I’ve gotten three goodbye gifts so far… and two of those three were from perfect strangers! A woman from craigslist gave me a good luck scarf she made (thanks Leonie) and a woman who works at KEXP gave me a big hug and three KEXP t-shirts (thanks Melanie)! Erin also gave me a great gift… a REI gift card. So, this is not a request, but my family and a number of friends have already asked what to get me. So, just in case you wanted to get me a Christmas, birthday, or goodbye gift but didn’t know what to get, gift cards would be lovely this year.
- REI – Despite the fact that I’ve lived the backpackers life and traveled across parts of Europe, Asia, India, the Middle East, and Latin America, I don’t actually own a sleeping bag or a back pack. I also don’t own a travel tripod or a solar powered battery charger or a silk sleep bag or all kinds of other handy stuff for travel. I’ve borrowed from friends and family in the past but I think it is now time to purchase my own gear. A gift card in any amount ($10 – $1,000,000) would be fantastically helpful.
- Amazon – I need to buy a film camera and I want to buy a travel tripod. I’ve decided to get an “Olympus Stylus Epic Black Camera Kit with 35mm lens” and it’s only $80 which isn’t too bad. I also pretty much want an I-Pod as well, though it’s not quite the same priority as having a camera. Conveniently Amazon.com has all three of those things (and more!) right at their fingertips, hence the perfect fit of an amazon.com gift certificate.
I’ve also added my To Do List in case you were wondering what I need to do with my (non-existant) free time.
Again, if you’ve got a moment, feedback and advice is always appreciated!
I’m putting together my shopping list right now and it’s getting astronomical! The offer to borrow stuff from friends is generally appealing (pack, sleeping bag, etc). At the same time, I might just break down and buy everything so I would have it for now and always, but we’ll see. The idea of not having a salary for a year makes me a little hesitant about buying $1,000-3,000 worth of gear… even if I know it’s an investment that would stick with me for a long time to come. If you have a moment to check out my Equipment / Packing List, any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
Turns out I can’t get my visa until I have a round trip plane ticket to show the Kenyan Embassy, and I definitely don’t have my plane ticket yet. Guess it’s time to start thinking about that. Also turns out the tourist visa is only for 6 months not 12 months like I’d originally read, so I’ll need to find out how to get a work visa instead.
Yesterday I did dinner with a bunch of friends of friends who’ve all spent time in Africa. Very cool women, and very good to chat with them. Today I did dinner with Maggie and Jim and talked about their time in S. Africa, E. Africa, and N. Africa. Maggie loaded me up with lots of good ideas and lots of goodies too. Before dinner tonight, I worked eight hours, did my final dentist appointment, then went and got my international drivers license, and then booked my Travel Clinic appointment for my last week in town. Things are moving right along quite nicely! Guess I should start working on the visa next…
When I was considering the job offer for Kenya, it seemed like a giant move and a very big decision. Now it’s been a few months and there’s really nothing anymore that seems unusual or strange about it. At this point I couldn’t imagine not going. Further, it seems to me you can’t even shake a stick in Seattle without finding someone who’s been to Kenya or East Africa. Folks from craigslist have been for work, or friends have dads who traveled there, or coworkers have moms who worked there.
Last night was an entire dinner with friends of friends who’ve all spent time around Kenya. One was a friend of Kim’s who spent time in Uganda doing public health work. One was a friend of Erin’s who spent time in Africa a few years back. One was a friend of Samantha’s who did Peace Corps in Kenya back in the 80s. A fourth friend (of Alan’s) did most of her Masters research in Kenya and had to reschedule. These three women joined me and a friend for conversation, stories, advice, reminicing, and brainstorming. And it was great fun. I think it was fun for them to relive the experience and know it was fun and helpful for me to hear the stories. I know my experience will be different, and that all advice needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s still great to connect with new people and share a little time together.
So, last year a nun suggested I watch Motorcycle Diaries. The discussion was about being in service to others, being real, being there. You can’t approach life with your hands in latex gloves and except to genuinely feel life experiences to the fullest. I just watched the movie recently, had a good cry, and am still feeling the emotional impact. I particularly liked one quote at the end of the movie:
“This isn’t a tale of heroic feats.
It’s about two lives running parallel for a while,
with common aspirations and similar dreams.
Was our view too narrow, too biased, too hasty?
Were our conclusions too rigid?
Wandering around our America has changed me more than I thought.
I am not me anymore, at least I’m not the same me I was.”
I think travel and the life you experience when in service, meeting others, can be a powerful, mind altering experience. I’m looking forward to my year in Africa more than I can probably say in simple words here. And I’m looking forward to so much more…
I’ve accepted a job in Africa and will be moving very soon! I’ll leave Seattle around Nov 12th and will be in Kenya by Jan 2. I’ll be in a small village near the Uganda border, not too far north of Kakamega. No running water and no electricity, but that’s always subject to change…