Fluffy Trees and Ethiopia is 48 Hours Away


It’s Sunday. 48 hours from now I will be en route to Addis Ababa. I’ll be in Africa until July. That’s a long time, but I’ve done it enough now to know the days fly by in one big whirlwind. I’ll be there and then the next thing I know I’ll be home. That fast!

Today is a day for me to rest, but most importantly remember to bring everything I’ll need when I’m in Ethiopia. Inevitably, no matter how prepared I am and how many times I look at my lists, I always forget something. Last time I went to Ethiopia in April, I forgot my travel adapters and I had to buy another one at the airport. In fact, I have a ton of travel adapters just because I always forget to pack mine when I’m traveling abroad. They’re packed now.

This morning, we got up early to take photos of this amazing tree we see when we’re out running. I have no idea what it is. We just call it the “fuzzy tree”. I know, very scientific!  To me it’s oddly ethereal and as long as I’ve lived in the south (my entire life!) I’ve never seen it before.

This tree has lost a little of its spring newness since the first time we noticed it last week. That’s why we rushed to take photos today before the flowers are all gone. And certainly by the time I get back home next month it will only be bark, twigs, and leaves. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Do you know what this tree is? We saw one in pink and white.

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

A little listening…

An Old Tobacco Town


I live in an old tobacco town. I haven’t lived here all my life. In fact, Charlotte, North Carolina, a beautiful city in itself, is my hometown. But for the past four years Winston has been home.

We’re a fairly busy family, so we haven’t explored much of this city even though we live in the heart of the historic district. This morning we decided to drive around and look at the old vestiges of what brought this city massive, unbelievable wealth in the early twentieth century and still does: tobacco!

R. J. Reynolds is still headquartered here. Many of the old tobacco factories have now been turned into residential lofts with high ceilings and prodigious windows and the big tobacco plants have long since moved away from the area. It’s still interesting that a lot of America’s smoking history is housed right down the street from us and I’ve never taken a moment to give it a second look until today.

 

Reynods Tobacco

Old train tracks that brought the tobacco to and from the factory.

Reynods Tobacco

Reynods Tobacco

10 More Days…


Ethiopian Flag

…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.

[Photos] Urban Bikeshares #Berlin #London #DC


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.

6904990324_455e4fd8a3_b

Berlin

403864_10150935572655838_504504975_n

London

SONY DSC

Washington, DC

Living in Two Time Zones


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.

White Flower White Flower White Flower White Flower White Flower

 

Spring Evenings + Southern Magnolias



???????????????????????????????
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.

Southern Magnolia

Have you ever smelled a Southern magnolia? If you haven’t, be sure to put it on your to-do list!

Southern Magnolia

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!

Weekend Sounds + Good Reads


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.

Pharma Deals

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.

Ethiopian Beer

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.

meta beer

Me, Elsewhere

All week I have been sharing photos on my Instagram and Tumblr. Some of them you may have seen before. Others you may not.