downtherabbitshole.com

Adventures from Here and There

First Time on A Plane October 16, 2012

Filed under: Projects in Countries — travelchokri @ 8:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

I arrived in Nairobi last Wednesday night. My first meal was eaten at Art Cafe. Then I headed to Nafisa’s, the friend from Tajikistan but has been working in Afghanistan but now in Kenya. I’ve written about her before.
Meetings in Nairobi went well and I stayed there over the weekend. It was so nice to see everyone again Thanks to those that made me feel like I was at home again. And omg, there are going to be so many babies soon!

Not much has changed otherwise, a few new buildings here and there. Tamambo, my favorite restaurant has shut down in Westlands. The expat scene has definitely grown since I was there last October. And the traffic is still madness!

I left for Mombasa on Sunday night and have been occupied by work since. I was out in the field yesterday, in Kinango looking at some of our literacy programmes. There were some good conversations with people in the communities and there seems to be a shift in perception on the importance of literacy and a greater sense of ownership of the libraries. Today, I engaged with staff from our different teams, in order to find out more about their early literacy initiatives, lessons learned to date, and the challenges they’ve experienced. As we expand this programme into the West Nile and Tanzania, it is important to document, share and discuss these elements, in order to go in with better insight.

One volunteer, an elderly man, shared a recent experience with me that I must write about. He lives in a village way inside Kinango. The drive was really rough this time in the pick up, as the roads are really bad, and then of course, as we got further in, there were no roads. Dirt and stone slates still embedded in the ground. My poor head and chest ached, as the seatbelt snapped against me a hundred times. Anyway, back to the older man. He was so energetic and lively, and a great leader to have in his village. He was given the opportunity to go to Nairobi by plane to talk about the literacy programme at a conference. It was his first time on a plane. When he and a few others traveling with him were in the air, he looked out the window, and he saw white everywhere. He asked his colleague what they were flying over, because whatever it was, had been covered with so much snow! He was referring to the clouds! What a great experience for him. At least he was able to sit on a plane once in this lifetime.

So usually, I am fine not having to release for hours…but yesterday in the field, I really had to go. There weren’t even any big trees, so I had to squat near a bush, watching out for any snakes, trying to make sure I didn’t spray my feet, and make sure that no one was within a few hundred metres of me…I’m sure someone saw me from a far! And to top it all off, I had forgotten my hand sanitizer.

Mombasa has definitely changed! New plazas, Java, Planet Yoghurt and many new apartments.

Back to the field tomorrow to do some home visits and chat with beneficiaries. Weather is beautiful right now. Not too hot. I don’t even need the ac on!

Advertisements
 

This and That October 7, 2012

Filed under: Random Stuff — travelchokri @ 1:22 pm
Tags: ,

I’m dreaming again…this time of Brazil and Columbia. Anyone else having the same dream?

Fabulous weekend…Indian summer. Yesterday, I made it to a dance class that I used to go to last year. It was great to be jazzing and jiggying with it so early in the morning. Ran errands after that and then Kahila and I wandered through place de molard and lunched in old town, as we watched the costumed Ninja Turtles, detectives and other brightly masked characters playing out whichever fairytale they were in.

We strolled by the lake and found a little boat to carry us away. It was labouress! We were showered by the jet d’eau. It felt like being on the Maid of the Mist, though I’ve never done that. Finding a parking spot for our boat was a challenge as the large swans felt they owned the place. Which probably should be the case.

I walked along the water until I got to my place and rested for a couple of hours before getting ready to go to a housewarming in Chambessy. Friends from Kenya have moved here. I fail to understand how I can handle such complex transportation systems in places like Delhi or London with such ease.  I have a ‘feel’ for it. But when it comes to simple, more direct ways of traveling, such as in Geneva, I find it virtually impossible to get to my destination without misplacing myself. What should have taken me 15 minutes, took 1 hour and 45 minutes, by the time I got off the wrong train, caught a tram back to the main station, found the right train and then walked to the complex. All that exercise…I deserved a few drinks, double helpings of food and a plateful of brownies and apple crumble. Okay, so maybe I over did it.

People from here and there were at the party. I had met Estelle once before. Interesting one. She works in the area of climate change and corruption. Her husband I believe, works for an oil company. Contradiction. He was not there. The two of them have managed to be in the type of marriage that many in my field choose…married but living apart. It has been 10 years for them. At least he will be leaving the States soon and moving to the Netherlands in the new year. But I wonder how they will merge when they both end up living under the same roof some day.

Estelle, like me, seems to put her trust in other people’s hands while traveling to foreign countries. We shared our experiences of getting into strangers cars, having coffee with ‘dangerous’ folk, meeting some of the most interesting people because of these experiences, and feeling as though someone must be watching over us. I know that I must come across people who are not so ‘pure’ at times, I just cannot see it so easily. For example, a few weekends ago, Kahila and I went out in Geneva and met an interesting group. Well, they seemed ordinary to me, but she picked up on some vibe and sensed that we were not the ‘best’ to be hanging out with.  She was also able to pin point to a certain degree why she felt they were who she thought they were. Without getting into so many details, I would never have figured it out. It was only when one of them said to me at some point in the night…’sometimes you will meet good people, and sometimes not so good, you should be careful’, did I realize she was right and that he was warning me himself about the people that he was amongst. I think her intuition is strong and though she is super friendly and outgoing, she can still spot the shades of grey.

Well, at least Estelle and I have found one another. Tomorrow, we are going to go to the dance class together. It will be her first time. I hope her eyelashes do not fall off.

Yesterday night, I came home to the smells of the bakery. Yes, I still live above the tantalizing bakery where I am succumbed to the smells of bread and croissants by midnight. Often, I cannot resist. Yesterday though, there was no room in the belly.

Today, it is time to prepare for my next adventure. Kenya, I am coming. Mombasa, I shall be home soon.