ICan Work

It’s been a while, so here’s a recap:

I came home from Africa back in November 2012 to be with family over the holidays. Since I was home, I thought I would look for big boy jobs in my field. I had some success during the search, but ended up with a job I never thought existed. I am now a bicycle technician with an organization called ICan Shine, a non-profit group which aims to teach folks who have cognitive and other disabilities how to ride bikes, and to encourage them to become more confident and independent. Continue reading

Bale Mountain National Park

nyala

Nyala!

“Have you thought of your program?”

This was the third time this guide had barged into the drafty common room of the Bale Mountain National Park lodge to solicit his services. I had told him before that I had no plan and no desire for a guided walking tour of the park, be it for bird watching or otherwise, yet he persisted.

“We must make a plan.”

“Do I need a guide? Can’t I just walk around? Besides, I’m just here to meet a friend. I don’t think we will even do any trekking tomorrow.”

The friend I was waiting on was Brian, a long-haired, coffee-fueled, Peace Corps volunteer who I had met only fifteen minutes before. I was sent his way by an old college friend (and PC volunteer) who said I ought to go check out Bale. I thought this an excellent idea. Once you make Peace Corps friends in an area, the whole network opens up, and a vagabond can easily hop from town to town, connecting the dots.

“I’m just going to hang out with Brian. No birding.” It was getting cold and dark. Finally the guide gave up, electing to walk down to his cabin, leaving me in peace. Continue reading

Free Flight Upgrade

The free wine lady

The free wine lady

I had never dreamed of flying business class. There’s something about it that repels me. Maybe it’s in the designation: Business class is clearly made for those who sport pressed suits and shining shoes, who tote matching designer luggage sets, who actually have business abroad, and who may or may not be paying for it on their own. I’d seen business class before, but during my most recent stay towards the front of a commercial aircraft, I felt particularly out of place, having bummed around Africa for nine months previously with hardly more than a single change of clothes. Business class is not called Dirtbag class for good reason. Continue reading

Detained in Kampala

"Show me identification!"

“Show me identification!”

“That one is stubborn,” the chubby little Policeman explained to his dozing compatriots. ‘Stubborn’ would be the word of the evening, used again and again to describe my appalling behavior. “You sit down!”

I did so. I wasn’t sure what to think at this point, but the wooden floor of the wooden cell of this wooden police post seemed suitable for sitting. Cool air and mosquitoes leaked in through the gaps between the boards, prompting me to stuff my arms and legs into my shirt for warmth and protection. A necessary measure, though now my shirt was permanently stretched. It was too small anyway, I thought. Now to get out of thisContinue reading

Money Woes in Addis Ababa

A Birr

I made too many assumptions, I guess, and I am in a bit of a tight spot for it. For all of Addis Ababa’s contemporary feel and apparent wealth, it has been hard for me to access my money. When a traveler has no money, things become a bit desperate (though some would disagree), and one must exercise some cunning. Continue reading

Hip Africa Fashion

It is well known by now that most clothing which exists in Africa has been sent there by western civilization. Charities all over America and Europe gather unwanted garments and pack them into shipping containers to be sent to African port cities. Somewhere along the way, capitalist middlemen get a hold of them and the trickle down process of used shirts, jackets, pants, shoes, hats, sheets, and anything else begins.

Vacuum packed bushels of clothes, labeled something like “t-shirts XL heavy 100lbs,” are bought up by another tier of resellers and sorters who pick through the menagerie in search of the most fashionable, the most hip garb. Stuff of good style is sold to the more upscale of second hand clothes stores. The rest is bought up by whoever wants it: any number of resellers or small time hawkers hoping to take advantage of impulse-buying fashionistas in busy parts of town, or who set up stalls in central markets. At the bottom are the consumers, who end up paying decent prices for the used wardrobe filler. Continue reading

Muslim Matters

“They get mad at me when I wear this thing,” Yorkman, the bar’s jack-of-all-trades reflected. He had on his long Muslim gown, rich with embroidery, hanging down from his shoulders.

“Who does?”

“The Muslims!”

I suppose it’s natural for members of a religious group to feel possessive over their traditional garb. Yorkman is by no means a Muslim, but heck, he looks pretty good in the robe. His go-to special occasion outfit betrays his unaffiliated beliefs, and clashes with his Rasta hat in more ways than one. Continue reading