Friday, July 31, 2009

Saying good-bye

I have had a delightful time here in Uganda. Liking the atmosphere, the people, the generosity of the people. An example...I wanted a shirt from New Vision. I have spent a lot of time there and would like a momento. So, the Ad Director told me I could buy one. I said, "OK but you have had me working my butt off for two weeks for free. You could afford a shirt. The HR manager was there and she told him he was "cheap." He sent me to the storeroom which I thought was around the corner...nope, a mile away. Now I like a good walk and I was accompanied by someone who knew where we were going but I wasn't in my walking shoes.

We get to the "stores" and we couldn't get in. It is locked and we had to wait. Someone came and then we began looking for shirts. I wanted a "big one" and the man just died laughing...said, "you aren't THAT big." Now, here, meaty women are highly prized!! One would have to see the woman highlighted today in Red Pepper to get the full meaning of that statement.

We finally found a xxl which I wanted but the stores ( no mistake...called stores)manager was not happy because the shirt was for a man...grey in color and he didn't like the quality for a "muzunga". (white person) I told him since I wasn't paying for it...I was quite happy with it. Then commenced a serious argument because, of course, everyone pays for a shirt. My guy, Sam, allowed as how the Ad Director would send over a chit for the shirt...cost $3.50! I needed a translation because they argued in Luganda.

Took us as long to exit the building as it did to get in...locked. Kind of hard to do business but maybe they have had thefts??

Leaving shortly for the airport. Talk to you from the other side of the world soon.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

News...Ugandan style

I didn't want to forget to share this...last week an article was written by New Vision regarding the Bugandan King and that he gave up title to some of his Kingdom's land and benefitted from that. Hard to follow but what is fascinating is that the King and his Prime Minister have called for a boycott of all New Vision products from all Bugandans. And radio journalists at the Monitor's radio stations are calling for people to not only boycott but to hurt, intimidate and hassle all vendors selling New Vision's products. Els, the executive editor at New Vision said that she had heard they are also calling for the intimidation of westerners (what isn't clear is that us white folk or is it folks from Western Uganda??) The New Vision newsroom is getting translations done by one of their newsroom guys who speaks Baganda. All very reporters calling for boycotts and then, the government cannot and won't crack down because they own 51% of New Vision so it would look like they are protecting, not freedom of speech, but their own economic interests. Very convoluted but that violence and economic intimidation and calling for strikes cannot be squelched is interesting, to say the least.

And another story: two days ago I went out to get my papers. My morning to go to work taxi guy, Deo, runs down the street every day to buy my papers for me. Then, I eat breakfast and hop in his cab. Wednesday, I look and Deo isn't there but a huge guy walks up with his hand out. He said, "Mum, I will buy your papers today." I give him the money and off he runs. When I go to leave, Deo still isn't there, but Roger, another cab guy says I am taking you to work and you paid Deo for today, so you don't pay me. So, off to work I went. What was very cool is that Deo, who had issues at home, had taken the time to make sure that my routine was not interrupted. And he communicated the whole story. I hadn't had change so paid for two trips to work and had he not shared that, I would have had to pay again. Good business happening here.


The top photo is of the sales managers at New Vision...we practiced sales. They sell "adverts," cost and space and we talked about audience, and results and matching the customers' target audience with content that folks will read to plan their ad placement.
Second photo is a designer group at New Vision...I am tearing apart all of their promo ads, paid ads and layout. They make stuff that no one except a newspaper or media person would understand. Filled with jargon and not direct. Not to mention, the ads are "butt ugly" and cannot possibly create results for the advertiser. We had a good time and they took the critique in a very positive way.
Now the dress, I love but when I looked at the photos, I look like a polyester whale. Not so sure I will wear it again.
Kinda packed but it isn't all going to surprise there. Bringing back a bunch of papers for ICFJ so they can see what Rachel has been up to. Nothing from Chris to carry back.

Observations upon leaving Uganda

This group was really good...the women and the men danced to well and again, like the guy near the Nile...the hip action and butt movements were something to behold.

Did I mention that the area outside of my hotel is a streetwalkers' paradise? I have enjoyed watching the parade each night as I eat my dinner. Quite the get ups and what is fascinating is when some white tourist has two of these ladies on his arms.

And then, I am having serious issues breathing and though I think it is from the heavy dirt in the air, the lack of emission standards and then, tonight, as always the staff come in to spray my room so there are no bugs or mosquitos. Appreciate that but wish they could spray during the day while I am working. I wait ten minutes or so to reenter but issues. Those issues are only surpassed by my incredibly violent and projectile poo. I have a bad case and you haven't lived til you are at work, using a toilet with no seat, squatting and it just goes everywhere. quickly repairs what one can, no paper towels and you leave quickly so no one knows YOU did it!!

Went to the Ndere theatre last night...their brochure didn't say it was outside, so after an hour, I left. Very good Ugandan singing and dancing.

Today was busy, starting at 7 a.m. at the Monitor and then on to New Vision...back to the hotel by 6. Tomorrow, I leave for home and I also start at 7. Packing right now and thank God I brought a suitcase of clothing for the orphans. I am filling that right up. Bought Christmas gifts and whatnots for kids and grandkids. Couldn't find a logo beer glass for Richard in either Kenya or Uganda...they are missing a sales opportunity.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


For my media friends, here are a few headlines that have been in the papers, either front page or section headlines these last few days. I kid you not and written just as they are here...with same punctuation. And do not think that these come from yellow publications...the only one that does is the underwear one...coming from Red Pepper. The others are all from the two biggest papers here in Uganda.

Taylor not a Cannibal

EU to aid Hague arrest big names in Waki list

Wake up and smell the Kofi

Mistresses are Not Lazy

Putting on Tight underwear is likely to Deform your Manhood

Nail Them

30 Things to do with a naked guy

Presidents turn into Journalists

6 year old Sacrificed

What if Somalia's Rebels Win??

This is a different culture with different issues. Famine, poverty, murder, rape of children, beheadings; witchcraft and more are stories of the day. Certainly access to water, food, power, and politics take precedence but the scope of issues and problems here are so much more complex than we experience in the U.S., thankfully!!

The white hole....below

Look closely on the white structure and you will see a little friend. He was on the move so I shot the picture forgetting to zoom in. Saw another guy on the ground peeling some fruit and looking at us as we entered the hotel.

Here is a home which was supposed to have gone in the blank spot/hole you will find as you read down and or backwards over time. This is very typical of the type of home one sees outside the city limits. Very rustic. No running water and no latrine.

They have just passed a law that everyone with any ground must plant cassava, a root plant, to ward off famine. No water to water the plants...but plant, anyway.

And then, note the dirt in front of the home. This red dirt here permeates everything. Think clothing wet on the lines to dry and dusty swirling dirt. Almost impossible to get anything clean. And then, with no running water, personal hygiene is difficult. Everyone dresses very professionally but the personal cleanliness is difficult at best.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Nile

This is the sign that greeted us near the rapids. Everyone there was any idiot would go any closer to these smashing waves. Eddie and I thought white water rafting would be fun...but in a place where there is monitoring of such adventures so that we were fairly certain we wouldn't die. One kayak I saw had holes in it and was cracked and a man hefted it out of the water! He later was seen using something I can only assume to be super glue to fix the cracks.

While at the Nile, there was a musical group and two dancers playing and dancing typical Ugandan music and dance. The guy in the pink was terrifically talented and any woman would love her body parts to move as smoothly and with such precision as he made his. The hip movements were spectacular and he knew he was good! Of course, one man passed the hat but a 5000 shilling note, or $2.50 brought a huge smile to the second dancer who was a bit older and less talented. Notice the girl in the navy skirt...she was shaking rocks in a metal oblong container and the sound was a bit like a waterfall rushing over rocks. Very cool.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Nile River

See the kayaker and the rubber boat...this boat went over fine but a larger one lost two people overboard and as they rushed away, a surge pushed the two in the water towards the boat and the people grabbed them and pulled them up and in as the boat surged downstream. The Nile is over 3000 miles long and it was rushing and raging!!

The rapids are category five and we saw any number of kayakers and a couple of rubber boats go over...two people fell out of the boat but were picked up. Incredibly fast moving rapids.

First sighting of the River Nile!

Rural Uganda...on the way to Jinja

Notice the police woman's outfit to the right in the khaki and the boots. Cuts quite a figure. And this is a street into the market near Jinja.

Here are a few photos of homes, shops and things we saw on the way to the Nile River and the city of Jinja, the second largest community in Uganda. The fruit market and huge bundles of bananas were incredible. A streetside market and take a look at these huge banana bundles (don't know what you call them, but they are huge and men and women alike carry these!).


This guy is called, "Death" and I thought it appropriate. Notice he has a man in his hands and is squeezing him to death. Though there are Muslims, Catholics, Jehovah Witness', Episcopalians, Mormans and Anglicans here, there is also a huge number of those who practice and belive in witchcraft. Daily headlines indicate that another child has been either beheaded or killed sacrificially. First, the child is kidnapped and then killed. Death comes in many ways and in many forms here.
Today, there was an article about the "bride price" families pay for the woman marrying into a family. Because a price is paid, often the woman is little more than a slave. And then, she has to worry if beaten or treated poorly that she cannot leave because her family might have to pay the bride price back and that could mean many goats, a cow and more.

The National Museum

The write up in the tour book indicated the museum wasn't that interesting. Actually, Eddie and I enjoyed it. There was a woman playing native instruments and much about the history, Speke, about whom I knew nothing except our hotel is named after him. and then, a lot about finding which indicate we all came from Africa at some point.

Speke was an explorer and in 1862 was looking for the mouth of the Nile and he felt he found it. His findings were contested by Stanley who asked Queen Victoria to send missionaries to tame the natives. She did. Besides the incredible musical instruments, we saw weapons, and pottery and idols and the resemblance in every area to Latin archeological findings are soooo close. I guess if you needed a tool to chop things, or if you needed to pulverize something, there are just so many ways you can do it.

By the way, beer in the Lake regions are made of bananas while other areas create their beer out of grain or honey. Just a side note!!


A side note...I mentioned the moto-taxis here and I was told they are called "boda-boda" because they used to carry folks from border to border...get it "boda to boda." Thought that very fun. And today, I heard what I thought was Spanish as the guys were speaking it turns out, their language is a mix of Portuguese, Arabic, French and German. I wasn't crazy...Spanish words are part of their language.

A photo of the 52 rings and the 52 columns supporting the tomb, representing the tribes of Uganda. There was also a drum house, which we could not enter, because we are women!

The photo above is a display of spears, shields and photos of former Buganda Kings who are entombed and watched over by the ever vigilant women awaiting their spirit return. There is a current King, whose palace, our guide declined to show us. Am thinking it isn't quite so humble a structure.

The tombs

We went to the Kabaka tombs...where the Buganda Kings are enshrined. We had to enter with our shoes off and because we were wearing pants, we had to wrap a length of fabric around ourselves to make a skirt...which a respectful woman would do. There are women who sleep here, guarding the spirits of these Kings because they may come back. Now, it was unstated, but of course, if one did come back, he would want a woman!! The building was gorgeous inside with barkcloth pillars, 52 of them representing the 52 tribes here in Uganda and the ceiling had 52 circles included. Photos coming. Very cool. And right now, the Kabaka, the King of Buganda and the current Ugandan government are having a bit of a conflict. There is a president, Museveni here and there appears to be a clash over land and who really owns it. Buganda and the Baganda, the peoples are strong and strident.

Adventuring, Kampala and Jinja, 7/25 and 7/26/09

This lady saw me about to take a photo and she turned and faced the store. My driver asked her to turn and suggested I might give her 2000 shillings. She grinned widely as you can see and I paid her the $1.00 equivalent. She would have had to sell 10 bananas to earn that much. A happy woman indeed!! This is a common site, only surpassed by men carrying huge bundles of firewood or banana leaves on their heads. What she isn't doing is also carrying a child on her back, which is normal here also.

My friend Eddie was here this past weekend and we visited several sites: including the tombs of the Buganda Kings and also the National Museum on Saturday and then, on Sunday, we took a day trip to Jinja and beyond to see the Nile River which crosses at least 8, maybe 9 African countries. More photos and stories to come.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Matatus, Uganda

Matatus are these van like vehicles that carry up to 20 people, tightly wedged in. Very inexpensive although, there is at least one matatu death or more every day. These vehicles defy all laws, add people and push them out while still moving. This is an alternative to cabs, public buses and moto-taxis. At the height of rush hour it is fascinating to see the side door slide open, a man jump out, help someone out or push someone in and hop back in. Wouldn't take one ever...was playing with the idea of hopping on a moto-bike (bicycle used as a taxi) or a moto-taxi to see what that is like. However, I am liking my life and want to guard it.

Kampala, Uganda

This isn't the best photo of this lady carrying kilos of fruit...I have been trying for days to catch women carrying as much as 50 kilos of bananas on their heads, sometimes with a baby strapped on their backs. Hard to snap a shot surreptiously. Hate to be too obvious or rude.
My friend, Eddie got in last night from Kigali, Rwanda. MY trip to get her at the airport was harrowing to say the least. My driver did not arrive. I called him to let him know traffic was terrible and he said he was on his way and would be there on time. Time came, no Mark. I called again. Not to worry. He is on his way and close. 15 minutes later he indicated he wouldn't make it and I should get another cab. Now, Eddie asked me to come greet her. There is nothing worse than coming into a new country, late at night, all alone. I told her I would be there. Enter, Roger.
Roger looks 14 but has a wife and four kids and is a cab driver. We join the throngs leaving Kampala for the weekend. People go home to see their families and anyone who can, leaves. It took us one hour to go about 10 miles. When we passed the jammed traffic, Roger found the gas peddle. Think Africans, in the middle of the night, no street lamps, fast driver, people crossing the street, riding bikes overloaded with bananas, people etc. I patted Roger's arm several times and told him I am 58 years old and want to see 59!!
The time passed and Eddie's plane was getting ready to land. Roger thought he could call the airport and see if there was a Speke Hotel rep there with the shuttle. I was taking a cab because I was told there was no Speke transportation. He persisted, found a lady there, we called her and she greeted Eddie's group when they passed customs with her name on a sign and then Alex, the Speke rep, let Eddie call me. So, we made it to the airport about 40 minutes late...but Eddie's plane was also late.
And then, Friday night is also shopping night. Along the Entebbe road leading into and out of town are thousands of small mom and pop stands, attracting lots more people, in the night. Parties, barbeques (eating was happening around small fires), drinking, music and all were out in the night having a ball. Wishing I could have seen it.
Eddie wanted a small snack so the cafe here which I had not tried, stayed open so we could have a drink and a bite to eat.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


This statue called, "Stride" is in the park down the road from my hotel. Gorgeous bronze of a family and celebrates a European Commonwealth Meeting here in 2007. What I like is that is depicts the familial solidarity. Talked with a guy today who is married and has three beautiful children. He is planning to have at least seven. He isn't sure he can support seven but he feels it is his duty as a man to reproduce his "kind." Some are suggesting here that they replicate China's "one child" rule to manage the birth rate which is the highest in the world.
"I want thick breasts and plump thighs" he said as he approached reception. I died laughing. One of the radio guys at New Vision yelled this out to the young lady answering phones and he turned bright red when I began guffawing. Seems he wanted plump chicken thighs and thick breasts for his family cook out and shopping for food is "women's work" but he got assigned buying chicken parts so he was asking the young lady for help.

Today was quite the busy day with online meetings, advertising sales meetings, marketing, supplement/special section meetings and then, I met the company secretary, who might correspond to a Chief Operating Officer at a company in the U.S. Back to back meetings, preparations and hardly a moment to think or take a pee. Very interesting meetings with interesting comments and perspectives.

I am back in my old spacious room at the hotel. All repairs to the ceiling and to the wiring have been made and I now have lights (plural) in the bathroom. Quite nice. And Eddie, my friend from Tegucigalpa, now in Kigali, Rwanda will arrive tomorrow. Didn't make it to the store to buy wine, for sipping while sharing stories and laughing, but that is tops on my list for tomorrow.
Was just getting ready to are NOT uploading for some reason. Here is one of me above with a group of interested individuals, editors, managers who care about their website which is now, 7 years old and pretty much non-functioning. We had a great meeting with lots of ideas and will continue the chat with a smaller group next week. Seems in the past, I was able to control where these photos landed, but right get what you get!!

Chris and I walked down to a mall restaurant today for lunch and that was quite the adventure. I had on sandals and we were walking through red dirt, like in Alabama, and eventually crossed a six lane highway which was crammed with heavy traffic. I just barreled ahead as always and at one point, Chris hesitated. Told him...he who hesitates is dead! He laughed but is a bit intimidated by the traffic...suggested he needed a stint in Tegucigalpa. Traffic is nothing here...they kind of obey the rules and everyone at least drives in the same direction.

I may have mentioned how dirty I feel all the time. A wonderful custom in every restaurant is to give customers a hot wet towel with which one might was his hands. Love it. My fingernails are dirty...they are actually dark at the tips and so, am buying some polish remover and going to paint my fingernails to match my toes...a red, to mask the discoloration of the nails. Thank God Richard bought me a ton of hand sanitizer...use it constantly.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hotel Issues 7/21/09

So, woke up as usual very early to find that my ceiling in my bathroom had collapsed. Notified folks about that and when I got back this afternoon, the powers that be decided I should move to another room while they fix my bathroom ceiling. Find. However, the room is half the size and faces on to a main thoroughfare. Did I tell you that like Honduras, taxis communicate by honking their horns?? So, this room is puny and noisy...but, I am told, the room will be fixed so I can move back into my original room in one to two days. So, I have two room keys, half my stuff is in one room and the other half in the other. Quite amusing except it IS my life that is being disrupted.
And this is an older photo...yup, I am older! But this was taken in Kenya when I was conducting an ad design and layout workshop. Very frustrating, but photos are taking three lifetimes to load on to blogger. More coming...some day. Love you all.


Today was quite interesting for lots of reasons. Went to lunch with an intern from advertising and we went to the company canteen about five blocks away from the advertising office which is two blocks from circulation. Reminds me of Flint. Anyway, we got there and lunch cost $1.25 per person and we ate, posho, a maize flour type polenta textured dish; pili pili which is a salsa with hot peppers that one puts on chapatis, which are somewhat like tortillas. And then, we had pumpkin and matoke which is a green banana dish mixed with who knows what. And I ate a chicken drumstick...very yummy but very, very unique.

As Mildred, yes, the name of the young intern and I ate, my green plastic chair collapsed, so down I went on to the floor. Three young men came to heft me up and much laughing and enjoyment was had by all. The chair was put against a wall and no less than 30 people tried to use it and with much guffawing...the guys told everyone about this muzunga (white person) who fell using it. Quite amusing to see them stare at me.
Here is the photo of the "crested sawa" or so we think it is called. One man said these are flamingos and those, they are not!! Notice the bulgy sack hanging down from the guy on the right and these birds, blue in color, are about 3-4 feet tall and up in the air. Sound like a 747 when cruising over your head.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Morning wake up! 7/21/09

Hopped out of the shower at 6:00 a.m. this morning to a huge clanging. Called reception, wondering if it was a fire alarm. Nope, the Catholics were having mass...happens at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and then on Sunday. This was followed at 6:30 by the Muslim call to prayer which I enjoy thoroughly. Clanging...not so much.

Took a few photos which I am trying to upload but not going too well. Using the computer is even slower here than in Kenya. Lost connection...saving. Pictures will be coming...promise.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kampala...some thoughts

Meant to mention my experience leaving Nairobi but forgot this. I had arrived in the night and my thoughts were just getting through customs and meeting Rachel. But leaving, I had a full three hours to explore the airport, eat, shop and get a feel for an international airport, Nairobi style. Jerri, my DC contact indicated she doesn't like to use bathrooms in places like this...and she has a point. Think, major African airport and NO water! Now there were three small eateries, with rolls, pies, cakes and drinks, but no real restaurant. I did use the potty, and while in there, saw a Java Coffee server also doing her thing. I used my hand sanitizer and she just left and went back to work. ARGGHHHH And of course, one could not flush...many had not been able to flush. Getting the picture yet??

Anyhoo...I bought a camera yesterday so we should have some photos soon. It appears to work and I am dying to take a photo of the crested sawa bird. It has a huge bag hanging from its throat, is blue in color and huge sitting in the trees around here.

Here in Kampala, two of the major newspapers staple them so the people on the street cannot pick them up and read them, which they do in Nairobi. If you want to read, you need to buy it. However, I went down to breakfast and the vendor near the Speke had NO papers at 7:30 a.m. yet. I have him 10,000 Ushillings and off he ran to buy them from a store. He promptly brought them back to me in the restaurant, gave me my change and Dayo, will be also my taxi driver.

In today's paper, there were photos of abandoned babies (apparently named by the orphanage staff because they were too young to know/say their names) and approximate ages. The notice indicated if the parents did not appear in 30 days, the child would revert to the care of the orphanage and be cared for. Never have I seen this...what is interesting is some of the kids had Christian names and others African. The Christian names are like ours, given at baptism, and those who have/use African names are either people who rid themselves of their Christian names at some point or who are not Christian.

The other news item that makes me ill is the number of child sacrifice articles there are in the papers. Kids who are "stolen" from families and then killed as a sacrifice and offered up to ??? for ????.

Tomorrow I will eat something called "wheat a bix" or that is what it sounds like. Looks like a cardboard muffin, flattened out but is a cereal. Am thinking it must be like shredded wheat. Have seen no one eat one, but there for the taking so will give it a try.

Off to work!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kampala, Uganda

My introduction to Kampala was about as dynamic as one could hope for. Saw UN planes sitting on the tarmac; followed by three chickens held upside down by their legs, with wings flapping and feathers flying, held by a woman on the back of a motorcycle. And that was followed by what looked to be a burning home. As we approached, we could see a man in a uniform lying on the roof, looking peaceful except that he was covered in a blaze of fire! Traffic was almost stopped, people were congregating, laughing, yelling, screaming and as we started to move forward fire truck were coming right at us. IF the man could have gotten up and out...he would have. Cabbie was sure he was electrocuted and was just buring up. Won't forget that for a long time.

As we approached Kampala city from Entebbe, I noticed feral dogs which you don't see in Nairobi. And while the area appears poor, it is neat and clean and the main drag from the airport into town was crammed with small mom and pop stores of all sorts, including an outside butcher shop with large hanging meat carcasses. And there are green banana vendors everywhere and these must weigh about 50 pounds. Saw a guy heft one up in front of him on his motorcycle and off he went.

Lots of mototaxis here. Walked to the mall from the Speke Hotel to look for a camera. I missed so many interesting shots...and no, I would NOT have taken one of "burning man." Chris, my contact here at New Vision and a Gates health Fellow came over this afternoon to chat and share a drink. Will see him tomorrow and am going to see what I might be able to do on my own.

Sitting and chatting at the hotel veranda, we looked out at a huge green park where two wedding events were going on. Beautiful and while Nairobi has tons of people walking quickly to work or to, people are out strolling as well. And then, after a wonderful Chicken Tikka (the owners are Indian) I noted that we also have what look like "working women" strolling the streets.

And so, when I get my camera, I will share some photos. My room is huge with a table and chairs in a side room for eating or having a meeting and while there are no drawers for clothing I do have a hang up wardrobe. Here, internet is free or "included" which is way better than teh $20+ per day we had to pay at the Hilton. Clean, neat, tidy and the help are very friendly. What more can you ask for?? So, hopefully, I will have a good night's sleep and then walk, have brunch with Chris and maybe go see some tombs and here about the Buganda Kingdom and learn some history.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Winding down...July 17, 2009

My morning started off bright and early at 4:30 a.m. I hit the streets early with Lucky, a team leader for circulation at the Nairobi Star. Asked him if his name was a nickname or his real name and it is his legal real name. He was born a month early, and back then, well, now as well, health care is/was spotty at best. Most babies back then died if born a month his older brother suggested naming him Lucky, since he survived.

The scrappy number 3 paper, Nairobi Star staff are scrappy and aggressive. There was quite a difference in his approach to relationship building and sales with his distributors and vendors from what I saw at the number one paper.

Tonight is African night at the restaurant here and I am getting a "to go" box so I can sample some real African food. Going out to dinner but thought I would leave you with a few interesting insights into Nairobi.

Everyone has a cell phone but no one uses or has voice mail! Think about all the calls you make and leave messages. Nope, wait for the return call or keep calling til you annoy someone enough that they pick up!!

Punctuation in conversations, generally on the phone, instead of "umhum, uhhuh" is the sound of a long "a" as in plate. So you will hear folks saying a, a, a, over and over again. Or they will say, "sawa, sawa, sawa, OK,OK,OK" and they do it that way. Three sawa's and three OKs. Kinda like how folks in Colombia finish a phone call by saying, "bueno, pues, ciao." Meaning...good, well, bye. Ciao or bye bye would do it. I enjoy these little language differences very much.

Because of the British Colonial period, much is English/British but not like we know it. For example, Tanzania, is pronounced here as Tan-zan-ya instead of Tan-za-nia. Little differences which make the language similar but not.

More later....decided to go back to Daily Nation because I ended up not spending the whole day as planned at the Nairobi Star...there was a bit of a scheduling issue between departments and bosses.

Looking forward to Uganda although, I still haven't heard recently from my contact there and hoping all is ready for me. I leave tomorrow morning so it may be a bit before you hear from me.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wrapping up

I had my last day at NMG today and am off to the Nairobi Star all day tomorrow and then, Saturday, off to Uganda. Praying that Chris, my contact there has a camera so I can shoot a few photos. Eddie, my friend from Tegucigalpa who is now in Kigali, Rwanda is coming down a week from now to meet me in Kampala and I cannot wait to see her. First Brady and now Eddie. Super to meet folks again on the other side of the world.

Had a great meeting with two young ladies who are working on a Science Cafe concept. A way to introduce residents, informally, to health content, conversations in a relaxed environment where they can talk to professionals about everything from personal healthcare, cancer issues, diabetes, birth control...whatever the theme might be. So we talked about how we could take the informal conversation and expand it to radio and television. Very interesting. Access to health care and health information is very difficult here. We are in the land of cholera, malaria, TB, jiggers and who knows what else.

I can tell you, I have never washed my hands as much as I have here. I am always feeling dirty and all of the restaurants give you hot washrags to wash before you eat. Pollution is horrid emission standards and the vehicles belch grey smoke everywhere. And then, we have matatus, vehicle like vans that hold 13-15 people with someone standing at the open side door ushering low income people in and out. There has been at least one or more deaths daily from matatu accidents here. And there are tuk-tuks like they have in Guatemala...motorcycle cabs of sorts.

Went to Susan's house last night...former Associated Press Bureau Chief and African resident for more than 20 years in various countries. So heard lots of political background info on the parties, the displaced people, rigged elections and more. Very interesting and super great food. Which leads me to my cab driver.

Anthony drove me out to an early afternoon meeting in Lavington. The directions were complicated and he had never been there. So six conversations with my appointment later, John, the guy I was meeting, came to find us. Anthony waited for me and he didn't have change so he just told me to pay him that evening on the way to Susan's house. Now, imagine, dirt poor and he doesn't know me but he was willing to trust that I really would call him and use him (after we got thoroughly lost that earlier afternoon). Of course, I used him to Susan's and called him to come back. Looks 14, drives 100 km per hour in a 60 km area. Asked him what the speed limit was and he cheerily said...60!!



Yesterday, I left the Nation Media Group building to encounter a sit in protest of young, and I mean young kids who were protesting police brutality. Much shouting and screaming in Kiswahili so I asked for a translation. there was a photographer from the paper there and for the first time, guards with serious machine guns standing guard outside. My camera died, so I asked Rachel to come down with hers so I could take a photo. I shot this and the kids all stood up and started screaming at me and coming towards me. The closest guard suggested I leave NOW. I did.
A man followed me and told me that these kids are being beaten and prostituted and they want protection. So, why if they are having their photos taken by the paper would they mind my snapshot?? Because they don't know what I would do with the I might turn it over to the cops?? Very interesting and these kids were young, filthy and so scrawny. Went to bed last night worrying about them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Berneice and Rose, the two women are health reporters and the man to the left of Rose is Gitahi, also known as Doc, because he is a medical doctor but he serves as the Marketing and Circulation Director for the Nation Media Group. There were two other reporters in the room but Daniel, the photographer of the moment, didn't get himself and the other lady in the shot.

Aren't you proud of me...I am able to write next to the photos like I did in 2006!! I couldn't figure out how to make this happen, so asked my friend David, from Tegus, but now in Afghanistan how to do this. He didn't know and I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning with an "ah ha" and remembered. Pretty cool.

And then today, I went on a search for a beer glass with Tusky's (local beer) logo on it because I have been bringing these home from my travels for Richard. I went on a serious walk only to find...I could not find one. And of course, Alex always gets a shot glass for his collection...have seen NO such animal yet. Still looking.

Like in most Third World countries there are lots of beggars in the streets. Here, they are on the sidewalks and in the alleys. Today, I saw a man, who was only the trunk of the body...supported by a pillar on the walkway. He had a bucket between what would be the groin area and all I could think was...if someone tried to rob him, which folks do here, poverty is horrid, he couldn't do anything at all.

By the way, smoking on the streets is against the law here. Saw the first man, again a beggar, smoking ganja. Thought it interesting...and wondered what the cops would do/say if they saw him??

Dinner beckons....more another day.

More photos

Again, in the sexual health meeting: Wanghethe, the head of the newsroom, Rachel and me. More in the next photo of our crew.

The meeting!

This was taken just before Rachel's sexual health meeting. The first interdepartmental planning meeting and it went very well, indeed. This is my office cubby where I sit next to Rachel in the newsroom. The pile o crap to the right is NOT mine!!


Interestingly enough, people here care about the fact that we have elected the first African American president. A man who said he is a teacher, stopped me on the street to ask if I thought having an African American president would eliminate prejudice in our country. I think not and told him that...and we had a nice 10 minute chat and as he left, he asked, "may I ask you...who did you vote for?" I said Obama and he chuckled and gave me a thumbs up. That Obama went to Ghana and not to Kenya is being covered long and hard here. They want that recognition and yet, the corruption is hugs.

Do read either "Unbowed" by Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize or/and "It's Our Turn to Eat" by Michela Wrong. Both will give you a feel for Kenya's past but also will demonstrate today, as well.

My camera died and the camera guy said it truly is beyond repair. I am sooo thankful I made it through the preserve and the orphanage. I am using Rachel's now, but when I uploaded my three, I found she had something like 269 photos. So, not so simple.

Off to dinner with the Nairobi Star guys...more coming.

Monday, July 13, 2009


These last couple of days have been fascinating. Mostly due to the conversations but also because I have been in a couple of really scary (for me) situation. Let me share...

Went to Rachel's last night and we had a gourmet meal...squash risotto, an avocado/mango/tomato salad, chicken, and an eggplant casserole, topped with great wines and an apple betty type dessert. Her apartment is gorgeous, kind of a yellow Moroccan structure and we were about 10 people.

My cab driver going over was a character and he allowed that he prayed I was not talking to Kenyan women. might ask? Because Kenyan men like their women to obey and men have to be in charge of the home. We American and British women teach bad things to Kenyan women!! So, I asked him if HE cooks and helps his wife clean and take care of the kids? He said not...that is why he got married. Now, this cab driver made it to Rachel's house in six minutes and he looked about 14 years old. We made a 20 minute trip in six and I opened her door and asked her to pour me a drink!!

The return trip was worse...the cab driver, who took off immediately after I entered the car, asked, "where?" I said, "to the Hilton." He had no clue what I was saying, did not speak English, and I finally called Rachel to ask her to call the cab company. I suggested to him, "National Archives," because we are right across the street from that but he said, "National Theatre?" I have NO clue where that is...and, of course, we are now yattering with the company in Kikuyo and he is trying to get directions, while I am talking with Rachel. Best thing I ever did was buy a telephone!!

Anyway, today, I went to the Nairobi Star, a new independent newspaper on the streets only two years. Very eager, hungry and interested to learn new methods, ideas etc. Very rewarding. Going back in a couple of days to their energy, their openness etc. The circulation guy, Patrick Ndende, took me to lunch and while talking, he explained that Kenyan men get married to have help in the home and to carry their babies. Dead serious.

At dinner, we had an eclectic group of Americans, Brits, and two Kenyan women: Ruth, a reporter for NMG and her sister, Anne Marie. What was super great was getting to know more about Kenyan families, their food (we discussed ugali, a maize type of polenta but with a totally different color, texture and flavor and which is a staple in Kenyan homes) and their work lives in a male dominated culture.

Another cultural difference, it is rude to ask a woman if she is married and to ask how many children she has. Children belong first to the home and so if a man has several wives, all of the children belong there. They aren't the product of a man and woman, rather the product of a home. And since health care is/was such a huge issue here...a woman could have had 10 children but only five are alive. Or had 16 pregnancies with 10 children. And of course, we Americans always ask after family, marital status and children.

And then, to top off the evening, my friend from Tegucigalpa, Brady Walkinshaw, came over to the Hilton for wine and laughs. We caught up. He is here working with the Gates Foundation on an agricultural project. And good news for him...he plans to run for political office. This young man is 25, sits on the Princeton University Board, worked in Honduras, for the World Bank and eventually will go to law school. Logan and Kenz met him in DC last year. Quite fun to meet a friend from another continent again..on the other side of the world.

I am pooped and off to bed. Am being picked up at 6 a.m. by a circulation guy...going to show him what I see happening on the streets. Buying goes on...selling of newspapers does not.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

The day safari...

Wasn't really a safari. We were on some huge nature preserve where the animals roam and run wild. Saw a carcass of possibly a wildebeast which had been attacked. While I did not see any lions, I heard them. My driver, Steve, had a van with a pop top so I stood and looked out of the top of the vehicle...colder than crap but I could see forever.

During the three hours we were out, starting at 6 a.m. when the animals start to move, we saw a variety of birds:
-the crowned crane
-far finch
-the secretary bird which feeds on snakes
-corey bastards (not making this up!)and it is the largest flying bird in the world, or so Steve said.

-zebra -two rhino (mom and baby)
-hartbeast -impalas
-wildebeast -giraffe
-gazelles -antelopes
-elands -buffalo

And the vegetation was interesting, as well. Acacia trees. Thorn trees which the giraffe eat...nibbling the leaves out between three inch silver thorns that looked very, very sharp. The dirt was deep red and interestingly, there were huge holes dug in the road by wart hogs but I didn't see any of them.

Quite a day and I am reminded of Annie and David's photos from their real safari...I want to come back and go on one. We saw "poo or scat" long before we saw any animals and you could smell the animals long before one appeared. Wild, earthy, and exotic smells! Wishing you were all there with me!


More animals

The birds in the road are guinea hens and were about 30 pounds and are protected. Looked good to eat!! And then, you should find zebra and some ostrich (grey one is female and the black and white one is male) and gazelles. Photos turned out poorly because I am 1)not a photographer and 2)my digital just couldn't zoom in close enough to shoot these animals.

Wildlife, up close and personal

The Rift Valley Hartbeast

Grammar...followed by the National Preserve

I must apologize before my friend, Roger, writes to tell me the header of "Us" should have been "We."

Now...a few photos!!


From the right to the left...Pastor George; Rachel Jones; Stacy, a middle school teacher on a church mission working with the kids; and MTC. Don't laugh at the sweater which makes me look pregnant. I am wearing it almost 24/7! Have only one with me and it is cold here.

Orphanage visit

The photo below is NOT of the orphanage, rather a street scene shot off the girls' balcony at the orphanage. And here is also a photo of the kids playing soccer and running around on the "playground" behind the orphanage.

The kids who live here come from Kibera, the largest African slum on the continent. We were going to go there after the orphanage trip but there was a humungous traffic jam and Rachel had 3:00 plans. Instead, Steve, our driver and a person who works with the orphanage staff, took Rachel and me to the Masaai market to do some shopping. Both Rachel and I found some treasures...for her house and for me for Christmas gifts. Cannot wait til Heidi and Kristin see what I bought Chase and Owen!!

The Orphanage

The John E. Halgrim Orphanage

Rachel Jones, the Knight Fellow, working here with the Nation Media Group and I went to the area of town known as the "pipeline" to visit the orphanage, named after a young man who died in Ft. Myers awhile ago. This teen and members of his church founded this orphanage and his family, friends, sponsors continue the work this teen envisioned. I took donated school supplies, toys, shoes and clothing for the kids.

I have worked in poor areas but I have never been to an orphanage and this was a moving experience. Saturday is cleaning day so everyone had a task. All youngsters were having their heads shaved very closely for health reasons. Beds were neatly made, and everyone was happy, smiling and many were dancing with two American church missionaries from the Memphis area...both are teachers in their real lives and are here helping tutor and play with kids.

The pipeline is a slum area not too far from the airport. The streets are filthy and the kids walk about 30 minutes too and from school. Their housing and the church are in one building and it was rather clean and neat. Two young people are interested in being journalists and Rachel is going to invite them into town for a tour of NMG.

My neighbor's grandaughters' gave some girly girl things...purses, cute shoes, little skirts etc. When we unpacked the suitcase, a little girl came in and saw the pink purse. She picked it up and just beamed, tucking it under her arm and sashaying out of the office. Another picked up a white baby doll and told Pastor George that the baby had "no color" but she would love her anyway. I cried. I thought of my grandaughter, Addison, who has an American Girl doll which she loves. Two different girls, thousands of miles apart, loving their babies, no matter what color or type.

Although each bunk bed had some personal item on it, few have their own of anything. Toothbrushes are stuck between the wood bed frame and the mattress. I hadn't thought of this...but how do you keep 60 toothbrushes separate? They have a system.

The bed in the photo belongs to a budding journalist...each kid can decorate and he has put up articles from newspapers and magazines. All have blue mosquito neetting...malaria and cholera are widespread here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Little observations....

I needed $200 US for my trip into a nature preserve and to the orphanage tomorrow for the driver. One cannot easily access US dollars here and so, I went to Barclays, a large bank that Rachel belongs to. Took me two trips and 40 minutes of waiting to find I could not get dollars, but was able to get kshillings which I hope the driver will accept tomorrow. Getting money took awhile because I went to the bank, not realizing I had to have my passport to conduct a bank transaction. The newspaper holds my passport til the end of each day. So, back I went to retrieve it and then return to the bank. A huge issue...I couldn't use my debit card so had to charge the cash advance but I was asked what my credit card limit is. Who knows that?? This took two managers to look at me and decide I must not be a fraud and that I could get money EVEN if I didn't know my limits!!

Dinner tonight was African night...we had crocodile, sailfish and rabbit. Very interesting assortment of foods on the buffet but, again, the best was a different eggplant salad. Loving these. Had two helpings, one bite of rabbit and sailfish did it but the crocodile was delicious...yup, kinda like chicken.

I heard in depth today that the Aga Khan IV is controlling content and headlines for the Nation Media Group. Would love to meet him...he lives in Paris, apparently but has very firm ideas of what constitutes media and he apparently is NOT concerned about increasing sales...well he wants them increased but doesn't see/care to see the connection between the front pages, content and sales.

As I circumvented the security today, and discussed the fact that folks know me now and have eased up, Rachel mentioned that the easing up is a hold over from Colonial British days. I am in the minority but folks still recognize white folks as the boss. Made me feel kind of little. But, I am sure she is right.

While going back and forth to the bank, I saw some street performers who were doing a satire of Colonial police situations...they were speaking in Kikuyo, so not sure of what they were saying but hundreds were watching the policement with large padded rear ends. Here is a photo.

And then, here is a look see at the street from my Hilton Hotel room.

Well, for some reason photos aren't going where I want them to. But see the congestion...morning traffic jams everywhere. I am going on a sales tour Tuesday at 6 a.m. to see street sales happening. Like in Cartagena, I expect to see purchases happening. But that will be a training opportunity.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Nairobi Star vs. Nation Media Group

Went to the Nairobi Star today. This is the number three national newspaper in Kenya and was terrifically impressed with how open minded they are and how eager they are to compete. Finished another round of meetings at the NMG and ended on an upbeat note with "Doc." a medical doctor who is in charge of marketing and circulation. Very open minded and we decided we would try to move the needle on pushing subscription sales...they have about 3,000 home delivered subscriptions in the entire country of over 34 million people...more or less.

Found out that the unemployment rate here in Nairobi amongst adults is 52%...imagine that? While much here is similar to Latin America, there is so much that I have never seen or heard of. Every day, I find myself with my mouth open and asking...did I just hear you say....??

I am all set to go to a National Preserve Saturday, leaving at 6 a.m. And then, after that, I will go to Kibera, the largest slum in the country and then on to the John E. Halgrim orphanage which houses kids who came from that slum. I am taking the suitcase of shoes, clothing and school supplies my neighbors and the employees from The News-Press donated. Should be great to see kids and hear some excitement. But, as my friend Tara mentioned, the whole animal thing would upset her and could me, if I see any carnage going on.

Thought I was eating elephant for dinner tonight but, instead, had a delicious dish of calamari. Each ring, which was spiced nicely, was maybe six inches in diameter. The hugest calamari rings I have ever eaten. And as a side dish, they served a small ramekin of highly spiced hot peppered olives of every kind. Very good. For lunch, I ate a vegetable curry with spinach and some other green veggie which I asked about and the waiter explained it, using a Kikuyu word. When I asked for the English, she wasn't sure if there was a name for it in English!

I have learned "bye-bye" in Kiswahili: kwaheri. I think I can say, "bye-bye" in six languages now. Never know when you need this. Am making friends with the guards and every morning, Juma, a guard about 25 years old makes me practice my Kiswahili from the prior day and adds two or three new words. This evening, as I was leaving, he added "goodbye" which I promptly greeted the other guards with...left them all laughing.

When I got back from buying my cell phone and eating lunch, I greeted Rachel with, "nemerudi" and when she looked oddly at me, I suggested she wasn't up on her Kiswahili...she just started typing. I am a bit of a third wheel here. Rachel has her work and is in the situation of showing me around, introducing me and helping me get settled and organized. And that takes time from her busy day...while I think I am helping in the long run, day to day, I am sure I am more work for her.

Took a cab from Nation Media Group to the Nairobi Star. I suggested after about 10 mintues that the cab driver of two days ago hadn't gone this way, knowing that I had NOT gone to the Nairobi Star, he said "oh, we are turning soon." We got to the paper and he said, "how much did you pay the other day?" I told him to tell me what he charged. He said "700kshillings." Told him I had paid 500 and gave him a tip of 100 ksh, or about $1.25 tip. He laughed and I told him I had grey hair and came by it honestly. Rachel said 500 was about right. Gotta give the guy credit for trying.

Time for bed and you all are still at work!!


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tess, work and more work!!

At the distributor meeting, I forgot to mention that many of the guys had trouble saying "Teresa." One man asked if I had any nicknames and I thought of Teresita and Maite and then remembered that my brother-in-law, Ed, has called me Tess since I met him. Now, that is not my favorite name because it reminds me of Tess, who was a cow character in a kid's book eons ago. Anyway, I offered Tess up as an option and the guys love here, I am Tess!

Beginning to feel like I may make an impact here though the going is slow. I am finding more and more similarities in terms of culture, operations, and organizational culture between Cartagena and Nation Media Group. I am hosting a web session Monday with all of the newsroom managers to check out websites around the world that have targeted their content to meet the needs of their audiences, users, readers. A first so should be very interesting indeed.

Tonight for dinner I ate gazelle which has a nice texture and which tastes mild. Bothered me thinking of the little guy gracefully wandering across the fields before I ate him. The ostrich bothered me not.

I am going to visit Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, on Saturday and then go to the John Halgrim orphanage...hoping also to get out to a national preserve near here to see some animals. Any would be nice but the cost of a few hours with driver and car is $200. Steep but who knows if I will get back here.

Rachel and I have plans to do some shopping Sunday and she is hosting a dinner for a group of her female friends at her house. Will be nice to get out this weekend. The days have been long and full.

And did I mention it is winter here? Slept with extra blankies and my socks on. Has to be about 60 degrees Farenheit at night and I have only sandals and short sleeved clothing. Gets up to about 70 during the day but still chilly compared to the 95 I left in Florida. Apparently, this is the coldest winter anyone can recall. Think YOU think cold??

Talk again soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Like always, enjoying new foods. Have been eating arrowroot, some sort of a meaty, pithy potato type root food. And tonight, I had a spiced pumpkin ragout...very yummy. Having issues with online connections so not having much chance to share what is going on.

Had an interesting meeting all day with distributors for the circulation department. At one point, the facilitator, who was speaking in English, switched to Kiswahili (I spelled this wrong before) to describe the word "partnership." This word wasn't translating so he began asking for the concept in all 8 tribal languages and posted them on a board. Very fun. And often jokes just aren't the same apparently in English, so some guy will just switch to Kukuyo or something else to make his point.

I needed money badly this morning and here on the equator, it is pitch black at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. I wanted money at 6 a.m. which the guard out front said I could not do alone. So, he went with me down the street to the closest ATM which wouldn't work with my card. Not to worry...we marched down a block to a bank and I got my money. Service is well understood here.

And I might mention that though English is the first language here...not all English is created equal. It is very difficult to understand people who are speaking the national language as their third or fourth language with all of those accents added in. I have six minutes left on my time...gotta run. More another day.



Rather hard to take photos on the street...not good to bring your camera out in front of folks. Finding people very helpful and friendly.


A city street scene between the hotel and Nation Media Group.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Nairobi...first day

Interesting day, to say the least. I went to the gym and then, took a power walk, which two separate African ladies told me I should NOT do. Seems it is Sunday and there are relatively few folks on the street, so dangerous "for people like you." Anyway, had a ball, but couldn't take any photos. Had my backpack covered but made it to a supermarket so I have wine and Kenyan coffee to bring home.

I wanted badly to take photos of some of the families in the street this morning because everyone was dressed in their finest clothing...lots of silks, taffetas, ruffles and tons of color. Hopefully, I will be in a setting where I can do this discreetly.

The treadmill at the gym was interesting. I turned it on to 4.0 speed which is a good clip...15 minute miles more or less. Machine was so slow. And after I jacked it up to 6.5, I realized I am dealing with kilometers per hour...duh. Felt pretty stupid.

Then, hit the outside pool but couldn't go in. Sunny but about 70 degrees here. But, I met a consultant who is the facilitator at three seminars here. So got his info but more importantly, met his boss who is a Kenyan former cabinet minister and someone who would like to expand his training into Central and South America. We shall see...have to have a meeting with him.

Rachel and I went to dinner at the Talisman restaurant outside of town and I ate ostrich for the first time. Delicious...kinda like the texture of veal and the spice they added was sublime. Coming back to the hotel, I commented on the driver's staying in the wrong lane...seems we drive on the left here, as they do in England. Now, I came here last night from the hotel and then we drove to the restaurant and I hadn't noticed it...I am the hired observer??? Well, I have been gabbing and getting to know Rachel.

I have only learned two words...asante which is "thank you" and habari ako which means "good morning." Most everyone speaks English...not like we do, but some form of English. And everyone has at least one or two other African languages...tonight's cab driver was speaking in Kukuyo (forgive my spelling...all words are phonetic so I can repeat them!) which was interesting to hear.

Went to an African Art caps cuz that is it's name! Beautiful work...huge animals, saw a lion chair bigger than I am and some Giacometti like African sculptures of tribesmen and women. Incredible. Will have to buy a mask for our mask wall at the cottage up north. Rachel will take me to a place she knows has local artists' work at good prices.

The bed is calling...almost midnight here and am not tired yet. Weird. But having an early start at work tomorrow. Folks are coming in early for me and we will begin at 9 a.m.!



Made it here after the longest non-stop flying trip I have ever made...with no sleep. Hit Nairobi at 8 p.m. and my first impressions were of overwhelming chaos, unwashed body smells, and an overwhelming cacaphony of competing languages. Truly an international city.

While my seat mate on the plane was a tad upset, I didn't find landing on the airstrip in complete darkness too upsetting. The runway was NOT lit. And Rachel was trying to ease me into the traffic and insanity on the roadway, and I told her it was nothing compared to driving in Honduras. She doesn't drive here because of the craziness...looked sane to me. They have marked lanes. Traffic does drive straight at you against the traffic. There are street lights, which they don't obey, but hey, they didn't in Honduras even when there were lights! So, eager to see what Nairobi craziness looks like in the daytime.

Took more than an hour to get my bags and immigration was the most laid back of any country I have visited. Cleared everything in less than one minute...after the lengthy bag wait. The first bag received was the clothing/supplies for the orphanage and then I impatiently (I know, what is new!) waited 45 more minutes to see if I would get MY bag of work clothing.

Rachel, my contact here, was waiting for me, thankfully and we went to the Hilton, which is NOT a normal Hilton with their exacting standards for cleanliness etc. However, all of the staff, and there are hundreds hanging around, are all helpful and very pleasant.

I finally went to bed at 11 p.m. and though wakeful during the night, was able to get to rest til 8:30 a.m. which, for me, is a record.

Breakfast buffet...hmmm, a rehash of last night's dinner buffet. Same cheese and meats. I had pawpaw and passion fruit for breakfast which was lovely. Great coffee which I heard I would not a happy camper. Going to go to the gym and then venture out on the street to see what I can see nearby.

Am safe and eager to get to work. Hugs and stay in touch.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Off to Africa!!

Leaving for the airport shortly. Just had a great breakfast out with Richard and Alex to say goodbye...Alex spent the whole breakfast messing up my hair, which in reality cannot be messed up, which is why he does that. My response...grab his head o hair which he is already starting to lose and which bothers him greatly. Yes, he will one day soon be bald like the rest of his male relatives on his father's side. Had lots of laughs and going to miss my men.

Don't know how soon I will be able to update...maybe from the Amsterdam airport. Keep in touch!!