The House on Carnaval Street (Margarita Wednesdays) by Deborah Rodriguez – Review



A little bit Shirley Valentine, a little bit Eat, Pray, Love: a memoir by the remarkable Deborah Rodriguez.

A hairdresser and mother from the United States married to an aspiring warlord in Kabul, she has been forced to flee Afghanistan. On her return to the US she finds herself lost and floundering. At forty-nine she decides to move to Mexico, packs up her belongings, including her cat, and drives South. She purchases a tiny house in Mazatlan and begins slowly to get to know herself and her surroundings.

A woman who has always taken the road less travelled, Rodriguez allows us to live her exotic life vicariously. She describes the expat scene in Mazatlan, the locals and her new relationships and family with candour and humour.

I found the memoir inspirational. Rodriguez shows us that it is never to late to change course or start life over. Her first nonfiction book, Kabul Beauty School, tells of the beauty school she established in Kabul and again in Mexico she is driven to help make a difference in her community the best way she knows how.

Rodriguez is also the author of  The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul.


I received this book to review via Netgalley.

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Travel Theme: Play

The Importance of Play

Most of us know that children and babies learn through play. It is a universal and fundamental human right that all children have opportunities for free time and to play. I have always found delight in travelling to other countries and watching how children interpret their own environment and create games and toys out of what seems like very little.  These kids obviously didn’t have much but I love that they had created some toys using found objects and were playing happily when we met them.

play, Zanzibar

Local kids on the beach with toys they had created from stuff they found on the beach. Zanzibar, Tanzania

This is my response to Where’s My Backpack’s Travel theme: Play





Heading towards Mary’s house, Moshi, Tanzania

Last week I had a job interview and was asked to refer to a situation where I had been challenged by  cross-cultural communication. I started talking about my friend Mary from Tanzania and how much she had taught me, how knowing her taught me to be less judgemental of other people as I realised that you can never really know a person’s true situation and circumstances. I had come to Tanzania thinking I was there to help others but in the end I found it was people like Mary that helped me.

To my absolute mortification I started to tear up thinking about her. How much I missed her and how much she meant to me. It was a job interview! The interview panel of three were very kind and understanding but it really was completely inappropriate. I didn’t get the job and I wish it hadn’t happened but it might give you an indication of the nostalgia I feel when I look at this photo of Mary.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

Colour – Bondi street art

Bondi street art

All along the promenade at Bondi Beach has been made available to local artists to illustrate what would otherwise be a boring concrete wall.20130403-155857.jpg

Bondi fish

This is my response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Color (NB it’sn not a typo! Different spelling of colour in Australia. iphone photos edited with Picmonkey

Sydney is my city

 Sydney is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is Bondi Beach. Not necessarily Sydney’s most beautiful beach but it’s a Sydney icon and only 10kms from the city centre and 5 minutes walk from home.

Spring is the best time to visit my city because the weather is sunny and cool, the water of the ocean and harbour is aqua blue and the crowds are gone.

Bronte Beach, Springtime

You can see my city best from Dudley Page Reserve. You get the best view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Sydney, bar none.

Locals know to skip Darling Harbour and check out Chinatown instead.

The Rocks markets are the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like author Patrick White, actor Hugh Jackman, and painter Brett Whitely have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the National Maritime Museum because it hosts world class exhibitions and demonstrates how closely we are all connected to the sea, past and present.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to be patient, the traffic can be terrible.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is one of its many beautiful beaches.

My city really knows how to celebrate Chinese New Year because we recognise and value our multicultural society. Food, parades, art and music.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they start talking about where you can get the best coffee.

For a fancy night out, I head for champagne at the Blu Bar on 36 at the Sydney Shangri La Hotel. The view is incredible.

Just outside my city, you can visit the Royal National Park, the oldest national park in Australia.

My city is known for being brassy and bold, but it’s really pretty friendly and chilled.

The best outdoor market in my city is Rozelle markets.

The Bogey Hole Cafe at Bronte is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and a pie and peas at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels  is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Time Out Sydney.

My city’s biggest sports event is the City to Surf in August each year, a 14km walk or run. Don’t watch it, run it!.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I walk along the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk and try to spot whales and dolphins.

To escape the crowds, I get up early.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be a sports person because Sydneysiders love to watch and play sport.

The dish that represents my city best is a bowl of Vietnamese Pho. A cold, crisp (Australian, naturally) white wine is my city’s signature drink.

The Sydney Town Hall is my favorite building in town because it’s recently been restored, it’s smack in the middle of the city, and it’s a great meeting spot.

The most random thing about my city is the gorgeous ocean pools. My favourite is the Bondi Icebergs.

Icebergs ocean pool, Bondi

Icebergs ocean pool, Bondi

The Basement is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out the ivy.

Snorkelling with blue groper fish could only happen in my city. The underwater life is amazing.

In the spring you should catch the Manly ferry from Circular Quay or visit Sculpture by the Sea.

Visitors at Sculpture by the Sea

Visitors at Sculpture by the Sea

In the summer you should visit Bungan Beach, Sydney’s best kept secret.

In the fall you should visit the Royal Easter Show. It’s a Sydney institution. Find out about Australia’s important agricultural industries, pat a pig or watch wood chopping demonstrations.

In the winter you should check out Vivid Sydney when Sydney is lit up at night with light installations and projections.

Vivid, Sydney

Vivid, Sydney

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss a bike ride around Centennial Park.

The best book about my city is Aboriginal Sydney. Sydney was inhabited by Indigenous Australians for thousands of years before white settlement.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is Home Among the Gumtrees.

This post is my submission to National Geographic Travel’s Intelligent Travel – Beyond the Guidebook What’s your city??



Photo Challenge: Lunch

Photo Challenge: Lunch

Delhi Thali

Gosh, what I wouldn’t give for an authentic Delhi thali right now! I just ate an egg and lettuce sandwich for lunch but I didn’t think it was worthy of a photo so I have dug up an old photo of something a little bit more interesting.

This is my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Lunchtime  

Sydney Harbour Bridge






The other day I was killing time in Sydney while my daughter was at an audition so I took a stroll around the foreshore of Sydney Harbour. I took this snap because I hadn’t ever seen Sydney Harbour Bridge from this angle. Sydneysiders have fondly nicknamed the Bridge “the coathanger”.  The Bridge was also known as the ‘Iron Lung” because it took 9 years to build and was one of Australia’s largest employment projects at that time. It was opened in 1932 as Sydney moved forward after the depression.

This is my response to Ailsa’s weekly travel theme: Bridges and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward