Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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five. extend visa in sweden

Now, this is a fun one!

As you all remember, I’m sure, I received an acceptance to my application of permanent residency in the fall of 2012. Exciting stuff. My initial residence and work visa expired then, so it was a relatively simple process of filling in some paper work, going in for a picture, and I was on my way!
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I have even had the time since then to apply for Swedish citizenship. This past fall I was eligible to apply for citizenship, and sent in the paper work promptly. As part of the information package one is to send to the Migration Board, I was asked to send in my passport.
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This was a problem.
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I needed my passport. For travel to Mexico. This, luckily, also turned out to be a relatively small bump in the road. I contacted the Migration Board by e-mail and quickly got a reply. It is fully acceptable to send a letter explaining why I would be keeping my passport, instead of my passport. The Migration Board would then contact me when they had opened my file, and needed my passport.
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Here comes the next problem.
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I received the request to submit my passport while travelling abroad. There’s a time limit on these things. I had to present my passport within two weeks, or risk my application falling through, and the possibility that it would be more difficult in the future to submit the same application. That’s not what you want. The day I returned from my trip to Chicago and Boston I sent in my passport. Even with the incredibly efficient post system of Sweden, I was nervous I would make the deadline.
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Good news travels fast though, because within a month I had received my US passport back, with a confirmation of my new status as a Swedish citizen.
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I’d say that I went above and beyond on this one. What do you think?
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nine. go to mexico

This one wasn’t an easy one like the last one. Or at least it’s not an easy one if you’re starting in Sweden. Standing in the south of Texas would also make this one pretty easy. But that’s neither here nor there, seeing as we live in Sweden. 
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Evelina and I travelled to Mexico to celebrate the wedding of our dear friends Kallie and Justin. (All names changed to protect identity – duh.) It was a ridiculously beautiful beach wedding at sunset. Being in Mexico for a week didn’t hurt either, with a beautiful hotel, snorkeling and Mayan ruins to be seen, fun was certainly had.
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We loved Mexico, and would love to go back. There’s more adventure waiting, seeing as we still have the Aztec and Inca ruins to visit!
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2013 – looking back

At the end of each year I like to take a moment to reflect on a year gone. Okay, no, that was a bold faced lie, sounded good though, right?

This year at least I would like to take a look at last year’s New Year’s resolutions which read as follows:

  1. Paint a painting.
  2. Find a lasagna recipe Evelina enjoys as much as I do.
  3. Make homemade macaroni and cheese.
  4. Bake a rulltårta.
  5. Watch more movies.

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It seems the only resolution I have successfully been able to follow is number five. To be fair I have also completed 3 & 4, but really just in the past few days as a last ditch attempt to be successful with my resolutions. Yes, I deem 3/5 successful. Passing grade people!

In regards to the first two. I’m pretty okay with their lack of completion, as they are both well on their way. For my birthday Evelina got me two canvases and some paints. I have already planned out what I am going to paint and how I’m going to paint it. Half way there. As for number 2…Evelina has exasperatingly explained that she does not like lasagna. She will not like lasagna. As she does not like cheese, which is a main ingredient in lasagna. Little does she know I plan on adding these two uncompleted resolutions to my new resolution list (coming 2014) and I have a little something up my sleeve. Cue evil laugh.

found here

found here

I don’t want to dwell on the things I haven’t accomplished, but rather take a look at the things I have.

  1. Well on my way on learning Swedish
  2. Read Wuthering Heights
  3. Went to Mexico
  4. Read a book a month (despite some delays in posting about it – coming soon)
  5. Own the complete 10 seasons of Friends

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And those are just the things off of my 25 before 25 list. I’ve even:

  1. Planned a Lucia celebration
  2. Celebrated my Dad’s birthday with him
  3. Attended my brother’s high school graduation
  4. Listened to my calendar when it told me to eat chocolate for breakfast
  5. Learned even more about Sweden

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I’d say this has been a successful year.

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chichen itza in detail

Because of the HUGE response I got from my Mexico post…

Side bar: there was no response. At all.

ANYWAY! Because of the huge response I got from my Mexico post, I’m here to tell you more about the Chichen Itza experience.

Very interesting history. By the way, I’m glad the Mayans were wrong about the end of the world. (I’m thinking they just got bored with writing the calendar…) That’s neither here nor there.

Chichen Itza

As mentioned, it is quite possible our guide at Chichen Itza was making up 80% of the things he told us. I’m choosing to believe it was 100% fact. Here are some of the fun facts we got to learn about Chichen Itza and the ancient Mayans (only 20% guaranteed to be true):

  1. The carvings on many ancient structures depict pumas, jaguars and birds. These animals are carved in a sitting position, as they then represent warriors.
    sitting jaguars
  2. The Mayans built pyramids over pyramids. That is to say Chichen Itza has a tiny baby pyramid inside it. Only the baby pyramid will never be born…and is older than the one on the outside. I’m thinking the baby metaphor was a terrible one…

    Here you can see excavated layers of a newer pyramid that was once built over the Chichen Itza pyramid standing today.

    Here you can see excavated layers of a newer pyramid that was once built over the Chichen Itza pyramid standing today.

  3. The Mayans constructed all of their architecture without the wheel or metal.

    No metal. No wheel.

    No metal. No wheel.

  4. In searching to explain why hundreds of thousands of Mayans would perform the back-breaking work of constructing these structures (again, without the wheel or metal), archeologists think one possibility is the high priests performed cranial deformation from a young age, as well as teeth deformation. They were looked upon as demigods, and therefore were obeyed. (Google “cranial deformation“, I dare you.)

    If you can see the three protrusions from the corner of this building you can see three statues of Chaac. The protrusions are his nose.

    If you can see the three protrusions from the corner of this building you can see three statues of Chaac. The protrusions are his nose.

  5. The Mayans had many gods. My favorite is the rain god, Chaac. Because of his huge nose. I am that superficial. (They also had a corn god. Since there is no longer any wild corn, does that mean the Mayan corn god is dead? Or does she now oversee all the scientific improvements in corn in the last 3000 years?)

    Warrior.

    Warrior.

  6. Behind the Chichen Itza pyramid is a field of columns. Engraved on these columns are warriors. You can see they are warriors by their feathered headdress and by the fact that the engraving is wearing a jaguar skin and holding a weapon. There are 700 columns in all, however they are called “the 1000 columns” after a story about a boy who was asked by a priest to count them. He spent the day playing instead, and at the end of the day reported that there were 1000.

    Looks like 1000 to me.

    Looks like 1000 to me.

  7. There is an arena standing near Chichen Itza where three different styles of games were played. This court is the biggest in all of Mexico at 167 meters high.
    Mayan games
  8. There is also a platform engraved with skulls. It was on top of this platform that sacrifices were performed. As reiterated by our guide, human sacrifice was rare and it was a high honor to be offered as a sacrifice, the sacrifices were willing.
    Skull platform

I hope you had as much fun learning these 8 fun facts as I did. They were the ones I didn’t distinctly remember learning in school. Which adds to the theory that they may only be 20% true. Or my memory isn’t perfect. Either or.

This adventure was certainly worth it, and for those of you out there interested in a little history on your vacation I say this is a good way to go.

Also, don’t belive the guys out front selling hats. There is shade inside the walls surrounding the pyramid, and you will not melt in the sun.

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mexican wedding

As promised here comes the post about the wedding in Mexico. As I said, it was beautiful. Ridiculously beautiful. The ceremony and reception took place on the beach. The sand and breeze coming off the water created the most perfect atmosphere. It was a small ceremony and that made it feel all the more intimate. The ceremony concluded just as the sun was setting. It was breathtaking. Don’t take my word for it, here is a selection of the photos I took.

Mexican wedding

(Took these with my camera, that I’ll be sure to tell you more about soon – pretty sweet pics, eh?)

Not only was the wedding amazing, but the entire week in Mexico was really more than I could have dreamed it to be.

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that time we went to mexico

For once I’m actually prompt about writing about my activities. Yes, this is prompt in comparison to my usual style. (Don’t worry, all the other stuff I have done will make an appearance here soon.) But let’s focus on Mexico. Let’s focus on Mexico, because now I’m in Sweden, and while we were gone Sweden got cold. Cold and dark.

That’s neither here nor there, because as mentioned I was in Mexico last month. Evelina and I travelled there to celebrate our friends’ wedding. The details of their beautiful wedding will come in a future post, because now I want to tell you about the adventures!

Evelina and I spent 6 days in Mexico. Six sunny, warm days in Mexico.

On Monday we arrived after a relatively successful flight down from Boston via JFK. The first thing we did was receive more information in an hour than anyone can possibly remember when it comes in that quantity. The second thing we did (After gallivanting around our room and taking ridiculous pictures. No those pictures will not appear here.) was go down to the beach. Of course we jumped in the water, all be it quickly. It really sunk in that we were on vacation, being able to walk from our room down to the beach in a matter of minutes and enjoy the Caribbean view. That evening we ate with our friends, and new acquaintances, who would be attending the wedding. After which we returned to the hotel room and enjoyed the amenities there. We were sure to get to bed early because we had two days coming up full of adventure.

Mexican mornings

#nofilter check out that sunrise!

We woke up early Tuesday for room service and a great view of the sunrise from our balcony. We had a big day ahead of us, so we had to fuel up. Tuesday we had planned to join a day trip to Chichen Itza and Wednesday we had planned to go snorkelling. Clearly we had big plans. And let me tell you, it was worth it. The adventure out to Chitchen Itza was both highly informational and fun. Even though it was entirely possible that our guide was making things up as he went, about 80% of it I remembered from 5th grade when we learned about the ancient Mayans, Incas and Aztecs.

Mexican adventures 1

The trip out to Chitchen Itza was an entire day trip, with a side stop at a grotto. We got to go swimming in an ancient hole in the ground. It was only recommended that you stay in the water for 30 minutes. Because of the bacteria. Maybe it shouldn’t be recommended at all that one swim in it. Of course I jumped in. It was worth it. At the grotto there was also a tequila factory, where we got to learn, in very fast, broken English, how tequila was made. Then we got to taste test it. Peanut butter was the best. I tell no lie. In retrospect, maybe you’re supposed to taste the tequila and then go swimming. A little tequila goes a long way, and by the time you’ve tasted all 9 flavors a little bacteria doesn’t scare you!!

Mexican adventures 2

Snorkeling was a real blast. I highly recommend it. Who knew that off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula lies the worlds second largest reef? Bobbing up and down in the ocean waves, catching a glimpse of some tropical fish, trying not to get roasted by the sun, and sipping beer on a boat was a top-notch way to spend the day. My favorite moment included our guide showing us a barracuda. Promptly followed by the bride to be swim-chasing it through the ocean, as the guide frantically points to the fish, to his mouth, and makes a biting motion with his hands. Yes, barracuda bite. No, you should not chase them.

Mexican adventures 3

Thursday was wedding day, and what better way to start the day than with some early morning Pilates on the beach. Or at least it would have been a great way to start the day if our instructor wasn’t ab crazy. That man had us do more ab work in an hour than I’ve done in my entire life combined. After that exhausting workout we had earned some pool time. (Plus our glistening abs looked great in the sun.) The wedding that evening was ridiculously beautiful. But as I said, more on that later.

bridal bouquet

Our first day of full relaxation was on Friday. So we spent it by the pool and on the beach.

beach finds

beach finds

Don’t worry relaxing for us includes an intense made up game, where the rules essentially were that you get points by knocking over cups with various amounts of pool water in them with a rubbery ball that is bounced across the water in the pool. Relaxing also includes an hour of volleyball, so don’t worry, we didn’t go overboard.

pool games

Saturday was travel day, but we luckily had a good chunk of sun time before we had to pack up and say our goodbyes. We met a group of great people, as well as got to spend about a week with great friends. What could be better? Mexico had a ton to offer. It was a fabulous, sunny, adventure-full week.

beach view

beach view

I suppose one might say that it was actually refreshing to return home from Mexico to the crisp, cold, rainy fall weather. One might say that. I would not.

Take me back to Mexico.

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book of october: david and goliath

No, I didn’t forget book of the month. Don’t you worry your little heart.

I’ve ranted and raved about how much I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell in previous posts, and when I found out he was coming out with a new book I knew it was written for me. And thousands of other readers. It was released on the first of the month, and LUCKY for me Evelina and I went on vacation this month. That means plenty of travel time to fill with reading a good book. Or five.

David & Goliath

In an upcoming post I will tell you all about our trip to Mexico. (And the ridiculous flight schedule it entailed.) For now I will leave you with these tantalizing pictures of reading an excellent book in excellent weather. On an excellent beach. Yes, everything really was that excellent.

reading on the beach

Malcolm Gladwell does it again. In a style all his own he connects dots in an ever fascinating way. He even talks about IKEA in this one. It’s a good read, you know I recommend it.

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