Tag Archive for 'vacation'

More Vacations

Sometimes I think about the way I portray my Peace Corps experience on this blog, and I worry that especially recently, it looks like I do nothing but take vacations.

In any case, I semi-recently had a visit from my dad and stepmom, in which we quite possibly saw every single individual animal in Kenya over the course of four different safaris.  It was a wonderful time.  I of course love staying in hotels, which have modern amenities like running water, sit toilets, showers, and other things that have to do with water, but on top of that I was happy to have them come and witness this place firsthand, even the parts that involved long, bumpy bus rides.  Without any further ado, here are some pictures of animals.

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And here are some pictures with people (I am not related to the guy with a chicken leg in his mouth):

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Not long after my dad and stepmom left, my girlfriend came for her fourth and final time to Kenya. Again, wonderful.  We traveled to Zanzibar and Ethiopia.  Here are some pictures from Ethiopia, where we went to a fun New Year’s Eve event (they use a different calendar, so their thirteenth an final month ends in September):

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ErinRose had helped me in the classroom many times, and the students were sad to see her go (and I believe the feeling was mutual).  The time she spent in the library with portions of my vocational class allowed me to focus on a smaller number of students, so I am grateful as well.  Thanks, ErinRose!

Not long after getting back into my routine (without any guests), I missed a week of school to go to my Close of Service (COS) Conference.  This is when Peace Corps lays out the details of how and when I go home to America.  I generally don’t comment on Peace Corps trainings because I get upset and frustrated, so I’ll maintain that policy here. In any case, it looks like the date of my return will probably be December 17, so I’ll be home for Christmas (again, PROBABLY).

In addition to the conference during the day, the volunteers who are in my group (meaning the ones who will go home around the same time I do) had lots of leisure time in the evenings, and we had productive gatherings like this one:

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It’s worth noting that only 24 of our original group remain.  I think we started with 41 or 42 or something.  This is much higher than the usual attrition rate.  We definitely lost some good ones on the way.  If any of you are reading this, just know that you were missed at the conference and that we’ll all be back in the states soon so we can spend time reminiscing!

3 Responses to “More Vacations”


  • I’m reading this! Man, forget meeting up in the states, I’ll try to find you in Mombasa one more time before the 17th and you should let me know if you have any plans to visit Arusha.

    Pole about the substance of COS, but I’m glad you guys had some good social time. I did a session at IST and even though I felt really lousy reliving the memories from Swearing-In, I was glad to see that some things had improved.

    Safaris look like fun. Good luck with the last term and I’d love to hear what your plans for post-PC look like.

    -M^2

  • Hi Paul,
    Your Blogs are always so interesting and exiting,sometimes too much so.
    You mentioned your numbers are down to 24 out of 41. Is there a commomon thread here or is it for a variety of reasons? If you dont reply , I can understand.

    Good luck,good health,

    John

  • Hi!
    I am an AJWS volunteer and new to Kisumu Kenya. I just happened upon your blog and was wondering if you knew anyone in the area that might want a friend. I feel like I’m 4 years old but honestly I don’t know anyone here and I am quite lonely. Anyway, thanks for your time.
    Tali

The Unbloggable: My International Vacation

Well, I’m back, but I’ve been slow in posting because so much happened on vacation that I was overwhelmed by the idea of writing about it.  Now that a little time has passed, though, I feel more comfortable skipping a lot of the details, so it’s a bit easier.  So here we go!

The vacation started with a trip through Nairobi to the Kakamega Rain Forest:

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A flower in the forest just after the rain.  “Good morning, morning glory!” as some would say.

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Playing cards after our hike (and drying clothes by the fireplace):

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From Kakamega we headed across the border to Uganda, which is basically like Kenya except with more BBQ’d meat, to the town of Jinja where we slept along the Nile River.  Here’s a view of the sunset as seen from where I was eating a pizza.

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Of course we didn’t go to the Nile just to eat pizza… a bunch of us went rafting the next day, and a few of us even stayed along the river and continued rafting for the day after that as well!  Here’s a clip from the DVD we bought of our adventure.  It looks like a generic promotional video, but I am in fact in quite a few of the clips.  In my raft I sat in the front row… try to find me!


From Jinja we headed to the capital of Uganda, Kampala:

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And from there we went to small lake where we stayed a couple nights on a picturesque island.  I hiked to the other side of it and took this picture looking back at the hostel:

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From there we headed to Rwanda and the capital city of Kigali.  Rwanda is quite different from the other countries on the trip because it was not a British colony; it was Belgian.  As a result, the language is French, the food is better, and the vibe is just generally different.  Kigali’s downtown is in the background here, and in the foreground is the entrance to the Kigali Genocide museum:

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Outside of Rwanda, most people know little of the country other than its genocide.  I was no exception, and in addition to the Kigali Genocide museum, we also headed out of town to the site of a church where, during the genocide, 10,000 people stood in cramped quarters hoping that the church or the priest would help them.  The priest ratted them out and they were all killed over the course of a few days, and although a site has been set up behind the church for the bodies, the curators have left all the clothes in the church itself, and they also left behind everything else like the shrapnel holes in the roof and the blood on the altar.


In the back they have graves for the bodies what could be identified, but for everyone else they just had the bones on shelves:

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Something like this is difficult to write about, and I think I’ll favor brevity here on my blog.  I think the hard part is that, as a student of the West, I thought my understanding of the Holocaust would help me grasp a situation like Rwanda’s, but I had a hard time applying what I knew about human psychology to this tragedy.  About 10% of the country’s population was killed in a short span of time, but it wasn’t the case that brainwashed military goons were given orders after they’ve already been in the army for a while; rather, a small militia was able with some pathetic propaganda to mobilize much of the general public to not just rat out their neighbors, but to outright kill them with machetes.  It’s hard to come to terms with such a thing, and it hung heavily on my mind as I enjoyed this otherwise pleasant country.

Well, in any case, our group of four travelers split up while we were in Rwanda.  Two people flew back to Kenya, but I and one other continued on.  We headed to Tanzania and crossed over this waterfall at the border:

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The main thing we did in Tanzania was to take the biggest remaining ferry that is still running across Lake Victoria.  It’s an overnight from the town of Bukoba to the bigger city of Mwanza.  Getting to Bukoba from the Rusumo Falls was a hassle, mostly because we were at the whim of people to help us figure out transportation, and those people were liars and cheats.  We made it, though.

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From Mwanza we decided we were done with Tanzania, so we headed up to Kenya, specifically toward Mfangano Island, where supposedly they have some ancient cave paintings.  From the small motor boat that goes to Mfangano I took this picture of the neighboring boat, “The Unbwogable,” which was the inspiration for the title of this blog post.

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On the island we were discovered by a gang of small children who followed us everywhere.  I would pick them up by the arms and swing them around a bit as we’d walk, which was good fun, until one of them slipped, fell, and cried ceaselessly, making me worried that the islanders were going to think I was trying to kill all their children.  My friend (pictured below) ended up getting sick on the island (which had a ton of Tsetse Flies, although that’s not what made him sick), and that combined with the general hostility I encountered was enough motivation for us to head back to the mainland the next morning.

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From the mainland we hitched a ride on the Zain-marketing-mobile to a small ferry that crossed the lake (yet again) where we met a bus that took us to Kisumu, which is the third-largest city in Kenya behind Mombasa, my home here.  In Kisumu my friend stayed in the hospital while I stayed in a nearby hotel.  Here’s a view from my room with Lake Victoria in the background.  Not so glamorous:

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The next day I enjoyed a premium lunch at the nearby sailing club, where I overheard an Indian lady complain about the number of non-members (which was a reference to me I think,but hey, I paid the daily membership rate, so buzz off!):

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After lunch I walked over to an animal park of some sort.  It was pleasant, although not generally noteworthy other than this beautiful lakeside walk along some old railroad tracks:

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One of the animals in the park was this bee:

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From Kisumu I took the train back to Nairobi.  Here by the Kisumu train station waiting room is the kind of sign that reminds me that I’m not in America:

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The train is much like the Mombasa-Nairobi train.  I think there were fewer passenger cars, and fewer options in the dining car,  but otherwise it’s pretty similar.  The train even goes through similar-looking slums just outside Nairobi.


In Nairobi, I found Dr. Pepper in stock at the health food store (“Doctor” – remember?) so I bought one and brought it to a nearby sushi restaurant, where they refrigerated it and served it with my sushi boat.  Talk about a hard life!

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I then had a few days of official Peace Corps business in Nairobi, and then I took the bus back to Mombasa.  Whew!

8 Responses to “The Unbloggable: My International Vacation”


  • Gloria & Patrick

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAUL!
    Wishing you a wonderful day and may the rest of your PC experience be filled with much joy.

    Abrazos,

    Patrick & Gloria

    P.S. Thank you for sharing your travel experience and photos – the “morning glory” and the sunset by the Nile photos are beautiful. Well, it looks like birthday dinner arrived early while in Nairobi – “sushi & Dr. Pepper dinner” – very nice!

  • Wonderful photos! Happy Belated Birthday! We were thinking of you on your day. It was so nice to meet Erin Rose!

  • Joyce, was so nice to meet you and your family also! Was a wonderful weekend! 🙂

  • Paul, this is a great travelogue with some awesome pictures. What I like best about it is that it shows both snapshots of real-life, on-the-ground living of the citizens, together with the privileged luxuries those same every’men will never get to experience.

    That sushi place…in Westlands?

    Your comments about the Rwandan genocide are curious, as I’m sure you know that it was a much more complicated affair caused by more than “a small militia” using “some pathetic propaganda”. Were the L.A. riots of ’92 due to a guy getting being beat up by police?

    As a PCV you’re expected to be better informed about world events, especially those in your current backyard. You have all the time in the world to read about the true facts of Rwanda’s history. I hope you do.

    You didn’t name the lake in Uganda. Where is it, and how best to get there? I wanted to take my girlfriend and her daughters to one of the Ugandan lakes this past Christmas, I heard they’re a great alternative to the hectic and expensive Kenya Coast scene during the major holidays. I asked my Ugandan roommate for advice but (not-)surprisingly he was less than useless. Any other Ugandan lake areas that have been recommended?

  • Hi, Paul. I think I have motion sickness from watching the rafting video. Amazing pictures. Aunt Janet

  • Hey bro, Im an ex-pcv from Namibia, I got your blog info from Ginnie in Kenya. I am going to Kenya in Sept or October from Uganda side. So I will be travelling from west to the coast and then down to Tanz. So I wil be staying in the south if Kenya. Can you give me some info on what to do, see, where to stay, eat… Cheers.

  • Eating pizza on the banks of the Nile, Paul? Unbweabable! But really, this is a great peek into your vacation. I’ve gotta see this with my own eyes.

  • Wendy Turkington

    Hi Paul,
    I’m Greg Sinnott’s mom and I just wanted to say it was a pleasure to meet you in person during our visit to Mombasa. As you know I’ve enjoyed your blog and appreciated the information you’ve shared – it’s brought the Peace Corps experience closer to me since Greg does not have the same computer access in Wundanyi. I know your time there is winding down and I hope it all goes smoothly! Greg is sending me an address so we can get those toothbrushes to you.
    Take care,
    Wendy

Did a Whole Term Just Fly By?

In fact, yes.

Tomorrow will be the last day of classes for this term, followed by exams week.  I’ll be administering the same exams as last term, maybe just with the questions reordered, since it will provide an easy way to track progress.  This means, then, that tomorrow is the last real day of the term!

That’s not to say that it’s been a tough week, though, because it hasn’t.  On Tuesday morning I had a hard time opening my left eye, which is not normal.  A look in the mirror revealed that either I was transforming in the Toxic Avenger, or I had an eye infection.  As it turns out, I’ll never know, because the eye drops I stopped whatever it was from progressing.

It turns out that I wasn’t alone though—there had been a breakout at the school, with other teachers, students, even the cooks having disgusting, swollen red eyes.  I decided to stay home and wallow, and up until today (Thursday), I haven’t really interacted with my own students, since the thing seems highly contagious.

I did add a pictures section to the blog while I was hiding out in my house.  You should check it out, especially those of you who skim my blog and tolerate my ramblings just in case I post any more animal photos—now you can see all my new pictures consolidated in one place!  The link is the “Pics” tab, toward the top of the site.

I wasn’t a total blog nerd, though.  I snuck out yesterday evening and I saw Up in the Air, which was a good flick, but it made me a bit sad and lonely.  After the movie I shared a tuk-tuk back to town with a Chinese girl going to a nightclub.  The ride was a real language test.  Between me (English), her (Mandarin?), and the tuk-tuk driver (Swahili), we could barely communicate at all.  I did establish that she moved to Kenya to sell mobile phones, and/or she wanted my mobile number.  Maybe both.  Ironically, she’ll have to get in line, because the girl who works at the neighborhood Nokia shop just sent me a text message saying that she misses my “cute face!”  (It’s a long story, but don’t worry, her SMS was completely strange and unwarranted.)

So the adventures continue in Kenya.  Speaking of which, I’ll probably be taking a real vacation soon, and heading west to Uganda to raft the Nile, and then down to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo!  The plans aren’t done, but stay tuned.

2 Responses to “Did a Whole Term Just Fly By?”


  • Paul – this is really from me, mom. Your corruption article really made me sad but I am glad that you are planning on going outside of Kenya on what sounds like a great trip. take lots of pics. Liked your goggle pics too

  • looks like erinrose has some competition!