Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kylie and Dayna's adventures!

Kylie and I are home! We’ve had a great time traveling in the USA. We’ve both been so busy this last semester that apart from late night talks we haven’t seen each other in way too long. We are a good team and it’s been good to have some sisterly bonding and adventures.

So here is the low-down on our every move (drum-roll please… prepare for the following novel):

July 1st- Today we traveled to DC. We left at 2.30 in the morning to head to Seattle airport. Kylie and I were actually on separate flights. On my first flight I sat beside a woman who was very afraid of flying which was very interesting to observe. My lay-over was at Minneapolis and I ate food at DQ and then had a very interesting conversation with a guitar playing boy who worked at the sex museum in Vegas (the random people you meet!).On my second flight I was sitting beside the head of catholic church post-secondary institutes in the States. He talked a lot (which says a lot if I thought that!), and we shared nuts and he helped me with my suitcase which was very nice. When I got off the plane, I found Kylie right away in DC. Then we phoned Julie Cressman and were able to meet up with her at the airport. She is a long-time family friend who we met originally in Mozambique. She drove us to her home in Warrington where we spent the night.

July 2nd- Today was our first day exploring DC. Kylie drove to the metro (my brave driving sister) and then we headed into the city. One of the highlights of this day was being able to meet up with Catherine Dry one of my very best childhood friends. With her we were able to see Jefferson and Lincoln statues, and catch up on the last 9ish years! We had hotdogs in the down-town and enjoyed the sights. Kylie and I also enjoyed looking at the Washington memorial, and the world war memorial (which we put our tired feet into). We also were able to do some window shopping and see the White House (way off in the distance). We got very lost driving home and arrived back at Julie’s at about midnight.

July 3rd- This morning, Julie drove us south to Stuart’s Draft where we were able to meet her parents, and then we met up with Tanya. Tanya took us around Staunton were we had a great Mexican lunch and watched some glass blowing. For dinner we went out with Tanya, David (her son) and Tiffany (his fiancé) to an old diner place where we got to order food by telephone and listen to the juke-box play. In the evening we all played Dictionary and watched Bryan Regan at the house.

July 4th- This morning we headed off to a fourth of July parade. There we got to see Woodro Wilson’s car and a lot of beauty queens (there are beauty pageants for babies, toddlers, girls, pre-teen girls and teenagers… so there really were a lot of them). It was also really cool when the old veterans walked by and people all stood up and clapped. After that we went to the Cultural Museum which was free today. It is a living museum with lots of different houses, and of course it was right up my alley. My favourite was the Irish house. Afterwards we headed to Klynes (Leeland’s favourite ice-cream place) for lunch. We headed up the mountains after that for a picnic with the extended family. It was great to meet them and especially fun for me to see Chris again. In the evening was a college and career get-together which we went to and made some smores, and then we left to watch some fireworks. First we watched some that David put on at the home, and then we headed to Staunton and watched some more. Kylie took some great pictures of the fireworks.

July 5th- In the morning we intended to go on a tour of the Black Friars theatre, but it was full and we ended up going to Wal-mart instead and buying shoes (which we were in need of)! We went home for lunch and then went back the Black Friar’s theatre and watched Twelfth Night. It was very funny and they got a great standing ovation. I would love to do something like that! The theatre is a recreated Shakespeare theatre and their motto is “we do it with the lights on” because the lights stay on during the performance. My favourite characters were Sir Andrew and Malvolio.
Afterwards we went back to the house and enjoyed watching some home videos of us all in Mozambique. We went out for Chilli with the extended family in the evening and then had a bonfire at the Brennamans. It was fun to make some smores once the fire died down a bit. Leeland put a bunch of marshmallows on a rake and did them all together- like smores the fast-food version. In the evening, Kylie and I practiced our music for the next day and then played some DDR and Dutch Blitz with the rest of the family.

July 6th- In the morning we headed off to the church, and Kylie and I sang “I can only imagine”. I was worried when I arrived and realised we weren’t going to get a mike check, but the tech guys were really on top of the track, and I would say it was the best we’ve ever sang it in front of an audience. People were crying and it was a blessing for us to be able to do. Afterwards, the extended family all went out for Chinese Food. There was a buffet and we ate a lot. It was really good! After that we came home and packed quickly and then headed into DC with Tanya through the rain and traffic. She dropped us off at the Kennedy Centre where we had a great time looking around and then watched a show called “Sheer Madness” (which was a very funny, partially-improvised murder mystery which takes place in a hair salon). Then we took the metro to meet up with Tanya, drove through the Wendy’s drive-thru and then went and stayed the night with some of her relatives in DC. They were very lovely people.

July 7th- Today we took the metro into town. Right in the morning we took a double-decker bus tour. That was nice because we were able to see lots of sights and get a good over-view and prioritize what we really wanted to see. Then we went to the Museum of Natural History where there were many stuffed animals. We had in mind to see the Declaration of Independence, but there was a really long line, so we opted to get pretzels instead. After that we went to the art museum. Highlights were the self-portrait of VanGogh, and works by Edward Degas and a Leonardo which we also got to see the back of and which was painted all retro-like (weird!). We took the bus to the spy museum were we went on an “intense interactive experience” where we were basically put into a play and had to stop a nuclear device from going on- which involved surveillance cameras, searching an apartment, riding in the back of a fake truck, decoding messages, fake names and turning off surveillance cameras and stuff. It was good fun. We took the metro back and met up with Tanya, her cousin Micheal and his parents and we went to Applebees for dinner. After that Tanya and us drove back to Stuart’s Draft. Tonight I stayed up late packing (I always tend to do that the night before I go anywhere).

July 8th- This morning, Tanya drove us to the bus-stop in Charlottesville, and we rode the bus to DC. We waited at the terminal for a while and ate some food and then got on another bus bound of New York. When we arrived we wandered somewhat dazed and confused around the terminal for a while before taking a cab to our hostel (and letting him figure out the directions). We dropped off our stuff, got changed, and then headed to the subway where we bought passes (which we would use the whole week) and took the subway to our first Broadway Show. It was Mary Poppins and it was at the New Amsterdam theatre. It was such a lot of fun. The singing was fantastic, they had a sweet set that was a house (like a doll house) so you could see all the rooms. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t the “I love to laugh” and the tea party scene, but the Chimney Sweep dance was amazing. At one point, Burt walked up the walls and tap danced on the roof while he was singing. Mary Poppins flew over the audience too which was rad.

July 9th- Today we went right away to the tourist information centre in Time Square after some Jumba Juice smoothies (oh, they were good!). There, we bought tickets to The Little Mermaid, and also New York Passes which allowed us access to “40 of New Yorks top attractions plus discounts and special offers at one low price”. Our first attraction of the day was Madam Toussaud’s Wax Museum. It was more fun than the Victoria one because the figures are meant to take pictures with. We had a really good time there. I was really scared in their chamber of horrors too- because there were actors dressed up which followed us. After that we headed to the Empire State Building which involved long line-ups, but it’s one of those things that you have to do. Even though the sky was very overcast we were still able to get some pictures. After that we did something called the Skyride which is like a virtual reality tour of NY. It was a bit borring— but it was free (like everything we did before-hand because of our pass). We had lunch at Wendy’s and then we went back to the hotel to plan and cool off. We were really hot!! We had giant pieces of pizza in Times Square for dinner, and in the evening we went to the Lion King at the Minskoff Theatre which was fantastic. The costumes were amazing! Great stuff with silk fabric and puppets. There were giraffes on stilts, and an elephant where there was a person in every leg. Young Simba was an excellent dancer, ok singer, and not an amazing actor… but he’s on Broadway and I’m not, so I can’t really say anything. When Mufassa died they used strobe lights when he fell and it looked awesome, and the stampeding buffalo scene was really great. The sets were cool too- pride rock and the elephant grave yard especially.

July 10th- Today we went to the Statue of Liberty. We had to go through lots of lines and security and at one point we went through these x-ray machines that shot air at us and I screamed- it was rather unpleasant. We were able to go inside the base of the statue which was pretty cool. We also went to Ellis Island where we looked around and watched a movie about immigration. We learned that over 40% of Americans can trace their ancestry back to Ellis Island- which was able to process 5,000 people a day. It was a bit like a concentration camp. This day involved a lot of lines. I would say we were maybe in lines for about 5 hours over the course of the day (maybe even more). Our feet were pretty sore. Highlights were reading propaganda posters in both places and taking pictures. In the evening we went to see Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre. It had the best singing, funny and clever storyline, great movement from the monkeys especially and a flying witch (what more could you want?). It was brilliant.

July 11th- This morning we went on an NBC studio Tour. That was cool because we got to see the set for Saturday Night Live. I also volunteered and got to try and do a weather forecast- except I had to read a screen, watch another screen (which was backwards) and show what was going on. That was too much thinking for me, and it turned into a good comedy show.
After that we went on a radio city tour and got to see the biggest stage in the world and meet one of the Rockettes. We also learned that the movie screen there was made out of silver (hence—Silver Screen).
After that we went to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) where we were allowed to take pictures. It was cool to see some Dali, VanGogh and Picasso. A lot of the art was very sexual (and random- like this lady drinking milk from a green milk-jug with a hole in it in a really sexual way), and our feet were hurting so we didn’t stay there long.
Kylie and I got dressed up this evening and we went to the Hard Rock Café in Times Square for dinner and after that went to the Little Mermaid. Their costumes were awesome too. Lots of the sea creatures were in heely shoes so they were able to glide everywhere. The ship that the prince was on was awesome because it came up (with all the characters on it), and then the light turned blue and all the sea creatures came out underneath. I really liked the part when the little mermaid rescued the prince and when she changes into a person. Now I really want to do a show where there are strings and I fly.

July 12th- Today we started out the morning with what has become a little tradition- Jumba Juice. Then we went to go on a backstage tour of Wicked. We didn’t actually go backstage, but we were able to see lots of costumes and props up close, watch a movie and learn about Broadway and talk with some chorus actors. We had lunch at subway and then went back to the hostel.
We had tickets to go on a tour of the Rockefeller center which we started. There was some cool commentary on art, and I learned a bit about the family, but mostly it was really boring and we weren’t sad to leave early. Then we headed to another theatre (not on Broadway) for the second time that day to try and get student rush tickets to the Blue Man Group. We were second in the line to get our tickets and there was a fire alarm and we all had to be evacuated and six fire trucks showed up. The Blue Man Group is fun. Totally different. They did a lot of stuff with black lights and strobe lights, drumming with pipes and paint and tricks with food (like catching marshmallows and gum balls in their mouths). There was also a lot of funny social commentary—like how rock musicians now only have to worry about dancing because they all lip sink anyways, how ‘modern art’ is an excuse for people with no artistic talent, how internet cafes are a way for us to ignore the people around us to communicate with people far away from us… it was good. At one point the whole audience got covered in tissue paper and there were black lights and strobe lights going. We went to Mac D’s after the show and then went back to the hostel and watched some TV and chillaxed.

July 13th- Today we packed up our stuff and moved to Penington House. We took a taxi there in the morning and then realised that it was actually really close our old hostel (the Sea Farers Lodge), but we wouldn’t have figured that out on our own. Then we went on a three hour boat cruise around the island. It was nice to sit and rest and take pictures of bridges. At the port there were people protesting China in Tibet. That was interesting. After that we were able to meet up with Senait (our dear old friend from way back who we think of as a big sister). With her, we went to a little French festival and enjoyed some crepes and French music before heading to Central Park. We walked around the park, listened to musicians and watched these roller-skate dancers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many roller-skates before. In the evening we went out for Ethiopian Food which was very filling and delicious.

July 14th- Today we had some Starbucks, and wanted to go on a boat ride but we couldn’t because of the weather which was a bit drizzley. We went to ground-zero which is… well a hole. We ate some berries that we got from a street vender guy and sat in a park and then we went on a quest to find the Wall Street bull. We asked for directions and were given bad ones and went WAY off track, but we were able to explore the SoHo district before hailing a taxi who drove us there via China Town. We took some pictures of the bull, ate some subway in the park, headed home to sleep and then went and took some pictures of Grand Central Station before meeting up with Senait again. Tonight we went out to a pizza place near our hostel, and it was such a lot of fun to spend time with her. Then we went back home and Kylie and I stayed up late talking on our last night of our trip.

July 15th- Today we woke up at 4.30 and packed, made the bed and left our hostel. We took a cab to the airport (where we got in the wrong line—we were confused about what airline we were traveling on, and then had to take an air train to the right place—seriously, it’s amazing this trip has turned out so well with some of the embarrassing mistakes we’ve made.) We got through security which was easy and then had some Starbucks, and then there was a gate switch, so we had to make our way to the new gate. We were on the same plane this time, but sitting at exact opposite ends. Watched “21”, ate some crackers, tried to sleep (the usual). Then we got to Seattle, got the bags, got on a bus, went through customs (easy) and then met mom and dad at the Campbell Valley Store.

And thus ended our amazing American Adventure.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Off again

Well, it's time to hit the road (or sky?) again.
It was such a blessing for me to be able to come home for my Grandad's funeral. It has been refreshing to see some of my friends and family members.
I did have a moment, driving the other day, where I made a turn and couldn't figure out for the life of me which lane I was supposed to be in. Sketchy.
And so now it's 1.00 and I think the family is waking up at 3.00 to head to Seattle. Kylie and I will be flying on different planes, but are both bound for the same destination-- Washington D.C. We will also get to visit Virginia and New York. Should be a great two weeks of catching up with old friends, sight-seeing, play-watching, sisterly bonding and of course... adapting to the unexpected.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The last blog from Zambia

Travelling first class
Waiting out my long lay-over in DC
Last flight home.
The bus ride.
One declaration form I had to fill out to get into the States. I laugh every time I read it.

Alright I’m now back in Canada and it’s time to backtrack to tell you about my last few momentous days overseas.

Livingston. So amazing!
I thought that I wasn’t going to get an opportunity to see the Victoria Falls. Then I got to talking with this girl called Alissa (who I’d originally met when she was on the same safari as us in South Luangwa). She told me that she was planning on going and that she was going to take the bus. Josh was also interested in going, so sort of last minute we decided to JUST DO IT!
Early in the morning, Tanya and Leeland drove Josh and I to the “Inner City Bus Terminal” where we were instantly mobbed by taxi drivers. We got out and headed to a little wooden shack where the tickets were sold. We wanted to get tickets for the 6.30 bus with Alissa and her other friends, but it was full. We got on the 7.30 bus instead. The bus ride down was very hot. I was sweating so much. One nice thing about being in a coach though was that we were higher than the dust clouds that suffocate you if you are in smaller vehicles. For part of the journey we were sitting beside a girl who was singing along with her i-pod and the lady behind us liked to randomly grab our heads. We had one bathroom stop at some semi-sketchy pay toilets (500k- about 15c) during the 7 hour drive. I did manage to doze a bit during the ride, and Josh and I watched a movie on his i-pod. When we arrived in Livingston we were mobbed again by more taxi drivers. One offered to take us to our hostel for about $1.50, so we went with him (our hostel was pretty close to the bus stop). We checked in and then headed to the information place to book some activities.
Jollyboys was a great hostel. Lots of backpackers and young people. It’s a lot like summer camp. The rooms are really small and simple, but it’s got really nice common areas.
We decided we would go on the sunset cruise.
We were picked up and taken to the Zambezi were we cruised along and looked at some crocodiles and hippos. Dinner was cooked on the boat and we watched the sun set which was beautiful! Unlimited drinks were served, and when we docked again there was a fire blazing and some musicians putting on a show. We got to meet some interesting people on the cruise who were also staying at Jollyboys. Sarah and John were British friends who were backpacking through lots of African countries for their gap-year (When I found out they were on a gap-year I said “like Prince William” and they didn’t get it). There was also a Portuguese guy called Migele who was working in Mozambique and a girl from the Netherlands called Rose who was working on her masters thesis. We had a great time back at the hostel playing cards, and then sitting around the fire and talking.
At 8 o’clock the next morning the information center opened and we booked our activities for Saturday. We had some tea and exchanged some contact info with John and Sarah with the plan of meeting up at some point in Lusaka.
First on the agenda for the day was a cruise to Livingston Island. We were picked up from the hostel and taken to a ridiculously fancy hotel called the Royal Livingston ($400 per night). I even took pictures of it because it was so fancy—like out of a movie. We were treated like royalty. We got into little motor boats and took a quick ride to the island. We were greeted with a welcome drink which was Maheu (yucktastic—even though this version had vanilla). Then we walked a bit through the island and the guide pointed out some of the plants. Next we put on some rain coats and were put into little groups with a guide. We took off our shoes and ventured into the mist of the falls. Josh and I were in a group with a guide and we would walk in what the guide called an “African Chain” which was us all holding hands. Livingston Island is right in the middle of the falls and is the place where Livingston first saw the falls from. We ventured out right to the edge and it was amazing. There were rainbows everywhere and we had to carefully walk on the rocks (mostly standing on mossy places for more grip) and sometimes sinking midway up to our calves in mud. Even with our best efforts to keep the cameras dry they defiantly got wet. It was incredible though. Right on the edge of the falls with rainbows and mist all around- it was like another world. I actually slipped a few times- but once really lost my balance and the guide totally caught me. I wouldn’t have fallen down the falls, but I would have gotten pretty wet. Our guide talked a lot about geographical structures but I missed a lot of what he was saying because of his accent and creative syntax. We came back and they washed our feet and then we sat down at a set breakfast table, and ate a delicious breakfast. I know I’ve written a lot about food on this trip but indulge me again. We were served a baking powder biscuit with spinach on top (maybe with a cheese sauce), then an egg, and then this bacon and cheese on top. It was amazing and there were scones and muffins too. Then we got on the boat again and headed back to the hotel. From there we walked to the falls. People who are staying at the Royal Livingstone have free access to the falls. We tried to walk through that door, but Josh and I are honest individuals and when asked if we were staying at the Royal Livingston we admitted we weren’t and paid to get in. That’s 40,000K worth of honesty right there. First we walked down the boiling point. When you start walking down there, you go down stairs. I figured the whole walk would be stairs… but soon it changed. We were balancing on rocks and wading through streams. I was not dressed brilliantly for this hike that I had found myself on. I was carrying my camera and video camera and purse and had a chetanga around my waist. I was also carrying my flip-flops as barefeet gave me more grip on the rocks. Having to use both hands to climb down though made this all a bit difficult. When I got down to the bottom I made one of the most brilliant choices I’ve ever made (except I wished I’d made it earlier). I stuck all my paraphernalia in a garbage bag I’d brought, and used my chetanga to tie it all onto my back baby style. Then my hands were free. It had taken me about an hour to get down to the bottom, and I got back up to the top in about 15 minutes after my industrious choices. J It was an incredible walk—basically through the jungle. At the bottom we could see a bridge that goes to Zimbabwe and watched the bungi jumpers. On the way back there was this big baboon walking right towards us on the path. We just let it go by and avoided eye contact. J I was glad that we’d brought water with us. I was so glad that I did the walk, but I was tired once I got back up to the top and actually felt a bit dizzy.
Next we did this walk along the falls and took some great pictures. Then we backtracked and walked even closer along the falls. I had been told by Tanya that it would be in my best interest to rent a poncho and I’m glad I did. We walked along this bridge that was so close to the falls that the mist coming off it is like a torrential downpour. It was incredible to be standing near something so powerful.
After that we headed back to our hotel and chilled there for about an hour by the pool. I almost fell asleep. Then we were picked up to go microlighting. It was amazing. It was the big splurge of my trip, but we went up during the sunset. We flew over the falls and saw elephants and hippos in the river. The landscape is really incredible. The land is really jagged (like teeth) with these deep gorges. It was so beautiful!
After that we waited for a bit to get our pictures. There was a camera mounted on the wing of the microlight that took pictures of us while we were up in the air.
After that we were dropped off at a really neat restaurant called Ngoma Zanga (which means “my drums”). There we finally met up with Alissa and her friends and had a really nice dinner together and then watched some tribal dancing. By the time the taxi took as back to the hostel I was pretty tired. Before going to bed I had a conversation with this guy with a guitar who had hair just like me. When he found out I was Canadian we started talking French to eachother. That was sweet.
Next morning we woke up early to get to the bus stop before 6. We walked there, and were told to board right away. The bus ride back was much more pleasant than the bus ride going there. It was cooler for one thing. The lady beside us was asleep and there was no hair-pulling. I sort of dozed for most the trip. We met an interesting Zambian man on the bus who was heading to England for Mendella’s birthday party. Upon arrival was the now-familiar ambushing of taxi men. “no. no. no.” push my way through. Tanya, Leeland and Chris were there to meet us and then we went out to a little fast food place for lunch and caught up on our weekends. Then we went to the youth group at the school. I had really wanted to be there for my last Sunday. Normally when I am teaching the girls the music, I write the words on the black board. This time there was no chalk, so I had to teach them without the words. They did really well. Precious, Sharon’s sister came with us to check out the youth group and she was with us for the singing which was really helpful. One thing that is really neat is that she is very musical and she will now be taking over the choir. It’s so cool the way God supplies people to do his work—we didn’t know who would teach the choir after I left. In the evening Chris, Josh and I went out to Arcades and met up with Sarah and Jon and a new friend of theirs called Will (who is part of the British Navy). We ate at the Food Fayre and then went bowling together. I pretty much bowled the entire game through my legs and I didn’t loose… which says a lot about the importance of good bowling technique. At one point we were laughing because the bowling pins were trying to reset themselves, but they just kept knocking themselves down. We had a great time laughing afterwards about accents and stereotypes and TV shows and Charlie the Unicorn (a U-tube movie which all of us except Will had seen). I thought that was hilarious that even though we live in such far away places we’ve all seen that stupid movie (“let’s go to candy mountain”). That night I pretty much pulled an all-nighter making cards for people.
Monday was my last day at the school. For my classes, we wrote thank-you letters for the bore-hole. Today was also momentous because it was the first day baking bread for the woman. They were so excited to be making the bread and Tanya bought the whole first batch. The bread was pretty heavy, but so good. This was during lunch time. I was planning on teaching my reading class in the afternoon, but one of the ladies named Fataless tripped and fell onto one of the tin sheet baking trays and sliced her wrist. It was bleeding quite a lot, but with lots of gauze and pressure all the way, by the time we got to the clinic I had mostly stopped the bleeding. At the hospital they unwrapped it, and the side of her wrist was totally mangled. They gave her four injections to numb the area (it looked incredibly painful) and then started to stitch it up. I asked to stay and watch because I thought it was really interesting. They had to put stitches inside the wound and over top (10 in total). As I was watching, all of a sudden I started to feel really light-headed. “Oh come on Dayna!” I said to myself, “this is not the time”. The next moment I was sitting on the floor and laughing. I couldn’t believe it! I’d totally passed out in the emergency room. I think I woke up as soon as I hit the floor, but I left that room after that.
I’d brought a bunch of books to school in the morning that were donated. We went back to collect my suitcase as planned and it was in a locked room and the person with the key was gone.
That evening there was a little good-bye get together for me. The teachers, Sharon and Chiza and their boys and Precious all came over and we had spaghetti. Delicious. Then I stayed up late into the night finishing card stuff and packing. Packing souvenirs is quite the process!
Early in the morning, Tanya woke me up and I said my good byes and we headed to the school where we picked up Peter and Levi (two of my students) and they came to the airport to see me off. The first flight was alright except that the flight attendants were pretty grouchy. I was sitting beside a man named Renato. We got to talking and then I found out that he’d worked for World Vision in Mozambique soon after we were there. Then I asked if he knew the Brennamans (Tanya and Leeland) and he did. Small world, eh?
Watched a good assortment of movies including “The Other Bolyne Girl”, “Hortan hears a Who” and the beginning of “The Da Vinci Code”. Alissa was also on the flight with me and we were able to transfer some pictures from our computers and I showed her the short movie I’d made of our safari. At one point we both headed to the back of the plane and were able to talk with eachother until we got in-trouble for “unsafe congregating” and were separated by a grouchy flight attendant who was trying to sleep. J
When I got to Heathrow I had to go right away to the gate for my next plane. I was told that the plane was overbooked and there was a chance that I wouldn’t get onto it. I just prayed that God would work it out better than I could have planned. A bold prayer- but I think that’s something I’ve gotten used to in Zambia. Why not? If God wants it to happen it will. I got to the gate and they gave me a boarding pass and I was looking for my seat. J11. I stop at a seat with that number… but there must be a mistake because it was in first class…no mistake. AWESOME! “Would you like some Orange juice, water or champagne as we prepare for departure?” This was defiantly a moment for champagne. So I flew to Washington first class. First class with warm washcloths, glass dishes, organic nuts (on my last flight they’d run out of nuts!), fancy toiletry sets and a remote control! The flight attendants were much nicer on this flight. The food was a bit too fancy for my taste. I ate this cheese mousse as a starter that I believe was the cause of some funny tummy feeling throughout the flight. I ate lamb, and cheese cake and there were fancy chocolates and lots of tea and orange juice (my favourites). I slept (my chair would go down to be like a bed), and there was lots of stretching room for my legs. I stretched them a lot- mostly because I could. When I woke up it was tea time. (Now is time for a flashback LOST style: In my youth I remember being really upset if for some reason I slept through a meal. It was like I was really getting ripped off. And brunch… what a horrible idea. An adult trick. A word that actually meant no breakfast or lunch.) During these flights it’s been very exciting to have the illusion of having more meals because of the time-change. I watched “1000BC”- which was one of my only choices because there were some “entertainment difficulties”. Nice special effects, lame movie.
Arrived at the airport and talked with some of the officials there and then got into another line because some of my souvenirs are made out of animal products which I declared even though in retrospect I don’t think I had to. This poor Mexican lady in front of me had packed a lot of food with her. A giant head of lettuce and some bananas in one bag and cheese and potatoes in another. She was stressed, the customs officials were stressed, and it took a long time to be done with her. I told the guy about my cow-horn boat.
“No blood on it?”
“No”- I was allowed right through without him even looking at it. Then I headed to the carousel and got one of my bags and an announcement was made “Dayna Thomas please come to blah, blah, blah”. Then I was informed that one of my bags had been left behind.
That was upsetting.
I found a good spot in a waiting area and plugged in the lap-top and the i-pod to wait out my lay-over (and use this time productively). I actually also slept a bit on the floor. At four in the morning I got into line for my next flight and waited with some other people there for almost an hour. The flight people were so unwilling to be helpful and at this point I was feeling pretty exhausted. I went through security again and had not seen a sign to take the computer out of it’s case, so the lady there got mad at me again. Finally I got through all of that and went to a lounge to wait out the rest of my four hours in the airport. When the lady there found out that my final destination was Seattle she got really excited because I think the flight I was supposed to go on was really full. SO she put me on an earlier flight to Minnesota instead of waiting for the one to Detroit. It was a really small plane and the man I was supposed to be sitting beside… well… let’s just say he was partially on my seat. But the plane wasn’t very full, and so he decided to move to a place with two seats. That meant I got two seats, and was able to sleep a bit. Nortwest is a cheap airline. You have to pay for snacks and there’s no movies or music or pillows or blankets. And I was getting hungry. In Minnesota airport I got some food in me and felt so much better. Then I had to pretty much go straight to my gate. There I met a lady who used to live in Vancouver and liked to do African dancing… so interesting the people you can meet in airports. Got on my last plane and also had an empty seat beside me (and I was in the front of a section so I had lots of leg room). I slept and did some work on my computer until the battery died and listened to the i-pod.
Got off that plane took a little under-ground train to the baggage claim (about 11.44am) where I waited for my checked bag that was supposed to arrive at 3.00. Oh, I wish they hadn’t lost my other bag! That’s so grrr-mendous. One thing I was proud of though was that I was able to help another traveler get onto the internet at the airport (and I’m so tech-fully challenged!) At 3.00 I went over when the carousel started moving again and I waited and the last bag came… and mine wasn’t there. “Oh no! My other bag is lost!” I thought. I went over to get some help from an airport employee who just talked on the phone and ignored me, and then I talked to some other travelers who were helpful. When the carousel started up again, and I thought… “of course…there was more than one Northwest flight coming in at 3.00”. I checked my flight number, it popped up, I found my bag and headed to the exit where the bus would come. Once on the bus I mostly slept. Customs was pretty chill, but I felt too tired to get off the bus and pull my bags with me (good thing one of them was lost!). Mom and Andrew met me at the bus-stop. I was so happy to see them. After 47 hours of traveling I am finally home. Happy and with a sore tail bone.

Useful things I've learned and now can impart..

How to talk to people you’ve never met before:
v Introduce yourself. (Then they’ll introduce themselves back—seriously… this is like magic)
v Ask them were they are from. (They will then ask you where you are from and the conversation will continue).
v If either of you have visited each other’s homelands you can proceed to talk about that.
v Ask what they are doing (They will then ask you what you are doing).
v If either of you have done similar things, want to do similar things, or would hate to do similar things you can talk about that.
v These two questions “Where are you from”, “what are you doing” when paired with a friendly hello can lead to long conversations, the exchanging of contact information and the eating of burgers.

Things you should always have with you
(because when you don’t have easy access to them you will go crazy)
v A watch or time-telling device- to figure out when you are supposed to get off planes and on planes. *bonus is if it has an alarm: so you can sleep in peace knowing that you will not forget to get on planes or off planes.
v A pen- for all the forms and for writing other things that you will undoubtedly want to write.
v Chargers for electronic devices you will undoubtedly want to plug in (because murphy’s law says all electronic devices will have their batteries die simultaneously if you are ever really bored and needing to use them).
v A bandaid (if you get blisters doing all that walking around the airport).
v Gum (after flying for a bazillion hours you just want gum).
v A hair-tie or elastic… you’ll just want one.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More news about good food I've been eating!

Saturday was a pretty chill day with me mostly lesson planning and doing some computer work at home with a brief visit to the internet café. I’ve defiantly got a full-blown (pardon the pun) cold now, and I slept through most of the afternoon. I’ve actually been really blessed health-wise during this trip. I came here with a cold that maybe lasted a week, and apart from that I’ve been completely healthy. With all the sick kids that I’m around every day it was bound to happen sooner or later that I’d get sick and I’m happy that it was later. J In the evening, Chris, Josh and I watched this movie with Nicholas Cage where we sells weapons, and afterwards we continued with deep theological conversation late into the night.
Sunday started off with Leeland leaving on another business trip, and Chris, Josh and I making French toast for breakfast. We headed to church after that and then picked up Alissa (a girl we met while on safari) at the mall and headed to the school for the well ceremony. Some people sang, and the vice-chairman of the community spoke, and Tanya spoke and then they pumped the well for the first time. It was pretty cool. People went and drank the water and the kids were splashing and laughing and the ladies all started dancing. It was pretty sweet. Pastor Chiza, Sharon and Haniel all came over for dinner in the evening.
Monday it was back to school again. I really feel like I’ve pretty much gotten into the flow of teaching here. I know all the kids in my classes and lots of kids in other classes and I talk with so many people every day (I love talking). It gives you a really good feeling to have kids coming up to you all day saying, “hello tee-cha Deh-na” and “how ah you?”. They respond to pretty much every question with “yes”. I also tried a new drink today. It’s called “Munkoyo” (AKA “Maheu”) and is made from left-over nshima that is mixed with water and then left to ferment for a few days. Right before it is drank, sugar is added. Basically it looks like grainy milk with lumps inside it. And it tastes sweet, but smells bad and has such an unfortunate texture that I was very happy to eat a biscuit afterwards and wash that taste out of my mouth. Monday we work on reading in the afternoon. There’s one new boy in the school called Thomas. He is 16 and he can’t read (like many of the students). He asked me if I would give him some extra help. We’ve started working together during recess. He’s so determined and he works so hard that he very rewarding to teach and he is learning really quickly. That’s pretty cool. In the evening, Tanya and the boys and I went out to an Irish restaurant (who’s motto is: “where good friends meet”—which made me wonder where you would meet a bad friend), and then had ice-cream. Here I must take a moment to say that I’m sure that you (like my mother) have noticed how much I talk about food here. One of my biggest anxieties of coming back to Africa has been not being able to find food that I can eat. I have been quite relieved to find that there is a fair amount of good food in Africa light that suits my taste… and so I have lots to write about.
Tuesday we only stay for the half day, but we were able to go and do some shopping in the afternoon. Fabric shopping in Africa—love it! For dinner we went out for some Italian Pizza. We came home and had a great evening watching movies on the lap tops (I say ‘tops’ because the power was out and we would run one until the battery was almost dead and then continue watching on the next one). I decided to check my e-mail quickly before bed and got a letter that my Granddad had gone to heaven about 4 hours previously. That was tough—but I know without a doubt where he is, and I have a lot of peace.
Wednesday is clubs day (my favourite)! When we arrived, it turned out that one of the students had just had a seizure. Tanya took her and another boy who has been having pain in his side to the clinic, and Chris and Josh had the grade fours for PE. I interviewed Sharon for a movie I want to make about Grassroots Heroes which will be able to pass on information to potential sponsors about the work here. Then I played “sight word bingo” with the kids. My grade 2 class went well today, but for some reason I was really exhausted. After the class, Chris, Sandra, Josh and I and some of the students walked up this hill and had lunch on the top. It was beautiful up there- plants and butterflies and great lighting. Really nice almost 360 view—a great place to relax and take some pictures. Lots of people actually gather on this “mountain” to pray and have praise services. After that we headed down the mountain for clubs. I did some filming of the music and dancing, and then it was time to head home. Had a good conversation with my dad on the phone via skype (technology is beautiful), and then we headed off to a fast-foodish Chinese Restaurant called ‘Curry in a Hurry’ at Manda Hill. They have some of the best buttered chicken I have ever tasted. Half-watched “Terminal Velocity” as I did some work on my computer in the evening. It’s a pretty bad movie- I was glad that I was multi-tasking.
Thursday was a pretty busy day for me. Started off with the grade four class writing about where they would like to travel in the world—with South Africa, Mozambique and Canada being the most popular destinations. During the break I worked with Thomas on his reading. He has improved so much! Grade two was great too except I was really starting to feel sick. My head cold makes me feel so much pressure in my head that I just feel really sick. One of the funny things that happened in that class was that I was trying to teach them to sight-read the word ‘she’. Before this we have been working on sounds, and they will repeat the sound and then I generally ask them to think of words that have that sound. So today they are repeating ‘she... she’ and then one of the students excitedly calls out ‘nshema’- which does have the word ‘she’ in it. After that was lunch and I gave a teacher’s workshop on seizure management. Since we have a couple kids in the school who have seizures I thought this would give them some confidence. We also talked about choking. Then Tanya and I headed home so I could do some prepartions for my upcoming adventure. In the evening we headed back to the Irish restaurant where they had a live band that was pretty fun to watch.
So tomorrow, early in the morning I am heading off to Victoria Falls. I will be out of internet contact until Sunday evening. Should be a good adventure. Wonder what I’ll eat…good thing I packed some snacks.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Another school week

On Monday, my morning classes went really well. Boy, that is rewarding. We ended up not doing any classes in the afternoon because the food wasn’t cooked on time. The teachers figured that no learning would happen in the afternoon with hungry kids, so we just played with them outside.
On Tuesday Chris, Josh and I only stayed for the half day, and then we came home and made an amazing omelette together. In the afternoon I chilled at the internet café, sent off some pictures, ate some sort of pastery with cream in it (which was amazing) and drank tea. I have to tell you that I really, truly thought I would loose some weight in this land of steamed greens and nshima- but I have certainly had lots of food that I really like as well during my stay in Africa Light.
On Wednesday, the big event was that I started to get my hair done. Paxina (one of the teachers) and Theresa (one of my students) started the braiding and twisting and the cutting of yarn that would become my new look. In the afternoon was clubs and I taught the kids “Give me oil in my lamp”, “I’ve got peace like a river”, “Clap your hands and sing to the Lord” and we practiced “Go, tell it on the mountain”. In the evening we went out to a “fast-foodish place” that had Chinese and Indian Food. I had chicken chow mein and garlic naan. Delicious!
On Thursday we had a hair marathon and finally the masterpiece was finished. Not only were those hours quite painful (I have a sensitive scalp- ask Kylie my resident hair stylist), but also a bit nerve-wracking as a grade 2 student held the candle (rather close to my head) in-between using it to melt the ends of my extensions. It was a good exercise in trust and perseverance. Actually, just sitting there made me sleepy.
We also started a chapel sort of time with the kids. They sang, and Josh gave a message which Joseph translated. Thursday is also sports day. After the chapel time, all the kids headed outside. We stayed at the school until 5.30 just playing. Joseph, Chris and Josh had started high jumping over the volleyball net with some of the grade four boys and all the school was watching and cheering.
Sports are not my thing (and I am useless at high jumping!), but I’ll often sit and a large group of younger children tends to gather around me and on me and we watch and sometimes sing. Lots of the younger kids don’t speak enough English to communicate with me, but they’ll sit beside me and start singing one of the English songs they know and we’ll communicate that way. Music is really cool.
In the evening the power went out, but we had a bunch of hotdog stuff ready. Leeland did a bbq and it was delicious. Pretty soon after we were sitting at the table, the power came back on again. This country has the shortest power outages of any African country I remember.
Friday is always a half-day. Tanya has had a crazy week of driving everywhere doing school errands. She is such a servant-hearted person! Today she was going to meet with some people about some very badly needed school desks, so Josh, Chris and I held down the fort with all the grade four students. I think the class went really well. I’ve been reading my students some fairy tales and then asking them comprehension questions. Today I read them Snow White and they really got a kick out of my evil queen impersonation. And another random note: The Frog Prince—seriously weird story.
In my grade two class we have now made it through the whole alphabet! And they all got candy today for their good behaviour. My chart of good behaviour and the incentives that come with it have seriously transformed my class! Next week we’ll do lots of reviewing and learn some other sounds like “th” and “ch”. I also want to get in some extra tutoring with a boy in my grade four class, so I’ll be prepping for that this weekend.
After school I went to the market-market with Sharon (before, when I have talked about the market I’ve been talking about craft markets—except for the entry with the potato man which was the down-town market). I picked up a bunch of candy (to be distributed in my classes throughout the next week), and she got some food. Then, her, Tanya and I went and picked up a table for the women to use in their bakery. We had to fold down all the seats in the back and put it over them, and I fit in the car sort of beside and underneath the table on the folded down chair. Oh—the amount of things you can fit in a car in Africa! In the evening we watched some TV on DVD on my computer (Yah!), and played some Taboo. For dinner, Sharon brought over some caterpillars for us to try. They are a delicacy here. When you first bite them they are just salty and quite fine, but then there is this stomach-churning after-taste of raw fish. And I don’t like fish. But I did manage to swallow it, and now can truthfully say that I have eaten caterpillar.
The weather here has been quite cold as it is now the cool/ dry season (basically Zambian Winter). It’s very dusty and often quite windy. At the school we’ll get these big gusts of dust. We come home from the school so dirty!! Dust goes in our eyes, and ears and noses and our sandal-feet are now getting permanently dyed. This week, the boys attached cardboard (from the boxes that the dolls came in) to all the windows to try and keep the dust out of the classrooms.
Other exciting things have been happening in the village as well. A woman’s cooperative is being formed and the woman elected some officers for it. They also started making bricks for a building where they are hoping to bake bread to sell. It’s cool to see them all working together- walking to the waterhole with their buckets on their heads, coming back, stomping the mud with their feet, putting it into the forms. Tanya brought them some fish and tomatoes and onions to add to their nshima for lunch and they were so happy. They were singing and dancing while they worked. It was pretty cool.
Well, that’s all the events of the school week. It’s just flown by.
Enjoy the pictures!

The following pictures are...

Alright: so since I can’t figure out for the life of me how to make the text wrap the way I want it to for these blogs, I decided to talk about what’s in the pictures separately.
In the hair pictures you can see: me being in pain, Theresa (one of my students) and Paxina (one of the teachers) working at my hair, burning the ends of the extensions, and the final masterpiece.
In the pictures of my classes you can see: Me singing “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy” with my grade 2s, singing “This little light of mine”, handing out flashcards, Maiwaise going up to play charades as Theresa and I watch, and Thomas looking at the fairy-tale book. One of the activities we’ve worked on this week is that my grade fours will turn to a picture in the book and then have to describe what they see, in English.
In the other pictures, you can see a bunch of women in the community making their mud bricks to make their oven. They go to collect the water, bring it back, break up the mud with hoes, throw it into moulds and then pull the mould away and let the bricks dry.