I recently asked a friend for suggestions on my next post. For whatever reason, he resonated with this story and told me to write about it.
It was only third day in Africa and my first night completely on my own. I decided to head north and camp out at Lake Naivasha. It was a hell-tastically hot day so my budget-minded sense said to rent a tent without the extras: a blanket and bedding.
My sense was wrong. Temperatures dropped morbidly low that night and I had only the minimums: a hoodie, two t-shirts and a pair of shorts. In the next six hours that I stayed up writhing in my frigid misery, I questioned everything that I had given up to pursue this foolish dream of travel and adventure: my job, financial stability, security, the comfort of friends and family, a bed and Junior’s cheesecake. There no one to lament to except the empty darkness, the creepy crawlers that decided to bunk in my tent and the barrage of groaning hippos 700 feet away. It was the first time in my life that I could remember being so homesick and so alone.
There would be a dozen other times after this where I would run into a dire situation on my trip. But I learned something every time: we’re stronger than we think.
We were driving north in Namibia with no lights, no people, and the first flood of the Swakop River in years. This all meant maneuvering on rocky paths, through flooded ditches… and surprise! A herd of cows. The best part was that we didn’t run into them. They ran into us.
For anyone who read my last post, you’ll know that I spent much of the weekend at the NYC Famine Hackathon. The premise was to gather twenty-five creatives, developers and marketers in one room with the goal to come up with fundraising ideas for the famine in East Africa.
We split into five groups but every group faced the same challenge: how do you make people to care about an issue we are so far removed from in our daily lives? Why should people donate to a famine in Africa when we can’t even get our heads wrapped around a recession and war at home?
The concept that my group and I finally came up was based on the stark fact that one child dies every six minutes from starvation in East Africa.
Stop and let that soak in.
In the time that it takes to watch an episode of Glee, 5 children will have passed away from an issue that is completely preventable with the all modern conveniences of today’s world.
Check out our project #oneeverysix, as well all the other ideas from this weekend here. Many of the projects are still being completed with the help of developers but bookmark the site and check back often. Because one in six is a probability too high to ignore.
This weekend is going to be slightly different. I’m leaving the fancy shoes at home, putting the nerd glasses on and having a sexy date with my Macbook Pro. So the ONLY difference is that this weekend will be with a roomful of designers, marketers and developers (aka hackathon). The idea is to come up with some amazing projects between Friday and Sunday to raise money for the famine in East Africa. Pretty cool :D
So if you’d like to jump in with your ideas or just contribute some dollars to the cause check this out:
Check back next week for some new and of course, awesome posts :D
Three reasons why I’m happy that my mom doesn’t know how to use the internet:
1. I learned to ride a motorcycle
In a village where there’s minimal electricity, no tv and zero internet you need to get a little creative. (I lied. We found ONE tv and it was playing of all things, Chinese soap operas in Mandarin. Of course.)
After some constructive brainstorming, my friend and I flagged down a boy on a motorcycle taxi and asked to rent his bike. Voila! 40 minutes later:
What I didn’t mention was that we were on the very Muslim coast of Eastern Kenya. Proper women are covered up and stay at home, tourists stick to snorkeling by the shore and NO ONE tries to learn how to ride a motorcycle. What started out as an empty field became littered with boys and men both jeering and cheering at the strange sight of me- a foreign girl teetering around on a bike. If ever there was a moment where I couldn’t fail, it was this. I heard the roar of their laughter when I couldn’t kick start the bike and the weight of their stares when I got burned by the exhaust.
But at last, my moment of glory come when I walked off the field and turned to wave a victorious good-bye at the crowd of stunned men. Point for the girl’s team.
2. We got mugged in Mombasa
My initial thought was to grab a rock and heave it at the four guys that had pushed my friend down and ripped the gold chain off his neck. But judgement kicked in and I realized me < four guys wasn’t a good idea; violence was a bad look for me anyways. So I ended up doing the reasonable thing and flagging down help.
The best part of the scenario? No one got hurt, it was a good lesson learned (be more careful and don’t throw rocks at men twice your size) and my friend got his chain back. The guys had dropped it on their way out and a watchful homeless man found and returned it, once again proving the goodness of random strangers.
3. I got left by a bus in Nowheresville, Kenya with no phone, cash or passport.
I got off the bus to let the pushy passenger behind me out. For whatever reason, the bus stopped, I got out, but the man behind me didn’t. As the bus whizzed away and left me in the darkness, I realized that my phone, cash and passport were in the bag my friend offered to help me carry when the bus got too crowded. FML.
While looking for help down the empty, barren road, a concerned trucker spotted me and somehow understood my wild gestures and that I needed to locate my friend who was still on the bus. A frantic truck chase, a lot of mishaps and two hours later, friend and I were reunited once more.
Summer lasted a whooping 7 months for me this year. I left for Africa back in February, dodging almost every single blizzard that hit New York. By the time I left for Europe in May and finally came home in July, I had hit summer on three different continents. What that means is that the cold is going to kick my butt this year.
As my way of saying “screw you” to the rain that’s hit New York for the past three days and the first chills of fall, here’s a post from one of my hottest days in Kenya: Hell’s Gate.
For those of us in the US, today is Long Weekend Blues. It’s the day after Labor Day and the last glorious weekend before beaches close, barbeque grills go back in storage and everyone got a little too frisky with friends like “Captain,” “Morgan” and “Rum.”
What this all translates to is: I’m not ready for the week; check back tomorrow for a new post:D. In the meantime, take a gander at the new Facebook page for the orphanage I volunteered at in Tanzania. Check out what life is like for 24 kids who like me, regardless of today, stay hopeful about tomorrow.
In lieu of the tragic events of Tuesday’s earthquake and soon to be catastrophic effects of Hurricane Irene, I’ve decided to write a more positive post in the hopes that all New Yorkers can rise above the possible cancellation of Dave Matthews Band on Governors Island this weekend.
Many people have asked me what the food was like while I was traveling through Kenya and Tanzania. I’ll be honest, food in East Africa is not always the stuff culinary dreams are made of. It didn’t stop me from gaining weight though. Here are my picks of the bunch.
I said good-bye to Africa over a month ago and I’m finally have catching up with the 7,234 photos I’ve taken in the last five months.
Starting from the top, my first few days backpacking through Kenya: