Friday, February 20, 2009

Hey everyone, once again (as always) i'll apologize for not updating my blog in about a month. My bad.
Anyways, I am currently in South Africa, in Plettenbergbaai (Plettenburg Bay).
I guess first I should talk about my homestay with the Karen people a little bit, which, first of all, was freakin awesome. I could not have asked for a better homestay family, they were kind, warm, generous, helpful, and amazing cooks (both the mother and father). Despite not being able to speak much thai (although we had language class every day, thai was wicked hard), we managed to communicate through them teaching me bits of their native dialect of Bakin-ya, which is the language of the karen people. By the end of the homestay I was able to say most of the essential things in Bakin-ya like, "This is delicious," "I haven't eaten yet," "Thank you," "Hello," "Good morning," and "this fried rice is un-friggin-believable." The homestay was great, even though we didnt really get to work much in their farms (because it was the dry season), which was a bit frustrating. I could go on for hours about my family and the town, but I don't want to bore everyone too much with my sentimentality, although, if you want to hear more about it when I get back, let me know.
After we left Ban Huay Hee with a pretty terrific sendoff which included multiple music performances both by us and our host families, and presentations of our media projects, we headed to the Fern Resort, very nearby to rest up for south africa. There were probably two real highlights of the enrichment week (not counting sleeping in every day)
On the second day at the fern resort we went white water rafting which turned out to be pretty awesome (at least for our boat). The day started out pretty uneventful, floating along the rive, paddling when our guide told us to paddle, looking at the huge boa constrictors along the river. It took a turn for the awesome when our guide was pulled out of our boat into the river by another guide. He jumped on to that boat while we floated down the river without a professional stearer of raft. This is when the amateur steering (by yours truly) took over. For about an hour we raged the rapids on our own: myself, katie R., renee, and noah. We nearly tipped a couple of times, but we managed to make it through unscathed, well, at least physically.
After our time at the fern resort (about 4 days) we went to chang mai for 2 days before heading to south africa. On our first full day there Zach, Noah, Ian, and I went out to play airsoft with our thai instructor for the past month Ajan Pipe. For those of you that don't know what airsoft is, it's like paintball but it hurts more and it doesnt leave any paint on your clothes.... just bruises and welts. For those of you who know me well, this is a game I am not suited for at all. I am a pretty big target, 6' 1'' 185 probably, I am extremely unagile, and I have a propensity to rush into things before thinking about them. For future reference, running straight at the opposing team is NOT a good strategy. When Pipe took us out to lunch beforehand (to some awesome spicy curry deliciousness) I said to him, half jokingly "When you asked us to go play airsoft with you, I thought you just wanted to shoot us for not paying attention in Thai class." I started to laugh, but then he didn't say anything and sort of smiled evilly. I should have known then what i was getting myself into. Anyway, after hours of running around getting shot with small pellets going 300 meters/second, we called it a day and headed back to the hostel with Pipe.
The next day we started an incredible journey starting in chang mai and ending 60 hours later in Plettenburg Bay. We flew from Chang Mai to Bangkok, stayed the night in the bangkok airport, sleeping on the floor, Bangkok to Mumbai, Mumbai to Delhi (where we picked up Robin, who was scouting next year's program there), Delhi to Dubai, Dubai to Johannesburg, Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth to Plettenburg Bay (the last leg by bus). The one thing I took out of that journey was to fly Emirates airline. Fly Emirates whenever possible. Do it. They have USB ports and plugs in the seats in front of you, they have personal TV screen in front of every seat, good food with choices, comfortable, roomy seats, hundreds of TV shows and movies, cameras in the front of the plane to watch the take off and landing as it happens, video games, free calling from seat to seat, 6000 songs to listen to, the list goes on, and that was in economy class.
South Africa has been really great so far, and I'm really excited to start working with the caregivers. We are each paired up and assigned to a care giver for the month, who we will be observing/helping, and conducting a survey with the patients for PletAid. I'm paired up with Katie R., should be really interesting to work with these patients and see how they fit into the public health system and see if their needs are really being met. Something like 40% of the patients we are going to be seeing have HIV, which has become a pandemic in South Africa, with about 27% of the population having contracted the virus.
Alright, Zach and I are going to get some produce for the dinner we are making with Noah tonight, should be fun, the menu is mashed potatoes, Mozzarella and Tomato with balsamic vinegar and basil, corn on the cob, and chicken which we have marinated 4 different ways: sweet chili sauce, lemon BBQ with balsamic, sage and tamarin with balsamic, and olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and basil. Should be good if we can figure out how to work the crazy grill they have here.
Alright, hopefully I'll blog later, but there isnt much internet access around here, I am in one of the only internet cafes in town at the moment, but I'll try to blog again soon.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I am in Dubai right now, my plane leaves for Johannesburg in about 10 minutes, but just wanted to say sorry (once again) for not blogging regularly (mostly to my parents, who are desperate for any information regarding their wayward children). I'm just writing this so I hold myself to writing a blog once I get to south africa, because if I don't write this now, promising that I will write about the last couple weeks, chances are I wouldnt blog for another couple weeks. Anyway, I'll report back in a day or so.