Saturday, July 28, 2007

Business Trip for Two, please (or the saga of a Pineapple pool palm)

Jealousy can have such an ugly affect on relationships. Thankfully we survived its nasty grip while in Portugal from Wednesday to Friday night. Coy received word on Monday that he would be sent to help out a project there. I decided that my last two days of German class were not enough of a reason to miss out. (By the way, my Deutsch is now extremely good. I could have written all of the previous in German. Just kidding. But I can introduce myself and tell you what I like to eat for breakfast. We'll save the oddities of the vocabulary introduces in beginner's language lessons for another blog.) So we hopped a plane, spent a night in Lisbon, and then drove down to the southern coast. The drive was quite pleasant. As much as we do not miss driving on a daily basis, sometimes a road trip needs a radio and a window to roll down. It seemed to us that southern Portugal was fairly sparsely populated and rugged. At one point, the vegetation created a scene that would have been the perfect backdrop for a dinosaur movie- barren, little bushes, and funky trees. The office was in a tiny town called Moncarapacho. We asked for advice from Coy's temporary co-workers about where to stay nearby on the coast. We were picturing small and rural. They were picturing luxury resort and crammed with tourists. As it turns out, Southern Portugal is to Brits what Gulf Shores is to Memphians. The place was crawling with British people and the restaurants offered things like meat pies and Guiness. But the beach was beautiful. Coy didn't really have the chance to notice any of this because he worked the entire time. I spent both days reading in the sun until it became too hot and then I'd jump in the water. Coy did have enough time before work on Friday to walk on the beach for about 20 minutes. Poor fellow. He was definitely the only guy I saw leaving the hotel that day wearing a suit. Lessons learned this trip: the beach is considerably less fun without Coy. Teaching is an excellent profession because everyone still needs a summer break. When they say jumbo shrimp in Portugal, they're not exaggerating.

Had to post another...

"You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist."

"Not when truth is dirty, but when it is shallow, does the enlightened man dislike to wade into its waters."

Randomized Nietzsche + Randomized Family Circus.

I'm not sure what it equals, but I found it funny.

Obtained from a friend of a friend's (?) blog.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

William Penn and his 'isms

- Much reading is an oppression of the mind, and extinguishes the natural candle, which is the reason of so many senseless scholars in the world.

- I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

- True religion does not draw men out of the world but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it.

- Less judgment than wit is more sail than ballast.

- It was the only treaty made by the settlers with the Indians that was never sworn to, and the only one that was never broken. ~ Voltaire, contrasting Penn's treaty with the Delaware (Leni Lenape) Indians, with most others that had been made in the colonization of America.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Leave it at home, fellas

At the security gate at Kenya Air.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Holiest of Holies

I found it. A church in the center of Addis Ababa is the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

Behind these golden curtains lay the Ark. I suppose I could have imagined a more regal setting, but somehow the simplicity of the environment was fitting. At first, I wasn't allowed to actually view the Ark, but after pulling together the remaining cash I had (and borrowing some from the my driver), I managed to offer the local priest 60 Ethiopian birr - a meager sum (USD 6), but enough to view the Ark in its final resting place.

I wasn't allowed to take photos, but let me tell you, it was spectacular. The wooden box was overlaid in pure gold. The sound of the rain outside was almost drowned out by the spiritual hum of the Ark and its contents. I ventured to touch it, but was quickly stopped by my driver. The priest took a pair of weathered gloves and tilted the lid enough to show me its contents. I couldn't see much, but in the darkness I swear I saw every thing I've ever done wrong and the future of my lineage scattering out like stars in the sky.

Some other wall art:

Post Ark viewing, me, donning the priestly drums and playing a ceremonial cleansing tune.

Workers Unite! Ethiopian Style

In 1974, the Ethiopian Communist party took power in Ethiopia. This monument in the center of the city memorializes their victory over Haile Selassie.

The communist obelisk is similar in size and style to the ancient obelisks in the northern city of Axum, serving as an idealogical counterpoint to Axum's tradition as Ethiopia's holiest Christian site.

The communist revolution occurred during the reign of the last king of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, in the 1970's. The reliefs depict effects of the severe drought, the greed of the buorgeoisie, and communism's triumphant rise led by Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Mengistu Haile Mariam, leader of the revolution:

One of the four walls commemorating the Cuban, Soviet, and North Korean revolutionaries that came to their comrades aid:

During Mengistu's reign, he perpetrated what "Human Rights Watch" called one of the most systematic mass murders by a State in African History. In 1991, Mengistu Haile Mariam was forced from power and fled to Zimbabwe. In January 2007, he was sentenced to life in prison in absentia by the Ethiopian Government. Zimbabwe has refused to extradite him to Ethiopia to face trial.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ain't she purty? Now she's thirty.

I thought 'purty' was better than 'dirty'

Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LINDLEY! Thank you for leading the charge into our next decade. You are a wonderful cousin and an amazing friend. You're one of the funniest, most energetic, and kindest people I've ever met. (I mean you're topping each of those're easily #1 if I was only ranking people with the combo of the three!) I'm sorry that I did not get a card in the mail- this note will have to do for today. I love you, birthday girl.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And then we

took a flight on Saturday morning to the Masai Mara reserve park. Our little plane flew low enough for us to spot elephants as we landed! We stayed at the Governor's Camp and, from the look of some of the outfits we encountered, we were the only people who had planned the trip at the last minute. The place was pretty deluxe- fantastic food and cool tents that felt more like a hotel room (complete with running water bathroom). Our reservation had been made by a Kenyan co-worker of Andy's and he had set us up well by requesting tents that faced the plains and Joseph, the park's head driver. Joseph certainly knew the reserve well and was very knowledgeable about the animals we encountered. We hope to remain in his memory. We had the privilege of being with him for the second time that he has been completely stuck in the mud in eight years of driving in the reserve! All in all, we saw elephants, baboons, giraffes, black rhinos, cheetahs, hippos, crocodiles, half a dozen variations of antelopes, hyenas, warthogs, mongoose (no one could tell me if the plural is mongeese), spider monkeys, ostriches, zebras, lions, and water buffalo. Here's a sample of the many pictures we took:

If you're wondering what the floating blobs are in the green pool, squint your eyes and imagine ten hippos just bobbing up and down. We hung out with them as the sun sank. It was my favorite moment of the safari.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I once had a trip in Africa...

As much as I've missed Coy this month, I'm really grateful for the opportunity we've had to return to a continent that we both love. Coy is still in Ethiopia and I arrived back in rainy Zurich early Saturday morn. I may blog a few times about my trip to visit Coy because our stay there certainly had extremes. So I'll just start at the beginning- I flew to Nairobi last Thursday (June 28th) with Shannon whose fiance, Andy, has been working with Coy. We spent Friday in Nairobi by going to the Elephant Orphanage, the Giraffe Sanctuary, the Karen Blixen house/cafe, and the market.

I guess the first two pictures are self-explanatory. But does this last shot make you more concerned for Coy's sanitary proclivities or for the fact that I still like to kiss him despite his romantic moment with a giraffe? (I'm told that the giraffe also prefers men with ample facial hair.)