28 February 2012
27 February 2012
24 February 2012
23 February 2012
22 February 2012
21 February 2012
19 February 2012
16 February 2012
12 February 2012
Tomorrow we are having dinner at this chicken place by the airport - we work with some consultants based at the local university and it has become tradition for them to take us out for "poulet." It's this dirt lot with a few tables and chairs, lots of scattered chicken bones, and these chicken coops and grills. You choose your chicken, they kill it, grill it, and there's about 10 minutes that elapse between when the chicken is running around alive in its coop and when it's in pieces on your plate. Truthfully, I'm slightly horrified/intrigued by the place and I pull the vegetarian card when we go there to eat. I just enjoy a soda instead. In the meantime, there are also people walking around selling the most random assortment of stuff - last time we went, one of the guys with us bought a generator while he enjoyed his chicken dinner. I'll be bringing granola bars with me to dinner tomorrow - I am simply not that adventurous when it comes to my food. My eating habits have provoked some gentle ribbing from our friends here and it has become a game amongst them to see what I will or will not eat.
I've gotten all of my scheduled workouts in this week. Some were shortened due to lack of time, but in the end, I managed to spend some quality time on the treadmill and the stationary bike. It's been a good exercise in heat acclimation too - NEVER have I been so sweaty from a 30 minute spin bike session. I need to hang my clothes up to dry off after a workout, it is disgusting. DISGUSTING.
I finished two more books - "The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair That Changed America" by Erik Larson. Another REALLY great book by this author, it didn't disappoint. Chicago won the bid to host the Worlds Fair in 1893. Their goal was to top the previous Worlds Fair that was held in Paris, which had set the high water mark for sophistication and intrigue. The builders of the fair faced alot of obstacles (lots of worker deaths, storms, short timeline) but they put together a fair that surpassed the one held in Paris. The Ferris Wheel made its debut, America's answer to Eiffel's tower. Electricity was used to light up the fairgrounds, and lots of attention was paid to the architecture and landscaping. In the midst of the Worlds Fair, there was a psychopath who managed to murder a large, unknown number of women who were visiting Chicago. It was impressing and appalling how he managed to be so deceitful and basically lure these women to him, close enough for him to eventually kill them, and nobody suspected anything at all. FOR YEARS. Anyway, I have never visited Chicago, nor do I know much about the city, and even though the Worlds Fair was over a century ago, this book made me want to visit and see what is left.
The other book I finished was by Doris Kearns Goodwin, "Wait Till Next Year." Highly, HIGHLY recommend this book - very well-written, entertaining, and detailed. It's basically a memoir the author wrote about her childhood, growing up in a suburb of New York City in the 1950s and being a Dodgers baseball fan. Being a Red Sox fan (though a rather fair-weather one now that I'm no longer living in New England and don't fervently follow baseball), I felt a kinship with the author as she wrote about her beloved Dodgers and their attempts and failures to win the World Series until the mid-1950s. And when she wrote about the Dodgers finally winning the World Series, it was almost like reliving the 2004 Red Sox victory again in my mind. I was still following baseball pretty closely, having left New England only recently at that point, and I remember turning off Game 4 in the American League series against the Yankees in disappointment before the finish saying "maybe next year" and then not believing my ears when I heard on the radio the next morning that the Sox had come back to win it. And then they went on to win the remaining 3 games and headed for the World Series where they won it all in less dramatic fashion (because the only matchup that really matters is the one between the Sox and the Yankees). I floated on cloud 9 for days, bought every newspaper I could find to read the sport section, and had my mom send me the Boston papers so I could savor the victory from as close to the heart as possible. I still have those newspapers in somewhere in a closet at home. Though the Sox have won the World Series since 2004, I don't think there is any victory that will ever be quite as sweet. Anyway, the book was more than just about baseball, it was a window into an era and a time that seems so far away from present day. It was a story about growing up in a close-knit neighborhood where summer days were spent with all the neighborhood kids, darting in and out of each others' houses and playing outdoors, not using cell phones or video games or the internet. It just sounded like the best possible time ever to be a kid.
10 February 2012
- Bumps in the air are OK but sudden drops are NOT, in my opinion.
- That can of Raid sitting in my hotel room, haven't had to use it yet.
- I've eaten alot of pasta and pizza and I'm still saving that apple.
- My hotel bathroom has a shower curtain. This may not seem like a novelty but believe me, in some countries, it is.
- Mr. Sweetie's goal this year - take a vacation with just me and NOT with my bike in tow.
- My Delta airline miles are the only ones I've been good about tracking and making sure I get the credit. I need to stop being lazy about my AA miles and Southwest miles.
- They speak about 69 different languages in Burkina Faso.
- I'm not good at packing light.
- I almost brought my yoga mat with me on this trip, but figured that was a bit excessive.
- I've never visited Australia, South America or Antarctica. Been to every other continent though.
- I'd never been west of the Mississippi until I was 23. And despite growing up in New Hampshire, I'd never been to Rhode Island until I was something like 27. And even then, it was only because I flew into the Providence airport.
- Judging from all the crowing late last night, the rooster outside my window has no concept of dawn.
- As much as I enjoy traveling, I enjoy returning home even more!
07 February 2012
Here's a map, just in case you are like me a year ago
when I had no idea where Burkina was located either...
The trip has been good so far, I'm enjoying the fact that it's simultaneously February AND tank top weather. Bigger bonus that it's not quite as hot this time around as it was last time I was here. In fact, it was even "chilly" yesterday thanks to the poussiere (dust storm) that blotted out the sun. And by "chilly" I mean it was comfortable and I wasn't sweating buckets wearing a short sleeve shirt and pants. The Burkinabe, on the other hand, were bundled up in coats and hats. I think it was in the low 80s.
There hasn't been as much exercise action as I'd hoped there'd be by this point. Sunday's workout was missed due to a delayed flight, late arrival time, and general weariness from being awake for almost 36 hours (sleep doesn't happen for me on planes). Monday the hotel couldn't find the key to unlock the gym. I didn't have time to argue and haggle with them, so I let it be and hoped the key would turn up by today. Tried again this afternoon, still no key. I threw a bit of a hissy fit (I kind of feel bad about it but I was desperate and I wasn't rude) and they put finding the key at the top of their priority list. Within 5 minutes, I had it in my hot little hands so I could keep my date with the treadmill. No AC, no fans, and close to 90 degrees, it was awesome. We'll see if they can find the key again for me tomorrow so I can get a bike ride in. I'm not really sure why they lock the gym - they have a guard standing right outside of the gym door (to make sure nobody walks off with a treadmill?) and, quite honestly given the fact that the key was missing for who knows how long and nobody complained, I'm pretty sure hardly anyone even uses the gym. Or knows where it is located (it took me a good 7 days to find it last time I was here).
I bought a cell phone yesterday from one of the guys selling phones in the streets. It is old school. Haven't actually tried to use it yet, but I like how small and simple it looks. I got back to my hotel room after my meetings today and there was a giant can of Raid sitting on my nightstand. I haven't actually seen any insects in my room, so it makes me a little curious what the cleaning staff seems to know about my room that I don't. I also stole an apple from the Air France lounge on Saturday and I'm saving it for that moment when I am desperate for some fresh fruit (they don't recommend eating the fruit here because of the water and I'm paranoid so I actually obey this rule and last time I was dreaming about fruit by the end of my trip). And my French is actually serving me pretty welll so far, it's definitely better than last time I was here (see: throwdown over gym key and the fact that I wasn't totally lost during my meetings). Oh, and an alarm clock isn't really necessary here - the rooster and goats next to my hotel room wake me up on time just fine.
I've finished two more books. One, My Name is Victoria Donda: The Extraordinary Story of One Woman's Struggle to Reclaim her True Identity (by - you guessed it - Victoria Donda) was a bit of a disappointment. It's a true story about an Argentinean woman who, when she was 27 years old, found out that the people she thought were her parents actually weren't and her true parents were actually desaparadicios and were killed by the military. It could've been a really interesting story, but the way she wrote was obnoxious and towards the end of the book, I just kept hoping each page I turned was the last one. She was very repetitive and extremely self-centered and self-important. I didn't learn as much as I would've liked about Argentina's turbulent history; instead, I learned more about the author's dating history and wardrobe choices than anything else.
The other book I just finished was Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin. Like his other book that I read, this was very well-written, well-researched, and really offered a vivid picture of mid-1930s Germany as Nazism was on the rise. I didn't realize how much the U.S. tried to placate Germany and avoid confrontations. And how... friendly we were to the Nazis. Hindsight is 20/20 I suppose.