Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015: The Year of Adventure

I mean it was Paris <3
Wow I haven't typed to you guys since last year, you're looking great! (Ok done with the cheesy New Year's jokes, for now) I know I've disappeared yet again,  but it's been quite a bit of adventure and next to no blogging time. New Year's Resolution, Write more for you guys.. and get the splits (I'm so close!)

My photos will not be in chronological order.

Ville en Selve: The Land of Wild Hogs

Everything was just go green!
After an unforgettable 100 Days in Spain Celebration leaving me with only 2.5 hours of sleep, we loaded up the caravan and were heading off to a new adventure, Christmas in France. Despite my exhaustion I didn't want to miss a single green hill of this foreigner's paradise. Unfortunately/luckily the fog was covering us like we were driving in a cloud, and in a cloud it's fairly easy to fall asleep (Well it's fairly easy to sleep anywhere when you've only had 2.5 hours to begin with). My butt numb and hair a nest fit for birds to perch, this 11 hour car trip was soon coming to an end.
Watching how the famous champagne becomes famous.
Infatuated with the pink toiletpaper
Though I doubt I would have been woken if it weren't for the rollercoaster of winding roads throwing me back and forth. Up down and all around we were speeding through the night-fright horror movie woods of northern France. As we jerked right, swerved left they explained what the woods were known for, Javelina.
(Translated from Spanish)
-Yeah Javelina running through the woods and getting hit by cars at night.
-OH so like deer?
-Nooo. You know oink oink?
-Yes "wild hogs". We'll probably be having one for dinner. (We did, in meatloaf form and really it was delicious)

The first few hours were a rush of French, flying everywhere and boy did I feel like an exchange student. Coming to Spain with a pretty good level of Spanish I never had the serious "Oh my, wow I have no idea what is going on" factor. In France, ya know where they speak French, I was blissfully lost. The blank eyed smile-nod became my new best friend and I was clinging to the Pre-exchange rule Rotary had drilled into my brain "Always say, Oui!" This would only help for the next newbie-catcher, the next course.

Let'ss take a walk

Cutting the Cheese and Running Your Hams

The plaza looking packed and fancy for Día de los Reyes Magos.
Food in France had been very up and down for me it was either "oh my god if this croissant had a bowtie I would marry it." or "I could go the rest of my life never putting that in my mouth again". But at this point in time I was only amidst the honeymoon food comma of a food network worthy quiche. Dessert. Isn't there always room? They rolled out a little cart with a covered platter. What awaited, rainbow macaroons, mini crème brulees? Obviously my foreigner was showing because when they lifted the cover it was not sugary sweats that graced me but a pungent odor that had my eyes watering before I could even see what it was.
Notre Dame from a different angle.
My gifts in my boot
Cheese for dessert? I quickly covered up my foreigner and accepted the unexplainably melty white slice in front of me. Observing before embarrassing, I watched as they smeared portions of cheese that out weighted their little pieces bread by at least 2 to 1. Everyone was smile-muching, laugh-smearing so I just went with it. Maybe it doesn't taste as bad as it smells. Mistake. I think the distaste was shining through my eyes because with a nudge of the shoulder and knowing look I snuck my cheese plate to my host dad.
The white melty one
yeah thats' the cuplrate.
Christmas went by super fast. There was gift giving and thank you kiss-hugging, lots of olive oil and wine. Before I new it we were rounding out Christmas day and I hadn't talked to my family yet! And then it was really hitting me. Did I just spent the biggest family celebration in the history or celebrations, away from my family? I pondered this more as we laced up for a run through the woods. My first Xmas away from home and I hadn't cried. Even though I didn't have morning cinnamon rolls nor salsa dancing until 2 in the morning, like the Christmases I knew so well, I was fine? I couldn't think too long because I was now experiencing two sensations the beauty of the woods by day and the taste of bursting lungs.
Does all of Fance just look so perfect?

Starting with the good, the woods. As the morning fog separated I could finally see. The ground was carpeted in clumping soggy leaves that squished as we ran and the way the air smelt like firewood and rain had me thinking of Christmas in Franklin, Massachusetts. And in those moments of sweat I found myself really missing home.

Visited a frozen castle.
 As we round out of the heavy treed forest my footing faltered with the shock of beauty before me. The trees broke out to a hill overlooking a rolling ocean of green. Seriously, I felt like I was in a laptop screensaver. My minor pause had my running partners questioning if I was ok "Oui, très bien!" my 3 favorite and only words I learned in French.
It's not about the talent to get down the hill. It's the strength to just go.
Let's get one thing straight I was running alongside host dad and host uncle both marathon runners, both with strides that could leave me in the dust. So when "very good" came out it meant "very good assuming we're almost half way and I won't die on this run". 8.5 Km later I started recognizing things again and we were mounting the last big incline (which did kill me). Pretty soon the next thing we were mounting was the car.
Cappuccino in Paris, Check that off the list.
After kiss-hug French-English goodbyes, I had a lot of thoughts going through my mind. I had skyped my family the night before. I hugged myself knowing that family is where ever you go. Behind a screen or behind a language barrier, the love is still there. Yes I missed them, to miss them is to love them, but to open your heart, to make your family all the bigger, letting love in and giving love out, I think that's the meaning of  exchange. Even more that's the meaning of life.

City of Lights, Heart of Lights

Sometimes it takes a little perspective to see how grand something truly is
I know you're all shouting Tanika enough with the smelly cheeses and heartfelt sentiments, tell us about Paris!! We become infatuated with this city from the first romance movie we see based there, red berets, corner cafes and ze French accent. It's endearing, adorable, a dream. It's Paris. And that's exactly what it was, major photo ops, lots of tourists. I still couldn't help the fluttering heart as I stood in front of the Eiffel Tower or bit into my first macaroon.
The locks and the Seine Like it came straight out of the movies
Did I mention we went skiing?
Ultimately Paris is somewhere you can't tell, you just have to go and see for yourself. That's my challenge to you guys. Just go somewhere, anywhere. Even if it's only a few hours away, if you haven't seen it, see it, haven't done it, do it. Tell me about these little adventures, send me pictures if you'd like!. This world is too great of place for us not to all be experiencing it.
Going higher and higher until my feet can't touch the ground
Now it's onward into another new family, another new home, smack dab in the middle of a police base (not kidding). More stories to come hopefully without so many gaps. May your 2015 be full of discovery, inspiration and happiness that fills the heart :)
Over the horizons a new year awaits new places and new adventures.