I was out on the sea ice yesterday, enjoying an incredibly warm morning, taking in the sun. I dozed off for a while. I was woken up by mother calling me… “Ryan…. Ryan…!” When I opened my eyes, she told me to look around. Several penguins were within feet of me, looking at me curiously. I had lain so still that they felt comfortable enough to approach. This is what experienced Antarctica travelers call a magical penguin moment… AWESOME. :)
On Day 3 of our trip, we approached the Aitcho Islands archipelago, which is located in the northern part of the English Strait near the South Shetlands. We landed on Barrientos Island for our first visit with penguins! Here are 20 photos that capture the major highlights of the day.
Last night, we cruised into Lindblad Cove, an inlet about 5km across which is named for a Swedish adventurer Lars-Erik Lindblad in honour of all that he did to promote awareness and conservation of Antarctica. Its about 10pm in this photo and still fairly light out. I could barely withstand the gale-force winds, among the strongest winds I have ever felt in my life. In front of is a massive glacier which is (slowly) sliding into the Southern Ocean and has a mountain on either side of it. As we watched, a huge section of the glacier calved off and slipped into the ocean in front of us, generating huge waves and creating new icebergs. The cold, the wind, the sheer power of it all is absolutely terrifying and thrilling at the same time. This is Antarctica!
Today is Garifuna Settlement Day which marks the arrival of the first Garifuna people off the coast of Belize in 1832. Ancestors of the Garifuna were originally slaves of the British in the Caribbean islands before settling along the Caribbean coast of Central America. In 2002 I visited Belize City and Dangriga and celebrated the 170th anniversary with the locals. Read more from my time in Belize from one of my blog postings back in 2002.
About a month ago I booked a ticket to Nairobi with Ethiopian Airways via Addis Ababa. But when I saw the late arrival time in Nairobi (1:30am), I saw an opportunity to stay overnight in Addis to visit a local friend and see how the city had changed since my previous visits in 2008 and 2009. An added bonus was the chance to meet, interview and photograph a local company selling water filters (I am always eager to network!).
Being aware of visa requirements is always prudent and before booking my ticket, I checked to see if rules had changed. They had not: Canadians can still get a tourist visa on arrival for 20 bucks, said various websites including that of the consular services section of the Ethiopian Embassy in Ottawa, Canada. Just to be safe, I double-checked a trusted source of travel advice (lonely planet’s thorn tree forum) and also asked a couple of friends who had travelled there recently. After all this, I felt quite confident I would have no problems.
Well, on arriving at the airport tonight, I lined up for a visa and waited 45 minutes after which I was told by immigration authorities that because my stay was for less than 24 hours, I was eligible only for a transit visa. Such visas are organized by the airline and I was told to sort it out with them. The catch: the visa costs 70 dollars and requires a stay at a pre-determined hotel. And, since there were open seats on a connecting flight to Nairobi leaving within two hours (the same flight I had originally opted out of), there was no good reason why I should declare myself to be “in transit”, thus they doubted I would even be eligible for a transit visa. I tried to reason with the officials – and of course this went nowhere fast. Feeling the resistance, I decided to give in to the flow, and rebook my flight to head to Nairobi. Sometimes things are just not meant to be! And as soon as I did so, things started to work and my mood brightened. A pretty woman at the counter let me use her mobile phone to cancel my appointments and hotel booking and she managed to get my baggage moved on to the new flight ( and she spoke French!). Ethiopian’s inflight magazine, Selamta, was chock-full of inspiring travel reads. And my taxi driver at the Nairobi airport barely haggled with me over the price to my accommodation. :)
The upshot? If you are going to make a short visit to Addis, ie less than 24 hours, you might want to get yourself the tourist visa ahead of time. Or be prepared to wait in a very very long line for a transit visa at the airport.
And if that doesn’t work, you can always visit one of the half dozen or so bars in the terminal concourse and get yourself a local beer while you wait for your next flight. :p
The first is this makeshift sprinkler being used on the lawn of a hotel in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. I have seen this elsewhere in the city but never anywhere else on the continent or the world for that matter. A great idea! Have you seen it? :)
The second is this electricity-free refrigerator invented by a Nigerian fellow who turned it into a successful business and apparently now sells 30,000 of them a year for a little more than 1 USD a piece. As described on GIZMODO.COM: “Conventional refrigeration does an incredible job keeping food fresh. But that technology hasn’t helped desert dwellers without steady electricity. A more recent development in refrigeration—the Zeer pot-in-pot refrigerator—only requires water, sand, and a hot, dry climate to preserve produce through evaporative cooling. Here’s how to make the simple gadget.” Follow the link to learn how to make your own.
I got tested for malaria this morning and it came back negative. Either the medication I was taking has already cleared it from my body or it was never malaria to begin with. I will probably never know…Thank you for all the well wishes – feeling better today.
I put this image together after a conversation with a friend who runs a school in a Nairobi slum. She told me that she recently spoke with one of the parents of her schoolchildren who was telling her a story about a reporter who interviewed her about what it’s like to be poor. The woman recounted how the reporter assumed that because she was poor, she was unhappy with her life. But in fact, the woman said she was happy – her kids were in school, she can pay her rent, she can buy enough food so that they do not starve, and she has a job and works six days a week. But the reporter kept questioning her and she started to think she was crazy to think this way.
It seems to me that too often we who work in the so-called “international development” industry begin our work with the assumption that those who are poorer than we are aspire to be like us, to consume like us, and to live like us. We impose our Western values on them in return for aid, and stipulate that they adapt their economies and societies so that they can become “successful” like us. But success for us may not mean the same to them. We need to rethink and reframe the conversation we are having on global development. This image is intended to provoke some thought around this.
There is a quote attributed to Lila Watson, an Australian Aboriginal:
“If you’re coming to help me, you’re wasting your time.
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”