Archive for the Travel Category

2011 — My year in review

Posted in Celebration, Gratitude, Light, Travel with tags , on December 31, 2011 by cgeary

Hello World —

Usually I start the new year with a list of some sort — resolutions, goals, intentions…I decided this time to first take stock of the year that is ending. It is amazing how much of it goes by in a blur. It has been an interesting process going back over memories of this one…so here are some…not in particular order..organized thematically (ish).

Transitions…The best news of the year came in late November that Ron would be working in NC starting in January. (Emily’s job at Springs Creative was a close second.) He got a good job with a very nice organization…less overseas travel. It will be so nice for him to be home and not traveling back and forth from Baltimore. It will be an adjustment for us after six years of a commute of one sort or another, but one I am happy to make. I know that he felt some sadness and ambivalence about leaving his job in Baltimore, but I know he knows this is right. I was hoping he would be able to take more time off in between jobs but that didn’t happen the way I was hoping.

When I was growing up, my family moved a lot, mostly around the Southeast US, more when I was younger and less as I got older. It seemed that one (or more) of us always got sick after the move…we always thought because of the stress perhaps. Ron did better than that though. He got very sick before his move…complicating the logistics (his and mine) in all sorts of ways. He had an acute attack of pancreatitis the Sunday before his last week in Baltimore. I flew up there immediately after I found out and was glad to be able to. Illness is a transition of sorts and is always about more than the physical symptoms. It is a way your body records your history…this may have been coming on for a while but ignored one way or the other, but it certainly has gotten Ron’s attention now. Good timing with the new job…a time to rearrange life so he is not working 10 hours a day or traveling so much…taking the easier path of living in only one place at a time and being alone less of the time. A good time to get on that healthy diet he has been talking about and getting more exercise. While I wish these changes had happened before this health crisis, I am glad that Ron is interpreting it as an awakening to taking good care of himself and slowing down.

My own health has been good this year..around May sometime I finally was able to get my head around taking action to lose weight…diet and exercise…really that is it. I have lost 20 pounds since then…more slowly than initially I had hoped but it is ok too. The keys to my success? A good digital scale, weighing every day, finding a diet based on portion control and healthy eating (only natural food, no sugar, no alcohol (not completely compliant on that one, but have cut way back). I added a short weight routine and am more regular in my running and yoga. I feel so much better and am very motivated to lose the next 10 to 20 pounds during the next year.

Travel — I would say this has been a light travel year, though when I start listing where I’ve been I guess it was light only in comparison to my husband and my work colleagues. I was very happy to return to Asia — Bangkok and Hanoi — if only for a week this past May. Ron and I went to England and to Ireland in June for vacation. Ron actually had a board meeting in London so I got to wander during the days in London on my own — and then we both went to Ireland and got to see Emily and Aonghus and Aonghus’ parents Lena and Harry. They took us on a lovely tour of Donegal and included us in family gatherings. In the US I visited Baltimore and DC a few times, Boston, Phoenix (to see Ron’s brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Karen), NY (to see Max in Henry V), Charlotte (where Emily now lives) and Atlanta. My friend Louanne gave me a travel journal for my birthday, so I kept a journal of my travels, with photographs. I don’t always write as I travel…though sometimes I do…I have finished most of the writing for the year but have some more photos to add.

Revolution — It has been an amazing year on the planet. Sometimes I feel so hopeless about human beings when I listen to the Republican rhetoric that is so mean and hateful and see others around the world hurting each other (and am also disappointed in the Democrats to ‘man up’ against all of this — where are you all??)…But…I am also buoyed by those who are out there facing down the corruption and the evil. I was so amazed to see the Egyptians in the street…I know the hardest part may still be to come but the Arab spring was so inspiring…And Occupy Wallstreet (and Chapel Hill and everywhere else) gives me hope that something is afoot. It is not clear where it will go or to what effect, but something is happening and I don’t think there is a turning back now. This something that is making people nervous as evidenced by the over-reaction in some places, but it will get bigger. Where am I in this? I am totally supportive and feel some regret at not being in the middle of it…I am raising my voice when I can and want to do more, but have not figured out how to do that and meet my other responsibilities as well. I am thankful that there are those who can be out there in the way that they can.

Wild Goose Festival — This happened the end of June at Shakori Hills in Saxapahaw…I almost missed even knowing about it. A gathering of Christians in the US similar to the Greenbelt festival in England. We went for a day and in the middle of the afternoon I felt the most amazing sense of peace and rightness about the world. It is definitely a gathering of the religious left…politics was there but not the main thing…strains of Christianity that I had not been around…looking towards the Great Turning…lots of discussion of living in intentional communities… music…art…diversity…sustainability..I heard Shane Claiborne and was very inspired and then read his book The Irresistible Revolution over the summer. Not a way that I live, but good to think about.

Books I loved this year and/or made me think differently…Art of the Commonplace…by Wendell Berry (plus his novels like Jayber Crow)…Spontaneous Happiness  by Andrew Weill…Kafka by the Sea and  After Dark by Haruki Murakami (check out his website:…Crazy Like Us (The Globalization of the American Psyche) by Ethan Watters (in case you don’t yet think that pharmaceutical companies are corporations that care more about money than human beings)…Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy..several by Alexander McCall Smith that I listened to on CD…a beautifully photographed book…Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgessalso Andrea Reusing’s new cookbook, Cooking in the Moment, which I gave to several people for Christmas this year…A Year with Hafiz includes a Hafiz poem for every day of the year, so I started reading that as a daily meditation..You are Here by Thich Naht Hanh…The Sun is still my favorite magazine, though I also found Yes! this year and just subscribed to it in my pursuit of hopefulness.

Social media – I joined Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Facebook is great, I’ve reconnected with several people and been able to keep up with others I might not have otherwise, plus it gives me a place for sharing thoughts and images that I wouldn’t have otherwise. (Also, it is a way to connect to this blog!)  Twitter is too overwhelming for me. Instagram I love though because it is photographs. I am an occaisional user so I don’t have a lot of followers or ‘likes’ (which makes me sad) but it is fun. (I’m ‘cwaszak’ on Instagram.)

Work-I returned the end of 2010 to a place I had worked many years and have been happy to be back with so many people I care about and I find so smart and caring. I have gone through somewhat of a transition in my own conceptualization of the research I want to do…a paradigm shift of sorts..though it is mostly a subtle change in articulation. This is great in that it has given me renewed inspiration for my technical work. The not so great thing this year was that we acquired a large new organization which has made life much more complicated and been an unwelcomed distraction from the work that I think we are meant to do. The merger is still a work in progress and all the pieces have not fallen into place with regards to a new structure…so I am trying to be helpful and stay positive…but in the next year it should be evident if this is going to work for me in the long run or not.

Art- I don’t know where I am going as an artist…the last part of the year..especially this past few weeeks I have not had time to focus on this part of my life…one that I think is essential but is distracted by work for money…I still am figuring it out. I am working on many different things simultaneously but finishing almost nothing. I am planning on submitting some work to some shows and galleries…I have the photos…we’ll see. I feel confused …unfocused about this. I did pick up my Pentax 1000 again and that has made me happy. I also have enjoyed talking to my daughter about her own work as a designer and listening to her thoughts and advice about my work…nice to see her doing something she loves and getting recognition for it…I always thought she had a lot of natural talent…now that talent is maturing as she is learning so much from school and her work colleagues.

And while I am speaking of family, Max, I think had a good year — first as part of the Shakespeare Festival in NC and then the rest of the year in NYC. I saw him in Henry V performed outdoors by the Classic Theatre of NY in July. I probably wouldn’t know about the High Line park in NYC if he did not work there and I think that is one of the best things in NY now and have spent a number of hours there and taken a lot of photos I love there. It was such a great idea. Renovation and renewal always make me happy. Max seems happy in his pursuit of his acting career.

I also have spent more time with Joshua and Caleb this year than ever before and that has been good. And…this summer we took Mother up to the mountains for her to see her family and celebrate her 87th birthday. This was a chance to reconnect to family I spent a lot of time with during my first 20 years or so, but much less since then. We also got to see Greg and Jennifer this past week in Chapel Hill for the Christmas holidays which was nice.

So while there were difficult moments this year (most of which I have not written about here), there were many, many good ones and good things about the year. I will stop here…just to say I am looking forward to seeing what the next one brings. I will close with a Hafiz poem I read just this morning —

It rises,

a glorious sun, 

if one can sit quiet long enough, 

Seeing it, one feels, I now have everything,

everything I could 

ever want.

Another day in Kano

Posted in Travel on October 19, 2010 by cgeary



Listening to Sam Cooke in Kano

Posted in Light, Travel on October 18, 2010 by cgeary

I got to Kano (Nigeria) yesterday afternoon. It was very hot. Aisha, one of my colleagues on this trip offered to take me to the textile market. It is supposed to be one of the biggest in northern Nigeria. Her son took us to the market. It took awhile to get there so we had a bit of time in the car. At some point I found myself singing along with the music being played…a compilation of Sam Cooke songs…before I thought of this being slightly out of context, culturally speaking. Interestingly Aisha told me it was her son that chose the music.

After the market we drove for awhile again to the tailor’s shop so I could have dresses made with my cloth. Kano is a hot, dry town and it is very poor. So many people in difficult circumstances. I don’t take pictures of that or dwell on it when I am working in places like this, but at one point I realized that Sam Cooke was singing, A change is gonna come. I always associate this song with the civil rights movement and race relations in the United States, but riding down the poor streets in Kano in an air conditioned car with that song playing was like a movie sound over…it made me wonder when it will ever change….arguably things are better in some ways, here and at home, but there is so much change still to come (I hope).

It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will…

The kindness of strangers….

Posted in Gratitude, Travel on October 17, 2010 by cgeary

Hello world —

This morning I was checking out of my hotel for a week so that I could travel to Kano and Bauchi. I decided to travel light and leave my big suitcase at the Hilton. I thought about asking about this yesterday but it seemed unnecessary. When I got to the desk to ask to store it they told me I needed a lock. I have never used a lock on my suitcase. It did occur to  me that it might be nice to have one for storage purposes but I didn’t think it would be required. So I thought I would be dragging my big suitcase in small cars with others in the car and in and out of a couple of hotels. I would have bought a lock yesterday, if I had known. It was too early in the  morning for the shop to be open.

As I was checking out I told the cashier of my plight and she told me she would give me her lock. I told her ‘no’ that was too much. But she insisted and brought out a very nice lock. I offered to pay her but she wouldn’t let me. I wanted to make sure that I got the lock back to her when I get back next week…I looked at her name, of course her name is “Grace.”

First week in Nigeria

Posted in Travel on October 16, 2010 by cgeary

Hello world —

I have been nearly one week in Abuja. I am here on a consultant assignment outside of my regular job. Though I have never been to Nigeria before, I have ties here from a lifetime of doing reproductive health work, so it is nice to see some continuity in my work.

Most of my time this week has been getting to know the members of the team I am working with and meeting with stakeholders for my assignment. We did get out and see some community projects, which was the best part.

Abuja is the capital…a relateively new capital…so a lot of government buildings look new…the streets and highways are wide. The traffic can be bad and gnarled but nothing like Lagos (I am told). It is hot but not too bad. There have been several heavy rains in the late afternoon/evenings.

The logistics of my trip and my work have been terrible. This is the first time I’ve had another organization “handling” things and I have actually spent more time undoing what they did or doing what they didn’t do, it seems, than doing the technical work I was brought out here to do. That put a damper on my week. Things turned around though and I’m hoping the next week will be better.

One of the things I was not so happy about was my crappy hotel (though it was a major American chain). I got a better rate at a better hotel (the Hilton, thank god) on my own and moved over here yesterday. It is amazing how much better life much easier it is to work… a good hotel.

Tomorrow I go with my team to Kano. I am looking forward to seeing a different part of the country.

A few photos…I have not taken many so far.

Another word about travel

Posted in Travel on October 10, 2010 by cgeary

I can’t seem to get anyone to pay for business class anymore, but I realize that there are cheaper ways of getting some of the business related amenities that at this point seem worth it to me. One of these is a day pass to the business class lounge — which has food, nice surroundings and an internet connection. The other one is the premier line…this may seem gratititous, but when things go bad (as they did the first time I tried to leave) and you want to be in a faster line or just to get on the plane faster…this somehow seems cheap. Of course it still doesn’t give you enough room to lie down on a long flight, but premier line and the lounge make the in-between times easier.  

(There are other ways that airlines are trying to boost revenues that piss me off in principle, but that I capitulate to given that the alternative is usually worse…like keeping aisle seats in reserve til the last minute so that you’ll be willing to pay $5 or $15 a seat assignment so you can have a better seat than the one assigned to you. It is cheap enough that a claustrophobic passenger will pay, but still it is gouging…it is still mean.)

So I’m in the business class lounge in Dulles waiting to go to Frankfurt and then Abuja. I chose an economy aisle seat rather than upgrading myself to economy plus in a middle seat. So many choices to make. So many ways to pay extra for a ticket.

I’ll check in again from the other side.

On my way to Nigeria

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized on October 10, 2010 by cgeary

Just a quick note to say that I am on my way to Nigeria for three weeks. This is for a consultancy outside my regular job. I have never been to Nigeria but this opportunity evolved in a way that made me think it was a path I needed to follow. So here I go.

Trying to leave on Saturday before flight was cancelled.

Leaving for Nigeria -- take two

Going home

Posted in Travel on August 20, 2010 by cgeary

Hello world,

I haven’t written the posts I meant to while I was here. I always apologize for that and I’m going to stop now, but I just want to say that I find it hard to be doing something and blogging about it at the same time. There must be a secret I don’t know but I don’t know it. In any case, I did upload a lot of photos which I will share below. The message of this text, however, is that it has been a good trip. Traveling always gives me a perspective on my life and think about my place in the world and how I should be putting it altogether. Zambia is a place where a lot of my life comes together for me.

But it is not home. After a couple weeks of a fairly average amount of concern about getting my work done and the rough and tumble of traveling (including a day of possible food poisoning), I woke up feeling very peaceful and then realized it is going home day. I actually felt myself relaxing into it. I did a little yoga, turned on John Adorney music on my ipod and finished my odds and ends of packing. See you on the other side.

More photos later…

Why I think Colorado is beautiful

Posted in Travel on August 8, 2010 by cgeary

My husband and I went to Colorado for a week in June. We had been to Colorado Springs several times to visit my brother Greg and his wife Jennifer since he moved there several years ago. I had never been there before he moved there and I know now why it has attracted to many people in the 70s. When I moved to Arizona late that decade for graduate school everyone kept thinking we were going to Colorado because that was where everyone heading west was going it seemed. (Arizona is beautiful too). Ron and I decided for this trip we wanted to see more of the state, so we started in Colorado Springs but then traveled around to see other friends and more of what there was to see.

Greg and Jennifer - Top of Pike's Peak

This visit we went up to Pike’s Peak…Greg and Jennifer ran the PP marathon last year so had trained a lot there and knew it up and down. It was harder to breathe at the top than I had expected.  And here is a tip — don’t drink as much as you usually do when you are at higher elevations. I learned this the hard way.

Then we drove a very out of the way route to Boulder — going on Hwy 24 through Wilkerson’s Pass and Breckenridge — on purpose to see something besides highway. It took a lot longer and we hit snow on the way but we were glad we saw what we saw. While we were visiting friends in Boulder we went to the national park and took a short hike around Bear Lake…stopped in small towns on the way. From Boulder we went back towards Denver to visit a friend who lives near Mooresville — saw the Red Rock Amphitheater — had dinner from Tony Rigatoni’s and then the next day did a longer hike from Bear Lake to Lake Loch. We had a long ride home that night through Winter Park. The next day we went to Fort Collins and did the breweries, ODells and New Belgium and stayed in a nice guest house. Before we came home we went back into Denver, my brother came to meet us, and we went to the art museum and walked a bit. Denver’s Pride parade a week before everyone else’s so that was just an extra bonus.

Linda and Larry on Linda's birthday

When I tell people about this trip I always start by saying that Colorado is so beautiful. In saying that though I think I am also saying the landscape is awe-provoking. I do love the deep color of the sky and all the many subtle shades of green in the grass and the trees and the mountains (til you get above the treeline) and the open meadows (themselves at a pretty substantial altitude) juxtaposed against the high high mountains — and the stands of aspens — and the vibrant lakes against all that background and the large meandering creeks that run through the meadows — and the obvious signs of the shifts of the earth’s layers of rock — the way that it is such a different place on earth than the one I live in most of the time — it almost seems otherworldly to me. When you are driving on the trail ridge in the Rocky Mountain National Park and go above the tree line and it is tundra and it is June and there are yards of snow on the ground I felt like I was on a different planet. And maybe that is not exactly beauty, but it did fill me with a sense of how amazing the earth is that there are so many different landscapes. And it feels so clean and fresh up there (though of course breathing was a little difficult). At one point during a day of hiking and then driving on the ridge on the tops of the mountains, after about the second overlook stop, I decided not to get out of the car. I was tired but I was also sated. I told my husband and our friend, “I’m all “awed” out…I’ve had too much awe for one day.”

I know there is much more Colorado beauty for us to see on future trips.

Bob and Ron the Loch Lake trail

Cindy at Lake Loch

Bike racks at O'Dell Brewing Company

Denver outside art museum

Evening sky in Denver near the airport

Closer to home (Hwy 64 revisited)

Posted in Travel on June 9, 2010 by cgeary

Because I travel internationally so much as part of my job, I often forget how much of this country is out there and what a pleasure it is to travel within the US. I was reminded of this when I traveled to Dallas earlier this spring. I also forget what a pleasure it can be just to do a day trip closer to home. Though my husband and I tend to stay at home over the holidays — we travel so much for work it is great just to be at home together. Also, I admit that traveling by car on major highways scares me. I always take the backroads when I drive myself and that would make many trips too timeconsuming. But, this past Memorial Day weekend we were in the mood to get out for a short trip. We went to our favorite vineyard/winery Raylen in the Yadkin River Valley. They were having an open house with food and a bluegrass band. We used to stop there on the way to the mountains. A number of other wineries have started up in the past decade. It is beautiful country and we decided to take Hwy 64 all the way there and spend the night. It was a lovely drive; the wine and food were great; the music was fun; we ate dinner in downtown Mocksville and hung out for awhile. It was a very relaxing, enjoyable two days. Here are some photographs: