As of today, I have reactivated this site. Many updates and changes to come. -Amber M
♥Angel Olsen- Intern♥
As of today, I have reactivated this site. Many updates and changes to come. -Amber M
♥Angel Olsen- Intern♥
Now, that I’m back in America, I think of my relationship with this country not just as a person but culturally. As a Native person, I think of how my people have inhabited this land for thousands of years and my connection to the land.
However, presently, as a country/nation/culture, 80% of the time, I don’t connect a lot to American culture. I don’t watch sports, I don’t watch popular TV shows and I don’t listen to most mainstream American music (top 40?). I guess that’s just the curmudgeon in me, France is a bit of a curmudgeon too, I think that’s why I liked the country so much. Well, a curmudgeon with a romantic side, haha. When I think of America and if it were a person, I don’t know if I would want to be friends with that person. Mainly, this is just the weird cynical, traveller side of me. But for the most part when I travel, the truth seeking artist in me finds a balance and a greater knowledge and understanding of the world and the people that inhabit this earth. Traveling is good at ringing the bitterness out of me because at times living in America, the way our economy and society is structured (individualism and capitalism rule all) , there are times that disconnection is our only way to survive, and that’s just not living.
That’s why I need to travel, to live.
What does traveling give me? A new sense of perspective and a realization of all things that are beautiful and pure. It also gives me hope especially in moments of burnout. It’s hope for those days when I feel the undercurrent of life’s bullshit problems(shitty men, lack of sleep, not exercising enough, etc.) pulling me under until I feel like I cannot breath. Traveling pulls me up out of the water, shakes me dry, tells me to look at the beauty around me. In these moments I know not to take it for granted because I may or may not come back, with that, I take in all that I can.
♥Edith Piaf- Non je ne regrette rien ♥
1.433 miles in 5 days. 286 miles a day. I never realized how big of a country France is, until my mom and I went a French road trip for 5 days.
The five days went by SO FAST, too fast and in the moment I knew it. Some days I would close my eyes so time would slow down and I could enjoy every second.
The moment we picked up our little Black Fiat from the Orly Airport, we set sail for the West of France. Mainly, we just really wanted to get out of the city and go anywhere. We found our rest spot at a nice lil Airbnb on the 4th floor of a cute Maison in Rennes, France. The owner was very nice, super cool with her punk aesthetic, chucks taylors and 3D portrait of the Sex Pistols on the second floor of her home. We got in around 6pm, we mainly just walked around Rennes which was super empty because of the French Holiday called Assomption which in English is Assumption of Mary to Heaven. We did our thing and walked around, ate a bunch of bread and cheese (I broke my dairy rule for France, it was GLORIOUS), watched a bit of Malcolm in the Middle in French then fell asleep.
The next day, we set off for the ocean. I didn’t know what ocean town we were going to stop at, I just wanted to see the ocean. Living in the desert is hard because all I ever crave is the ocean. Cacti is cool and all (and “très chic” these days,right?) but it will never replace my love for the water. We stopped at a little ocean town called Saint-Jean-de-Monts. The little ocean town was very cute with its Ferris Wheel on the pier and Oceanside eats. I had a feeling my mom wasn’t feeling it because it was so crowded and the Bay of Biscay didn’t have big sufer “hang ten” waves. JK. But it was still enjoyable to eat some raspberry ice cream, rest for a bit and watch the Ocean. Then we were off to Bordeaux.
We didn’t really do much sightseeing in Bordeaux but the Airbnb couple that hosted us were very friendly. On the way to Bordeaux, I ate half a baguette and had a TON of crumbs on my dress. I thought “ehhh, I can shake it off when we get to the Airbnb and when I step out of the car, no one will see what a slob I am.” hahah, once we get to the house, the nice wife greeted us before getting out of the car and all I kept thinking about were those damn crumbs. So I hurried up and shook them off on the floor before getting out. Classy, bread eating Amber…
The night was quick, I think the couple may have overbooked (I don’t know the technical terms of Airbnb hosting) so they let us sleep in their room which was very gracious of them. This halfway point in our trip, we were able to do laundry and eat a homemade breakfast which is nice. One part of the Airbnb that was funny was the owner never closed the front door of his house or bedroom. My mom found this odd and kept asking him questions about it, with his limited french, I think he was just as confused about us crazy Americans and why we lock our doors and shut our bedroom doors. I guess, it’s something I never really thought about. But we are a country that runs on fear and coffee. We slept with the doors closed but we kept the windows open that night. I’m pretty this is the night I got all my mosquito bites.
The next morning we awoke to the sun shinning into the bedroom the beautiful bright coral flowers beaming. We had a quick breakfast, met another airbnb-er who happened to be visiting from Rennes. As a thank you ( a goofy thank you) I gave the air bnb host some black Hanes socks and shoelaces from tha motherland. Back in Paris, I was suppose to meet my co-worker’s son and deliver some socks and shoelaces to him. For some reason, I thought he was going to be in Paris longer so I procrastinated on meeting up. In result, he told me to give it a random homeless person (whoops!). I rebelled and gave it our Air bnb host 🙂
So socks given and goodbye kisses kissed we set forth for Marseilles.
I thought I would be prepared for the possibility of butting heads with my mom on this trip but after a 6 hour day (We did however make an awesome pit stop at a village surrounded by a french castle called Cité de Carcassonne) on the road and 3 of it in traffic. Woo! I was not prepared. I tried to lighten up the mood by playing George Strait on Spotify or try to pronounce French road signs the best I could to impress her. She was just not having it. I knew she was culture shocked and she missed my dad. But that night once we got into Marseille to check into our hotel, it kind of just exploded in our face all because of parking. There was no parking at the hotel so we chanced it and parked in some random part spot which I didn’t think was a big deal but I guess it was. Before I knew it my mom was crying and talking about wanting to go home. I felt bad but I was just so confused. Then the front desk lady/demon incarnate didn’t help. She saw two tired, oily, sad looking brown women and dug deep. She gave us the hardest time about our rate and could care less about our parking questions. She then was very sarcastic about any questions we had. I didn’t care. I just wanted to sleep but I know it made everything so much worse for my mom. My only hope was for us to sleep it off. This may have the first of our hardships of culture shock and fatigue but it was most certainly not the last.
The next day was a little more relaxing, oh wait no, after making 15 calls to our Car Rental place (never rent from interrent, they are impossible to get a hold of) to ask if we could extend our car rental we drove to the Marseille airport to wait in the longest car rental line I ever seen. Eventually, I got through to the car rental people at the Orly Airport. It was ridiculous how many times I called and he finally answered extended the agreement in two minutes and that was it. I got out of line, jumped in the car with a smile on my face and was excited to head to Aix en Provence and be serenaded by fields of lavender and raspberry jam. Nope. The little toll gate was down and we needed a ticket. And to get that ticket I had to wait in the line that never ended, this is finally when I got my first feeling of being homesick. I wanted to scream or yell “GUHHHHHHHHHHH!!!” (yes, with the 11 H’s). I was about to go back to that horrid line when a very friendly car rental man used his card and opened the gate. I began to feel cross eyed and anxious thinking about all of this and the phone call that solved the problem in 2 minutes.
We went to Aix en Provence first which was super underwhelming (sorry, Aix en provence) then opted for a day at the beach instead which was the best choice and highlight of the trip. We went to a little beachtown called Cassis. GUH, I cannot describe how breathtaking/beautiful/serene the little town of Cassis and the Mediterranean Sea is. The sea was a turquoise color then blended outward to a deep blue. The best part was swimming in it, I could feel the undercurrent of warm and cold water blending as I paddled my feet. Little kids were screaming in French when the waves splashed onto the sand and sucked back into the Sea. It was definitely worth the endless roundabouts, parental culture shock, cursing google maps every hour and paying the 20 pay tolls.
♥Kraftwerk- Tour De France Étape 2♥
Hot chocolate, Road signs, The Bay of Biscay, bread, butter, stairs, cheese, rivers, confusing door locks and the Mediterranean Sea. When I think of my trip to France, these are the things I think of. 11 days was too long for my mother but not long enough for me. I wanted to climb more stairs, eat more fruit tarts, walk through more neighborhoods, and swim in the sea longer. But vacation is just that, a vacation, a temporary moment of new adventures in an unknown location.
The moment we got into Paris, there was no resistance. Everything felt natural even though I didn’t speak the language very well and I had never been to the country. I took 2 years of basic college French when I was at University and that’s all my mom and I had to rely on for 11 days. It was enough for me. We met up with my good friend friend Kim whom I coincidentally met at ASU at an American Indian Student Services workshop, we probably were the only two Navajo girls taking French on campus at that time. We also have a bond for our love for The Replacements, Indie Movies, Art, books and comics.I hadn’t seen homegirl in 2 years or so, so it was good to see a familiar soul.
The first night Kim took us to a cute Parisian restaurant then my mom and I proceeded to face plant into our beds. Saturday night, we were suppose to watch Full Metal Jacket but due to our prolonged dinner eating the biggest bowl of mussels at Leon’s, a Belgium restaurant down the street from our hotel we realized we weren’t going to make it. Instead, we all decided to sit in front of the Eiffel Tower for the light show. August, is quite hot in Paris, so we sat on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower talked for a bit and enjoyed some chocolate and rosé. The light show soon started and it was so exciting to finally see what I had been dreaming about. Paris is really a damn Romantic City. Due to this my mom missed my dad,ALOT, like so much she didn’t enjoy some of the moments because I think she wanted him to be there to see it as well. Selfishly, I kept thinking how hard I worked all summer for these moments (I worked in 107 degree weather and danced to Prince dressed as a strawberry in a beret at one point during the summer) and was going to enjoy them, damnit. This was just the beginning of our conflicting views and ways of travel in France…
However, I did feel bad when were sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower. There were men that were trying to sell us little Eiffel tower key chains, 5 little towers for 1 euro. Then there was the sneaky one, the one that I was teasing so we could get one of those little light up Eiffel towers for half price. He then sat near us and bargained. We eventually got our Eiffel tower for half price but Kim noticed something out of the ordinary and told me to watch my bag. By the time he left, we made sure all our belongings were still in tact. But poor mom, her little Samsung phone was stolen. I already knew she was going through culture shock but for this to happen to her, thoughts of my first day in India were coming back. Kim and I tried to comfort her as much as we could. She was okay but it’s always that weird sense of violation when someone steals from you even when it’s not an item that important to you, betrayal from a stranger is so surreal and confusing.
The next couple days we tried to fit in as much (Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, The Avenue des Champs-Élysées and endless fruit tart tastings) as we could but dammit there’s just so much to do in Paris, we couldn’t fit everything in, even during our 12 hrs days. Versailles, was a must, well because of Sofia Coppola. All I kept thinking was a plump short little Jason Schwartzman walking through the Hall of Mirrors as Louis XVI and Anxiety Ridden Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette “running” through the halls of the palace. Despite the 2 and a half hour wait outside the palace and swarms of people zig zagging through the halls of the palace, I think next time I will enjoy the palace during low season.
The best part of the palace? Um, Angelina. Angelina is this decadent tea house founded in Paris that is famous for their hot chocolate. You know that movie, Chocolat? The scene where Judi Dench’s character drinks this crazy good looking cup of hot chocolate served to her by Juliette Binoche’s character. The look on Judi’s face where she pauses and looks up, I finally understood. I had that hot chocolate and I understood how that lady felt. Think of the most rich and luxurious chocolate bar you’ve ever had but melted down in a teacup topped off with a tasty dollop of unsweetened whip cream. Just like I will never have Chai tea like I did in India, I don’t think I will ever hot a cup of hot chocolate as magical as the ones in France.
The next couple days in Paris were nice, exploring, taking the boats rides and walking down the River Seine, experiencing sunsets at 9 pm and eating all the “frites” my heart desired. My madre and I also wanted to explore more of France, so we decided to plan for our trip to the South…
There is a reason I am not a travel agent, I forgot we had to buy our Eurorail tickets before leaving America, so the train was out of the question. Well, we could’ve still took the train but we looked at the prices to rent a car and opted for that.
A couple days later we proceeded to make our way west of Paris in a little black Fiat and so began our road trip around France…
♥Beach House- The Traveller♥
Where do I even begin with Goa? Or Anjuna Beach to be exact. Originally I had been underwhelmed by what I had experienced of India and Goa but as I am back home sitting comfortably at my desk back home in Arizona, I can’t help but feel myself thinking fondly of India. I’m lying it’s not just fondly thinking of India more so craving. The feeling of “did that just really happen?” has been crossing my mind all week since I’ve been home recovering from jet lag. Every ounce of me is trying not get back on the plane and book the next ticket to Mumbai. What is this magnetic feeling India has on me? What is it about the country that is so mesmerizing? What is it that you feel as though you truly are in another world? The energy is unfamiliar yet mesmerizing. For me it was too much but now that I stopped denying my feelings for the country I have accepted the beautiful chaos that this country contains and everything I have been avoiding.
Let’s just say there is some kind of short story in the making.
♥Nightmares on Wax- Damn♥