It’s a little ridiculous to dream about going back to Africa especially when I just got back from the continent a little over a week ago. I understand that. But, as ludicrous as this sounds I am already thinking about traveling to Africa again. I think it’s because Africa is so expansive and there is still so much for me to see. Plus, I’m not getting any younger. I want to be able to climb mountains and walk in the rural areas whenever I want and not be hampered by my age. OK, I’m only 39, but still.
Another thing that is bothering me terribly is that I have only visited east African countries and South Africa. That’s it! I’m not sure how that happened, but I have never visited west Africa and I have traveled to the continent seven times. Now, I’m itching to see that side of the continent.
I really want to visit west Africa, but that’s out of the question now that ebola is running rampant throughout Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Even though ideally I want go to Dakar, Senegal, I can’t take any chances. People travel extensively throughout the region and you just never know if someone is flying with ebola. When I go to Africa I am always worried about malaria and dengue fever. Ebola shouldn’t be on my list of disease worries, so for now, west Africa is out of the question.
I have heard from many people that Rwanda is a fantastic place to visit. And I know I can get really great stories there. Even after the genocide, great strides have been taken to make Rwanda whole again. Kigali is supposed to be extremely safe and clean, so yes, Rwanda is intriguing to me. I also really want to visit Namibia because of its deserts. And Botswana and Mozambique would also be interesting countries to visit. Above all, however, I really want to visit Mali (always have!), but because of the instability there I will have to wait until it’s safer (at least in my mind).
I have no doubt that I will visit Africa again this year. It’s just a matter of where and when. I do need to stay put for awhile. That’s for certain, but there’s nothing wrong with a little “Africa Dreaming” from time to time.
I spent nearly a month in Africa, again! I went through a period last year when I also spent a month in Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa. This time Ethiopia and South Africa were my temporary home throughout June and the early bit of July.
I’ve been home now for about a week and I have adjusted quite well, surprisingly. I haven’t had really weird jet lag problems. The only day when I was ridiculously tired was the day I came back (on July 4th) and I slept like a rock! No one could wake me up for anything. I missed FIFA soccer and Fourth of July fireworks, but I was with my family so that’s all that mattered.
There were a few days when I still desperately missed my family even though we were all in the same place – at home! That was really weird, but that feeling also passed. I am so glad to be in North Carolina without any pressing global jaunts in the pipeline. Although for those of you who know me well, it will probably be a few months before I am on another jet plane with passport in hand ready for another adventure to report on women and girls in unknown places.
Typically when I travel I post updates when I am away, but this trip was a little different. I was co-leading a group of stellar US journalists throughout Ethiopia to report on newborn health on an itinerary I put together in the spring with the International Reporting Project. If you recall, I went on two IRP trips last year as a fellow. This time the tables were flipped and I was the program manager for this Ethiopia reporting trip. It was intense, to be sure, with a lot of moving parts. To make a long story short I concentrated on ensuring the trip went smoothly instead of blogging here every day. I did post pictures along my journey that you can see on my Tumblr blog – short and sweet.
Guarang Women in Ethiopia’s Southern Highlands
Ethiopia is definitely one of my favorite countries to visit. In fact, I love it so much I will figure out a way to live there if only for a few months at a time. There are a lot of stories I would like to tell about women and girls. I want to push my reporting to visit those who I can’t easily get to and places where I might need two translators – one for English to Amharic and another who specializes in Amharic to some other lesser known Ethiopian language; they have several.
In the meantime, it’s back to life and back to reality. I’m thrilled to be back in my own time zone, sitting at my own desk right now, looking out of my own windows.
…and I will be back in Ethiopia.
Going to Africa is a little second nature for me now. This will be my eighth time traveling to the Continent in three years and my third time traveling to Ethiopia, one of the countries I truly love! I will be in Africa for quite some time again. It seems like I have these massive opportunities to visit Africa, but I’m staying there for longer and longer stretches at a time.
I look forward to sharing photos when I travel around the country throughout June.
Biksharing in big cities is an extremely easy and fun way to see a city. It’s far cheaper than taking a cab everywhere and more expansive than simply walking around your hotel’s two to three mile radius.
Most major cities I have visited have bikeshare programs and, of course, when I am in Africa (particularly in the rural areas) I see bikes everywhere. Bikes are still relevant even when it’s sometimes easier to simply hail a taxi.
Here are some bikshares I’ve seen in Berlin, London, and DC.
It’s been great living in two time zones. I’m usually up extremely early (around 3 AM EST) making calls to Addis. I go back to sleep for a hot second and then I’m up early again getting ready for east coast time. And then I crash early in the evening and repeat it the next day. I love it!
Before I start getting sleepy each evening my family and I head out to a greenway to feel the spring air. Hearing all of the birds and smelling the grass, flowers, and trees is infectious. It’s something my senses will always remember. There is nothing like spring in the south.
When I was a kid we had a sprawling Southern magnolia tree in our yard. Each year I would wait for it to bloom with its magnificent white, fragrant flowers so I could try to jump and reach one and bury my nose in it. I never did reach one, but I could smell the beautiful flowers all the time. I’ve been in love with Southern magnolias ever since.
Yesterday evening near dusk we went for a walk and again I tried my best to reach a flower when we passed a Southern magnolia, and again, I couldn’t reach one. But my camera lens could reach a few. The best, most beautiful flowers are always the ones high in the trees you can never get to.
Have you ever smelled a Southern magnolia? If you haven’t, be sure to put it on your to-do list!
By the way, I am so honored that my Tumblr blog got featured on Tumblr’s staff blog today. They also featured one of my photos from Tanzania. I couldn’t be happier!
This is the first full week I’ve been home since Ethiopia. Of course, it’s been an adjustment, but overall I think I’ve done a pretty good job getting back into a normal routine. My body has transitioned to east coast time so although I am still going to bed earlier than usual I am still waking up around 6 AM. That’s definite progress.
New Coltrane Photos
I read a fantastic piece in today’s Smithsonian Magazine by Nelson George about newly found photos of John Coltrane in New Photos of John Coltrane Rediscovered 50 Years After They Were Shot. It’s a great article. Be sure to go through the slide show. I grabbed two of my favorite Coltrane songs to commemorate the occasion!
Contraceptives in Pakistan
PRI’s Ninth Month series covers pregnancy and childbirth around the world. Take a listen to Sonya Narang’s piece out of Pakistan about mothers-in-law who hold sway over a woman’s contraceptive choices: What if your mother-in-law decided when you got pregnant?
Kerry in Africa
As you may know Secretary of State John Kerry is in Africa on a diplomatic mission. Today he gave a speech in Addis about America’s commitment to the continent. The United States already has a large humanitarian and global health commitment to Africa, but as Kerry said in his speech I hope that the United States invests more in business and education as well as entrepreneurship and harnessing the bright, young minds in Africa. There is already progress in that direction.
I am fascinated by this impending deal between Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Pfizer wants to buy AstraZeneca for $100 billion (with a B)! That is a mind-boggling amount of money and shows once again how deep pharma’s pockets really are.
I have written here before at length that I love beer and everywhere I travel I find new-to-me beers to try. This time while I was in Ethiopia I tried Meta beer. I had a few bottles during my few weeks in Ethiopia. Mainly I drank St. George which is the most popular in my estimation. Meta is good, too. And, as it turns out, I’m not the only person who enjoys a good Ethiopian beer.
Ethiopia’s Meta Abo Brewery was purchased in 2012 by Diageo, one of the world’s largest drinks companies, to grab a foothold into Ethiopia’s quickly growing beer market.
All week I have been sharing photos on my Instagram and Tumblr. Some of them you may have seen before. Others you may not.