Sunday, May 31

Days 4-6

I've survived my first weekend in Africa...my first four days to be precise. People keep asking if I've seen giraffes, elephants, hippos, lions, etc. walking around the streets. For the sake of disappointment, I'm going to start answering YES, and will then continue to tell you all how AWESOME it is. It's like I live in a zoo, minus being fenced in. Just imagine that for a second, and tell me how AWESOME it is!? In reality, monkey's, peacocks, goats, and hundreds of birds are the only thing my eyes have laid sight on. Maybe if I were in northern Botswana, or further out of the city I'd have more exciting stories to tell about the animals that roam freely, threatening us humans. But for now, those stories that I hope to one day tell, will remain stories of my imagination.

Whenever I think of Africa, I think of things like this:

This weekend, that is exactly what I saw. My co-worker and I may or may not have "snuck" in to the cultural festival to watch some of this:


video


Hey, tickets sold out three weeks ago, we had no other choice. Don't act like you wouldn't have done the same thing.

It's a good thing we did too, it meant we got to hang out with them:


Cutest little boys ever! I'm sure their Mom's appreciated us being there, we were basically their babysitters for the entire six hours. I'm almost positive he's the first boy whose ever cried when I said goodbye. He may only be three years old, but at least it was endearing.

I got to experience eating some of this:

Yes, that would in fact be caterpillar I'm about to put in my mouth. My mother taught me well with being adventurous in what I try...I consider caterpillar adventurous enough, for the time being anyway. Maybe chicken feet will be next, apparently that's a big thing over here. Yummy, right?

We got to watch more of this:

video


And some of this:


video

If I didn't entirely feel like I was in Africa before, with the nice hotel, turning of my bed covers every night, and a chocolate placed nicely on my pillow, this definitely solidified the fact that I'm really here.

My Sunday consisted of me getting a wake up call at 8:37 a.m.. I was supposed to meet a guy who was taking me to church at 8:30 in the lobby. Guess who slept through her alarm? Guess who also NEVER sleeps through her alarm? Guess who made his ENTIRE family late to church today? BUT guess who got ready in 6 minutes? I'm blaming it all on the jet lag. I felt so awful, but they were nice enough not to mind...too much anyway. The Bishop may have mentioned at the pulpit that the members need to do a better job at being on time to church...I sunk down in my seat a little bit, feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed for making a family of six late, because I couldn't wake up on time. Apparently last week 70 people walked in late...looks like they're true Mormon's. Hopefully next week will be better.

Let my first real week in Botswana begin.

Thursday, May 28

Days 1-3

I'm no longer an international virgin...I mean, I've finally stepped foot outside of America, and I did it with a bang.

Tuesday: 8 hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany
Followed by a 12 hour layover
Comprehension of spoken language, German: Not a lick.
High school German served no purpose...although, whenever a number was mentioned, my ears did perk up.
Let adventurous side kick in: I took the train into the city, acting like I knew exactly what to do.

And this is what I saw:

A tiny little German village
that lived up to my expectations of Germany

Frankfurt, a city that runs along this river,
With a park that was conducive to a fabulous,
but slightly chilly nap


Wednesday: 11 hour red-eye flight to Johannesburg, South Africa
Thursday: 40 minute flight to final destination, Gaborone, Botswana

Did I mention these flights were all taken in Business Class?
Where you have a lounge to hang out in before your flight,
with unlimited amounts of food and drink,
And given mixed/macadamia nuts, instead of measly little peanuts,
A hot towel to cleanes the skin,
And a chair that reclines into a bed...
nothing to be jealous of, I assure you.

If I was unsure about being outside of American earlier,
Landing in Gaborone was definitely a friendly reminded that,
"We're [or I'm] not in Kansas anymore."

Monkey's running across the grass in front of my hotel,
Goats walking up and down the sides of streets,
And plenty of people darting out into busy traffic like they actually live here and know what they're doing!

And now here I rest, in this fabulous city,
Where I'll be getting my bed turned down at night,
With a side of bottled water and ice,
and a chocolate for the pillow to top it off.


Business trips...it's a rough life.
(if I start complaining in a few weeks, just remind me of all of this, and the fact that I'm getting paid to be here...thanks!)

Don't be disappointed I don't have any pictures of Africa just yet...I'm here for another 29 days.

Tuesday, May 19

In T Minus 7 Days

An unforgettable journey is about to begin. While I may be slightly nervous about this unknown adventure that awaits me, looking at this hotel and listening to this music makes me more excited than anything. I don't think my mind has quite grasped the reality of the experience I'm about to encounter, but I do know this, I'm going to learn more in this short month about myself, my job, and this world than I could ever imagine. Botswana, you and I are about to become good friends. I hope you're ready for me, because I'm more than ready for you.

Third Time the Charm

12 months on the east coast
Three different locations of residency
Finally one great room all to myself.


From living with my brother and sister in-law
Upon arrival back east, and
Sharing a bed with my dear sister,
To sharing the master bedroom in our townhouse,
We finally took the plunge and upgraded to our
Own bedrooms
on separate floors
of our new house.


I may have downgraded in some aspects of my recent move,
Before:
After:
{I'm still trying to figure out where to put all of my clothes}

But in other area's
It was entirely an upgrade,
Before:

After:

My sister and I may have been eager to finally have our own rooms,
But truth be told,
She's going to miss me sleeping in the bed right next to her.


In fact, for the first two nights in our new house,
Her mattress was on MY bedroom floor.
It's tough being such a great younger sister.

Wednesday, May 13

Taps

Monday morning I watched and listened to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers (CBP) out practicing their fine tuned skills on their bagpipes. While I thought they were out practicing to become D.C.'s latest and greatest "street performers", indeed they were not. It appears they were merely practicing for the wreath laying ceremony to honor the fallen officers and agents of the CBP who gave their lives securing America's borders. Of course that's what they would be practicing for, and of course they would be who we honor today. Here's to you CBP officers. Here's to you America.


Tuesday, May 12

Twosome Tuesday

Two highlights for my Tuesday:

#1
This morning as I rushed out of my house on my way to work, I realized I didn't really grab anything to eat for breakfast. This is unusual for me. Breakfast is usually the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning. I like to eat. I'm always hungry. What's new? As I sat on the bus wondering what I was going to eat once I got to work, I decided that I needed to buy some fruit. I haven't had any in a few days because I haven't been grocery shopping for awhile. What's the point, I'm moving on Friday, and my kitchen is infested with ants? So, foodless and I remain friends. I was somehow so focused on getting into work, that between the Metro and my office, I forgot to stop and pick something up. Another unusual for me. Regardless, it didn't really matter this time. As soon as I walked into work, I discovered one of these waiting for me.


Check on the fruit. Not the kind I had in mind, but I will gladly have a chocolate covered strawberry anytime of day, even if it constitutes as my breakfast at 8:30 in the morning.

#2
Around 3:30 this afternoon I received a fabulous email from my Dad. I love when I randomly get emails from him...it means he was thinking of me. Without going into too many pointless details, by the end of his email, a phone call, and some probing at his pride, come a package in tomorrow's mail, my Dad will be the proud, or not so proud (as he'd like to say) owner of this...


That's right, my Dad has FINALLY agreed to get a cell phone. At the end of our conversation he said this to me, "How many days do I have to return it?" It's just a matter of time before he becomes fond of this little piece of technology. Oh, Daddy, how I love you! As of this moment, I'm the only one who knows his number. We'll see how long it takes him to confess that he's given into peer pressure, and share his sweet little 10 digits.

Monday, May 11

Monday

I love street performers.
Good or bad, they're always entertaining.
Every morning as I arrive to work, and every night when I leave,
someone is always standing at the top of the stairs of the Metro looking to make a buck or two.
This morning as I arrived to work, I heard a sound that I don't hear too regularly.
Out of curiosities sake, I wondered over to see what was going on,
and this is what I stumbled upon...

video

...not your typical street performers, but their music was definitely welcomed.
They must have known that this song has been stuck in my head for the past two weeks.
I love bagpipes, I love the song Amazing Grace, and today I loved Monday...at least my Monday morning!

Sunday, May 10

Joy to the World, Mom to Me

Happy Mother's Day to this fabulous lady!


She's the most fabulous, amazing, talented, beautiful, and crazy (in a good way) mother, anyone could ever ask for.


I hate not having her closer by, and she hates thinking I'm growing up!


She goes above and beyond any expectations you'd have for a mother...when the day comes, my kids will rather hang out with her than me.


She's known for making amazing sandcastles,


But her most well known attribute is being the mother to these wonderful children!


I love you, Mom, Happy Mother's Day!!!

Love,
Your favorite daughter




Friday, May 8

Temporary Duty (TDY)

My work environment is like none other. I hang out with people who travel from one side of the country to the next on a regular basis. If you ever want to save money, and you need a package delivered to Egypt, Zambia, France, Vietnam, Barbados, Russia, Hawaii, Ethiopia, Botswana, Afghanistan, Utah (on my account), Germany, Angola, India, China, South Africa, Namibia, Guyana, etc., I'm about 99% certain I could find someone in my office to personally deliver it for you. I work amongst international connoisseurs.

I once overheard a co-worker expressing her adolescent passion for Zebra's, only years later to look at them as any other ordinary animal, i.e. a dog or cat, or maybe just an ordinary horse in this case. She claims she loved them as a child, now, as an adult, and seeing them so frequently on her numerous trips to Africa each year, that passion has long since subsided. At this very moment I just overheard another co-worker say that she's going to Europe tomorrow. "I'm not really excited," she said, "I don't really love Europe. It's expensive." That's probably what I would say too, right before I board the plane for a dreadful/expensive trip to Paris and London. It's a rough life these people live. Everytime I overhear someone discussing one of their many TDY's (even if it was a bad experience), part of me envy's their life, their job, their experiences.

You can imagine my embarrassment when someone finds out that I've never been oversea before. They usually make a gasping sound, I feel embarrassed, and I can only imagine the thought running through their head, "THIS POOR MORMON GIRL HASN'T EXPERIENCED LIFE!" The extent of my "international" travel has been to Canada and Mexico. Not that I'm not grateful for the "international" trips I've been on, because let's face it, most of our business trips don't occur in Mexico or Canada, but the point is this; I've never left Northern America, and it's time I bid this country farewell and go visit some place other than Utah.

I keep saying 2009 is my year for international travel, and with a passport now in hand, and a year quickly slipping away, the time has finally arrived. Thank goodness for being in the right place at the right time. A few weeks ago one of our PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) Coordinators was in town from Botswana. I overheard her saying she is the only AID worker in the mission. Being the great eavesdropper that I am, and even better at chiming into a conversation that was never intended for me in the first place, I jokingly turned and said with a smile, "If you ever need help, I'd be happy to come out." I think it was the smile that got her, because in just two weeks I'll be on my way to becoming an international connoisseur myself...in the beginning stages anyway.

My first trip oversea and where do I get to go? Botswana! And how long do I get to go for? An ENTIRE month! Sure, if I must, I'll go to Africa for my first "business" trip.

While Ben Southall steals my job as an Island caretaker in Australia, blogging about his many adventures and luring tourist to the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, maybe I'll do my own makeshift version and entice the world to visit this fabulous country.


To be continued...

Monday, May 4

Season of Change

Today marks my one year anniversary of being an "east coaster".

That's right, believe it or not, that means I've survived an entire year of being a grown-up and living here:

More often than not I find myself wondering what I'm doing here:

And not here:

In theory I belong on the west coast, and
one day I'll make it to the place where I long to be on occasion,
where I can revisit my Candrian roots...

...Until the west coast and I reunite,
I'll continue to enjoy my drive along this each Sunday on my way to church...
...Riding this everyday on my way to work...

...Where I spend a good chunk of my day in this building...
...doing work for them...
...Which is conveniently located next to this...

...and down the street from here:

A place that's far from this...

...and them:
But thankfully my siblings and I made it easy on my parents by all living in one state...
...so there's plenty of time for this every few months:

I guess you can say I live a pretty mediocre life.
One year down, and hopefully a better year to follow.