Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Bring on Africa! (I Think…)
Monday, June 14th, 2010

[singlepic=1808,148,,,right]Sometimes even an experienced traveler doesn’t feel prepared. Marie Elena Martinez shares with us the nerves she is facing heading off to Africa for two months, despite having experienced a two-year career break before! As part of her trip, she will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro on behalf of Flying Kites.

I’ve done this already. Multiple times. And yet, the mixed feelings always come. Kenya, Tanzania, and Kilimanjaro loom large in my future, but I’m torn on leaving a very settled New York existence for the pleasures and perils of a travel-break.

In 2005, a rising Associate Publicity Director within the matrix of the HarperCollins Publishers machine, I left my job. No disillusionment with cranky authors, no falling out with top brass, no desire to continue my upward climb to Director. I just…quit. When I look back, I can remember that my position’s sense of urgency, of growth and of learning, had fallen off. So, I decided to throw myself into a new challenge and give myself a new education: traveling the world. Solo.

[singlepic=1805,275,,,right]Everyone thought I was crazy. “I mean, who does that?” wailed my sister. “Did you win the lottery?” questioned nosy neighbors. No, and no. I just needed a change. Which was odd. I had toiled at HarperCollins for nine solid years. I owned my New York City apartment. I dabbled with the same boy for half a decade. Change cramped my style. But it was time. I was on the cusp of 31, unattached, and unchallenged. So, I quit.


Favorite Books: Inspired by Africa
Monday, August 17th, 2009

As summer heats up, so does our favorite book list. But these books, based in Africa, aren’t your typical “beach reads” as the topics are a bit heavier. And much like our “Inspired by Asia” list, these aren’t our reviews but descriptions of the books. Because they are listed means that we were enlightened by them.

What is the What
By Dave Eggers

What Is the What is the epic novel based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with thousands of other children–the so-called Lost Boys–was forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven and trek hundreds of miles by foot, pursued by militias, government bombers, and wild animals, crossing the deserts of three countries to find freedom. When he finally is resettled in the United States, he finds a life full of promise, but also heartache and myriad new challenges. Moving, suspenseful, and unexpectedly funny, What Is the What is an astonishing novel that illuminates the lives of millions through one extraordinary man.


Dominique Doron – Feeling Fortunate for Taking a Career Break
Sunday, June 14th, 2009

[singlepic=1476,175,,,right]Dominique Doron took a 2-month career break in the beginning of 2009. She shares with us how she adapted to life in Ghana and how it became a reaffirming experience for her.

I was somewhat prepared for the cultural differences of an undeveloped country, but hadn’t thought about how it would affect the passing of time, being productive, and general organization. Getting places took forever, mail and packages often weren’t received, taking a child to a doctor’s appointment meant waiting in line all day, and various tribal languages made for difficult communication, even in an English-speaking country.

I was also surprised by how oppressively hot it was. I prefer warm, tropical climates, but I wasn’t prepared for the unusually high heat and humidity and how it would affect my energy and mood. The people were very friendly and welcoming, but I was surprised by how resistant they were to progressive or westernized ideas.

I was most surprised by how quickly and easily I adapted to a new culture. I expected the transition to bucket showers, no indoor plumbing, and rice three times a day to be frustrating. However, I quickly learned to embrace the differences, while being creative and resourceful. (more…)

Dominique Doron – Finding a Way to Make it Happen
Monday, June 8th, 2009

Dominique Doron took a 2-month career break in the beginning of 2009. She shares with us how she came to make this life-changing decision, the anxieties she faced in doing so, and how she ended up spending it volunteering in Ghana.

[singlepic=1473,200,,,right]MAKING THE DECISION
From Alternative Spring Breaks in college, to working for a non-profit in NYC, I have always tried to find time to volunteer. Traveling has also been a hobby of mine, although while working full-time, travel usually means a week of vacation here or there – not the culturally fulfilling experience I long for.

While working at Marie Claire as an events coordinator, I met some filmmakers who gave up their jobs and devoted their lives to making a difference in the lives of young Cambodian women. I was so moved by their bravery and dedication, yet felt a sadness come over me because I didn’t foresee an opportunity in my life to make a similar impact in the world.

I was married, needed to work full-time, and didn’t have any money to travel, but I quickly decided that if travel and volunteerism was important to me, that I would find a way to make it happen. Within a week, I decided I would quit my job to spend a few months volunteering in Africa. I wasn’t sure what I would do, where I would go, or how I would afford it, but I had a plan and started doing some research.


Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

We’re in the process of writing entries for Morocco. In the meantime, check out Sherry’s posts from Otts World:

[singlepic=1248,200,,,right]It’s a Dry Heat and a Dry Country – Morocco
For the last week in addition to my 50 lbs of luggage, I’ve been toting around eye drops, lip balm, and alcohol – welcome to Morocco. It’s dry here…the orange ground begging for water, the sun burning brightly every day. My eyes are thirsting for liquid as are my lips and my skin. The sun beats down on us every day as it climbs into the high 90’s F. You have a constant, unquenchable thirst…for something cold…very cold. I honestly haven’t seen a single cloud in the sky since I arrived here. Read More


Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

We’re in the process of writing entries for Tanzania. In the meantime, check out Sherry’s posts from Otts World:

WARNING: Just a friendly warning before you start reading this post…if you have any issues regarding reading about bodily functions…I suggest you look at the pictures and don’t read this post! The mountain was CHALLENGING…and your body is taxed in many different ways! As most of you know – I’m not shy about telling it how it is…so you do get a little glance into my gastro-intestinal organs and some of my inappropriate humor! Read More


South Africa
Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

We’re in the process of writing more entries for South Africa. In the meantime, check out Sherry’s posts from Otts World:

[singlepic=1240,200,,,right]Cape Town
Arriving in South Africa was stunning – I felt like I had been ship wrecked for a month and all of a sudden I was dropped back into modern society. The 3rd world to 1st world switch was abrupt and I felt a sense of relief to see normal roads, ATM’s, fast food places and malls – but at the same time I felt sad to be leaving the ’simple’ life. Every day in Eastern Africa put my brain synapses in overdrive – I was redlining with thoughts on what I was seeing every day. On the other hand – the thought of a country with uninterrupted electricity was sounding pretty good to me! Read More 


Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

We’re in the process of writing entries for Kenya. In the meantime, check out Sherry’s posts from Otts World:

[singlepic=1243,175,,,right]Kenya Transportation – bring comfortable shoes and patience!
We’ve made it to Samburu National Park/Safari which is wonderful but half the fun was getting here from Nairobi.  It was a 6 hour drive through Nairobi and the Kenyan countryside.  We were able to see the bustling city of Nairobi on a Monday morning.  There were people everywhere – like an army of ants going after spilled Kool-Aid.  Most people seemed to commute by foot. Read More


Egypt: Nile River, Red Sea & Mt. Sinai
Monday, January 5th, 2009

While visiting Egypt’s ancient past, I was reminded of my very own past.  Here is an excerpt from my blog.

[singlepic=983,150,,,right]My only knowledge of Egypt really comes from an unlikely source – Charleton Heston. I can still remember my family all sitting around the one TV we had and watching the Ten Commandments. It was a huge event for us – we were even allowed to eat in front of the TV. Granted, the movie is not necessarily about Egypt but it is set around the Nile, Pharaohs, the Red Sea, and of course Mt. Sinai. All of these things were on the itinerary for my trip through Egypt so it didn’t surprise me that my memories of the movie came flooding back to me.

The movie wasn’t my only source of knowledge of the Nile River though – I have 4th Grade geography to also thank. I know the Nile is the longest river on the globe at 4,100 miles long and it runs south to north – that makes it unique and memorable. However, I still have this image burned into my brain from the Ten Commandments movie where the Egyptian princesses, Miriam, was bathing, washing, and socializing out along the Nile River when a little basket came floating by amongst the reeds with a baby in it…Moses. Therefore the Nile conjures up images of the decadent royal lifestyle, gold jewelry, and femininity – peaceful, yet grand. This is one of the reasons why I chose to tour through Egypt and not simply go to see the Pyramids. I wanted an adventure on the Nile!


Egypt: Aswan & Abu Simbel
Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Egypt was one of the destinations I visited during my 16-month career break.  Following is an excerpt from my blog.

[singlepic=971,200,,,right]I mistakenly arrived in Egypt thinking that it would be very similar to Morocco. That’s like thinking that California and New York are similar. And having lived in both – I know that’s not true. Sure, the two countries are in Northern Africa, they are both suffocatingly hot, their language is Arabic (with minor differences), they have the same religion, and they even share the Sahara Desert – camels and all. But beyond that, they really aren’t the same. The difference is that Egypt is all about history – temples, tombs, relics, hieroglyphics, and royalty. Because of that, you tend to see more tourists in Egypt and it is a little more developed in general.

I met up with my new Intrepid tour group in Aswan, Egypt near the southern most border of Egypt and Sudan. That afternoon we went on a hot walking tour of Aswan. Aswan was really a good place to lodge for the night on the way to the famous temple of Abu Simbel (close to the Sudan border). The Nile River flowed through Aswan and it had a large Nubian population. The Nubians are the old nomadic tribal people who inhabited southern Egypt and northern Sudan. They had fought turf wars with the Egyptians many years ago as well as turf wars with the Nile as it flooded their land. We took a boat ride on the Nile, visited an old Nubian village, rode some camels, and had dinner with the locals at the village. We finished the evening dancing with the local kids before we boated back to Aswan for a good, but short night’s sleep.


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