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All posts for the month February, 2014

Switzerland

Published February 16, 2014 by megchristo

My time in Switzerland started with me hopping off of my plane from Hong Kong, and right into the meeting I was to present about being a parent of a child with Down syndrome.  Fast and furious, but a friend had given me some “No Jet Lag” pills, and I think they actually worked!  My experience with my European counterparts was fantastic.  They were all so welcoming, and went out of their way to make my experience great.  They truly seemed to appreciate the my story and perspective.  I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to come and give this presentation.  I hope that it helped change or strengthen their opinions of people with Down syndrome.  Plus, it’s always fun to talk about my life with Carsten!

I decided to stay two extra days after the meeting to explore a little bit of Switzerland.  I mean why come all this way to see only an airport and meeting room?  Switzerland is beautiful, immaculate, organized, well preserved architecture, and fascinating.  I am so glad I was able to see so many beautiful sites in such a short period of time.  I do have to say though that the people here were not as friendly as I thought they were going to be.  Of course I interacted with some very friendly Swiss people, but it’s always the stinkers that stand out.;)  I will give you a couple examples that I witnessed.

Getting on the plane for Zurich in Hong Kong, I saw a Swiss man start ranting at the airline workers that he was one of their best customers, and he couldn’t believe how he was being treated (apparently he was upset that they hadn’t upgraded him free of charge to business class).  Now I have seen Americans get crazy ridiculous with airline workers in the US, but not because they didn’t get a free upgrade.  I was just praying I wouldn’t have to sit next to this negative energy for 13 hours….luckily I didn’t.  All I could think was that this guy obviously didn’t have any “real” problems in his life.  Instead he should be thanking his lucky stars!

While I was riding on the train, there was a group of 10 or so Korean tourists riding in the same car.  A Swiss family was also in the car (a mom, a dad, a daughter, and a son).  I was shocked when the parents started openly mocking the Koreans.  They were not hiding their mockery, and it disgusted me.  Why would they do that?  What are they teaching their children for heaven’s sake?

I also got lost wondering around one morning.  I went up to a local gentleman, and asked for help with directions.  I had the area I needed to get to open on my phone.  He asked me in German if I spoke German.  When I shook my head no, he rolled his eyes, and walked away.

The final example I will give I witnessed while riding in a van at the end of a tour.  A young  man had his vehicle break down in the middle of small road, which was backing up traffic.  One man got out of his car and started cursing on and on and on in German while flipping the bird.  I asked the tour guide why they didn’t just get out of their cars, and help push the disabled vehicle to the side.  She looked at me puzzled and said, “No.  He will wait for a tow truck.”  All while his receiving a tongue lashing.  Seems ridiculous to me.  Why not pitch in and help?  Everyone would get further faster….and faster and timely are key here!  I know road rage happens in the US, but this was not this man’s fault…poor guy had his vehicle quit and was getting verbally assaulted.

Now I have to admit, I am not a savvy international traveler…yet.  This was also my first time traveling international by myself, and my first time in Europe.  Lots of firsts and inexperience, I will grant you that.  However I always had a sense of uneasiness while traveling around.  I think I was constantly afraid that a local would turn and have an outburst on me.  I should also note that I was coming immediately off of a week in Bali where people bend over backwards to provide excellent service and experiences.  I am sure this played into my experiences as well.

Now to finish with some positives!  The second day I went into the Starbucks one of the ladies working their remembered me, and gave me a very friendly, “Guten morgen!”  Also while waiting in the airport in Hong Kong, I meet a very sweet, young lady who was an off duty flight attendant.  She was super sweet, and once we landed she helped to point me in the right direction of my hotel.  All of this was even more sweet when you know that she was finally seeing her boyfriend she had been away from for one month, and still took the time to help me.

On both tours, I met two fabulous new friends.  Both are Americans, and have amazing stories of solo travel around Europe.  They are both career women…one in healthcare and the other in finance.  It was nice having someone else to walk around with, have dinner with, and share experiences.  I love chatting with strong, smart, kind-hearted, adventurous women!

I hope I can stay in touch with all three of these women!  Thanks to Facebook….I think we can!

I am thankful for all of these experiences.  The next time I encounter a person who doesn’t speak English in the US I will now take the extra time and energy to make sure I help them any way that I can.  It has opened my eyes wider to the world we live in as well.

I can’t wait to get home to my babies.   I have missed them so much, but know they have been well cared for while I have been gone.  I may have 5 extra guests in my bed tonight!  I need time to hold them again!

Bali

Published February 9, 2014 by megchristo

What an amazing trip and amazing people! We have packed a lot of sight seeing into three days. We have seen 6 beautiful Hindu temples, a coffee plantation, a volcano, silver smiths, bitik, rice paddies, rain forest, bamboo forest, small villages, stone carvers, monkeys, and more. It is really an amazing, spiritual place.

Yesterday we did a 16 mile long bike ride through small villages and rice paddies. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and the people were so kind. Their type of farming is all by hand, and they spend most of the day in their fields.  I can’t wait to tell my dad (who farms) that he doesn’t even know what hard work is! 😉 He loves to tell me that my job isn’t even really a job….talking to people all day isn’t work…..and of course that’s what he boils my job down to…..talking.

After the bike tour, I asked to visit an orphanage. This was puzzling for the tour guide because no one had ever asked to do that before. I also asked to pick up candy and cookies to take to the orphanage. The orphanage was ran by one man and his wife. They had 70 children living with them. 70….70….70. That makes my 5 going on 6 look like nothing. They shelter, feed, and educate all 70. He said that the villagers trust him to do right by the children. He has 8 of his own children. He followed us to the car to tell us that he actually only had 2 and adopted the other 6. He couldn’t say that in the orphanage because the 6 didn’t know they were adopted, and he didn’t want them to find out. I thanked him for opening his home to us, and that I was impressed with his heart. Did I mention he was 79?  Whenever I feel tired from now on I will think of him and dig a little deeper.  It was fun to visit with him. He was very proud of his work with the children….as he should be.

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Seeing the fortune teller from Eat, Pray, Love was fun. He is nearly 100 years old. He told me that MJ was my soul mate, and I was lucky to have met him….agreed. He said I have good luck, I am an influencer, am impatient, and will live a long life.

Well…off to see more! What a blessing this vacation has been. Life is good!!!

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