Where Were You When We Partied Like It Was 1999?

As I sit trying to decide what to do tonight to celebrate New Years Eve this year my mind wanders back over the years and I try to remember where I was each NYE.  I don't know why we make such a big deal out of this one day of the year but personally I love the holiday and enjoy being new places to celebrate it.

Finding Home and the Meaning of (My) Life

Unfortunately, as I've discovered, the answer is not always 42.  I used to think I had everything figured out.  I had a plan and I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  I set goals and accomplished them.  And when I left Kenya a little over a year ago I knew I would stop at nothing to return to the country I felt like was a home away from home.  And I didn't.

However, now I'm listless and floundering and I have all these questions floating around in my head.  Do I stay in Kenya or do I move somewhere else in Africa?  What about another continent?  Or stateside?  I guess there is something to be said for living in the moment but it would be nice to know what it actually is that I do want in the long term.  Maybe it's just the commitment-phobia is rearing its ugly head now that I'm quasi settled somewhere. 

Singletons, Beware!

Smug Marrieds are lurking behind every poinsettia bush and Christmas tree.  As Bridget Jones laments, why is it that all smug marrieds think it's appropriate to ask singletons about their love lives?  I can't tell you how many times in the last week people have asked me the status of my dating life.  Just substitute Bridget for Captain Awesome and the conversation usually goes a little something like this (just a lot less British and not quite so witty):

The Neuron Project

So this past year has been a rough one.  As you know, I went through a traumatic event that produced some unintended side effects that have stubbornly lingered on.  I'm not one to talk about my feelings or outwardly express emotion but, in an effort to appease the powers that be (my parents), I spoke to someone about the persistent remnants of this event that I continue to experience.  (I promise my blog is not going to turn into some ooey gooey emotionally sappy space.  I am just giving you a little background of why I am starting this so-called project.) 

Amboseli Game Drive

The weekend before I went to Ethiopia for work I took a road trip to Amboseli National Park.  Amboseli sits on the Kenya/Tanzania border next to Mount Kilimanjaro.  It is well known for the free range elephants that wander through the park letting visitors get up close and personal with their herd.  The views and the animals were magnificent.  I'll let them speak for themselves:

Home for the Holidays

One layover and 25 hours later I made it home to Dallas.  I'm still recuperating from jetlag and have spent the last several days getting the basics out of the way (i.e. doctor's appointments and IKEA, Target, & of course Christmas shopping) so I can enjoy the holidays and catching up with friends.

Needless to say my cats (and of course my family) are thrilled by my return.  My mom has been telling them for the last few months that their momma is coming home just to see them and I think Wylie believes her.  He doesn't let me out of his sight and is much more affectionate than he ever was when he lived with me.  I think his neuroses might stem from untreated abandonment issues.  (Yet another reason I should probably never procreate real babies.)

Merry Christmas from Fleur and Bubba!

Harar Hyenas: An Adventure Waiting to Maim and Kill Someone

...fortunately that someone was not me.  While in Ethiopia for work recently some colleagues and I decided to travel to Harar* for some sightseeing and locally brewed beers.  When I heard they also had trained hyenas that came when called and I could feed them I was all in.  I mean what's a missing finger or two in the name of a good time? 

Evidence that it really did happen and I didn't run screaming into the night after the break.

Ethiopia! I'm ready for our love affair.

Have you ever walked into a place so different but so familiar at the same time?  Ethiopia reminds me of many countries I have visited throughout Africa but the one thing that struck me was the one thing that was so much like home.  What was this, you ask?  Left hand drive on the right side of the road.  It has only been a year since I've last been home and driven around the States but for some reason it was completely disconcerting to me to have the driver sitting on the left and driving on the right.  Call me crazy but that's what stuck with me upon arrival to Ethiopia. 

I spent one short night in Addis Ababa upon arrival so I did not get a chance to explore Ethiopia's most well-known city.  Fortunately I'll have another chance to explore the city on my way to Shire in a couple of weeks.  Early the next morning we headed out to the 2nd largest city in Ethiopia, Dire Dawa.  We have been here about 4 days and I have been fairly lazy about getting out and about.  We hit up the pool bar at our hotel the first couple nights and then tried out a restaurant at another nearby hotel.  Tonight we hit up a local Ethiopian joint and had some delicious njera and shiro.  I could eat this all day every day. 

5 days down, 3 1/2 weeks to go.  Bring it, Ethiopia!

Kenya's War: Over the Line or Good to Go?

So for those of you who don't know, Kenya is at war; they broke the news over Twitter just a few weeks ago.  Locals have been inundated with newspaper stories of the developments made each day in the military's campaign to take down Al Shabaab's stronghold on various Somali towns.  I have been keeping up with the local news here but to gain a more international and less potentially biased perspective, I also monitor Al Jazeera's news updates as I have found they provide the most reliable coverage on issues in Africa over other news stations.

Easy Schmeasy...Cooking for the Clinically Insane

Since my initial cooking attempt of Tex Mex went off without a hitch I decided I would spend my first day of R&R cooking dinner for a few friends.  Fortunately it was not at my house as I do not have a oven or even a very functional stove.  (I did just procure a slightly used microwave though...oh the possibilities!)

Disclaimer: I am typing this as I cook.  Therefore there will be frequent updates and perhaps a random fire or two.

The menu: pulled chicken wraps with broccoli pasta alfredo and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  I decided to also throw in a guacamole starter since that takes me approximately 10 minutes to make including chopping and taste testing plus I figured it would keep the boys occupied as I attempt to finish the rest of dinner. 

Around 2pm: I returned from grocery shopping and started chopping and cleaning vegetables.  I threw 4 small avocados, some chopped onion and red pepper, and a jalapeno in the blender until mixed.  I added lemon juice and a little salt to taste.  There was an unfortunate incident where I put the spoon in to test the consistency a few seconds before the blender actually came to a complete stop.  Happily it  didn't break or kill the blender or take out my eye for that matter when it came flying out of the blender at me. 

Since I am incapable of chopping broccoli I asked the housegirl to chop that for me so I didn't come off as a complete imbecile when there were huge chunks of uncut broccoli in the pasta later.  She did an amazing job and puts my chopping skills to shame.

Around 4pm:  I took the chicken that was quasi defrosted (hopefully it's ok to continue on it's defrostation while in the oven?)  and sprinkled Hidden Valley ranch seasoning on it and drizzled some barbecue sauce on it.  I set the oven on as high as it can go because I know it takes longer to cook and you have to put things on higher temperatures since we're at a higher altitude.  Unfortunately, I don't actually know what that equates to in cooking terms but hopefully 300 degrees Celsius is adequate to get the job done. 

Live blogging commences.  Continue on here:

Saving the World, One Refugee at a Time

So it's been awhile since I posted about what's going on in my world.  A few things have changed in the last month and a half.  First off, I"ve returned from exile from small *town* (I use that word loosely) Tanzania.  I am back (based, anyway) in Nairobi.  My contract with Skillshare/Kenya Rainwater Association ended in mid-August and I am now working for RSC (Resettlement Support Center), better known as JVA. 

Where were you when? Yet another 9/11 tribute

My sister started a blog series asking readers to remember where they were during pivotal moments of history. Since I've been promising her a guest post for awhile now I thought I'd take this opportunity to reminisce about where I was ten years ago today before the events of September 11th became synonymous with anti-Muslim rhetoric and the country was bankrupted by two wars started in response to this fateful day.

I Have Turned Into a Mush-brained Zombie

I used to be one of those expats who kept up with the news not only in the country I was living and/or working in, but also kept my ear to the ground about issues pertaining to my home country.  I got google alerts, checked Al Jazeera and All Africa, and actually read my New York Times updates rather than just skimming the headlines before deleting.  What happened?  Now I read chick lit and prefer not to contemplate the debt crisis America is facing.  Is it that I don't care anymore?  I don't think it's that; I am about to start a new job taking testimonies of refugees and writing case histories in order to help them get resettled in the States.  I do still care about human rights issues; I am just not motivated to read or hear about it at the moment.  Am I burnt out from too much genocide literature and in some sort of post-graduation rebellion stage?  Or am I turning into one of those people who lives in a bubble, oblivious to the issues around me?  Dear God, I hope not.  How do you combat boredom with current affairs?  I need suggestions to get me out of my self-imposed media exile.

My Short-lived Stint Living in Tanzania

Good try sending me to TZ, Kenya, but you can't rid of me that easily.  As I mentioned previously, my org shipped me off to a small village, Anjari, about 30 km outside of Moshi, a larger town a couple of hours away from Arusha that is primarily known for its proximity to Mount Kilimanjaro and the starting point for many hikers' journey up the mountain.

In an effort to fulfill another blog request, I took pictures daily of the village, work, and just about anything that struck my fancy. This may not be an entire month in the life of moi thanks to a quick reprieve and subsequent return to Nairobi, but here is a montage of pictures taken throughout Tanzania during my short time there.  Enjoy!

Can't Buy My Love...

But apparently you *can* buy my friends' love.  It's not that my friends don't like my current Curry Delight, it's just that they are very particular (as am I....although my decisions are a bit more biased than theirs) in approving of the guys I date.  I tend to wear blinders around the guys I fancy, constantly ignoring the sound and sage advice of friends to get over my crush on Nairobi's Poster Boy for Players and ignore the flirtations of cute but scandalous mhindis.  However, I have recently discovered a loophole to gain backdoor approval for said men from the judge-y friends.  Bribery.

Africa Is Not A Country

As I am sure most of you are aware, Africa is not a country.  So I don't understand why people insist on referring to it like all the countries here are one and the same.  Each country here has its own political system and individual history.  You cannot judge one country's stability, safety, whatever by what is going on in a completely different area.  It's like deciding to not travel to Texas because there's a protest in D.C.

The Joys of Village Life

So, I moved to Tanzania this past weekend.  When I was told that I would have to transfer to Moshi for work I wasn't sure what to expect.  I had some friends who had lived in Arusha and Moshi before who told me a bit about the region.  What my organization didn't bother to mention to me was that I wasn't moving to Moshi proper, but would be staying 30km outside of town in rural Moshi.  And when I say rural, I mean up the mountain, 40 minutes from town, in the village.  Thanks for the heads up, guys!  Fortunately, I am here with another colleague so I have a partner in crime to experience everything with.

Wonders of the Natural World

Despite my new found love of camping, I embraced the wilderness from the comfort of a lovely banda during my trip upcountry a few weekends ago.  And by wilderness I mean exotic birds and hammocks. 

My mom came to visit me in early June for just over a week.  It was her first time to Kenya as well as Africa in general.  Since there's not many touristy things to see and do in Nairobi proper despite it being quite cosmopolitan for the region and the hub for East Africa, I was all too happy to get out of town to show her Kenya's natural beauty.  Getting away for a weekend and surrounding myself with animals, nature, and gorgeous scenery are among my favorite things to do here.

Charming Is as Charming Does

Reason #472 why I don't date: follow through. 

Why is this such a difficult concept for most guys?  The ones I encounter either have too much or not enough.  Usually it's the latter.  Girls are simple.  You boys think we're all tough to figure out and confusing, but usually we're really not.  Disclaimer: I speak for myself here, I'm sure some girls are complicated and mysterious but I just don't have the time or energy to play those games.  What's the point?

Cooking for Dummies

Aaand by dummies, I mean me.  So, as you've probably figured out, I am going to give you a cooking blog today.  This one is for Anonymous Carly (yet again) who commented on my Request Line post. (You too can make the monkey jump.  Just comment here, there, or anywhere about what you'd like to read about and this monkey is happy to oblige.)  So back to Carly, she asked that I write about cooking a meal (because she's mean and knows that my cooking experience is nil) with all Kenyan ingredients and explain the preparation (i.e. the shopping, cooking, and results).

So, let's begin by lowering your expectations just a bit.  When I say "cooking", I really mean "attempting not to burn down the kitchen while recreating simple recipes".  And by "simple recipes" I actually mean food that a child should be able to make, but under my watch are still not usually successful.  (Think gas stove, open flame, and throw in some underdeveloped cooking skills due to many years of throwing frozen dinners into the microwave.  And sadly, I no longer have access to a microwave.  Oh, the travesty of it all.) 

So, what you are about to encounter won't be delicious or fabulous, if you want to read about *good* food, hit up the baking and food posts over on my friend's page.  Otherwise, this will have to suffice.

It's Zeee-bra, Not Zeh-bra

Here's another blog inspired by my Request Line post.  Anonymous Carly asked: If you were an animal what would you be and why? 

(I apologize now, this is the kind of blog you get when I'm in the midst of typing up notes and studying for my Level 1 Kiswahili exam.  Don't be scared of the sheng, a mix of Kiswahili phrases pamjoja na kizungu maneno, definitions are provided at the bottom.  Think of it as a bure foreign language lesson.  You're welcome.)

Corruption: Feed the Beast or Fight Back?

It's been awhile since I've updated regularly, I know.  I had family in town visiting and no computer access at home, but I swear I'll be better this month!  Here's another post based on suggestions left by you, my loyal readers.  If anyone else out there on the interwebs want to know more about Kenya, Captain Awesome, or my random musings on different topics leave a comment and I'll do what I can to appease the masses. 

When I saw the suggestion to write about something negative that has happened, how I handled it, and how it's affected my perspective of Nairobi, Kenya, or East Africa on my Request Line post I wasn't sure what I would write about since I had already kind of put myself out there more than I'm used to on my post about the armed robbery that occurred at a house where I was staying. But, alas, Kenyan police handed me the perfect thing to write about this past week.

Day of the African Child

June 16th is the International Day of the African Child.  It began in 1976 in Soweto, South Africa with thousands of black school children taking to the streets to march in protest of the inferior quality of their education and to demand to be taught in their own language.  Hundreds of children were shot down by security forces and in the following two weeks of protests more than 100 were killed and a thousand injured.  To honor the memory of those fallen and to draw attention to the plight of 30 million street children across the continent every June 16th since 1991 has been recognized as Day of the African Child.  The theme for June 16, 2011 is to spread awareness of the dangers street children face, promote the protection of them, and determine effective strategies for child care and protection.

Dating Dos and Don'ts: Why I Don't Date

I was asked recently why I don't date with regular frequency here.  My auto response is that even though I meet a lot of people here I am picky about who I attracted to and the quality of person with whom I want to spend my free time.  However I realized recently this is not the sole reason for my careful choosing of potential dates.

Girls Night In: PJs and Cocktails

Thanks to those of you who posted comments on here or facebook and gave me some inspiration for future blog posts.  Keep 'em comin!  In response to one of the suggestions I received (you are a social butterfly but why not blog about a night in?) here is the first post in my By Request series.

Ameringlish*

After an incident at my office last week, I am now willing to concede that Americans really do speak another language from the UK and former British colonies.  (No gloating, Graham.)  It took me a good ten minutes on Friday to convey to my Kenyan colleagues that I was in need of a band aid.  Not a cloth bandage, but just a simple sticky wrap to put over the blister forming on my toe.  Finally after showing them the offending toe and acting out what I would like to do to it they determined I was looking for an elastoplast.  Elasto-what? According to Wikipedia (the source of most useless knowledge floating in my head) this is a brand name for a sticking plaster or adhesive bandage.  Both generic terms I would never have thought to use to explain the item I needed.  Perhaps I should work on expanding my vocabulary. 

*The name of this post is stolen from the title of my bestie's blog about life as an expat in the UK.  Check it out here.

Request Line is Open

As it was recently pointed out to me by friends at home and abroad, I have been a slacker about keeping this blog up to date.  This has been for a variety of reasons, but I do admit I have neglected to update this blog as regularly as I would like.  Therefore I'm going to (attempt) to write a weekly post based on all of y'alls requests.  I started this blog before I moved 9000 miles away from home to a new country and culture to let my friends and family see what I see while living abroad so I want to know what you are interested in hearing about.  What do you want to know about Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa, or my life in general?  Post a comment and I'll see what I can do. 

Glamping

For those of you in the know, glamping is short for glamorous camping, which is exactly how I spent my weekend.  A friend invited a small group of us to hang out at the ILRI farm.  The estate is located in Kapiti outside of Machakos, about an hour or so outside of Nairobi towards Mombasa.

Dating Dos and Don'ts: Speed Dating 101

A couple of my good friends collaborated on a speed dating event that was hosted at Divino last week.  I tagged along to help out with registration and sanity maintenance.  As guys are by far the flakier gender, many who RSVPed to the event didn't show and we were scrambling to call friends to come partake.  (Clearly it's a terrible hardship to ask single guys to hang out with 15-20 good looking, eligible women on the prowl for which the ratio is skewed in their favor.)

As I wasn't expecting to meet the love of my life there (no disrespect to the guy selection, I'm just extremely picky AND had the opportunity to scope out the options as they registered AND was already friends with 1/3 of the guys in attendance) I was ready to have some fun with these speed conversations.  A few of my friends who came out in support (and the potential for awesome stories) and I came up with some surefire conversation starters in case of duds.  I mean who doesn't bring up unicorns, LARPing, Renaissance fairs, and zombies on a first date?  Hmmm, maybe this is why I don't date that often.... (For those of you non-geeks out there, LARPing is live action role playing and is most commonly affiliated with the Dungeons and Dragons crowd.  And for the record, I have never LARPed.  Which is more than some of those in attendance at this event could claim, you know who you are.)

Dating Dos and Don'ts: Take 2

So I recently read a blog from a woman who said that if a guy who is chatting up a woman has a significant other then they should take the responsibility to tell the chatee within 30 minutes.  As someone who has spent entire evenings having nice conversation with gentlemen who proceed to flirt shamelessly but don't have any follow through I agree this is just the courteous thing to do.  This is not to say that I wouldn't continue having an interesting conversation with said gentleman and am not even saying that it's not ok to be a flirt (as I'm usually attracted to guys who are more outgoing and flirtatious), but I do agree that it's in everyone's best interest to casually mention a girlfriend in the conversation.  It doesn't have to be an awkward, "So, you know, I have a girlfriend" type thing.  It could just be "Oh, yeah I really liked XYZ, I saw/did that/went there with my girlfriend."  I'm certain that the girlfriend at home would greatly appreciate her existence being made known.  As someone who experienced this occurrence rather recently, let's call him Nne Macho, it would have been nice to know that despite his flirtation and nonstop attentions he actually had a girlfriend.  I would have been happy to conversate with this friend of a friend despite this fact, but would appreciate knowing that it had no potential to go anywhere.

The day the rose colored glasses came off

As this blog is intended to be about my life abroad, the good and the bad, I have decided to post about something that happened to me recently.  As everyone who decides to move abroad knows, security is often a issue and of heightened concern.  Nairobi, among many other cities around the world, has a very high crime rate.  Most of this is petty crime (pickpocketing and cell phone theft) but there is also a level of violent crime as well (armed robberies and carjackings).  I was fully aware of this when I decided to live here and am very conscious of day to day security concerns and I take my personal safety very seriously.  (As some of you know, I left a position that required me to move to Juba, Southern Sudan because of a lack of security measures implemented by the organization I was working for, so I am not one to jump into a high risk situations without precautions in place.)

St. Patty's Day 2011: Nairobi Edition

I was a bit sad to think that I was going to miss one of my favorite events this year: Dallas' St. Patrick's parade down Greenville Ave. filled with floats, beads, live music, and green beer.  So I went on a quest to find something St. Patty's-esque to participate in over here that evening.  You wouldn't think that Nairobi would be a hot spot for Irish celebrations but happily some of my favorite restaurants embraced the western holiday and even indulged our happy American/British tradition of green beers.  Of course no Kenyans I work with knew of this holiday nor did I see any non-Americans purposefully wearing green in honor of the day, but no matter, what do expats love more than celebrating and explaining holidays that are meaningless to other cultures?  (Case and point: conversation at St. Patty's Day ball pre-party explaining to non-Americans why we celebrate Thanksgiving when we in turn wiped out the native population we were supposedly appreciating.)  Sadly, even I have no idea what the significance is behind this boozy holiday, other than purportedly someone named Patrick was at some point sainted by the Catholic church.  Would any Irish readers out there care to clarify for us the meaning of this green day?

World Water Day

While I can't stop thinking of World Water Day as Waterworld Day now (thanks a lot, Jon); it is actually a huge initiative to raise awareness about for improving water, sanitation and hygiene provision issues and highlights a specific aspect of freshwater each year.  The UN adopted a resolution to create a world day for water beginning in 1993 with events to be held annually worldwide as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.  You can click here to find out if there is something going on in your neck of the woods.

This year's theme is "Water and Urbanization" and the official event is being hosted in Cape Town, South Africa with a conference and side events.  For those of you in Nairobi, the Kenya Museum Society is hosting a World Water Day celebration at the Louis Leakey Auditorium and the organization I work for, GHARP/KRA, will be in attendance to display information about our rainwater harvesting and management technologies.  If you are interested in joining us for this evening to reflect on rural-urban water issues please contact the National Museum at:

info@kenyamuseumsociety.org
0724 255299, 2339158
www.kenyamuseumsociety.org

The evening will consist of a screening of the film, “Pumzi” directed by Wanuri Kahiu. It is the first sci-fi film from Kenya and winner of the Best Short Film award at the Cannes Independent Film Festival and was an official selection at Sundance and Pan African Film Festivals.  "Pumzi" is set in futuristic Africa, 35 years after WWIII, “The Water War,” where nature is extinct and the outside is dead.  The story is based around Asha, a museum curator, who lives and works in one of the indoor communities.  When she receives a box in the mail containing soil, she plants an old seed in it.  Seeing the seed germinating instantly, Asha breaks out of the inside community to go into the dead and derelict outside to plant the growing seedling and possibly find life in the dead world.

Pre-screening presentations will focus on emerging conflicts for rural-urban water use and demand management in Kenya by: Mr. Michael Thomas with Rural Focus and Mr. Kariuki Mugo with Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor.

Refreshments 6:15 pm, Doors open 7:00 pm
Non-Members Sh 500, Members Sh 400, Students Sh 200
Proceeds to fund the National Museums of Kenya

The Trials and Tribulations of Lent

As an evangelical Christian I have never participated in Lent as I have always thought of it as a Catholic holiday steeped in their church tradition.  However, as one of the members of my church home group brought up, giving up something or starting a new habit during this time is a good way to remind ourselves daily of the sacrifices Christ made for us and to remind us of the importance of this time of year leading up to Easter.

With that said, this year for Lent I have decided to start saying no.  Let me explain, I am a bit of a people pleaser and am also very social so when I get invitations for multiple events on the same night I will try to make everyone happy by accepting and then end up going to great lengths to attend multiple events at once.  Therefore, I have decided to use my words and turn down some social invitations in order to stop stretching myself so thin.  It's not that I will become a hermit during this time, it's just that, instead of trying to please everyone and saying yes to every invite, I will give myself more free time to devote to other things rather than socializing.  (Yes, Mom and Dad, that does include finishing my paper.)  So wish me luck and productivity for the 44 days (which by the way, can anyone explain to me why this year's Lent is 46 days instead of just 40?) and I'll see you all at the end of the tunnel with hopefully a more sane and less hectic schedule.

Camping: Part 2

This weekend I went camping as part of a relay event with the Original Nairobi Hash House Harriers in Kedong, in the Rift Valley, south of Nairobi about an hour along Magadi road.  I maintain this is some of the most beautiful countryside in the entire world.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love living here and being able to hop in the car and be in the middle of this beautiful country, away from the stress and distractions of Nairobi.

A week in the life of Captain Awesome

Habari, my old friend, Weekend!  So happy to finally see you.  It's been a long but good week.  Last weekend extended into Monday as I watched (sleepily and only 2 quarters or so) the Superbowl live at a friends house.  I quickly discovered the commercials were cut and it was all infomercials specific to the Armed Forces station.  I mean that's half the fun, why deprive our service men and women (and their friends) the joy of a mini-Darth Vader or Joan Rivers?  As the game ended around 6 am Kenyan time and there were already traffic jams I ended up going straight to work sleep deprived.  That's the ultimate walk of shame, turning up at work from a long night in the same clothes as the night before, isn't it?  Or is it just called being a trooper?

Settling In

So a month into my move and resettlement in Nairobi and things are goin' well for the most part.  I've gotten a quasi-schedule going in the mornings (those with no power outages) that now includes fresh ground coffee to wake me up for my 45+ minute walk to work.  The bonus of which is a less pasty tint to my skin, learning the back roads of Nairobi, and lots of exercise.  And on those days I'm running late I've discovered that the number 46 bus camps out in Jamhuri picking up the likes of me so that's a relief.

Top Ten Things I Miss About Dallas

Plus a special extra just because of the snow I'm missing this week: 
11.  Random Texas weather
video
 10. my car
9. drinking water from the tap
Photo credit: seanmunoz.wordpress.com
 8. being able to walk outside after dark
7. the lack of blood sucking mosquitoes
6. no rolling power outages
5. sidewalks
Photo credit: debateitout.com
4. my condo
3. Mexican food
Photo credit: cndoscotland.com
2. my cats
Wylie and Fleur
1. my friends and family

Pants vs. Trousers

Colleague: You wore a dress today?
Me: No, I'm wearing pants.
Colleague: (smirk)
Me: (oblivious)

Photo credit: ck-blog.com

Water is Life

One of my favorite things about working in Kenya is the opportunity to go into the field and see how the projects work firsthand.  Fortunately for me, this past week was chock-full of opportunities to travel and see completed projects and get a handle on what it is exactly that I am fund raising for.  I visited four sites over two days throughout Laikipia West and was treated to great receptions at all of the locations, with program chairs happy to show off the completion of their projects.

Dating Dos and Don'ts: Take One

As mentioned in a previous post I have decided to venture into the dating world during Nairobi 2.0.  As my friends know, I tend to go for a specific "type" of guy, looks and personality wise, which I'm trying to steer clear of this time around.  I meet a ton of guys every time I go out (mostly due to the magical ratio of 8 million guys to 1 girl- I'm not complaining) which is not the best way to meet a potential date, but will lead to fun stories for you, my loyal readers.

No one got eaten by a hyena...

...though there was some thoughtful positioning during the ill-advised night time safari walk as to not be in the hyena bait position. 

To clarify, I went on my first "real" camping trip this weekend.  I qualify this because I'm fairly certain, though eventful, that my other forays into camping do not qualify me as experienced or even allowed beginner* status.  1) sleeping in my sister's new Care Bear pup tent in her upstairs bedroom at age 4, b) Girl Scout camp, iii) the 5th grade class camping trip to Camp Classen, D) church camp, 5) sleeping in my grandparents' camper in their backyard.  I rest my case.  So needless to say this was a whole new experience for me.

There's no place like somewhere to call home....

So after a long day of waiting my move did not occur once again.  This is becoming the never end saga of my failure to move into my flat.  As recounted in my previous post, I spent the entire weekend waiting and most of Monday until the hotel staff informed me they had someone checking into my room that evening and no other rooms to move me to.  The frantic search to get a hold of someone, anyone in my organization before I get kicked out the hotel ensues.

Hello, Monday, You Fickle Beast

This weekend was my first back in good old Nairobi.  After a day with my ever friendly Skillshare guide, Evans, going over induction material I had some delish Malaysian food at a friend's house before heading out to catch up with peeps at the always memorable Gipsys.  Proving once again that I have returned to an alternate universe where my charm knows no bounds, I was chatted up by a couple of guys.  On second thought, it might be the ratio of single men to women.  I think the odds are definitely working in my favor.  My foray into dating life may begin sooner than expected.  Thinking I had to move early the next morning I called it an early night (for Nbi anyway) and headed home.

Top Ten Things I Missed About Africa

10. monkeys
Picture taken in Nairobi National Park
9. weekend trips out of Nairobi
8. the smell of East Africa
7. baby ellies
Picture taken at David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi
6. authentic Ethiopian food at Lalibela, Habesha, and Abyssinia
Photo credit: http://www.wix.com/aladorgod/zembaba-2
5. Gipsys

Induction? You mean, orientation?

After arriving late in the evening in Nairobi on 1/11/11 (I just wanted a reason to mention the fun date) I spent the next day recovering from jet lag and lounging about the guest house and trying not to scare others with my lingering manly voice.  Eugene from the Nairobi Skillshare office came by on Thursday morning with Evans, my guide to the "induction" process.  This must be a Britishism* (look it up, I swear it's a word; if it's not it should be) because I laughed out loud (also a possible side effect from jetlag and being heavily medicated for a sinus infection) when he told me that I would spend the next few days getting inducted and he just looked at me strangely.  I refrained from asking what I was getting inducted into, the Hall of Fame for Awesomeness perhaps?  A cult?  Childbirth?  (*My theory was confirmed when I got a follow up email from the UK office wishing me a nice induction.)

The Misadventures of Captain Awesome: Going Out in Kenya

Upon my return to the States I was of course inundated by numerous get togethers with friends wanting to catch up over the last eight months.  Surprisingly, though it probably shouldn't be, the questions they asked me most about were not of all the exciting adventures I went on; instead they wanted to know about the guys I met and how the dating scene in Nairobi differs from that of Dallas.

Fanny packs...what were they thinking?

Is it the new cool travel accessory or the fad that should have stayed dead?  Seriously, I saw not one, not three, but numerous fanny packs while people watching at DFW and LHR.  Fanny packs; for my non-American, non-geeky friends; are belts with an unattractive pouch positioned over ones waist either facing behind, over one's fanny, or forward, on top of or below one's stomach, with the intent of making the bearer's essentials readily available.  It's a travel accessory targeted to geeks the world over.

The Eagle Has Landed

I have arrived (in one piece!) and am so happy to be back in Kenya.  East Africa is my home away from home. 

Goodbye, weekend!

This was my last weekend in the States for an unbeknownst amount of time.  Notice I'm not committing to return in October, but I'm not not committing either to those Dallasites who would like me to settle down already.

Will There Be Change?

Sudan has risen to the forefront of international news of late, mostly due to George Clooney's work with the Enough Project and Americans obsession with all things celebrity.  Clooney recognized the power this gave him and decided to use it for good.  He took Dateline's Ann Curry to Sudan on a fact finding mission with Enough Project's founder, John Prendergrast.  I admit, I stayed home the Friday night that aired to hear more about the developing situation in Southern Sudan from Mr. Clooney.

Back to Basics

Packing is always a nightmare.  I despise it almost as much as unpacking.  In fact, I only just finished unpacking the suitcases I returned home with in October about a month ago, to the distress of my parents numerous cats.  (They greatly enjoy having them laying about for their kitty games.) Fortunately I have already packed once for such an adventure and know a few things I can leave behind to leave space for  much more important items; such as tortillas.  And salsa.  Eight months without the joy of authentic Mexican food was long enough.  I wonder if customs confiscates such delicacies?

My cat, Fleur, overseeing the packing process

Life Is What You Make It: Updated

So as some of you might remember I made a bucket list of all the places I wanted to see and things I wanted to do in 2010.  So here's to new adventures and more great times in 2011! 

The Best of 2010

"So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good." Helen Keller

2010 was a rough year for many, myself included, but with the hardships and stress came great memories made with good friends.  So forget all the negative things that stressed you out over the last year and remember all of the fun times spent with old and new friends. Here's just a few of my memories of the past year and some of my favorite images: