Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Misplaced Optimism

Judging by how diligent I have been with this blog, I thought it was time to take on even more responsibility, so I can further add little droplets of delicious guilt into my already teeming existence. It is a blog with my darling brother, Christopher Lukas Quinger, and will be the most amazing blog ever. If you like that kind of thing, CLICK.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cute Factor Ten

Earlier today I had the emo thought that no matter where I am in the world I am always going to miss people, because my favourite people are very dispersed geographically. I even started making a little list in my mind of people I miss (if you're not in the room with me right now you are probably on that list).

However, in exceptionally happy news, a lot of people I was missing like crazy do happen to live in this fine little city called Dunedin, and one of the people I pined for pretty consistently during my travels is the beautiful and talented Lucy McConnon. Heart !

The other day we had a dream date which involved : going to the SPCA and playing with kittens, for hours. As I naturally find kittens adorable this would be awesome in any scenario, but the fact that Lucy is also a very winning example of cuteness added to this to make it so cute it almost makes you puke. After viewing this blog it is recommended you read about war or something, because this is disgusting.


The above picture is out of focus, badly-framed and just awful (I took it) but OMG, LOOK at her little strut.

This little tiger photo above is taken by Lucy.

Mansion Morning

In a mad fit of Sunday Night Insomnia (I always get restless when it's supposed to be time to rest) I am awake at 2:30 a.m. chatting to a British friend in a normal time zone and thinking about how hideously urgent it is to update my blog.

Earlier this evening I went for the most beautiful drive with gorgeous Jenna, I didn't bring a camera, but she did, and besides: I'm only telling you to show off about the glorious nature of my life. Even on this Sunday.

In reference to these photos, I live in a historical mansion which I care for on a few evenings. My favourite part of the job, strangely enough, is waking up early and unlocking all the doors and gates and warning the ghosts that the living humans will be arriving soon. On this one morning, when the photos were taken, the sun was shining into all the grounds on this spectacular angle and the crispness almost hurt.

I am so honeymooning.

Coming up: Kittens and Lucinda McConnon - The Cute Off.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The End of an Era (of no camera)

If you don't recall, I was dramatically relieved of my camera ownership some time ago in Cambodia, and have since then been roaming around without any means to document my existence, except words and thoughts. It has been painful. Basically, according to modern standards of existentialism, I didn't even go to Vietnam or Colombia. Sigh.

Ironically, or what, I am now home in Dunedin and finally have a lovely DSLR camera I am forming a relationship with. These snaps are the result of my first few days, so be kind. X

p.s. Thank you Dunedin for being so beautiful lately, and for having such beautiful inhabitants.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Home Time, or: Awesome Time

Here are some heart-warming photos of my tiny brother and me. He is actually not so tiny now - he is only three centimetres shorter than me. Haha. But what a difference those three centimetres make. As you can see, I am about three times as intelligent, mature and beautiful as him.

Here is our life: (I say our because I spend all day with him) playing Sims2 (we have a great neighbourhood, named after the Greek island Kykladen), making a Banoffee pie, doing the dishes for Mom and annoying the daylights out of each other. Lukas has a new game surrounding the television show Naruto and is boring me stupid talking about it. I made him listen to a fascinating paragraph in an academic journal about rural development.

Basically: <3 !!!

Watch out for: my cheesy write-up about my flight from Auckland to Dunedin, on which I cried about how beautiful New Zealand is, and an upcoming Blog which will chronicle the exciting lives of Lukas and Lila (me). I bet you cannot wait, judging by how diligent I have been with this blog. Ahem.

Much love! xxx

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Macarena Memories

Finally, pictures of my DREAMBOAT Apartment in Macarena. The pictures are taken by John Z, the best person in the world and also the person I lived with for a month in June (also known as: The Best Month of My Life). This apartment used to be famous as a place one of the most well-known gay socialites of Bogota would hold outrageous parties. You can see why.

The first two photos show the views looking down and looking up from the main area. John's bedroom was up the first set of stairs and my temporary abode was up the second set. There are no photographs of my bedroom, which is a shame, because it is the best bedroom I have ever seen. It is huge, which two opposite WALLS of WINDOWS facing: 1. The mountains, including the famous lit up Church, and 2. The lights of the Bogota skyline. It was RIDICULOUS.

Although I don't have any photos (because I'm a raving idiot) there is at least, a photo of John's bedroom - which is also gorgeous, and shows you a glimpse of the Bogota skyline. Amazing.

The glass table in below the hammock was later smashed by me - while swinging like an idiot on the hammock, I knocked over one of those giant candle holders. It was Quite Dramatic. John ran in and could not stop laughing.

The top room (MY room!) was so hot during the day, as it was essentially a glasshouse, so Sam, John and I would lounge around on the bed/ sofa/ armchair, play on the internet, drink wine, open all of the windows and generally talk about how exceptionally priviledged we are. Xo.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

There is a man who calls me Macarena

So, my favourite neighbourhood in Bogota - La Macarena - has been tapped by the NY Times. Now it's only a matter of time...

In my words: this is the neighbourhood I lived over for 3 weeks in the most beautiful apartment of my life with John New York Charming and Samuel Linguistic Genius. La Macarena grabbed my heart from my first visit, alone, scared and lost only two days in to Colombia. I stumbled out of my cab - every building is a different colour, every second one is a cafe, the people are young and hot and experimentally dressed and the food is cheap. There are green grocers markets, pricey brunch cafes which are irresistable when hungover, art galleries, a weird concoction of classic Spanish and modern early 80s architecture, homeless dogs, prostitutes, and beggars who offer to find you a cab for a buck. There is the best Argentinean steak house in Bogota. There is the best sushi in Bogota. There is a bar with 40s jazz played by two old Afro-Caribbean men who wear white pressed trousers, bright white shoes and dazzling smiles. There are almost all of my friends, within streets of each other. There is a corner store which sells my favourite Chilean wine for the cheapest price I've found in Bogota.

Half the taxi drivers in Bogota don't know where it is, there is no hostel and my Bogotano friends say sigh wistfully when I say: "I live in La Macarena".


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Funfair creepiness and Voyeurism

On the wikipedia page for Bogotá it euphemistically describes the weather as ´variable´. I would use the term ´insane´ - being 2600m closer to the stars than most, the weather can change extremely rapidly from a crisp sunny day to a thunderstorm to strike fear into even my heart (and I love storms). In spite of this, Karen, Sam and I decided to brave it all and have a picnic. If it rains, we can always sit in that weird carousel thing, I said.

Ten minutes into our gorgeous picnic - pizza, french bread, brie, tomatoes, nut cake and ginger ale - Sam leaps up and announces - in about ten minutes it is going to rain. Time to move!
Karen remains seated and says - what, it isn´t even raining...
Sam - Why do I always feel it first??
Because of Sam´s carrying-on, we grab our gears and head into the creepy safety of the old carousel, GOD ONLY KNOWS what it is doing in the park.

This is Karen, she is beautiful. When stupid men on bars hit on her (in Australia, her homeland) she tells them ¨Hello, I am Lina from Sweden¨ in a very stupid ´Swedish´ accent. She says ¨the problem is, I have no respect for any man who would believe me¨. She has a red heart around her neck, which is interesting because she wears her heart on her sleeve, metaphorically speaking. She enjoys baking, the 1950s and swing dancing, but she also makes obscenely offensive jokes about such topics as: dead koalas, refridgerators and most famously, aids.

This is Sam, he is a genius. He hails from Bristol and studied at St. Andrews college - the one Prince William went to - and got a first-class Masters in Spanish. He also speaks better German than me, just because he enjoys reading German poetry, like Rilke, and taught himself in his spare time. (WTF). Now, he is teaching himself Mandarin and finding it amazingly exciting. He also carries around a rubics cube in his bag, which he can solve remarkably fast, he says - it is the perfect accessory for an arrogant intellectual. He´s trying to teach me, but my patience is waning. He is obsessed with Jeff Buckley, John Stewart and Twin Peaks (no spoilers please - only part-way through).
While I was broke, he not only took me out for lunch, but he took me to a beautiful Italian boutiquey place with black and white floor tiles and made me laugh so hard I was crying, in the middle of quite a formal atmosphere of business lunches. His father is even more insane than mine. Our grandfathers were probably friends, actually.

Karen jumping. More than one person has told Karen that she reminds them of a psychotic bunny. Interesting. Massive breast-like dome in the background.

Sam landing and me assessing. His hair looks amazing like that. Shortly after this picnic we all went and got haircuts together, a la Sweet Valley High. It was magic.

The PDA situation in Bogotá is quite extreme, as everyone lives with their parents so they go into parks to make out and more. Above is one of about ten couples who were snuggling in the sunshine in our immediate vicinity. Who can blame them.

Best Day Ever.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Being Robbed and Possible Explanations:

This heart-warming tale (ok, not) begins on holiday in Villavicencio with my dear flatmate Moisès. First of all, before you start having crazy thoughts like ¨Villavicencio?! More like Villavilencio !¨ allow me to set the scene. The town apparently has a population of one million but it feels much smaller, it is at the jungle covered foothills of the Andes and enjoys an erratic tropical climate. The houses look classic South American colonialist and holiday-makers wander the streets in brightly coloured hotpants. Moisès went to school there and never had any problems before (see theory # 1).

A few words about Moisès - he reminds me of a dream-like character from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel; he is exceptionally kind, with very dry humour and he says things like ¨I`ve felt like an old man for as long as I can remember¨ (he`s 23). He is embarrassed by his priviledges and undeterred by his set-backs (such as having a Colombian passport). He thinks his having high conversational ability in six languages is `mediocre` and believes in being good, to the point where he will break up with a girl because he has a crush on someone else - ¨because, for me, that`s like cheating¨.

So, on this balmy early Saturday evening, directly after a rather dramatic storm, Moisès tells me his sister has invited us to her restaurant and we are to walk there. I am about to walk out the door in my new jeans (see diagram) when I reach my hand to my neck instinctively and realise I`m not wearing my St. Christopher necklace - I remember seeing it earlier on the bathroom counter and imagining what would happen if I left it in Villavicencio by mistake (see theory #2). I tell Moisès to wait - I forgot my money - and go upstairs. I take my lotus flower bag, realise I only have 10,000 pesos, so I put 50,000 more in (the only other note I have) and put on my St. Christopher necklace (see theory #3).

Moisès and I are walking down the street and I am yabbering in English about my cat at home, India-Ra-Pisspot-In-The-Toaster (see theories #1 + 4), when we walk into a tree shaded bit, where there are 4 - 6 guys and everything goes black for a moment.

Next thing I know I`m on my knees, a man is yanking my St. Christopher from my neck and grabbing my bag - I am confused but strangely calm - I look over to Moisès and he is on his knees, cool as a cucumber, with two guys at his neck with knives and menacing dispositions. I realise I also have a knife/ menacing guy; at first I can`t take my eyes off the knife and stay completely still while someone attempts to check my pockets (they`re too tight! thanks new jeans) but then knife guy is in front of me, waving his knife at me and I look directly into his face. He doesn`t like this, but for some reason I am entirely unafraid and continue blatantly looking; he looks just like a stupid, nervous boy (of about 19), not very happy with his current circumstance or his life in general. As an aside, this is not reassuring, but actually makes him more dangerous.

One manboy expresses a noise and they all quickly disperse. Fast as lightning, Moisès leaps up and runs to the security guard, about ten metres away around a corner, and tells him we just got robbed. The security guard shrugs and looks bored (see theory#5).

Aftermath: I am teary/ shaken for a couple of hours and Moisès and I discuss the loss of dignity we both feel. Moisès` cellphone is stolen and some money (¨I don`t give a shit about money¨). We start to see the funny side pretty quickly, considering, and Moisès ends the evening saying ¨it`s weird, but I kinda like this feeling, like showing me that without my cellphone, which is so important to me, I just keep being Moisès. Nothing changes.¨ (See theory#3).

Disclaimers about the visual aid: I didn`t include Moisès and his robbers since drawing is very exhausting and difficult for me and I have no talent for it. Also, I bought dandruff shampoo because I like the harshness of it sometimes, like once a week, not because I have dandruff.

Why Did this Happen? Five Theories

Theory #1:
We were talking in English, thus attracted attention as rich, easy potential victims.
Against: Moisès looks obviously Colombian. Colombians get robbed too, all the time. The guys already had their knives out before they could probably hear us - as far as I can tell.

Theory #2: My St. Christopher wanted to get rid of me and could see no other way to do it. Lately I had been admiring my found (in a flat in Dunedin) St. Christopher more and more, but also having weird thoughts like - he doesn`t belong to me, I`m not really travelling anymore and he`s the Saint of travel, he must be annoyed and I won`t own him forever, but it`s okay; he is a Saint, not a necklace.
Against: A necklace is an inanimate object. I`m supposed to be an atheist.

Theory #3: A harsh lesson in Buddhism. This is really a long story for another time (OR: never!) but the Buddhist philosophy has been chasing me around, in strange ways, for years - even though I would never describe myself as a Buddhist and see major problems with the philosophy.
Against: I`m supposed to be an atheist.

Theory #4: People who talk about their cats at length deserve to be robbed.
Against: Ok, but it`s unfair to punish Moisès for something he didn`t do.

Theory #5: The world is a random and sometimes cruel place, deal with it.
Against: As a human, I have an uncontrollable urge to apply meaning and significance to events in my life. I like my other theories more.

Epilogue: The after-math for one of the Robbers (possible scenario)

One robber goes home and looks at my St. Christopher necklace, realises it`s clearly worthless and thoughtlessly tosses it into a box of other worthless, stolen things. He opens a beer and settles down to watch television. St. Christopher begins to think ¨Shit, this was a mistake, at least Leilana was kind of travelling ...¨
Years later, the robbers now pre-teen daughter, a fiery girl with attitude and a frightening interest in boys, is going through the box on a rare visit to her almost estranged father, when she finds the St. Christopher, looks at him and reads the back - ¨PRAY FOR US¨ and in tiny writing ¨ITALY¨. On the front it says ¨St. Christopher¨ and ¨Si¨ and shows the Saint carrying a baby on his shoulder through some undetermined difficulty. Her worn-out, world-weary father notices her looking at it and says ¨take it!¨ So she does.
St. Christopher is so excited and burns on her chest until she can`t help herself, and at the age of 18, sets off on an adventure matched only by the female pirate captains who sailed the Caribbean hundreds of years ago.

Whatever does happen, things don`t just disappear - they travel, change and mutate. I have no idea where my St. Christopher was before me - whether someone infact bought him in Italy, for themselves of for someone else, whether the person who left him behind at 10 Canongate did so intentionally, or by mistake - whether they cared, and missed him. What I do know is that other things are coming, maybe another St. Christopher - maybe identical, maybe different - or maybe something else entirely different, to lift my spirits when being alone gets too hard. Something like the woven red and yellow star a Cambodian girl called Leila gave me and refused payment for, after telling me ¨Lei is a good name, but I`m giving you a new one, even cuter ...¨ and in the dirt she wrote ¨Lei ... li¨.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Personalised Trash/ Inspiration

I realise this particular blog post may across as extremely off-the-point, but it illustrates my current state of mind extremely well. To learn Spanish I bought a fashion magazine and I have been pouring over it with the devotion of a trappist monk - soon I will be able to describe this seasons giant shoes in Spanish pretty well - ¨Ooh zapatos muy grande, me gusta mucho!¨

Also, I have been generally listening to a lot of too cool, glamourous music, dancing with hot Colombians, and having dreams about University scholarships (I put this in the same category, don´t ask). Before coming to Colombia, I was choosing between this and a few other options which will remain nameless. The other options were more -off the path- and badass, but my corporate uncle told me that people have many sides of their characters and the idea is to find a balance between those sides - not to suffocate one with the other. And right now that is exactly what Colombia is for me - I get to travel and add to my CV blah blah, but I also live in a liberal, modern city with beautiful little boutiques and fashion weeks.

Anyway - this blog represents the best of pop culture, from my perspective. It´s only a small sampling of things I love, and not necessarily those I love the most. The Hermes ad is in this partly for nostalgia´s sake. With Yami and Ellie in BK I spent days trawling the Siam Paragon (basically an issue of Harpers Bazaar in real life) and at the time the Indian Winter line had just come out and there was a beautiful, billboard sized copy of that ad on the building. I think it´s the perfect image of pure luxury.

The Annie Leibovitz photograph of Johnny Depp and Kate Moss should need no justification.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Returning to Colombia

Here´s a photo I stole to accompany an otherwise pointless, cheesy blog.

Well, Colombia. I don´t even know what to say without sounding like a total idiot. Flying in, the immigration card hard two options; leaving Colombia, and returning to Colombia. I ticked returning.

If you know me, you know I am a superstitous atheist and one thing I am particularly attached to is the number 49. Whenever I see it, I know I am on the right track. I saw so many 49s coming to Colombia it was actually insane. EVERY seat number had it in there.

The weird thing is, I don´t feel dramatic about Colombia, like - screaming my head off, blown away. But I feel so happy, so comfortable and really .... at home. Everyone is the same - all the expats I have met go all blurry eyed talking about Colombia. Everyone seems to stay longer than they intended. I feel so good about this next year.

Tamarillos (my favourite fruit) are everywhere and cheap. The buses are hilarious. Everyone is stupidly good-looking, and - this is the amazing part - they seem to think I´m good looking too. The nightlife is the best I have ever seen. Teenagers in school uniforms make out in the streets. The colonial architecture in the old quarter is dreamy, and everytime I look up, there they are, the Andes.


p.s. Last night I drank champagne with 7 potential new friends in a huge industrial apartment looking over the skyline of Bogota, listening to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. I did a fantastic twist if you ask me.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Weird and Creepy Scenes in the Toy Museum

Of all the world-class museums and art galleries in München, my favourite, without contest, is the Spielzeug Museum - The Toy Museum. Housed in a strange tower with dizzying spiral staircases, you begin on the 5th Floor. To get there, you take a lift which seems to have been built around the time that lifts were invented. This is thrilling, as it seems like it could stop any moment, and it is about as big as a small wardrobe.

From the top, you trip down the spiral staircase to view the history of toys and playing. The staircase is almost totally enlosed, apart from a few tiny, barred windows looking out onto a snow covered München. There appears to be no one else in the building, but you can hear the faint laughter of children.

These photos are best viewed with a circus soundtrack.