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Posts tagged ‘culture’

soul recharge

Rushing home from work last Thursday – his last day in the office – D was still too wired, too caught up in wrapping up last-minute projects, to actually relax. The red-eye flight from Kigali to Amsterdam, with its obligatory refueling stop in Entebbe, did little to help. It was only when D reached his friend’s office in Paris around midday on Friday, dropped his bags, and settled into a cute Parisian bistro for a luxuriously slow-paced lunch with two former college classmates that he felt the stress of the previous months begin to ebb away.

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city of gold

With the Gulf all over the news last week, S realized that she never got around to writing about her and Munchkin’s first foray to the peninsula a couple of months ago. Originally, we had planned to go to Dubai as a family to celebrate S’s birthday, taking advantage of the long Easter weekend and the rare direct flight from Kigali. With D’s grandmother’s passing a few days before our scheduled vacation, however, the trip became a solo parenting adventure for S.

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a bit about the birds and the bees

We planned to wait right up to S’s due date to start explaining to Munchkin that he was about to become a big brother. The little man put those plans to rest with his usual mix of cheerful guilelessness and unanticipated perspicacity, sparking a series of hilarious conversations in the process.

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the curse of the Congo

The Foreign Service lifestyle lends itself to eclectic acquisition. A couple of years in one country, several more in another – if one is really into original artwork, it’s easy to get carried away. We are not avid collectors by any measure, but we do try to acquire something meaningful everywhere we’ve lived – one or two pieces to subsequently stir our memories and help evoke all the good times we had in a foreign country that for a few years came to feel like home.

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searching for desert elephants

Following the shoreline north from Swakopmund, one enters the Skeleton Coast, which is rumored to be both desolate and wondrous. We cannot attest to either as we chose an inland route north, traversing Damaraland on the way to Etosha, Namibia’s premier game park. In addition to its indigenous tribes, which speak one of southern Africa’s clicking tongues, Damaraland is famous for its desert-adapted elephants, and it is in search of these that we made our way to the Doro!Nawas conservancy.

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desert solitaire

Our research on Namibia’s tourist hotspots notwithstanding, we knew precious little about the country where we had decided to travel for two weeks.

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village new year

Driving north to spend the New Year’s holiday weekend at Mount Gahinga, we had a slightly unsettling – and extremely claustrophobic – experience.

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oldies but goodies

For months now, we have been fighting a losing battle in an attempt to keep track of Munchkin’s funny sayings, cute mispronunciations, and imperious pronouncements. Now that he speaks in complete, and oftentimes run-on, sentences, documenting his ever-evolving speech has become nearly impossible. Still, we find the fight worth fighting, as much for the laughs it provides now as for the memories it surely will cement for the future. Half of D’s journal entries these days consist of Munchkin’s peculiarly Russian-tinged, East African-accented, English speech. Most of the below date from the first two weeks in January, before we left on our vacation:

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tracking golden monkeys

Up before the sun, S vacillated about her decision to go see the golden monkeys. The road up to Virunga, where we were staying, is treacherous – an impossibly steep ascent up a rough track that is all ruts and boulders leads up to the lodge – and S had some misgivings about navigating it downhill alone in the darkness. Plus there was the fact that she prefers shared experiences to going it alone. The hour she spent with the golden monkeys made it more than worthwhile.

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Bangkok by boat

In addition to the Chao Phraya River, which bisects Bangkok before emptying out into the Gulf of Thailand, there are also innumerable canals that further divide the Thai capital into a maze of riverine neighborhoods. One hasn’t fully experienced Bangkok without navigating its waterways.

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