The recorded ramblings of an unschooled writer, aspiring biologist, amateur equestrian, ardent bookworm, avid music appreciator, increasingly addicted runner and college student spending the summer in Ely, MN.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Half this game is ninety percent mental...

"Half this game is ninety percent mental."
- Yogi Berra


My last big adventure before I head off to East Africa is to run in the Hood to Coast relay race. The Hood to Coast begins at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and ends on the coast in Seaside. There 12 people on each time and each person runs three legs. The race is 197 miles total! (Thankfully, my legs will only have to run ~ 18 miles of that.) This is the map of my first leg:



I'm getting very excited for the run and am hoping that I can get all of my packing taken care of and make sure that my horse and all of his stuff are well settled in at his new home so that I can just really enjoy what will be my last run in Oregon for a few months without having to worry about anything else!


-Hill

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Goin' places that I've never been...

Goin' places that I've never been.
Seein' things that I may never see again
- "On The Road Again" by Willie Nelson

So, for those of you who have been asking what will be doing in Africa/where I will be going, here is a much more through explanation than I have ever provided verbally.

For the first three weeks of the trip, I will be living with a host family in Nairobi and taking Swahili classes, hopefully learning a lot about the language and the culture and making new friends. The next three weeks will be spent traveling coastal Kenya and Tanzania (with stops for sure in Pemba, Zanzibar and Mombassa) doing quite a bit of snorkeling and learning about coral reef ecology as well as experiencing island and coastal life in East Africa through shorter homestays and just learning about the culture of the area, which I've heard is very different from that of Nairobi.

Then we head inland for about 3 weeks of safari/grassland ecology. After that, there is another homestay, this time with a Masaai family in their village, another chance to experience yet another different culture within East Africa. Then, the bio group heads off for a bit more time (2 weeksish, going by the online schedule) on safari and then catches one last week along the coast before joining the rest of the group at Arusha for our end of trip retreat. Then I have sometime for whatever addtional adventures may occur in East Africa before I head home.

It is so strange to have typed this all out. I feel equal parts excitement because this finally seeming real and disbelief because in some ways it still seems there is no way that this is really happening!

-Hill

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And I say keep it light enough to travel...

And I say
Keep it light enough to travel
Don't let it all unravel
Keep it light enough to travel
- "Light Enough To Travel", The Be Good Tanyas

So, what does one pack when going to spend 4 months in East Africa? I am planning on trying to pack the majority of it in a backpacking pack, which will then go into a larger duffel with stuff packed around it and then my very beat up old laptop that has really been retired for a few years now (dubbed Fitzgerald as a result of high school english classes) and my tiny video camera (named Delilah by the Sweet Briar Girls) and my little still camera (called Sampson by the Talisman Chums) will travel with me as a carry on along with a few yet to be decided upon books. Normally my preferred plane reading is trashy science fiction from the 60s/70s, all of which seems to prominently feature gorgeous blonde women, green aliens and cranky robots as well as entirely predictable, yet still enjoyable plots, but as we are going to be sharing our books among the group as a sort of traveling library, I'm not sure I want to inflict my questionable choices in outdated sci fi upon the rest of the group. Any suggestions of great books are very welcome!

Here is the list as it currently stands. With the items I already have listed in bold! Wow! There is still so much left for me to acquire somehow before I leave.

CLOTHES
  • baseball hat
  • hat w/ wide brim for safari
  • sandals (teevas/chaccos)
  • walking/hiking boots
  • running shoes
  • flip flops
  • fleece jacket
  • rain jacket
  • long sleeved t-shirts
  • long dress skirt
  • sweater to wear with dress
  • work pants/convertibles
  • 3/4 t- shirts
  • 3/4 tank tops
  • 1 pair work shorts
  • 1 pair running shorts
  • underwear (I want to get the kind that Kelly took to Iraq that she was raving about!)
  • sports bras
  • long underwear
  • swimsuit
  • sweat pants
  • 4/5 bandanas

MEDICAL STUFF
  • doxycycline (4 months supply)
  • levoxyl (4 months)
  • iodine
  • insect repllent (w/ DEET)
  • sun block (water proof, at least 12 oz)
  • band aids (BIG box)
  • oral rehydration salts
  • athletic tape
  • vet wrap
  • immodium
  • cipro
  • yeast infection treatment
  • vitamins
  • tylenol/advil/alleve
SAFARI/TRAVEL EQUIPMENT
  • backpack
  • day pack/smaller bag
  • huge duffel that backpack can fit inside of
  • sleeping bag (rated for 20 degrees or under)
  • headlamp + extra batteries and bulbs
  • waterproof flashlight
  • 2 pairs sunglasses w/ polarized lenses
  • binoculars
  • camera
  • extra lithium AA batteries
  • iPod for photo storage
  • iPod charger
  • watch w/ alarm clock
  • swiss army/multi tool knife
  • water purifcation --> iodine tabs
  • 2 metal water bottles
  • rope (75 feet) + clothespins
  • ziploc bags
  • rechargeable batteries and charger
  • snorkel mask + fins
  • lycra top for snorkeling
  • gear bag for snorkeling equipment
  • underwater writing slate
PERSONAL ITEMS
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • hair brush
  • hair rubber bands
  • a couple of headbands
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • tampons (4 months worth!)
  • pads
  • soap (liquid)
  • acne stuff
  • deodorant
  • hand sanitizer
  • baby wipes
  • safety pins
  • sewing kit
  • biodegradable soap
  • towel (small + light/easy to dry)
  • wash cloth
  • journals
  • pens
  • books (2/3)
  • lonely planet guides
  • photos of family, pets + friends
OTHER STUFF
  • extra small bag
  • adapter for electrical stuff
  • video camera
  • charger adapter
  • extra tapes
  • laptop
  • laptop case
  • charger for laptop
IDEAS FOR GIFTS
  • my little pony fruit snacks (for kids!)
  • book of oregon postcards
  • 3 portland/oregon T-shirts size large or extra large
  • oregon coffee mugs (supposed to be very popular gifts b/c of the large amounts of chai consumed daily by the average kenyan!)
  • tea? hazelnuts? jam? moonstruck chocolates? (something else oregon-y and edible)
  • something nice for my host family in Nairobi who I will be living with for a whole month?

-Hill

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm gonna write you a letter...

I'm gonna write you a letter,
I'm gonna write you a book,
I wanna see your reaction,
I wanna see how it looks.
- "Amsterdam" by Guster

Hey Everyone,
I leave for East Africa in thirteen days. That doesn't even seem possible. Up until last week, I kept telling people that I was going to Kenya "next year" or "next fall", which is really not the case at all!
I really hope this blog will be a good way to keep in touch with friends and family back home and give everyone some idea of what I'm up to on my adventure. Originally, I wasn't sure if I wanted to try to do a blog at all on my trip, but especially after having a fabulous, end of summer/going away party earlier today and seeing so many of the wonderful people in my life all in the same place at the same time, I realized that the very least I can do is write a quick note home now and then :) I wouldn't be able to go if it weren't for all of the different ways everyone has supported me in my decision to study abroad for the semester, so I hope this way I can share at least a little bit of the experience.
I am so excited about going, but am also starting to get a little bit nervous. I'm also sad that I'll be taking a bit of a break from horses. I've had such a fantastic time this summer doing all sorts of riding and it will be very strange not to have that be part of my life! I am hopeful though, that this trip will open me up to all sorts of new, non-riding experiences that I would never have the chance to try at home. And I do know that Spector and other ponies will be waiting for me when I get home.

-Hill