Thursday, October 25

4 Passport Stamps Later....

So it has taken me long enough to get this post on, sorry about that! I know there are a few people in particular I have kept waiting, and again, I apologize. The only problem is... where to start! It was an action packed, relaxing, beach loving holiday in the Spanish sun along the Costa Del Sol. As you can see, I was thinking about all of you while I was on the beach of the Mediterranean... so you should feel very special!! I first stepped on to Spanish soil with my nose in my Spanish phrase book, you know- so I could socialize with the locals. One phrase I used a lot was habla english? And on the plane ride there, 2 and a half hours, i taught each of the kids a phrase to say to their mum when we arrived. Gemmas was this, "Donda Esta La Playa?" which translates to Where is the beach? and Callums phrase was Ares Muey Guapa" Which says "you are very attractive". Now these phrases are coming from memory so if any of you speak Spanish and notice any spelling errors on those words... just sound it out or something ha ha. Cause anybody that knows me knows that wherever there is a sentence (made by me) there is a spelling error! Thank goodness for the age of spell check!

So we arrived in Sevilla late Wednesday night, and in the morning went touring around a bit. Now I have to admit that prior to this experience, I was not in the least bit interested in Spanish culture. But now that I have seen Spain and how rich the culture is and how amazing everything is there, I have this overwhelming desire to learn to speak Spanish.

This is the slide show for Sevilla, I took a gazillion pictures to try and capture how incredible it all was, but I still don't think I did it justice! Just push play.


After Sevilla, we drove through the beautiful Spanish countryside down to the beach where we were staying. These are a couple pictures I took on the drive, and in Rhonda- the city we stopped into to get some grub!

Anybody else think that the Spanish countryside looks very similar to Utah? I did. The mountains are very much the same and so is the basic landscape. Now if only Utah had a beach...

this lake was so blue, Sarah and I went trespassing just to get a picture, right over a barbed wire fence and padlocked gate. I was waiting for old Spanish guys with scraggly beards and blood hounds to come chasing us with their shot guns screaming Spanish profanities. Luckily for us though, that didn't happen!This is what Rhonda is most know for, the gorge and the bridge. It was a fabulous sight!We were very lucky because the weather was in our favor the whole time we were there, beautiful sunshine and perfect temperatures! If you want to see some pictures of the beach and of around the place I stayed, click play on the next slide show!

One of the days we were there we went to Selwo Adventures, which is similar to Out of Africa in Arizona... if any of you have ever been there. I can't think of another way to describe it because it's not exactly a zoo, it has great animals in natural habitats. There is even a safari you take in a big safari truck with a mad (crazy) driver who goes way to fast and spins the tires on the edge of cliffs. It is set up in the mountains over about 3 levels and provides amazing views over the seaside. There is also a Selwo Marina, which was also really neat, and the following slide show is all my pictures of both parks!



We also went to a place called Mijas, which was very beautiful. It is a completely white city built up on a hill, and it looks stunning from a distance.
This is the view from Mijas facing the Sea. Again...wow.
We went to a bull fighting ring...and it was neat! This picture was taken in the stands, and if you look closely and notice the numbers I am sitting in between are 19 and 20... any


On Sunday I happened to run into a guy who does these tours to Africa, Tanger Morocco to be more specific. Sarah and the kids had already done the trip a couple times and didn't really care to do it again. I, on the other hand, was excited out of my mind just to be able to see the African continent from Spain- which you could do on a clear day. Sarah assured me that the trip was totally safe, and she wouldn't hesitate to go by herself... so based on that I ran with the opportunity to to go to Morocco, by myself. A tincy wincy little fact I neglected to tell my parents until after I got back... you know, I just didn't want them to worry!

So the pictures aren't that impressive, but that is because I didn't feel like pictures could capture the scenario as well as my video camera could- so I spent most of my time there behind that lens. Since I am still struggling with technical difficulties when it comes to getting video from my camera to my computer, there is no video to show you...yet. But when I finally get it all sorted, I will put up lots and lots of good stuff! Morocco was simply wonderful though, I met these two couples that were about in their 50s that adopted me for the day. They were soooo incredibly nice and really made the whole experience enjoyable! I was really nervous about going over there by myself, but once I was with them I felt completely at ease. Seriously, I don't know what I would have done without them! One of the first things we did when we got there (now this is all with the tour group) is go and have a traditional Moroccan meal in a traditional Moroccan tent, with authentic Moroccan music, belly dancers, and traditional dancers as well. After that I rode on a camel, and so did my adopted mom and grandma. Then we went to what is known as the Hercules caves- which photo is at the beginning of the slide show. What is cool about that picture is that it is a mirror image of Africa in the rock, with Madagascar even included in the corner. Its "natural" supposedly, but I am sure there has been some human efforts somewhere in there to make it look exactly like Africa.

After that we moved on to the "old town", which is where most of my pictures were taken. It was nearly impossible to stop and take a picture for two reasons. One being the fast pace of the group walking through the streets and me not wanted to get separated from them, for obvious reasons. And secondly because the street vendors are vicious, and if you so much as slow down they shove 8 different products in your face and shout out numbers and try to get you to buy. I found myself exceptionally targeted by these guys, and my "family" saved me...several times! They told me to try and not look so innocent...and I am not exactly sure how that is done! If you have ever gone anywhere with me that actually has street vendors, you will know that in a crowd of 100 people I will get singled out and targeted by these guys. I don't know how or why, but I guess I have one of those faces that says "I have money to burn, and I am irresponsible, and I am dumb on top of that so throw at me the highest number you can think of". Its quite annoying, and you really have to hold your noodles tight cause they have this sneaky little way of hypnotizing you into buying things. Trust me, it must happen, cause some of the stuff people were buying looked incredibly cheap and were absolutely hideous. Hypnosis is the only way I can see for vendors to get people to buy stuff like that. Again, I have my adopted family to thank for my protection! Street Vendors and all, it was a fantastic trip!!! I feel so incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to go, and to meet the people I got to meet while I was there. It was sooo wonderful!!!

That night I was able to sit and relax on the beach by myself because the fam wasn't back from their day's adventures yet. It was so nice just to have that time to enjoy the beach and the scenery alone, it's not something that I can do very often! Here are some last few pictures I saved for the end, because they are my very favorite! Hope this gave you a tiny peek into how great my holiday was! I feel so blessed to be able to have all these wonderful opportunities to see the world and experience different cultures. It is truly eye opening, and helps me gain a broader perspective of the world and it's people. Basically, it is just all around wonderful!!

Tuesday, October 16

Ode to my Wellies

My wellies are really neat,
they fit so nicely on my feet.
when it starts to rain outside,
I put on my wellies with pride.
I stamp in puddles, deep and muddy,
Fraser is my walking buddy.
I sing and dance in the rain with grace,
and nothing but happiness fills my face.
Not a drop of water will wet my sock,
By golly, my wellies rock!

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the climate of Great Britain, let me enlighten you. It's really wet. That about sums it up! All of this green doesn't just happen without a whole lotta water you know! Since I be walking the dog every day through the woods and things, you can imagine how muddy the trails get with the (especially recent) onslaught of rain. I feel so happy when I get to wear my wellies, so happy that I decided to write a poem and a blog about the joy the rainbow colored, water fighting, feet protecting wellies bring me. One of my favorite things is to go walking in the rain with my 'brelly' (aka, umbrella- thats what a lot of folks around here call them) wearing my wellies.
Question: How fun are those two words to say in a sentence?
Answer: Too fun.



Ok, so now that you are all wishing you had rainbow wellies, let me tempt you with some delicious cake. That's right it was Sarah's birthday, and the kids and I (with the emphasis on the I) spent a couple hours making this enormous cake. Yep, that's my motto- go big or go home. It's a good thing I bought those decorative flowers or else it would have looked like a large heaping pile of crap. Lucky for me, the flowers made it look like a decent cake! Just pretend you can't see all the icing splattered all over the plate and table and walls and....well it was delicious, and that's all that matters right!


I also photoshopped this picture in a nice frame for her, and she really liked it!



Well this is the last post I will be making for about a week or so because my dear friends, starting tomorrow, I will be in Spain soaking up some sun. It is much needed, because my skin has forgotten what a tan is and I can't remember the last time I went outside without a jacket. The anticipation is killing me! Today the kids and I were singing songs from our favorite red-headed orphan, and it went a little something like this. "Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya! Tomorrow! You're only a Daaaaaayyyyy, AAAAAAAAAA, WAAAAYYYY!!!!!!!" (big finish)



Sunday, October 14

One Rockin Weekend!

As some of my loyal bleeders know, this weekend held particular excitement for me because of the trip to a few local attractions. Saturday morning I woke up bright and early at 5:45 to get ready for the long day ahead. The trip was through the BUNAC office, so there were a lot of kids around my age going. I was a bit nervous because I didn't know a soul, but I quickly introduced myself to a friendly group of BUNACers and boarded the coach with them. After nearly 3 hours of driving we finally arrived, and I looked out the window in hopes of getting my first glimpse of the stone wonder and the only thing I saw was...cows. Then I turned and looked around a bit more and spotted something else...sheep. I simply couldn't see the stones anywhere, I felt like I was in Idaho. I guess it's no mystery that I did finally find Stonehenge, and I had a wonderful time! Everyone kept telling me how "disappointing" it was and "anti-climatic", but I thought it was super cool! I listened intently to my audio guide and really took time to take in the whole scene, so it was rather enjoyable.

This is Me and my new friend Andie, we stuck together the entire trip!

You can only stay staring at a bunch of humongous rocks for so long, so an hour later we were back in the bus headed off to the beautiful city of Bath.

Now Bath is something like I have never seen before, I would call it the Florence of England-- it is that amazing! It's beautifully picturesque, and just altogether wonderful. Since Bath is a rather hilly place set down in a valley, when I first saw it over a ledge through a clearing of trees I was awestruck. Seriously, I am pretty sure my mouth flew wide open and maybe a little bit of drool creeped out. Bath gets it's name from the ancient Roman Bath's that were uncovered there, along with Britain's only natural hot spring.
Here is me at the Sacred Spring with one of the original ancient Romans that bathed there thousands of years ago. I know I know, I am so cool.
This is me dipping my hand in the spring. Only moments after this picture was taken I dropped my camera case into the water, I fished it out causing only a little stir- and once I saw that a couple people were looking at me I made motions like I was going to jump in the water completely. One lady grabbed her chest as she stared wide-eyed at my display and looked it me with one of those 'I can't believe you just did that' looks. it was pretty dang funny.
View from the Park in Bath

Needless to say, we all spent the entire bus ride home snoozing- and it is a dang good thing I got a good nap in because my night was faaaar from over. Once I returned I went to the village party! A couple weeks ago I made the flyer's for the party, (and may I add that it was quite rewarding to see the posters I designed blown up to huge sizes and posted all over the village and handed out to every house) I was a bit late- but just in time to catch the end of the England Rugby game in the semi finals... which we won! The town hall was packed with people, drinks, and fun.

After we won the game Mr. DJ kicked on the tunes, and Gemma and I started the dancing. For the second time today, I had nearly every pair of eyes in the room on me-something I am not entirely used to, but despite that- I kept shakin' it like there was no tomorrow. Eventually everyone started dancing and Gemma and I made a smooth exit.
On to scene two. Gemma really likes my "chipmunk" voice, and those of you who have been...umm...fortunate enough to hear it know what I am talking about. She really wanted me to do the voice for the audience of anxious children she had acquired. May I also note that she had convinced all of them that I was incapable of speaking normal, and that chipmunk was my everyday voice. So-for the third time that day, I had all eyes on me. I stood up on the top of the climbing frame and made a speech, then continued on to sing 'You are my Sunshine' for the group. Bowing to the applause of 12 awe-struck children I climbed down and quickly ducked inside.

Since that little performance of mine for the children I was constantly being followed and asked to sing- so I decided I should call it a night and head home to my bed. What a fun day!

Sunday, October 7

Par-tay!

Last Saturday night was one of the coolest experiences I have had here in the UK so far! Sarah has a friend who just bought and refurbished a multi-million pound home right on the Themes river. Yep, you heard me, right on the Themes- and the best part is that he decided to have a party. No I guess that isn't even the best part, the best part is that I went to that party! It was fun because I got to get all dressed up, do my hair in loose curls and my makeup a bit darker (and awesomer) than usual. I absolutely loved it! The party was just eating, drinking, and socializing. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the small Asians weave through the masses balancing giant plates of finger food on one hand feeding the people. When they came around to me I picked one up and said 'thank you' in my most posh accent. Then there were the guys with a wine bottle in each hand going around topping off everyone's glass- and of course there was me with my can of orange fanta that practically screamed 'weirdo' to everyone I spoke to. It was so funny cause when I went back to the mini bar to get a drink I asked for a coke- and the man reached for the wine bottle and looked at me as though I would be crazy not to drink this stuff. I said no and repeated my order for Coke, and he looked confused back at me and said "beer?" Finally I did get my coke though, after about 12 tries and going through every drink in the bar and shaking my head. His excuse for the mis understanding was that I was the only one to order a soft drink all night! That should tell you something. The house had four balconies looking out over the river. It was so cool to see London this way, and to be in this amazing place socializing with these people who live in a completely different world than one I have ever known or ever will know. It was a bit eye opening, and really just an enjoyable evening altogether! Once we got back to the car I was designated driver, so-now here is something I never in a million years thought I would do- I drove home through central London! Thats right folks, your talkin to an experienced city driver now. Sarah and I stopped for some Donor Kababs before returning home at about 3:00am. What a night!!!

Speaking of driving, I had a request for a video of me driving on the roads here. Now this is a very short video, but it gives you a bit of an idea what the roads look like- and perhaps a little understanding as to why it took me so long to get my bearings... all the roads look exactly the same!
video

As most of you know this weekend is conference weekend. I just found some facts on the church here in England as compared to the church back home and it was quite interesting! First of all, when I was home I never gave a second thought to how 'other' people watch conference. I mean, I know they watch it on TVs or internet or something like that, but I have to start watching it at 5:00pm and finish at 11:00pm! It was strange watching it in the evening, but I did enjoy getting to sleep in as long as I wanted and not worry about missing anything. Out of curiosity I was looking up statistical information on the church. Did you know that in Utah alone there are 1,789,707 members, 4,585 congregations, and 11 temples? Compare that to the whole of the United Kingdom that only has 180,078 members, 350 congregations, and 2 temples! Big difference! I already knew there was a huge contrast between the two places in terms of the church- but I just didn't know how big. That kind of puts it in perspective don't you think? yes, I do think.

Well today is Gemma's birthday party, and we are doing a beach theme. I am SO excited for it! Parties here are something different from anything at home- they are such a huge deal. We are talkin' 4 year olds who have Barnum Bailey and Lance Burton show up to do private performances for their birthdays. Compared to the traditional Mormon-style birthday party where you trade a slice of $3 homemade cake for a $10 dollar gift from any given child and play a quick game of 'duck-duck goose' and send everyone home, these parties are off the hook! I will take some pics at that party so you all can understand what I mean. Until then, Happy Conference Weekend everyone!