11–19 of 19 entries from the month of: June 2007

A Few Other Things I’d Like to Tri

June 15th

When poster board becomes art

I pulled out my yard stick and poster board yesterday to create my triathlon schedule. Yep, I need to be that focused to be mentally prepared come race day. Several of you asked which plan I am going to use, and the answer wasn’t easy. There are so many options and of course, each author thinks his/her method is the best. I’ve been reading The Woman Triathlete and recommend it primarily because it has kept my interest. I have serious attention deficit issues when it comes to nonfiction, but I busted through this book in no time and have decided to give their schedule my best effort — including one crazed, giant schedule of the next 20 weeks of my life.
Come October 28, I’ll be 1/2 Ironwoman. The other half is up for conversation. Crabby? Sore? Tired? This week all three. Hopefully fit, happy and ready for a giant margarita come race day.
With all this tri nonsense, I’ve been thinking about other activities in triplicate. The crafty triathlon, for instance. One must knit, sew and embroider. The cooking tri: baking, broiling and basting. The traveling tri: packing, photographing, journaling. The summer fashion tri: flip flops, skirts, tanks. The summer media tri: reading, listening, watching. The Ikea shopping tri: in white, just right, the perfect Dutch.
What kind of tri would you like to compete in?


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Journal, Triathlon
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Oh Right. The Race!

June 13th

I’m back to the routine, meaning I’m running, swimming and biking up a storm. There’s that 1/2 Ironman (woman) that I’m tackling in October and oh lordie. I just looked at the calendar. That sucker is 20 weeks away. My tri program? 20 weeks, meaning this week I need to get my butt in gear and get going on some serious training.
I’ve got 70.3 miles to tackle, after all.
My hips are sore this week after my morning runs on the canal. And my goggles laughed at me when I finally found them at the bottom of my gym bag yesterday. It had been so long they punished me for neglect by leaking the entire workout. And Ruby? Well, she hasn’t thrown me off lately. I’m still recovering from a nasty spill pre-trip when she got into an argument with a train track and my right side had to lay down the law. As in fall off my bike into a train track on my right side, during rush hour traffic, in the heat. Did I mention the cop that put on his lights to steer traffic away from the spectacle that was my bike/train track crash? What can I say? Ruby’s got a gingery attitude and she’s feisty.

This summer I am dedicating myself to two things:
1. Getting the best shape of my life and completing my 1/2 Ironman with every ounce of spunk I’ve got; and
2. Rewriting and editing novel #1 and resubmitting it to my literary agent friend. He isn’t my agent yet, but I’m convinced he will be one day.

Now, I’m off to research heart rate monitors, cycling computers and tri teams that won’t kill me, but will make get me in smoking hot shape come October when coincidentally I will also be making an appearance at my 10 year high school reunion. Why yes, this race timing is a great coincidence.

Any advice on tri gear? Limiting soda and booze? Replacing my morning bagel habit with a healthier oatmeal option? I’ll take all the advice and encouragement you’re willing to provide. {Putting Ruby up for adoption isn’t an option.}

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Journal, Triathlon
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To the Cape

June 12th

I took five days vacation after Mozambique in Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve never traveled this way before; my traveling companions arranged a set tour and a stay at a five star hotel. It left my head spinning after working in such contrasting poverty the week prior.
Regardless, I enjoyed many a spectacular experience in South Africa. My favorites include a wine tour of Stellenbosch and the penguins near the Cape of Good Hope.

Waterford Winery

Waterford Winery, Stellenbosch. The next time I’m in love, I am going to vacation here. It was incredibly romantic. I fell in love with the beauty and simplicity of these homes, tucked among vineyards and hidden from the coastline by the towering mountains.

A chocolate and wine tasting, Waterford Winery, South Africa

Wine and chocolate tasting.

African Masks, Waterford Winery, Stellenbosch South Africa

Masks resting in the mid-morning light on one of the tables at the winery.

view of Table Mountain from our hotel room

Table Mountain, Cape Town. We took a tram to the top of the mountain. It is as flat as it looks and the views are as spectacular as you can imagine. From that vantage point can see Robben Island — where Nelson Mandela was jailed during the Apartheid.

boats for a painting

Fishing boats in the morning light, taken from our hotel balcony on the waterfront in Cape Town.

Cape coastline

The drive to the Cape of Good Hope — one of the most southern points in Africa — was windy, rainy and fantastic.


Baboons hang around the entrance to the park.

Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope. South Pole one direction, New Delhi the other.

view from Cape of Good Hope

The view from the Cape. Imagine a picnic on that beach!

penguin 2

I felt a kinship with these little ones. The penguin colonies lined one beach and made me realize how close we were to Antarctica. I half expected them to start dancing. Happy heart!

I enjoyed my travels, in part because they gave me so much to think about. I’m reinvigorated to dive deeper into my work to do good in Mozambique and to be better at everything I do. Something about seeing a new part of the world that makes one want to clean up the house, sit a little straighter, consume less and save more. The next trip needs to be planned, after all.


Posted in
Africa, Journal, Travel
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June 11th

This trip wasn’t all work; the adventure included a trip to Gorongoza National Park — a game park in Mozambique. I’d never been to a park before in Africa and was really looking forward to the opportunity to see something wild. Alas, the park is just being renovated from years of poaching during the civil war and we weren’t able to see any of the elephant, zebra or lion. We did, however, see a vast variety of other animals that had me swooning. Baboons, civet cat, storks…

antelope beauties

Antelope galore!

Water Buck, straight on

Water buck — which have a perfect white circle around their hineys. Rumor has it they were the first animals on Noah’s arc to use the toilet and the paint wasn’t yet dry.

warthogs playing in the bush

Warthog, with their tails standing straight up like antennae when they run.

Rondovels at Gorongoza

The rondavel where we stayed. I felt like I was in a movie, the setting was so perfect!

ken and Debbie

Ken and Debbie, my friends who live on a ranch near the park.

how we got around the park, the Lion House, Gorongoza

How we got around the park. Technically, we aren’t supposed to be out of the vehicle because of the lions.

elephant skull

Elephant skull, with teeth the size of walnuts.

An African Sunset, Gorongoza

More colors in a sunset than seem possible.

Greg Carr, an American philanthropist, is spending $40 million to rejuvenate the park. His work is incredible. Essentially, he found a perfect opportunity to use his money to improve the earth and help people. His investment is returning animals to their habitat and growing a tourism economy in one of the poorest areas of the world. He’s got a team of American and international scientists and workers in the park working on all kinds of programs, including many to help villages surrounding the park. It made me proud such a generous American was doing such great work in Mozambique.
Maybe I’ll work for him one day.


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Africa, Journal, Photography, Travel
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Delivered: 250 Goody Bags

June 8th

smiling from his crib

There are two orphanages we work with in Beira. The first is the baby orphanage, where infants are left and are able to stay until age 7. From there, they are transitioned into the government orphanage, where they are placed in school and are able to stay until age 18. This system is currently under review.

pick me up, take me home

The baby orphanage is privately funded and has many families who drop off their little ones during the week and then pick them up during the weekend. I am not sure why this occurs, but I can guess it has something to do with the fact that the children are very well cared for in the orphanage and unemployment in Moz is currently at about 85%. Families are really struggling to just get by, and having one less mouth to feed during the week makes life a bit easier.

as cute as Moz orphans come

The baby orphanage is right by the ocean and is a beautiful facility. The children are well cared for and while there aren’t enough hands to hold them all, these kids are receiving great care in comparison to what their lives would be like in the rural villages without regular meals. Nonetheless, there are 80-plus kids in one facility with about a dozen workers. Laundry is always piled high. There are always noses and bottoms that need wiping, hungry mouths, crying eyes and laughter. It is a cacophony of craziness, especially because the children have become accustomed to foreigners showing up occasionally. They immediately greeted us at the fence by climbing all over us, playing with our cameras, stroking our hair, holding our hands and clinging to our limbs. It was amazing, wonderful and heartbreaking. I didn’t want to leave. I truly wish I could have taken them all home with me.

just right

I think the greatest day of my life will be when I go into one of these facilities and come out with a child of my own. One day.

bag delivered

After dropping off the 100 knit baby caps Kathy created, we headed off to the the older orphanage, where the goody bags were headed. (The luggage arrived in the meantime.) ASEM, the older child orphanage, is “phasing out” orphans. I couldn’t get to the bottom of this, but essentially the government is trying furiously to place children with extended families and get them out of the orphanages. I’m not sure what the motivation is, but I am certain that if it were that easy there never would have been a need for orphanages in the first place. Mozambicans get the importance of family and could teach a thing or two to other cultures about the importance of sharing and taking care of each other. Sending a family member to an orphanage is a disgrace and shame, not something any family in any country wants. It made me wince at the thought of these kids — who obviously cannot be cared for by extended family — being “returned,” as if they were frivolous purchases with a yellow Nordstrom sticker on their clothing.

the word is out and they came running

Regardless, when the orphanage director heard we’d brought gifts for the kids, he was thrilled. He helped us line up all the children (who came running in droves) and one by one, they each received a baggie.


They were thrilled! You could tell these were kids who may have never owned a single new item and they were jumping for joy when they received these. We were also able to give the director an additional 100 baggies to hold for children who have already been “reintegrated.”

mass hysteria
so happy with his gift
Cheering at getting his baggie
Anita and me, handing out baggies

Thank you again for your help with this project. The blogging response was met with equal enthusiasm by welcoming, curious hands in Mozambique. You’ve made an orphanage very, very happy and I know these children feel loved. For that, I am forever thankful.

another happy recipient
me with boy, handing out bags


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Africa, Journal, Public Health, Travel
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Village Life

June 8th

typical mozambican housing

Typical housing in the rural areas.

The first few days in Mozambique, I walked with one of our health promoters through the villages. I wanted to see if our work was in fact working. We focus on three health issues in Moz: cholera, malaria and HIV.

laughing at my request to take her photo

Our work is in five rural villages near the port city of Beira. My traveling companions and I walked with the health worker from home to home, speaking with the villagers enrolled in our program and observing.

great smile 2

The good news is that the cholera and malaria projects are working. People are sleeping under mosquito nets and they are treating their water with chlorine (bleach) before drinking it.


The bad news is that HIV is getting worse — much worse. Some estimates have it at 70% in these rural areas.

she deserves to see her daughters grow

This is the mother of three I wrote about. She is holding her youngest, a one-year-old daughter who is severely malnourished.
Again, I’m not sure what can be done, but I am spending every bit of energy I have at the moment trying to figure something out. There are so many challenges to public health programming when it comes to HIV. You’re essentially trying to get people to change their sexual behaviors, or at least modify them. Politics, religion, economics and culture all play roles in sexual behavior. You can imagine how difficult it is to create one program that works. If changing behavior were easy, all Americans would be thin, we’d wear sunscreen and our seat belts daily and we’d be smoke-free. Point being, getting people to change their routine is very difficult — without the language, cultural, racial and educational barriers I face with this project.

malnourished 1 year old, mother dying of hiv

She ate what we had to give — a protein bar.

Back to the books, the research and the conversation. I’m not giving up.

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Africa, Journal, Photography, Public Health
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At First Glance

June 7th

A few photos to share. I promise to write the stories and give the detail behind these as soon as I can manage to sleep, eat and function in this time zone again.

posterchild for the polaroid project

We were able to photograph all of the children and workers at the baby orphanage. They loved receiving their Polaroid photos. This little boy’s expression says it all — sheer joy from a simple gift.

in her eyes

Curious, beautiful smiles.

a wonderful day

They all wanted to come home with me. The feeling is mutual.

Fever tree, Gorongoza

The “fever tree” in Gorongoza National Park, Mozambique.

Baboons in the shade

A few of my simian friends.


Time for some sleep.

Until tomorrow,

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Africa, Journal, Photography, Travel
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Tucked In

June 6th

I’m home! Actually, tucked into bed at this very moment with my laptop, a great book, a large glass of safe, sweet tap water, and about a dozen hours of prescribed sleeping scheduled pronto. Ironic luggage update: the bags were lost for five days. We found them in a storage room at the Beira airport — meaning they may have actually been there for days but officials didn’t want us to “find” them. After long negotiations concerning their return (and my flat refusal to pay a bribe to get my own damn bags back), we were given our luggage.
The baggies were greatly received at the orphanage and I promise photos ASAP. As soon as I get back to high-speed Internet, I’ll begin downloading the 500 photos I took. The kids simply loved the gifts. It was a moment I’ll never forget. But, like the airport bribe story, this deserves far more eloquence than I have energy for at the moment.
Before I nod off, the irony in the luggage? Guess what is lost again? You guessed it. I checked my bag (now down to one) through customs this morning and sent it through to Phoenix. Alas, it was lost some where between JFK and Sky Harbor.
Two rounds of lost luggage, two bumped flights, one round of the flu and still? One of the best adventures ever. Can’t wait to share the details tomorrow, when I have a clear head. Today, I’m grateful for the opportunity of world travel and the beauty of a safe home.


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Africa, Journal, Travel
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A Native Zebra (pronounced like Debra) and a Foreign Wino (pronounced like Kelli)

June 2nd

I made it to Cape Town. I’ve been here for two days, actually. It is surreal. I can’t figure out if I love it or am so sick that people can live in this sort of luxury so close to the poverty and suffering I experienced last week. Then again, it isn’t fair to hold South African folks to a higher standard just because they are geographically closer.
Regardless, it is a bit crazy being back in the developed world and on vacation at such a nice place so quickly after last week’s work. I am trying to relax and enjoy myself, but am not having the easiest of times. Granted, yesterday’s tour of the wine country helped. Stellenbosch is truly beautiful, with rolling hills and wineries that had me dreaming of France and Santa Barbara and why can’t we all just live this way? Pretty, friendly and the wines were wonderful. My favorite was Goats Do Roam — which I’ve had more than once at home in the US. They had t-shirts for their bordeaux that read “Bored Doe.” I wanted one, but they didn’t have my size. I’m more of a shiraz anyway.
The highlight of the trip was Gorongoza National Park in Mozambique. We saw a slew of animals, although not the elephants or zebra I’d been dreaming of. The zebra we did see was tucked neatly behind a winery fence yesterday. We giggled with lips stained purple at the irony.
The low point was a wicked round of the flu. Could have been the flights or the orphanage or just a seasonal bug, but it nearly crippled me and I am so happy to have had my traveling companions. They have taken great care of me.
I have enjoyed this adventure greatly and look forward to returning when I can spend more time. It never seems to be enough.

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Africa, Journal, Travel
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