no jambo road

Posted in culture, life, travel with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2009 by megan

there are understandably countless ways to describe an african experience, so as an act of self-defense a traveler may often find story specifics as the best tall tale guide. i, however, have picked the cliches of cliches upon which to focus, the inarguable personal kenyan ‘feeling,’ which we have now packed up and brought along with us. i would like to liken our life there to the sand that hides in the elastics of your underwear, the tiny remnants that cling to you as you change on the beach after a day in the sun. it is that sand that irritates you, rubs you, and continues to remind you through the rest of the day that it is not only there, but that you are there and just spent the day alive and happy to own your particular set of feet on this particular planet. and what’s even more exciting is that tomorrow is indeed another day. Continue reading

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Lucy in Seattle with Diamonds

Posted in travel with tags , , , , , , , on May 22, 2009 by abuttercup

after a stupendously relaxing beach vacay, i always find it’s nice to microbus it back to the hustle and bustle of middle-eastern city life to really get my blood pumpin’ again. and what better way to columbine my clogged arteries than to almost miss our flight to ethiopia due to the amazingly infallible worldwide phenomenon of airport bureaucracy? seriously though, if you’re the type of person that enjoys stress and anxiety, then you should consider hanging out in random lines in airports more often. for those of you who would rather enjoy, oh, ice cream cake or a good BM (not necessarily in that order), well then you’re more on my page. anyway, my constipated confection cravers, allow me to skip briefly ahead to the part where miss helton and i are walking out of the airport into the surprisingly cool-breezy and shockingly serene ethiopian countryside. it was here that occurred my first (of many to come) episodic culture-shock slap to the face. it was so damn quiet. Continue reading

why camels are decent mobiles

Posted in culture, life, travel with tags , , , , , , on May 10, 2009 by megan

i would like to take this opportunity to discuss 3 overland transportation options and outcomes as a sovereign stranger in egypt. waterways have already been adequately addressed, as alex explained the absurd ping pong approach to sailing that we experienced, so we will move on to more familiar and ordinary modes. cars and their variants, as we spoilt westerners know them, are valuable and expedient; even those publically provided ones work better than walking. but, for some reason, in some places, this fact is fictitious in the fullest. Continue reading

inevitable diarrhea blahg post. OR…captain’s log.

Posted in travel on April 30, 2009 by abuttercup

it can be difficult to describe whether the world begins to feel bigger or smaller when you become more comfortable in a place that is otherwise foreign to you. different than playing the “oh you’re from jersey? do you know my boy, G?” name game with douchebag tourists from whogivesashitwhere, you begin to feel overwhelmed and awestruck by how big the world is and how many people, for good or for bad, we really do share it with. after one nomadic month i now have facebook friends from jordan, france, switzerland, austrailia and egypt. “nice going mr. ambassador, way to have more facebook friends,” you undoubtedly and predictably jest. good one, but allow me to make like a cardboard box and break it down, yo. this very evening i found myself on a wonderful pillow-strewn rooftop in luxor*, drinking beers, playing shithead, sharing laughs and listening to phish as i enjoyed an ethereal middle-eastern sunset. while the majority of my previous sentence no doubt surprises few of you, the delightful new idiosyncrasies supplemented to the usual crap can really give you a fresh perspective. Continue reading

backsheesh and other bothersome burdens

Posted in culture, life, travel with tags , , on April 27, 2009 by megan

incident report day 27: alex has a blister on his right foot, and believes the protective athletic tape makes his foot look kung fu cool.

oh no, you might gasp, his precious, blockish, pedis! we’ve certainly tested the strength of our first aid kit these first few weeks, but it has not been in vain. cairo is a city for walkers and gawkers, but not for the weak-kneed or club footed, as there are no safe street crossings only successful ones. death we have defied many a time, once the local advice of ‘close your eyes and pray to allah’ really sunk in. while cabs are not expensive in USD terms, the process of haggling and inevitably being ripped off really drags on a gung-ho mood. a taxi dependent foreigner has 2 choices: exit the car into oncoming traffic and drop a wad of money on the passenger seat and run, or ask a price, agree on a price, and still find yourself standing outside of the cab as the driver jumps out to scream at you in arabic. it’s at that point that i generally leave alex standing ineffectual and walletless in the street. Continue reading

“you would like to buy dancing camel?”

Posted in life, travel with tags , , , , , , on April 19, 2009 by abuttercup

…asked the adorably filthy little urchin. “no, I don’t want no damn camel” i huffed. “i’ve already been shanghaied by a man on a camel once today, and i haven’t quite gotten over it, thank you.” he raised the stuffed camel to my face misinterpreting my excitement and demonstrated how the camel moved its head back and forth. Immensely unimpressed, i decided ignoring him was a much better tactic and turned to my immediate left to gaze upon a four thousand year old structure shaped like a kitty with a man head. or a woman head. to be perfectly honest, i found it to be rather androgynous, and not like in a cool and mysterious glam-rock david bowie sort of way, but actually more in the way that you just feel awkward not knowing whether to refer to it as a he or she for fear of ridicule. i’m referring, of course, to the beautiful limestone monument known as the sphinx which you likely remember from the famous magic carpet ride sequence in the hit disney movie, Aladdin, starring gilbert gottfried. it seemed to me that the shared sentiment of the others in my company was that the sphinx was a lot smaller in person than they had expected. i, however, felt that Aladdin gave me an excellent idea of the relative size of the stone beast, and thus stood humbled, but unsurprised. Continue reading

romancing the stone

Posted in life, travel with tags , on April 16, 2009 by megan

why hello again dear readers, and welcome back. since last embarrassing (yes, ASSing) post, we have bussed, boated, and booted the 4 p’s into place. well sort of, like the way ¾s of the right test answers get you a solid C. either way, we definitely saw some green things, rocky things, and old shit. lots of old shit. from lots of bus windows. too many bus windows in fact, and i’m not just saying that because of my current, uh, SITuational handicap; yea, the bum bum hurts but the busses get boring. so let me begin the end of our irish tale, where the magical mr. mazer did not even start. Continue reading