Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stone Town Rocks!

Jambo from Zanzibar, Tanzania!
Zanzibar is unlike anywhere I have ever been. Crystal blue waters, white soft sand and alluring labyrinths of side streets pull you in. For three days we have just wandered around Stone Town finding it nearly impossible to get lost. It's amazing how so many cultures collide on one small island. Our hostel is close to St. Joseph Cathedral whose spires just barely overlap the mosque just behind it. Friendly faces greet you and moments later a set of eyes search you through a niqab. Overall we have found everyone to be kind as they greet us with a warm "karibu" but I still feel a sense of mystery. Modesty is key as underneath the warm welcomes, Zanzibar at heart is a conservative island. One of the highlights thus far has been a coffee at Zanzibar Coffee House, definitely worth the hype. You can sit for hours sipping one cup of cappuccino as you people watch through the window. We are headed to Kendwa Beach next to give the soft sand a try....until then!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Is this real life?...

My time in Thailand is winding down. For over 2 weeks we've been island hopping here. You can imagine how painful this is... The hostels are cheap, the food is cheaper, the massages are cheapest and the beaches are beautiful.  The whole experience is just spectacular. We started out in Phuket, which is particularly raining this time of year (something about a monsoon season...) From Phuket we hopped on a ferry to Koh Samui. Koh Samui has a little bit of everything; resorts, backpacking havens, etc. I spent most of the time relaxing on the sand, getting $1.00 coconut water IN the coconut if the heat got to be too much. The highlight was their "Walking Street Festival" with street food worth the stomach ache.

Next, we headed to Koh Phangan...the sleepy side. (The island is know for the epic Full Moon Parties celebrated guessed it...full moon) After a very hilly tuk-tuk ride we arrived at our "resort". You feel like a castaway there on the quiet beach and sometimes I found comfort in seeing that someone else was staying there!  Greg and I took a hike to the top of hillside that steeply offered spectacular views of the island and the connecting deserted island. I felt very survivor-esque. As luck would have it, it was a bit cloudy on our climb up but once we reached the top, God conveniently opened up one large intrusive cloud so that rays of sunshine could get through. The way the light hit the island begged the question..."is this real life?"

Last stop was the island Koh Tao. On the ferry ride over we were bombarded with compelling offers to get our PADI scuba certification. Absolutely not I thought. Too expensive, too much time , too many man eating aquatic animals and I often forget to breathe normal on dry land as it is. But then the offers got more compelling and I got more curious. First I learned that Koh Tao gives out the most scuba certifications in the world. Next I confirmed that sharks prefer cooler water. Finally a guy from BAN'S Diving Resort gave us an offer and we "baht" it. Scuba diving takes a little getting used to but when there's only one way to get oxygen, you take it! It becomes almost therapeutic listening to your inhales and exhales. Scuba diving itself is amazing. The coral, the fish, the colors!  I would highly recommend it and now that we are certified we can dive anywhere in the world!

We spent the last day on Koh Tao venturing over to an island connected by a thin sandbar. Again we decided to take the road or rather rocks less travelled and climbed up to a view I was just barely comfortable with. Again, unreal. It was the perfect ending to our island adventures.

More to come on Thailand...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Montre Mwen"

I just returned from my month(ish) long visit back to Haiti. It was amazing! I am so privileged to have gone from making acquaintances to having friends to feeling like I have a Haitian family who will welcome me anytime. I have truly met some of the most lovely people there. God did not use me for all of the "big,important" things I had hoped to tell my old co-workers. Instead, He used me in extraordinary ordinary ways. I was the official boo-boo bandager, disciplinary, spider killer, teacher and "big sister". For the first 3 weeks I slept in the girls room, surrounded by little bunks and curious faces. The girls are both sweet and smart, translating my broken Haitian Creole while helping me sweep around my tent. It was during those mostly quiet times that each of the girl's personalities showed through. One night, long after I had fallen asleep, I heard the voice of the youngest girl there whispering my name. I quickly turned on my flashlight to see her siting next to my tent speaking to me in Creole. I told her I didn't understand what she was saying and we sat staring at each other. Finally I remembered a very simple phrase from the last time I did pharmacy at the clinic, "Montre Mwen" or "show me". I repeated it twice and with that, her little hand took mine and we began to walk outside.I'd be lying if I said wasn't scared. I still had no idea where she was taking me and I'm not a fan of darkness. Finally,as we reached the property gate,she let go of my hand and went to a little faucet to grab a quick sip of water. That was it,she just wanted a little sip of water and she trusted me to go with her, so she wouldn't have to go alone. We walked back to the bunks and she hopped in her bed to fall asleep. As I get ready to depart for round two of my travels, that's what I want. I want God to show me. I'm so thankful to even have the luxury of travel. I'm thankful for the option of having no idea what option to take. And I'm thankful for the family and friends along the way who have encouraged me, supported me and been "in it" with me so I don't have to go alone.Thailand! Here I come!