Monday, October 20, 2014

Soaking in Kenya

On Sunday, we decided to explore some Kenyan culture. We started at the Giraffe Center which is working to conserve the endangered Rothschild giraffes and educate youth about conservation in Kenya. The giraffe we visited with was named Daisy who was quite hungry. We learned that giraffes eat 75 pounds of food a day. At the center they also had a turtle enclosure and warthogs -- who are apparently uninvited but continue to burrow under the fence to have their babies.

After that, we headed to the Bomas of Kenya for a cultural dance, music and acrobatic show. It was hard to stay in your seat! (Check out some of the action below.) We ended our day with dinner at the Sarova Stanley Hotel and I had the fish in chips, served in a giant serving chandelier (not sure what else to call it). It was delicious and the waiter was excited to present the dish to me (those arms with things in them were attached to the plate you can see behind it).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Maasai Market Morning

This has been a busy week of work in Nairobi getting ready for a conference next week but we were finally able to take a break today and head out to the Maasai Market. My co-worker, Madeleine, and I grabbed a cab after a late breakfast and started our day with major bargaining. We were talking about how our moms would love the market and want to buy everything - sorry, moms, we just couldn't fit it all in our suitcases, you'll have to come check it out for yourselves. After the market, we stopped by a local mall to look for an outfit for Madeline and found these pretty sweet, tiny hats for US$100 which was way too much but the photo was free.
For about US$85 I took home this haul. One thing isn't pictured because it's a gift (well, a couple things pictured are gifts too, but you'll just have to act surprised). My favorites: jammy pants (super soft with pockets!), a woven bowl (which will look perfect on my coffee table), a glass bead and brass necklace and a sisal and leather woven purse. If you ever come for safari, this is a must-see stop. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more weekend adventures!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fall Crawl

Some of you may remember my post from last spring about the Caffeine Crawl, you can check it out here. Curious about whether a second crawl could live up to the fun of the first time, we bought tickets months ago (because it sells out fast!) and headed out yesterday on the yellow school bus for another round of coffee and chocolate in KC.
Our stops for the day included: Hi Hat Coffee, Annedore's Fine Chocolate, Broadway Cafe + Roasting Company, Kaldi's Coffee, PT's Coffee, All About Coffee and Parisi Artisan Coffee. The day focused on education and we each made our own latte with a milk coach, mixed a coffee blend of beans, learned about kitchen science with homemade coffee caviar and pomegranate pop rocks, taste-tested the difference between washed and natural coffee beans and performed pour overs.
It was another great day of tasting and exploring the city (and the weather cooperated this time, which was a nice surprise after it poured during the last crawl). The places we visited were generous and filled our bellies with everything from toddy-flavored cream puffs to chocolate covered popcorn and sent us home with beans to brew. The LAB, who organizes this and similar events across the country, is apparently working on a food and cocktail tour that should be hitting our Royal-blue city soon so stay tuned to their website and/or the blog and I will keep you posted!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Weekend Getaway

After returning from a week and a half India, I wanted to unwind with a little weekend roadtrip to Bentonville, Arkansas to check out a new exhibit, State of the Art, at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. For those who know me, I am not an art museum kind of person, but this particular exhibit showcases 102 contemporary American artists that are relatively unknown, until now. I also like the idea of people around the country working to create beautiful things, even if just for themselves.
We stayed at the 21c Museum Hotel, which is connected to the museum by a series of walking trails. The hotel itself is quite nice and has a large gallery on the first floor that is open to the public 24 hours a day. The best part is that you can get a drink at the bar and walk around while looking at the pieces. I liked the suitcase bench right outside the front door.
We took a quick stroll around downtown (nothing is open on Sunday afternoon besides the Wal*Mart Museum) and got ready for dinner, which was right downstairs from our room. The Hive is a hip but relaxed restaurant with delicious and inventive cocktails (I had a pineapple and espresso concoction). They also place green, plastic penguins around the restaurant as you eat - we had one that shared cocktails and a cheese plate with us. The food was excellent - I had an Autumn salad with gingered beets, the tomato panisse and we shared the apple crumble with bourbon ice cream and caramel sauce. It was topped off with cotton candy that was served with the bill - I was too stuffed to have more than a bite.
After a yummy breakfast the next morning (a latte, fresh berries and an apricot muffin), we hiked over to the museum. The pieces ranged from whimsical pottery (upper left) to giant pinatas (upper right) to a ladder you climbed to view a miniature scene (middle left) to a giant, amazing quilt (middle right) to a floating ladder man symbolizing economic struggle (bottom right). Along the way, we had some lunch at the museum cafe (they always have such great food). I had the sweet potato soup, the kid's grilled cheese and a frosted sugar cookie. In all, it was a great way to spend a day away from home. If you're in the area, the State of the Art exhibit is open until January 19th and you should definitely check it out!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What does the goat say?

I am currently in India with new partners of my organization from Peru, Indonesia and the Philippines to show them how our programs operate. Today, we visited branch offices and borrowers who take loans for toilets, small businesses, water connections, education, health and other things through a joint-liability group structure. This means that the group members guarantee payment for each other in the instance where they cannot pay for some reason. These visits can sometimes be a challenge because they are conducted in two or three languages (depending on the local dialect).

At one point, I was asking the women what they did for work now that they were able to do so. Many of them were not able to work before they had a toilet or a water connection as they were spending large amounts of time walking and waiting for water. They were telling us about all of the different things they did -- tailoring, working in a factory, running a small shop -- and one of them mentioned that she had bought a goat to raise. Now, you may not know this about me, but I do a pretty high quality goat impression. So, I went ahead and tried it out. It was a big hit and they asked for it more than once. This small and awkward exchange allowed us to laugh together and become part of the same conversation after all.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

More of What It's Really Like

One of my friends asked me in an email yesterday what it was like traveling to India. I usually paraphrase for people my own experience as: loud, crowded, spicy and overwhelming at times. But that doesn’t really even begin to give an accurate picture of what it's really like for me. So, here are a few more details, in case you were curious:
  • It’s waking up in the middle of the night, sweating profusely and wondering what disease you might have contracted, only to find the hotel lost power for half the night and the a/c has been off.
  • With a 10.5 or 11.5 hour time difference from home (depending on the season), it’s being so jetlagged that you wake up wondering if the time you see is am or pm.
  • Or it’s being so jetlagged that you take cold showers two days in a row, only to realize on the third day the hot and cold are switched on the tap. (Yeah, for morning #3!)
  • It’s being considered, catered to and looked out for by everyone you encounter, except if they are on a motorcycle, driving a car or an autotaxi, then you are just a bump/target along the road.
  • It’s praying that you make it an hour after your meal is over without any major rejections by your stomach or intestines.
  • It’s connecting to strangers quickly through personal questions asked about children (God will give them they always say to me), your husband’s profession (which Brian always passes with flying colors due to the booming IT scene here), what you like most about the town you happen to be in, what your favorite foods are and when you will return for a visit.
  • It’s feeling a bit like an alien because I'm "tall", fair skinned and the only other redheads around dye their brown/black hair with henna.
  • It’s being accepted for trying to adopt any of the culture around you. People always compliment my kurta (Indian tunic) or smile and laugh encouragingly to any phrases I have learned and try to repeat in Hindi.
  • It’s surrendering yourself to what you thought you knew about a place you’d heard about your whole life. It may not have been what I expected but it certainly grows on you.
  • It's feeling humbled to see how people live and feeling fortunate for how easy it is back home.
  • It's knowing that for all you think you might know, many mysteries, stories, cultures and rituals are present that will take a lot longer to begin to understand.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Birthday Week in Pictures

The boat dock on Grand Lake.
Scenery from my run along Grand Lake Stream.
An unplanned, two-day trip to Portland with my dad took place in the middle of the week. My birthday cake, served in a hospital waiting room while waiting on my grandpa's test results - so far, he's stabilized. We made it back to the lake on my birthday just in time for ice cream cake (not pictured). I've been coming to this lake, off and on, for the past 30 years, makes me feel old!
The view from the shore of Grand Lake, five steps from our cabin door.
Our cabin, just to the left of the closest tree.
For 20 years, there has been a folk art festival over the weekend of my birthday with art, canoes, music and food.
My family getting ready for a swim - my dad has the blue noodles and I have the purple ones.
Taking a sunset ride in my dad's canoe.
Sunset boat spray.
On our way to the airport, we stopped by Eagle's Nest Restaurant for some "breakfast" lobster rolls. Not a conventional choice, but tasty. Thanks for stopping by!