Tag Archives: Arizona

My Guide to Tucson

As fate would have it, the year that I moved away from Tucson also happens to be the year that my little sister is moving to Tucson. She’ll be a freshman at the University of Arizona, just like I was 8 years ago. My first impression of Tucson, created from the small frame of my dorm room window, was not as positive as the impression it left on my heart 8 years later. When I first moved there, Tucson seemed like a desolate dust bowl. What I knew of the city was limited by the fact that I had only a beach cruiser to get me from A to B. My world was mostly the UA campus, University Blvd., 4th Avenue, and the Safeway on Broadway and Campbell. Luckily, a few months in to my time there, I met some people who had lived there a little longer—some a couple of years, others their whole lives—and they helped me to broaden my perspective. Soon, Tucson became a vibrant and fascinating place with far more to do, see, eat, and explore than I ever imagined.

I don’t remember when it was that Tucson became home. I have no memory of the moment when the desert shifted from a foreign, martian landscape to the place where I belong. Finding a community of inspiring people probably had something to do with it. I do know, however, what places and activities helped win me over. In this blog post, I’ve featured several of the things that are dear to my heart. I created a much larger Beginner’s Guide to Tucson to help my little sister find her way in the Old Pueblo. It is by no means an exhaustive list of all that is wonderful in Tucson, and I know I forgot a lot of things. It is merely a snapshot of a multifaceted and complex place. For anyone visiting or moving to Tucson, I hope that you get out of your dorm, apartment, AirBnB, yurt, or hotel and see all that Tucson has to offer. Go East, North, West, and definitely—despite all the myths and fear mongering—definitely go South. Talk to people. Listen to their stories. Eat their food.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite Tucson things in no particular order. I should disclose that I worked at Time Market for 3 years, and I was a yoga teacher at all three of the organizations in the yoga section. So it’s not like I’m biased or anything.

Eats

  • The Little One: go for the food, stay for the hugs
  • The Taco Shop: best burritos
  • Tucson Tamale Company
  • Kingfisher: tasty desserts
  • Time Market: everything here is delicious
  • Falora: best caprese salad
  • Sher-E-Punjab
  • Yamato: best sushi
  • Raging Sage: best scones for both breakfast and lunch

Time Market Patio

Time Market’s patio in bloom

Drinks

  • Side Car
  • La Cocina
  • Downtown Kitchen and Cocktails
  • Crooked Tooth Brewing Co.
  • Tucson Hop Shop

An afternoon at Crooked Tooth 

Sweets

  • The Screamery: get a flight!
  • Monsoon Chocolate

Yoga

  • YogaOasis
  • Grounded Wellness
  • All Bodies Rise Yoga: various locations, check out the website for the schedule

yoga oasis 3

Outside YogaOasis Central

Things to Do

  • Go to the Zoo
  • Visit Mount Lemmon
  • Wander around Barrio Viejo
  • Watch (or participate!) in the All Souls Procession
  • Take a day trip to Madera Canyon
  • Support local vendors at the Heirloom Farmers’ Market in Rillito Park
  • Visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

madera canyon

Hiking in Madera Canyon

This is just a taste of Tucson! For more, download my Tucson guide here.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Prose, Travel, Tucson

Ramblings: Returning to Arizona, Reflecting on Paris

The ease with which a person can put one life on hold and resume another astounds me.

Yesterday marked three weeks since I left Paris. In those three weeks I have slipped seamlessly into old routines, places, activities and relationships. I wear cut-off denim shorts and tee-shirts. I meet friends at the same coffee shops I’ve been going to since I was teenager. I drive my car through mountains and across deserts that have been the backdrop of my life story since the day I was born. My transition back into my American life in Arizona has appeared to be as painless as getting behind the wheel of my car—a fleeting moment of confusion; and then, keys in the ignition, foot on the pedal, go.

From Sunset Point, Arizona

I look back often into my rearview mirror. Flickering blue eyes, suggestive smiles, illuminated monuments that never lost their luster, the smell of baking bread before the sunrise—these images and sensations are still vivid and tangible, yet when I recall them I feel the disappointment of memory. These memories will never capture the true experience, and they are rapidly being replaced with new ones—laughter with childhood friends, the sun rising over the Rincon Mountains, lifting myself into eight angle pose for the first time.  If I am able to return to Arizona and fold so easily into my former life, how can I hope to preserve what I know of Paris and who I became there?

Yet, in my experience, transformation that unfolds under intense conditions in a short period of time leaves a much deeper mark than slow, gradual changes. I feel like I’ve changed more emotionally and spiritually in the past three years than I did within the entire first 18 years of my life. And I grew more during my year in Paris than I did in my first two years in Tucson. Of course, everything is cumulative, and the growing pains I had when I was 15, 16, 17 all added up, like deposits in my bank account, to get me where I am today.

So where am I? The place is hard to describe. There are small, visible characteristics: I no longer wear makeup, for instance, which I had done almost everyday since I was about 12. This tiny physical change indicates a much larger shift in my sense of self-worth, for, after the challenges I faced in Paris, I now put more value in my character than in my appearance. My posture is straighter, which, aside from being attributed to a year of regular Hatha yoga, also indicates my increased sense of inner strength. I carry myself confidently now, because I am proud of the person I am striving to become and of the life I am striving to lead.

What’s more is that I am finally in a place where I am more true to myself than I am to the system and expectations imposed upon me. For nearly three years I denied my innate desire to be a nurturer, a teacher and a healer. I told myself I needed to do something more practical with my life than help others, notably young women. So I tried on different hats—journalist, diplomat, politician, researcher, scholar. None of them fit, and I knew that, even as I was wearing them.

Now, after facing my demons for many a grey day in Paris, I can proudly and definitely say that I want to be a nurturer and healer of the human spirit. Concretely, this means becoming a yoga instructor, a youth mentor or counselor, and a teacher. I want to help young people become the best versions of themselves, as my greatest teachers and mentors have helped me to do.

Sunset Point, Arizona

My heart is open, my mind is expanded and my life feels, for the first time, like it is of my own design, a manifestation of my spirit. Here I am, in Tucson, Arizona, a better version of myself than I was when I stepped out of the métro and into the streets of Paris a little over a year ago.

Here I am, in Tucson, Arizona, and it’s the right place to be.

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

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Photos of the Week: Soaking Summer

It’s been dreary here in Northern Arizona. For days it’s rained and rained, with few sunny interludes. What better to do on such days than read, looking up every now and then to marvel at the rain?

To pass the time, I bought a new book of poetry. Fugitive Colors by Chrystos. My favorite lines so far–

“Setting up my cook fire

in the breasts of strangers I call lovers

No blanket fits       no stone welcomes       I am

the path I want to follow”

– from I Walk Beside the Prints of Gulls

I read those lines over and over, listening to their vibrations as they resonated within my spirit. But that was yesterday. Today I awoke to sun,  blue skies, monsoon clouds rolling slowly over the horizon. I’d like to write some of my own poetry today, cherishing the bright warmth that streams through my window and onto my notebook.

 Expect a long post tomorrow, my untethered friends! I have a couple of things I’d like to share with you. Till then, I wish you a happy Monday!
Smiles and all the best,
Savannah

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Photos of the Week: The First Monsoon

As the first monsoon of the season came rolling into my hometown, I felt as if the heavens were pouring happiness into my rain boots. When it rains in Arizona, you can hear the whole Earth and everything on it singing. Grass bursts from the ground, buds blossom into flowers, birds chirp from every tree and cactus. All the world comes alive, as if it had been sitting dormant under the desert’s dust, waiting for the opportune moment to wake, to celebrate.

For me, a rainy day means a cozy drink, a sweater and a book. Winter, summer, whatever the season, I always make myself some hot chocolate and curl up on the couch to read. But this particular monsoon ushered in another rainy day pass-time: Mystery at Hogwarts, aka Harry Potter Clue. I didn’t make it to Fluffy’s lair in time. My mom beat me to it, but I definitely solved the mystery before she did.

By the time our game was over, the electricity had come back, the rain had subsided and the clouds were parting. When I went outside, the air felt cool and clean, and the trees looked a little greener. Arizona may tout its towering saguaros and desert vistas, but it never fails to smile at the rain.

 What does a rainy day mean to you?

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

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Photo of the Week: There’s always something to be uncovered

A telephone poll sits on a back drop of blue sky, red ridges and an old factory.

The view from Jerome, Ariz. 

Jerome, Arizona doesn’t change much. In fact, in all the years I’ve been visiting this little town, it’s remained almost exactly the same. It’s me who’s changed: The park I used to play at seems much smaller than I remember it. The ice cream cones are not nearly as mouthwatering. The people I meet don’t seem quite as eccentric. I’ve grown up, and I’ve grown used to Arizona’s ghost town.

Yet, despite how ordinary this little place has become over the years, I still manage to find new treasures and new horizons. Even in a town as small as Jerome, hidden coves remain to be discovered. It’s like a good book– no matter how many times you read and reread it, it always manages to show you something you didn’t notice before.

Look at something a little differently this week. Who knows what you’ll find.

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

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