Welcome new partner in crime: Susie from Seattle!
Joburg has something called Seattle Coffee Co? I thought I knew most of our chains and didn’t realize there were fake Seattle coffee chains. Pretty funny!
Coffee shops and scary dinosaur with balloons at malls definitely mark the return to the developed world. (That and running water, regular electricity, washing machines, etc… I’m rather in shock at the affluence and the prices!).
Books hanging on the electrical wire in Melville read “From Cape Town With Love”
Excellent question to ask ourselves as we begin five months together!
South Africa – it’s developed and oh so modern. Susie is here with me and we’re living the high life! Staying in a beautiful part of town (Melville) with friends who lent us their car for the week (so generous!). Been to a few fancy parties so far(!!), been eating lots of biltong (South African beef jerky – oh so good!), spent today wandering a Sunday market, and overall am quite enjoying life. Next stop is the Cradle of Humanity, a few museums, and then we head on to Durban, the Garden Route, Cape Town, and then leave SA for Namibia. Wohoo! Let the fun begin!
More quick pics while I have access to a computer, my card reader, and fast internet.
Migrant rights panel
Every progressive cause has a home at the WSF
Women’s rights panel
One of a 1000+ marches
Bit of a problem with theft by the end of the week
Last day of Forum
(Matatu = Kenya’s public transport Nissan minibuses)
- Blacklights, pinups, and blaring Swahili rap
- Loading passengers and bags is like a life-size game of Tetris
- Names like fine couch, dentist, Daddy, Texas Challenger, Lone Ranger, Assassin, Microsoft, and Jesus First
- Chinese fire drill behavior mandated by conductor to fit in new passengers
- Always fun to see how many people you can fit above the legal capacity (22 people in a 14 passenger minivan seems about the norm)
- Frequent police check points give you a chance to examine their automatic rifles up close
- Drunk matatu drivers add drama and intrigue to otherwise normal rides
- You never know who’ll end up sitting in your lap or peeing on you (mostly just children, happily)
- Climbing over people and packages is like an obstacle course for adults
- Mentally unstable passengers who want to chat make the time go quickly
- Group bonding happens quickly over shared near death experience
- Grey haired old men in Tupac t-shirts and plaid blazers always make me smile
Guess who’s leaving for South Africa in approximately 12 hours? (That one’s probably too easy, so we’ll do a second one).
Guess who did a 14km “marathon through the slums” today in the hot, hot heat in the middle of Kenya’s summer? (And guess who’s now disgustingly dirty and coughing from the pollution and smog?)
Guess who needs to get online and go pack??
It’s true. Me, me, me.
It’s brilliant here… so much happening all at once. Read all about the WSF online. WSF is the biggest progressive event in the world, and this year’s WSF in Nairobi is the biggest event of any kind to ever be held in Nairobi (apparently). Desmond Tutu spoke yesterday, as did Danny Glover, Wangari Maathai, and tons of activists on any and every imaginable topic:
right to water
regulation of American NGOs in Africa
sexual minorities in India
war and the media
Iran nuclear crisis
how to mobilize effectively and get Coca Cola plants shut down when they pollute and kill people
Miss you all. Wish you were here!
The 7th Annual World Social Forum is happening in Nairobi this week and I’m proud to be in attendance among esteemed guests including Nobel Peace Prize winners South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Kenyan environmentalist Prof. Wangari Maathai. It feels a little like the ICA conference on sustainable development in Guatemala where I met Samer, but this is way bigger and broader. In case you’re wondering what I’m up to, I’m soaking up information and debating bio-fuels, food security, gender, colonization, trade, agriculture, debt cancellation, occupation, and development. I’m the same one in the funny hat dancing with the Brazilians and accepting small gifts from the nice Sri Lankan guy. Not for long though… the Forum ends Thursday and I’m flying out to Johannesburg early on Friday. Hopefully I’ll get some of the old blog entries posted between now and then in my (nonexistent) free time. On a side note, many thanks to the two new volunteers who’ll be working in Nairobi this year. They’ve generously offered me a place to crash during the Forum and I’m happy to save the hotel money and take them up on the offer. As an added bonus, they’re good people and it’s good conversation – a winning combination all around.
Going to Kisumu today… and we’re going to absolutely melt! I suspect it’ll be hot, hot, hot!
After a year of not making money, I’m somehow ready to start spending my trip savings. My two weeks in Lamu over Christmas were a good trial run for the upcoming long backpacking trip across southern and eastern Africa. But I’m not entirely content with my travel pack (even though it was generously lent to me from a friend, it’s lacking pockets, straps for storage, no expandable space, etc). And the idea of bringing my now broken and scratched camera makes me a little fearful. (Seems 6mp tiny Canons online only cost $200? Perhaps it’s time to retire my current little camera. It’s served me well for four years which is notable for digital cameras. It accompanied me to India in 2003, and in later years to Guatemala, Canada, Egypt, across the country, and finally on a lovely year in Kenya. But the broken lens thing could become more of a problem. (Dumb thieves breaking my camera… no wonder Nairobi is nicknamed Nairobbery).
And in other news… the World Social Forum 2007 starts this weekend! And next week I fly out to Joburg, meet up with Susie, and we begin our adventures in greater Africa. Wohoo!
Guess where I am? I’m back in the village and my return was a bit sooner than I expected. However, I was happy to offer to help with orientation and they took me up on it. Not just for Nairobi, but also for upcountry as well. Who knew. So here I am and it’s hot up here! Summer in Africa at the equator… I’d almost forgotten about the heat after so much rain for the past few months. It’s fun to be back in the village though it really makes me miss the gorgeous countryside, the friends, our great house, the work and kids, etc.
Speaking of kids, here are some pics I promised to post a while back. I mentioned Sarah back in October, my little baby with the jack-o-lantern smile, who I took for cleft lip surgery.
She had a little infection after the surgery, but came back to the centre a few times the last month I was there just to check in and say hi. I’m not 100% content with the surgery results, but I think it’s a huge improvement. I think it changes everything with how Sarah will grow up interacting with family and other kids. Just as important, I’m also incredibly pleased to know that Sarah’s mom is so happy and so much more confident taking Sarah out in public. Another lovely success story from the village… go team!
hi all, just a note to say i’m busy and slow on email right now, but will try to send off a bunch next week when i get back from the village. till then, i’ve read them and love hearing from you, i just can’t get much time in cyber cafes recently. hope you’re well and weathering all kinds of crazy storms. love always, me