Posts Tagged ‘first impressions’

Birding and Smiles

If there is something that makes someone smile, be open enough to learn about it. It might be the thing that comes to make you smile.
Lilac breasted roller

A funny thing happened on my safari in Kenya. I was introduced to the world of Birding. Clearly, I was unaware of how serious the sport of Birding was, because there were a few people on our trip who were more interested in seeing the birds than they were in seeing real (as I call them) animals. There were quite a few older people (75 and up) on the trip. One in particular was a fanatic Birder. Somehow I kept ending up in the same jeep as her which meant we had to stop and look at every single bird that we saw. You can imagine that there were thousands of birds and you can picture the look on my face everytime we had to stop to look at one. At one point, I was so fed up I wanted to scream, “F@*k the birds, I want to see some cats!”. Luckily, I was raised better than that and kept my thoughts to myself.  Eventually, I realized I was fighting a losing battle and decided that if I couldn’t beat ’em, I’d join ’em. So I started actually looking at the birds with the binoculars each time we stopped and grew to appreciate the birds. Some were pretty extraordinary and began to really enjoy it. I had to laugh at myself when one time I actually blurted out, “Stop! There’s a interesting looking bird”. Nancy (the Birder) couldn’t have been more thrilled that I was now enjoying birding. I started talking to her about her love for birding and learned that it brought her so much joy that she has traveled to many countries on birding trips. This is a woman who had lost her husband a few years ago, but always had a smile on her face. I then thought that I wish I could find something that made me as happy as birding made her. Well, I’m not officially a Birder, but I do appreciate the sport thanks to Nancy.  The lesson learned from this experience is: if there is something that makes someone smile, be open enough to learn about it. It might be the thing that comes to make you smile.

Here’s a pic of the lilac-breasted roller which was one of my favorites and one of the most beautiful we saw.

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Hola Madrid!?

“First impressions are important mainly because too many people put way too much faith in them.”

I finally arrived in Madrid safe and sound, but not without the random travel “hiccups”.  My first and most important connection through JFK to London was delayed almost two hours due to the traffic congestion.  As a result, I missed my connection in London and didn’t get to Madrid until two hours later. No big deal except that my cell phone wasn’t working and I had arranged for transportation and had a one hour window to meet the property manager of our flat to get the keys. With my phone not working, I couldn’t call either of them to tell them when I would be in.  Also, I couldn’t get a wireless signal at Heathrow airport (more complaints about Heathrow to come). So I get to Madrid and pray I can get wireless there or I’ll be forced to play the foreign victim role and ask someone to use his or her phone. I get wireless access in Madrid and Skype comes through in the end, although one of my bags does not.

Thanks to Skype, I find my taxi driver and part two of the adventure begins. He doesn’t speak or understand English and we all know that I’m on this trip to learn Spanish, so this could be a problem. I understand the basics of what he is saying and he miraculously finds my flat after winding through the narrow sides streets.  I’m happy. Then something random happens. While we’re standing outside waiting to be buzzed in, someone squirts ketchup on my butt. I’m bending down getting something out of my backpack when ketchup randomly “falls from the sky”. I halfway saw a guy walk behind and drop something and next thing I knew I had ketchup on my butt. Then about 5 minutes later another dude walks up behind me and points to the ketchup and hands me some napkins. Coincidence? I think not! I’m still confused as to what the point of the whole ketchup situation was, but unfortunately that’s my first impression of Madrileños.  I refuse to let that me the impression of Madrid that sticks, so I am suspending all judgment until I am here at least a few days so look out for a more complete assessment of the city. On a good note, our flat is super cute and has A/C (see the pics below). It’s going to be in the 90’s most of the time that we’re here.

With everything that happened today, I had to express my gratitude and dissatisfaction with a few people and organizations using a simple thumbs up or thumbs down.

Thumbs up

  • To Skype for coming through on all of my calling needs. You’re a better service provider than Sprint! I did sign up for A Skype number
  • To Quita and Brian for the Euros. They came in handy when my ATM would not allow me to withdraw money
  • To Anastasia for finding such a great flat in Madrid…with A/C. This is why I travel with you!

Thumbs down

  • To the Madrileños who squirt ketchup for fun and games
  • To Sprint for failing once again to provide adequate service and not activating my request for an international data plan after I requested it two weeks in advance.
  • To Heathrow airport, for a poor design/layout. What’s with taking three 10-minute bus rides for one connection? I was also surprised that the signs did not include translations in multiple languages. I thought the Brits were more progressive than Americans when it comes to other languages. Guess not.

Location: Sitting in the living room of my home for the next three weeks waiting on Ana to arrive.

Mood: Tired

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