Welcome to Budapest!

07 March, 2018: I landed at 2am, on a magenta plane from Morocco.

I don’t even remember passport control, so it must have been easy, and then I stopped at the ATM to withdraw local currency.

The exchange rate is confusing — my primary reference point is that 5,000 Hungarian forints equals approx $20 USD, so for anything less than that, I don’t worry about it too much. At the ATM at 2:30am, I had this in the back of my mind, but I saw that the largest amount I could withdraw, in forints, was 250. “Oh no,” I thought fuzzily, “that’s not nearly enough, I’ll have to do multiple transactions!”

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Morocco was about making friends

I had an amazing time in Morocco, and I would love to go back someday. I learned a lot, I went surfing and swimming, I got to experience an entirely different culture, and I confirmed for myself that I can live and work pretty much anywhere.

The best thing about Morocco, though, was spending five weeks in a coworking/coliving environment at SunDesk, and making a whole bunch of really amazing new friends. We kept each other company, ate breakfast together every day, brought each other coffee and tea and water, reminded one another to eat and to stop working and to relax, helped each other with projects, went on adventures together, had long philosophical discussions, took group naps in the afternoon, and generally had a lovely time.

Not all of them made it into my pictures (most of which I won’t post here because I failed to ask permission), but I wanted to take a minute to remember them as I move to a new country.

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Hot Water Methodology

I’m confused, y’all. Why do we have hot water heaters in the US?

I didn’t think anything of it until I started traveling more frequently several years back, but over the course of multiple years and multiple countries, it has come to my attention that there are other options, and they seem a whole lot better. Let’s look at some pros and cons:

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The Cool Ranch saga continues

I first wrote about this over here, but to recap: I’ve realized that ranch dressing is not a thing that exists outside the US. Sure, fine (tragic for pizza-eating in other countries, but ok). But then you have Cool Ranch Doritos, which *do* exist in other countries… except they have to give them different names because no one knows wtf “Ranch” is supposed to mean.

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What my coffee budget buys me now

I had a working hypothesis that I could travel the world (with living standards comparable to what I’m used to) and save money. So far, so good! We’ll see how that plan holds up when a) I move on to countries with higher living costs and b) I’m not in a dry town with limited entertainment opportunities, but for now, I’m coming out ahead, even after airfare. Here are some living cost comparisons, for reference:

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“Excuse me, where is the recycling?” and other excellent jokes

I’ve traveled a lot, but I’m still a Seattle girl. My inner bleeding-heart-liberal, Cascadia eco-warrior comes out when I least expect it. I’m still shocked when I encounter styrofoam in restaurants and plastic bags in grocery stores, even though I can find all that just a few short miles from Seattle. Morocco, though, is on a different level.

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How I learned to rinse off very quickly in the shower

First, to re-establish the main premise here: Morocco is amazing. The people are nice, the food is good, it’s beautiful, there are tons of stars over the ocean at night, and I love it. There are a few little things that come up, though, as part of living in a less-developed area of a less-developed country.

For one thing, the water goes off a lot.

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My newest favorite invention

I often think about the various inventions that make modern life so great. Washing machines: huge fan. Refrigerators: yep, fantastic. Indoor plumbing: thank the lord.

Others I’m less enthused about. Like that saying about X being the greatest thing since sliced bread? Why is that a bar we’ve set? I actually prefer bread that’s *not* sliced, thanks very much; I’ll happily tear it rustic-style.

It happens quite often that I’ll “discover” some new-to-me invention, or just suddenly notice one I’d been taking for granted, and then I feel so happy and grateful.

Today, I discovered wetsuits.

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“It’s like the wild west out here”

Discovering the rural post in Morocco

“Is there a post office in town?” I asked my host innocently. “I’d like to mail some postcards.”

She laughed for a while before she could answer.

“There is a post office, in a way, but the mail here is not so… reliable” she replied.

So began my introduction to the mysteries of the postal service and other governmental systems in Morocco.

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Welcome to the [opposite of the] jungle

First impressions of Morocco

29 January, 2018: I had a pleasant flight to Morocco today, despite the fact that at some point my phone decided I was in Madrid and changed timezone even though it was on airplane mode, which made me think we were extraordinarily late for most of the flight.

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