Tag Archives: Holiday

The Argentine short stories – Bondiola

Bondiola?” I pointed at the entry on the menu card. “What is bondiola?”

I was about to order the bife de lomo, the Argentine tenderloin steak, at El Cucharon when my gaze fell upon this mysterious word, especially since the price tag was similar to the one behind the lomo. The menu card indicated that it was pork, but that wasn’t nearly enough information for me, so I looked up expectantly at the waiter, even as my mind started to wander off. Bondiola. The very word conjured up images of the tough gauchos of Patagonia, sitting steadily atop their mighty steeds while their eyes never averted from the herd of cattle they were attending to. Bondiola. I could almost hear my imaginary gaucho whisper the word softly, all alone in the wide open pampas with only his dog, his horse and his cattle to keep him company, as the wind rustled across the dry, desolate desert landscape. The word itself was pregnant with solitude. And with longing. Longing for his home and family. Longing to consume his next hot meal together with his loved ones.

“Ah! Bondiola!” the waiter exclaimed, a wide grin appearing on his friendly face. He formed a ring with his hand by bringing together the tips of his thumb and forefinger, while the other three fingers were pointed toward the ceiling. He brought the tips to his lips and made a soft smacking sound as he kissed them. “It’s pork shoulder. Excellent quality! Muy bien!”

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Back to writing after the holiday

It has been almost a full week since I have returned from my holiday in Argentina and I cannot avoid the inevitable anymore. You will notice for instance that the last entry in my blog is dated January 17th 2011, meaning almost a full month has elapsed since I last updated it. And apart from a couple of individual free-writing sessions, I have not made much progression on the fiction front either since my writing classes ended, which was way back in the end of November. I have come up with many excuses: the stress of work, the holiday, the lack of energy, and even the need just to feel lazy this past weekend. Now I don’t want to downplay these reasons, as they were for a large part justified in my opinion, except obviously for the feeling lazy part. But the reality is that despite the effects of the post-holiday depression and the huge pile of laundry on my couch waiting to be straightened out,* I haven’t felt this relaxed and content for a long, long time, and it would be a shame to let such a state of mind to go to waste, especially since if the past is any indication that it won’t be long before I get caught up again in the everyday stress at work. The time has come to once again pick up my writing where I left off and be more serious and conscientious about it, and ride this wave of relaxation and contentment for as long as possible before it all inevitably goes downhill again. Continue reading

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A quick update

I am soooo tired right now. Work is just beyond crazy; I’ve been working more than 12 hours a day for the last couple of days just to finish a lot of stuff before I go on holiday. And our team is still understaffed, although we have hired/are under negotiation with the new people, so things should start improving soon. On top of that, my hard drive crashed last week, and just like that hours and hours of work vanished forever.  I had lots of writing on that hard drive as well, but thanks to whoever invented the blog and especially the ancient art of writing with pen and paper! If I didn’t still have my precious, precious paper notebooks I would have been seriously depressed right now. *

This will probably be my last post for a couple of weeks, but I promise, promise, promise that I will start updating my blog and start writing seriously again after my long overdue holiday. I am sure the magnificent landscapes of Patagonia (or so I heard) and the experience of meeting new and very interesting people (or so I hope) will free my mind and allow me to let go of the hectic of everyday life and to provide me with fresh inspiration anew for the months ahead.

* Hmm… I can’t help but wonder if there is a place where all the lost data go. A place like heaven, but then for all the ones and zeroes that are forever erased. I like to imagine that my writings and my reports have found a place where they can thrive. A place where they can meet all the other writings and reports and share their experiences on how they came into being. I hope they don’t mingle with the evil Powerpoint slides though. But those belong in hell anyway.

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Marrakech (2)

The first day on Thursday was almost entirely spent on travelling. The flight to Casablanca left at 2:30 pm and lasted about 3.5 hours, and from Casablanca it was another half hour to Marrakech. The passport check in Marrakech took a while, and the guy responsible for our line was pretty diligent, keeping every single person stalled for a couple of minutes before letting them through. He did loosen up after a while however, thanks to a Moroccan guy in our group, and things sped up afterwards. All in all, we arrived at 21:00 pm local time in the hotel, which was an hour earlier than in the Netherlands. A quick shower, dinner buffet at the hotel, and afterwards chilling in the lounge bar before calling it a day. There was a guy playing the keyboard in the bar, and frankly, he wasn’t very good, although the performance was certainly hilarious at some points (Sex bomb, sex bomb, you’re my sex booooomb.. and try to imagine it with a Moroccan accent).

The second day began with a 4×4 jeep ride to our destination. The weather was really bad as the rain kept pouring down, but luckily the weather became much better once we actually arrived, and the sun started shining again. Which was a good thing, because riding on the quads in the heavy rain is not really my idea of fun. The quad driving didn’t go well for me anyway, as I couldn’t steer left for some reason, the quad was kept veering off towards the right. Michiel was able to handle our quad better than me, but he also confirmed that steering left was very difficult. It wasn’t until we were well underway that we found out that we had two flat tires on the left side! Nice to know that they check these kinds of things beforehand… The tires were pumped (and re-pumped several times), but the terrain were quite challenging and I wasn’t too sure of myself that I would be able to handle the quad, so I declined to drive the quad.

After that, we had lunch near Lalla Takerkoust. The lake had an amazingly blue colour, and it was a stunning sight to behold. I don’t think the pictures I took were able to do it justice. I wished we had more time to relax at the lake itself. After that, we drove back to the hotel, and we had a couple of hours to relax at the swimming pool there before heading out for some dinner.

The third day was by far my favourite day, as we were able to explore Marrakech itself. The first half involved a guided tour. We first visited an old palace, and then we walked around the souks behind the guide, ending up at the famous Jamaa al-Fna square. After noon, however, we had some time for ourselves until 8:30pm, so we took the opportunity to walk around the souks more and buy some stuff. The bartering and negotiating was quite fun in the beginning, but it got tiresome after a while, and I became less effective in it. We also took the opportunity to go further into the medina to explore the ‘real’ Marrakech, and after a while we were the only tourists walking around. A ‘guide’ came up to us and offered to take us to a leather tannery. We obliged, and it was pretty cool to walk around the city. When he offered to take us inside the building however, we chose to be safe instead, and asked him to take us back. I don’t think anything bad would have happened anyway, but you never know. And if something does happen, the chances of somebody finding us are pretty slim. He wanted quite a lot of money, much more than we agreed on. In the end, we paid just a little bit more than we first agreed, just to get him off our backs. We did get a bit lost after that however, which wouldn’t be too bad if we weren’t bothered by everyone to offer to take us back to the square if we stood still for only 2 seconds. They can be quite persistent, so we didn’t have the opportunity to just look around at our leisure and figure our own way back. After a while, we just agreed to a little boy to take us back and we gave him some money afterwards. All in all, a nice experience, and walking around a city with no specific purpose is always my favourite part of a trip.

When we got back to the hotel, it was still only half past two, which felt strange, because it definitely seemed like we spent much more time in the medina. But that meant we still had 6 hours of free time, so more swimming and enjoying at the swimming pool, as well as some reading and writing at the balcony before catching a part of the England – Algeria match, before heading off to dinner at the Pacha. After that, everyone went to the Pacha nightclub except me. Going out to a club is definitely not something I enjoy.

And that was it for the trip. The last day on Sunday was again a day reserved for travelling. We left the hotel at 11am, and when I finally got back home in lovely IJburg, it was already past 9pm. It was a nice trip, and I really liked the city. I wouldn’t mind going back again someday for another short trip. If so, I would spend more time exploring the city itself, as well as the beautiful nature surrounding the city.

 

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