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