January 3rd, 2016


2015 Year in Review!

2015 in review, executive summary: Approximately 58,649 miles traveled by aircraft! Up from a mere 52,387 in 2013 and 47,181 in 2012 (I don't seem to have crunched the numbers in 2014), also about 2,794 miles traveled by road in East Africa this year!

   I'm really disappointed in myself that I don't seem to have done a year in review for 2014, I got a real kick out of looking at my 2013 in review just now. I might do a 2014 one anyway for posterity's sake. Incidentally, 2014 was a lot like 2015 in many ways: attended a wedding in a castle in Europe, went to Sweden, went to Guinea, went on a roadtrip around East Africa. Anyway, on to 2015:

In May I flew in to Copenhagen. I didn't really have any reason to be in Copenhagen. Except it was the cheapest flight into Europe, and I had a wedding to attend near Frankfurt! I think I'd recently been tipped off that you can look at a map of the fares in different cities (I think for example google can be conjured to do this) and sometimes find a vastly cheaper flight to where you're going by flying into a completely different city and then getting from there. My flight from LAX to Copenhagen was only like $560 round trip or something! Anyway Copenhagen was lovely, though still a bit chilly at that time of year.

From there I flew to Amsterdam for the bachelor party. Shenanigans ensued. ... but not actually that much shenanigans actually, Amsterdam didn't seem to be in a very partying spirit, and seemed fairly unsupportive of our attempts to bring them German bachelor party traditions.

Next morning we were all on the high speed rail to Frankfurt, for Mark's Wedding! Mark, pictured right above (fighting his Best Man) was getting married! Hooray! Jeff, the pictured Best Man, just announced himself he's gotten engaged, weddings weddings in the air!
   The wedding actually took place in the small town on the outskirts of Frankfurt where Mark and Courtney have been living, Fredrichsdorf, and it was lovely to see a cute little German town like that. Too often when traveling one only sees the ugly centers of big cities and tourist sites, so it was nice to be in a quiet cute little town and see that it was every bit as quaint as we always here about quaint towns in Europe being.

From there I journeyed to the center of Europe! To do so I took the overnight train back to Copenhagen and on to Landskrona, Sweden, which apparently lays claim to being the center of Europe!! Seems extremely counterintuitive but I guess if you take the northern end of Europe as the Spitsbergen Islands in the Arctic and the Western limit the far end of Portugal or maybe even Ireland and you don't weight for landmass then maybe?
   Anyway I love Sweden, I spent a year in Sweden when I was 15/16 and only got back again in 2014, 15 years later! I spent about a week hanging around in Landskrona with my friend Alex, though despite being June it was rather cold and dreary.

August - In August I returned to Guinea in West Africa and traveled up to a village named Doumba near where I had been the year before. I just love life in the village, it's so sociable, people always coming by saying hi and having a chat. Surrounded by actual gosh dang huts and lush foliage. This was my first project that was actually close enough to a previous one that I saw some of the same people and was able to visit last year's village, which I did on both weekends. Due to my usual slow pace of updating I didn't finish posting about the Guinea project before my next one began ): ...AND ALL MY NOTED WERE ON MY PHONE (which was subsequently lost) ::wipes away a tear:: so I do intend to finish the story but since my own memory can only contain less than 10% of the detail it will be like "yeah and then we finished up the end."

   After returning from Guinea I was automatically quarantined by the health department. I wasn't under house arrest or anything but I was served with a legal notice of quarantine and advised that I had to notify them if I left the county and had to provide the county health department my temperature and any symptoms twice a day for the 21 day symptom period.

October: On the 22nd day I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya. Actually I left the US on day 21 but didn't arrive anywhere until I was no longer subject to quarantine on the 22nd day. Again Nairobi was the cheapest flight in despite there being a closer international airport in Arusha. Took the bus from Nairobi down to Arusha was delayed there a few days during which I saw the above pictured pretty waterfall, continued on my way to the Hadza hunter gatherers in central Tanzania, which took about a full week to get to! Spent most of a week there with the Hadza, amazing to be so deep in the bush, with people who literally eat what fruit and nuts they can gather in the day and hunt with actual bows and arrows. I hope to go back in 2016 but it's hard to say, I've got a lot on my plate.

Hadza. I apologize for the quality of this picture, the only surviving copy was from instagram

   I'm still posting about this trip so I'll try not to get into the play by play here, but sort of dead-headed to Dar Es Salaam where election instability caused a Zanzibar project to fall through so turned around and headed on up to Uganda

   I expected to be in Uganda for 2-3 days but ended up spending nearly two weeks there! A development agency had asked me to come visit I thought to just spend a day discussing how we could work together but they ended up being extremely accomodating, driving with me all over Uganda to visit various potential project sites! It was such a blast! It's a beautiful country and I can't wait to go back! I think the American perception is that its one of those scary places full of war, since we remember hearing about Idi Amin and child soldiers and the Lord's Resistance Army, but its been nearly forty years since Idi Amin ruled Uganda, and the LRA now consists for 250 militants hiding in the Congo, so Uganda is a relatively safe beautiful country now. In the west especially, we ended up in the western town of Kesese, surrounded on three sides by national parks, and it definitely seems like a nice place to go for eco-tourism. But more on this when I finally get around to blogging about it!

Ugandan children carrying cassava leaves which will go into a sauce for dinner

November: back in Nairobi my wallet and phone were stolen from my pockets approximately 10 hours before my flight home!!! The wallet would have just been mildly annoying but I was heartbroken to lose all my pictures and notes on my phone!!
   Also still had some 16 hours in Addis Ababa Ethiopia -- had intentionally booked myself a long layover there because I love Addis... but with literally zero money I couldn't do a thing other than have the cultural experience of being completely pennyless in an African city. Everyone should try it once in their life I guess.

December Meanwhile I had picked up a new job! A few weeks after returning to the States I was off again to Australia!! Flew down here to Geelong, near Melbourne, just about as far south on the Australian mainland as you can go (further south than South Australia!). I am running a beekeeping project to train local refugees in beekeeping. Am excited to begin this new adventure!

   For the time being I'm busy with it being summer and having a lot to set up and get running, but I've already booked a flight to the Philippines for my friend Justin's wedding (whom we always said was a doppleganger of Mark, whose wedding I attended in Germany).. weddings weddings! My boss seems pretty easygoing about letting me do some development projects in the off season, though unfortunately it's a lot mroe expensive to get anywhere from Australia. Anyway I can't do them all but I have two different potential projects in Brazil, one in Nicaragua, a return to Guinea (which I'm considering my highest priority because I love going back), the projects in Uganda (I may dispatch some bee expert friends to some of these projects), which I might pair with a conference in Rwanda. After all I have to find ways to keep beating my yearly air mileage ;D

   And to think I did all this with a ridiculous mustache:

(shaved it off before the East Africa trip and grew a beard instead)

See Also:
Year in Review: 2013
Year in Review: 2012
Year in Review: 2011