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Worldliness

Post-Morocco life has brought on significant work, stress, and freezing temperatures.  But as we bear through the”polar vortex” and dismal days, and January comes to an end, the excitement of the rest of the year is beginning to kick in.  The next few months include a string of “carrots”, from Cabo San Lucas in February, to college letters in March, to post-AP relaxation in May, and, finally, graduation in June.  From here on is the home stretch.

Returning from a place of mid-60’s temperatures and fervent sunshine to the brutal cold Vermont has been undoubtedly difficult.  Despite having lived in this state for 13 years, I just can’t bear the cold anymore.  All I can think of are the sunny skies of Mexico in February or what the summer will bring.   But on the other hand, transitioning into the second semester of senior year has let me shift my priorities.  While previously, I was scurrying to complete college applications and maintain my grades, the new year has given me more of an opportunity to return to my creative writing.  I started brushing up an old, abandoned short story a few weeks ago that I had originally written during my time in the Sunderbans.  I’m in the midst of writing my third Huffington Post article.  I’ve begun to read The New York Times in its entirety every morning.  It seems like everything I’ve ever wanted to do throughout high school is finally coming into action this semester.

One of the newest aspects of second semester has been PIWA, a world affairs class that is required for seniors at my school.  While the class itself is abnormally large and consists of extra busywork, it’s allowed me to focus deeper on topics that absolutely fascinate me, from U.S. relations with hostile countries to the history of Middle Eastern conflicts.  Much of what we read and learn reminds me of my time at Yale this summer, focusing on counter-terrorism and, specifically, the Middle East.  As I delve into Fareed Zakaria’s editorials and Zeke Miller’s reports, I’m starting to develop my own opinions on these issues.  And moving closer to college, I’m also realizing what I want to pursue and what I am interested in.

In other news, my blog celebrated its third anniversary earlier this month, which, at this point, feels unreal.  For the past three years, I have not missed a single month; TR has always lingered in my mind.  And as I get ready to leave high school, TR feels so much more meaningful to me; it’s helped me develop a voice.  Writing this sounds cheesy, but before TR, I was reserved— I had dreams of writing, but never pursued them.  When I created this blog, I finally had the chance to learn and write and discover and inspire.  Three years, nearly 12,000 views, and 20 followers later, TR represents how I’ve grown, changed, and blossomed throughout high school.  [End of my monthly sentimental TR moment]

If you’re feeling particularly generous, inspired, or bored tonight, check out some of my travel photographs (Morocco and more) on my National Geographic page!  And if you’re a photography guru (or not), feel free to critique.

Wrapping up this post with my current musical obsession (which changes every week):

-B

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Sahara Sunsets

When I look back upon 2013, I cannot imagine a more ideal way to have ended the year, roaming around this beautiful country in a new continent, undergoing experiences that I never thought even existed in reality.

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Atlas Mountains

On Saturday morning, we left Marrakech early in the morning with our driver, Muhammed, and guide, Salim, both of whom would accompany us through Morocco for the next three days.  As we left the city, we began to submerge into the Atlas Mountains, the magnanimous mountain range that crosses through Morocco.  For hours, we drove through the curved roads, stopping here and there to take some breathtaking photos.  At one of the local village cafes, we paused for some Moroccan mint tea, which has become a daily routine for us, and looked out into the range.    The range seemed to extend forever, but because of the clouds above, the photographs came out foggy.  Nonetheless, one of the most fascinating sights we saw was of two nomad women climbing up the trails atop donkeys, indifferent to the tourists.

Throughout Saturday, we drove to two kasbahs, or fortresses.  The first one, located in a quaint Berber village, was the home of a pasha, a noble title, in the mid 1900s, who also housed several wives.  The walls were made of mud, and due to generators, lightbulbs hung from each of the room ceilings.  On the terrace, we could see the flatlands for miles across.  Our kasbah guide, who sported a traditional Moroccan ensemble, showed us his country store and his home after the tour, located at the mouth of the village.  Coming from a family of nomads, he told us about how he had chosen to settle down in one place, although he liked to visit the Sahara once in a while.

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At Ben Haddou

The second kasbah we visited—Ksar Ait Ben Haddou— was the site of several movie shootings, including Prince of Persia, Indiana Jones, and Lawrence of Arabia.  Despite being out in the middle of nowhere, we were still struck with the same Indian comments—”Bollywood!  We love Shahrukh Khan!”—which, after a while, kind of became creepy.  However, the scenery at this kasbah was unbelievable.

That night, we stayed at the gorgeous Xaluca hotel in Dades, which is located in a valley known as Rose Valley, for its plentiful roses during the summertime.  Although it was located in an isolated village, Xaluca was one of the best places we’ve ever stayed, with stunning views—the perfect way to wake up after a nearly 12-hour trip the previous day.  However, this day was just as long, as we made our way to Merzouga through the pre-Sahara.

On the way, we stopped at the Todra Gorge, just outside of Dades, where we encountered one of the most natural and incredible scenes.  As we settled in for tea between the gorges, I caught sight of a large black mass moving towards us from the mountains in the distance.  When they became closer, it became clear that it was actually a herd of black sheep, along with nomads in search for water.  As the sheep found the water, they scrambled into neat lines.  Beside them, a young girl in a pink dress wandered around, asking tourists for money.  Around her were other nomads, ignoring the cameras, focused on getting their share of water.  Eventually, my mom asked one of the women if she could take a picture with her, and only after taking the photo did I realize how gorgeous the women was, with sharp eyes and rosy cheeks.  She smiled afterwards, calling me princess in Arabic (translated by Salim).  And as I look back on the picture, I am reminded of Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl—it feels like I’ve finally taken the photograph I’ve been wanting to capture for so long (picture to be posted soon).

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Sunset in the pre-Sahara region

Around five p.m., we reached Merzouga, a Berber village literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded solely by sand dunes, which they call Erg Chebbierg meaning dunes.  As was planned, we decided to take a camel trip into the dunes.  Salim prepared us for the cold (yes, the Sahara was absolutely freezing….ironic, isn’t it?) by tying scarves around our heads as traditional nomads.  While my mom and I waited around, one of the many camels became feisty, screaming and kicking in the air.  And thanks to karma, I ended up with that very camel, who nearly threw me off in the first two minutes of the ride.  As I’ve made clear several times, I’m terrified of heights, so as the camel began screaming and jumping, I did too.  But soon enough, we became comfortable with each other, and the ride became (almost) peaceful.  Eventually, after twenty minutes or so, we found ourselves in the middle of the Sahara with our camel guide, three rowdy camels, and the easing sound of the breeze.

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Picture taken with my phone (actual camera pics to come in future post)

I’ve never seen a more breathtaking sight than the sun setting over the Sahara.  I  wish I could do it justice to in words—I’ll try.  As the sun fell into the horizon, you could see the shadows of the outlines of the dunes as they curved up and down.  In the distance, two people sat atop a hill, but other than that, we were literally the only souls in the Sahara.  The sand extended for miles, as if never to end.  I had seen numerous pictures, stalked National Geographic, watched several desert movies, but I had never imagined the Sahara to be like this.  Even after having visited beautiful places like Aruba or the Sunderbans, I felt an awe that I never knew existed.  And so, in the silence, which became haunting after a while, we watched the sun set over the large sand dunes, trying to capture pictures of our silhouettes and the view.  On the way back to the hotel, I fell silent, which is, as many of you who are reading this know, rare for me.  While part of it was my disgust from having been spit on by a camel just moments before, I was mostly overwhelmed, unable to fathom what I had seen.  I could say it looked like a movie, but it didn’t—it looked better.  It looked unlike anything that could exist in this world.  A part of me wishes I had stayed longer, but unfortunately, I was slightly preoccupied with my dread for the camel ride.  Lucky for me, I took the calmer camel on the way back, who decided to be gentle with me, but honestly, he probably just wanted to avoid my screaming.

The day after my spiritual/morally-uplifting adventure, we finally made it to Casablanca, after driving for thirteen hours through the snow-capped Atlas Mountains (you would think that visiting Africa would allow me to escape from the snow).  Today, we spent the day wandering around Casablanca—famous for its eponymous movie, which I still haven’t seen—and Rabat, the nation’s capital only an hour away from Casablanca.  Compared to Marrakech, I found Casablanca tremendously modern and Rabat culturally-refreshing.  As we discovered the famous landmarks of the two cities, including the King’s palace and Hassan II Mosque, I fell in love with the architecture of the buildings, primarily consisting of mosaics and intricate patterns.  Even more, to me, Moroccan history is, in general, fascinating for its recency, as opposed to that of most European countries.  The stories, people, and facts feel more real, more relevant.

We just returned from our New Year’s Eve dinner at a small restaurant, where we ate our last Moroccan meal of the trip—lamb kebabs and chocolate crepes.  Tomorrow, we’re finally heading back to Vermont.  As much as I’m surprised to say this, I cannot wait to go home—no matter where I go, Vermont always draws me back.  Right now, it’s 11:30 pm here in Morocco, and I can hear the clock ticking away to midnight.  It’s wonderful being here for New Year’s, but I still miss being at home for the turn of the year, with my friends, watching Anderson Cooper announce the countdown in Times Square.  For years, this has been my tradition.

Even more, in these last minutes of 2013, I’m realizing the weight that comes with 2014—graduation, college, moving away, a new chapter.  As exciting as it all is, I’m also nervous.  It seems like this is the moment I’ve been counting down to for years.

2013 has been unbelievable—making new friends, pursuing my passions, discovering new places, and undergoing experiences like the one I just described in the Sahara.  As cheesy as it sounds (not surprising, because I AM cheesy), I feel grateful for everything this year has brought, and hopefully, next year at this time, I’ll be saying the same about 2014.

So Happy New Year everyone!  Here’s to hoping that you follow all your resolutions, come out in one piece by tomorrow morning, and have a great, great year.  Amidst all the celebration, I’ve attached one of my favorite videos of my two favorite people down below!

-B

P.S. I’ll post some pictures on TR soon!

Under the Marrakech Sun

One of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen yet has been the panorama of the stars above the terrace of the Riad hotel.  The night is so crisp, that you can even see the distinct constellations span across the sky.  Down below, two or three (or probably more) cats wander, and by now, I’ve learned not to cringe every time one brushes by my leg or falls asleep in my lap.  On the first floor, there’s a swimming pool beneath a large tarp, which covers the open roof.  Sometimes from up above, you can hear the pitter patter of the cats wandering about the tarp, their shadows gracefully moving across.

“Lights in Morocco don’t work,” says our hotel receptionist, Florence, who, as I mentioned before, has mastered Franglais.  Everywhere we go, the lights are dim, creating an air of eeriness and mystique. Two nights ago, we lost power at least three times, which, to me, seemed rustic and cool, while my parents became absolutely frustrated, albeit having grown up with frequent power outages.  In the morning, however, we woke to a bright African sun, rising over the reddish clay buildings.  Our hotel served us a breakfast of crepe-like pancakes, mint tea, fruits, chocolate bread, and rolls, all of which was fit for a royal.

After breakfast, we headed to Saadian Tombs, the site of several 16th century tombs that were discovered in 1917.  Despite having been to tombs before, I found the architecture at the Saadian Tombs stunning.  According to my parents, it’s comparable to that of Al Hamra in Spain.  The tombs from each class of society in those days are divided into sectors, from women to children to men to servants.  Within these sectors, special areas mark the kings, or relatives of the kings.  But despite the class of society, each tomb is adorned with an intricate design, creating a truly beautiful sight.  The entire site seemed serene to me, a stark contrast with the bustling Marrakech roads.

Outside of Saadian Tombs, we had our first encounter with aggressive street vendors.  As we stepped out, one of the shopkeepers ran towards us screaming, “Britain?  Britain?  Pakistan?  India?  Namaste!”  While we wandered around his store, he pulled out products from every nook and cranny—”My name is Mustapha Couscous!  Yes, you take that product for free, I give you good price for the rest.”  Although I had been warned about not being too scared, I found it amusing, albeit a little overwhelming. “You only child?  Ah, princess!  Marry Indian boy, not English boy, okay?”

I soon discovered that Mustapha Couscous was as good as it got; shopkeepers in Marrakech literally grab ahold of you, saying anything to lure you into their stores.  The most frequent comment was, “India?  India?  Shahrukh Khan!  Preity Zinta!  Zindabaad India!”  Yet, even with my accented English, nobody asked if we were from the U.S.  Once, one of them asked my dad how the weather was in the U.K.  Other times, they tried to speak Hindi.

Throughout the day, we walked around the markets in the main square of Marrakech, buying items here and there, and bargaining like we’ve never bargained before (perks of visiting Kolkata).  In this region of the world, small street-side shops are called souks, and many of Morocco’s touristy photographs feature spice souks, with cone-shaped piles of multi-colored spices sprawled across a counter.  For me, photographing souks was one of the most fascinating parts of the day, seeing the colors, lights, and people interact.  While I initially feared photographing shopkeepers, most were enthusiastic and urged me to take even more photographs “with or without business!”

Despite what TripAdvisor or Yahoo Answers says, Marrakech doesn’t seem unsafe to me, excluding the petty crimes, which we find even in Vermont.  In fact, what has repeatedly caught my eye about Marrakech has been the manner in which women roam around, and what I’ve noticed is how relatively progressive the city is.  Wherever we go, we see diverse groups of local women with varied clothing, both conservative and liberal. Even at night, pods of women walk by themselves, unharmed and confident.  It makes me question everything I had previously been warned of about a country like Morocco.  What I find even more incredible is the omnipresence of fashion, from Burberry hijabs to bright violet burqas to designer jeans—a phenomenon I, admittedly, had not expected to see in Morocco.

However, my perceptions of Marrakech overall have hardly changed since my first blog post.  There’s still that sense of uncertainty within me.  Little things catch me off guard.  For example, when we were wandering through the morning markets near the Riad yesterday, I suddenly became aware of the lingering smell of meat, only to discover chicken and pig carcasses hanging from stores.  Later in the day, when we stopped to watch a snake charming show, we became quickly disheartened by the scene—Sam and Wookie have instilled a softness for animals within us.  [Side note: one of the cobras came frighteningly close to me, and I’m afraid I’ll eventually have nightmares about it.]  Otherwise, and more generally, whenever someone brushes too close or rowdy guys sketchily and jokingly say, “Hello, how are you?” to me, I put my guard on.  It’s an odd feeling being constantly stressed in a city.

But I suppose deep inside, I like feeling a little discomfort because in the end, I’ll come to value this trip.  The frequent stops for mint tea or shawarma (similar to rotisserie chicken) make everything worthwhile, of course.

The past few days in Marrakech have, in a sense, put traveling into perspective.  It’s so easy to adore Paris and Florence and New York, or aspire to travel for the rest of my life, but real traveling, I’ve discovered, is being placed in an unknown place and working through the difficulties.  Perhaps this is the first time I’ve felt so uneasy in a place.  Nonetheless, it’s an adventure, and, although I don’t know if I’m adventurous yet, I’m excited.

Today, we’re headed in the direction of Merzhouga, with brief stops in the Atlas Mountains and a night rest in a quaint Berber village.  The adventure has just begun, so keep reading TR (which will most likely be updated post-Sahara trip), which will, as of January 1st, be three years old.  Even more, travel blogging has, once again, inspired me to start posting more often.  This calls for celebration.  Happy early New Year, and here’s to hoping that we’ll all actually come through with our resolutions in 2014!

-B

A Day in Marrakech

The view of Marrakech from the plane reminded me of a movie. The lands were flat, brown, arid. The sun beamed down on the region. In the distance, the Atlas Mountains stood tall, with rigid edges. The buildings melded together, all different variations of red.

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When we stepped out of the airport, the scene was reminiscent of Aruba or perhaps Dubai. But ahead, the mountain ranges jutted out of the sky, the air tinges of orange, and it became a world that I never have really seen. Despite my travels in the past, I’m not sure what to make of Morocco.

Our hotel, the Riad, is located between quaint alleyways that are vaguely familiar to those of Kolkata. If I close my eyes, it feels as if I’m strolling through the streets of one of my family neighborhoods, with the rapid (often too much) scooters, ogling locals, and street shops (known as tabacs en français). Yet, I feel uneasy here at times, while Kolkata provides solace. I suppose with Africa being a new continent, I have no perceptions of what to do or how to behave. I guess that’s all part of the learning process.

The receptionist at the Riad hails from France, and often stumbles over her English in the way I remember the French exchange students doing during TIE. Sometimes she stops, stares at the sky, and mutters, “Bah, mais non”, and I feel as if I should help or say something. But, as always, I’m afraid to speak French, although it is nice to understand the language, unlike my past few days in Holland.

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The one thing I definitely don’t feel uneasy about here so far is the food. We just returned from a gorgeous restaurant, and ate platefuls of kebabs and couscous. Because this is Morocco, lamb is, of course, a specialty, and beyond incredible. I’ve also become a fan of Moroccan mint tea, thanks to trips to Dobra during the summer. As always, food provides a comfort unlike any other.

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Regardless of my initial reactions, I’m both excited and curious to see what Morocco offers, especially between the different cities. After Marrakech, we’re heading to a desolate Berber village to stay for a night, then Merzhouga, where we’ll explore the Sahara. Our final town will be Casablanca, with perhaps a day-trip to Rabat.

With the unpredictable wifi, it’s difficult to blog regularly, but I hope to post about each city as I go along. For now, wishing everyone a late Merry Christmas!

Hipster

I absolutely love food.  For the first time ever, the Mukherjees cooked a full Thanksgiving meal, with turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce….the whole shabang.  While we weren’t surrounded by twenty other family members, we did share it with each other—and, of course, Sam and Wookie.  But Thanksgiving has felt more like the holiday season, with the white blanket of snow, Christmas music, excessive shopping.  Half of my mind is in denial that school is in two days, and the other half is desperately trying to complete the work I never got around to.  I think I need another vacation.

My house has mostly been crazy with Morocco plans.  A night here in Marrakech, another there in Casablanca.  It feels like a dream to travel to Africa, though with everything going on, I tend to forget that I’m actually going on vacation soon.  One of the trips we were looking at was a night in the Sahara, under the stars—such an idyllic image.  Imagine spending New Years Eve sleeping in the Sahara (although with the cobras and vipers), watching the crystal clear sky, listening to nothing but the sand and the wind.  Though, I don’t think I’m quite at the level of being able to live like a savage for a few days.  Instead, we’ll visit the Sahara on short day trips, taking camel rides and photographs, and attempting to speak French (poorly, I might add).

Before Morocco, we’re spending three days with Pablo, who, by persistent prodding, has already figured out 75% of his Christmas gifts. Even more, he’s determined to name his new baby brother Lolly, but we have two months to convince him out of that one.  Spending Christmas in Europe will be yet another dream, although I’ll miss Vermont.  There’s nothing quite like waking up in my own bed, watching the snow fall, listening to my dogs whimper on Christmas morning.  Picking up the tree every morning after it invariably falls down.  Stressing out over Christmas shopping.  Decorating the house with holiday lights.  It’s all a part of December.

In other news, lately, I’ve been addicted to tea, movies, and Bastille’s new album, Bad Blood.  I spend most of my time at Dobra Tea downtown, curled up on the low platforms, sipping my chai and eating mochi.  Dobra embodies everything “hipster” and Vermont-y, so if you consider yourself a Vermonter, make your way over there as soon as you can.  My idea of a good movie still includes tear-jerkers and hopeless rom-coms, but I’m trying to branch out by watching classics (started out with Breakfast Club).  Any suggestions?  Comment below!  And finally, Bastille.  Listen to Bastille if you can.  The song “Oblivion” is particularly uplifting and spiritual and just makes me so happy.

In the past few weeks, I’ve gone to two, starkly contrasting concerts: David Cook and Anoushka Shankar.  At David Cook, my friend and I stood out amongst the crowd of primarily 50-year old women and their grudging husbands.  But seeing David perform reminded me of all those nights I stayed up watching American Idol, rooting for David Archuleta rather than Cook, pathetically devoting my entire life to the show (shedding a few tears when Archie lost).  Six years later, I actually find myself liking David Cook.  Who would’ve thought?  Nonetheless, his music is upbeat and refreshing….and he has a great voice.  Not to mention, he’s a fun performer!

The audience at Anoushka Shankar was kind of the same deal.  I stuck out amongst an overwhelming amount of elderly people.  But, as I am an old lady I heart, Anoushka Shankar’s concert was one of the best ones I’ve ever been to.  Her music was beautiful and soothing, not to mention unique.  Her approach of combining Indian classical and Western music is brilliant. My dad spent part of the concert trying to explain the concept of ragas to me, and it made me regret not appreciating Indian classical music before.  Because ragas are improvised (though Anoushka Shankar writes all of her music), they seem much rawer than Western classical music.  They convey pure emotions—it’s incredible.   I’ll always have a soft spot for emotional music over any other kind.

Before I return to Crime and Punishment and Candide, two of my reading assignments for this break, I’m going to do some shameless self-promotion.  As some of you know, I started an online newspaper at my school in September, after three years of hopeless dreaming.  It was an ambitious goal, and, honestly, I didn’t think it would come through.  But these past few months have reminded me how amazing SB and its students are.  Rebelution just released its first issue ever, with the help of the 17 incredible and talented staff members.  The nights before the deadline were grueling, but seeing the final product, I regret nothing.  Go like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, comment on some of our pieces.  We love support!

And with that, I’m off.  Happy belated Thanksgiving/Black Friday (let’s face it….this is what this vacation is about), December, and holidays!

-B

Autumn Evenings

How is it that October is invariably the dullest month of blogging?  With the autumn colors blooming, the nights falling earlier, and the cold air taking over, I usually find myself retreating in my room, trying to avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder.  But for the first time, I love autumn.  Maybe my Vermont pride is finally kicking in.  The colors have been gorgeous, and I finally made my way out for some fall photography the other day.  Today’s the first day we’ve been hit with extremely cold weather and our first snow (though not official since it didn’t stick).  Contrary to usual, I’m ready for winter.

I haven’t had a real blog post since the summer.  Blogging is a foreign feeling; college essay writing, on the other hand, is not.  I’ve probably written over ten essays about different topics.  But it goes without saying that I miss blogging on TR.  College applications have taken over my life for the most part, but I’ve found that I’ve been enjoying them.  Interestingly enough, I’ve learned a lot about myself.  It’s quite an enlightening process.  At the same time, this has felt like the most relaxing year thus far.  The beauty of senior year is that I’m doing what I love—taking classes that I want to, leading clubs I’m passionate about, and trying to determine my future.  One of the most exciting aspects of the past few months has been blogging for Huffington Post, which has been a dream of mine for years.  For the first time, I’m seeing my writing thrown around Facebook and Twitter, an influx of Twitter followers, and motivation from people whom I barely know.  Granted, seeing my writing published on a legitimate site has made me realize how much work I still have to perfect my writing, but I figure that it’s a learning process.

In the coming months, however, I have a few other things to look forward to.  First of all, I will be submitting all of my college apps soon (just submitted my first one!).  Second, the holiday season is coming up, which means holiday music will finally be socially-acceptable, and everyone will be upbeat and joyous.  Third, I’m spending Christmas with Pablo in the Netherlands and New Years in Morocco!   It’ll be the perfect end to a pretty good year, I’d say.  Traveling means more travel blogging!  And I promise that this time, I’ll actually blog about the Netherlands.

But I suppose I should focus on Halloween first.

Last weekend, I had Friday off, so I took the extra time to watch six movies (no regrets) and start two books (The Sun Also Rises and The Lowland).  I also have been working through a book of 642 Writing Prompts, which range from bizarre (talk about a houseplant and its necessity to survive) to enthralling (describe a day as an astronaut).  The latter is especially exciting for me since I just recently watched Gravity, which I strongly recommend (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are the perfect duo).  Other than this, life is simply good.

Happy autumn, happy October, and happy (almost) Halloween!

 

-B

 

Dear Pablo

I never blogged about Pablo this summer while in the Netherlands.  But, in honor of his 6th birthday, I’ve decided to dedicate an entire post to him.

Pablo is my (now) six year old cousin–my only cousin (until February, when Pablo’s new sibling is expected to be born).  We have an interesting relationship, despite our 11 year old difference.  When I first saw Pablo this summer after picking him up from school, he was “embarrassed” by my hug.  For the rest of the trip, our conversations faced both ups & downs.  Sometimes, he would tell me he wasn’t happy with me for some reason or another, and other times, he’d snuggle up in my bed and refuse to leave.  But I enjoyed every moment with him.  So, as a celebration of Pablo, here are some of his best quotes and moments:

  • “I’m calling you candyman because I love you.”
  • “I LOVE your dress, except you’re not wearing any pants.”
  • “You’re being very naughty.  I’m not happy with you.”
  • “I like your phone…and you look like a princess” –Pablo, on what he likes about me.
  • “Did you finish sleeping because you had a long sleep.  Now play.”
  • After arriving to Pablo’s house my first day in Amsterdam this summer, I decided to nap for a few hours, only to wake up in the middle to Pablo force-feeding me lemon poppy cake he had made himself.
  • Pablo: “I’m six, so I’m nine quarters.”
    Me: “What do they teach you in school these days?”
    Pablo: “You’re seventeen, so you’re ten quarters.
  • “I’m going to name my new baby brother Lolly.  Or Bear.”

Happy birthday kiddo!   In ten years, when you stumble upon this post, you’ll thank me for keeping track of all your shenanigans.  Stay golden.

Love,

B

Some photographs from the trip: