Wednesday, December 27, 2006

between two live chickens

i thought i should come and check the internet today seeing as last time i spent boxing day outside of canada there was a tsunami and i didn't know about it until over a week later. so far, it seems as though i have not missed any global events.

in a strange twist of fate, i will be visiting a hippo orphaned in the tsunami later today. apparently he has befriended a very old tortoise at a nearby park and you can go and visit them. for a small fee, i am sure.

christmas in mombasa was hot and sticky. but i ate freshly caught prawns for dinner and sat around playing uno, trying to learn to love gin and tonic. i was successful in winning the game of uno, but unsuccessful in my attempts to love g & t's. i am blaming the tonic, which is doubly bad as it also has quinine in it which kills the malaria.

speaking of which, it is a good thing that i took anti-malarials as my feet have been consumed by mosquitos and i am more afraid of needles to test for malaria than malaria itself. which i know makes no sense at all.

mombasa seems to be more poor than nairobi but also more safe and although the town doesn't seem to have much to offer, the white sand beaches and camels wandering about make my days staring out at the vast expanse of water a little more enjoyable.

i have had only a few encounters with gigantic insects, a few battles with the ant infestation in our kitchen, and a 20 minute show down with a moth stuck in my mosquito net, but i nearly jumped out of the matatu when i realised that there were men holding live chickens in plastic bags on either side of me on christmas morning. as you may remember, i have had a few run-ins with pigeons in london and have developed a slight phobia of winged creatures and being in a confined space with beings with beaks and claws was enough to illicite some nervous laughs and deep breaths. but i survived without being touched by the filthy things. happy birthday jesus.

Friday, December 22, 2006

mer-ry christmas and ha-peee hol-i-days

you are supposed to read that title like that newish christmas pop song that i have stuck in my head, in case you were wondering about the whacky spelling.

i hope you have a wonderful christmas where ever you are. most likely, if you are reading this, i am wishing i was with you.

but since i am not, a sincere merry christmas and happy new year from east africa!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

to you and yours

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? egg nog latte cut with milk

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? santa never wraps presents, he leaves them on the couch with the stockings

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? i like all white lights, looks less tacky and more wintery than all those colours.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? sara reminded me that we used to have this really ugly plastic mistletoe that played music, but i think real mistletoe is the way to go

5. When do you put your decorations up? i just received my first decorations of the season so maybe i will put them up tonight (thanks mom!)

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? brussel sprouts, hands down. who needs turkey when you have sprouts?

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? going to my grandma's on christmas eve

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? like sara says (again), santa only brings presents to those who believe in our house

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? the ones that says 'open me xmas eve' and surprise, surprise, it is always pyjamas which, according to tradition, you must put on immediately

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? once, with a ladder. but otherwise, with snowmen. lots of snowmen. and antique tinsel.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? loves it. but since when has calgary had a white christmas?! and me thinks that mombasa will have more sun and sand than snow.

12. Can you ice skate? indeed. many hours spent at the rink and i bet i can still do a toe loop or a salchow, perhaps a spread eagle or two.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? i am not sure, i remember more gifts that i have given than received. those neon light up phones might have been up there though. also, our hand-made dollhouse.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? the whole seasonal lead-up with winter activities, the christmas shopping, the music, the mood, the decorations, the egg nog, the lights, the parties, the scarves and mittens, the baking, the spirit.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? rum balls, sugar cookies with icing, and shortbread (now that i finally know the difference between the two)

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? christmas sundays at gramps', christmas eve with friends, family, and hors d'oeuvres and christmas morning brunch. pretty much, the eating and then more eating.

and the newest tradition introduced last year, waking up on christmas eve morn feeling like i am going to die, thinking 'i will never drink again' and then waking my sister up only to realise i am much further from death than she is and that i have to drive her car and pull over on 14th street so she can puke out the car door on the way to breakfast.

17. What tops your tree? an angel, of course

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving? giving

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? last christmas (only sung by wham! though), oh holy night, song for a winter's night, and baby, it's cold outside

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? the sweet ones, yum. the peppermint ones, yuck. unless the curve is broken, then all yuck.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

home sweet nairobi

i have been rather introspective since returning from the uk. as i had expected, it was a whirlwind trip and made me want to have a week of relaxation and rejuvenation, but that will come when i arrive in mombasa to spend christmas on the beach with a good book and ample amount of sun screen (i have the application of sunscreen down to a fine art, with the careful placement of both spfs 15 and 30 for an even colour and uv protection).

the trip was great and as is my custom when i am left with less than half an hour in a work day to fit in a blog post, here is a list of highlights:

- my family surprising me with my sister and not my step-dad at the arrivals gate at heathrow (watch Love Actually, it really is true)
- taking my sister out for her first meal of indian food for her birthday
- the phenomenal amount of people in the streets of london
- watching my mom behave like a moth to a flame whenever she saw a marks & spencer store
- the sunny weather (some days)
- visiting with my mom, my dad, my sister, my nana, and my aunty
- going to a village pub to eat roast beast
- being stopped by the vice-chancellor on my way across the stage for a chat about my degree and my dissertation topic (which i nearly forgot and stared blankly for only a few seconds before coming up with something that resembled research title)
- laughing with my dissertation supervisor
- introducing an unsuspecting greek man to mistletoe (at the insistence of my mom!)
- lots of pints (and some half pints)
- wrapped christmas presents to open
- my first stocking out of a suitcase
- english breakfasts
- new boots for everyone!
- bargaining for handbags in london, i almost used my new head wobble thing
- riding the tube, riding the tube, and riding the tube some more
- listening to the opera singers/pizza cooks at harrods
- a home cooked meal
- snowy balls
- trapped wind
- pink cakes
- skating in greenwich
- roasted chestnuts
- the savoy christmas tree and starbucks lattes
- a heathrow farewell (watch Love Actually!)
- a pick up call to my new favourite taxi driver peter
- 18 degree weather at 11:00pm and the end of the rainy season

revisiting elements of my past whilst in the uk made me think about my future. i am not as sure as i was a few weeks ago what that entails. gotta either get back to living in the moment or making plans. i have mastered both at different times in my life, i suppose it really just depends on where i feel most comfortable now.

but i am done in neither england nor kenya, those are certainties.

Friday, December 08, 2006


i am excited. i am heading to the airport tonight to catch my overnight flight to london and then to meet my parents at the airport tomorrow morning. i don't remember being this excited to travel in a long time, which is strange considering the places i have had the opportunity to visit recently.

it is strange, i also feel like i might miss something happening in nairobi in a week. i guess that is what you get for still being new in town. but i feel as though i will appreciate all that the english have to offer in my whirlwind trip of the country. and it will be so great to see my grad school friends from all over the world and to spend some family time since i will miss christmas in calgary this year.

and to drink yummy tea.

and to eat fish and chips and/or roast beast.

and to shop with my ma in london.

and to visit my bitty nana.

and to see the peak district again.

and to eat some greasy indian curries.

and to see kevin spacey on stage.

and to get a little christmas cheer.

and maybe, just maybe, to see tony blair and/or hugh grant at heathrow just like in love actually.

oh, and to graduate!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

the importance of nesting

i picked up my duvet cover and curtains yesterday and was absolutely thrilled with the result. i immediately dressed my room in its new colours and fabrics and, after a quick nap in the new bedding, admired my attempts to make my own nest. i am only supposed to be here for 6 months but i still felt that spending money on making my home my own was worth it. i think i am more of a nester than i realised. i can travel with a backpack, jumping from city to city, room to room, country to country with the best of them, but it is not the same as having your own nest to come to at the end of the day.

i am not sure if i am a homebody, i can definitely lean towards homebodyishness, but i know that having a comfortable space is paramount to my happiness and contentment. sort of like a bubble to come home to at the end of the day and just be safe and comfortable. having a patio that gets the evening sun is pretty fantastic too.

and it doesn’t hurt that someone does my laundry and tidies my room.

i’m not gonna lie, i love having a maid. it is a slightly strange dynamic, but i wouldn’t change it and with 4 girls living together, i think it alleviates some of the tensions of cleanliness and tidiness to have someone coming in to keep it clean and organised.

the nest is definitely coming together and i am quite comfortable in it. now i just need to find a way to entice all my friends and family to come and see the nest firsthand…

Monday, December 04, 2006

i've pet a giraffe

it took me 45 days to go through 170 Q Tips. that is an average of 3.7 tips per day. i really need to find a replacement for my overuse of Q Tips. good thing i am going to be seeing my parents this weekend so they can restock me with more of my favourite personal hygiene item. and good that i get to see them too, Q Tips or not!

i have recently perfected the indian head bobble wiggle thing. check out russell peter's comedy shows for the perfect impression that i am doing as i write this but you obviously cannot appreciate. i still have no idea what it means, but after negotiating with the tailor this saturday afternoon (where he really just kept lowering his price, wiggling his head, then asking if we were together on the price - the easiest negotatiations i have ever been involved in) i am now an expert in the move. the secret is in keeping the rest of your body totally still.

the other result of my hour or so spent in the tailor's is that i have a duvet cover and curtains being made to my specifications with the fabric i chose and the design i created. all for less than i'd pay for one set of sheets at home. i love africa.

i also pet a giraffe this weekend. then i fed a giraffe. then a giraffe hit me in the head with its all powerful ear. and there were more baby warthogs! all at a giraffe sanctuary on the edge of town in the swish colonial area. photos forthcoming...

my sunday was spent at a christmas market where i got a slight sunburn. i love standing next to a christmas tree and having to remove your sunglasses for a better view. i managed to purchase another scarf but this time i offered the guy what i had in my wallet, which was far below the price tag, and he actually agreed. as it supports a women's weaving cooperative and i love socially conscious consumption, i feel good about this purchase.

the night before, however, i complimented a woman on her scarf that was tied in her hair and she promptly removed the scarf and insist that i take it. i need to watch who i compliment on what or i might end up with more than i bargain for!

Friday, December 01, 2006

red ribbons

world aids day.

keep it wrapped.

fight aids.

kofi annan has a good message about accountability, the theme of this year's world aids day. if you read it carefully, it is pretty much saying that the developed world is not doing enough. i'd agree. so would stephen lewis, one of my favourite canadians.