It’s easy to get stuck in the apartment. After all, my “chores” list is a lot longer these days with no car, dishwasher or dryer, so there’s usually something to get caught up on here at home. And hey – I’ve got a beautiful view, the A/C is blasting, food, drinks… and two clean toilets for god’s sake! It’s a haven in many ways, but Gabon isn’t going to come knock on my door. (That’s actually not accurate, we’ve had a few knocks at our door from people mistakenly thinking we are a business – hence my new hand written sign – Résidence Privée) That being said, I feel the need to get out more, so a recent goal of mine has been to say, yes. Say yes to any invitation, even say yes to myself…get out there… see, do, and experience. Although much has been outside my comfort zone, the YES campaign has led me to a number of new experiences in just a few days. In the words of Larry David, it’s been “preeeeeeeeeeetty, pretty” worth it.
My neighbor, and all around wonder woman-seems to do it all. She’s smart, gracious, works multiple jobs here in Gabon, and has a million and one hobbies. She is always on the go and somehow finds time to cook too. (Impressed). So, it didn’t surprise me at all when she asked me if I’d like to do a moving meditation after we went fabric shopping the other day. I had no idea what I said yes to, but I’m glad I did.
I’ve been in the salad spinner lately – unable to focus, letting a lot of fear/worries take over my brain space…. ping-ponging from thing to thing and never feeling like I accomplish much. So I was game for whatever may bring some calm. After some instruction on the moves, we turned her living room into a meditation space. The concept was simple: focus. Clear your mind, and do one thing with purpose and intention. On beat with the music, we synchronized our breath with a series of movements. Picture a plus sign (+), that was our map. Themovements took us forward – back to center – right, back to center, left -back to center and finally backward, and then to center. You continue repeating the pattern, and the music controls how fast to complete a single revolution. Later my neighbor told me, the plus sign/clover pattern is physical metaphor for life – always know your center, and return to it no matter the distraction.
After fumbling around a bit, and finding myself spinning/turning the wrong way, I got in a groove. Iwent from, “oh god how long are we going to do this, I’m getting dizzy!” to “I’m getting the hang of this.” I was amazed how much this simple task grounded me and forced me focus. Even when I thought I was doing it right, I kept finding room for improvement… for more grace, more fluidity, more purpose.
Stationary mediation I’ve tried in the past was much more difficult for me, my brain was all over the place. And although it was nice to slow my body down, I never felt like my mind slowed. Moving meditation was the opposite, move your body, still your mind. You can’t think about much else when you have to move your body and breathe to a beat – or at least I can’t! It’s definitely something I plan to do again.
A Real Walk
Many of you know what a challenge it’s been tending to Diego’s needs from our new place. The area we live is very busy, and in addition to lots of cars, I’ve encountered more than a few people that feel the need to “interact” with Diego and I. This can be anything from barking at us, yelling “chihuahua,” or other anti dog behaviors that really pissed me off. That being said, something had to give… I was reaching the end up of patience with the “dog lovers”, and our miniscule potty breaks outside left Diego under exercised and bored… and that bums me out. I don’t feel good leaving him alone when I haven’t fulfilled any of his dog needs 🙂
So to get ahead of the mania outside, I – Lindsey have now woken up THREE days in a row at 6:15 AM to walk the dog. (I know!) I realize that doesn’t sound very impressive, but it feels major. A) I’m not a morning person. B) I’m still getting my bearings on where to go, and feeling secure getting around by myself. Leaving the house alongside Brandon gives me the momentum I need, and then Diego and I soldier on. It’s been A LOT easier to navigate the challenges of the city when there are less cars on the road. You still need eyes in the back of your head, those taxis aren’t slowing down for their own mamas! But, it’s been a good thing, for Diego and I both.
We get down to the Bord De Mer, which is the road/”freeway” that parallels the ocean and once we’re there and across the road, we can cruise for a good while. We even see a critter or two! Today lots of crabs… yesterday, I came back a new way and Diego met a little kitten. This week, he also met a rooster on our street, and a few new downtown street dogs. No, none of them are as cool as Tres. If Diego could contribute to this post, I think he’d want to you to know about an amazing log hr found on the beach today. Something about this piece a drift wood was irresistible! He rolled all over over and around it. He even chewed on the log then went back to rolling all around it. It was actually kind of weird. He never got over – whatever it was- so I just had to drag him away. Crazy dog.
He got a bath as soon as we got home.
Contemporary African Dance
Say what? Yeah buddy, I accompanied my neighbor to her private dance class. A short walk from our place is a modest studio, tucked behind a business park of sorts. You go up an outdoor staircase, and then enter the building, to go up another winding tiled staircase. At the top? Dance Unlimited! Once I was inside, I was pleasantly surprised. The walls are cheerful and bright, the walls are mirrored just like in a traditional dance studio. There were even ballet barres for adults and kids. I am hoping I won’t have to use them… they look a bit – splintery? But hey! Barres man! The hour long session started with warm up, and then we broke down steps in preparation for a big combination at the end of class.
What is Contemporary African dance? I’m not exactly sure, but I do know we weren’t doing it any justice, haha. I like to dance, but I’m not what you’d call a natural. Though awkward and few steps behind, I had fun. Imagine a mixture of modern dance, with some hip hop-esque influence, some popping…jumping. All in all, I’d call it a workout. Buckets-o-sweat, people! The instructor was a great sport… she asked us for moves to incorporate into the final dance, and when she came to me – like a deer in the headlights, my contribution was the running man? Haha. I committed to another 5 classes, so I will update you with our progress!
THIS was far and away- the most un-Lindseylike activity I’ve tried yet. I would compare this to CrossFit perhaps? Weights, bars and other contraptions…who knew there were so many appliances available to inflict pain.And people PAY for this? Haha. Walking in the gym costs $11 whether you choose to work out or not. A lot of things are like that here. I recently when to a proviate pool/restaurant. I was about to sit on a lounge chair as we waited for the rest of the group, and she goes feel free- but that will cost you $10. haha, I passed on the seat.
Anyway – the workout! I’m actually glad I didn’t know the details of the class going in, or I may not have gone through with it. I kid I kid… my displeasure was mostly at my level of weakness. Although I could keep up in most areas with modified weights, ab work and lunges were a total bust. WOW! I have some work to do. Icould have thought my multiple trips up 7 flights of stairs per day would have strengthened me, but it appears I have a ways to go. 🙂
The gym, Saoti- is located back where I used to live in Haut de GueGue. The complex itself is unassuming from the outside. You roll up and there are a few chickens pecking around, then you enter and it’s legit gym! Tons of machines, smells relatively normal – AC! Whaaaaaaat!?! The separate area for classes was impressive as well. Inside there was a ton of equipment, mats, all kinds of weights, etc. Tunes were blasting from big speakers, when I spotted this huge dude… looked like he was carved out of wood and dripping in sweat. The instructor I presume? Yes indeedy.
The class of 8 women were mostly native Gabaonise. There were a few French expats, then my Greek neighbor who speaks french, and me. Thankfully I could look around for cues for other people because I didn’t understand much aside from petit (for small) and some numbers the instructor was calling out. Although intimidating looking, the instructor had great energy. He smiles alot, and laughs (maybe at us?) a lot. I think I was getting the biggest kick out of his attempts at English. There I would be, thighs quivering mid-squat… the instructor is counting us down…. “huit, sept, six, cinq”…. then he’d bust out and sing along with whatever tune was on – Rihanna, Britney. It was hilarious. I was laughing out loud at points. It was an out of body experience…. hot as hell and sweating buckets, I thought – wow, things change quicly! Last month I couldn’t be dragged to work out, and now I am taking some gnarley Body Pump class in French…in Africa? Bahaha. Weird man.
Today, I can barely move – but thankfully I have no workout commitments for the rest of the day.
I feel like I turned an some sort of imaginary corner this week – feeling a bit more like myself, and as Martha says, “It’s a good thing.” bahaha. I pronounce Campaign Yes a success. Brandon and I have said yes to a game of squash tomorrow with some of his coworkers… should be interesting! Then, best of all… Jeff (B’s dad) arrives in Libreville tomorrow night! We are anxiously awaiting his arrival!
I just got back from another outing with my neighbor! She helped me enroll for for a cell phone plan that allows me to buy minutes/data at a 2 for 1 price. Holler! I’ll definitely be putting the savings toward groceries. People keep telling me not to look at prices, but it’s hard not to gasp when you shop! The other day I bought a pound of ground beef for $14. Hi yo!??! A girl I met recently spotted US grown sweet potatoes at her grocer – she jumped at the chance and bought four taters for $20. I may have done the same, but wow – I still have sticker shock!
We also stopped by her tailor this morning! (No mice this time). In preparation, I bought some really cool fabric this week. The background is a gradient that fades from a cerulean/turquoisey color to black, then has a gold floral print running throughout. I love it! With my neighbor’s help translating, I have a tank/peplum dress and a pair of shorts in the works! They order is supposed to be ready a week from today, fingers crossed! Some pics below.