Posts Tagged ‘africa

While in Tanzania, I picked up a Tanzanite ring for myself. I’ve wanted one for awhile, and being in Tanzania, the only place in the world where it’s found, I figured it was about time to buy one.

I came home with a ring I love, and $875 poorer. I was fine with that, because the jewelers had been asking $1100  – I had to negotiate big time just for that little decrease.

But the best part is, I’d been nervous to tell my parents how much I spent on it.

Me: “So…. I bought a ring while I was there. Tanzanite… It was kind of expensive.”

Dad (after some pause):  “How much did you spend?”

Me (with a little white lie): “Um…about $800.”

Dad (with total relief in his voice): “OH! That’s not bad! I thought you were going to say $10,000!!!”

Me (super loudly yelling): “DAD! ARE YOU INSANE?!??!?!?! I AM NOT SPENDING 10 GRAND ON A RING!”

Dad (kind of quietly): “Well, I don’t know. You might just do something like that if you wanted to.”

So basically in that conversation I found out: 1) My dad thinks I have NO fiscal responsibility and 2) I could blow a LOT more and they wouldn’t bat an eye.

Sheesh! How do they not know me? How does he not know that I’d rather spend $10K on a car, or paying down my mortgage, or really ANYTHING other than jewelry? I’m so clumsy and accident prone, I’m nervous about wearing an $875 ring, much less one that’s 10x more expensive.

Also, has he completely given up hope? Did he really think I basically proposed to myself? Sigh….







I’m in Dar es Salaam for work – the last time I was here, it was in the throes of things ending with British. I was miserable, crying all the time when I was outside of work hours and had no f’ing idea of what was going on with him. I was a wreck.

I’ve always hated that he/us/it was what I thought of every time I thought of Tanzania. It had left such a bitter feeling in me towards this city, and I’ve wanted to make new memories here ever since.

This time, it’s kind of awesome — the trip has been far better than I expected and I have helped “develop capacity” more so in this last week than in 6 years of international work. It’s been rewarding and gratifying and I’ve loved every exhausting second of it. For the first time in a long time, I might actually help make a difference. But in any case…

Tonight, I took a taxi home after dinner with a friend (who moved out here) and the taxi driver and I were just chatting – he asked if I was married and had kids, and I said no to both. He’s 32 and has a 3 year old daughter, but not married.

He asks how old I am, I tell him the truth and he says:

“Ay! You are 35! You must make a plan! It’s too hard at 35/40 to do it. You must do it now. Before it’s too late.”

What the hell. Did he talk to my mom before I got in the cab??? Does she have spies the world over?!?!?!?! 

It was cute though, how he was so insistent. I explained that I have to be married before I have kids, and he explained how it’s important to prove fertility – then “you are STRONG” and women like that.

Seriously though, how am I getting lectured by random taxi drivers who are younger than me?  How is that possible? Where on my face does it say I want to hear this stuff???

Also, one of my coworkers who’s here on this trip is an older Indian male, a lot like my Dad. And he asked if I was married/had kids, and when I said no, he said,

“It’s really hard past a certain age. People are too picky. It’s just going to get harder.”

The thing is, whether I want to hear it or not, it’s the truth. I need to make a plan, stop being picky and make it happen. I did it for work (just got what I wanted) and now I need to do it for my personal life. It’d be so nice to know that I had someone at home waiting for me to get back, someone who loved and wanted me. Hopefully one day.

In the meantime, I’ll be using this soap daily in hopes of attracting the right person. He’ll be “satisfied with the results!”  😉




What a dumb saying. Riding a bike is SO NOT EASY.

To back up – I was in Swaziland for work the past few weeks. It is a beautiful country. Just beautiful. I had no idea how mountainous and gorgeous it really is (pics to follow).

We had Saturday afternoon free, so my coworker and I decided to climb the little mountain behind our hotel. Remember when I climbed Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh? Yeah… this was just like that. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. How can I go to the gym and kick ass there but when it comes to being one with nature, I feel like my lungs are going to explode?? It’s so embarrassing…

Anyway, we went on a walk/hike to a plateau where I followed behind and breathed so freaking hard, I thought he might have to carry me back down.

Let’s list the people who can climb things (including sand dunes, hills, and small mountains)  better than I can:

1) Children

2) Smokers

3) Pot-heads

4) Old people

5) People with no cartilage in their knees

6) Fat people

7) Everyone


So then, because this weekend of athleticism was never going to end, we went to Hlane National Park on Sunday. The first thing we did there was take a 2 hour bike ride through the “Impala Section” of the park. The park is set up in parts- they use electric fencing to separate the animals from each other. So think of a bulls-eye – the outer most circle is the impala section, then there’s the rhino and elephant section, and then in the center of the bulls-eye, is the lion section. They swore that the animals didn’t get into the other areas of the park because of the fencing.

This is a country that suffers blackouts. W.T.F. I didn’t really believe them.

Anyway, it’s been at least 15 years since I’ve been on a bike. Possibly more. I have NO desire to ever get on a bike. But my coworker thought it’d be fun and I figured I should try something new, so I said I would do it.

I spent two hours trying not to fall of the stupid bike. I have bruises on my inner thighs cause the stupid seat was too big for me. The bike was also just slightly too tall, so I could only reach the ground on my very tippy toes, meaning I had to fall a bit before I could even catch myself.

Guys… I trip over my own feet. I run into things just walking. HOW CAN I STAY ON A BIKE?

Turns out I can’t, really. I only fell for real once, but that was enough. Just somehow leaned over to the left and down I went. I caught myself, but scratched up my legs, of course.

And do you know how dangerous it is to bike in the bush?!!? There’s fucking Impala poop EVERYWHERE. HUGE PILES. I rode through those and did not fall, thank god. Then, on the side of the dirt roads are thorny bushes. THORNY BUSHES.

I came dangerously close to falling in that. And then what? Airlift to South Africa? I totally pictured myself dying on this fucking bike ride.  And… all I could think of was this video. Seriously. Every damn herd of impala we passed (and monkeys) I thought one was just going to clip me. I couldn’t even look around because I was so busy concentrating on staying upright and out of poop, the bush, and embarrassment.

AND… what if there was a lion in the area?!!? I WAS LITERALLY MEALS ON WHEELS. Literally. Was I going to out-ride a lion? NO. I was not.

BUT! Miracle of miracles! I FINISHED IT! With only some bruises and scratches and SUPER SORE LEGS to show for it! Hell, that’s a win for me.

So we went and dropped our bikes at the front of the park and I asked the guide, “Did you think I was going to die?”

And he goes, with no hesitation, “Yeah.. I definitely did not think you would make it.”


Bikes of Doom

This weekend, while I was battling the animals in urban Atlanta (mainly in the form of a frog that hitched a ride with me to the recycling center, at which point I then spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to get it off my plastic bag so it didn’t get thrown into the bin and at the same time, not jump on me because I would’ve screamed like a banshee…), I had friends who were off on safari.

So because I’m insanely jealous that all I saw was a frog, and they saw some of the Big Five, I’m posting safari pictures of my own from a 2010 trip to Kruger.  This was one of my most favorite vacations ever, because my family went with me as well — we had the BEST time 🙂

To this day, my mom, dad, brother and aunt will say, “We can’t believe we saw all that!”

Enjoy! (click the first picture to open the gallery)

I’m tired of complaining about boys and life, so I thought I’d share some pictures of my very first safari ever. I was lucky enough, upon landing in Africa for the first time, for my coworker to say:  “I don’t need you at work just yet – go on safari first.” She (who is reading this) really helped me fall in love with the continent (at least the southern part), and we’ve had MANY adventures together.  🙂

I went to the Delta and stayed at Oddballs Camp in the Moremi Game Reserve – and if I knew then what I know about safaris and animals, I may have never gone. Ignorance is bliss!  I also didn’t know how lucky I was to be going to this amazingly beautiful place… I’d never heard of it before, but know now that it is one of the top and rare safari destinations in the world.  I hope you like these… the camera was just a Nikon Coolpix. Nothing special… I’ve had camera envy since then. I should’ve invested, but I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d travel the way I do. I know I’m lucky, even though I may bitch about it sometimes.

Anyway, enjoy the pics 🙂

The delta from the puddle jumper plane we were in – flew low enough to see elephants and giraffes from the air

The mokoros – wood canoes that take you through the vast water system. Hands and feet inside at all times, unless you want a croc to take you under….

The view from the mokoro – it’s beautiful, but deadly. Right below are hippos, snakes, crocs… if you get flipped, say goodbye.

A journey of giraffes 🙂 (Which leads me to my friend’s favorite joke: If a group of giraffes is called a journey, what’s a group of buffalo? …. an REO Speedwagon. HA HA HA. 80s/safari humor, all at once)



This poor buffalo had died the year before – our guide had seen the death/kill.

My version of Monet’s Water Lilies

A smaller animal, but just as pretty

We were REALLY close to these zebras. Know why they didn’t run? Because there were LIONS around that morning. And we’re traipsing through the bush like they won’t eat us. We got off the canoe, stepped on shore, and heard the lions roar. I almost peed my pants… we were able to get so close to the prey animals, because if they ran, the lions would’ve chased them. I was really scared that morning… the guide made SO much fun of me for being so worried*, but holy crap. I thought we were never going to make it back to camp.


The camp’s sign 🙂

I paid $250 a night to sleep in a tent. It’s on steps to keep the animals out. Let’s just say I didn’t sleep well.

Elephant from above

*Ok, so when I first got to camp, I asked the director if lions came to our little island. He kind of smiled and said no. I realized on our last day he was lying, because we had lions in camp that morning that the guides scared off before most of us were awake. So, we get to the other island to walk around and I’m scared shitless of walking on this island with hungry lions. So the guide teased me A LOT for being so scared and then tells this ridiculous story about his cousin: His cousin was a guide for another camp, up the river. He’d taken a group out for breakfast in the bush, and had to ‘take care of business’  and went behind a (real) bush. He was gone for awhile, so the tourists went to go find him… A FUCKING LION WAS EATING HIM. The tourists freaked out, got in the range rover (they were at a much more expensive camp than me) and promptly got stuck in the river trying to cross it. They were found hours later when the safari camp started to worry about why they weren’t back yet.  AND YET! He made SO MUCH FUN OF ME FOR BEING SCARED.


Oh, also, my guide’s grandfather died when a hippo gored him while fishing in his mokoro.

Seriously… if I’d known any of this before I went, I may have never gone.  And I would’ve missed out on the experience of a lifetime. It’s one of my favorite memories from my travels, and one of my favorite trips. It definitely holds a special place in my heart. 🙂

Spoiler Alert: I’m going to talk about the book, The White Masai (by Corinne Hofmann), and how it ends. Read ahead at your own risk.

I had picked up ‘The White Masai‘ after hearing about it on a trip to Kenya. I didn’t know much about it except for that it was a true story about a Swiss woman who fell in love with a Masai warrior and moved to Kenya to be with him (in the late 1980s). I’ve had the book on loan from the library for more than a month. I kept renewing it because I wasn’t in the mood to read a love story about two cultures and how they made it work against all odds and I didn’t want to feel worse about not being able to make my own intercultural relationships work and blah blah blah.

I started reading while I sat at the Toyota dealer on Saturday and didn’t super enjoy the first half. It was a good book, but I think there was just so much of her life that could’ve been explored more, although I guess they couldn’t make it a 1000 pages. Anyway, she met the warrior while she was on vacation with her then boyfriend and felt this instant connection for the Masai. SO MUCH THAT SHE LEFT HER LIFE IN SWITZERLAND.  FOR A GUY. THAT SHE KNEW FOR A FEW DAYS. AND COULDN’T TALK TO BECAUSE NEITHER SPOKE ENGLISH! (They communicated through broken English and signs.)

Most people probably read that and thought ‘how romantic’ – I, jaded and bitter, read that and thought “how insane is this woman?” So to recap the first few chapters: they don’t speak the same language, they don’t really know each other and she abandoned her life to move to the bush to be with him. Except first she had to find him as he’d left Mombasa, so she searched for him in Kenya for THREE FUCKING MONTHS.   Seriously, at no point did she think she should just go home?!?!?

She found him and lived the life of Masai wife – no electricity, no running water, the only muzungu for miles and miles. They lived off her earnings. She had hepatitis and malaria, both while pregnant.  They barely had any money, but she started a few businesses. Then he started getting suspicious of her, thinking she was unfaithful, thinking she was lying all the time, telling her to ask her family for more and more money so they could live.

By the time I got to this point of the story, I was so curious to see what she did… how could she live with someone who didn’t ever trust her? Who thought it was ok to circumcise their baby girl (they didn’t though)? Who thought it was ok to have multiple wives? Whose life was so different from hers, even though they lived in the same hut?

I was sitting in my car, parked in front of the library, car off because I thought I’d skim the last few chapters in a few minutes. Don’t ask why I didn’t just go in – I’m a dummy. So with sweat running down my neck, door open for a breeze, I actually read the rest of the book — SHE LEFT HIM! SHE TOOK THE BABY BACK TO SWITZERLAND AND LEFT HIM!!!

Which, let’s face it, was the best decision possible but that’s not the ending I was expecting. I thought I’d be reading about how they were raising multiple children in the bush, all happy and together. Nope. Totally not. And to clarify a bit – she basically abducted her daughter. She told him she was going for a 3 week vacation knowing full well she was never coming back.

From what I looked up online, there are 2 sequel books, and she has since taken her daughter back to Kenya and she (the daughter) has a good relationship with her father and his family, which is great. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to read the books though, because for some reason they’re in the ‘Reference’ section at the library. Which… why? Why can I check out the first one, but not the others? Weird.

Anyway, she didn’t regret what she did, which is amazing. She holds nothing but fond memories of him and her life there.

I don’t think it’s possible to question someone else’s love or their story – unless you can feel exactly what they feel, there’s no way to say it wasn’t legitimate. But having said that, it did seem to me that it was LUST that drove her fucking crazy, not necessarily love. She hadn’t really talked to him, she just knew she wanted to be with him.  That’s not a bad thing at all – but she left everything, including her livelihood, to hunt him down to be with him? With no idea of what it would be like?  With no guarantee that he wouldn’t have moved on with someone else?

Just… What.The.Fuck.

(update: Found this post just now and the comments sum up pretty much how I feel too!)

Watched some Norwegian (I think) band play with local musicians at the Mtoni Palace. Completely surreal watching this concert in the ruins of an old palace.



The Anglican Church in Stone Town, with a mosque just behind it. The church was built on the site of the old slave trade. We went Sunday, so there were services - I couldn't get close to the altar where the old slave whipping post used to be. It was incredibly sad.


The chains that held the slaves. This was underneath the church (that was later built on top of the slave trade area) - I'm 5'2", and I had to stay stooped. There was a single slat to let light in, the opposing opening went to the sea. I had slight claustrophobia and I knew I'd be getting out. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for them.


The Slave Monument outside the church




A dhow in the House of Wonders - the middle opening is where slaves were held


A dhow coming in at sunset


Homemade flotation devices. This kid was awesome.


Eating at the night market near Stone Town - yummy food, great people and really nice chefs! There was a family that was on holiday, and they took the same route through the market my friend and I did - the wife and daughter would not eat anything. I will never understand people like that - how can you go somewhere so amazing and not even try the food???

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