Showing posts from December, 2011

Crying Airport Batting Average

I have a few tricks that I do so that I don't cry at the airport back from my early twenties. Back then, I'd cry the entire hour and a half flight home from Vancouver. Anyway, I'm not battling a very good average for not crying. Yesterday I had a friend drop me off - we were early and needed to eat breakfast so he came into the airport with me. BIG MISTAKE. Number one rule is that I cannot say goodbye in an airport. I thought I would be fine. I even put on makeup.

The goodbye scene wasn't pretty. I sort of made it through security and sort of didn't look like THAT much of a mess. But once I got through security, I had a full blown ugly cry in the corner (of the new Edmonton airport! It's super nice!), called a friend, calmed down for a bit, got a super nice goodbye text message from a family member, cried again, and then walked my butt over to Starbucks, which seemed to do the trick. Thankfully.

My babyness for the airport goodbyes is something I don't th…

Leaving On a Jet PlanE...

...and I really don't know when I'll be back again! (I have a wedding in September, but my 2012 plans are truly and completely up in the air.)
I am SO happy and feel so much better that I was able to get here earlier for my grandpa's birthday. I am SHOCKED that I was able to keep it a surprise!!!

Christmas always seems like such a whirlwind. Between jetlag, climate adjustment (although I was SO lucky this year!), doctors, dentists, fitting in quick visits with friends and family... coming back to Canada hardly feels like a vacation, but there is definetly something that I get from the chaos and weird sleeping patterns and quick visits that I need. Last Christmas I was a disaster and even though I've been running around, sleeping and waking up at odd times, spending way too much money, I'm so happy I came back this year.

Now off to part two - Montreal and then Quebec City for a few days!

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas from Canada!
And back in Madagascar,
In Malagasy, Tratry Ny Krismasy! In French, Joyeux Noël! In Filipino, Maligayang Pasko! In Korean, Sung Tan Ghuk Ha! In Japanese, Merii Kurisumasu! 
(Phew! I didn't realize how diverse our group was at work until I wanted to make a Christmas banner (Vistaprint is super cool, by the way!)).

Disneyland Paris Pictures

I'm finally getting around to posting my pictures from visit to Disneyland Paris.

This is the entrance. Does it look full of magic and wonder???

I kept walking. The further I got into the park, the more it looked Disney-esque. But still pretty blah.
This gave me heart palpatations...but I had already spent 50€ to get there, so I thought this would be my Christmas present to myself? (I guess I haven't been good this year....)

Okay, looking more and more like Disneyland...but still, it was missing like, the je-ne-sais-quoi of the Disney spirit.

So I brought (and bought) a little Disney magic of my own. A mere 40€ later, and I got to look super cool.
Yes. I was by myself. And yup! I looked special. But hey, when in Rome Disneyland!
I walked around a bit (ie: got lost) and came upon Adventure Land. First area - Pirates of the Carribean.
I look like I'm having fun, right??
This ride was actually cool!! And virtually zero waiting time.
One day I'll learn how to use my camera pro…

Redneck Doctor

I had my regular doctor's appointment scheduled yesterday (which worked out perfect because I was up sick the night before). It's really hard to find a family doctor in Alberta - we certainly have a shortage. Luckily, my grandparents found a great doctor in a town near where they used to live. It's a small town about an hours drive away - but it's SO worth it. She's smart, listens to all of my worries, tells me to stop using "Google" so much, and takes the time to explain anything to me. For that, I'm grateful.

But having this restaurant beside the Medical Clinic, makes me feel like I'm part of the "You might be a redneck" jokes from Jeff Foxworthy. Anyone remember those?

That would be the "Hungry Hunter Restaurant & Dining Room". It was a good laugh for the day. I just wish I could have got a picture of the wild animals on the side. :)

Guide to Expatdom - In stores 2015

I’ve been an expatriate for a couple of years now.

Prior my expatriateness, I hadn’t left North America. I grew up very sheltered. In my adult life, I’m overemotional, I probably share too much information, I say the “F” word too often for a lady, I worry too much with results me struggling with anxiety, I am obsessed with chocolate, and I love my family and friends. And dogs.

This week a friend re-reminded me that I should write a book about expatriate life. Maybe not like a serious “I’m going to make money off this” book, but a for-fun book out on the internet. Since I’ve been feeling like writing lately but have nothing that I feel like writing about – I think this is a good idea. Now…just to find the time. I’m thinking….publication date of June 15, 2015.

Regardless if I ever wrote my pretend book on “Expatriateness”, I’ve come up with some potential chapters.
Chapter One: Preparation
There is no such thing as too much research on Culture ShockForget all you researched upon arriva…

My Canadian Boyfriend

..must be my dentist.

I spend more time with him than anyone else when I'm in Canada. I thought it was all over - I've been dealing with this stupid tooth for over five years and I think FINALLY, it's good.

This time, I thought I'd go in for a quick cleaning and a small cosmetic fix, and guess what?? He tells me that I grind my teeth. Oh, rrrrreally? Or is this just your way to get me into your office cause you know you're my real boyfriend to get me to spend a gazillion more dollars? (I'm pretty sure it's neither....I know I grind my teeth).

But how can I resist visiting his office when he gives makes me look sexy like this:
 ...and now like this, at least until my "permanent" non-teeth grinding aparatus is ready.
Let's hope my Malagasy boyfriend, Louis, doesn't mind going to bed every night with someone that looks like they're ready to enter the boxing ring...


For some weird reason, I've had this obsession about going to Disneyland Paris for the last year or so. No idea why. I went to Disneyland in the US ten-ish years ago. I had a good time but not SUCH a good time that I would go, like, in France. But still, I couldn't kick my desire to go.
So my thirty hour layover in Paris was the perfect excuse to finally put this to bed.

After I checked into my hotel, I went off on my own little adventure. It's pretty cold today....and rainy...but I dressed warm. (A little piece of me....wanted to stay back and go to the spa.)

First I had to buy my train tickets.  TGV and SNCF - I hate you guys. Seriously. The last time I used the trains in Paris was in November, and I actually had a fight with the ticket agent. This time was easier, but still kind of confusing. I kinda sorta thought I had figured it out... but, well, I guess not.

Good news - the train ride to Disneyland is only 10 minutes. Bad news - the return tickets cost 50€. Ouch.


If you are reading this post, I am so excited!! It means that I kept THE BEST surprise!!!

I was originally scheduled to leave Madagascar and get back to Canada on December 20th (it always confuses me how I'm flying for more than 24 hours, but somehow I make it to Canada the same date I leave Madagascar).

A few weeks ago, my grandma emailed me and told me they were renting a hall and having a big party to celebrate my grandfather's SEVENTY-FIFTH birthday!! The party was scheduled for the 18. Two days before I got there. These are the kinds of things that kind of make me sad when I'm here. I hate missing out on stuff that goes on back in Canada.

Anyway, I told my grandparents that I wouldn't be able to go because my tickets were already booked.

But the next day, I thought I'd just check to see if it was possible. Well, guess what!? I could change all my flights from Madagascar to Canada, still stay business class all of the way (I know, I know, I'm a princess!!)…

Happy Birthday

One of the harder things about working far away from home is the missed events, random get-togethers, and parties.

Tomorrow my grandpa is turning SEVENTY-FIVE!! My family is hosting a big bash at a nearby hall with a band and everything!! I know I'll see pictures, but it's just not the same. I know I'll be there for other birthdays...and events...and random get togethers...but I'll be missing everyone tomorrow. Hope they all have a drink for me!! (I'm partial to Mai-Tais at moment, if you really want to have one for me :P)

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!!!

Moving back to Camp Guantanamo

Well, I knew it was coming for some time...but that doesn't mean I like it.

Over a year ago, we moved from camp into the village. Our house was awesome.
We had two rooms, a living room, a kitchen, a nice big bathroom - and a washer and dryer!! This was a HUGE step up from living in camp.

This week we had to start moving.

Here's our new place. It's roughly 35 duplexes that have been divided into two different units - each unit contains four rooms and one common area. The houses are in a compound and we have a bar, swimming pool, cafeteria, and gift shop (okay, it's not a gift shop, but calling it that sounds so less prison like than calling it a "commissary"). It is patrolled twenty four hours a day and is fenced in with high metal fences with razor wire.

My new running route. In the Village, they had different loops. Now I'm back to running a circle over and over and over again.
 We have two rooms in the same unit.

We're using this one as our room.

Christmas Season

I don't know how many years it takes before it doesn't feel weird to see Christmas decorations when it's +35*C and sunny.

Independance Avenue has Christmas signs, the grocery stores have tacky garland everywhere and are playing Christmas songs, and just today, a mobile vendor (I have no idea what to call them - they hang around every store and sell sunglasses, dried fish, or watches) tried to sell me a mini santa suit or Santa hats. Toamasina is certainly experiencing the effects of having hundreds of foreigners moving into their city.

I hear Celine Dion signging Christmas music more often than I'd like (truth be told, I think more than 5 seconds is too much). But even driving around, it's like my eyes are seeing something that my brain can't compute.

Christmas Shopping

So.... it’s Christmas time. Which always gets everyone thinking about what gifts to get for whom. I have a few gifts for my staff and one other guy (Moose Poop Guy. But this time it’s Reindeer Poop. No, the joke is NOT getting old!!).  So here's my Christmas List

Louis’ driver We have a really good driver and last year I got Louis’ driver gifts for his children and we gave him money so that he could take his family to stay with his extended family, who live 3 hours away from Toamasina. Sort of good, but super smiley driver He is really friendly and smiles a lot (he was also crying in my office one day after he got reamed out by the expatriate that he drives for and he didn’t understand if he got fired or not) Driver I don’t really like and that isn’t reliable and kind of an ass But - his wife had a baby this week. I know, I know. He should be taken off my list. We shall see. Our Finace Driver Love this guy. No question, he needs a gift. It’s not like thousands of dollars I’m gi…

Trial and Error

So this “massage” I was talking about. All things Malagasy, I guess it wasn’t that horrible.

Olive Spa is where I got my first massage and I continued to go there for over a year. The massages started to deteriorate, so I quit going. I tried another spa, which was good at first, but again, the quality started to deteriorate – the masseur would rub one leg and forget the other, or have a cold and be sniffing the entire massage. And it was a good 45 minute drive which is hard to take after a long day ( due to very poor roads, its probably only a 10 or 15km drive).

A few months ago, we found The Calypso, which was pretty good! Until 100 000 MGA ($50 CAD) was stolen from Louis’ locker….so I thought we’d go back to the Olive Spa.

They had changed locations are now in a new building. The old building was kind of creepy, frequently lost electricity, but it was clean and I liked its atmosphere. There is a mosque down the road so whenever the power went out, candles would be lit and I could he…

The iTouch Incident

So….remember that iTouch? Uhh…yeah..

Well that entire day was kind of eventful. I spent parts of the day dealing with extremely frustrating stuff. Madagascar stuff, work stuff, personal (trying to get my money back) stuff, and the day ended with a ridiculous meeting. Combined with the day that I had, I was furious because one of the meeting attendees was disrespectful, condescending, inappropriate, and asked ridiculous, pointless questions. It’s so odd because outside of work this person is nice and friendly. At work - it’s a disaster. They become hostile and aggressive….almost attacking in nature. This person’s attitude wasn’t even directed at me, but I was so frustrated why some people are like this. Why don’t we work together to fix the problems instead of blaming (and laughing at!!!) the other party?? I actually left the meeting early. perhaps not my finest moment, but I was soon joined by two others.

This project, like any other, faces so many challenges and when I see behavior …


I know it's just a material thing. But I am like, REALLY attached to this thing. For running, for entertainment, for relaxing, for sleeping (the "Relax & Get to Sleep-type Apps are amazing). Yoga, Bootcamp, Movies, TV shows, reading,'s always with me.
I was pretty sure I brought it to work with me. I'm more likely to forget my phone. It goes with me everywhere.

I couldn't find it mid-morning. I thought maybe I'd left it at home. Then I thought that was impossible, so I cleaned my office. This is a big task. I am Queen of Paper Piles. I found a dead spider that somehow got trapped in the collection of pens, paper, nail polish (??), lip gloss, lotion bottles, sunscreen, sunglasses, VIA packages, and gum. No iTouch.

I came home. No iTouch. My iTouch is stolenlost missing.

The last time I lost one, I KNEW exactly where I'd left it (and I got it back some time later, Thank you Air Canada (I bet they don't hear that very often!!)). It just…

Kenya - February 2012

My December rotation hasn’t yet started but I’m already super pumped about my February rotation, which includes a few days in the United Arab Emirates visit with Louis, and then I’m flying to Nairobi for a mountain treck!!

For some reason, regardless that I’ve never been interested in mountain climbing or hiking, I’ve wanted to climb Mount Kilamanjaro. But the more and more I read about it, the less and less I’m sure I want to do it. Altitude sickness is a very serious thing and you can be like, whether you’re an ultra elite marathon runner or a out of shape office worker, you never truly know how it’s going to effect you until you’re up there. It’s kind of a cop out, but spending thousands of dollars on a vacation only to not climb the freaking mountain, kind of deters me.

So I found an option that is better suited for me. It’s still a bit of a stretch… I think it will have plenty of challenges, but I’m looking forward to it.

I get to Nairobi in the afternoon, I’ll spend the night i…

I live the life of a Rockstar

Working in Madagascar with the lemurs, travelling around the world every six weeks - business class none the less - well, it's nothing short of the life of a rockstar.

So I thought I'd post a few pictures of the week of my rockstar life.

Monday, I forgot my runners in the truck so I did a bootcamp workout I downloaded.

Wednesday I had a work supper that left me in a super cranky mood. It was a pretty fun night, but I was a little bitter that I was left to walk home in the PITCH black (I should have pushed the issue and got a ride home) and fell and got a scratch on my leg.
Thursday -  I went to bed with a little lizard. Bungalows on the beach? Open-concept hotels? I can deal with a lizard. My home? In my bedroom? I had visions of his running over my face or something. I tried to catch him but Louis thought I was going to kill him so he stopped me. Damn him.
Saturday I played tour guide to an Internal Auditor. We came across this gem. It's a zebu foot turned into a candy dis…

The Secret to Life - by Me.

I go through phases. Like everyone, probably.

But my phase right now has been, What's wrong with me and why aren't I blissfully happy?

Here's my own rant, and my own advice, to myself, and to anyone else that feels likes like they want to read my crazy tonight.

I've been looking at my life like some kind of calculus equation.

If,  x2+yx(z2) - 12 = maximized happiness.

x is?
y is?
z is ?

I've been feeling like I'm on some kind of quest to identify the variables, when, if I just sat back, instead of trying to solve the problem, the end answer of x, y, and z is: It Really Doesn't F*cking Matter (I really do think an Fbomb is warranted there).
As long as I continue to breathe, wake up, do whatever it is that I've been doing, everything else will work itself out. Cause that's how it's worked for the last 31 years and things have turned out pretty good.

(Can someone remind me of this when I'm having a meltdown in three days because [insert any…

Instruction Manual

I’m really tired, and when I’m really tired I’m partial to moodiness, crankiness (maybe that’s the same thing?), and just general weirdness.
Sometimes I’m not quite sure how to handle a working situation like this. I feel like my down time is becoming less and less. Should I continue with this expatriate lifestyle, I think I need to seriously consider becoming residential and not rotational. Yes, it means less holidays (like more than half!!!) but I might get a better quality of life. Residents work hours are 8h00 to 17h00, Monday to Friday, and they get all national holidays off (I think there are at LEAST twelve during the year). This would also mean that I don’t get to have all over the world holidays. Or if I do…it means that I pay for them myself. Which isn’t the end of the world. I took the option to work 6h30 to 18h30 instead of 7h00 to 19h00 (and actually fought for it!) so that I can get a run in a few times a week, but I’m still adapting to it. I’m just tired of being tired…