I must apologize since I have been in Nairobi for a week now and have not blogged! But fret not, I will make amends. There is so much to write already, I don’t quite know where to begin, so I guess I will start from the moment I stumbled off the plane from London after a sleepless overnight journey. Landing in Nairobi at the rude hour of 6am it was still dark and looked cold. Hmmmm I thought, I have only brought one jumper with me, oh well I am sure it will warm up during the day! Oh how I was wrong. Turns out this is the coldest month of the year- but keep in mind when I say ‘...Continue Reading >>
Some of you out there may be wondering what a typical day is like “in the field.” Yesterday was one of those days. I spent the morning driving around with Mario Cruz, one of Prisma´s loan officers.
We zig zag around town, dodging traffic in a 1982 Toyota Corolla disguised as a taxi. Esau, the husband of one of the loan officers, is driving us around town as he usually does. I’m more than happy to take the front seat today, as like most cars here, there are no seat belts in the back. (Although I’m not sure how much a seat belt would help in an accident given that most of the...Continue Reading >>
Walking with a NorMicro loan officer through a small town bazaar in Azerbaijan is like walking with a pop star through a suburban American shopping mall. In Devechi, Nafira was mobbed by dozens of prospective clients as she led me through the crowded market stalls in search of Kiva clients. As he helped translate my interviews in Agsu, Namik often had to field questions from clients about the likelihood of their friend or neighbor getting a loan. The weekly “reception day” in each NorMicro branch office – that is, the day when clients...Continue Reading >>
My first Kiva client–her name is Sophie, my namesake!
In Ghana your nickname is the day you were born – ny nickname in Twi is Nana Adjnoa – Princess Monday! Today we were at the Golden Tulip – a Dutch owned hotel chain. Walking into the hotel I feel like I am in the middle of a James Bond movie circa 1978 – grainy, smoky, muted colors with out-of-date lithographs on the wall, and the crème de la crème of sleazy North African businessmen lounging about in the bar. There are definitely some questionable business deals happening at this...Continue Reading >>
We call ahead to at least five hotels that we have starred in the Bradt Guide to Ghana – all of their prices have doubled from what the travel book says – I guess my Obroni accent isn’t exactly helping the situation! After settling on the price of the room, we get to the Raybow (this is probably meant to be “rainbow” but this is Ghana!) and attempt to check in . We run through the “must-have” check list: AC?, Fan? Hot water? Generator when the power fails so at least the fan can run when the AC is out? Check, check – we are all set to go.
“Now can we see the...Continue Reading >>
Greetings from Lima, Peru. Its Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting in a coffee shop near my hotel, the first time I’ve felt it appropriate enough to pull out a computer and work from the comfort of a public establishment. Big cities do have their perks…
It’s been a busy and exciting week in Peru. Many meetings, many miles traveled. The journey began with my first overland border crossing in Copacabana, and since then its continued through the highland towns of Puno and Juliaca, and down to the bustling, crowded, overcast city of Lima. Some highlights from both (note...Continue Reading >>
I’ve only lived in Dar for a few weeks and only know a handful of people but each week I’ve been here someone I know has lost a family member of friend without warning.
First my roommate’s uncle lost a daughter at the age of 2. She went to sleep and didn’t wake up — no symptoms, no warning. The worst thing is that this is his third daughter ini a row to die before reaching the age of three.
The following week my colleague’s friend’s father died instantly of a heart condition. The next week someone I met at dinner told me about his neighbor who was instantly...Continue Reading >>
I wish this was a story about an overnight flight to Kenya, but it’s not. I literally have red eyes. It’s a bacterial infection of the eye which turns the whole eye red. The eye swells and it’s quite uncomfortable and there is a bunch of mucus that comes out of the eye. Yeah, it’s really gross.
I’ve seen many people around Dar with “red eyes” and my roommates warned me against shaking hands with people I meet because the disease is so contagious. They warned me to always, always wash my hands if I touched anyone. I’ve been following their advice...Continue Reading >>
Yesterday was a rather typical day for me in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku. I left my host family’s nice home and walked fifteen minutes to the nearest metro station. On the way to the metro station I passed new apartment buildings, food shops with locally-grown fruit displays, clothing stores with bright skirts hanging in the windows, street cats lolling in the sun, bored taxi drivers playing backgammon, and street vendors selling cell phone cards. I weaved through and dodged traffic when necessary, Frogger-style. $0.05, three metro stops, and...Continue Reading >>
We escaped to the country…to Grandma Rose’s.
Grandma Rose lives in Nsawam, which is at the foothills of the mountains, approximately a two hour drive from Accra, Ghana. Nsawam is “lush.” This tucked away small community oozes with vibrant, tropical vegetation everywhere I looked…a far cry from the sweating, concrete jungle of Accra. It reminded me of the gentle, climbing, misty foothills and rich vegetation of the Blue Mountains outside Kingston, Jamaica where I used to teach many years ago.
Grandma Rose is 83....Continue Reading >>