Dancing

Yesterday’s prompt from the Daily Post was “dancing“.

I’ve always loved to watch people dance and wished I could dance as well myself. I’m just not what you’d call ‘light on my feet’. I never got the hang of it and almost never even try any more. I’d rather just enjoy watching.

line dancing ladies from Lebanon

Those first 3 were taken during my last vacation (I can’t believe it’s already been a year- but I’ve really been jonesing lately). I took a dinner cruise down the Bosphorus. That’s the waterway that divides the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.

It was a really nice cruise. We had an interesting dinner of local appetizers- olives, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, carrot salad, sliced meat, cheese and then a choice of chicken or fish. The crew put flags around the tables of each person’s nationality. It helped make for many good conversations.

After dinner, we had entertainment. We started with a performance by a whirling dervish. Then the crew dressed in costumes and danced the different traditional styles from all over Turkey. Later the belly dancers came out and got everyone going. By the time they finished, everyone was ready to get out on the floor themselves.

Besides the dinner and dancing, the sights outside the windows were beckoning too. I sat out on the deck watching the shipping traffic pass by and enjoying the fresh cool breeze along the water. I was so excited to see all the minarets poking up from the mosques lit up in the night. Over the low hum of the engines I could hear the faint calls to prayer. It all drove home exotic Istanbul for me.

These next 3 were from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I went down there last February to get certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). I stayed for about a month. I would’ve stayed longer but I had a promising call about a real job (offshore- I had already been out of work for over 6 months), so I flew back home. Sadly, the job fell through.

I loved PV! I lived right next door to the language school and just a couple of blocks from the ocean. There were only 4 other students in my class, so we all got to know each other. Every weekend, our teacher would take us all on a field trip. I had a blast!

I loved to take the bus to the old town. I would walk up and down the Malecon, take pictures and talk to people. There was always something going on. Every weekend there was a farmers market at the square down there. Friday nights were for dancing!

The local dance schools put on a show for everyone that was free for all. They danced the different dances from all over Mexico. Their dancing was fantastic, especially considering how young some of them were. You could tell they were having a good time together. Their costumes were so colorful. I really loved watching them. 🙂

I haven’t been back to start teaching yet, but I’m missing Mexico more and more.

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Hunting With the Hadzabe

Another very early morning wakeup brought us to spending the day with a couple of the traditional tribes of the area. First the Hadzabe, the hunters, next the Datogas, the blacksmiths. We had to meet the Hadzabe very early for a special treat, we would go on a hunt with their men!

#tribe of #Hadzabe #men

We left the beautiful Lake Eyasi Safari Lodge at 0545 and drove about 45 minutes to the Hadzabe camp. They still live a nomadic life, so we met them at one of their temporary camps. They had built scattered domed huts out of thin, flexible branches tied together in addition to their ‘rooms’ in a rocky outcrop atop a high hill.

#traditional #Hadzabe #hut made from flexible branches

When we arrived, we met the chief and through our interpreter, Joseph, he explained the basics of their lifestyle. The men brought us up to a large overhang of the rock where they had a fire going. They explained the different types of arrows they used for hunting (some were poisonous).

A couple of them showed us how they started a fire (no, not with a Bic lighter), the old fashioned way of twisting a stick until it gets hot enough to light the tinder. The Hadzabe men used the spark to light their pipes for a good long toke. A few of our troop tried it too- (lighting the fire, not smoking the weed)- but only one succeeded (just barely). It looked a lot harder when our group tried to do it. The Hadzabe made it look so easy.

starting the #fire

Similar to the Maasai, they were nomadic. But the Hadzabe were hunters, not herders. The chief also had more than 1 wife. The men spent their days hunting and preparing to hunt. They made their bows and arrows, sharpened their knives, kept the fire going, and smoked a lot of weed while they were at it. They offered some to us, but nobody was brave enough to accept.

After the demonstration, we left with the men on their daily hunt. I followed along for about 20 minutes, up and down the rocky hillsides, surrounded by thorny plants in the hot sun. The hunters were already so far ahead of me I couldn’t see what good it was doing to try to keep up with them. I was rushing- huffing and puffing- and not able to really pay attention to my surroundings and thought better about continuing on.

#Hadzabe #African #tribesmen going #hunting with #bows and arrows

I turned around and went back to camp. Joseph escorted me and a couple of others who also wanted to return, just to make sure we made it back safely.

Joseph brought us back to camp, introduced us to the women and then returned to the hunt.

#Hadzabe #woman and her #child

Like the Maasai, the Hadzabe women stay in camp and tend to the household chores. They take care of the children, do whatever needs doing around the camp, and make items for trade. I watched as all the women and children sat together creating beautiful beadwork items (which they later showed our group- just in case anyone wanted to buy).

#Hadzabe #tribal #beadwork

It took a couple of hours for the men to return to camp- along with our group who stuck it out with them. Sorry to say, they didn’t catch anything. They’ll have to try again later. In preparation for heading out again, they practiced with their bow and arrows and a target stump a couple hundred feet down the slope. We watched as all the men (even the young boys) took their shots at the stump. They even offered to teach us how to do it.

#Hadzabe #tribesmen practice #target #shooting with #bows and #arrows

A couple of our group decided to take them up on it and took a couple of shots at the stump. No one managed to hit the target. I tried to pull the string of one of the small boys’ bow. No, I couldn’t pull it even halfway back. We all had fun, the Hadzabe had a good laugh at how awful we were.

we get to practice #target #shooting with #Hadzabe #bows and #arrows

Before we left, the tribe got together and gave us a farewell present. They put on a dance show for us and even invited us into the dance. It was a fun ending to our visit.

I’ll update this post with the video as soon as I can get somewhere with decent internet.

Orient Bosphorus

I was picked up right on time at my hotel. I was glad to see a few others coming along while making our way to the ship.

We arrived at the dock, just past the Galata Bridge, and boarded our vessel (sorry but I didn’t get the name). There were a few similar vessels Med moored to the seawall. Our group was one of the first to arrive. We all went to our assigned tables and the crew brought out our national flags for us.

I was surprised by how many different nationalities were represented on this cruise. Azerbaijan, Japan, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Lebanon, Tunisia, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, India, and more. Just at my table there were people from Kuwait, Pakistan, UK, Algeria, and US (me).  And the boat wasn’t really all that crowded. 🙂

We got underway and got to know each other over our appetizer plate. I tried to figure out what everything was. I tasted a little bit of everything. Nothing was really familiar except for a slice of baloney, some cheese, slice of cucumber and tomato.

Between all of us at the table, we figured out that we also had hummus, carrot salad (not sure what else was in it but the carrots but it was good), potato salad, and dolmus (Greek  word for stuffed grape leaves with spiced rice inside). There was also another salad with peas, carrots. And an orangy mystery. Nobody had any clue as to what it was. It was bland tasting, like maybe some sort of bean paste.

We had a choice of chicken, fish or spicy Turkish meatballs for our entree. I had the grilled chicken. It was nothing spectacular. It came with rice and a small salad.

While we were eating, the MC went around the room. Table by table he gave a little pep talk on each nationality, while the rest of us cheered him on. It was actually pretty entertaining. The guy was good. 😉

The show started with a Whirling Dervish. I liked his lighted costume. I wondered how he didn’t get dizzy spinning around like that. But I think that’s pretty much the point. They’re supposed to get dizzy. Remember how you used to spin around when you were a kid? Same thing. 😉

After the Dervish, we had various folk dances. The dancers were excellent. They were spinning and jumping around. The men did something similar to the famous cossack dances. They even did a knife throwing exhibition (only at a block of wood).

The belly dancers were the big hit of the night’s show. The main dancer went all around the room, teasing all the men and really hamming it up. I do wonder how people who have such traditions as belly dancers can also want to keep all women covered up with nothing but their eyes showing. I find it kind of funny to watch the ladies taking photos of each other when they’re all covered up like that. I mean, how can you even tell who’s who? I really just don’t understand the Muslims.

Last night was a great example of people from all over the world- different cultures, different languages, different histories, etc- just getting along being people together and having a good time.

The show ended and the DJs started playing some wild dance music. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single song he played before, but I liked it. Most everyone else knew the songs by heart.

Everyone really got into it. All but a few were out on the dance floor. One woman was jumping around out there with her baby (who looked bewildered). The group of ladies from Lebanon started line dancing (a little differently than we do it in Texas). 😉

line dancing ladies from Lebanon

line dancing ladies from Lebanon

It was pretty chilly outside, but I had to go out to take pictures a few times. 😉

The waterway was beautiful at night. The bridges were all light up. We passed by some of the larger buildings close enough to get a good shot. The moon was just rising over the Asian side of the Bosphorus. I spent a few minutes out on deck smoking. I peeked in the wheelhouse (had to take a look). The Captain even let me take his picture.

All the crew members were very good and friendly. You could tell they liked their jobs. I’m sure they probably get asked the same questions constantly (I started out on passenger vessels), but they never let it show.

 

They dropped me off at my hotel around midnight. I had a great time. If you ever get to Istanbul, check out Orient Bosphorus.

Teaser: Bosphorus Cruise

I’m running late today, so this will just be a short teaser. I’ll write more when I get in tonight.  Yesterday, I went on a dinner cruise through the Bosphorus Straights between Europe and Asia.

It was a beautiful night and the cruise was very entertaining. With good food, company, music and dancing!

Zydeco Festival

Last Saturday I went up to Houston for the Zydeco Fest. I’ve been having a hard time getting motivated to do much of anything around here. Just too much stress to enjoy the time at home. Weird, isn’t it? When I’m offshore working, I can’t wait to get off and spend time at home. Now that I’ve been home for so long without work, I can hardly stand it.

If I wasn’t so worried about finances, I would be off traveling somewhere. Since I have to be here to jump on any job offer that comes by (no matter how bad), I can’t leave or do anything really.

I had finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel last week (or thought I did), so I decided to go have a little celebration. I’ve always loved zydeco music, all kinds of music really- except rap and opera. I used to go up to Houston every couple of weeks. I’d go catch a live band, spend the night, and do a museum or something on the way home.

I got a late start last week and didn’t get to the show until about 5. They had it right downtown at Jones Plaza. I found a nice hotel only a couple of blocks away and not super expensive. The worst part was the parking fees! At least by the time I got to the show, it had cooled down a little. It was still hot! I didn’t bring anything to sit on and what few seats there were were already occupied.

I just walked around, looked over the little shops people set up- selling food, drinks, t-shirts, etc. They had a couple of food trucks parked by the entrance and more cooks scattered around the park. People were picnicking and enjoying the sunshine with their families. Old folks and babies, the whole range of ages loved the music. Everybody was dancing and having a good time.

I got there in time for the last part of Lil Nate and the Zydeco Big Timers. I saw Marcus Ardoin and the Zydeco Legend, and finished the night off with Step Rideau & the Zydeco Outlaws (all the pictures are of Step and his band).

  

I didn’t find out til I was leaving the Zydeco Fest, but they also had a Gay Pride parade that evening. All the crowds from that were thronging the downtown streets right around the time they were shutting down the Zydeco Fest. It looked like it must have been a lot of fun. Everybody was in a good mood and from what I could see of the costumes, they all had a great time.

Houston needs to get a better way to let people know what’s going on around town!

Here’s a little music to tide us over til next year’s zydeco festival. 🙂

Houston Zydeco Festival

I decided to have a little early celebration (hope I’m not jinxing myself). I had 2 prospective jobs last week. The first since last September!

I’m still waiting for confirmation and things change constantly in the offshore world, so I hope I’ll be going back to work soon. It’s a huge step down in both position and pay, but after more than 6 months out of work, I’ll take pretty much anything.

I’ve turned in applications at the Mathnasium, Hastings bookstore and Buc-ee’s in the last week. Tried to avoid applying to jobs like that as long as I could, but I need to do something to bring in some income. My savings are running down fast. 😦

I’ve been stuck hanging around the house so long, broke, stressed and a little depressed. I think I can afford to take a little break. I’m heading to Houston today for the Zydeco Festival. 

It’s going on all day. Lil Nate and the Zydeco Bigtimers, Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws, Keyun and the Zydeco Masters, Gino Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, Platinum Players Zydeco Band and dif KO on the turntables are the featured players.

Another Party!

Attending the travel bloggers exchange (TBEX) has been a real eye opener. I’ve been busy since the moment I arrived at MSP (airport). I’ve been learning a lot, meeting tons of interesting people, going places, seeing things and attending dinners and parties every day!

TBEX actually started on Monday, with a full day of conferencing. It was held at the Radisson Blu at the Mall of America (a great location). Afterwards, we headed downtown to a party planned for us at the First Avenue. This is a famous Minneapolis club, where many great musicians have played. For the first hour or so, they played music by Prince (who used to play there) as we mingled over munchies provided by Common Roots Catering (thanks!).

 

Live bands played in another part of the place. Ness NiteLydia Liza and Joey Joey Michael were scheduled to play. As the drinks went down, the dance floor filled up and things got more lively. I had a  nice view from above of dancers showing their stuff. The big screen behind them showed scenes of Minnesota. I heard more than 1 complaint of sore muscles the next morning.

 

Remembering that I had another full day of TBEX and an early wakeup call, I left by midnight. It was easy to find our way back to the METRO, even tho the guides who helped us find our way earlier were gone. Comparing notes on the ride home with a dozen other bloggers was fun. We all agreed it was a great way to spend an evening out in Minneapolis. Thanks to all who made it happen! 🙂