Kristine wanders

The musings of a wanderer......

Month: June 2015

Overcoming Fear…..

I have a completely irrational fear of the water. I blame the movie Jaws. And one time when we were house boating as a kid and I was swimming in a lake with my mom and she said “Imagine if something grabbed your foot.” Thanks a lot mom. That’s the type of thing that keeps a kid awake at night. This fear is so irrational that I’m uncomfortable even in the deep end of a pool. Especially if I’m alone. Because my mind thinks there might be a shark lurking. Yes, even in a pool. I warned you this was an irrational fear.

I’m even more skiddish in the ocean. Don’t get me wrong. I can swim, but I would never go into the ocean alone. Like ever. But if I’m with someone I trust I will, but not very deep. One of the long standing things on my lengthy list of things to do before I die, was to try scuba diving. Here, you’re probably saying to yourself….didn’t she say she’s afraid of water?? Yes I am, but I’m a firm believer of walking head first into my fears. Which is why when I was in the Maldives in April, I signed up for a beginners scuba diving class.

I signed up the day before the class. And immediately that voice in my head was like you’re going to die. Or be eaten by a shark. I started to have sign-up remorse. The following morning before the class that same voice was trying to talk me out of it. You don’t have to go. You don’t feel well. And the voice was right- I didn’t feel well, but I knew it was just anxiety. So to the class I went. It didn’t help that the dive instructors took great pleasure in playing off my fears by making jokes like…..Do you know what happens if you see a shark. You die. Not. Funny. FYI.  So the class started off with the group of us watching a video. There were 6 students and the 2 dive instructors. So we watch the video. And I’m like this isn’t too bad. And then we don the dive gear. And that wasn’t so bad. It’s heavy and throws your balance off, but we were still on land so everything was ok.

SHARK......

SHARK……

Regular Fish...

Regular Fish…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we entered with water. And did a quick lesson in the shallow water. It was difficult to remember to breathe only thru your mouth. My mask kept leaking which didn’t help my anxiety and I was having a hard time clearing it. Luckily, one of the dive instructors (probably realizing I was the weakest link) was at my side. We had to show a couple skills before going into the deeper water. This included clearing your mask, and how to get your regulator back if you lost it. So then we moved into deeper water. I’m not even sure how I made it to this point except that it took so much effort remembering to breathe with the regulator that I didn’t have time to be scared of the water or to be looking around to see if Jaws was coming. Every time I went down my mask would start to leak, which would cause me to panic and I would make the signal for I’m going up like a mad woman. And the dive instructor would come up with me, and give me a pep talk and we would go back down. Then my mask would leak, I would panic, and back up we would go. We got down to about 5ft. And I lasted for about a minute at that depth. And then that was enough for me. I felt bad getting all the attention from the dive instructor. And my leaking mask wasn’t helping the situation. But I got further than I thought I would. My travel mate said she didn’t even expect me to get into the water. But I did. And to be honest, I’d like to try it again. Without a leaking mask. And with an instructor who’s only responsibility is me. I’m not saying I will love it, but I would definitely like to give it another try. I’m even making plans to in August, when I’m in Sharm el Sheikh Egypt for a long weekend. So scuba diving I will see you again very soon….

Musings of a Single Traveler……..

I’m a little nervous about posting this, as it seems like a bit of a taboo topic, but one that has been nagging at me since I took that uber romantic vacation to the Maldives at the end of April. Prior to coming to Saudi I was on the market, so to speak. I dated a bunch when I lived in Seattle, and a decent amount when I moved back to the small hometown where my family is, and where I went to college. I don’t feel like I had a super long list of things I was looking for in my future Mr, but one thing was crystal clear. He needed to have a passport, and he couldn’t be afraid to use it. I went on so many dates. Some of the guys were jerks, some were lovely guys, with good jobs. Guys whose profile’s stated openly how they wanted to travel, but were waiting for the One. Waiting. For someone else to come along so they could live their life. So they could then go to all those places they wanted to. Waiting. For someone else to start living. Ugh. Hearing that line over and over, was such a turnoff. Because, if as a single girl I can move to the Middle East not knowing anyone, I feel like a dude can get it together and buy a plane ticket for Scotland. Or Egypt. Or Vietnam. Because, as a nurse I know to never take the future for granted. And that waiting to start my life when ever my Mr comes along would be a portion of my life wasted, when I could just be out living it now.

Ever since I visited the Maldives this issue has been nagging me. I’d wanted to go to the Maldives for a long time, and obviously it would’ve been lovely to have gone with that special someone, but since he isn’t currently on the scene, should I have postponed? Should I have waited to have shared that experience with him? This him who doesn’t actually exist in my life right now. I’ve seen hundreds of sunsets that I also would’ve loved to have shared with my future Mr, but I wouldn’t trade not having seen them at all. I think it’s a struggle for those of us who love to travel, but also would love someone to share those memories with. The struggle is do you go, or put your life on hold?  Do you delay the experiences you would like to share with that special someone and risk never having the experience at all? Do you pass up going to the Maldives, or Bora Bora, or Fiji just because you aren’t on your honeymoon? Do you go alone, or with a friend just for the sake of going?

So to my future Mr…..I sure hope you’re out there. Living a life. A life I can’t wait to hear about. And I very much look forward to all those amazing sunsets we will see together. But for now I choose to be out there in the world living my life. Even if that means visiting the Maldives as a single gal.

 

Ramadan

Today marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan according to the Hegira calendar. Fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, and takes place over the month of Ramadan. In accordance to their beliefs Muslims will abstain from food, drinking liquids, smoking, or sexual relation from dawn until dusk for the entire month. Exceptions are given to those traveling, pregnant or breastfeeding, the sick and the elderly. The fasting is broken after evening prayers, typically with dates and tea. At work Muslims have the option of working shorter shifts, and less shifts than their normal hours. Non-muslims must be respectful and inconspicuous. Chewing gum, or drinking water in public is not allowed. Drinking and eating must be done in private. Restaurants will be closed during the day, and the malls are said to open after evening prayer and will stay open until 2 or 3am. The religious police will likely be out in full force, so it’s not recommended for women to go out without covering their hair.

The last time I was here, I remember Ramadan as being very quiet during the day. Patients often slept most the the day light hours, and were awake late into the night. It was very festive. I recall having to adjust medication times for patients who were fasting during the day. Some of the sicker patients wanted to continue fasting despite health concerns, so they were instead given IV fluids during the day so they could fast from food as an alternative.

I’m currently traveling in Morocco for the first 2 weeks of Ramadan, so I’m unsure how this will affect our travel plans, although I’m sure we will have to make some adjustments. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back. And for any of my Muslim readers out here Ramadan Kareem….

Calm Seas……

There was an afternoon that I spent on the back balcony of our bungalow in the Maldives where the sea was perfectly calm. Where it was difficult to ascertain where the sea ended and the sky started. Where boats on the horizon appeared to be floating in the sky instead of sailing on the sea. The only thing that appeared to be moving were the fish jumping. They would momentarily break the otherwise calm surface. It felt, for that portion of the afternoon at least, as though time were standing still…..

 

 

 

 

 

On another note, I’m off to Morocco for the next 2 weeks. I can’t wait to eat some delicious food, catch up with my dear Yankee friend, and take about a million photos!!

The Maldives

At the end of April I spent 6 blissful nights in the Maldives. The Maldives are an archipelago of some 1190 islands in the Indian Ocean spread out over 90 000sq km. It is the lowest country in the world with an average elevation of 1.5m  which has major implications with global warming and the rising of sea level. 80 % of the country actually lies less than 1m above  sea level. Some reports state that these islands could disappear in the next 50 years resulting in the displacement of any entire country. The Maldives is a Muslim country that prior to converting practiced Buddhism. Given it’s natural beauty it’s no surprise that tourism is it’s main economy.

We flew into Colombo Sri Lanka, and then took a 90 min flight to the capital city of Male. From here we took a 20min seaplane flight to Veligandu Island Resort which was to be our home for 5 nights. The Maldives are synonymous with luxury travel. Most accommodations in the Maldives requires a seaplane or speedboat transfer to reach your resort. Often this adds on hundreds of dollars to the price of the hotel, which trust me is anything but cheap. I traveled with my kiwi sidekick and we booked 3 nights in a water bungalow with an all inclusive option and then 2 nights in a beach bungalow. There ended up being an issue with our original booking so we were upgraded to a water bungalow with a jacuzzi for the entire time. Too bad we weren’t on our honeymoon cause this place was super duper romantic, and obviously bursting at the seems with couples in love. So here we were 2 single gals just wanting to get our relax and drink on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bungalow we stayed in was gorgeous. We had a balcony with a couple lounge chairs and stairs that led into the water. We had a fully stocked mini bar, and all you could drink at the 2 bars on the resort. This was my first experience with an all-inclusive resort, and while it’s really not my thing I fully embraced all it had to offer. Champagne for breakfast? Yes, please. Mam, you want drinks at the pool? Yes. Please. More wine? Yes. The answer is always going to be yes. So I spent my time split between laying by the pool, swimming in the pool, or relaxing on our back balcony. We begrudgingly did all the romantic couple things like having dinner overlooking the beach by candle light, or taking a sunset dolphin cruise. To be completely honest it was such a beautiful vacation, but being around couples 24/7 took it’s toll. I’d like to say I rose above it, but sometimes I wanted to just yell at them to “get a room” and secretly took pleasure when some of them got irritated with each other. I’m not especially proud of this, but it’s just how I felt after spending 5 days on other people’s honeymoons.

 

 

 

 

 

We saw some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever witnessed, and cherished the calm evening sound of the Indian Ocean brushing against our bungalow. We took a boat excursion to a local village and wandered in the alleyways listening to children recite the alphabet. We saw pods of dolphins doing acrobatics and playing with our boat. The water was so blue I’ll forever think of that colour blue as Maldivian Blue. We had some much needed down time, and I was able to reflect on where I’ve been, and where I hope I’m heading. I attempted to overcome my fear of water, and surprised myself (more on this in an upcoming post.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our last night in the Maldives was spent at a budget hotel on the same island as the international airport. It’s a quick 10 min ferry ride to the jam packed island capital of Male. This section of the Maldives is in a conservative Muslim area so alcohol is not allowed, and it’s recommended to dress a little more conservatively. It was nice to spend a night with the locals. There are a ton of budget hotels here, but I wouldn’t recommend staying here for more than a night or 2 as you have to take a speedboat to the western beaches if one wants to swim in the sea in what we consider a normal swimsuit. We didn’t get to explore the capital city of Male, which I would’ve like to have done had we more time. Pictures of the city show that literally ever square foot of it is taken up, and would’ve been interesting to explore. So that’s the Maldives. It’s so very worth seeing. But go with your lover, and not your best mate as you might be like me, and find all that newlywed gushy love a tad bit nauseating…..

 

Sunrise….

Sometimes a sunrise is particularly amazing. Where it looks like an artist’s brush has painted hues of colour on the adjacent clouds. Or, where the sun breaking thru the clouds gives the impression of molten lava bubbling below the clouds surface. Yellow and orange turning into red. With coral hues softening into pale orange and yellow. This one took place 37000ft above the southern tip of India, on route to Sri Lanka. I awoke to see the light coming over the horizon and then watched it for some time completely mesmerized. Awestruck by the beauty of it. Momentarily forgetting my deep rooted fear of flying to concentrate on a single. Beautiful. Sunrise.

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