Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Time flies

It has been too long since I last updated everyone, is anyone actually there?  Even if you aren’t…here is the last 2 weeks in 5 a nutshell:

1.  Paella party.  Elise and I one morning at brunch read paella on the menu.  Immediately after this we hatched a plan to make the perfect paella (enough ‘P’s for you?)  Minding our Ps and Qs we planned an undertaking to make paella for some unassuming but willing guests, because cooking for someone is always more fun than not, neh?  A post work trip to Pick n’ Pay and a run around later we found ourselves in the kitchen cooking an enormous amount of rice, frying up onions, and chopping peppers.  A few washed shrimp and braised calamari later we were stewing and simmering it all together in a pot.  Our guests had arrived on time, but early for our miscalculated timing.  We chatted, sipped wine, and ooed and ahhed over the smells and color that exploded from the vat of paella.  Finally it was time to eat…scoop after scoop left the bowl on people’s plates but the contents didn’t seem to reduce.  Rice has a funny way of expanding as it cooks and seeming endless…
The colorful platters were decorated with red and green bell peppers, tomato, onions, a saffron tint, and bits of chorizo, calamari, and (albeit a bit overcooked) shrimp.  I couldn’t stop eating-even as the rice expanded in my stomach- it was so wonderful. There is something about watching your food develop.  Understanding what goes into it, what amount of time, what preparation means and how you can really plan your time around cooking.  All in all it was a success; empty plates and full stomachs.

2. Camps Bay. You come to Cape Town and you hear of Camps Bay and you hear of Camps Bay and you hear of Camps Bay and then you, finally, make it to Camps Bay.  It is a stunning beach.  White sand, Blue sea, and a row of quaint shops and a healthy breeze to make all your cares and worries fly…well, somewhere.  I darted off to the beach with 2 good friends for an afternoon of surfing in the frigid Atlantic Sea.  While they surfed I hunkered down in between a few rocks with my book (The Hunger Games, gotta check it out!)and my daydreams I relished between the sunlight and pages of my book.  What a life to be able to read and be on a beach in the afternoon and be playing soccer in the mountains at dusk- the magic of Cape Town.

3. Dr. G, Dr. Cynthia G.  This past week I met a woman who is not only now a mentor but one who managed to give me a crash course in monitoring and evaluation theory in a week- cra cra.  GRS plowed through data, discussion, and systems figuring out what it is we interested and capable of measuring within our programmes.  I learned a wealth of knowledge regarding programme design, other professions that are out there, who my co-workers are, and who I am as an employee in a new field.  What a job, where I basically get to learn every single day…learn more than I teach even.  Incredible!!!  We spoke about HIV, about youth, about psychology, about coaches and mentors, about sex, and all of the miraculous qualities that make GRS so incredibly passionate and well, make it what it is.

4. Rockin’ the Daises.  Music, lots and lots of live music.  Summer is fast approaching in the southern hemisphere and that means it is time for outdoor festivals, dancing, day drinking, and braiis!  Love the summer.  Every year around this time, festivals in Southern Africa kick off.  Last year around this time I was in Malawi for the Lake of Stars  festival and this year I attended Rockin’ the Daisies.  Such a unique festival featuring South African artists and promoting green living- there was a massive camp ground that bordered the appearance of a squatter community.  Dancing day and night, a resivour for swimming, and a scene out of a movie.  An hour North of Cape Town nestled in a valley between rolling hills and hectares of vineyards, farmland, and cattle is a farm with spectacular views and with a double identity.  Farm for the entire year, but one weekend, it gets to turn itself into a dancing, singing, and festive scene. 

Many artists passed through… one in particular caught my eye.  His name is Yoav and I am in love with him.  He’s geeky, sings beautifully, and has a calming presence.  Check out his stuff if you can!  Similarly there were bands ranging form folk to hard rock to electronic.  Toby2shoes, who is becoming one of my favorite DJs was out and about on Friday night!  All in all it was wonderful to escape the city, hang with friends, and listen to some live music.
5. Empty Nest.  Work is moving right along. Daily I learn more (and more about what I don’t know) and I am amazed by just how cool my job is!  Soon I am off to Durban and KZN and then back to Zambia for a bit to evaluate a programme that we are working on.  Excited to be heading back to a familiar place, to see good friend, and Kamba!

Until next time…no World Cup victory this year..sorry Spring Boks L 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Goings on about town.

September is drawing to a close and time seems to be speeding up as it often does when- well, when you are having fun!  Feeling settled and acclimatizing to my new Atlantic Ocean scenery the possibilities seem as wide as the sliver of ocean that I can see as I peer between 2 tall apartment buildings.  So this is what it is like to live in the city…
1. The Promenade.  Out the gate, to the left, and 20 steps to the coastal walkway that parallels the rocky coast of the Atlantic.  The promenade, as it is know, winds its way through Sea Point, Green Point, all the way to the Waterfront.  People of all shapes and sizes, dogs, boot camp, families, couples, and a slew of characters dart along at all speeds. Waddles, sprints, hops, jogs, and saunters dabble down the bricked path as waves crash and sea spray coats your skin.  The sunsets are stunning and I often find that I am called to the walkway as the sky changes and melts into the sea. 
2. Heritage Day.  One of the perks of living abroad is the opportunity to celebrate new holidays.  One of the bummers of living abroad is not getting to celebrate those holidays that you are used to at home.  One of the perks of living abroad is meeting an amazing group of ex-pats that want to celebrate the holidays of your homeland with you.  Saturday September 24th was Heritage Day or as it has now been coined National Braii Day.  A braii for those of you who don’t know is a barbeque.  On Friday, the GRS office shared our heritage in honor of this communal “hang out, eat a lot, drink and be merry, play in the sun day!”  Such a nonsequitor to learn about people’s lives and families in a professional setting; refreshing.

3. Table Mountain.  This past Saturday a few GRS colleges, my roommate, and I decided that we would climb Table Mountain.  A step and rapid ascent and descent on a beautiful sunny day; felt like summer.  On such a beautiful day there were bound to be numbers of people making there way up the hour and a half stair stepper.  Determination, heat, views, and a ‘don’t stop moving’ attitude willed us up the mountain as we dabbled in the quintessential trail chats.  What is it about the air on the trail (pure) and the meditation of putting one foot in front of the other that lends you to meaningful and significant conversation? I am convinced that this is at least a portion of the reason that I am in love with nature- because it brings me closer to people.  Irony.  An hour and a half or so up, and you stand victoriously overlooking Cape Town.  An hour down and you are suddenly submerged by the land that you had seemingly conquered.  What a city…

4. HAART and the TAC.  Cape Town is infinite in culture.  With book fairs, boat shows, semester at sea in town, and film festivals there is so much to do that I feel spoiled.  On Tuesday night I went to go and see a film that highlighted the Truth Action Campaign and the fight for and initiation of Highly-Active Antiretroviral Therapy Treatment in South Africa.  For many years in South Africa there was ambiguity, uncertainty, and denial about the roots of HIV, it’s connection to AIDS, and the means to prevent it from spreading as well as how to best support people living with HIV.  I watched recent image after image of South African politicians and citizens look Science in the face and say “No!”  “No” to the existence of the virus, “No” to the fact that it lead to AIDS, “No” to the fact that as many as 600,000 people were suffering from HIV and none of them with treatment.  A humbling and contemporary story; contemporary and astonishing.  I think that we forget that denial, ignorance, and the need to educate and the need to provide wholesome information escapes us because we are in 2011…but ignorance is ever living, ever present, and something I definitely obtain-even in my own field of work.

5. Bike!

I may have found a bike.  Now onto the scoooooooter, yippee!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

tied over.

My endeavor to post once a week has been a bit sloppy at best, please forgive me.  To tie everyone, including myself, over till I manage to sit down and reflect on the past few days...eeks, weeks.  Here are some photo highlights and links that provide a bit of a window into what's been happening before breakfast.

1.  View from the roof of my apartment...taken by roommate extraordinaire Charlie Shoemaker (you all should check out his website too:

2.  Grassroot Soccer, the AMAZING organization that I work for, is being featured in Sports Illustrated!!  Check out this article (pg. 3)



3.  If you happen to be in Albuquerque this week (Friday September 23rd) there will be some Zambian Kings that you could meet.  Small Small small World.

Anthropology Department Welcomes African Kings from Zambia

September 20, 2011 | By Karen Wentworth
The UNM com­mu­nity is invited to meet three African Kings from Zam­bia on Wednes­day, Sept. 28, at 3 p.m. in Hibben 105. His Majesty Nza­mane will speak on “The Expe­ri­ence of the Ngoni,” His Majesty Mukini will speak on “The Expe­ri­ence of the Toka Leva” and His Majesty Mwamba will speak on “The Expe­ri­ence of the Bemba.” This Tribal Cul­tural Exchange Mis­sion is to uncover and con­nect the tribal sim­i­lar­i­ties of both Native Amer­ica and Zambia.
Tribal Cul­tural Exchange fos­ters learn­ing, preser­va­tion of cul­tural tra­di­tions and pro­mot­ing eco­nomic devel­op­ment by work­ing with tribal groups and edu­ca­tors to cre­ate a healthy, advanced and edu­ca­tion­ally enriched com­mu­nity in iso­lated vil­lages, thereby, allow­ing for a break­through in future com­mu­nity and eco­nomic devel­op­ment. The edu­ca­tional goal is to cre­ate stu­dent exchange pro­grams with the Uni­ver­sity of New Mexico.”
Fac­ulty and stu­dents are invited to meet ear­lier from 2:15–2:45 with The African Kings in rm. 238 in Anthro­pol­ogy Build­ing 11.
For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact the Anthro­pol­ogy Depart­ment at (505) 277‑4524.

Maybe this man will be there...

4.   New friends and a Saturday in the sun.

5.  Go Springboks!  South Africa plays in their 3rd World Cup Rugby Match today...bring that trophy home!

Miss you all!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Snaps for (meaning I agree) and from (meaning I or someone took a photo) weekend moments in Cape Town (and surrounding areas).

1.  Birthday.  24.  Ah, I am really 24.  I think that this means something significant.  Most likely it will take me much of the next year to figure out what that means.  Signing contracts, getting health insurance, making friends, having a business card…

The luckiest girl in the worlds, I was able to celebrate my 24th birthday in Cape Town, the day I arrived, with some of the coolest people I will ever meet!!

2.  Llandudno.  The beach that everyone dreams of, silky sand, crystal for water, and houses that make your jaw hurt.  Beauty on the beach, in winter.  We took a mid-day brunch to the beach to celebrate Sara’s final days in Cape Town.  It was a warm day with a brisk breeze.  One of those days that makes you feel like you are on a movie set it is so perfect.  Tossing a disk, eating Nutella, and laughing with friends colored the day and paralleled the radiance of the sun.

3.  Flowers and Flamingos.  As spring has sprung so have the flowers found in Namaqualand (say it 10 times fast) and in the West Coast National Park.  South Africa is peppered with pristine wilderness and the WCNP, as it is called in these parts, is a vast and memorable piece of wilderness.  Settled along the western coast of the country (Atlantic Ocean side…brrrrr) there is a small peninsula that is covered in rolling hills of colored wild flowers and a diverse animal population that left me and some friends questioning whether animals were real or figments of our imagination.  It is so diverse that the least likely animal was found in the “lagoon” that settles calmly in between the peninsula and the mainland.  Can you guess? I guess I already gave it away…a pink flamingo.  One solo flyer sifting through the salt and teal water amidst burst of wild color. 

The WCNP is modest but bursts with pockets of beauty.  Pulling over every 5 minutes to soak in the kaleidoscope of flowers that follow the pattern of the sun, exposing their liveliness as the day progressed, and pausing to admire the dirty zebra, the pink flamingo, and a slew of birds and antelope we made our way around the lagoon to the beach and fishing town of Langeraan.  Mainly Afrikaans is spoken in these parts, so street names, shop names, and even saying “hello” and “thank you” had my mouth in knots and me tripping over words.  Continuing inland the color of the flowers was replaced by altitude and oranges.
 4.  Cedarbergs and Oranges.
The Cedarbergs are a jugged mountain range that is a 2 hour jaunt north of Cape Town on the N7.  So close and so vastly different, the magnificence of the ocean is replaced by jugged rock and deep valleys that house a citrus supply that had my skin turning orange due to lack of self discipline.  Oranges and lemons are found dotting the road and I don’t think that a farm has ever looked more inviting.  Neatly dressed orange trees in rows dominate the valley which then juts into mountains (my favorite!)

We rolled into Cirtusberg (aptly named) and happened upon an tourist information sign.  With local recommendation we ventured down a road to some “baths.”  Having no idea what we were in for, we were greeted by a teenage boy who promptly sold us the largest bag of oranges for 5 Rand (about 75-80 cents).  Amazing!!!!  Tart and juicy, these oranges could have fed me for a lifetime.  Then we kept going and found ourselves in camping paradise. Natural hot springs, hiking, and camping amnesties all found in one spot.  Watching the sun set, fighting with fire, and soaking in a hot bath were the events of the evening…and the morning brought a hike to look out onto the orange conquered valley.  Take that Sunny-D.

5.  New home and mini-buses.
Now that I am 24 and some form of adult, the venture for housing is a constant thought and concern.  I seem to be getting very lucky and learning a lot the more places I rent and the more people that I live with. Eventually I assume that this luck will run out, but for now I will take it while I have it. And as luck would have it, my criteria were price, furnished, and hopefully a washing machine.  Guess what I got?  All that and SO MUCH MORE.  I got poker chips, sea gulls, Jewish grandmothers, promenade and beach access, a television (haven’t lived with one of these in a while), and instant hot water.  Basically I live in a quiet apartment building in Sea Point (you’ll just have to look that one up).  I can walk to the beach, hear sea gulls in the morning, ride a min-bus to work, and have a grocery store super close by.  I love it. It has a bit of a grungy feel, a bit of a grown up feel, and a bit of a lost somewhere in time feel.  Home.

Brief notes and thoughts about mini-buses.  I adore public transportation, while often my experience in Zambia and South Africa shows that mini-bus drivers can be the worst, they are also the most protective of their vehicles because, well, it is their livelihood.  As a social phenomenon they teach you vast amounts about the world you are entering. 

A brief history:  hoped into a mini-bus with 3 women, strangers as I later found out, ranting and raving about men and how they are useless and the do’s and do not’s for when it comes to men. Mind you there were men on this mini-bus… I had watched this mini-bus approach from a block away.  It had stopped at the corner where a couple attempted to get onto the bus.  An apparent struggle ensued.  Now these buses are not formal; no official stops, no set time schedule, no rules, except for the fee paid (R5).  Next thing I see is the driver, a burly woman (also not something that you often see), who looked Romanian with missing front teeth and an quintessential wrestlers gate, pop out of the car yelling only in the way that an Italian grandmother who had raised boys would know how to, and kicking this couple off the bus.  Does this really happen?  I debated whether or not it was a good idea to get on the bus and decided that if she was willing to kick people out of her bus that she didn’t like than that was DEFINITELY the bus that I wanted to be on.  And man was it incredible, sad, humbling, and eye-opening.  These 3 women gabbed and gabbed, compared notes on men, showed each other stabbing scars, vowed to defend each other and Women, laughed, expressed condolences, and all of this within the 12 minutes that it takes to get from where I got on to where I got off.  Intensity of life when relationships are run in starts and stops and robots (street lights) are your only options for break-time.  The lives of these women were encapsulated within the mini-bus and that simple form of transit enabled a group therapy which we all needed.

I hoped off feeling dazed and confused but oddly satisfied; unexpected adventure on an unassuming afternoon.    

In other news

…the Springboks (The Republic of South Africa’s Rugby Team) beat Wales yesterday 17-16 in their first showing in the Rugby World Cup. 

…I saw 2 whales (not sure what kind) in the Atlantic Ocean yesterday as I was walking to watch the match.

…and I found out that there is a Swiss and Austrian Social Club, hmmm.

Monday, September 12, 2011


One month exactly; eleven to go?  Where does time escape to?  Two months ago I touched down in the US of A for the first time in 11 months.  One month ago I touched down in Cape Town, South Africa, my new home.  Mountains, wine, water, sun, rain, left-sided drivers, apartments, Jewish neighborhoods, and Grassroot Soccer await me in.  For those of you who are just tuning into the run around that has been my life, welcome.  For the next year I will be based out of Cape Town, South Africa.  Yes, the Spanish major is STILL in Southern Africa…hmmmm.  I just couldn’t say no to the opportunity to continue my love affair with Grassroot Soccer, and get paid to do it.

Life in a word is stunning.  

I have managed to settle in relatively smoothly.  Found an apartment in the predominately Jewish neighborhood of Sea Point.  I’ve sampled the happenings around Cape Town with some all-you-can-eat sushi endeavors and the wonders of The Engen (yes capital ‘T’), a 24-hour gas station that has anything and everything you could ever want.  The Engen was also 2 blocks from the place I was staying for my first 2 weeks in Cape Town…danger, good thing I moved over the mountain and away towards the ocean.  My apartment sits on a quiet block.  Exit the building and you have a ½ a block walk to the promenade, a pathway that parallels the coast line of the Atlantic Ocean. I smell ocean when I walk out my door and hear sea gulls at all hours of the morning (a change from the roosters from last year). 

The weekends have been filled with recovering from jet leg, the beach, visiting the wine lands, venturing up the western cape, and settling into my new home.  I hope to fill this blog with stories, hilarity, thoughts, moments, recipes and the adventures of my all too blessed life. 

Five impossible things a week.  Happy reading.  [photo of me on top of table mountain]

Friday, July 8, 2011


At the end of every day as I walk out of the office cross the 10 foot walkway to my back door I hear the words “Tizaonana Milo” (see you later, tomorrow). Tomorrow it will simply be “Tizaonana.” Tomorrow I am leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again…la la la. But it isn’t all la de da. It is a profound goodbye. One that I never anticipated to be as humbling and appreciative as it is. I knew coming to Zambia would be an “experience” but as I have toiled with the drama, the landscape, the work, the language, and keeping my feet clean I have found more than any experience has given me...I’ve found a piece of my life, part of me. It is difficult to put into words and I will never pretend to do it justice but I will try by saying a few final thank yous to encompass the vastness of my appreciation for this place, people, and all that this adventure has been.

Thank you to the house that welcomed us in with all of its quirks. From the jenga-like floor to the standard house inhabitants (mice, cockroaches, maggots, wall spiders, geckos, etc.) I have loved your charm, your sounds, the projector screen and most of all the fact that you were never ever more than 10 steps from the office.

Thank you to the yard that evolved from dirt to grass and a garden in a short year. To the avocado, mango, lemon, papaya, and banana tress…without you, I am not sure how I would have eaten. Thank you to the hammock that provided hours of countless thought, solace, and appreciation for then web of nature that exists right behind my home. Thank you for the countless braais and events that brought many people together and provided space for shenanigans.

To Kamba. Dog, I love love love you and if I could I would cart you all the way back to the states. I love waking up to you and am so glad that you did not kill yourself in the first few months here. Be good, try not to bark so much at night, and keep working on your tricks.

To Ping…well, you’ve grown on me and I hope that one of the new interns has a deep appreciation and love for cats. Be well, keep killing mice, and please learn to run away from Kamba.

Thank you to the office. While half of my time was spent outside the walls, the walls provided rounds of laughter, space for conversation, and a desk in a back room that I could call my own.

Thank you to the incredible team of individuals who I’ve worked AND played with. I don’t think I have ever met a more impassioned group of people. To each of you, thank you for teaching me what caring means, for always asking difficult questions, for laughing and dancing often, and for including me in your lives…it has been a rare privilege to be welcomed into your homes and your lives. Thank you!

To the coaches, thank you for humoring my Nyanja, for including me in energizers, for listening to what I had to say, for 3a.m. phone calls, for setting up tents, for eating the meat pies, and for committing to your communities and to kids. Your impact is astounding and why it was worth while to wake up.

To the interns (Marissa, Mike, and Max). Gosh, what to say. North, South, East, AND West. We did it guys…the perfect balance, the perfect crew. I think that this place has left it’s mark on us but YOU ALL have left your marks on me. Thank you for the support, conversation, meals, movies, enthusiasm, and willingness to try new things. I will miss you all terribly- but I’ll see you all soon J

I love my ZAMFAM (Marissa, Spiak, Zales, Tommy, Max, Lena). You all are amazing! You inspire me to work harder and I definitely would not understand or appreciate this place as much if it hadn’t been for all of you. Your advice, love of life, and work ethic is contagious. Can’t wait to run into you all again.

To my friends, you ALL should know who you are. Memories are insane and incredible and bring swells of laughter and tears when I think about all the adventures, conversations, and fun that we’ve had. I cannot wait to see where each of your lives take you…I know they are going amazing places. Thanks for including me in your lives, you have made a lasting impression and I don’t think that I would have survived the wildlife, the vacations, or crossing the street with out you. So much love…miss you all!

To the Tuesday vegetable market, my favorite space in all of Lusaka. Thank you for the color, the energy, and the fresh food. I hope that all the mama’s stay safe, the guard boys out of trouble, and that the land continues to produce, and the people continue to purchase. I found peace and inspiration each time I stepped through the threshold so, thank you.

Vegas, Alpha, R&G events, and Polo…thank you for teaching me to dance. I now believe that muzungus can dance too!

To Wednesday afternoon and weekend frisbee...go big or go home. I've never felt so alive in my life! Hours of conversation, intense games, and quirky cuts and throws pepper my memories of the Polo fields, the American school, and in it's final days the horse arena under the lights. Cannot wait to see you all soon...keep playing, t-rex points, and Mr. Jones....go long!

To all those who helped to support me whether through funding, prayers, thoughts, notes, or simply by talking about Grassroot Soccer. I need you all to know that my life is changed because of you and I cannot thank you enough!

To Grassroot Soccer, for not only giving me the opportunity to come here and to continue! My life will never be the same because of this.

For those of you who do not know…I will be back in the US for about a month. After that month I will be moving to Cape Town, South Africa to continue working for Grassroot Soccer in our Global Office. I will be helping out with the monitoring and evaluation side of all of our programs and a little bit of curriculum development. I am thrilled, excited, nervous, and all around blessed.

Tizaonana Zambia…not Milo (tomorrow) but maybe sometime soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hello. Hello.

April is a month of preparation in the GRS office. Which, oddly enough, means that for most of this month I will not be living at the GRS office nor in the field but rather at Barclays Sports Complex. I live here. It is a complex that we often use for trainings because of the field, the inside space, the staff, and the bar. The road to Barclays is a minefield. Crater after crater jostles me awake each morning so by the time I reach here I am ready to face 25+ energetic peer-educators. Each week we have a new group. Names to learn, personalities to collaborate, and time to be kept.
We’ve been saying “Hello” the past 2 weeks to a slew of potential peer educators. Thirty-five names to learn each of the weeks and 35 sets of facilitations skills to sift through. Admissions is a rough process. Each morning we start the day with tons of energy and nervousness. By the end of the day we are a family, teasing eachother and perfecting the balance between work and play.
GRS trains coaches (peer educators) in what we call ToCs (Training of Coaches), six days of intensive information. We teach them the entire 10 session curriculum, explain to them what their role is as a coach, and cover all manner of facilitation skills. Not to mention the fact that we have to train them in how to do home-visits, referrals, and explain how our office supports their activity.Just to briefly list and elaborate on what exactly it is that our coaches do; they implement a 10 hour curriculum (sometimes they do it 2 times a week, other times every day), they conduct home-visits to each one of their 40 participants homes in order to encourage parents to sign a consent form allowing their child to be tested for HIV, they attend and assist graduations making sure that their kids are shuffled through the testing process with a caring adult figure at hand, they also deliver results to parents, conducting a second home-visit that ensures that the testing information gets back into the hands of the guardian. If they are a coach-counselor then they accompany any HIV positive youth to their appointments at a pediatric clinic. In summary, they care more than any individuals that I have ever met!

Coaches (peer educators) are the roots of this organization and finding charismatic, adaptable, and caring coaches is a task that I am learning takes time, experience, and thoughtfulness. So after two weeks of six day trainings I had a few days in the office to re-group, say hello to faces that I haven’t seen in a bit, and prepare for three weeks of three day trainings for our current coaches.

Currently I am in the midst of DC (Development of Coaches) number one. A different vibe of confidence comes from these coaches and I really feel pushed to be on my toes and to challenge the norm of GRS. They push the envelope, which includes pushing me.

With a new crew of stellar individuals we, GRS, say hello to a new year of ambition, trails, and successes.