Jan 30, 2011

From multi-colour to 6 shades of grey....

So here we are....back in Switzerland after 2 absolutely amazing weeks in the Dominican Republic....and all though all I see through the window from our apartment right now is 6 shades of grey, it doesn't feel so bad to be back home....besides the temperature difference. It's FREEEEEEZING here!

It is amazing how relaxed I could manage to get in 2 weeks, considering how stressed and under pressure I felt before leaving, when having been at the perfect holiday spot: Las Terrenas! Such an incredibly beautiful place with a truly calming atmosphere. 
So what have we been up to during this holiday? Explaining in words is one thing, but thought I'd instead make it a visual update and hence, I have put together a little video with the highlights.
If you have issues viewing this clip, please try this link: 
It is without sound, so no reason why it shouldn't work ;)

In word summary, you could say we have been:
- getting our PADI certified Open Water Divers certificates after taking theoretical and practical lessons at the Profundo Blue Dive Center (the instructor, Paolo, is great and so much fun!! ...and he has a great skipper as well, Nardo. Try it out if you go and want to get certified or just go for some dives!)
- continuing to dive (9 dives in total) and we saw Lionfish (PLENTY!), Barracudas, Queen Angelfish (a real diva ;)), Bermuda cubes, Scorpionfish, a big Parrot fish, a Crab and many many others... I also got a Medusa sting which was less pleasant.
- on a Whale safari (where we were lucky enough to see a humpback whale mama and her little 3 week old  baby!), guided by Kim Beddall. A fantastic experience!
- getting pampered at the SPA hotel we stayed at (especially me! 2 massages, hammam, pedicure and manicure).
- snorkeling a lot!
- horseback riding through genuine Dominican surroundings and terrain to the El Limon waterfall
- swimming A LOT!
- walking on all the beautiful beaches (miles and miles and miles of beaches and almost no people!)
- eating, eating and eating some more......and did I mention eating?!
- exploring the amazing range of yummy rum drinks. Pina Coladas to die for!
- trying and buying locally made cigars
-  reading (I read 3 books: "The winner stands alone" by Paulo Coelho, "Jag vill inte do, jag vill bara inte leva" by Ann Heberlein and "100 sätt att leva klimatsmart & 100 sätt att leva ekologiskt" by Helena Jansson and Mattias Henrikson)
- sunbathing, carefully....always with 30 spf.
- having had sooooo much fun and plenty of relaxing!

This is my 4:th time in the Dominican Republic (you could say it's a little bit of a favourite holiday destination ;)), and every time I go there, I'm so easily and quickly reminded of why: People are so happy and friendly, the music keeps you constantly smiling, so does the weather and the food! ....and the beaches and nature is nothing less than amazing. If you can go - GO!!! 

I would also sincerely recommend the resort we were at, Alisei Hotel! Great service, perfect location, nice rooms, an amazing little SPA with excellent staff, a perfect sized pool, great food and drinks....and the breakfast was amazing!!! I had cinnamon, sugar and butter pancakes almost every morning (ridiculously addictive and as you probably have already figured out, I think calorie counting is useless and takes the joy out of life ;p).

That's all for now..... Have a great start of the week! Hope to see you here again soon.

Jan 21, 2011

A post(blog)card from Las Terrenas

As you may know, if you are following this blog, we are right now in Samana, Dominican Republic, enjoying 2 long weeks of holidays.

Our main objective of this trip was to take our diving certificates and hence, we have been diving every day so far on this trip. Yesterday, we passed the exam and are now both PADI Certified Open Water Divers. What an amazing world that has now opened up for us, completely ours to explore, but owned by amazing underwater beings and plants!! Taking the PADI OWD is for sure, one of the best decisions I ever made.....

Today is the first day we take a break from diving. Instead, we plan to visit the El Limon waterfall, to which you have to ride the last distance by horseback. Tomorrow, back to diving again and we then plan to dive down to a shipwreck that has been lost at the bottom of the sea. In this area, there have also been several sightings of humpback whales and as we are now in full season for their yearly visit to the Samana area, we are surely keeping our fingers crossed ;))


PS. As my laptop is unfortunately broken, it is very unlikely I will blog again until I'm back in Switzerland.....next time, hopefully with a photo update ;)

Jan 5, 2011

Speaking of new beginnings.....

I sometimes have the feeling that I am living a real life comedy. Like my life could very well, right here, right now, be filmed by someone in real "Truman show style", and turn into a kind of "Linda Andersson's diary" (quick sidetrack thought: Who would play ME in that role??! A penny for your thoughts!).
Have you ever had this feeling?

As I mentioned in my New Years update, I have some ambitions to join a women's soccer team this year and to start playing actively again. This is why, yesterday evening, I had signed up for a test training at......let's just say a very good local team (VERY GOOD!) ;))
By request of my Swedish friend and colleague, Anders, here is what happened....

Tuesday January 4th: Try-outs for....well let's just call them "FC Really Freakin' fit Kids".

07:30  Finally got out of bed. Feeling really tired as I woke up several times during the night. YES I admit it.... I was nervous! After all, I haven't played "real soccer" in 10-11 years.

17:50  Meeting up the coach of "FC Really Freakin' fit Kids", for joint transport to the training location. Open the car door and see 2 very young girls sitting in there, also on their way to the soccer practise.

18:27  Arriving at the training location. Getting really nervous, wondering "What the hoot am I getting myself into?!".

18:30  Enter the womens changing room to leave my stuff. It's packed with girls who look half my age and I ask if someone can please tell me where to find a toilet.

18:32  The toilet has 3 booths, I use the middle one. 30 seconds later, two girls enter talking about ME and I hear them saying, in German:
- "Oh my goodness! Did you hear that the new girl is like 27-28 years old?!?!"
- "WHAAAT?? So old?!?!"
- "Yes, that's what I heard!!"
- "Hahahahaaaaa!"
.....now I'm thinking "Should I interrupt them, telling them that their a liiiittle off and that I'm actually 31, going on 80?", but I decide to just focus on the task ahead and remind myself that "Age is nothing but experience....and some of us are just more experienced than others!".

18:40  I go to the hall and see some of the girls warming up and this is when I realize I'm about to train with "FC Really Freakin' fit Kids". I see "Ronaldinha", "Romaria" and "Davida Beckham" juggling with the ball and am thinking maybe it would have been a good idea to practise a bit at home before coming here?

18:45  Time to start. Everyone gathers around the coach who speaks about tactics in Swiss German for 5 minutes. Words understood: Roughly 3 (I understood something about BALL, PLAYERS and HUNGARY...(well it could have been HUNGRY but it felt out of context....). I try not to over-analyze the fact that I have no idea what was just instructed, hoping it has nothing to do with what's about to happen and still, just focus on the task: Play soccer. At least I know how to do that?!

18:50  Short introduction of another new girl (guesstimated age: 18) and myself. When the trainer introduced me, he switches to "High German" (standard German, so I can understand. Very nice of him actually!) and says "This is Linda. She is a bit special as she is 31 years old!" .....and I hear gasps, giggling and murmuring breaking out in the crowd of players and the feeling of uncomfortable drastically increases. He continues "She used to play in Sweden, but she hasn't played for 10-11 years (and at this stage I see some jaws dropping). She has been playing a little bit here now in Schaffhausen though, with some guys from work and the parents of kids going to the International school!". Here the thought of a possibility strikes me: "Some of the parents I play with could be parents of some of these kids..... Help!!"

18:55  We are divided into 3 teams. 2 girls teams and 1 team with guys from the "FC Really Freakin' fit Kids" mens team and we play matches a' 10 minutes, rotating between the 3 teams. Am struggling a bit to keep up the pace but struggle even more with the ball technique. Am mostly running around, chasing people, trying not to look too confused.

19:15  We are on a break. My face is strawberry-red, like always when I do sports (actually it was always like this, even when I was really fit!).
Coach: - "Are you allright??"
Me: - "Yes..."

Coach: - "Are you sure? Your face is very red!"
Me: - "Ah, that....nothing to worry about! It always happens when I do sports!".
Coach: - "Maybe some fitness training?"
Me: Speechless.

19:25  Time to play again. I focus on the game, nothing else. It goes ok'ish, but after having underestimated the speed and hardness of the ball and misjudging the positioning of my head when I hit the ball with it, I feel very very dizzy (but pretend everything is fine....naturally....).

19:45  On a break again when 3 of the girls come up to me and say "Are you really 31?", to which of course I answer truthfully "Yes.....a bit of a dinosaur!". Then a moment of love breaks out in my heart when they say "Wow! We thought you were max 24-25!!! You look much younger!" and I'm wondering if I would be a good parental candidate to adopt them? ...or if maybe during next practise I could bake and bring them some cookies and offer to wash their shirts? 

20:00  The whistle blows and the game is over. I feel ok, but.....well......old.

20:05  The coach asks me "So, you will come again?". I say "Uhhmmmm yes!". He says "Great! Here is the training program." and hands me some sheets of paper and says "Please call me if you can not join any of these trainings.". I say "Thank you!" and look down at the schedule.....now here is the reason why this is "FC Really Freakin' fit Kids": Training 6 times per week!!! AOOOOOUCH!

20:15  As I'm waiting for the ride back and the "FC Really Freakin' fit Kids" girls start coming out, one by one of the changing room. They say goodbye with high-fives..... I naturally miss the first high-five as I was prepared for a proper-classic-lady-of-my-age-hand-shake. I say no more.

21:15'ish  I'm back home.....feeling pain almost everywhere. Especially in my back and in my head (from the underestimated speed of the ball....), struggling to find back that smile on my face that is there so frequently these days, and inform Chris that it is not very likely I will go again and feel much better after hearing the words "Well I'm proud of you for daring to try!" ♥....and honestly, today I am too.

That was the re-start and re-end of my soccer carrer....well at least at this level. Now searching for a team on a lesser level with max 3 trainings per week. Believe it or not, even after this humiliation, I have NOT given up hope.


Refusing to believe age is something else than just a number ;))

Jan 3, 2011

New year....new beginnings!

I always felt (and still feel) that the greatest thing about a new year that has just started is that feeling of having your future, at least your coming year, as an empty book in front of you and it's absolutely exclusively yours to write!

My year ended, like always, with bubbles, pink to be precise and it definitely started with a new beginning = "My skiing career" ;) You see, I have been the Paradox, "the thing that cannot be", namely a Swede, living in Switzerland who has never ever tried downhill skiing.

How did it go? Well.....to give you some background to what you are about to read, this was actually my second time in the mountains for "downhilling". 
When I was around 19 years old, some "friends" of mine wanted to take me snowboarding for the first time. After 1-2 hours of practising, I could stand on the board and almost turn.... ALMOST. They then thought it was a fun joke to take me up the mountain with the lift (in which I fell and hurt myself quite bad) and dropped me off at a black slope, claiming it was for kids, where the only way down was...well......snowboarding. It was quite a traumatic experience and I had to throw myself several times on the way down to stop the board as I kept gaining speed, being unable to turn!! To this very day, I feel happy to have survived it as I literally thought I was going to die.

....well anyway, back to skiing....mainly in pictures.

1. All geared up! Feeling optimistic........and actually quite nervous.

 2. Me and the other 5-10 year old kids are practising "Snow ploughing" in the little kids slope

3. Feeling a little bit like Rocky, ready to take on new adventures! Suggested we head to the next level, aka a real slope, I mean, how hard can it be??

 4. Took the T-lift up......fell out of it and hurt my knee, after having skied over one of Chris's skis. That Rocky feeling changed into panic mode, the smug facial expression of mine was replaced with tears and my legs were shaking and felt like spaghetti....and let's just say it didn't feel any better when I came here........
5. This below view greets me (and I'm not talking about the lovely, snowy hills....just the steep way down), and the inevitable question pops into my mind: "What the "Fudge" does people like about this sport?!". Ploughing for 2 hours is haaaaard work, especially with those incredibly uncomfortable shoes, wearing plenty of clothes and sweating in them, while freezing in my face, feeling completely out of control, fearing for my life AND the life of others.....

 6. Luckily, I survived this slope even with spaghetti legs.....and I then went again......and again......and all of a sudden, I felt the sun warming my cheeks, fresh air in my lungs, I started to pay attention to the INCREDIBLY beautiful surroundings and I before I knew it, I did some parallel turns.....I think....

7. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I will surely go again, but one thing is for sure: Skiing for the first time at the age of 21, oh eerhhmm sorry I mean 31, is not entirely a piece of cake! Especially not when fear is involved... You could say I started out not entirely unlike Bridget Jones in one of my favourite scenes/clips:

8. ...but 2 x panic attacks and 1 x ridiculous lift-falls later, I was happy and a lot more confident and back to a more Rocky type of feeling!