dimanche 27 avril 2014

A short video of my holiday in Madagascar


As you may have guessed I've been off exploring the world again (that is also why I haven't been blogging recently).

After getting back from moroccan desert I flew off to a a place that I have been wanting to visit for ages : Madagascar
I spent 2 weeks in this wonderful country. 2 weeks is really to short, but I got an amazing peek of the island. 
Mind blowing landscapes, meeting wonderful people that live in little villages in the middle of nowhere, stunning animals that you can see nowhere else… 
The 4 days I spent   being rowed 170km of canals on a dugout canoe was a real adventure! 

I'll blog more in detail about this  adventurous trip in future posts :)

In the meantime here's a short video I put together , showing some of the things I did during the 2 weeks I spent in Madagascar. 
Enjoy :)

jeudi 17 avril 2014

Bel & Desert Frog meet the Hummer

Hi guys!

So here's a quick shot at when my Jeep (well ex Jeep now) got to meet the enormous Hummer.

How did this happen? Well, when I was in a music festival in the middle of the Sahara desert the guy in the tent next to ours was actually from where I lived in France and his dad owned this H2…
Becoming good friends and discovering my madness for big american 4x4's he asked if I would like to come and try out the Hummer :)
It was really awesome to drive this car!
Let me explain… Not only are there not many Hummer's in France … apparently there are only 2 of these special ones! The only other person that owns one is the famous French singer JOHNNY HALLYDAY!

This black monster is a real beast!!! Just look at how tiny I am next to it!
- I was actually trying to steal one of the headlights on the above picture… the Jeep and the Hummer have the exact same headlights… on this car they were brand new whereas -one on my Jeep was full of sand… -
When you're inside the thing is just as enormous! It is so large, when in the passenger seat you can hardly touch the person in the diving place!
Here you can see just how wide the beast is! It's crazy!!

Time to get serious!! Bel is driving the monster!!! Better get off the roads!!! ;)

Only joking. The Hummer is actually really easy to drive. Of course it's large, a bit like a driving a lorry, but it's tiny sporty wheel, powered steering, and sporty gearbox make it feel like driving any - powerful- car.

Compared to my Jeep , even though it is twice the weight, the Hummer felt so light and sporty.

But when you hit over 90km/h the beast started to roar… It is the military version that has no soundproofing...
That mighty engine would roar like a lion with a nasty soar throat!!  You cannot hear anyone speak inside the car. You cannot hear the radio on full blare. That beastful engine just sings the song of it's people - GRRRRR BRRRR GGGRRRRR - To drive that crazy monster for more than 100km at 130km/h on the highway, either you have to love the thing to bits or be deaf!
So to sum up … driving this car was comply awesome!!

It sure is not a car for towns (my friend admitted that his dad brought it only to go to and 'cruise' at St Tropez during the summer)…
…it's a shame because this beast is made for the hard life, life in the desert.
 No plastic, this monster is 100% metal , 2,6m large and 4,6m long… weighing 3,5 tones! To move this girl,  in a powerful way, the V8 6.5l turbo diesel engine develops 398 horse power! With a low gravity center, this babe is great for climbing and crossing sand dunes.
A real dessert car… I would love her and adopt her straight away… if not for a couple of things…
She is a real thirsty girl … 22l of diesel for 100km!!!! Crazy!!! You can also imagine how much that kind of monster spits out thought it's exhaust… pollution queen…

I had a fine time trying this crazy car out. Great in many ways, powerful, big and beautiful, but to big and expensive for me!

So for the mean time I'm staying 4WD-less…

vendredi 21 février 2014

Gorgeous Burgundy and Grey hair

Hi buds!!

No travel posts today. I'm back home in France, and I made the most of my stay to get my hair sorted out! 

I wanted a reddish color, but with some blonde … this is what my hairdresser friend came up with…
I love it!!! It's a burgundy color at the roots that fades to grey at the tips.

I have been a weird white blond color for a while now. Weird because I have been trying to get all the blue-pink-green out of my hair. That was one hell of task! I will explain how I did it in another post :)
So, here above is how my hair has been for the last couple of months… White with a yellowish tint…
It was time to put some color in that!!! 

Well, those who have been following this blog for a while have seen me with many different hairstyles and colors. 

I love having crazy blue or pink hair … only problem is that my bosses aren't too fond of it. They love my crazy personality and creativity , and I think secretly they like my funky colored hair, but in the mean old work world colored hair doesn't work out too well… 

Even though I work in multimedia communication, which is a kind of arty thing, people still judge you by how you look. Anything like tattoos, piercings, bright colored hair … some people put you straight into a certain category. In their mind you are not a hardworking, trustworthy person. 
You have tats and pink hair, you are a punk, possibly a druggy…  
It's sad but true, this is what I have experienced… 

Lucky for me I have the most awesome bosses who appreciate my work and don't really care about my wacky style. ..
The thing is, I'm setting up my own company … so bye bye crazy colorful hair for now! Sadly, people judge books by their cover…Crazy hair = crazy person, not professional and not trustworthy (which is so not true!)
So I've gone back to a more natural color … but with a hint of fun all the same!
The photos have come out more orangey … the roots are actually a kind of burgundy color that fades to grey on the tips.
I absolutely love this color! 
I find that it makes my skin kind of glow! My natural color brown does have a reddish tint to it… maybe red is my color! 

Please let me know what you think! Should I change, go back to blonde or blue, or stay with this color??

dimanche 16 février 2014

Thoughts and photos from the Sahara Desert

I always have the upmost difficulty of finding words to talk about the desert. Explain what I feel when I'm out there, in the middle of nowhere, far from anything human.

Orange sand, black stones, spiky acacias, tea that is way too sugary, salty warm water, a fierce sun that has no pity against my white skin. A land of emptiness and silence. A unrelieved landscape, and everyday's work. Always the same but never boring. Never.

I don't know why, but this place, this desert always feels familiar to me. 
I was not born here, not raised here, but it is here that I feel at home. Here that I feel at home; safe and serene. I get a certain feeling of freedom. I am always fascinated when I stare at that horizon that seems to have no limits. No end. I like being and living out here in the desert. Trips without detour, nights under the stars, life with no superfluous…
I think there is no real way of explaining what it is like. Only people who have been in the desert can understand what a strange feeling you have out there.

These photos are from my last trip. They may not express the feelings you get out there, but they do show some of the beauty of the landscape.

Cela fait un moment déjà que je voyage dans le désert du Sahara, mais j'ai toujours autant a le décrire. A décrire cette sensation que l'on ressent lorsqu'on est là-bas, au milieu de nul part, loin de tout.
Du sable orange, des cailloux noirs, des acacias épineux, du thé trop sucré, de l'eau salé et tiède, un soleil féroce, impitoyable aux chairs déshabitués de sa morsure. La routine quotidienne du travail. Monotone, sans doute; ennuyeux , jamais. Et puis il y a une certaine saveur de liberté, de simplicité. Une fascination de l'horizon sans limites, des nuits sans toit, de la vie sans superflu. 

Bien que je ne suis pas née ici, ni même grandie, c'est ici dans cet endroit impossible a décrire que je me sens chez moi; sereine et en sécurité.

Ces photos sont de mon dernier séjour dans le désert. Bien qu'ils ne peuvent pas transmettre cette émotion si particulier qu'on ressent lorsqu'on est la-bas, ils peuvent néanmoins montrer l'immense beauté du Sahara.

Kisses from the desert!!

samedi 8 février 2014

Bel is a bad blogger ...

Hi guys!!

Yes, I Bel McCall has been bad at blogging this last month … like the month before … and the one before that…

You're probably all fed up with the excuses I keep posting … 

I enjoy blogging more than anything, but time just seems to fly by! Plus my new job is taking up most of my time, or should I say my life! 

Talking about life, I am so so so lucky to have some fabulous friends that are letting me stay at their place (until I get things sorted out proper and all!). So a big big cheers to them! 

Anyway, this is just a really quick post to just send all you lovelies lots of hugs and kisses and a big big thanks for all your gorgeous comments!!!! 

I'm going to be offline for a week or so … yep, in half an hour I'm heading off again to that far away land called the Sahara Desert … a place where the Internet does not exist …

A week of sand, sand, sand is awaiting me… I must admit that the desert sand is a pain! It gets everywhere! In you bags, clothes, toothbrush, computer… But I'll also admit that I'm more than happy to get away from this rainy windy weather and hit some sun and heat!

Oh and, most of you know that I'm a 'Jeeper Girl', well today I'm traveling by Toyota! The Toyota-Jeep friendly war is still on … so I made a little picture for my Toyota buddies!
Translation: 'May the force be with us … and with all the mechanical parts...'

Take care buds!!

mardi 21 janvier 2014

New Year 2014 in Tunisia (Djerba)

Time for some travel blogging!

Here's a peak at my one week holiday on the Island of Djerba in Tunisia.
This trip was not planned at all! It was a really last minute decision!

After Christmas I was feeling a bit down and depressed. The whole brake up and moving house stress had really gotten to me. I was feeling so down that I didn't even want to celebrate new year, I just wanted to stay at home and watch TV…
Well, the person that knows me the best in the world, my little sister, was back from Canada, and she gave me a good old telling off and a kick up the backside! She basically told me that I had to get off my bum and do something before this downwards spiral I had got into got any worse.

This was Friday. I thought about it most of the night and the next day. What should I do?

Saturday evening I went on one of those last minute holiday booking sites. I found a really good cheap deal for a week, all inclusive, in Tunisia. I booked it. 

The flight was the next morning ! 
Sunday morning. 
Early rise and shine to be at the airport at 8am. I still didn't really know if I had made the right choice to just go off on my own for New Year!
11am, sitting in the plane, time to take off! 
The weirdest thing is that the plane I boarded for Tunisia was parked right next to my usual plane to Casablanca (that takes off everyday at 11h30)!

A little bit about Djerba! 
Before arriving there I didn't even know it was an island. Like I said this was such an unplanned trip!
Djerba, nicknamed the Dream Island, is a pretty little island located in the south east of Tunisia. The place is renowned for its white sandy beaches, turquoise sea and mild climate.
From the plane the view of the island was beautiful! 

Off the plane and straight onto a bus to go to the hotel. 

The hotel club was pretty nice. It was only a 3 star, but that was good enough for me!

It was actually the first time that I was going on 'this kind' of holiday. 
I have never been in a hotel club, I normally go on road trips or backpacking around!

The ambiance seemed really family orientated. The hotel wasn't very busy, but most of the people who were there seemed to know each other (later I learnt that lots of people, older and younger, come here about 5 times a year and have been for 10 years! A big family!)

I decided that, being on my own, I would just have a nice relaxing week. A week making the most of the spa and massages, no stress and lots of sleep… well that's what I thought the first day!

The weather was bad. 
The sky was really dark, rain was defiantly coming in! I had booked to go on a horse riding excursion to the local village. 
Just my luck! 
As I had expected, Tunisia looks very much like Morocco. One difference that I nearly immediately noticed is that the locals don't seem to mind you taking photos. In Morocco people hide when they see a camera.
This horse riding trip was a really 'tourist' thing. I was bored. Just horses and camels slowly following each other. Luckily I started chatting with the guides who were really friendly.
That's another difference I found with Morocco. Here the guys, when I said I lived and Morocco, and talked a bit of arabic with them, were so friendly! They didn't consider me as a tourist, but more as one of them. We had lots of fun talking and laughing. They also secretly told me that we were going to go to a souvenir shop in the village, and not to buy anything because it was 'tourist' prices. 
In the shop it was rather fun to. The same as in Morocco, you go with a guide and you always get dragged into some shop where you get stuck for hours until you end up buying something. The shop owner asked everyone where they were from. When I said Tangier, he moved on quickly to the next tourist and seemed to ignore me. I thought he hadn't heard or didn't understand what I had said.

After having shown and talked about all his products, he started getting his salespeople to dress the tourists up in a traditional tunisan dress. When one came towards me, he immediately said 'no, not her, she's a girl from our land, she's a local'. 
While people were busy getting dressed up he came and sat next to me and started to chat about tourism. Times are hard in Tunisia, the tourism industry has been hit hard. Morocco tourism is doing well, Tunisia is hoping that someday people will start coming back.
After the shop and a quick visit of the village, we got back on the horses to ride back home. It poured with rain! Night fell fast. It was cold and wet, but I was still having good fun joking, singing and laughing with the guides. They also told me how they new that I must be bored just walking with a horse (I had told them that I have been horse riding since I was 9 years old). The 'boss' quietly told me that I could come back the next day to do some proper riding, just me and a guide (for 'local' price). I accepted at once! I was amazing at how friendly they were towards me. In Morocco, in touristy areas, I tell shop owners and guides that I live in country, but they still try to sell stuff or ask for a tip. Here the guides didn't ask for any extra tips… such a difference and it made the ambiance so much better. I didn't feel like 'the rich european that you've got to get the most money from'. It was just friendly and nice.

Back at the riding club the rain was still pouring. 
We were all freezing. There was only one car to get us all back to the hotel… well we all managed to fit in! The driver, 2 on the front seat, 5 on the back seats and 4 in the boot! Plus the car was a really old reanult, nothing seemed to work! It was raining cats and dogs and the windscreen wipers didn't work! You couldn't see a thing! Plus, in Djerba (I also learnt this while driving there) not only do they drive twice as fast as the speed limit, but also on the wrong side of the road (instead of driving a bit further to a roundabout to get on the other side of the road, they just drive towards oncoming traffic!! 

Monday evening.
This is when I met Jerome from Paris (JD) and Jerome from Nantes (JR). They had both also come on their own. Jerome from Nantes had actually been in the same plane as me, sat just in front. I recognized him because when he sat down in the plane, being really tall, he slammed his seat backwards, nearly knowing me in the head! He also recognized me by my … trainers … my blue and black nikes are obviously remarkable!

The terrific trio was formed!
We all got on really well! Actually we had lots of things in common. 
We were inseparable for the rest of the week. 
(A great thing for me was that JD normally likes traveling like me. I had decided, being a girl on my own, that it could be risky to rent a car or visit the continent. Being two made things different!)
I thought that I was going to get lots of sleep during this holiday … after this first evening I knew I would not! After having been to the hotel animation and disco we caught a cab to a local club. We got back at 6am… I had to be up and on a horse at 10am…

Hearing that alarm ring after only a couple of hours of sleep was hard. I wasn't too sure about going riding… but when I was the weather I jumped out of bed. 
The sky was blue and the sun was shining. 
At 10am I was surprisingly wide awake and on my horse.
3 hours of fun! Nothing like the day before! 
Lots of galloping, freedom! The guy that came with me was really nice to. Plus he was really good at taking photos while riding so I got some nice pics of me :)
Galloping along the beach, white sand, blue sky, turquoise water! 
Back at the hotel I found my two buddies … 
We spent the rest of the day just lazing around. After my evening spa and massage we had dinner, then went to the hotel animation and then clubbing again!

The 31st of december was a lazy day for me! I got up really late and then just hung around the pool, dozing on sun beds and sipping cocktails.
After my evening spa seance, and having my hair done by a crazy hairdresser, it was time to hit the New Year's Eve Party!
We managed to cause chaos at the begging of the evening. You had to book your table on the sunday when we arrived. All 3 of having arrived separately we all booked different tables. They day before I managed to change my table to be on JD's (there was a spare place)…

Being a girl of course I was late. I was surprised to see JR at our table as well! How did he do it, he just ignored the waiters and went and sat down. Of course he had teen someone's place, which then caused the usual organization chaos that I am so used to in Morocco. 
Sat next to us were some lovely girls. At first we thought that they were a family, mother and 3 daughters. But no, they just knew each other really well because they had been coming to this hotel for the last 8 years! 
The food, I must admit wasn't that good… It was a big menu, that sounded tasty but wasn't. Things were cold and tasteless…

How ever, the ambiance was great! Lots of dancing and fun! And meeting new people!
Thursday was another lazy day…

Friday however we decided to get out of the hotel. With JD we rented a car and set off to discover the island of Djerba.
We got a brand new Renault Symbol. It's a bit like a Clio with a boot or a luxury Dacia Logan. 
(Talking about cars, the cars are much newer and in better state here than in Morocco. For example, the taxis have to change car every 5 years, whereas in Morocco the taxis are old Mercedes D class than have over 1 million km's on the clock!!)

I was driver (because I'm used to this kind of crazy driving and bad roads) and JD was the navigator :) 
The car rental agency warned me to beware of the cars with white number plates - Libyans (there are a lot around this area because the country is just next door) that he said didn't really know how to drive!

First stop was Midoun. Every friday morning there is a big local market.

After having wandered around the market for a couple of hours got back in the car and headed off to Guellala, a village that turns around pottery and ceramic making.
We had a nice lunch. Fresh grilled fish. Nice to eat something other than hotel food!
Aww Cute!

Next and last stop was the El Ghriba synagogue.
In Djerba is living the oldest Jewish community of the Maghreb (Northern Africa). The oral traditions says that when the first temple of Jerusalem was destroyed under king Nabuchodonosor, in 565 BC, the servants of the Temple, the "Cohanim" (plural of Cohen) escaped from the slaughter and sailed to Djerba with a door from the Temple that they buried where they built the first Ghriba. In the following centuries, Jews from other tribes settled in Djerba too.
The interior was beautiful. So many colors!

It was nice to get out of the hotel and discover the island and local life :)
Back the hotel we had a Salsa lesson. It was very funny as no one knew how to dance. Our choreography looked terrible and the teacher gave up in the end!
The evening went as usual - spa, dinner and dancing!

Saturday morning, an early rise! 
We were off at 6am to catch the ferry over to the main land to visit a bit more of Tunisia.
JD and I in the boot of a 4x4 Toyota. Not compfy at all!

First stop : a visit of a traditional troglodyte house in Matmata.
The structures typical for the village are created by digging a large pit in the ground. Around the perimeter of this pit artificial caves are then dug to be used as rooms, with some homes comprising multiple pits, connected by trench-like passageways.
The origin of this extraordinary place is not known, except from tales carried from generation to generation. The most improbable account says that underground homes were first built in ancient times, when the Roman empire sent two Egyptian tribes to make their own homes in the Matmata region, after one of the Punic wars, with permission to kill every human being in their way. The dwellers of the region had to leave their homes and to dig caves in the ground to hide from those invaders.
Part of the Star Wars films was actually filmed in this area of Tunisia.
Back in the Toyota we were off for  long drive towards the desert.
The views were spectacular!!
Finally we arrived in Douz, a town in southern Tunisia also know as 'the gateway to the Sahara'
I was happy to be back in the desert, even if it was only for a short time.
Like in Morocco, this also the Sahara Desert, but the sand is so white here! (in Morocco the sand dunes are red).
We also visited a palm grove, where dates are grown.

A bit of local life :)
On our drive back were came across yet more beautiful scenery and cute villages.

Back at the hotel for the last night. 
Well not much of a night. Our plane to Nantes took off at 7am sunday morning, which meant we had to be at the airport at 4.30am!
That didn't stop us from having one last party! 
Dancing and fun until the early hours of the morning. 
No sleep before catching the plane!
This was a very different holiday for me. No rushing around, just relaxing and having fun, not having to think about anything. 
I had a great time and met some lovely people. 

I don't think I'll go back to this same hotel (like most people seem to do here), but I'm sure I'll go back to Tunisia. 
The people were just so friendly and good spirited, and I'd like to see more of the country.

Tomorrow I'm driving though Spain and back down to the Sahara, but this back in Morocco :)

Have a lovely week!