On my way from Tanzania to the US of A, I spent six days in Germany during which I explored three cities: Berlin, Leipzig, and Dresden. A friend lives in downtown Leipzig, so most of the time was spent in Leipzig where I could wander the city from his place. An absolutely brilliant location to live topped of by the bakery in the building being a source of delicious breakfasts. During my time in Germany I wandered old cities, learned some history, managed to stay warm, drank some good beer, and met some fun people. It was a perfect stop between Africa and America.

Berlin: A Holocaust monument 

Dresden: 4 photos in 1


Dresden: me & WDK 
Leipzig: Can you believe 5 minutes before this photo was taken it was almost a complete white out from falling snow?
Leipzig: One very traditional German meal.

an afternoon at the beach

Yesterday afternoon we went to an island just off of the coast of Dar. It has a lovely beach and good snorkeling, so is a delightful way to spend time. The water near the beach was quite nice, but a little ways out, where one would snorkel, there was a strong current and all sorts of things in the water that were more than happy to sting any exposed skin. Not sure what little creature was stinging us, but it was enough to drive us towards the shore. On the upside, much fun was had while floating in the warm water and relaxing in the sun (or really the shade). It was all topped off with fresh fish and chips.

Yesterday I also found out that Bethany (she and her parents are with us for a week) and I share our birthday, though separated by more than a few years. Needless to say, we have become fast friends. However, I have to admit that she wins in the speaking department as her posh English accent is far more fun to listen to than my boring American one.

no hotels?

This past week I got to enjoy the company of friends in Denver—I was traveling there for a conference, and got to spend three nights at their house. I spent the days at the conference, and the evenings were spent with friends. This meant we shared meals and conversations. I got to go to dinner with them, several of their colleagues, and 12 Japanese medical personnel that were visiting for the week. On Halloween, my last night, I got to help Mimi host the same group of people (nearly 20) for dinner. For the Japanese, it was their first Halloween, and everyone loved helping answer the door to hand out candy and take a few pictures too!

One of my many conversations with Mimi during our visit centered on hospitality and opening one’s home to friends and strangers alike. Mimi spoke of Salt, a town in Jordan, where there are no hotels. The people of Salt saw no need for hotels as their houses were open to all passing through. If your car broke down, and it would take a day to fix it, you were welcome to stay. How incredible it would be to live in such a place! It is a simple thing—giving someone a place to lay their head, a meal to fill their stomach, and conversation to fill the air and the heart.

I have stayed on floors, in beds, on couches, and in rooms with young children. Every time I have been thankful for a home to lay my head and grateful for new memories made with friends. I have no idea what the future holds, but I hope that it includes being able to provide a place for friends, old and new, to share a meal, to rest their heads, and to create memories.

a drum circle

A drum circle is any group of people playing (usually) hand-drums and percussion in a circle. Other instruments and dance can also be incorporated into the drum circle. They are distinct from a drumming group or troupe in that the drum circle is an end in itself rather than preparation for a performance. They can range in size from a handful of players to circles with thousands of participants.

~ Wikipedia

In order to work to complete my ND football experience, one of my girls invited me to the pre-game Friday midnight drum circle. I imagined some of the drummers from the band sitting on one of the quads (think big green lawn) letting the rhythms build into the cool night air. My conscious mind knew that this was wishful thinking, but my subconscious dreamed of an African drum circle building energy through the night.

What actually happened?

SR arrived at the steps of the main building at 11:15pm to save us a ‘seat.’ RH and I arrived by 11:35pm to find that SR was, literally, standing on the outside part of the steps of the main building—a cement ledge about a foot wide. People behind her and in front of her, but true to her word, there was space for all three of us to stand after being helped up by a rather large man. By the time that the entire drum line of the ND marching band showed up at midnight, there were probably more than 2,000 people gathered on the steps and the lawn, and ND security had to work to clear a circle for them. What followed was 30 minutes of ND cheers mixed in with drum circle improve. The drum line was a circle; it was a swarming, dancing group of percussionist. The crowd sang, clapped, and made all the motions of the traditional songs; they cheered the drum circle and soloists. Through it all, the energy built, and I could not help but be swept up in the moment with the crowd.

African drum circle? No.

A cultural experience? Yes.

Would I recommend it? Definitely.

random conversations

RC: My feet do not get clean until I return to the States.
PC: Do you use your lofa on them when you shower?
RC: Ewww. It touches the rest of my body. Why would I do that?
PC: Because it has soap on it.
LS: It tastes like sweat. (Of oral rehydration salts.)
SR: Good ting I have low rise pants on. ( Due to the effects of dinner
expanding in her stomach after drinking some water…)
Of cheese just boiled, that had previously been sitting on the ‘kitchen’
LS: And then it will go back to being unrefridgerated?
RC: No….then we will get electricity and a fridge.
Describing her junior high crush…..
SR: He was sooo popular… and once he gave me a Milky Way!
While reviewing some data….
PC: I bet you didn’t know you could have a pH of a 100.
LS: What is the difference between ‘por favor’ and ‘s’il vous plait’?
RC: Ummm…..’por favor’ is Spanish?

ode to mosquito coils

Written by ‘my girls.’ To the tune of “God Bless America”

God bless mosquito coils
spirals that we love.
Stay lighted all nighted,
till the sun rises high up above.
From the kitchen
to the bedroom,
protect us from itchy bites.
God bless mosquito coils
Guarding our home sweet home.

cheerleading — 14 june

Last year my dad said it would be interesting to hear the students, along with me, tell their sides of the stories that I told—he wondered if they would be recognizable as the same stories. This year one of the students has declared me a good cheerleader, and is thinking about getting me a cheerleading outfit for Christmas. I’m not thrilled about that concept, but am fairly confident that I could convince her to go camping in the fall, although her friends will request pictures to prove it. Here are a few samples:

“You can eat that.”
“Wearing your hat will preserve your skin.”
“I know you can clean your plate.”
“The mouse is more scared of you than you are of it.”
“Try ____ angle at the meeting.”
“You can’t avoid using the latrine. It is not that bad.”
“How much have you drunk today?”
“She finished her plate—I’m sure you can.”