Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rendezvous with History

The slogan of the 1944 Historical Trail is They Had a Rendezvous with Destiny, You Have a Rendezvous with History.  And boy is that true here in Normandy!  It is so very exciting to be exploring Band of Brothers territory (Captain Winters, you're my hero) and to see so many fascinating sites.  The weather, scenery, and food have also been fantastic.  Word to the wise, ris de veau is veal pancreas (it was also my dinner).  

Photos by Oh MG.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Week in Review #29 - Paris Snapshots

View from Victor Hugo's apartment in Le Marais.  Not bad.

JM at lunch (I could get use to rose every afternoon!) and at Eglise St-Germain des Pres.

Merci to Emilie for recommending that we go to Merci.  Once there I realized that SFGirlbyBay also raves about it - such an awesome shop!

A stop for eclaires & macaroons!

Tuileries picnic!

Woohoo, Paris!

Photos by Oh MG.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Train Travel Done Right

Woohoo, we are in Paris!  After a fantastic and educational time in Amsterdam yesterday (eating croissants, renting bikes, visiting the Dutch Resistance Museum, and the Anne Frank House) we got up early this morning and headed to Paris via the Thalys train.  And oh my, was it a lovely train ride!  Train travel is just not something we've got down in the US.  This morning we got a full breakfast, coffee & tea, complimentary newspapers, a second beverage service, a passed plate of mini sandwiches and pastries - and did I mention it was only a 3 hour and 15 minute train ride and there was beautiful scenery?  We arrived at 11:30 AM and made our way to the little studio apartment we rented in the 1st Arrondissement.  Of course since there is so much to do here, we hit the ground running.  I will post Paris photos over the next few days, but for now some shots from Amsterdam yesterday.

Vacation lie I will tell myself: I can eat unlimited croissants if they are whole wheat and seeded.

Despite generally being very nervous on bikes in big cities, I LOVED riding in Amsterdam where cyclists always have the right of way and there are tons of designated bike lanes.  Also, I loved seeing basically the entire population out and about on their bikes.

Our two museum stops were fascinating and moving.  We walked right into the Resistance Museum late in the day and only wish we could have spent more time there.  The wait for the Anne Frank House was 90 minutes, but once inside we were completely captivated.  The Secret Annex is preserved and you can walk through the entire attic space.  I was particularly touched my the small special exhibit on Anne's older sister Margot, about whom much less is known, but who seemed like an amazing young woman. I want to do a re-read of The Diary of Anne Frank now that I can contextualize the place from which she was writing.
Photos by Oh MG.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's Fun to Be a Tourist

Week in Review #28

Another late post!  Sunday found me boarding a plane in Zanzibar at 8:00 AM, nearly missing a connection in Dar Es Salaam due to a little issue of not having a visa, stopping Arusha, and then landing back in Entebbe, Uganda for a 10 hour wait before boarding another plane - this time to Amsterdam.  What made the whole day of travel worth it was reuniting with JM here in Amsterdam on Monday afternoon.  For now we're exploring the city and staying with our fabulous friend Priya.  Very sporadic posting for the next two weeks.  PS. Bitterballen is amazing!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Low Tide at Paje Beach

The tide changes are very dramatic in Zanzibar.  When it's low tide the sea retreats and reveals lots more sand as well as seaweed farms!  The local population cultivates seaweed and it is one of Zanzibar's main exports.  It is used for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food.  The tide was down this morning and it was fun to check out women collecting seaweed and some of the boats that were temporarily marooned on the sand.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hello from Zanzibar

It's Tuesday morning and the dawn of our second day in Zanzibar.  We are staying on the eastern side of the island along the gorgeous Paje Beach.  Absolutely nothing to complain about ... we are in heaven! Don't worry Mom, wearing TONS of sunblock, SPF 50 at that!

A VERY Late - Week in Review #27

The internet has been a little spotty, so my updates have been sorely lacking in the last few days.  I am writing now from the island paradise of Zanzibar and since Friday our journey has taken us by car from Kalisizo-->Kampala-->Entebbe and then by plane from Entebbe-->Arusha, Tanzania-->Dar Es Salaam-->ZANZIBAR.  Our goodbye party in Kalisizo was quite the event, necessitating that we purchase five chickens to feed everyone.  Above we introduce the beats of Lady Gaga to our Ugandan co-workers during the post-dinner dance party.  We already miss our new Ugandan friends!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Making the Rounds

Ahh, it is our last week at the Rakai Health Sciences Program!  On Tuesday morning we made our final set of presentations on our research projects, and since then we've been making the rounds saying good-bye to our friends and finishing things up here in Kalisizo. We've also been attempting to pack which is proving quite difficult - we have slowly accumulated more than we realized over the last ten weeks. Tomorrow I have some final data analysis to do during the day and then a small going away party is being hosted for us in the evening.

Below, Rachel and I pose with Ambrose, RHSP's Director of Transport & Training, after giving him some small thank you gifts for being so wonderful this summer.  One of the gifts was a a NYC taxi pin which he immediately affixed to his lapel and showed off to his colleagues.  

Perhaps most importantly we have been settling up with our dressmakers.  Teo, the manager of the guest house where we stay, has kindly accompanied us to one of the dress shops over the last few weeks acting as translator and stylist for us.  Here she and Leigh make sure all our orders have been filled.

For fun, we've also tried on some traditional headwear.

And lastly, we've fit in some final evening runs through the neighborhood.  Even if I manage to keep up this habit back home, I'll miss running along the dirt road in front of our house dodging cars, motorcycles, and many children yelling "mzungu, mzungu!" as well as the occasional herd of cows and goats.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Uganda Coverage

With some friends - can't get enough of the one in the Mickey Mouse sweater.  And yes, my skirt matches their uniforms.  Photo by R. Gruver.
Lots of Uganda coverage in The New York Times this weekend. First, a very interesting article about maternal mortality and the third delay. While sobering, the issues discussed do not come as a surprise given all we’ve seen and learned while here this summer (especially the tour of Mulago Hospital's maternity ward!).  I was particularly struck by the statement that, “Poor people surged into Uganda’s public health system when the government abolished patient fees a decade ago. Increasingly, African countries are adopting similar policies, and experts say that many more people are getting care as a result. But Uganda’s experience illustrates the limits of that care when a system is poorly managed and lacks the resources to deliver decent services, experts say.”  Really makes you think about what a functioning system should look like - it has to have staff and resources for one!  Ironic that this article should come so shortly after the coverage of Sierra Leone's recent switch to fee-free deliveries.

Second, an article about the Ugandan Little League team that unfortunately will not be able to participate in the World Series this year. In many ways, the issues of not having formal birth certificates and young people not being raised by their parents directly relate to having a safe delivery, whether in a hospital or not. Hope they have a chance to qualify again next year!