25 Oct 2015

9 months of silence... and so much to tell!

Has it really been 9 months since I shared the wonderful news of my "sister's" kidney? How on earth has that happened? Where did the time go? And why didn't I write about it??? 

9 months... I could have had a baby and not said a word (although I promise if that happens I will definitely NOT be quiet about it! :p ).

The only thing I can say is work, work, WORK! :o(

When I started this blog I was only semi-employed, and self-employed at that (teaching private lessons, some periods with more hours a week, others with less), so of course I had plenty of time and energy to write! But then I started doing an MBA while increasing my teaching hours by working part time for a language academy (all the while keeping my own students) and although there was still some time to write, the energy started draining. And then it morphed into a full-time job in a clinic, keeping up with the always-running-behind-with-the-work MBA and still teaching my own students. So it was "little time, little energy". And then I switched to my current job, almost 18 months ago and now I'm like "Time? what's that? Energy? Where can I get a refill please???"

I've got a great job, working on international cooperation projects between my university and universities in the developing world. It's very fulfilling both intellectually and personally. But oh my is it exhausting! We're short-staffed, so my work days are an hour or two longer than they're supposed to be in order to try and get everything done (not always succeeding, there aren't enough hours in a day for that). So I come home late, tired and hungry (and up to a month ago I also had a couple of evenings a week where I still taught English classes, felt guilty about dropping "my" students right in their last year of high school). All I ever want to do is eat a quick bite, veg out on the sofa in front of the boob tube for a bit, and go to bed. Spend time on the computer writing after all day on the computer in the office? Ummm... nope. Just enough time to catch up on what the rest of the world is doing on Facebook and then logging off. And that's when I'm in Alicante. When I'm traveling... days are even longer since I usually spend a couple of hours answering work e-mails once I'm back in the hotel room.

Thing is, I've got so many great stories to share!!! Let's hope I still remember them all once I do find the time/energy to spare... This job has me traveling around Africa and Central Asia, and I love it!!!  Even though I can't take time to do any real "tourism" (don't have enough vacation days, and have too much work waiting for me at home, to do that every trip), I can usually spend at least half a day or so visiting the city I'm in. Sometimes even a bit more.

Central Asia is definitely my favourite, I love my time in the "Stans" (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan)! The people are great (both on a personal and professional level), the food is yummy (specially if you like lamb), gorgeous places to visit. Thing is, sometimes my travel schedule is a bit insane! Last Spring I wasn't home for more than 10 days in a row during a 3 month period. One trip had me going from 35ºC in Uganda to -20ºC in Kazakhstan!!! And I forgot my coat in the airport in Uganda so was freezing when I got off the plane in Astana. :p Which reminds me, I need to go get myself a new coat before the next "winter" trip to Central Asia! Then just now I've returned (10 days ago) from a stint that was "5 weeks / 5 countries" (Madagascar, Senegal, (Alicante), Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania) during which I only spent 3 days in Alicante in the middle. Yikes! Good thing about these 5 weeks was that for once I was able to add a day or two to each trip on vacation time or taking advantage of weekends to do some visiting. I left for Madagascar 2 days early and got to spend a day and a half in one of their National Parks looking for lemurs and baobab trees! In Senegal because my flight was very late at night I had a day to explore Dakar and Gorée Island. In Uzbekistan I had the Sunday free (before leaving for Tajikistan the Monday) to visit the capital Tashkent. In Tajikistan I was in Khujand in the north, and had to fly out of Dushanbe the capital so that meant road trip through some pretty amazing mountains to get there! :o)  And in Tanzania, a colleague and I stayed on for the weekend to go on a short 2-day safari!!! My recap of that safari: Giraffes are funny, zebras are crazy, hippos are wacky, elephants are scary and lions are lazy! Oh, and impalas are everywhere!!! :p

On the personal side, my dear friend/sister is 9 months on from her kidney transplant and doing amazingly well! My parents are currently in the middle of a 2 month trip to the USA to visit my sister in NM and other family and friends. My sister is PREGNANT!!! I'll be an aunt in January!!! And my other sister is rocking at her job in the UK. I spent a week with her last August and we had a great time around Colchester and up in Edinburg. Oh! And I spent 10 days in the US (first time in almost 10 years!) at Easter! 5 days in Virjinia with my cousins, and 5 days in NYC with my best friend from high school. Next Easter I'll be in Santa Fe NM visiting my sister and meeting my niece/nephew (mystery!). All's right with the world.

So yeah, busy, busy Cris. Maybe one day I'll do some more writing! But do note that any travel writing will appear on the other blog Cris Crossing the Globe. In the meantime, here's a taste of what's to come (some day): 1-2 photos from each of my trips from December 2014 to October 2015. Enjoy! ;o)

December 2014 in Venice, Italy:

Discovering the "Acqua Alta" phenomenon! (extra high tides = water in the streets, and hotel!)

December 2014 - first trip to the "Stans" - in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Enjoying a lamb chop fresh off the grill

February 2015 -  in Abidjan, Ivory Coast

In the "Musée des Civilisations de Côte d'Ivoire"

March 2015 - in Kazakhstan (in a borrowed jacket!)

On a frozen lake in the Burabay region
The frozen steppe from the car
In Astana, Bayterek Monument
Meeting local girls during Nowruz celebrations

April 2015 - in Algiers, Algeria

Buying dates (delicious!)

May 2015 - in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Tasting and buying dried fruits in the market
Amir Temur (Tamerlane) Mausoleum
Bibi Khanym Mosque in the background

September 2015 in Ankarafanstika National Park (while in Mahajanga for work), Madagascar

500 yo baobab trees, apparently last 2 individuals of Adansonia madagascariensis var. boinaensis

Madagascar's own "Grand Canyon", the Ankarokaroka lavaka

September 2015 in Dakar, Senegal

From the plane, looking out at the "Mamelles" hills on Cap Verde, westernmost point of Africa
Sheep on sale all over town for the Tabaski (Eid) celebration!

September 2015 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Kukeldash Madrassah
Crossing the border (on foot!) between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.  5 controls to go through!

September/October 2015 in Khujand, Tajikistan

In a traditional Tajik jacket (made for me!)

Stop on the road through the mountains from Khujand to Dushanbe

October 2015 Selous Game Reserve (after working in Dar es Salaam), Tanzania

"Watcha lookin' at?"

In November I'm off to Turkmenistan and in December Germany. :o)


  1. Wowie Zowie! What a life you've got going on right now, Cris. The pictures are fantastic, and I sure did enjoy the zoom through the year you showed me. I will hop over to your other blog now. :-O)

    1. Hey DJan! Busy year indeed! And that's just the tip of the iceberg photo wise. ;o)
      I'm afraid the other blog has been as abandoned as this one this past year... But it is where I WILL be posting about all these trips! So add it to your reading list and come travel with me. :o)

  2. I envy your job and travel adventures. You are the perfect person for such a fab job. Are you getting to geocache at all in any of these countries?

    1. Kim! I've actually done more Geocaching while out and about traveling than at home! :p But mostly in Europe. Not many caches in Africa or Central Asia, or not safe/easy to get to while traveling there...

  3. WOW! Congrats on everything you've done and everywhere you've gone - looks like my kinda life (except for the lamb)...

    1. What's the problem with the lamb?! Yummmm!!! ;o)


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