Coco Malé

I’d like to be

under the sea

in an octopus’s garden   in the shade

sings Ringo Starr in his “Yellow Submarine” – how true, the best place in the world at times!

 

This was an Easter trip – unforgettable! We met a marine biologist working for Nature for the owners of the Coco Island near Malé, Maldives. She explained all the plastic garbage / rubbish/ microplastic awfulness in the Oceans of the World.

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Meanwhile I am the proud owner of two cute stuffed turtle fellas and have actively filmed and photographed as many turtles as I could. I have also checked out the corals, dead near the Family Islands in the Great Barrier Reef, ditto in the Red Sea in the Coral Park, ditto but less less awful in Malé, near Denià I didn’t see much due to the wild tempestuous weather leaving a long deep scratch that took a year to heal (no big deal).

And yes, this is the place I’d like to be most. Not only because of the snorkeling, but because of the lovely people and the great meals and the wonderful surroundings and the fantastic bungalows etc. I made more friends here than in other places, which is why we are planning to come again. I also know of others who similarly make repeat visits.

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The cotton turtles are only a reminder of what still needs to be done to save these and other animals from disappearing from the face of our planet. Treating trash and residue lightly or not recycling will have fatal consequences for us all some day. Yes, I am worried about my carbon footprints, but I have not yet learned to fly on my own, anybody out there who knows how?  I just can’t wait to go back in the near future.

 

Total ticketing tourist tricksters

Okay, my Austrian girlfriend had put this tick into my ear: you ought to go to Bregenz and see the See. No, sorry, see the lake-theater (German: Seebühne) built right into the water. How cool can you get! Very!!

Yes, I can very much recommend it if you like Austria (CHECK, our backyard, unless our politicians come up with stupid ideas),

 

if you like operas (CHECK, especially if hubby is more into the mainstream operatic ones featuring real songs he can sing) (can he sing?),

if you don’t mind being cramped up for about 2 1/2 hours on the hard plastic seat (CHECK, don’t forget fat cushions and yoga class beforehand) (forget about breaks or walking or standing up in between),

if you had a yummy dinner (CHECK CHECK at La Scarpetta in Dornbirn and the Kleines Gasthaus am See, bliss, except fot the three screechers & wailers whose parents couldn’t care less about their offspring’s wails),

So, if you don’t mind all the above- mentioned things, then a weekend trip from Munich to Bregenz (about 2 1/2 hours cramped in a car) and lots of extra cash is just the thing!

Our Travel Agency took out a chuck by charging our credit card the minute we booked with them.- that is a NO-NO. Normally, your card gets charged for 20%  immediately as a kind of promise and the rest about a week or two ahead of the event. Our agency  pretended now to know about this etiquette, but I had a long talk with them. After all, there such things as a Terminüberweisung and the bank will make sure the money is transferred right on time.

The hotel chosen in Dornbirn was the right size and category and not too far off from the Seebühne, about 20 km along the B 190, but had definitely seen better days and did NOT have AC. Nor did it have appeal. However, it boasts a very good breakfast, albeit missing the more expensive choices, but I don’t breakfast that much anyway, and the employees are nice and offer cushions and shuttle bus and those things you didn’t know you’d need.

Our escapism took us first to the interesting Rolls-Royce museum in Gütle (8,-€ adult), then the Seilbahn/ incline up the Karren of Gütle (Oh yes, the view iS WORTH it! free overlook in plastic over the precipice) and a great lunch of Lumpensalat (a sausage – cheese – red-onion- vinegar – oil dressing kind) with good beer and even better Almdudler (what? you don’t know the famous lemonade with herbs?).

The hot afternoon was spent in the Waldbad / Gütleright next to the river or creek without much water in this drought, but interestingly full of big and small smooth rocks and pebbles. The Waldbad offers many treats for families, well run.

 

 

“Carmen” by Bizet is most certainly in all the operatic books and Wiki. The scoop was the fantastic Bühnenbild/ backdrop done by a lady from London with two gigantic hands tossing the cards of fate. At times, the cards will be lowered at ground level to go partially underwater, so the crowd gets emphatic with skirt tossing and head banging and running and splashing each other, which is just the build-up of suspense to Carmen’s tragic end (how did the singer manage that death scene???) – no, I’m not cheating, you go there yourself, please!

 

 

 

 

Caipirinha y Cuba, mi amor!

Ah Cuba! My old love… no longer the same after Fidel’s death, still not up to par due to the U.S. embargo, still imbued with morbid magnificence and awesome Oldsmobiles.

Never shall I forget what Cuba was like in the late fifties, when my daddy visited the place ante quem or in 2004 when we embarked on one of our most adventurous trips through La Habana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos.

Our guide was a mathematics teacher forced to do tourist jobs for US $$$ to buy goods at the ‘black market’.

Our midday musicians: four men with the most beautiful son selling their DIY – CDs for the ridiculaour amount of € 10,- while walking past the tables and serenading the foreign-born guests. Btw, recording is for free and after that they are on their own. If you can still find a copy of these old CDs, please write.

Granma lying in the shade of a building not far from the Best Ballet Theater by far built on the model of European buildings. Trucks falling apart on the pot-hole-ridden streets (?!?) until they are reassembled and repaired by ripping apart another old Soviet truck. Men and women rolling the precious and aromatic tobacco leaves so very carefully, all the while listening to the lectora de tabaquería, considered meanwhile intangible cultural heritage. Boy do I love those cigars. I am not even a smoker, never have been.

Museum guards that ask visitors for a simple bar of soap or shampoo  –  however, we were forced to leave our bags in a safe at the front desk. Postcards that cost $2,-  and even more for postage – I sent them in August and they arrived on St. Nicholas, December 6 (!).

Our gardeners at the hotel on Varadero who were former civil engineers,who knew no English nor German. Our waiter who whispered about tons of food, like the French butter and the Spanish ketchup packs being thrown away, because Castrismo at that time meant ‘All for one and not much for all‘. The ration cards for beans, sugar and rice allotted to each family dealt out in tiny, hardly noticeable shops at the corner. The first ‘Bed & Breakfast places’, clandestinos.

And in the evening the cabaret show at Tropicana, which probably has not changed much since the day of the Bahía de los cochinos long, lascivious women’s legs, fat odorous tan puros, dimmed lights, sensually swaying hips, lavish costumes (at least on the top of their heads, not so much around the middle, ouh là là!), finally, ron de Bacardí, humidity, hot kisses …

Ah qué sueño más feliz!

La vida es sueño, y los sueños, sueños son...

(Calderón de la Barca, 1600-1681, contemporary of Shakespeare)

 

Caipirinha  – Put together:

some fresh limes

a teaspoon or so of brown cane sugar

Bacardí rum (or Pitú) – do not be too generous!  –   drink responsibly

a pestle for crushing the limes

ice cubes

Playing Chess

Check out this anecdote sent to me by a good friend from Sri Lanka:
When Nelson Mandela was studying law at the University, a white professor, whose last name was Peters, disliked him intensely.
One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room when Mandela  came along with his tray & sat next to the professor.
The professor said,
“Mr Mandela, you do not understand, a pig & a bird do not sit together to eat
Mandela looked at him as a parent would a rude child & calmly replied,
“Do not worry professor. I’ll fly away,
& he went & sat at another table.
Mr. Peters,  reddened with rage, decided to take revenge.
The next day in class he posed the following question:
“Mr. Mandela, if you were walking down the street & found a package, & within was a bag of wisdom & another bag with money, which one would you take ?”
Without hesitating, Mandela responded, “The one with the money, of course.”
Mr. Peters , smiling sarcastically said,
I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom.” 
Nelson Mandela  shrugged & responded, “Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”
Mr. Peters, by this time was fit to be tied*.  So great was his anger that he wrote on Nelson Mandela’s exam sheet the word “IDIOT”
& gave it to Mandela.
Mandela took the exam sheet & sat down at his desk trying very hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move. 
A  few  minutes later, Nelson Mandela got up, went to the professor & told him in a dignified polite tone,
“Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade.
Don’t mess with intelligent people….pass it on to your intellectual friends….

* informal:  very angry.   “Daddy was fit to be tied when I separated from Hugh”    Synonyms:   livid, furious, angry, infuriated, irate, fuming, raging, seething, incensed, enraged, angered, beside oneself, wrathful, ireful, maddened, cross, annoyed, irritated, exasperated, indignant                                   (source: Google)

 

Now ain’t that just fine? Mandela is truly inspiring. I am not a good chess player, but I know how to play. I most certainly admire those who do. Stefan Zweig’s Schachnovelle (The Royal Game, “Chess Novella”, first published in 1941.[1] ) fascinated me, also in its film version (DE 1960) with Kurt Jürgens. Maintaining one’s mental health by concentrating on something precise, mathematical, calm and cool, I love that kind of intellectual challenge. You will have guessed by now that I attended the maths section and always played with the guys, never with dolls.

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Make it look like an accident, 007!

BTW, snorkeling in the Maldives, Caribbean or Hawaii is another way of cooling your temper and regaining your calm. But then again, that will be the topic of another post.

Bullying and histrionics

Be the girl on the right! is the caption of a pic with 5 little ballet girls at the barre. The one on the right refuses to do exactly what she is told. She is “told off” by her teacher.

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Marguerite, Margarethe or Gretchen from Faust and Marguerite (1900) also stands on the right. She is unsure of what to do:

„Nun sag, wie hast du’s mit der Religion? Du bist ein herzlich guter Mann, allein ich glaub, du hältst nicht viel davon.“  Goethe has her ask the seducer. When she decides to trust Faust, she is sorely betrayed and shall later kill the newborn ‘child’ – whom I also see as a symbol of her feelings of guilt and shame.

Have you ever considered the fact that your boss might be using the exact same ploy to “seduce” his employees to do exactly what they are told? Nowadays, such behavior is no longer considered seducing, but bullying. However, if any one individual offers a piece of constructive criticism, he/ she is immediately quashed?

Vae victi! We alle know what the consequences are, such as burnout, di-stress (as compared to eu-stress), feelings of insecurity and angst. Of guilt and shame that we are no longer standing up to our own convictions, but meekly accepting another ambitious person’s will  –  voluntas  –  over our own. Of no longer believing in ourselves!

When I hit upon the word HISTRIONICS on OWAD (One Word A Day, Paul does a fine job) the other day, I had to laugh, the definitions and examples reminded me sooo much of a certain person. A person I had trusted, believed in, considered a role-model for many years,  who suddenly turned the tables.

The word histrionics was either formed from the English histrion, meaning actor, or it was borrowed from the Late Latin histrionicus, which also referred to an actor, theatrics or pretence. (…)
Histrionics, which at its core means overly dramatic and superficial behaviour, can be a useful skill if one has chosen an acting career. On the other hand, for the layperson it can lead to a personality disorder called HPD, or Histrionics Personality Disorder.
(source: https://owad.de/)

How can you get out of this emotional turmoil?

Step One: Listen closely to what that person says and analyze the underlying meaning of those words. Did I accept these words at face value? Or was the said person’s intention quite another?  Write down those typical quotes and try to look at them from different angles.

Polonius: What do you read, my lord?      Hamlet: Words, words, words.

Step Two: Believe in yourself, your personality, your talents, your life’s goals again. No matter what anybody says to or about you. So what if you do not live up to someone else’s expectations? All it means is that you and him/ her were not meant to be – it takes two to tango. Find some more congenial surroundings, another job, another place, another hobby, other soulmates.

Step Three:  (The hard part!) Be patient. It took me many years to come to the realization that I hadn’t been the one with the problem, but that bully!  Start by feeling sorry for that person –  and then forget him/ her ASAP (as soon as possible). The feeling of relief is immense, be assured!

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So, now you can pretty well do as you like. My therapy was / is ballet and gym, music and instrumental lessons, choir, arts and crafts, friends’ support, being with children who are more spontaneous than adults : “Kinder und Narren sagen die Wahrheit” (Children and fools speak the truth).

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Don’t we all wish for a Happy End? Thankfully, I have found my Prince Charming   –  and my peace of mind.