Tag Archives: Travel

Four years since I crossed the equator

On the 17th of this month I reached the four year mark since I flew to Tanzania. I’ve been so busy with work that I’ve really been slacking off with my blogging, but this is certainly an occasion worth writing about.

Going to Africa had been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. At least since I saw the Lion King for the first time. Travel has always been a passion of mine, one that has been slow burning in its fulfillment. When I first started college I had no idea I would go to Africa by the time I graduated. I first entertained such an idea when I transferred to my four year institution. During orientation week I found out there would be a trip to Tanzania, rather timely since I was taking African Civilization I at the time. Once the applications went live I filled one out and submitted, and to my utter shock I actually was accepted (though it turned out everyone who applied was accepted.)

The acceptance email came during Fall semester finals week, so I finished that first term on the highest possible note. During that Spring semester the other students and I attended weekly classes in order to prepare, I additionally took African Civilization II. We embarked about a month after the school year ended and were their for five weeks.

Four years. Damn. As a child the thought of traveling the world as an adult seemed like a distant dream. Hell, being an adult was a distant dream back then. Yet four years have slipped by with me hardly noticing.

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Rest easy, Tony

This morning begun like any other I woke up and did my daily routine of checking my Facebook. Usually my feed is filled with memes and whatever my friends have been up to. Today it was different. I opened Facebook and received rather distressing news: Anthony Bourdain, one of my heroes, is dead. Fuck that’s sad. To make matters worse, it was a suicide.

Never in a million years would I have guessed he would take his own life. For years I’ve looked up to him, I thought he had the perfect life. Traveling the world, eating great food, getting to know the people who make those places and dishes so great, and getting paid millions to do it. Now it seems just like Robin Williams he was tormented with demons others were oblivious of until it was too late.

I’ve never been one to mince my words. I don’t believe in watering shit down and neither did Bourdain. Throughout his entire career he always called it as he saw it, unlike so many other TV personalities who sugarcoat everything and omit uncomfortable truths. Some people thought he was brash, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In many episodes he was open about his struggles with alcoholism, substance abuse, and sex addiction, knowing about this made his rise to super stardom all the more inspirational. That’s a big part of why the news is so shocking.

Watching him on TV as 14 year old who didn’t get out much provide a level of escapism I couldn’t find in many other places. I’ve always been a man of history, Bourdain was too. No matter where he went, he always delved deep into the history and never acted like he was some kind of expert. Instead he was a lifetime learner who passionately and generously shared what he learned with the world.

Yesterday if you to ask me if I could meet anyone in the world, I would have said him. Over the years I felt as if I knew him well, now it seems there was much about him nobody knew. He will be missed deeply. If you’re ever having thought about suicide remember that you will be too, reach out to a close friend or religious leader or call a suicide hotline. Here is a list of several around the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines

I don’t know what else to say, so here’s the theme song for his last show. Its a life affirming anthem that reminds us things will be ok:

#ripbourdain #anthonybourdain

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I bless the rains down in Africa

I’m from Washington, it’s not as cold as Alaska but it’s still pretty cold. We’re best known for our rain, which I think is a major reason why it gets so cold. Hell, as I type this post it’s raining so hard by typing is muffled.

I’ve always preferred frigid temperatures to hot ones, probably because I’m a life long Washington resident. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the cold, mind you; but cold doesn’t suck the life out of my like excess heat does. We do still have some very hot days, especially in late July and August. Some nights I can barely sleep because it’s hot even at night.

Rain by contrast I find soothing. I fall asleep much quicker when it’s pouring, and I feel more energized but calm during day pours. My only issue with rain is it makes things difficult when you want to do anything outside. I’ve been going on lots of walks lately. Walking has always been one of my favorite things to do, and I have been walking a lot since I made a commitment to take weight loss seriously.

Homesickness has never been an issue with me. Ever. I just don’t get homesick. I never got homesick in college and I never get homesick when I’m traveling. When I’m traveling and it’s hotter than it gets hotter than Washington than I do miss how cool it is here, but I won’t miss home itself.

Some of you might Remember that I went to Tanzania in 2014. I actually adjusted to the weather there rather nicely. The first few days I was baking, but after that I didn’t notice the heat. One time it started to rain unexpectedly, and it was an almost magical experience.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/frigid/

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The First Art Museum

When I was in France I had the fortune to visit a few of their famous caves. Like any other tourist in Dordogne, I visited Lascaux II. While Lascaux II faithfully reproduces most of the great art of the original, it is painfully obvious you’re in a tourist attraction the whole time. I also was able to visit Font-de-Gaume, a lesser known cave which has original paintings and reliefs. Mammoths, bison, horses and reindeer are all found throughout, though most of them require you to look hard to notice them. We had a tour guide who pointed each one out and gave us background about each work. Voices echoed whenever spoken.

Reaching Font-de-Gaum requires a laborious hike up steep stairs to the top of the hill. It was well worth it and I was conditioned for it, I had been in the Parisian Catacombs and climbed to the roof of Notre Dame just a few days earlier.

The pictures are not my own, they don’t allow tourists to take photos:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/echo/

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Want some culture?

I guess it’s a good opportunity to post some pictures of my trip to France back in May. Here are some pics from the Musee d’Orsee, Musee Cluny and Notre Dame.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/culture/

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Empty Pill Bottle

Today I took my last antimalariaral tab. I had been taking those antibiotics every day for 65 days, which was right before I left for Tanzania. I left almost a month ago but had to keep taking them up until just today because there was a risk of me getting bit by an infected mosquito and it stayingg dorman in my system; just waiting for me to stop taking those pills. Now whatever possible malaria was in my system has been flushed out. Assuming of course that it was there in the first place (I was bitten in several places on multiple occasions, despite using bugspray). Better safe than sorry!

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Krash

This sure is a timely prompt for me! Though I had only slept for brief intervals at a time on both plane ride, my body had just enough energy to carry me into the car ride home. When I walked into my house, I crashed on the couch and turned on the TV. That sure felt good. Later I went on up in my room to unpack my luggage, but I ended up falling asleep on my bed. I’m a good seven inches taller than your average Tanzanian, so every bed I was in there forced me to either let my feet dangle or sleep in the fetal position. Nothing like five weeks in a nonwestern nation to get you to appreciate a bed that fits you!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/back-to-life/

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Back From the Motherland (this time for real)

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Hello faithful readers, as you know from either closely following this blog or by the last two posts I have been away in Tanzania for quite some time now. Well now I’m back. We arrived back in America on Thursday, but the 24+ total hours of traveling had left me to exhuasted to write a new post until just now.

To briefly recap what I had said we’d be doing earlier (click on the tag “Tanzania” for more) we went to go stay and help out a Benedictine convent. I baked bread, helped schoolchildren with Enlgish reading skills, organized medical records at a village clinic, and extracted sunflowerseed oil. I helped at the orhpanage once, but found the kids to be far more energetic for me to keep up with; though there were two other team members who were with them for the duration of our stay and are now in full maternal mode for them. Everyone on the team grew very connected with many indiviudals we met, alas because I have Asperger’s Syndrome I by and large did not. It’s not that I didn’t try, it takes me much longer to develope bonds and we simply didn’t have enough time. As the trip loomed towards the inevitable end everyone dreaded leaving, but I was more then ready. However by the last week I was beginning to feel a closeness with the people we met, and now I wish that perhaps the trip was longer so I would have had more time for that. Whatever the case, I was the only one who didn’t shed a tear during goodbyes.

This being subsaharan Africa, of course we saw lots of animals. Zebras, giraffs, elephants, baboons, antelope, gazelles, wildebeast, city monkeys, and weird black birds with white torso that make a very annoying sound. No lions or rhinos, but we did have an opportunity to pass throuh a reserve known for those two. We elected not to because it would have added three hours to our already 16 hour Jeep ride from Dar es Salaam to Songea. Songea is a small city about an hour from the convent, and once a week we would go there to buy supplies, check the internet, and get a much needed change of scenery. At the internet cafe I tried to post updates for you guys but the internet was way to shitty to get anything done. It took me like twenty minutes to check my email.

Overall I would say this trip is probably one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. So far, anyway. I did, saw, and experienced far too much to be shared in one post, so expect more information in the near future.

You can find more pictures here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Saint-Martins-University-Service-Immersion-Programs/1428976637321287?ref=stream (as you scroll down eventually you will begin to see more and more pictures from unrelated trips)

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The Day After Tomorrow

Hey Strangers and Friends, I’m sorry for going over a week without posting anything. Last week some out of state relatives visited and we stayed in a beachouse that for some weird unadvertized reason didn’t have any internet access. They left on Saturday, and I haven’t posed until know because I am preparing the next big thing on my Summer agenda. More like the next big event in my life, really.

As some of you may recall, I will be going to Tanzania. Well I will be leaving, as the post’s title insinuates, the day after tomorrow. I have feel really fluttery right now as this is something I have been anticipating since December. For most of that time I was not particurally excited as I had more immediate matters of concern, but now it is right on the horizon. I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness; the latter due largely to the fact I’m not a big fan of flying, let alone a twenty hour hour flight. We will have a two hour layover in Amsterdam, we won’t be able to set foot outside the airport (which from what I understand means we legally won’t enter the Netherlands). Originally we had planned to do a day trip to Zanzibar, but we scrapped that idea in light of a recent terrorist bombing.

This isn’t the first time I have been out of the US, I grew up in Japan and have been to Canada a couple times. Nor is it my first time out of the US away from my parents, I did that when I went to Costa Rica in 2012. However I will be gone for five weeks, and this is much further.

Internet access will be limited to dial-up on obsolete and unprotected computors if availible at all. I will try and post something while I’m there if I can, but don’t count on it. See you all on July 25th!

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Africa is a HUGE Place

I will be in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania within thirty days. I have been thinking about it a lot and today’s Prompt is fitting as the last time I held silence on something that should have been said was during a meeting to prepare for this trip. One member of the team laboriously put together a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of us an the village we will be staying at. It was very nice except for one detail: the background music. To me the music sounded extremely dark and gloomy (I think they were going for “ambient”), and it sort of seemed to unwittingly perpetuate the whole “Dark Continent” stereotype that dominates depictions of Africa. Someone said that the song sounded familiar and asked the slideshow creator where it came the. The answer? “It’s the theme music from Blood Diamond, it took me forever to find the right sounding song.” I’m not sure what was went by “right sounding,” but I have a bad feeling that meant “African sounding”.

Here is the problem: Blood Diamond took place in Sierra Leone, which is on the opposite side of the continent that Tanzania is on. Those two nations have nothing in common, so that would mean that there music is most likely entire different. I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference, but I’m sure it would be as absurd as playing Irish music on a slideshow about a trip to Russia. Ireland and Russia are both Europe after all. As much as I wanted to voice my concern, I held my silence and I’m glad I did. I wanted to suggest maybe searching for some music that was actually Tanzanian (or at least Swahili), but out of tact I did not. Honestly the Circle of Life would have been better, because its upbeat and the Lion King uses Swahili extensively. Or even some reggae, since while it is not actually from Africa it does have a message of peace and global unity. Oh well, I’m sure nobody who saw that slideshow saw what I saw.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/break-the-silence/

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