Sea stories

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim-the rocks-the motion of the waves-the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

~ Walt Whitman, Miracles

BNAP5443A horizon full of promise

Where do I start with the sharing of these soul-nourishing moments preciously gathered from voyaging? Let’s start by the sea on an island, because I was born on one and because the sea holds all my secrets. But not just any island! This is a paradisiacal one on the west coast of Malaysia called Pulau (Island) Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah.

The most popular beach on Langkawi is Pantai Cenang, busy with all manner of diversion from sea sports to shopping. It’s also blessed with fine powdery sand, a horizon full of promise, and the clear turquoise Andaman Sea sighing for all who care to listen. The backdrop lends itself to a magical journey, inwards and out.

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For a little soul time, I like to stand in the water and just let the waves decide the song and the dance.
Enjoy the raw, salty scent.
The hot, salty wind.
The sprinkle of salty dust that clings to my skin.
I like losing myself in that frothy cadence. Offering up my plans and ambitions and finding, in return, my purpose.
In all that movement and music, the sea is where sometimes I find the most meaningful silence.

I’ve often walked on the beach looking out at the sea and the sky, the surfers and kayakers, missing a whole universe at my feet. Here in Langkawi, I met the Sand Bubbler Crab, beautiful tiny transparent artists patterning the sand with their labour. I found shiny shells, a toy car, abandoned sand castles…

11.pngFinally, I laid under a coconut tree to read, sipped cocktails till the sun set and walked home full of miraculous sea stories.

I hope you enjoyed this and I’d love to hear about your sea stories! 

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Of doors, cats and promised lands

You may have noticed that doors are really small in Marrakesh, many of them old and rusty, with delicate designs hinting at the promise of something less banal within.

Unassuming  doors are often framed by baked walls the colour of summer sunsets, made of chalk and clay.

An interesting feature is that there is often a sentinel holding the door (hodor!), casually watching passersby but really guarding her eight lives and paradise across the threshold.

If you slow down long enough to notice the purring guard and say “Salaam Aleikum“,  she may bless you with a glimpse of the flourishing secret world in the dar beyond, and some respite from the heat.

As you stoop low to enter, you may be seduced by the many stone arches that seem to invite you to other possibilities, but I would recommend staying focused on getting to the promised land.

The first thing you may notice upon arriving is cool relief or the sound of a playful fountain sparkling in the shade. Colourful tiles laid out in its own beautiful language, a motionless lush garden waiting to be embraced.

If you were cunning enough to have bribed the guard with a treat, you may even be invited to sit and sip a glass of mint tea with me.

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©Lipstickandmiracles 2016

In response to The Story Behind a Door Discover Challenge

Strawberries in my bones

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Wild strawberries only four euro a barquette

My summers are faded and cracked
frivolous snatches from old films.

Strawberries ripening in the sun
gorging ourselves on heart-shaped flesh
till sweet perfume stained our lips.

Hot, tight cabins painted sea and clouds,
chasing sand between our toes
barely breathing, barely there.

I look over my shoulder to see you gone
no more summer in my bones.

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The Isle de France with all the gulls around it

©Lipstickandmiracles 2016

In response to today’s Daily Prompt: Summer and written while listening to These Foolish Things

 

Meet me on an empty bench

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

I love coming across a beautifully ordinary empty seat while travelling in the midst of a bustling city filled to the brim with hastening crowds. There’s something inviting, slightly lonely or poignant about it, like a negative space that’s been waiting for someone to tear her eyes away from the main attraction and say “what have we got here?”.

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Bench at Jardin Majorelle, Rue Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakesh

Take a moment

I’m always grateful to discover empty seats on my travels, which often tend to be mildly frenzied, fueled no doubt by a cocktail of excitement at discovery and fear of missing out.

For me, empty seats are an invitation to breathe. Stop the rush-rushing from one must-do/visit/eat/buy thing to another. Stop the neck-craning and crowd-shoving to get that money shot for my 12 Instagram followers. Stop that anxious desire to devour the city whole in three days without tasting anything.

Just sit and be.

These moments of stillness have become some of the most precious memories I have of the trips I’ve taken. Not all of them happen on empty benches but the effect of that pause is the same. Like the long pause in the middle of a rousing speech, inviting the audience to be still for a moment – make peace with what came before and make room for what will come after.

An analog approach to travel

Travelling for me has always been a source of joy and inspiration, like for many like-minded travelers. I travel because every time I do, I’m filled with the magic of possibility… the words flow freely and the stories run fast.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that it wasn’t so much what I did or saw in a particular place, but the transformation I allowed inside of myself during the outward journey. That alchemy that happens when I feed my soul. And my soul is happy with the simplest things; sitting in the grass to play with stray birds, contemplating a thing of beauty, paying respect to another soul, writing under a tree, looking up at the sky and of course, those quiet stolen moments on an empty bench.

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Memorial of architect and humanitarian, Raoul Wallenberg, at Gustav Adolfs torg 1, 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden

But those are things I could do anywhere! I don’t have to take 13-hour flight for that! Absolutely true. I guess taking myself out of the routine and familiar helps me to reset, step out of my mental activity and suspend disbelief. Like a heroine who goes from girl to woman, princess to warrior, through an inner blossoming set in motion by or reflected in a physical journey (on a much smaller scale).

Come away with me!

For awhile now, I’ve had this wish to share the soul-nourishing experiences discovered in the course of my travels – from Prague to Bali, Marrakesh to New York and of course, my beloved Paris. I was trying to figure out how to do this and thought maybe a weekly series would  be fun! So here’s an open invitation to join me every week for an inner adventure in a new city! 

Over to you! What are some of your favourite soul-nourishing experiences while globetrotting? What are some of the cities you’d like to see featured? Please share your stories in the comments below!

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Join me! Statue of poet Fernando Pessoa at the Café A Brasileira, 120 Rua Garrett, Lisbon, Portugal

Corresponding to Weekly Challenge: Analog

We’ll Always Have Paris

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“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Of the many quotes inspired by Paris, this is the one I love most now. I was lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a youngish woman, and wherever I am now, and for the rest of my life, it stays with me. This is the version of the Paris I love, neither from the fleeting perspective of a tourist nor the instinctive recognition of a true Parisian. But a measured perspective of one who had enough time to explore and enjoy the ordinary beauty of this incredibly poetic city, but not so much time that the unevenly cobbled streets, that became treacherously slippery in winter and that made wearing heels an art, got taken for granted.