Tag Archive for 'travel'

A Day and a Night in Amsterdam

Oh right, I forgot about this whole “winter” thing. I did a little sightseeing yesterday, since I missed my connection due to snow-related delays. As someone who doesn’t even have a coat with me, I must say that it’s quite cold. After walking around for a few hours, I took my hands out my pockets when I entered a Mexican (!) restaurant, and I had to rub them against my coffee until they could again open, unclenched.

People here are in Christmas shopping mode, which is a phemomenon that I haven’t seen firsthand for quite some time. Other things that have struck me now that I’m out of Africa (just a short list of the first few things that come to mind):

  • People have pet dogs. Inside. On leashes.
  • Everything is really bright indoors. Lots of lightbulbs everywhere.
  • I can eat lettuce. I don’t have to push it to the side of my plate for fear that I will get sick.
  • There is design everywhere. In Kenya I was impressed if the wall paint and the chairs matched.
  • People understand what I’m saying, even if I say it quickly and with my own American accent.

Well, I should head over to my gate. Hopefully this flight leaves on time!

0 Responses to “A Day and a Night in Amsterdam”


Day Off

After an exhausting week, a day trip up to Kilifi (one hour north of Mombasa) helped a bit, but it created a new problem: I have the worst sunburn I have ever had in my life.  No, I wasn’t wearing sunscreen, and as a result I know your pity ends there, but it is a bit odd because normally I only apply sunscreen to my nose and shoulders with no trouble, but in this case, my feet are burnt!  So are my hands, and, well, everything, although my face is okay because it was shaded by the book I was reading.

I took this picture before I realized I was being slow-roasted:

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So today I’m not teaching because my knees hurt so much from the sunburn and it pains me to wear long pants.  So, while my students go neglected thanks to me, I thought I might as well update the old blog.

While I was in Kilifi I visited a volunteer who bought me a delicious mango and who also let me into her Deaf School’s computer lab, which has a dozen or so Pentium 4 machines, all donated by CFSK, putting my school’s library to shame.  I brought my laptop along and with a little help I was able to load up the computers with an array of educational software, and the one machine that wasn’t booting at all worked just fine with my custom DOS Educational Disk, which is pretty cool, as I designed it, after all, to be a “quick fix” for times like these.

From the sustainability perspective, the experience was less than ideal, just because running all the separate installation programs would have taken too much time for a non-IT person, but nonetheless the students can now do more than just “learn computers.”  They can use computers to learn all sorts of subjects.  I wrote to the NGO that donated the computers to ask if I could help arrange a better suite of pre-loaded software for future donations.

Here are some kids who wanted a glimpse of what the grown-ups were doing in the lab:

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Since I’m sidelined at the moment, I’ve been watching movies (I bought a war movie compilation a while back, so I don’t fall out of touch with violence while I’m in the Peace Corps) and I’ve been doing more research on educational software.  For those of you with the interest and the time, I have really been enjoying one particular site.  Here are a few pages from it that I found particularly relevant to what I’ve been researching:

This is the only site I’ve found so far that actually reviews educational software in a meaningful way.  It was a great find, because some 500+ educational softwares are released every year, so how the heck am I supposed to know which ones to look at?

In any case, I’ve started drafting a short design document for what I think will be best for teaching the kids here with computers.  It’s a ways off from completion, but it’s nice to be entering that stage.

In totally unrelated news, I recently noted in my far-less-prolific movie blog that The Mustachioed Bandit Meets His End now has an IMDB page.  I’ve submitted more info to them that’s not yet public, but even in its incomplete state, the page isn’t half bad.  Unfortunately my name is in IMDB in two different places, so I’m waiting for them to merge the entries so my giant moviemaking ego can be consolidated into one easy-to-read page.

1 Response to “Day Off”


  • i tell u to go the beach as an ejoyable activity and what do u do get urself miserably burnt…not the outcome i was hoping for..who knew u were so distructive.

Photo chronology: Loitokitok, Nairobi, Mombasa

Tonight brings to a close my first whole day in my new home in Mombasa.  I arrived last night via bus from Nairobi and had two dinners: one with my counterpart, a deaf teacher at the school, and one with my supervisor, the headmaster of the school.  Mombasa food is much more flavorful than it is in Loitokitok (no judgment passed— I speak solely of flavor quantity), but in any case I was more than happy to eat twice.  Today a fellow volunteer visited and showed me around Mombasa, and I purchased a few items for my home.  Tonight I made my first dinner here: penne pasta with soy sauce.

So without further ado, let’s catch up on photos!

From right to left: My Kenyan momma, brother, and the motorcycle man who will take them away forever.

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Last night in Loitokitok: sing-and-sign-along! (The deaf ed group attempted to translate lyrics into sign, resulting in hilarity but little actual understanding, especially when I tried.)

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Dessert in Nairobi at Carnivore, a restaurant with great ostrich meat and more tackiness than I was expecting (waiters wear funny hats, etc).  Giraffe meat is seasonal so I may have to go back on my birthday to try.  I had tawny port with my dessert, and that made me very happy.

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A completely staged photo taken after the swearing-in in Nairobi.  I didn’t actually give a speech, but if I had, it would have looked like this.  A serious looking man came over right after this and switched off the microphone.  Elise, notice I’m wearing your bracelet— I haven’t taken it off yet.

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Baobab tree somewhere between Nairobi and Mombasa.  The bus ride is long and uncomfortable but these trees are amazing.

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My new home, filled with modern amenities like a mini-fridge and a paper Christmas tree:

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View of the other side of the room… the paint needs a little work. On the ground is all two years worth of my luggage.

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My bedroom, from which I am now writing as I cower under the net to avoid Malaria:

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My kitchen.  The water doesn’t work as of now but apparently sometimes it does, although it doesn’t help much because the well water is brackish (too close to the ocean).

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My first attempt at cooking in Kenya.  This was taken before I realized I forgot to buy pasta sauce.

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And that brings you up to date.  Deaf schools open on Monday, so tomorrow (Sunday), I will hopefully find out what I will be doing for the first day of school.  If dinner was indication, I probably don’t yet have my act together to accomplish much, but I’ll remain optimistic.

10 Responses to “Photo chronology: Loitokitok, Nairobi, Mombasa”


  • looks like you’re trying to get an early head start on your presidential campaign with that “publicity photo”, although it does also sort of look like you’re about to throw a game of craps. i guess you may as well get a head start on a vice or two while you’re at it, before you get elected.

    • It was no coincidence that I wore a red tie, white slacks, and a blue shirt to the ceremony. The Peace Corps oath is actually identical to the Presidential oath— good practice. I was hoping that Barack would make a surprise return to Kenya for the ceremony, but no such luck.

  • Paul, what does the rather ominous phrase,”My Kenyan momma, brother, and the motorcycle man who will take them away forever” really mean? Your probably right about the need for a little paint in your new apartment. I have taken the liberty to edit a few of you pictures. Check them out at, http://www.flickr.com/photos/daveblair48/sets/72157612404140089/

    • i was wondering this as well…take them where..and which family is this ur first one in africa or ur second one in africa?

      • The “ominous phrase” refers to the fact that that was the last time I saw my Kenyan momma and brother– the pickie-pickie driver drove off with them. I don’t have a second African family— that was the only one.

    • The pictures look a lot better brightened… the Scud and Carnivore shots in particular. Now I feel guilty that you only had my tiny little JPGs to work with.

  • hmm that was all alot to take in..but one thing is for sure…..You would be a very good psychologist…I never would have thought this, but as I read your mental notes on the problems in class, I realized you could be the next Freud. Think about it.

  • What do you say to swapping weekends and painting our places? My place definitely needs it! I bought a fridge today!!! I feel like a little kid – keep wanting to go over and see if it’s cold yet!