A few words on my week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

On the first day I felt as though I had landed in paradise, and that feeling has not lessened in the few days I’ve been in Addis Ababa! Of course everything is relative, and most of the people I’ve met here have grumbled and complained about life here, but as I’m coming from Liberia, this is relatively close to paradise! It helps immensely that I’m being hosted by my friend in her cosy house with wonderful garden. She’s introduced me to all manner of interesting people and we’ve eaten at several lovely restaurants. Aside from the intimidating government (they just banned Skype) and the lack of big modern shopping centres with well stocked shops, I can’t think of anything to complain about! Addis does not feel like a city of 5-7 million people and the parts I’ve seen of it have been easy to move around. I admit I’m moving in the expat world, but I move in the expat world in Liberia too and I know which of the two I would prefer! This is not Nairobi, or Dakar, or Joburg, but there’s a lot going on because it has the African Union HQ and there’s a big presence of UN and international organisations. There is potential for things to move ahead and in the meantime, its definitely possible to have a comfortable and interesting professional life in Addis. I will continue to explore the options!!

Hopefully these few photos can be uploaded….

I don’t know how many people have heard of InterNations, but I had the chance to go to the 5th InterNations event in Addis and it was so cool! For people who move to a new country to live, InterNations helps to connect people to the expat network so that they can find their way around the new location as well as meet like-minded interesting people. The whole objective is to ‘bring global minds together’! It worked so well in the last event, a dinner at Top View restaurant in Addis (my photos are on the IN Addis website). I’m a member in Liberia’s InterNations network, but I don’t think they’ve ever had an event in Monrovia. I will be curious to see what potential there is to activate such a network in Liberia.

It’s been a fruitful and amazing holiday in Addis. I will come again! When I return tomorrow I will fly with a head full of ideas and plans which should sustain me for the next period in Liberia and also help me to do something to rescue my pathetic career! Cheers for now!

Real Man helps his Wife in the Home

This is my favourite social awareness sign in Liberia! I pointed it out to the three Liberian men I was travelling with while in Voinjama recently. Two of them who drive past the sign daily, claimed to have never seen it! The billboard is part of the programme to stop Gender Based Violence and is a fabulous effort but I’m not sure if any Real Man is paying heed to the message!!

Real Man Helps His wife in the Home – I certainly hope so 🙂

Top 20 places to visit in sub-saharan Africa – revisited

At the beginning of 2011, I created my list of ‘Top Ten places I want to explore in Africa’ and it evolved into my list of top 20 places to visit in sub-saharan Africa. It includes the best safari destinations, world heritage sites, and the best beach locations, but of course there’s heaps more to see on his vast continent than can be contained in this list. The challenge I set myself was to see how much of the list I could experience by 31 Dec 2011, and after my recent holiday I thought it would be a good time to revisit the list.

My list of top 20 places to visit in sub-saharan Africa (in no particular order) – reviewed October 2011

  1. Kenya – Masai Mara, Samburu, Amboselli, and East & West Tsavo National Parks [DONE] + Mara North Conservancy
  2. Botswana – Okavango Delta, [DONE] Chobe National Park
  3. Namibia – Skeleton Coast, Namib desert, Etosha National Park
  4. Tanzania – Serengeti National Park and Ngorongo Crater [DONE]
  5. Uganda – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and mountain gorillas [DONE] See my Uganda’s mountain gorilla page!
  6. Tanzania – Zanzibar [DONE TWICE]
  7. South Africa – Cape of Good Hope, Rodden Island, Table Mountain [DONE]
  8. Kenya – Lamu Island [DONE]
  9. Zambia and Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls [DONE]
  10. Ghana – Kakum National Park and Cape Coast fort [DONE]  See my Ghana page
  11. South Africa – Krueger National Park [DONE]
  12. Senegal – Goree Island, St Louis Island [DONE]
  13. Tanzania – Mt Kiliminjaro [SEEN IT but never climbed it]
  14. Rwanda – Virguna mountains and the mountain gorillas [DONE]
  15. Zambia – South Luanga National Park [DONE]
  16. Kenya/Tanzania – the great migration [1/2 DONE] We were there but the wilderbeest didn’t cooperate.
  17. Gabon – national park
  18. Malawi – Lake Malawi
  19. Mozambique
  20. Namibia – Fish River Canyon

So, where am I at with all this now? I guess that my last 2011 holiday will be to Ethiopia, so nothing more from the Top 20 list will be conquered this year, unless I change the list! In 2012 I might aim to get to Namibia and Malawi or Mozimbique, but that depends largely on what job opportunities emerge.

The remaining challenge is to document each place with photos and commentary. I have 10,000s of photos from all my travels and safaris; I just need bandwidth and time to post the best of them. The original purpose of the pages at the top of the blog was to write about these destinations and experiences. I have not achieved that and I’m a bit overwhelmed by the task because I would need to re-jig the blog and commit a load of time to it (but I will persist as it is a worthwhile project).

Africa is a brilliantly beautiful continent and yet also tragically difficult place to live in. I hope I’ll get to share my experiences and thoughts but I also love to hear from others who have travelled the same roads and enjoyed the same locations.

Monrovia photo-safari

The Project has begun! Mission: ‘Raise the standard! Purpose: 1. Improve my photo collection. 2. Make space for new photos from up-coming safari. Activity: 1. Edit and enhance all 25,000 photos; 2. Delete those that are not up to standard. Timeframe: Weekends and some evenings until the mission is complete. Deadline: Sometime before 2015!

The benefit of The Project is that I am revisiting photos in my collection (I dare not call it my portfolio) and rediscovering  the fun of those moments. I think it appropriate that I share some of those moments with you. My last post about Grand Bassa County was a product of that remembering! So here now are some photos from a photo-safari through the streets of Monrovia, Liberia in March 2009. They give a taste of the scenes from the vehicle window rather than being up close and personal. Notice how much of the Liberian economy is driven by small shops (stalls under umbrellas by the side of the road) where people eke out a living by ‘trying small small’.

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(Again I’ll opt for a slideshow because that’s the fastest way to deal with the upload, and I assume if it works well enough for me to see it on Liberian ISP speed, then you with the faster ISP speeds will have no problem at all!)

A day exploring iSimangaliso Wetland Park, RSA

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I spent a day exploring South Africa’s oldest World Heritage Site- established in Dec 1999. iSimangaliso Wetland Park is quite beautiful but I think you need a 4×4 and a few days to explore the areas further from St Lucia. I … Continue reading

An afternoon walk in Entebbe, Uganda

I’m now back in Liberia but in order to catch up on past events, here are a few fotos from our afternoon stroll around Entebbe, Uganda. May was a beautiful month in Uganda – blue skies generally with white fluffy clouds, broken by brief periods of rain. Unlike Monrovia, in Entebbe it is safe and pleasant to stroll the streets on a sunny afternoon. As you can see from the fotos, there are pavements, street lights, zebra crossings, and a general sense of order and calm in the city. Very nice! Well, it may seem odd to say that, but after living in Liberia where chaos is normal – traffic lights, obedient drivers and pedestrians, and clean orderly places become worthy of comment. 

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People pretty much leave you to your business but if you engage them in conversation they are friendly, talkative and curious. I like East Africa :). This fruit-selling lady had a nice chat with me about my hair, different types of mangoes, and the Ugandan economy. By the way, the mangoes were delicious!! Of course, that was the other noticable difference – fresh fruit and luscious avocadoes that lasted longer than a day before going rotten and tasted full of flavour and sunshine.

The only downside of the country was the high visibility of police and security guards. When you enter a restaurant security will search your bag and run the metal detector over your body as if you were about to board a flight! Mind you, these guards are armed with rifles and the like. That seems a little OTT, but i guess given the uncertainty of these days in that region, it pays to be cautious.

liberian currency

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inspired by the weekly photo challenge – numbers – i decided to write a bit more about liberian money.  the local currency is the Liberian Dollar, known as LDs. at the moment 1 US$ is about 72 LDs. when i arrived in liberia nearly … Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge – Numbers

think of numbers – think of money. so here are 2 fotos using some of the african currency i had in my pocket!

ok, so i’m late with this post, but it is evidence that i’m really back living in Liberia. (that being a reference to the lousy internet connexion that prevented me from opening WP.)