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May 30, 2006

Brief update

Greetings from Zanzibar, I'm, taking two days for some R&R here. Went and hung out in the market for a awhile then drove out to the country side to one of the national parks to see monkeys. Zanzibar is quite a nice place!

We had quite the adventure getting from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, it took 18 hours by bus (usually it takes about 13 hours), the bus broke down once and then ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere late at night! I can't wait to see what's in store on the way back.

I should be back in Soroti early next week and have lots of pictures to upload!

Time to go do some more exploring!

May 22, 2006

Heading out

I leave tomorrow for Kenya and Tanzania to meet with three of Kiva's partners and work with them in using the website as well as learn what we can do to improve the interface for them.

A couple days in Nairobi followed by a week or so in Dar es Salaam with hopefully a side trip to Zanzibar.

Back in two weeks or so...

May 21, 2006

Alfred's Graduation Party

This weekend I went to Alfred's graduation party. Alfred is a social worker who works in the kiva office, he just graduated last month. Graduation parties are a very big thing here and there were probably 200 guests.

When I arrived I was able to take a peek around the side of the house where there was a huge feast being prepared.

Cooking the feast

The party consisted of 2 1/2 hours of speeches by all kinds of local dignitaries, preachers and friends of the family. I learned that Alfred comes from a big family, his father has three wives and 23 children! Alfred is the first to graduate from college.

After the speeches we had cake and people gave presents. Alfred even got a turkey and a goat! Here are Helen & Stella giving a gift from the Kiva staff:

Stella and Helen giving a present

Then it was eating time! The food was unbelievably good, with goat and chicken that had been slowly cooking all day and were nice and tender.

I mentioned to someone that it was nice to finally be someplace where I wasn't the center of attention, though I did get some mentions from the MC who was under the impression that I had flown in just for the party and was flying back to the U.S. right afterwards.


More pictures here.

May 19, 2006

More Cute Kids

Just in case you are tired of looking at ants, here's some new pictures of the neighbors. I took my cousin Donna's suggestion and am trying to use the flash to fill in the shadows but I think I need to go out at some other time than early afternoon when the sun isn't so harsh.

My new favorite:

Neighbor child

I'm working on getting them to allow me to take a picture one at a time instead of everyone fighting to get as close to the lens as possible.

Neighbor child

From this picture I bet you can tell who's the leader of the gang.

Neighbor children

the whole stack

May 18, 2006


One of the hardest things to deal with here are the number of insects that make it into the house. The most noticable are the ants. I learned early on that ants go where they want to go and there's no stopping them.

There seems to be 3 types of ants here, I don't know what they are really called but I call them red ants, black ants and white ants.

Black ants are your normal ants that we have in the U.S. They aren't very plentiful in the house and haven't been a problem.

Red ants are very very small but are the ones who are always on the march. They tend to blend into the background but are the ones you need to check for when you are eating. I've learned to bang my bread on the plate before eating. sometimes 50 ants may shake out telling me that it may be time for new bread. They are extremely quick and efficient and will eat other insects. If you kill a spider and leave it, within 15 minutes there will be hundreds of ants munching away, then when they are done they fade back into the night.

A very close up shot of the red ants.


White ants are very large and fly. They only come out every once in a while but when they do they swarm toward any light. Last night they came to my lights. I was sitting playing on the computer and first I heard one insect, then another then next thing I know there were probably 20 in the living room. Then I got a bang on the door and it was my night watchman asking if I could turn on the front porch light and get him a pot. As soon as I turned on the light hundreds of white ants started swarming around. My watchman went about gathering them up as they are apparently quite tasty. I didn't get to sample the end result as the next morning he returned an empty pan. Maybe next time.

A dead white ant getting eaten by red ants. To get a picture of their sizes, the metal round item on the left is the sink drain.


May 14, 2006

Hiking Sipi Falls

We took a trip about an hour east of Soroti to do some hiking. We went to visit Sipi Falls.

First stop, lunch! We ate some beans and chapati at the Mise Cave Restaurant.

Restaurant where we ate lunch

This is the first real tourist thing I've done since arriving and it was very interesting to see the difference in this area from Soroti, which has no tourism at all. Every where we went we were asked for money. Everyplace that could have a gate and an entrance fee, had one. When we returned, someone had washed the car and asked for money.

Paying the entrance fee

The falls themselves and the hike was very nice, though I am so out of shape that the hike up was not quite as pleasent as the hike down. I don't think I'm quite ready to climb Mt Kilimanjaro yet.

The trail as we began the hike, we hiked to the bottom of the falls, about a half hour down (and about 45 minutes up).

Hiking Sipi Falls

and the view when we reached the falls:

Sipi Falls

Today...I rest

More photos here

May 12, 2006

Check out this video!

If you haven't been following Cale & Jon's blog, you should check out this video they took when they brought a soccer ball out to play with the kids.

here's link to the video page:


May 9, 2006

I've got visitors!

Last night Jon & Cale arrived from The Netherlands. They are both Industrial Designers and have a grant from Microsoft to study the way Kiva partners are using technology. They will be meeting with our partners in Kampala, and Kenya as well.

You can check out their work at: http://www.intocontext.org/

We had big welcome feast over at Moses' house, check out this spread:


More pictures of us eating are here

My house is now set up to be a guest house, I've got two guest bedrooms and even have a fan on the walls, unfortunately last night we did not have electricity and as an introduction to the area, when Jon went into his bedroom he was met by a giant cockroach. I think AAA is going to take away one of my diamonds.

May 7, 2006

What must the neighbors think?

Sometimes I provide free entertainment for the neighborhood.

We have been slowly sealing the borders around my property to keep most of the animals out (and when I get some animals, to keep them in). I personally like living in a petting zoo, but sometimes we find the garbage all over the yard (usually from dogs, though the goats enjoy the proceeds) and occasionally a larger animal figures out how to get in but can't get out.

My gate still has very large holes so it just deterres them, but doesn't stop them from coming in, at least until we finish the gate.

After sealing the parimeter, we had one lone chicken in the yard and apparently that chicken needed to lay an egg real bad (or so I'm assuming, I don't know anything about chickens). I first found her making a racket in the garage, then she spent the next several hours trying to get into my house. she kept wedging herself in between the front door and my screens or jumping up on my window sills.

Finally she found my kitchen window which has a screen without a latch so if she pushed hard enough, she could open the screen and get into the house. Luckily the screen held but the chicken got stuck between my security bars and the screen. I was afraid that with one wrong move the screen would fly open and I would be chasing a chicken around the kitchen.

So I went outside and was trying to poke the chicken to get it to unwedge itself. All of a sudden I heard a bunch of cackling and it wasn't coming from the chickens, there were a group of women next door rolling on the ground laughing at me trying to get this chicken out of my window. It was pretty obvious I had no idea what I was doing.

Finally one of them sent her young child, probably about five years old to help me. I lifted him up and he grabbed the chicken and carried it back home.

I sure have a lot to learn!

Here's a picture of the chicken:


May 5, 2006

My Street

After an incredible run of 5 days in a row with electricity, this afternoon power went out.

I decided to make the most of my time and go for a little walk around the neighborhood.

I live on a small dirt road that has quite a few families. Most live in round grass thatched roofed houses without electricity or water, these are mostly the people displaced from their village by the insugancy. There is a policy in place to return most of the people living in these camps to their villages. Each family will be given 30 iron sheets for building a house and two oxen and a plow.

There's a borehole located nearby (behind my house), I haven't had a chance to check it out yet though, I'll save that walk for next time the electricity goes out. There's always a steady stream of women & kids with bright yellow plastic containers going for water (men don't fetch water, that's women's work).

My street is very quiet with almost no car traffic, of course its also has terrible potholes which probably keeps them away too. There is always a good stream of people walking and riding bikes so I have something to watch when I sit out on the porch.

here's my street in one direction:


and the other:


I am told that the area in which I live is called the senior quarter, but there is no shortage of kids around, and not many seniors.

One of he groups of homes near me:


and these guys really wanted to get their pictures taken, they were giving me their best movie star poses:


and of course once the camera comes out, soon there's a large group of children wanting to see themselves on the screen.




lots more here

May 4, 2006

My Alarm Clock

I call this guy A.C., short for Alarm Clock, because every morning about 6:30am he comes into my yard, stands right outside my window and starts crowing.

I wonder what he would taste like?

My Alarm Clock

and here's what the back of the house usually looks like, I live in a petting zoo!

I need to buy one of those machines that dispenses food pellets.



My adopted home town!

Here's a picture of the downtown area I pass through on the way to the office.


As far as I can tell, there's about 5 grocery stores, all with the exact same products but are the only places in town where the prices are fixed. There's a "movie theater" that looks really scary and I'm not sure if its a real movie theatre or just a room with a tv. I'm told that they play some of the soccer games there occaisionally. One of these days I'll work up enough nerve to go see a movie.

There's the Soroti Hotel which is the swanky hotel in town, the only cars you see in their parking lot are painted with big UN signs on the side.

The road leading into town:


There a good number of trucks who rumble through town, we are on the main drag to the Sudan border, and apparentely southern Sudan is going through a building boom now that the fighting has stopped and they are semi-autonomous. You also see lots of World Food Program trucks heading for the north of Uganda with food for the IDP camps.

The gas stations are all renovating because one of them did so and now the rest are playing catch-up. I have found that people here are very loyal to one brand of gas, you are either a Shell person, a Cal-Tex person, or a Total person and you rarely go to the other stations. I've only met Cal-Tex people.

There's one bank in town as far as I can tell, a Stanbic bank. They do have a 24 hour ATM, but its not connected to any international networks.

There are couple bars and fast food places in town, the fast food places tend to serve lots of fried foods, especially fried chicken and french fries. For real restaurants people seem to go to the guest houses and hotels.

I'll try to take more pictures around town!

May 2, 2006

A new website

I decided I needed to join the modern age and learn some of the new fangled ways that people are building websites.

Here's something I created to help me learn about stylesheets which is the new way to tell where things go on a page and define behaviors. Its a browser for photos on Flickr:


enjoy! I'll be back to posting pictures of butchers hanging meat out in the open soon.