Friday, January 01, 2010

march 06 memories

Monday, September 03, 2007

Searching for routine...

Hi there loyal readers, a moment you have been waiting for...the Africa pics! They are posted below under Legersabroad pics in Africa albums I, II, and III.
So now, being back in NOLA, has been an adjustment for sure. Mostly, I have had to get back into the routine of being responsible for domestic activities. Having camped for so long and having my meals cooked for me for almost 7 weeks has not helped. I am back to washing my hair and washing dishes; I've only cooked a couple of times but I'm getting back into it slowly. Luckily I have the best hubby in the world and he has been extra-patient with me in my transition to the fast lane. I'm back in school and at work, loving both so far. I still don't have a weekly routine down but I am now incorporating workouts at the gym which I haven't done before. Also, it is weird with Travis not having a 9-5 schedule, since he is schooling it now as well. I guess it will take a while but we'll get it figured out sooner or later. Same, the dog, is probably feeling it the most. She has suddenly established weird eating patterns, like, not eating at all sometimes, and we figure it is because she is confused because her routine has changed.
I don't have much motivation, unfortunately, to blog about my vacation after the trip, so you'll be forced to look at the pictures (they are part III). I do have some journal entries from the trip that I would like to just copy into the blog, so I will do that. And I will caption the holiday pictures first so you'll have an idea of what everything is. It was an amazing journey, from start to finish. I learned a lot about others and about myself. It was uplifting and horrifying, intriguing and repulsive. I really hope to work in that part of the world in the future, as I know the help is needed. But where isn't it?
Bek Abroad (at home)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In the air again...just can't wait to get in the air again...

I know, I know...I have been absolutely terrible at updating this blog and nobody knows what I have been up to these past five weeks or so...but a brief run through and then I get home I will post some 1,000 pictures or something to tell the if a picture is worth a thousand words then my story will me 1,000,000 words long and that is way more than I can ever write....maybe not ever, but I digress. Special note: to those of you who have yet to look through all of our Hawaii pics, get on it cause the Africa ones will be up soon.

So the class was great. We left Nairobi and went north to Samburu, ten of us, our professor, a TA, and a groups of guys who drove us and cooked for us. We camped five nights in Samburu on the grounds of a health clinic and spent our time visiting the projects of the NGO SAIDIA. At times I felt like I was in a Nat'l Geographic magazine by the traditional dress worn by the Samburu tribe members. It was quite amazing. My favorite part of this site was a visit to an Early Childhood Devlelopment Center with about 100 small children who sang and danced for us and we danced for them. I sat with a group of them while they ate their porridge and made faces and sounds making them laugh. It was a top five moment.

After Samburu we drove to Lake Bogoria for R&R, and the place we stayed at had a really nice pool. Unfortunately, on the way there I hurt my back so I was somewhat incapacitated. I could enjoy the chlorine pool but not the natural spring for fear of infection. All in all, it was a nice time to relax.

We then drive to Bungoma district and Kakichuma village where we camped in someone's yard and visited with an NGO called Rucebo. We stayed there for about five days and met with support groups for people with HIV and was inspired by how empowered they are. Each group we met sang and danced for us and actually we were all dancing together. One of the main projects there is kitchen gardens and community gardens where they grow indigenous plants that provide needed nutrients for HIV patients and that complement the ARVs. It was also in Kakichuma where we encountered the rains, and actually a few of us ended up sleeping on the floor in our hosts house because our tents got flooded. So much fun!

From Kakichuma we drove to Suba District, which is located near Lake Victoria. Part of our trip was a ferry ride over the lake which was neat. Suba District has the highest rate of HIV in Kenya. It was a totally different picture here than in Kakichuma. The people seemed much more destitute. At one point we sat down with our hosts and looked at a village map that had been drawn two years ago and had them tell us which households had had someone die of AIDS in the last two years, and it was way too many. It was hard to see. We also visited a fishing village where they practice a system called jaboya, which is basically trading fish for sex. Men develop relationships with women who sell their fish and sex is involved in the deal. Unfortunately, one man will be with many women, and the virus spreads rampantly. The stigma is so terrible that none of the men will get tested. It was here where we saw it the worst, for sure.

That was the end of the class part of the class, and then we went to the Masai Mara National Reserve, literally camped in the bush, and went on two game drives. The sunrise one was absolutely amazing. We saw male and female lions, topi, Thompson's gazelles, elephants (amazing tusks!), zebra, buffalo, widebeest (but just missed the migration), giraffe...etc. I have fabulous pictures. On the afternoon drive we went to the river and saw about a dozen hippos. Pretty amazing.

So then we drove back to Karen, a suburb outside of Nairobi where our professor currently lives. We had beer and pizza and a hot shower, which after three weeks straight of tent camping (and 2/3 of that time in the rain) was a gift from heaven. We stayed two nights there, wrapped up the class, and then the group all went to their destinations.

I will close this post for now, and save our holiday for another post. I hope this finds everyone well. Happy belated birthday to my bro and Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad. I hope to call you later.

Bek Abroad

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A final post for now!

So, we have been pretty busy since yesterday since our class began. To give a quick rundown of the weekend, on Saturday we headed back into Nairobi with some newly arrived friends and actually, because it was on the weekend and not as busy, I enjoyed it a bit more. On Sunday it was Meredith's birthday so a group of 6 of us rented two taxis for the day and went out to a suburb called Karen. There we visited a Giraffe Center (AWESOME!), the Karen Blixen Museum (Isac of Out of Africa...pretty boring compared to plantation homes in LA but the garden had some cool flora), and CARNIVORE, twice voted one of the best 50 restaurants in the world. Since then we have been having class and I have not toted my camera around, but I am attempting now at a different internet cafe to at least get a few posted.

Love to all. We hit the road tomorrow so maybe not much word from here on out. This journey has been so amazing already and it's only just begun! It has challenged my mind and I have questioned so much and that's a good thing. I have been very impressed with the Kenyan health workers we have met so far. However, I am looking forward to the contrast that we should find in the villages. (These pics are taking a long time to load...I hope they post!) Ok, So I could only post one but it's a good one. See below...

Mom and Travis, I am going to try to call you both tonight (my tonight) so be ready!


Bek Abroad :)

Bummer. (from 7-8-07)

We found out last night that two friends of ours, a married couple, aren't going to be able to make the trip with us. They actually got caught up in the Heathrow debacle when Terminal 4 was evacuated. They were told their final destination couldn't be guaranteed and were offered a trip back to the US, so they took it. Meredith and I were really lucky to be in Terminal 3 instead. It easily could have been us faced with that difficult situation. It had to be scary for them, too. I know I would have freaked if there might have been a bomb in the terminal we were in. If you're reading this guys, we miss y'all!

Bek Abroad.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

To be or not to be?

As I lie in bed, covered by a mini-mosquito net, I am thinking about, of all things, protein. I have been living mainly as a vegetarian for the past 6 weeks or so, and I have been really enjoying it. I thought I would be able to continue here in Kenya. The trip here was easy...Virgin Atlantic offers vegetarian meals. Since our arrival, things haven't been as easy. The food here at the hostel is great (and included in the price of the room) but I haven't been able to get any protein without eating the meat (which I haven't done yet). There aren't any beans, or anything with sufficient protein, with the exception of eggs that we had once for breakfast. I'm starting to feel it...the feeling I had in Timor during training...the need for protein. I'm not an experienced vegetarian that I know all the alternate options for protein. And you can only eat so many peanuts.

So tonight we went out to eat at a place that Jenn said would have American food. During the taxi ride there, I told the others that I might get some meat to eat, but I hadn't convinced myself completely. I realized I wasn't yet ready to give up vegetarianism when I saw "veggie burger" on the menu. Next to it, it said "single: or "double". Thinking it would be a soy-based burger (I'm learning that I need to let go of my American pre-conceptions) I ordered the double. I don't think I've ever eaten a double burger of any kind in my life, but I thought this would be so much protein that I'd be set for at least a few days. I ordered the double with chips. I I'm thinking Boca burger, quarter-inch thin, two patties would be perfect. When it came out, I was astounded to see about two inches of...something...between the buns. And a plate FULL of chips. This was no Boca burger.

What was it, you ask? These Kenyans are smart, literal people, unlike Americans who call a frozen patty a veggie burger when it has no visible sign of vegetable content. These were actually potato-based, deep-fried patties with assorted veggies inside. A true VEGGIE burger. So basically I ate fried potato patties on bread with fried potatoes on the side. And a mean cup of Kenyan coffee. It was tasty, no doubt, and I couldn't finish it all. But as for the protein? Not much, I'm afraid.

So I lie here with a belly full of carbs wondering, to be or not to be a vegetarian in Kenya? Is it even possible?

Bek Abroad.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Men in Suits and other tidbits about Nairobi's city center

The first part of the city center that we came to must have been more of the business district because my first impression was that there were so many men in suits. They were walking quickly through the city, crossing streets in between moving cars. It was 2:20 in the afternoon, and I remarked to Meredith, "What are all these people doing? Shouldn't they be at work?" So many men in suits. Not many women at all.

We walked around the city for probably four hours, and the entire time it was go, go, go. Sooooo many people, and everyone pretty much had a place to go. Except us, we were wanderers.

And we wandered through what seemed like different shopping districts. At first, there were tons of photocopy shops. There was also a section for childrens' clothing shops. Appliances--one of those was called "Housewife's Paradise". We never saw a market with vegetables or fruits. No fresh meat or fish. Maybe we were in the wrong section of town, but it seems like we walked all over. (I found out later that we were just a couple of blocks from the city market...)

Crossing the street was an adventure in itself. First of all, they drive on the opposite side of the street than we Americans, so the first step is to look the correct way. There are crosswalks, sometimes, but mostly people cross whereever and whenever-kind of like New Orleans. It can be quite frightening. You think it is okay to cross but then here comes a "city hoppa" bus hurtling around the corner, scaring you back and leaving you in a cloud of its exhaust. But, despite all the crazy driving, we learned a quick lesson: When in Kenya, do as the Kenyans do--when they crossed, we crossed. And we didn't get hit, nor did we see anyone else get hit.

Before leaving for town, we had been warned by the lady at the hostel not to talk to anybody b/c they would try to con us. But I was amazed by how few people tried to talk to us. Only one man got to the point of asking our names, and we got asked once to go on safari, but that was about it. Actually, we had to ask a couple of people for directions, and one taxi driver offered help when he saw us glazed over our map (and didn't even try to get us to get to ride with him).

So yeah, we got a little turned around and lost. Meredith remarked that the city must have been put up in a hurry, without much city planning. Maybe that was true, who knows. But a positive thing was that there were street signs, and those proved helpful, but it was figuring out which way to walk on the streets that was the hard part.

We popped into a few stores to buy some essentials: laundry soap, shampoo, Cadbury's chocolate. A woman tried to sell me a bottle of Neutrogena shampoo for 900 Kenyan shillings which is over $10, maybe close to $15. I said, "no, no, no," and settled for the cheaper but still expensive Revlon Flex. We later found a wal-mart-esque store where they have everything and thought we should have bought the shampoo there. Oh well.

On our way home, it was rush hour. Bumper to bumper traffic. Hopefully I will be able to upload some pictures to show this. We were really tired by this point and every bus that passed and shot its exhaust in our faces made it worse. Finally back at the hostel, we both went to sleep until dinner.

All in all, it was an interesting day. Nairobi does not seem to be a tourists' city, as we only saw a handful of foreigners. There doesn't seem to be that much to do in the city itself. The one thing we were looking forward to most, the National Museum, is closed for renovation. It houses many archeological artifacts, like early human remains. What a bummer that it's closed!

So this weekend we will try to get out of the city a bit, but once our course starts we'll be busy and seeing anything but city. I think we're both looking forward to it.

So I was inspired by Nairobi to write a poem. I forgot what these types of poems are called but we usually wrote them in grade school for Mother's and Father's Days.

"Exhaust"-ion: A poem about Nairobi

N-Noisy and noxious with nice people
A-Ants on an anthill
I-Inundated with identical shops
R-Racing across roadways to avoid being run-over
O-Overwhelming and overcrowded
B-Bustling with black people and bright busses
I-Interesting, intriguing, but slightly short of incredible.

Maka ne'e deit...that's it for now. Hopefully some pictures will follow.

Love to all, especially my hubby,

Bek Abroad