Month #1: Highlights and an Announcement!

One month into our Cairo to Cape Town adventure, Nathan and I have just arrived in Nairobi and are preparing to set out on a safari in the next couple days.

[NOTE: We have just settled in, and learned about the horrific terrorist attack at Westgate Mall in Nairobi. Nathan and I are completely safe. I’d like to send my thoughts out here to all the victims, survivors, and the families of both victims and survivors of this incident. As I read and watch what’s happening now — even now, the siege at the Mall continues — my commitment to future public service only becomes stronger. It pains me deeply whenever I learn of innocents cut down for no reason — be it remembering the Holocaust, Rwanda and other genocides since, 9/11 or today in Nairobi. I believe that the US and every other member of the international community has the responsibility to work together to stop such wanton violence. And, I think that if we do work together, we have the capacity perhaps not to eliminate, but to severely reduce non-state actors’ abilities to spread destruction and state actors’ abilities to impose terror on their own people. That’s my bit for today from Nairobi…I hope everyone’s safe, sound, & joyful.]

Looking back on the month that has passed, this trip has been everything I’d hoped for and more—the “more” mostly because I did not know what to expect in a lot of cases, and so there have been many awesome surprises.

Here I’ve listed some of the  top highlights of the trip so far:


  • Speaking Arabic daily, and learning quickly that I’ve really got to learn a’maaya (the local slang)—here’s to studying that next year!
  • Galloping a horse for the first time in the Sahara Desert under the shadow of the Pyramids of Giza
  • Breaking curfew in Helmaya (a Cairene neighborhood not oft-visited by foreigners) to drink chai, chat, and play backgammon with friends
  • Making a ruckus on Ahmed’s mahraganaat motorcycle in Alex—a dream (finally!) come true
  • Getting two of my favorite foods in the world—chicken and noodles with peanut sauce and chicken satay—at Bamboo with my great friends, new and old, in the Bamboo Crew!
  • Watching how locals and soldiers interacted at Egyptian army checkpoints, and talking down the Revolution 2.0 with Egyptians, Vickie, and others


  • Discovering a restaurant named “O’Canada!” which serves only Canadian food (including some of the best burgers in Ethiopia!)
  • Visiting the Red Terror Museum in Addis where Nathan and I learned about the Derg’s brutal authoritarian rule over Ethiopia (1974-1987) and met a man who survived eight years of torture in the Derg prisons
  • Meeting Yanush, a truly exceptional guy with a gift for writing, who I am lucky to now call a good friend of mine
  • Enjoying the Ethiopian New Year (September 11th was the first day of the year 2006 in Ethiopia!) and Ethiopia’s win over Central African Republic in the run-up to FIFA World Cup qualifiers with local friends
  • Walking through the tombs, stelae, and other ruins of the ancient Aksumite civilization which I never knew existed
  • Exploring the Old City of Harar with Ruaridh and Julia—two other very exceptional people—and Ruaridh’s local mates, Yosi and Mandela
  • Feeding wild hyenas raw meat shirtless on the outskirts of Harar—I now know how it feels to have a hyena climb on my back!

In the next three months, we have so many exciting things lined up, from Class-5 rafting in Uganda and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to bungee-jumping Victoria Falls in Zambia and diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa.

And [AN ANNOUNCEMENT!!], to make the next months even more exciting—which I didn’t think was even possible!—I recently decided to take a solo detour to visit Rwanda and hopefully(!) the Democratic Republic of the  Congo. I will set off southward from Uganda in about a month!


5 thoughts on “Month #1: Highlights and an Announcement!

  1. “Bless you child” ( as the saying goes) for letting us know you and Nathan are safe. We heard about the happening in Nairobi last nite and we were wondering where you guys were!!! As far as a dashing horseback ride thru the desert , just hold on tight. lol. looking forward to your next update.

  2. The “more” sounds wonderful and your posts make fascinating reading. If your feeling nostalgic about Egypt – I had lunch at Bamboo the other day – still my favourite restaurant in Alex.

  3. I’m in complete agreement with your Aunt Janet Alex, and don’t think I could have put it better myself. Never thought I’d see the day where Nathan has more common sense than you do.

    Think hard on this choice and be careful. Also please don’t take my acknowledgement of this post as any form of support for this decision.


    Mariah and the girls of E102

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