Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas, 2009

Kids playing at the cottage...Alex and Logan playing a warcraft game while Chase, in the background plays Lincoln logs...low tech meets high tech. Note the generational clothing gap...Chase and Logan have NO socks on and check out the red striped slipper socks Heidi has on.

Alex and Heidi were the God parents to Layne Kathleen, here pictured with her parents, Kristin, our oldest holding Layne with Pat, our son in law right next to them. Addison, the older sister and Owen the older brother are seen below. Baptism was at St. Jude's in Dewitt with a huge luncheon at Pat's mom, Betty's house in St. Johns, Michigan.

December 28, 2009

The end of the year quickly approaches. I haven't had a chance to write, but after flying into Detroit from Dushanbe, we headed up to the cottage. Kristin and her three kids came up, and the newest addition to the family, Layne Kathleen is gorgeous. A tiny, tiny quiet baby. She left, Lois visited and then Heidi, Chris and their kids came up. We had Christmas at Heidi and Chris' house in Davison on Christmas Eve and then, a quiet Christmas day at home in Caseville...just Alex, Richard and me.

We went down to Lansing yesterday for Layne's baptism at St. Jude's in Dewitt and then to Betty McNamara's huge farmhouse for a luncheon. We came home last night in a snowstorm and there is much much more a blowing today. NO company. Have seen Dave and Barb Vizard...Barb worked with Lois and me at The Flint Journal and I think Lois will again come up tomorrow for a day or so.

Not much going on...but we are in Caseville. Everyone except me has been out with grandpa ice fishing...had plenty of that years ago. I have been baking and cooking like crazy and enjoying it very much.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Try to check this bathroom out. The toilet sits right against the shower. Whole deal is about 3x3 ft. And the smell emanating from this room is ugly. It could be a sulfur smell...but I think not.
And I have been reminded of Alex's cataloguing of all the bathrooms and their flush mechanisms throughout the Netherlands these past two weeks. I know which places have almost clean or almost normal toilets. Most are squat over the hole types but today I used a really, really disgusting one at a media company. It was so smelly and wet and filthy that I almost slipped and fell on my butt and today, I had a suit on. My shoes slipped out from under me as I did my duty....really really really nasty. Had to laugh and Nigina, the Embassy contact and I just laughed...she couldn't believe I used it. Had to GO!
And did I mention, the hotel has a gym and supposedly a bar? NO bar but there is a gym but one cannot find it and I just heard about it last day here. Basic but would have been nice.
The bed is a queen sized one...very nice except the duvet is a single with a queen bedspread. So, all night, one is fighting with the duvet trying to keep covered and the bedspread is a shiny gold thing that moves on its own. It is slippery so the nighttime antics would be worthy of a movie...Drew and I wondered what one does if two people have to sleep in one bed here? Maybe they give two duvets??
I have very much enjoyed the international flavor at this hotel...everyone here is from some other country. This morning at breakfast there was a woman from the Czech Republic, a man from India, an Iranian-American; an man from London; a guy from Germany and me....quite an interesting group to form a conversation.
Not much else to say...had fun paying my hotel bill. I was paid my travel advance in Euros and the hotel didn't have change. So, I paid partly in Euros and in dollars and then changed my Somoni into dollars. Fortunately, Drew had dollars so he took 500 Euros and gave me dollars so I could pay everything...couldn't have withdrawn enough from the ATM in one day to pay the bill which was very reasonable...only $80 per night. Next time, I want to go to a hotel that has real internet access. I have the feeling we are using some sort of dial is soooo slow.
Going home in the early morning. See many of you soon.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


This lady sold me some Tajik goods yesterday at the indoor market. The bag on the counter was mine and into that bag, I placed my camera to keep it dry. Horrid rain yesterday. And then, I forgot I put the damn camera in the bag and thought I lost it and was very, very upset. You see, the camera is just a thing but what was special is that this woman got out her abacus to "ring up" my sales. She quickly calculated what I owed and though I have seen an abacus before, I had never seen one used.
Today, Drew and I walked into town for lunch and then we walked over to the green market where all the fresh fruits, veggies and nuts are sold. Way cool. Of course, we were going to lunch so I didn't take the camera and am hoping to go back tomorrow. And tonight, I went out with a guy from the Asian Development Bank and a man who is working with the World Health Organization. We went to a Mexican, Italian, Ecuadorian restaurant...the menu was very, very unusual and it had everything from hummus and chips. to Arroz con pollo and burritos. Very tasty food but a tad different.
In contrast to yesterday, the weather was a bit warmer and sunny all day. Glorious. Worked some on my report with Drew...waiting on a revise from him so I can continue writing. Early morning meetings and not sure what all is on the agenda.
Richard and Alex and the doggies are on their way to Atlanta and then tomorrow on to Michigan so we can all be together for Christmas. Cannot wait.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More Tajikistan

Forgot to mention my trip to Hissar yesterday...I spelled the town incorrectly, first of all. And secondly, Uzbekistan has cut off all power and electricity to this country so folks are going without any power for days on end and the winter has not turned really ugly yet but it is cold and wet. The government has a power plant about 50% completed but haven't finished it. Nothing like going to an office which is totally without heat and lights. Been experiencing that.

Uzbek wine is pretty darned good. And Richard would be happy to know you can get it for $4 per bottle here. Whodathunk it that old Russian countries make wine??

I am reading Cautiva, a book written by Clara Rojas, a Colombian woman held as a FARC prisoner in Colombia along with Ingrid Betancourt. Reading it in Spanish and trying to stay somewhat on top of that language in my spare time.

Dying to eat some of these pastries I see in all the coffee shops. So far, I have resisted. Very few places have brewed coffee...they use Nescafe. YUK. Tea is the preferred drink here and I must admit, I have had some yummy chai tea.

China is close by so much of the stuff on sale here came from China. We discussed buying some racks for the selling of newspapers and they would be bought and shipped from Shanghai, not Moscow. Interesting.

The cleaning crew here at the hotel scrub the rug runners and room rugs each day with a scrub brush on their hands and knees. I got back early from shopping today and the woman was cleaning my floor with a toothbrush. Took her an clue when she started but an hour after I sat down, she was done.



Today was a dreary rainy day, cold and nasty. Nigina from the Embassy picked me up and took me shopping and I bought a few gifts. While visiting the Bazaar, I took a neat picture of a woman staffing her booth who used an abacus to count up what I owed her. I left that booth and went to another one a floor down, buying a few more things. I left my camera there and it is now gone and I just bought it in Africa. Stupid. So, my nifty picture is gone and so is my cool camera for dummies which was a wonderful point and shoot.

Went to lunch at a Tajik restaurant with Drew. We had shaslik, both mutton and beef and some sort of a Tajik play on empanadas with very flaky pastry. Good food and the meet was served with a plum sauce which was both sweet and tart at the same time. We walked into town to try to find my camera and then back in the rain.

The other photo I wanted to get was the photo of the young stylish women in contrast to the older velvet clad group. I will see if someone at the Embassy will lend me one for a few days. Started my report draft and gave that to Drew to see what he thinks about organization, content etc. and am staying in tonight...reading, working and having cheese, crackers and wine in my room.

Missing Christmas a lot. Won't be gone like this in December again. Oh, and I talked finally with Kristin and she updated me on Layne's jaundice. Sounds like she will be fine but the baby won't wake up to eat so is losing weight which worries everyone. But good to hear her voice. Heidi has been keeping me updated a that helps with the long distance worrying.


Friday, December 11, 2009

HIrot, Tajikistan

Today I took a little side trip to see what a town, Tajik style looked and felt like. The streets were packed with cars and people. Note the flowered dresses on the women. Older women wear velvet/velvet like dresses...this is their every day winter wear. I will take some photos of the young women...the contrast is amazing.

And below is just another street scene taken right after prayers at the Mosque were finished.

Hirot, Tajikistan

At the Bazaar I found this small meat shop. Now this is cold weather but imagine this in an open air market with the wind and dirt blowing. Everyone buys their meat this way.

When I entered the Bazaar, we quickly saw the newspaper sales Babushkas and one old lady waved at me...I had talked with her yesterday and she was the one I took wearing a Babushka and inserting on the floor. She remembered me, which isn't hard. There are NO grey haired people here. She introduced me to her friend and my translator thought it very funny that I had made a friend so quickly.

I took the short trip out to a small town, Hirot, about 30 minutes outside of Dushanbe so I could see what towns look like and where we might consider placing sales outlets for the newspapers. I ended up getting out of the car so I could walk the streets, which were packed with men who had just gotten out of their prayers at the Mosque.

I entered the Bazaar which you see here...filled with all kinds of piles of edibles. To the far left are huge bowls of nuts of every kind, cookies, candies and more. I had been to Bazaars before but never one as comprehensive as this and with such an assortment of goods. I bought some almonds covered in a sugar coating which are delicious and which I will take home for Christmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


This old lady is a Babushka and she sits on the cold floor or squats inserting her papers every week. Back breaking work.
This guy below was at the distribution center very early this morning. We could not tell that he did anything except look very Russian. Arms were folded forever and his warm cap, typically Russian appeared to keep him warm. Our translator had not arrived but I thought this guy very expressive so with sign language, asked if I could take his photo. He was good with that but then

followed me around watching what I did and where I went.

This lady is known as a "Babushka" a street sales person. Notice the folks sitting on the stone floor inserting and organizing their papers to take out into the rainy, snowy day. NO tables...she is young and many of the Babushkas are in their late 70s and 80s.

This system begins around 4 a.m. every Thursday. There is no daily paper here in this country...only weeklies.

Dushanbe, winter

It rained all night last night and I woke up to a rainy snow. I woke up at 3:18 a.m. hearing men's voices and then dozed off. At 4:41 a.m. I heard a beeping and then my TV came on. I hadn't had it on in two days but there was BBC discussing the war in Afghanistan!! All done with sleeping so got up. We had to meet our driver at 6:30 a.m. to go see the Tajik distribution system which is seriously broken.
Again, the distributors are hand inserting section on the floors of a stone building which has NO heat.
It almost seems criminal that these old ladies, known as "Babushkas" are on the floor working so hard and for so little. It is the system, but was sad, nonetheless. I found lots of folks to talk with although our translator did not arrive on time. So, much to see and much to learn but no way to communicate.
Last night we ate at a Uighur restaurant. The Uighur people are Muslim Chinese who are being exterminated by the Chinese government. Best food I have ever eaten. The dishes had pomengranites for decoration and flavor. Had a bean salad that is the best ever. Tonight was dinner in a Georgian restaurant...that would be Georgia, part of the former Soviet Union. Again, great food. Tomorrow's lunch will be Ukranian.
Met with interesting people today...a company called Boom that distributes sim cards and cell phones and thinks they would be a good monopoly distribution company for all of the newspapers. Bright, interesting people...not very understanding of newspapers and their timeliness but that could change.
Photos coming...impossible to upload in the evening. At 5 a.m. this morning, the speed was super and I could manage quite a bit of work quite quickly. Overload in the evening, apparently. More coming. Oh, cold all day. Wore jeans and boots to the distribution center and had my scarf and gloves on even while in the Nigoh Ad Director's office sitting next to a space heater. This wet cold weather permeates everything.
Missing Christmas and the season...cold or not, this isn't Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This photo is of one of the presidential palaces. Like Iraq under the old Saddam days, the president has several palaces and dachas. They are a huge waste of money at the expense of a poor people but with corruption, all things can be done.
This city is very interesting in many ways. The streets are wide and the city was planned with an eye to green space and walk ways. Nothing has been done in forever in terms of maintainance and last night as we walked to dinner in the dark night, we had to look for missing man hole covers and holes in the roadways. Today, I had a meeting with a distributor in a building that had wrecked furniture, water stained walls, no heat and metal chairs. Within about 20 minutes I was numb...our translator stood up after about a half hour because the metal chair literally was causing pain in his rear end.

The buildings are pretty much all old Soviet era construction but there are some huge McMansions which are incredible. In SW Florida there are plenty of mulit-million dollar homes but they typically are tasteful. These are extravagant, decorative and clearly an expression, in your face, of huge money. Most say, a result of corruption.

Many here have gold teeth and when I asked about this, I was told this is a sign of affluence and pride. These cost more than porcelain and you can show your worth and your family's worth by the number of gold teeth you have.

Today, we ate at a Uighur restaurant. This group is a Chinese Muslim people which is being eradicated by the Chinese government and there is a fairly large number of these folks who have moved here to escape oppression. I am learning that oppression has many faces and is relative.
We interviewed an incredibly interesting man today. Shafir owns his own NGO dedicated to studying democracy and he had a very comprehensive understanding of the media and its role in creating democracy in a country with serious language issues. I mentioned before that there is no Tajik dictionary. He said, there is NO common Tajik language and because it is such an old language, it has no newer technical words to express or explain the 20th or 21st century. So, people and the press use language from other countries with no explanation and the rural citizens and many educated people just have no clue what is being talked about. And because there is no real written Tajik grammar written or taught, journalists can and do make up grammar, definitions and structure in such a way that the common man/woman cannot understand.
And when we came out of a meeting, there were several boys playing together and I asked Nigina, our Embassy contact, if today was a holiday and no school? She indicated that kids just don't go. The schools are so bad, why attend?
Drew took me to an inside "mall" while we were waiting for our driver and I think I will go back on Saturday with Nigina. Lots of Tajik workmanship and needlework. Lots of Chinese crapola also.
More later...hungry.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday, continued

I am hoping this next photo shows up....I saw this older woman, one of hundreds out sweeping leaves and dirt in the streets. I am told that this type of work is part of the old Soviet program where there is no unemployment...everyone works at something. These folks make next to nothing but work a good 8 hours a day. Look at her broom!! Handmade and it is cold.

Today we interviewed a few of the bigger independent kiosk newspaper sales people. We went to meet Igor but he wasn't there but his mother was working the stand. As Drew and I approached, she quickly held up the Tajik Times, the only English language newspaper here. Now it is full of plagiarized "news" but then, that is not seen only in this publication. The old lady was lovely and answered our questions nicely and she had to have been 75-80 years old. Today was cold...very cold and although she was bundled up, we got to her at 4:30 in the afternoon and she said she started at 8 a.m. I felt badly for her...Igor arrived to pick up money from mom and he also helped answer our questions though he thought it amusing that we would like to help him make more money.

Oh, for lunch I ate a pastry, not a sweet, that is also Russian. No one I was with knew its name but it was round and had a yogurt tasting inside and you put a cream sauce on top of it. The meal I ate in the cafeteria down the street from one of the research company cost $1.50. I had the pastry, buckwheat and chicken. Very tasty and the buckwheat kinda looked and tasted like bulgur. Not sure if they are the same or not.

The office I went to this afternoon to meet the Soviet era research woman to learn more about her company was on the sixth floor of an old "disgusting" building which I learned was filled with apartments one can buy for about $100,000 plus monthly fees for maintainance which had not occured in maybe 20 years. We went in and the elevators, thankfully, did not work. We had to walk up six flights in the dark with old steps that were not even and were definitely NOT checked by OSHA. Coming down was better but darker. Drew said to pack a flashlight when I come back.

I definitely would pack differently for a return visit. I had no clue. Shoes are the big issue for me...I wear sandals and tennis shoes and the closed toed shoes I brought are fine for a short walk but I cannot do a mile or two walking in these. They hurt and I hate to whine.

Tajikistan, Tuesday

So, I logged on to blogspot after work and all of my templates and the blog and changed to Russian. That was a tad upsetting because I couldn't even figure out which button led to changing the language. I asked the reception man for assistance after dinner. Got back, logged on and I am back to English.

This photo is of Rudaki, the poet I mentioned yesterday. He is quite famous and the plaza named after him is quite gorgeous.
Drew and I went out to a Turkish fast food restaurant which wasn't fast food but both of us ate a salad and main dish, with bread and water for $10.00. Amazing.

Today was interesting...I have started interviewing research companies and we met an angry aggressive woman who I was told was very much into the old Soviet style of doing business. Made me look like a shrinking violet.

The good news is we walked to dinner and then we had a meeting at a local coffee shop this morning which we walked to. So, feeling like I am getting around a bit after 8 hours of meetings. I am getting back to the room quite pooped. Still haven't eaten Tajik food but we have plans to hit a restaurant soon.

I am enjoying the mix of cultures here. It is fun to watch what is often called the "Uzbek hooker" dress style; next to very western wear of jeans, sweater and scarf; next to the long velvet dresses and tops which are incredibly colorful, don't match and are worn by women with their hair covered. It is the mix, side by side that I enjoy so much.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tajikistan, day 3

While walking Sunday, I visited Rudaki Plaza which is on Rudaki, one of the largest thoroughfares here in Dushanbe. Radaki was a Tajik poet and folks here are very proud of his influence on their culture. The parks and walkways are truly generous and wonderful...large in the sense of the old Russian influence.

And I will also try to upload a photo of an old lady sweeping the street of leaves. I was told the reason so many women are in the streets working as sweepers and selling papers is a hold over from Soviet days when full employment was critical. Everyone works or tries to even if they make little to no money. This is woman's work.

Yesterday was very long and tiring but a good day. Good meetings. Met interesting and interested people. We have a new translator...his name, in short is Ganja and we laughed at this significance. Ganj has just returned from Moscow where he was working. Much back and forth still with Russia.

Met a media owner yesterday who is in danger of being shut down by the government because he criticized them. He has been warned and there are laws that indicate citizens and media cannot be critical of the government or its representatives. Makes conducting true journalism very difficult indeed.

Ate lunch at the Embassy and had "lasagna" which was made with phyllo dough and chicken. Tasty but not expected. Dinner with Drew, my contact here and we went to an Indian restaurant. Good food. Strange ambiance. Chinese chic??

Apparently photos are not coming this early morning. I cannot get hotmail and photos are not uploading nor am I connecting to Blogger.

Oh, an interesting thing is that all offices are hotter than hell, when the heat is on. And then, folks bring in space heaters to warm things up. The driver has the heat on full blast in the car and the windows in front don't open up. Air is an issue at times. I am not liking the cold weather but at least you can add clothing. When we get in these tight offices, with five adults, some of whom have not bathed in awhile...makes it a bit difficult to breathe. Oh and everyone is sick here...just a matter of time before I get whatever IT is.

Sunday, December 6, 2009 2

This photo of a news stand was taken in the Riga airport. What is difficult to see is that the newspapers to the left are folded in half or there are two or three to each level. Very poor merchandising. However, this is better than what I have seen so far in Dushanbe. I have been here almost a day and a half and only seen one sales location and that was in a supermarket. Nothing being sold on the street.
I am sitting here typing away and listening to Christmas music I brought with me. Today was sunny and bright, cool but not cold. Very lovely and so, I took a walk before my lunch meeting. I left at 10 a.m. after visiting with two guys over breakfast who work for the Asian Development Bank, similar to the World Bank. Anyway, I walked for an hour and then decided to come back so I could clean up before lunch. An hour out, an hour back.
HA. I got lost and then, very scared. I, the world traveller, left the room with no contact information and no one speaks English so I couldn't ask for directions, though, Lord knows, I tried. I finally asked three cab drivers and the third, who also did not understand me, took my hand and walked to shops to ask for an English speaker. We finally found one who didn't know the Mercury Hotel but he was able to call someone else who did and was able to direct my cab driver. I paid 10 Somoni, which included a tip to this guy. About $3.00 and he was all smiles and so was I. Truly I have been blessed...people always have horrid travel stories of robberies, muggings, theft and worse. I keep meeting honest, hard working, caring people. And for that, I am thankful.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I am doing tiny segments to try to avoid issues....blogspot is not working well here. My understanding from talks yesterday is that this country is in chaos in every sense of the way. They just got over a civil war, which I don't think I ever heard of but which was full of strife. There have been small bombings here of the sort to disrupt not to kill.

Several indicated this country was in better shape during the Soviet era. Better schools, economy, more open, cosmopolitan, better roads, better economy. Each person I met yesterday indicated that their best and brightest have left the country, which is an issue for the media. Consumers of media, especially hard news are the better educated and connected. Those still here, apparently have plans to leave.

For example, today, Tajik is the international and local language mandated by the government. There is no Tajik dictionary and few Tajik books or newspapers. Teachers weren't trained in Tajik so the teaching of it is pretty poor, or so I hear. Government documents take many people to write and review because of the language issue.

Most all of the leaves are off the trees and it is very chilly here. They had their first snow last Friday. I love how the trees lean in and cover the street.

More Tajikistan

The best news this early morning in Dushanbe is that our sixth grandchild, Layne Kathleen was born to Kristin and Pat McNamara yesterday. Both mom and baby are doing well.

And today, after about 10 hours of sleep, I feel human. Had to take some sleeping meds to get that rest, but it was sorely needed.

The money here is Somoni, named after a 9th century hero who you can see here in all his glory in Somoni Plaza.

Journalists Beware!

This is a bathroom that I saw at a media company today. Similar to those in Iraq, but filthy, smelly, no toilet paper, and the hole is about 3 inches in diameter.

Buildings are old Soviet style, huge, concrete and cold. No heat or little heat.

The conditions here are horrid...journalists make about $200 per month but the papers are all weekly.

Journalists beware!!

Charlie Crist, Governor

Walking through the Tampa airport on my way to Tajikistan, I saw a face I recognized. Gov. Crist was sitting all by himself and I introduced myself and asked if he would like some company. He indicated that would be good...his flight was delayed. So, we sat and talked about Obama's health care plan and other issues. Another guy came up and told him good luck on his senatorial campaign. Very accessible.

Handsome guy and very personable. Note the huge number of vacant one was near him and the Tampa airport was very busy. It seems the FAA dropped in for a surprise visit and was shutting down flights and benching planes so there was quite a mess occuring.

Dushanbe, Tajikistan

I am staying here at the Mercury Hotel in Dushanbe. Several things make this place noteworthy. First is that after hitting the bed at 6 a.m. for a couple hours of sleep, I got up, without any sleep to use the toilet. NO toilet paper. Shower and bathroom are about three feet by three feet...very close. Very clean. Soap is about 1 inch by 1 inch and is slightly unusual in that it doesn't move smoothly when wet. Bought a bar of real soap at the store today.
And I have never stayed in a hotel that had a complete computer in the room. The bell cap appeared hurt that I pulled my laptop out. English is not spoken here very much at all. And I now have about six words of Russian and none of Tajik. Issues. Spent the day meeting with media owners and Nigina, a Tajik who works at the U.S. Embassy was my translator. Very nice young lady.
Nigina took me to a supermarket so I could see how newspapers are sold and presented there but also so I could buy something for dinner a banana and a tangerine and some Cabernet from Moldova! Bought a second bottle from Uzbekistan. The Moldovan cabernet, which cost 23 somoni, about $6.00 is way better than the two buck chuck we get at Trader Joe's store in Atlanta.
Oh, another civility in the room is that there is a complete set of silverware, teapot, tea bags and a cork screw. I travel with one, but having it handy is very nice indeed.
Going to try to publish this much...issues uploading photos for some reason. More coming.

Friday, December 4, 2009


So, blogspot knows I am in a Balkan state...all of my instructions have changed to, I assume, Latvian. Who knows. Hoping this shows up normally for all of you. I am sitting in a wheel chair, next to a baggage window at the Riga airport. Seems there are no electrical outlets for computer hook ups. The airport is old and until an hour ago was completely empty. About 40 windows for ticket takers but only two women working. NO people in this place. I tried to rest on a bench but was so cold, I had to get up and walk laps. One old guy just laughed at me. I had my gloves, hat and scarf on along with my sweater and coat.

It was completely dark here in Riga at 3 p.m. I asked a guy about going out in a cab to see the city because of my long layover. He said it wouldn't be safe with my briefcase and didn't. Within the hour, I understood his lights around and pitch black in the mid-afternoon.

On my flight from Frankfurt to Riga, there were about 80% men on the flight. What was very weird is that my row and the two in front of me and behind me were filled with Spanish speaking men who had Latvian cheat sheets with Spanish translations. I got to speak Spanish and had a good time. NO sleep. Never doing this again....I should have gone and found a hotel and slept for six hours and paid for a day. Who cares.

On Lufthansa, we had lunch. Ham and cheese half sandwich with German cardboard bread and their baked goods are soooo yummy. Not sure what happened but pretty awful. Had a moment's temptation for a glass of wine, but nothing worse than exhaustion and alcohol. Passed.

My friend, Norberto and his wife, Sonia from Tegucigalpa just welcomed the birth of their new son, Lorenzo. Lorenzo was born here in the US and Norberto's mom won the election for VP of the country along with President Pepe Lobo.

And Kristin called to let me know that her baby is going to be born this coming Saturday and I won't be home for the birth after all. They will be fine and cannot wait to get home to see them all.

Took a picture of a newspaper rack...very unusual. When I get to Dushanbe, I will upload a few photos.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Funny, for days it is, "I am going" and then comes the angst ridden, "I am leaving" and sinking feeling of saying "goodbye" to all my friends and family. I am always torn....looking ahead and then looking back. What is new and what is old and the feelings tied to each side of the coin.

Part of the travelling fun is listening to folks who have to Google where I am going and hearing what they see and learn from paper and web. Hoping I can add some flavor to everyone's vicarious international travel. Photos and details will be forthcoming. This is a two day will be incommunicado. Last night on some travel channel program, there was a segment on Riga, Lativia where I will stay for six hours. Am thinking I may just try to leave the airport and go see something if anything will be open. Lots of castle like buildings, palaces and museums apparently. Who woulda thought that????

Love to all of you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Heard today that there is a Hash Harrier group in Dushanbe like there was in Tegucigalpa. So, I will try to connect with this group and go for a walk/hike and see what I can see. While packing, I realized the last time I had seen some of my clothing was when I was in Bogota. Chilly there and today, the weather is around 35 for a high and below zero at night. Going to be cold. Even found a pair of jeans with long legs that fit. Most of my pants are capris these days. Had some good memories though as I pulled out a number of black outfits to pack.

Half way through today, Richard asked about his list for Michigan. So, I started one for him so he would know what to take, pack and prepare. Just what I need...planning for him also. Heard from Drew and I am feeling a bit more prepared with what may happen at the airport and if it doesn't, what the fall back plan should be. When going to a new country, I find I am a bit nervous to see what it will be. Once having gone through the process, I am very comfortable.

Heard from Uganda today and am talking with them in early January about another visit and should be going back to Cartagena, I hope, in February. Miss folks in Cartagena a lot. Really wish I could move there but sooooo far from family and friends. NOT possible...if only I had my life to redo. Wonder what parts of it I would change.

I will be outta touch for about two days but you can catch me here or on Facebook or both.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 I come!

I leave in a day and a half for this country. Am packing, wrapping Christmas gifts and baking. Lots to do to get ready. My big worry is that it will be very cold there and it has been years since I needed "big girl" clothing for cold weather!!

Looking forward to this new culture and just received an email from a friend of a friend who works in Dushanbe. So, will get to network. My visa has to be extended so also working on that and just reconnected with an old friend, Tom Bunch, from CSCMA, a circulation organization I used to be an officer in when I worked in Flint. My project will be circulation related in Tajikistan so looking for materials for myself and for Michelle who will be again going to Hong Kong to work with the South China Morning Post.

Look here for photos and updates as I wander just north of Afghanistan and near SW China.