Thursday, November 29, 2007

who's got spirit?

i was listening to christmas tunes this morning as i got ready to come into work and it put me in the most festive mood. which is rather difficult when i am also wrapping my head around sitting on a beach this weekend on the coast of kenya.

but for some reason, something has put me in a melancholy mood over the course of the day, but that could be because i didn't take time for lunch (as i had eaten my yoghurt and beets in olive oil and balsamic vinegar already - strange eating habits, i know) and my brain is now a bit fatigued of excel spreadsheets (but i do love the excel) and staring at my outlook inbox. maybe because i have actually been a bit of a productivity machine today and am just done an hour early for the day.

i have managed to clean up my desk, organise my files, catch up on my to do list, prepare for a meeting, and even apply for a job (they say the best time to look is when you have one, right? and i am not sure how long i will stay at this one.) i love a to do list but i love a crossed off to do list even more.

did i mention that i am going to the beach this weekend?! to relax, visit with my travelling partner, and read books. but i will wear plenty of sunscreen as i spied a little crease that wants to become a wrinkle near my mouth. then in 13 days (13 days!), i will be home for real wintertime christmas spirit.

which reminds me, it is now time for me to listen to Song for a Winter's Night by Sarah McLachlan obsessively.

Monday, November 26, 2007

16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women

the 16 days began on november 24th with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and to mark the day, i got to go to the american ambassador to kenya’s residence for nibblies, drinks served by servers dressed in white balancing glasses on trays, and singing and poetry by local women.

it was nice to meet people who my professional path has crossed and to be greeted warmly and describe what i am doing to counter violence against women. and to hear what women are doing and have been doing for years, it was pretty inspiring. a friend of mine just set up the first national steering committee to eliminate female genital mutilation and another is volunteering in one of the slums with a school and has done for a year. another is the director of a women’s organisation that has been running for 55 years here. others are funding such projects and some were older women who have been in this fight a long time and are exactly like african mothers, taking on the challenges of their community and never complaining and taking it all in stride. others were young women and girls who came in their school uniforms and are already leaders in their own right. and of course, the men who support women and fight for the same equality and equity that women are fighting for all over the world. you cannot achieve gender equity with only one gender and it is compelling to see men who are as engaged in the efforts as women.

there are 16 days. (more like 14 now because i am a bit late in posting this.) 16 days to do something. be active. there are global calamities affecting women like female genital mutilation and trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation, which are clearly not going to be stopped during our 16 days nor are any of us going to do it alone. and those of us from the global north living in developed countries won’t encounter such types of violence against women, but even canada has a long ways to go to stop all forms of violence against women. you have 16 days to talk about it. to encourage a young women to go to school, to study what they want, to work where they want, to play sports, to laugh, to play, to excel and to achieve. to build resiliency. to offer your support to a shelter or assistance programme for disadvantaged women. to speak out about rape. to talk about safe sex and choices. to teach women and girls about their rights. to teach men and boys about their responsibilities. just act.

16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women

Thursday, November 22, 2007

a list for procrastination

  • i have heart burn and have had 4 orange-flavoured Tums since this morning. i am not sure that this is a lot because i never get heart burn, but it seems like a lot to me
  • it has been raining a lot lately, which is no fun when i come to work and sit in my soggy pants (haha, soggy pants, but really just the bottoms of them are wet and then just stay damp all day) and freeze
  • uncertainty freaking sucks. and it sucks x2 when there are 2 people involved
  • it is official, i am the least patient person on earth
  • yesterday i was a productivity machine, today, not so much
  • i have been troubling accessing my blog lately, which is rather annoying but i did find a wireless provider that i could access from home on lucille the laptop. and people think i am roughing it...
  • i have my own intern now. ok not my very own intern to make me coffee but someone to help me do my work. because i actually have real work. and that is good
  • elections are in a month in kenya and there has been some pretty awful electoral violence, especially against female aspirants. just because you don't want someone to run doesn't mean you get to beat them up. start acting like a democratic country, is all i have to say
  • i might get to go to a refugee camp
  • i do get to go back to the coast next week and this time i am stretching out my trip for some beach time
  • when other people are bustling around me and stressing out, it cramps my productivity style
  • i get to go home in 20 days! and i already have a lunch date, a dinner date, a sushi date, and a cabin date

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

good no good

good – i wake up at 5:30am for my taxi to collect me at 6:30am to get to the airport by 7:30am for my flight to mombasa

no good – the coffee i make in my new maker is a touch on the strong side

good – i make it to the airport in only half an hour

no good – i find out my flight is delayed for 2 hours

good – i sit and have tea with my colleague and get to know her and kenya a little better

no good – the total disregard of the boarding rules and the mad rush to get seats

good – i chill out and read my BBC Focus on Africa magazine while i wait for the madness to cease

no good – someone has taken my seat once i finally get on to the plane

good – i finally get my seat sorted and get comfortable with no one beside me

no good – the pilot’s kamikaze flying techniques that made me afraid to go to the bathroom for fear that we might crash and i would be found in the loo

good – we arrive safely and get to our meeting

no good – it is hot and sweaty

good – there is a beautiful view from the government office of the indian ocean and the mombasa harbour

good – our meeting ends at 2:00pm and there is plenty of time for me to spend the afternoon laying by the rooftop pool and read my book (ok, this is really good!)

no good – gross crows that freak me out everytime they swoop down to get some crumbs from the nearby restaurant

good – back in my room watching tv that has more than 2 channels in kiswahili, a great novelty

no good – the oprah episode that is on is one with howie mandel and deal or no deal, a show i don’t even really understand

good – i am about to find myself some www then grab dinner at the rooftop restaurant at this hotel

really good – my job right now!

Monday, November 12, 2007

less well composed than i had planned

i was just in kisumu last week and i was preparing a post in my head that would include everything i wanted to say about the political rallies for the upcoming election, how the town was rather nice (sorry, city, they are quite proud of their city status) but lacked decent restaurants, and how i had some lovely meetings with the provincial governement guys which were pretty much circa 1954 and i swear that the old big african men who used to run the show sat on that very same fluffy velvet furniture and they were served the very same milky tea by the woman in the shift dress as i was. but i have yet to get around to it. partly because i spent the better part of yesterday (ok, the entire part of yesterday) recovering from a hangover from red wine. and everybody knows (especially glenda) how that feels. no good at all. so i read one and a half books. because even when i am hung over, i still do not have a tv and have to do something to amuse my sorry self. reading it was.

i finished Acts of Faith and i must now recommend this (you must be sick of my recommendations on books, but i really have read some good stuff recently). all about the whole aid thing in southern sudan during the war between the SPLA and khartoum government. tis long, but tis worth it.

i just realised, after catching up on inspired by dooce, that yesterday was remembrance day and i didn't even remember! that is bad. and like i said on her blog, it is especially bad considering the circumstances. yikes. i need a poppy.

now i am in nakuru and there is a lake, like kisumu, and there are jacarandas, like kisumu, there are meetings with goverment men on squishy orange and velvet couches, like in kisumu, and there is a hotel with questionable sheets, like kisumu. and this whole travelling for work thing is getting old already. oh but wait, on wednesday i go to mombasa and buying more kanga and hanging out by a pool in the tropical sun is not old. could perhaps never get old.

my travelling partner and colleague is convinced that i am anemic so i am off to find something with iron to eat. besides red meat and dark, leafy greens, i am drawing a blank as to what else i can eat. and rural(ish) kenya is really not the place to try and remedy my diet, but i will give it my best attempt. she suggested liver. ummmmm.... no.

oh, and i am going home in 30 days and i am so ridiculously excited for this trip.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

a recipe for A Perfect Weekend

  • a nice and long saturday morning walk full of sun and flowering jacarandas
  • brunch of huevos rancheros with bacon (for him) and toasted bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon (for her) at a newly discovered restaurant with a lovely garden, impeccable service, and strongly brewed coffee
  • replacement of a newly purchased cheapo brand of fridge that was delivered without freon with a brand spanking new shiny white LG at no additional charge
  • grocery shopping to fill a new fridge with vegetables and cheese
  • a visit to a photography exhibit of one of the refugee camps in kenya
  • cold beers on the patio of the Stanley hotel on a hot afternoon with great convo and lots of laughs
  • dinner at a friend's house with homemade bruschetta, jokes about kenyan idiosyncracies, and chats about terrorism, immigration, and elections over good red wine
  • a sunday morning run to maintain the fitness, harvest the freckles, and try out the routes around the new homestead
  • collaborative kitchen efforts to make delicious omelettes and hashbrowns for a leisurely breakfast in the peace of the patio with oj and coffee refills
  • pedicures with two lovely ladies while sipping a capuccino that resulted in the reddest toes ever
  • sunday evening at the bowling alley with a canadian, a brit, a south african, a kiwi, and an american sipping tuskers while sporting the sexiest velcro shoes and marvelling at the canadian prowess on the lanes
  • gooey roast beef and tuna melts in the crisp evening air to round out the best nairobi weekend in a long time