfortunately he got up from his afternoon nap in a very grumpy mood, so the photos show a different face than the one you normally see. I thought of not posting it, but since I am trying to be more real - this actually points out the realities of parenthood.  Some days are very hard, for you and for your little one.  You both feel frustrated and you have no idea why... I did not figure out what bothered him in the end, but lots of kisses and cuddles and dances in between trying to prepare for supper and clean up a bit before my husband came home, did alleviate some of the intense feelings.

You will see that I am really still struggling with the aperture and shutter-speed combinations, but these photos were to play around with the settings and try to get the right feel...



One very grumpy little man.  His car (which is his walking aid at the moment) doesn't maneuver as easily outside as on the inside of the house, and this was in part what led to the expressions you see... (way too much exposure, but at least got a little bit of a blurry background)  



Life is hard when you are 14 months old... 


This one is heart-breaking... Those crocodile tears that I try to kiss away as much as possible. There wasn't much I could do about the background, but hopefully if I invest in a different lens, I will be able to get those blurred or" bokeh" backgrounds the photographer speaks about in her blog mentioned above.  



Even though this is probably way too much light, I do like the effect of it... Hopefully in time I will know how to use the light more to my benefit.  



This time he didn't enjoy the feeling of the bark as much as the previous time when he stood there for hours to play...
(Will have to find out why I got a red blotch in my photo, but probably something with focusing too much into the sun. Any professional photographers out there? Please give advice...) 



There he goes... 



Not a great photo as I did not focus enough on Xander, but just one to show that he does have a beautiful little smile... (which he thankfully shows a lot) 


I really need to cut the Wild One's hair... 



My last attempt to get a smile (fail), and then caught my own shadow in the photo.  I have a long way to go, but I took a first little step... Yay

Stay tuned for more failed attempts from me and the little grumpy bunny... 


So long and thanks for all the fish...

Today I decided to say goodbye to Facebook.  It is a scary and yet completely freeing feeling at the same time.  I eagerly await to see what I will be able to do with all the time that I used to scroll down posts of people who are really not my friends, but somehow through virtual reality we know way too much of each other's lives (this is not saying that some of my best friends are not on Facebook, but we actually have real conversations in the real world).

Here are some of the reasons that fueled my decision:  

  • First thing in the morning I used to wake up and think about the new day and what it will hold for me and thank God.  Now I scroll through posts to see what is new in other people's lives. 
  • I used to love reading and writing poetry, now I watch videos of dogs and cats and other ridiculous things.  
  • I hear way too many opinions of people who really don't understand things or care to understand things, but Facebook gives them a voice, so why not use it. 
  • I started linking my self-worth to the amount of likes my photos of posts get instead of finding it in the right places (again, in the real world).  
  • I am really tired of this "virtual fairytale" many people potrait their lives to be (me included I am sure).  We are not real enough on Facebook, because we are scared to be judged.  And in this very judgy world, I can't blame people.  But life is not always happy even though we only share the happy moments on Facebook.  And I think I can find more joy around me than trying to find it in other people's "happy moments".  
  • I am so scared that someday something wonderful will happen (or perhaps already happened) and I missed it, because I was looking at my phone instead of the world around me...







Friday, July 15, 2016

Port Louis

I am finding more and more that the things that bring me real joy has nothing to do with money... And I admit that often I am more fortunate than others in many ways, but I think that if I wasn't able to find joy in the small things, then the big things would not have impressed me.

Port Louis is  not for the faint-hearted, or for those who prefer luxury and comfort. And I am in love with this crazy and energetic city that is the heart of Mauritius.  Find some more information about it here.

So with my sister visiting, and her being stuck at home with me and a tiny baby on her previous visit, we decided to tackle this crazy city.

Things you need when you are going to Port Louis:
  • Comfortable shoes 
  • A ton of energy 
  • Your camera to capture the craziness 
  • Negotiating skills (or a very good escape plan) for the market
  • Time to explore 
  • An adventurous appetite 
  • Probably some sun-tan lotion on a normal summer day (as Port Louis always feel  a few degrees hotter than the rest of the island).

We took the local red-devil Triolet bus (the signs on the road doesn't say "Drive like hell and you will end up there" for nothing) to make the experience more authentic, although to be perfectly honest, the express bus is not as adventurous as the normal bus would have been (but does save about an hour on travelling time).  

We got of at the bus station and found our way out of there with some help (it is a very big bus station) and instantly discovered a market I didn't even know of before (and I've been to Port Louis quite a few times).  

I loved this market, being much more chilled than the regular (bigger) market and the people much less forceful in trying to sell their goods to you.  

First, I bought a few quail eggs from this old lady.  I had no idea what to do with them, but there she was sitting and selling only her handful off eggs for 5 rupees each. So having a weak spot for elderly people I bought a few. Thank goodness she put them in a plastic bag because they got crushed in my bag.  I do plan to buy them again in the future and then I will find a recipe to share as I have heard they are actually quite healthy and nutritious. 



Next up I bought some Chinese potatoes (allegedly - I cannot find any pictures of these specific ones on the internet, so maybe I misunderstood what I was buying) which you can apparently peal and eat raw.  I did not like the taste - a bit like raw potato.  But I am sure one of my local friends will be able to tell me what to do with it.  I did buy three for 8 rupees, so it is a bargain I guess.  




My sister being a bit of an apple-addict immediately spotted some delicious apples which served as our snacks and which were much cheaper than the ones I usually find in the supermarkets in Grand Baie.

Here are some more pics of this beautiful little market we discovered...



Market day can be tiring




Yummy veggies 



And in case you run out of underwear... 



The lastest fashion - Baymax Bags and with me and my husband's favourite line from the movie... 
(fist bump - ba lala lala)

So tiny market done and dusted, we moved on to the big market.  The one where you need the following skills: 
  • The ability to negotiate for a price, usually on a calculator. 
  • The ability to say no (sometimes it might be necessary to say this a hundred times, sometimes you just need to start walking away from the too-eager seller) 
  • Patience... Walk around a bit, compare prices at different shops and mostly smile and wave at all the people trying to convince you their shop is better.  

This time I didn't go to buy anything from the food or anything-you-can-think-of-to-buy section. We went to the food court where the smells are like everything in Port Louis - overwhelming, but inviting you to come in and have a taste... I always stop here to have a glass of this delicious drink called Alouda Pillay (which is like the Mauritian version of a milkshake I guess).  I never drink milkshake, so this is probably my diary intake for the next few months.  It consists of milk and Basil seeds and some flavouring, and often a scoop of ice-cream (you can read more about it here).  Again the competition is wild and there are many "Pillay Sellers" trying to convince you there mix is the best, but my personal favourite is just around the corner of the seller actually voted best in Mauritius (according t the certificate above their stand ) which taste like condensed milk and a sip of heaven.  





This guy took his job very seriously and he looked like a professional cocktail mixer, which just added to the excitement of the tasting to come.  



Yummy!! 

After this we made a quick stop at the veggie section, mostly for admiring the vegetable art works and the wonderful explosion of colours and scents...  








One of the things that I love most about Port Louis is the "old city" feeling you get while walking and driving through the streets.  There are all these beautiful buildings, which other people might see as dirty and run-down, but that I find just beautiful and vintage enough to make me wander back in time with every step I take.  And then combined with this rustic look, colourful splashes catch your eye everywhere,  with brightly painted walls and grafitti, and people selling their goods on all the street corners.



Beautiful in blue...
 (contrasted with beauty is unfortunately all the rubble) 




Colourful shoes hanging from a stand... 




These colourful notes were hanging on a tree branch inside a little Catholic church.  The writing was in French/Kreole, but what I could figure out with my limited  French is that it was notes of happiness/thankfulness.







Some interesting grafitti can be found in these streets... 



Love this shop's name and the colour blocking  (pun intented)... 



Some touches of yellow to brighten grey days...



One of my favourite photos of the day:  the old together with the new in the back and then the beautiful sky in the background... 



There are enough coloured walls in Port Louis to match any outfit of the day... 


My other favourite thing to do in Port Louis is people watching.  The variety (and quantity!) of people seen in the city can provide you with hours of entertainment and if you are like me, musings about the lives and  the joys and sorrows of those souls around us... 




This guy was playing some music and we sat on the stairs and listened to him for a bit.  



This gentleman was not happy about the change I put in the musician's hat and the fact that I then didn't have any change left for him... 



This little guy seems to have it all figured out at a very young age :) He also looks like he might be the lost Mauritian Beckham child.  




Chilling over lunchtime on the steps of the Postal Museum... 
(by the way the Postal Museum is apparently really worth a visit, but was unfortunately closed when we arrived.  We also discovered a Shell Museum  which looked very interesting, but was also already closed... So if you are into museums, check out the links before you visit. 




This photo doesn't do enough justice off the craziness of the streets of Port Louis, so just take my word... It is crazy!




Bus drivers taking a break at the main bus terminal.

Even though we did not sit down for lunch on this trip (had a big brunch at home and packed lots of snacks) there are plenty of spots to find tasty lunch.  Besides the street food, which come in little cabinets (think mini fridges) and includes all the classics like Roti, a very tasty pancake like snack filled with the filling of your choice (I love the veggie filling with butter beans and a tomato or pumpkin sauce), or Dal Puri which is very similar to Roti, but with the added taste of split peas in the flour.  Or you can find a filled sandwich at the vendors where they cook the meat in a kebab style (the smells are amazing) or the smaller snacks like gateau piment (little chilli cakes), samoosas etc.  There is just so much variety.  For a bigger meal, the Briyani cafe at the back of the big market (ask around and you will be pointed in the right direciton) is amazing and if you feel brave you can sit inside the cafe (at the smallest table with two or three chairs) for a real authentic experience.  Remember to then drink water out of a bottle with your lunch like all the Mauritians do. If this is not your scene, China Town is filled with lots of restaurants selling amazing Chinese food at real affordable prices.  

After hours of exploring the city, usually with no coffee (it is very hot in Port Louis and there are not a huge variety of coffee shops - well not in the traditional sense of the word), I usually like to feel "civilized" again and have a coffee at the definitely overpriced waterfront. The view is amazing and you can sip on your cup of coffee while thinking back on your adventures and looking at all your cheap finds of the day...  


Beautiful views at the Waterfront 





Love how this juice bar uses the fresh fruit as decoration...







One of my favourite things of the Waterfront... walking under these colourful umbrellas.



We ended off the day with coffee and macaroons at Arabia Gourmet Cafe and then headed back to the North. (Be sure to get an instant souvenir pic at Makadam Phylozophy, with his little stand at the beginning of the umbrella street.  And check out his work on Facebook here.)


That's all on our Port Louis adventures for now.  What a crazy, colourful place indeed...