Seasick in Heidelberg

I made it back to Germany last Sunday with no complications. Spent a lovely day relaxing on Sunday and enjoying every single thing about my life. It is so convenient the way my bathroom is located right next to my bedroom! And I just love that there aren't fifteen other girls that live in my apartment. Plus, my bed is so big and soft and I can turn the light on any time I want to! Hooray!

The weather was gorgeous on Sunday but has gone downhill rapidly. At first the cool air felt so good to me I wanted to drink it like a mojito, but I'm totally over that. Today I wore boots, tall socks, trousers, a t-shirt, a sweater, and a coat. I think it might be August but I can't remember since I have to crank the heat up in the car.

Monday morning I made Beau go running with me and it was great. I worked out a lot in Djibouti and was pretty psyched to continue on this health kick until primaquine decided it wanted to me keeled over and miserable for the next two weeks. It's a medicine I am supposed to take for 14 days after Africa to make sure there are no parasites living inside me. I started taking it Monday and have been nauseous ever since. I did yoga in this state yesterday and am just not able to enjoy anything. Blech. Can't wait until this is done!

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Boat Trip!

I keep realizing all the stuff I forgot to tell you about! The Sunday before I left we went on a boat trip and it was

awesome! Some people who were leaving chartered the boat and we were very fortunate to be invited. The boat itself was quite old, but lots of fun since the top floor was just a bunch of mats for relaxing on. We saw about 4 half sinking boats on our way out of the harbor and that was a little disarming, but I was so happy to have an entire day off post I didn't really care if our ship sunk.

We sailed North for about two hours to a small group of Islands in the Red Sea. I don't know the exact name of where we went, but the skipper showed it to me on a map. We anchored in the middle of the water, and then they gave us the option to take a small boat and go ashore, which I did. What I discovered was a deserted, pristine paradise. The water was crystal clear and the sand was soft and white. We had a cooler of beer, snorkels,

fins, sunsreen, and the whole day ahead of us. I snorkeled a  bit, but there was not much to see aside from sand colored fish. Mostly we just hung out on the shallow water, drank beers, and had fun. I even held a crab!

The Djiboutians made us lunch of curry chicken and rice on the boat. It was fantastic. On the way back, we did mad-libs and I took a short nap. It was one of my best days, and one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to.

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Open Face

Last Tuesday I went to another school to speak English with the kids. It was by far the best class I visited.The school consisted of just one small classroom, complete with walls and ceiling. I'm pretty sure most of these students were a little more affluent than the others I'd seen, and they seemed less angry, which makes sense. Since we were not exposed to the elements and other classrooms, it was easy to hear, and they all were at a proficient level in the language. The topic was "Where do you go for vacation?" which I was a little worried about since it didn't seem like a great topic for poor people.

However, the answers they gave were witty, romantic, and revealing. Many said they go to Ethiopia for better weather in the Summer, but most talked about their dream locals, like Dubai and the moon. The mood was light and very friendly. In fact, whenever anyone spoke, they first took the opportunity to welcome us with "an open heart, open arms, and open face." We did not correct them, and I am thinking of just adopting that phrase into my vocabulary.

On the car ride to the school, I started talking to a guy in the Marines that told me about 'good will' missions where they go pass out donations in the local villages. He said that I could go with him on one if I wanted to. So Thursday morning, I joined him and another Marine (both named Tim) and and interpreter named Kennedy, and we headed out to the village of

Damerjog. To my delight, it was over a half an hour away and we got to bounce all over the countryside in a Range Rover while they told me stories and Kennedy answered my questions about life in Djibouti.

The Tims tried to warn me that sometimes the situation could get out of hand and turn into a mob scene while handing out supplies. I was so excited just to be on the adventure, I truly was not afraid in any way. But the warnings turned out to be unnecessary because we went to the Gendarmerie first and got local police assistance.

Basically, we drove around the town and told all the kids to go to the Gendarmerie to get stuff.

This was SO cool for me because we got to see the people in their natural environment. By the time we showed up, there was already a large crowd waiting. We set up all the stuff and then the police men let 5 or so at a time walk up and get things.


 

We mostly had flip-flops, which were a huge hit. I noticed most of the kids were wearing flip-flops when they showed up, but often they were several sizes too small or not a matching pair. They were not picky at all about the ones they took, and boys did not hesitate to grab pink ones with applique flowers. The Tims told me later that the big kids just take them from the little kids afterwards, and I commented that some things were the same all over the world.

Overall it was an amazing experience. The kids were so warm and happy. They danced and jumped around afterward (before the bullies beat them up and took their new stuff, I guess) and I was just thrilled to have been a part of it.

Oh yeah, and afterwards I got to go on the marine compound and fondle an enormous machine gun!

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Leaving Djibouti

It's been an amazing 5 weeks, but I am on my way home tonight. I'll arrive in Paris and 0600 tomorrow and should arrive in Frankfurt at 0900. I can't wait to see Beau, but I am feeling a little sad about leaving. I've had so many wonderful adventures this week that I haven't had a chance to write about, but I will. More pics and stories to follow soon!

I would also like to wish Amanda a very happy birthday! Hope you have a blast today and all year.

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