The Art of Budget Travel [And How I Manage To Completely Ignore That Art]

Rounding the corner into the final quarter of 2014, my birthday trip awaited me as the perfect conclusion to another miraculous year of life on this tiny blue planet. For months, my boyfriend, Sanoon, and I daydreamed of our fourth quarter excursion from island life. We thought that it would likely be the last time we left the island in 2014, so we wanted to make sure that the trip was planned to a place where we could not only explore, but also frugally get to and from without dipping too deep into our savings. After all, my year-long contract in the Maldives was about to expire and without the definite prospect of steady employment on the horizon, the buzzword "budget" was popular in my travel vernacular.

We decided to take a quickie trip to Sri Lanka to ring in my big day. As you may remember from a previous post, Sanoon and I took our first trip together to the Southern coasts of Sri Lanka one year earlier. I fell madly in love with the sandy shores of that little island country and vowed to go back and explore the Northern, mountainous regions at my next opportunity.

With much anticipation, the time finally came to strap on our life jackets and take our obligatory freedom selfie hop on a speed boat to a sea plane, which would eventually get us to Male International Airport.

We saw birds-eye views of the islands below while flying [relatively] high over the lowest country on Earth.
 (Uninhabited island- not quite the size of Manhattan)

Sanoon even pointed out his home island to me for the first time.
 (When asked which island was specifically his, I believe his direct quote was, "the one that looks like a dick.")

Shortly after arriving at the Male airport, Sanoon and I boarded our flight to Colombo. Once in Lanka, we opted to stop over for the night in the beachside town of Negombo. Negombo is a popular place for travelers to rest a few hours in transit based on it's proximity to the Colombo International Airport. Although we didn't make it to the beach there, we did eat dinner next to a fishpond where a sociopathic turtle tried to drown and rape the other females in the tank.
(Sanoon acting as an innocent bystander to the violence.)

The next morning, Sanoon and I broke the first rule of budget travel and hired a private car to drive us  to our next destination, Kalpitiya.  

Kalpitiya is located on a peninsula in Puttalam, a northwestern province of Sri Lanka. Fringed with unspoiled beaches and wedged between a lagoon and the Indian Ocean, Kalpitiya remains one of the few spots left in the country that hasn't been overrun by tourism. Aware that the serene and remote nature of this part of the country may not last long as the government has plans to establish it with a $4 billion tourist zone, Sanoon and I decided it would be the perfect spot to ring in my birthday.

Aside from the occasional goat traffic, the ride up the west coast of the country was charming.
(Who am I kidding? Those goats are pretty damn charming too.)

 After a few hours of driving the country roads, Sanoon and I arrived at our quiet beach bungalow.

The birthday glutton in me had a sweet surprise waiting as I entered our new digs.
(Yes, that's my name written in frosting on the placemat. No, I did not eat it.)

It was fairly rainy our first night in Kalpitiya, but Sanoon and I were not fussed in the slightest as we managed to catch the remnants of a beautiful sunset and enjoy a chilly happy hour by the beach.

The following day I broke rule number 2 of budget travel and booked us an all day jeep safari in Wilpattu National Park. The allure of seeing an elusive Sri Lankan leopard on my birthday far outweighed the cost of the extravagant excursion. 

Wilpattu National Park is the largest, and formerly most popular, park to spot wildlife in Sri Lanka. However at the onset of the civil war, it's strategic position straddling the Sinhalese and Tamil areas led to the widespread destruction of the area and the poaching of wildlife. The park closed down during those turbulent years, but reopened its doors in 2009. Although the flora and fauna are slowly recovering, there's a slimmer chance of spotting wildlife than some of the other national parks in the country. 

Undiscouraged by the history of the region, we set forth on our safari with high hopes. We were greeted early on by regal eagles,
and cranes.
We saw monitor lizards,

(I swear to you that skinny grey "rock" is a croc...and not the type of croc my mom wears.)

And even a field full of jackals,
(Next safari I'm bringing a camera with a long-range lens instead of my iPhone camera.)

But it wasn't until after many hours of driving that we stumbled upon this lazy kitty in the jungle.

Satisfied with the safari, Sanoon and I decided to call it quits and head back to our hotel where we had drinks at the bar,
(This Texas longhorn is for you, Uncle Sid- my most devoted reader!)

Received some sound advice,

And then ate a delicious birthday dinner.

We spent one more rainy day on the beach,

And then decided that at 4 days into our vacation it was time to budget travel by taking a local bus from Kalpitiya to Kandy.

The bus was cramped and crowded,
but for $1, it was worth listening to Bollywood music on the loud speaker and sitting packed in like a sardine for four hours.

We were excited to finally arrive in Kandy, the mountainous cultural capital of Sri Lanka.

But after being aggressively approached by one too many touts on the street, our "Kandy faces" began to emerge.

We made the best of our time in Kandy and broke rule number 3 of budget travel booked a lovely hotel that had a killer view of the city,

And an awesome pool for the guests [even though it was too cold to swim in and I was afraid of the big grey monkeys hovering around it].

Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth, the country's most important religious shrine housing one of Buddha's teeth. Legend has it that Buddha was cremated in 543 BCE in Northern India, and remnants of his various body parts were rescued from the fire, including one of his teeth. After the rescue, Buddha's tooth was smuggled into Sri Lanka in the hair of a princess.

Sanoon and I decided to check out this deity's denture and headed over to the temple. It was a madhouse in the there with many tourists and locals vying to get a glimpse of the holy relic. Sanoon and I moved with the flow of the crowd, but only made it close enough to see this replica of the pagoda in which Buddha's tooth is supposedly housed.
(Oh well, at least we saw his footprint in Laos.)

After we left the temple, Sanoon was greeted by his long-lost Sri Lankan cousin on the cover of a magazine.
("You have a Sri Lankan face," says everyone in Sri Lanka. #truth.)

We made a quick beer run to what looked like a local booze prison,

Then proceeded to watch a Liverpool FFC game on the smallest tv in the country
(Quite a change from last year's view of the game in Singapore.)

While I ate the biggest dosa of my life

And drank a coconut shaped like a bee.

Kandy was nice, but to be honest, we just weren't really feeling it.
(This photo of wildlife on the lake has nothing to do with anything, except that I took it in Kandy.)

So we high-tailed it out of there on a [questionably sober] rickshaw
to the train station

where we broke rule number 4 of budget travel and booked a first class train ticket to Colombo. The plan was to quickly transfer in Colombo onto a fast-moving private minibus to Galle/Unawatuna in the south coast of the country [mainly because of time restrictions as we neared the end of our vacation...and also to continue our trend of over-spending] .

Riding the train was one of our best experiences in Lanka.

The scenery was gorgeous as we passed through the misty mountains,

And the transit was super comfortable and efficient [as it should be if you're breaking the budget bank].

However, we arrived to Colombo at night in the middle of a monsoon, and with all the rain and utter confusion, we got on a local bus to Galle that was projected to arrive 3 hours later than our planned private minibus. 

To be honest, the local bus really wasn't that bad, and I was happy that we unintentionally stuck to our budget for once. So continuing on that frugal trend, when we arrived in Galle, I sent Sanoon and his Sri Lankan face alone to negotiate a rickshaw from there to nearby Unawatuna, where we'd be spending the rest of our vacation. The plan worked and he successfully scored the ride for the local price! However, when my gringo a$$ showed up, an additional 100 rupees was magically added to the quote [d'oh!].

That 100 rupees was long forgotten when we arrived at our hotel and were shown our gorgeous [and budget friendly] room.

The rest of our time in Una was mainly spent lounging by the water, eating, sleeping, making friends with locals and hitting up a party or two on the beach [but listed below are only pictures of water].

Sanoon was happy as a clam in his natural habitat

And I met a wonderful dressmaker that handmade me a gorgeous bag for my yoga mat.

One day we broke up our routine of utter laziness  and rented a motorbike to drive to Galle Fort. Galle is the major city less than one hour away from Unawatuna in southern Sri Lanka. Built by the Dutch in the 17th century, and boasting an intoxicating blend of Dutch-colonial architecture amidst a lush tropical setting, Galle Fort buzzes with energy that creates a unique reality in the region.

Tired from maneuvering the motorbike, Sanoon opted to get a traditional head massage while I explored the Fort on foot.

With no one looking, I broke rule number 5 of budget travel by ordering a super expensive necessary cup of Italian coffee.

After the coffee, I was surprised to stumble upon the sister [brother?] property to Three by TPV, the first hotel we stayed at in Sri Lanka a year prior to the current adventure.

I had to walk inside to see if it had the same flamboyant designs as its predecessor....
(Ummm, yep.)

(That couch is more bedazzled than a Harold Ramis comedy in the early 2000s.)

(A wall of dicks? Sure, why not.)

After our delightful day in Galle, Sanoon and I made our way back to Unawatuna and enjoyed the final hours of our vacation in the peaceful serenity of the island.

I was even able to convince Sanoon to accompany me to a vegan restaurant, where I indulged in gluten free meatless delights and he drank beer from a tea kettle.
(At least it looks healthy.)

Sadly our time in Sri Lanka had to come to a close, and before we knew it we were standing on a jetty in Male awaiting our seaplane back to work. We shared some pretty strong emotions about heading home...

But as we once again flew [relatively] high above the sunken amoebas islands, we agreed that although our wallets felt a little lighter than we intended, this trip to Sri Lanka did not disappoint!

Another birthday success for the books and a fantastic conclusion to the fourth quarter of 2014! X

Om, Om on the Range

The delinquent and infrequent blogger is back! I set moderately high expectations for myself to complete all my blog updates before my birthday in November, however, like most things, life went on at a pace that my typing fingers couldn't keep up with. So, I missed the deadline. Good news is, I'm the only one setting the deadlines around here, so I forgave myself for being tardy.


The summer months came and went quickly and soon it was Autumn on my tiny island in the sun. Aside from a rise in the number of Chinese tourists on my resort, there really was very little difference between the seasons here. The weather stayed consistently perfect, my job remained pleasant, and I continued to to count down the days till the next time I could spread my wings and fly far, far away to a new and exotic place. Naturally the next destination I chose to visit was Nebraska. Aside from it being neither new nor exotic, it was far away and had the added bonus of familial hugs.

Once a year my company pays a roundtrip ticket for me to take vacation to my point of hire. Despite getting hired for this job while I was in the Middle East, I chose my parent's permanent address in Nebraska as the place to which I wanted to return. But would you believe it? There's no direct flight from Male, Maldives to Lincoln, Nebraska! So I had a bit of fun taking the long road home via Istanbul and New York.


There are a few variations of flights that I can book from the Maldives back to the States. Some direct, and others not so much. I chose to book a flight that was somewhere in between those two options which resulted in a glorious 12 hour visit to a city I'd never seen before, Istanbul. Istanbul straddles both the European and Asian continents, bringing together a unique mix of Eastern and Western sensibilities.

My flight from Male landed around 5am, which allowed me to catch the sunrise over spectacular Ottoman architecture during my drive into the city.

(The Hagia Sofia at dawn)

Although I was arriving in Istanbul sans guidebook and alone, my lovely Turkish friend from work, Fatma, provided a 12 hour itinerary for me to follow, which began at a hotel her sister worked at in Sultanahmet. Warmly welcomed by the staff there, they allowed me to freshen up in their lobby bathroom and gave me a complimentary Turkish breakfast from their restaurant.

(Fresh veggies, olives and figs, cheese and a Turkish bagel...I was in gastronomic heaven.)

With my hunger satiated and the sun fully up, I decided to take advantage of my surroundings and explore Istanbul for a few hours before heading back to the airport. It was still pretty early, so the streets were deserted.

I walked over to the Hagia Sofia where I admired the architecture whilst lazing about the gardens

I got mixed up in a Chinese tour group

And disappointingly discovered that my selfie-taking abilities were majorly lacking in comparison to this lot.

(The selfie level of these three...EXPERT)

I then headed across the street to Sultan Ahmet, also known as the Blue Mosque. By this point in the day, busloads of tourists were descending upon the site.

I met a nice stranger who offered to take my picture in front of the Mosque,

And then invited me to his family's shop for a cup of Turkish coffee as he attempted to sell me a $10,000 rug. 

("That carpet better fly,"-my reaction after he quoted me the price.)

I politely declined his sale admitting that if I paid $10,000 for his rug, I would then have to live in and eventually eat the rug, as I would have no money for anything else after the purchase. I walked away from his shop and began exploring the side streets of Istanbul for the rest of the morning.

I made my way over to the Grand Bazaar where I spent hours haggling with shop owners over the cost of bracelets [sadly, I was too absorbed in bargaining to snap any pictures from this excursion].

After buying a few bits and bobs from the Grand Bazaar, I headed back to the hotel to meet my friend's sister and cousin for lunch.

By the time the mid afternoon sun blazed overhead, I was all tuckered out.
(I feel you, kitty.)

And headed back to the airport to continue my transit to the land of the free...

'Merica! F*ck Yeah!

To say I was excited to be back on American soil would be an understatement. If there's one thing I've taken away from living on a remote island, it's the appreciation I feel for the comforts and convenience of the modern world. No place could feel more convenient than New York City, where you can find things you had no idea even existed, let alone, that you NEEDED to buy #rightawayassoonaspossible! I spent five days speeding through the metropolis catching up [read: eating] with friends,
(This salad is as big as BJ's head. I call it a Freedom Salad.)

Visiting my pals who have created new and amazing human beings in the time I've been away,

 And playing my favorite subway game, "Wizard or Pimp?"
Five days in New York flew by fast and furious, and it was once again time to board another plane, this time to the Heartland of 'Merica, Nebraska. While there, I did typical Nebraska things like adorn my parents in matching Sri Lankan batiks, 

Reunite with my oldest friends in the world [just to be clear, "oldest friends" in duration not age],

Gush over said oldest friends beautiful progeny,

Have a coffee with my fashionista niece,

Tailgate at a football game,

Have a dinner date with my cat,

And drive my mom's hybrid car to Whole Foods once a day to have a ladies lunch with my best friend and buy a $5 Vegan Mint Chip Rice Dream Ice Cream Sandwich. Why? Because I can. 
 (Freedom Ice Cream. F*ck Yeah!)

Three weeks breezed quickly by, and once again, I packed my things and made my way to the other side of the world.

But not before one last quick stop in Istanbul to see my friend Fatma [who had just arrived herself from the Maldives],

Meet her amazingly kind and generous parents,

Get a little taste of Istanbul at night,

And have a moonlight smoke of shisha in a cafe under an Ottoman tower

Accompanied with Turkish coffee, chocolates and tea.

After bidding adieu to my lovely friends in Turkey, I entered the last leg of my journey. Although I felt nostalgic upon leaving my friends and family, I was reassured that I was in the right place at the right time as my sea plane grazed the top of a rainbow over a small island in the sun...

And then a double rainbow appeared.
 (Double rainbow! What does it mean? Oh my God! So Intense!)

Well darling readers [or should I just say Mom and Uncle Sid...who reads this thing anyway?], I had one last adventure in 2014 that I will do my best to update before the end of of 2015. Till then, here's a cotton candy sky from paradise.

Love and Island Kisses! X

A [Birthday] Year in Review, Part 2/Springtime in Southeast Asia

It took a bit of time, but I eventually acclimated to my new job in the Maldives. Thanks to the daily reminders of the things I love about working in this environment, the transition to work here went smoother than my first go round in this country. Of course, how bad could it really be when you have things like psychedelic sunsets,

And radiant blue lagoons to look at every day?


Not to mention, teaching and practicing yoga in an environment of unparalleled beauty,

(My daily commute.)

And the newly built staff bar named "Rat Bar" opened on the island, providing a beachfront haven to meet up with friends and knock back a few cold ones after a long day of work.

(Rat Bar is a literal name. When you see a rat, you drink.)

All these things helped me slip seamlessly into Springtime, and before long, it was time for my partner, Sanoon, and I to pack our backpacks and hit the road once again.

(And by "hit the road," I mean strap on a life jacket and take a speed boat to the airport.)


Between the two of us, Sanoon and I have visited quite a few countries in Southeast Asia, so it was easy to narrow down our list to a handful of must-see-never-before-been-to places. Topping our list was Laos. 

Landlocked Laos is often overlooked by tourists in favor of its more well-known neighbors, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. However, popular amongst the backpacker circuit that I'd dipped in and out of over the last two years, I'd heard overwhelmingly positive reviews of the country for it's old-fashioned charms, laid-back pace and friendly people, making it a high-ranking destination on my travel bucket list. Sanoon and I decided to check out Luang Prabang, the UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled in a valley between green mountains and the Mekong and Nam Kahn Rivers.

After a quick detour to fill up on green curry in Bangkok,

(The temptation of Thai Green Curry is far greater to Sanoon than taking a straight shot to Laos)

we landed in the lovely valley of Luang Prabang.

Sanoon and I made our way over to our guesthouse just in time to watch the sunset and soak up the peacefulness of the Nam Kahn River.

With only one week in Luang Prabang, we spent the majority of it exploring the many beautiful and unique parts of the region. We observed Laotian life on country roads,

Marveled at the refreshing crystal waters of the Kuang Si Waterfall,

(You know I love a good waterfall jumpshot.)

Watched bears dominate a play ground,

Meandered up and down side streets admiring the charming French-Indochinese architecture,

Took a river boat up the Mekong to see life along the river,

 Visited a Whiskey Village and didn't drink anything,

(Laos Whiskey with a hint of rotten cobras, scorpions and tiger testicles is not my jam.)

Climbed a sh*t ton of dragon stairs to look at thousands of forgotten and damaged Buddha statues in the Pak Ou Caves,

Made new friends,

Wandered into beautiful temples,

And climbed even more dragon stairs to the top of Mount Phousie, 

 where we came across a big ass foot print,

More Buddha statues,

And the best view of the city.

We were literally on top of the world.

As the sun set over the Mekong on our final night in Luang Prabang, Sanoon and I agreed that Laos went above and beyond our expectations. The beauty and serenity of the natural and architectural landscape coupled with the kind and untouched Laotians made Luang Prabang feel like an unspoiled gem in Southeast Asia.

Although sad to say good bye to Laos, Sanoon and I were excited to prolong our vacation a few more days and return to the familiar streets Bangkok before heading back to the Maldives. Aside from a great Ashtanga workshop I took every morning, Sanoon and I rapidly got swept up in the hustle and bustle of city life and did all the typical things tourists do in Bangkok.

Like voyeuristically gawk at Soi Cowboy,

(Group consensus- GROSS.)
Stumble upon Comic Con,

Hang out in malls where you can buy and eat anything and everything,

Eat our weight in king coconuts and mangos,

Get my hair did [and take a shameless selfie of it],

(It took 3 Thai ladies to straighten this mop, only to have it frizz out the minute I walked into the sweltering city heat. Money well spent...)

And take a radioactive tuk-tuk to a night out on the town
Where Sanoon entertained my request to eat Mexican food [and wear sombreros],

Before heading to an al fresco bar.

Before we knew it, our vacation came to a close. Sanoon and I had strong reactions about returning to island life...

 But one look at our remaining savings and we agreed it was time to go back to work.

However with a view like this, I could think of worse places to return.

A [Birthday] Year in Review, Part 1/A New Year in the Old City

My most recent posts were some seriously back-logged trips down memory lane that recounted my birthday journey to Bali and Singapore in November 2013. Never you mind that it took me nearly 5 months to publish two posts about a 10 day journey...

(Thanks Dude.)

I'd like to blame my lack-of-blogging, back-logging on the notion that I just haven't left the Maldives much since last November, but that would be a fallacy. In fact, I take a vacation from island life every 3-4 months. A quarterly vacation from paradise sounds odd to some, but in actuality, it is the only way I've found to successfully stave off island fever and satiate those ever-so-itchy traveling feet of mine.

Why I haven't maintained consistency with my blogging is a totally unrelated issue that can be whittled down to a faulty internet connection and a broken external keyboard for my iPad. One borrowed wi-fi dongle and a brand new iMac Air later [I know, I'm a total Apple whore], I'm back on the blog-wagon! The only problem is that I'm literally one year and five countries behind on updates. Well, as they say, you've gotta start somewhere! So the following post will be my abbreviated attempt at catching you all up on my 32nd *cough* excuse me, 22nd year of life [or at least one section of it].


The start of the 2014 brought many changes to my life. The most significant one was when I resigned from my position as the yoga and fitness instructor at the resort I was working at in the Northeast of the Maldives to accept a new position as the yoga and fitness instructor at a newer and shinier resort in the Southwest of the Maldives. Unfortunately, my previous company was not too happy about my resignation, so they canceled my visa and I was given an open-ended government imposed holiday [read: forced to leave the country until my new work visa was processed].

Fully aware that island governments function at a dawdling different speed than the rest of the world, I chose to wait out my visa in the comfort of my second home with close family and friends, Jerusalem. 



It was by happy coincidence that my father was in town the same week I arrived, so I spent much of my time touring the Old City with him.

(At one point we made it all the way back to the Roman Empire.)
 (That famous skyline.)
 (Ancient underground Kotel Tunnels.)
 (Western Wall.)

No matter how many times I've visited Jerusalem, I'm delightfully reminded of the many nuances that this city possesses. Like the seamless marriage of ancient and modern life,

Witnessing first hand the variety of cultures and traditions living together peacefully [despite what the media reports],

(A very special afternoon where an Arab Israeli invited my father and me into his shop to make bread together.)

Street performers and art on almost every corner,

 (Chi-town Represent!)

 (I like this sculpture even though my sister-in-law pointed out that it looks like a penis.)

Bidding GOOD RIDDANCE to my prison-diet canteen food, and saying HELLO NURSE to the delicious assortment of fresh Mediterranean cuisines found in and around my brother's central Jerusalem neighborhood,

And last but certainly not least, reveling in the unsurpassed pleasure of sharing my iPad spending time with my nieces and nephews.

 (She's got a monkey on her back.)

(Gosh, I love those munchkins!)

Five weeks flew by and before I knew it, my visa had been processed and I was on a flight back to the sun, sea and sand of the Maldives. Jerusalem was the perfect reprieve from island life and offered the best medicine to remedy my sun-beached soul- love, friendship, peace of mind and a full belly. 

Ok, one country down, four more to go. I'll spare you [and me] the effort of getting through an even longer post in one sitting and try to update this thing later. The goal is to finish up this year in review before my birthday in six know, my 23rd birthday.

(Shut up, Dorothy.)

Catch you on the flip, dear readers!

Singapore Slingin' It/Birthday Gluttony Pt. 2

***CONFESSION: I should have tagged this entry onto the end of my last post. But be totally honest, I got distracted [i.e. resigned from my job, left the Maldives, traveled for five weeks in Israel, then started a new job at a new resort where I've spent the majority of the last month acclimating to my new digs and responsibilities] thereby losing concentration and slacking off the blog-wagon once again. So here's my attempt to finish up what should have been published in one tidy package.***
My boyfriend, Sanoon and I bid farewell to the beautiful island of Bali and said hello to the big city life of Singapore [aka the last destination for my Birthday Gluttony 2k13].
From the moment I stepped foot in the tiny country, I could feel an interesting mix of Eastern and Western cultures colliding. There were Eastern reminders of the countless Asian cities I'd explored over the last year and half of my travels.
These reminders included bubble teas galore,
Fried "delicacies,"
And the unmistakable sign of hardcore Asian work ethics.
But interspersed between all the Asian markers was a very Western feeling aesthetic. Extravagent shopping malls dominated [what felt like] every other corner,
Western architecture adorned the city streets,
and there were Christmas decorations #alloverthedamnplace.
As a former five year resident of Singapore, Sanoon acted as the perfect guide to some of his favorite city haunts. We visited the riverside neighborhood of Clark Quey for a sushi dinner,
Meandered through Gardens by the Bay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel,
And stumbled upon the Super Tree Grove where we climbed to the top of an Avatar-looking art installation for treetop drinks and a great city view.
Holding [the self-proclaimed] title of "The Zagat of Bathrooms Around the World," it would be criminal not to mention that I gave the bathroom inside the tree a 5 Star rating based on its attention to artistic detail coupled with handicap accessibility.
After Supertree, we made a pitstop at the historic church-turned-pub, Chijmes, where Sanoon watched a Liverpool game and I took a nap next to my pint of beer.
(150 screaming football fans is a lullaby by my count.)
With Sanoon revved by Liverpool's win and me newly refreshed from my football-nap, we made our way over to the New Asia Bar and Club on the roof of Swissotel Singapore.
The city view from the bar more than made up for the $25 Heinekens and Top 40 DJ mix.
Singapore was so full of good eats, fun sights and nice shopping that we "accidentally" missed our flight back to the Maldives and stayed an extra day. 
Birthday gluttony more than lived up to its name and brought me a few extra pounds of delight as I crossed two more destinations off my bucketlist of life.
(This picture of lions on a gutter has nothing to do with anything.)
So dear readers, I cannot guarantee that my next post about my impromptu excursion to Jerusalem in January will appear on this site speedily, but I promise to try and update again soon. And who knows...maybe more frequent travels and blogging will once again be on the horizon in the not so distant future.