Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Looking at the red center

I just realized it looks like I haven’t been anywhere in a year. That, fortunately for me, is not true. However, on my last adventure, my travel companion is not as internet/technology happy as me and every time I made a move for my computer I was met with a glare — so much for blogging my adventures down under.

The good news is I had lots of positive experiences on my try to Australia, the bad news, is I haven’t had time to share them … yet.

Hopefully that will change as I work to find the time to fit everything I want to into a currently over packed schedule.

Until then … this is Uluru.

When I first saw it for real, I was in the process of climbing up to a small lookout. When I saw the giant monolith I let out such as gasp that my friend, and a number of people around, thought I had seen/steeped on a snake. They turned to look and was met with my silent, wide-eyed stare, pointing at the gorgeous red rock on the horizon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Music festivals are great for the music, but even better for the atmosphere.

Here’s a quick look at the faces that appeared at the Ness Creek Music Festival in Northern Saskatchewan, where happy-ness and peaceful-ness reigned supreme and colour is appreciated.

For more photos visit: Ness Creek, the people

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mosquito Heaven North of 50 - One Girl's Battle with the Bugs

So after repetitive cycles of hot, steamy weather and thunderstorms, the only reason I believe I am somewhere besides Thailand, is the complete lack of Thai food.

I don’t know what’s going on with this weather, but the last time I was this hot and sticky I was surrounded by monks dressed in orange and sleeping under a mosquito net.

And honestly if this weather pattern keeps up I might have to start thinking about a mosquito net for here. Usually self-respecting mosquitoes stick to two times of day, dawn and dusk. There are so many of the little blood suckers that at 10 a.m. there is one licking it’s lips and looking at me.

Wait, do mosquitoes have lips?

Point being, I am slowly becoming covered with the tell-tale welts that reveal my seemingly nasty allergy to mosquito bites.

Even when I am wearing deep-woods, deet-infused bug repellent I can hear their high pitch whine as they look for a safe place to land. Then the whine stops. And people I am sitting with are treated to my mini dance as I trash about trying to figure out where it landed and trying to kill it before it bites me.

I guess I should count my blessings though, at least they are not the malaria-carrying Anopheles, or I would be in a lot more trouble that simply uncomfortable.

If I am looking as the positives, at least this weather has meant much shortened season of the funny, green worms that hang off the trees on spider-web-like silk.

On the other hand, I seem to prefer the areas of the world that have Anopheles.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


In a taxi on my way to downtown Kampala on one of my last days, I watched two girls having a conversation. One was speaking in Luganda while using sign language and the other was responding using sign language.
It was an awesome to watch their conversation. The girls were fluent in two languages, and one was based on English. I’m lucky if I can use English on it’s own at the best of times. :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Searching for one bag...

It's bad news when the two women trying to get your bag checked through to Saskatoon call for a third person by saying, "come and see what we are doing."
It wasn't so much they wanted more help that concerned me, but they had the excitement of a child doing something they weren't supposed to.
I started to believe I might never see my bag again.
It was my own fault, the woman checked my bag to London and printed out the baggage tag. Dreading having to clear customs and immigration simply to check-in again, I asked if she could check them into my final destination, which didn't appear on her computer ... initially.
The first woman, called over the second and they typed and chatted excitedly. A bag tag for Sydney came out. I pointed out that, that wasn't Saskatoon, they should be looking for YXE. I was also wishing I had kept my mouth shut.
Then as if someone was looking out for me, the system died. We were left with the bag tag for London, which they put on my bag and it disappeared.

Good news, I saw my bag again in London, Toronto and finally Saskatoon. Yay. I'm not going to lie I had more than a little doubt about seeing it again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I saw you.

Nakulabye is the best place in Kampala for pork.

However, its meaning is what I find interesting. Nakulabye means I saw you. It was so- called for it’s location in a valley beneath where the king historically lived.

You couldn’t really pass through the area without someone from above being able to see you. They would then say, “I saw you.”



When in Sudan I had a moment straight out of the Princess Bride, if you haven’t seen this movie please go and do so.
We were leaving this restaurant well after dark, around 9 p.m. when something big scurried across the road in front of the car.
It was bigger than a cat, but with a long naked tail and it moved like a mouse.
I was sitting in the front seat and I’m sure my eyes bulged.
“Did anyone else see that?” I asked.
There were equally shocked expressions on people in the backseat. They nodded.
“Was that a rat?”
Our driver just laughed.
It instantly took me back to the move. Where the heroes are walking through the woods when someone asked about the ROUS.
“Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist,” one of the characters responds.
Well they do and they are living in Southern Sudan.
That night, one of them ate the hearing aid of one of our travel companions … fortunately it wasn’t in his ear at the time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Speaking out

I nearly caused an accident yesterday evening.
While running late to meet a friend and head out of town, I hopped on a boda-boda (the ubiquitous motorcycle taxi). Another driver was following us closely, calling, “muzungu, muzungu” (white person) at me.
I turned around, still clinging to my boda, and started to speak to him in Luganda, the main language spoken in Kampala (after English).
He started at me.
Asked me a question in Luganda, I responded.
My boda driver was laughing - the other driver seemed to forget he was driving at 60 km per hour. He was staring at me in disbelief and drifting over the yellow line.
“Taxi,” I yelled in English.
That brought him back to reality. He pulled out of the path of the oncoming bus and sped away.
I still find it a little funny that a few words in the local language can cause such a stir.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Open letter

An open letter to all the first time visitors to Uganda,

1. Please stop moving in herds,
2. People here aren’t going to hurt you. The worst that will happen is you will be relieved of that expensive watch you shouldn’t be wearing anyway,
3. No one is looking to give anyone food poisoning, especially not you, sick people make for bad restaurant business,
4. Stop paying excessively and tipping, especially in local establishments. I know you think you are doing a good thing, but you are driving up the costs of things for locals,
5. Do not pay people for their photos, unless they are street performers and then only maybe. If they say ‘no, I don’t want my picture taken’ then walk away,
6. Stop calling them the slums of Kampala, the area is called Kisenyi and in it are people’s homes. How would you like someone to call your neighbourhood a slum?,
7. Don’t do things you aren’t trained for. If you are an arts student, don’t provide medical ‘advice’ in the ‘slums (see 6).’ People here deserve the same level of care that you would like to receive,
8. Please if you are only coming to preach or feel good about yourself, stay home. People here need doctors and nurses and money, they don’t need to be told by some white person that their needs will be met if they pray. There are enough local priests and pastors here to tell them that.
9. If you want your church dollars to be put to good use, help support local hospitals or schools. Why are there two brand new, very expensive looking churches next to a hospital that is falling apart and can hardly afford to pay staff? People here can pray anywhere, surgery cannot be performed outside. The good news is when people die from a lack of care, they’ll have a nice place for a funeral … if they can afford it.

My question is, if you are afraid of being here, why did you come?
Really take a deep breath, get out past the gates and sanitized accommodation and enjoy Kampala and the countryside of Uganda, it’s called the Pearl of Africa for a reason. Be a tourist and support the local economy as that will help more than you can imagine.

Thank you,

Scars vs tattoos

I had this grand plan when I came home to get a tattoo, but I’ve apparently decided to go with unintentional scarification instead.
What this means is I am a klutz and will be returning to Canada with more lasting marks than I left with.
A couple of days before I left on the trip I managed to perform minor surgery with my razor on my leg. That is turning into a nice scar.
When I arrived in Kajo Keji County, Southern Sudan, I literally fell out of the back of a truck, resulting in another nice scar.
And this morning while again shaving my legs – I think I know what the hazard is here – I managed to cut up my left lower back on the faucet. Please don’t as me how as I am not even sure.
While trying to perform first aid on my back and hip I realized, this is one of those times it would be nice to travel with someone.
Actually at the rate I am going, I’m going to need to start traveling with my own medical trauma team.
So much of my body is now marked up, I’m not going to have space for a tattoo.