A Travellerspoint blog

Long weekend on the coast!

4 day weekend with friends in our favorite place, Angelina's in Tiwi!

Saturday, Feb. 18th:

Whenever we can make it to the coast, we're outta here! So, when a 4 day weekend sprung up, 7 friends and I packed our bags and headed for the ocean. We were especially excited because we were able to book our favorite spot, Angelina, a four bedroom villa right on the beach. We had lucked out during our first October break in Kenya by being upgraded to the house, and knew we were in for a fantastic repeat experience.

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1IMG_0912.jpg The Gang: Devon, Karl, Emily, Philip, me, Becky, Daniel and Matt

We also brought Cedric, the gnome, along with us. Ever since Philip got him for a birthday present, he's been joining us on our adventures and providing lots of entertainment. He's a lot of fun in a small package!

We decided that once we reached the airport, any mention of school would result in a shot later that day. However, it didn't help that we were surrounded by students at the airport, all eagerly waiting to hop on a plane! Luckily, by the time we arrived at the beach, there wasn't a student in sight!

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For the next 4 days, I stayed within a 100 yard radius. I was either lounging by our dip pool, relaxing on the front porch enjoying the view, or down at the beach. Not a bad way to spend the holiday! We had some delicious food (fresh fish and crab) every night, as well as pina coladas and anything that could be mixed with Malibu. Yum.

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Hanging out on the beach:
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Daytime activities can be exhausting!
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But each night we had plenty of fun!
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Our grandest adventure included a boat "safari." Turns out that our captain put 6 of us, himself, and two rowers into a single canoe. We moved at a snail's pace about a mile down the shore and even had to get out to walk across the sand dunes. However, we did see some cool starfish. It was a classic Kenyan experience that none of us will every forget!

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Posted by BlakeSims 05:11 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

Christmas and birthdays, fun!

Home for the holidays, NYC and the 5th annual KFC/bowling birthday party!

Saturday, Feb. 18th:

I'm almost all caught up!

In December I travelled home for Christmas. En route, I stopped in New York City to see Christine and visit Boston for potential grad school options next year! We had a great time getting her settled in to her new home in Midtown and seeing the sights.

My next stop was home, sweet home! I got lots of time hanging out with Henry and the rest of the family, as well as staying with friends all over Chicago! Time flies when you're having fun!

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Sims Christmas Photo!

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Everyone made it home for the holidays!

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Opening presents:

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What goodies are in the stockings this year?!

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Surprise, a dashiki for Nick!

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And for dad!

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Nigerian dashikis for everyone!

While in NYC, Christine and I had a street artists draw us, and by us, I guess he decided to draw strangers instead. Merry Christmas Mom!
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There was a farm theme going on for Henry, but I think he likes to play with the boxes and bags even more!
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Mom, Dad and I got to hang out with family in the Quad Cities one day!
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Before I knew it, it was time to head back to NYC for Christine's birthday (sorry Nick!) and then flew back to Nairobi.

My birthday was celebrated in classic Sims style: bowling and KFC. Nairobi's one and only KFC was opened a few months ago, so it we feasted on crispy chicken, mashed potatoes and cole slaw! The bowling match was a close one...I only lost by 1 pin!!! And, it all came down to the 10th frame. I curse you Matt Schulze! Plus, friends organized a Hotel Hop around Nairobi, stopping for drinks and dinner in numerous locations. We all piled into the party matatu, again, for a fun night out on the town!

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Delicious Thai food at The Stanley

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Bowling at Village

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Ending the night at Tamambos for some dancing and cowbell action!

Good times!!!!!

Posted by BlakeSims 04:20 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Wow, it's been a while.

Highlights from two trips last year: Lagos in October to visit Lindsey, and a school trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!

Saturday, Feb. 18th:

This one will be short and sweet!

In October, Emily and I visited our good friend Lindsey up in Lagos, Nigeria. The three of us all started teaching at ISK together, and sadly, Linz left us this year to start working in Lagos. Quite a different experience from Kenya!

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Ibrahim, aka Linz's boyfriend, aka The General (stage name) picks Emily and I am in true VIP fashion.

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Roadside markets where we picked up some goodies on the drive in.

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Emily purchased some delicious oranges/lemons/limes (you can never really be too sure)

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What fun and colorful taxis!

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It's amazing that the traffic was ever WORSE than Nairobi's!

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The slums are built on top of the ocean, connected by tiny boards. Unbelievable.

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I can't help taking photos of motorcycles!

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Linz lives on Victoria Island

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Hmmmmm...

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A sneak preview of what the boys all got for Christmas! Authentic Nigeria dashikis!

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A rainstorm in the distance as we flew back to Nairobi.

Then, in December, my friend Philip and I chaperoned a high school tennis trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for an international tournament. Neither or us are actually any good at tennis, but we are good at eating and enjoying international cuisine and LOVED the food! Considering my favorite restaurant in all of Nairobi is Habesha, an Ethiopian place, it's really no surprise that I ate as much shiro as possible while away.

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Philip and I chaperoned 8 players for the week, tough life!

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The international school in Addis has 4 giant turtles (or tortoises?) that roam the campus all day. The kids barely even notice them!

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One of the tennis courts with the classic Ethiopian Amharic Pepsi slogan.

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Snack time! Shiro while watching a match!

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The ball boys would paint the clay court lines for EVERY match. Intense!

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Philip and my savior, Kaldis! It's Ethiopia's "Starbucks" and from it's logo to its lounge, someone has obviously taken notes on the original.

The school took the coaches out to dinner at a class Ethiopian restaurant, Yod Abysinnia. It was a great time with wonderful food, amazing design, and jaw-dropping dancing.

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A table designed to look like a serving dish.

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Local St. George's beer, yum.

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AMAZING

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Is that a Justin Timberlake look alike?!

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Let the dancing begin!

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Live entertainment is always a pleasure to watch!

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Philip busting a move.

Posted by BlakeSims 03:24 Archived in Nigeria Comments (1)

Drama in Nairobi National Park

It's the Kenyan way.

Sunday, September 11th:

A story from a few weekends ago. Enjoy!

“Today’s visit is going to swift and efficient.” It was like I had jinxed us before we even entered the park. My wish, while making our turn into the entrance, was immediately met with a line of at least 20 jambo wagons. Great.

We pulled over in line, grabbed our “swift” passes for Kenyan Parks and made our way, Bailey’s and coffee in thermos to the guard station.

The first car in line, no surprise, is the elementary principal, curriculum coordinator and guest. “We’ve been here for 30 minutes, prepare yourselves. Oh, and since my work visa is in the process of getting renewed, they tried to make me pay $65 dollars. Good luck!” Jodi says with a smile.

Option 1: work our charm and feminine ways with the guard (also female, so that won’t get us very far). Neither Jen nor I know exactly how much money is on our debit card. Imagine that; since the system only works half of the time, we don’t bother loading a lot of money on it. However, if either, or both of us happen to have enough for us and the car, we can bypass the line full of tourists and their drivers, that has to be at least 30 people deep and moving at the pace of a snail. Fingers crossed.

I managed to beat Jen. She had zero, I had100 shillings loaded. No luck. We head towards the line, deciding that, based on our previous visits, the one that veers to the left will be the one we actually need to use and will help us get into the park sometime before noon. We check our watches, 6:45.

We try to entertain and explain the situation to the people grumbling besides us. “It’s the Kenyan way,” doesn’t seem to be of much comfort. But at this point, all we can do is wait and make jokes.

45 minutes later, we’ve loaded money onto our cards, made our way through the maze of tourist vehicles vying for a position at the gate, and hop in the car. This time, amazingly, my pin works (see a previous story for that event) and we’re off!
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About an hour later we find ourselves spotting, not an animal in the distance, but a collection of jambo wagon, aka, something good! We weave our way towards their spot on a hillside. We aren’t the only ones with this plan, and find ourselves with about 5 other cars looking at a herd of buffalo and 4 rhinos. We stake our spot and start taking photos.
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Only one dilemma, Jen realizes that the brakes, which had been working, are no longer. Uh oh. Nothing like being stuck on a hill of big animals with even bigger horns, blocked in by other vehicles with no brakes. An opening finally occurs and we push our way through, looking for an empty hill/plains for Jen to reload the brake fluid that will help us also avoid any other animals.

Jen hops out, grabs the brake fluid from the back and reloads the valve under the hood. Major catastrophe avoided! However, after much searching, we decide to call it an end to the day, and make our ways towards the exit.
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Just as the gate comes into view, Jen realizes, again, that the brakes are out! How is that possible?! She uses the emergency break at the exit and asks for suggestions on a nearby garage. The closest one is a few kilometers down the road, Limuru road, a four lane path of death. We’ve got matatus and people crossing, stopping, pulling out in front of us as we coast at a cool 20 km. Nevermind that our hazards are on, so are everyone else’s it seems.

We pull into a gas station, coasting to a stop, and get to know the attendant quite well. Between the discussion of the problem, the unreasonable cost of the brake fluid, and Jen saying she’ll get her boyfriend to come help us if we’re ripped off, we finally are informed that the line connecting the brake fluid to the rest of the car has a leak. Great. 11 am on a Sunday morning in an area of town neither of us have ever spent much time in.

Luckily, a friendly mechanic, Nick, pops up out of nowhere. For a reasonable fee he will accompany us to the garage he works at, just down the street. Yeah, another adventure! He jumps in the back seat and directs us to an unmarked hill/driveway. At the top of this is a crowd of about 10 Kenyan men, which gradually multiples over the next hour of our visit.

After much debating and haggling, we’ve decided on a reasonable price for parts and labor. After all, it is Sunday. I wait patiently in the car as three men worked to get the wheel off, remove the leaky pipe, and wait for the new part to arrive. Once that’s taken care of, Nick gets behind the wheel, and with no warning, reverses, BRAKES. Forward, BRAKE! Back and forth while Jen, and the dozens of Kenyans laugh as I grab for something to brace myself on as my hair goes flying and I start screaming. After the first round, I’m just playing along until Nick decides he’s tested the brakes thoroughly.

Just another typical morning in Nairobi.

Posted by BlakeSims 06:25 Comments (0)

Leaving Chicago and Mom visits!

More photos of mom's visit have been added!

Sunday, Sept. 4th:

So, I've been a little slow on getting posts up...oops.
On my last day in Chicago, we had a bbq complete with KFC, duh, and some good nephew, friends and family time! Henry, while curious about the big ball spitting out freezing water, was a little too intimidated by it to actually play. However, he was still ADORABLE in his swimwear! As usual. It's always hard to say goodbye at the end of the summer, but it was great having so many good friends help send me (and mom) off in style!
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Then, mom came to visit, see the house, and help me get my classroom back together for two whole weeks! Besides putting up bulletin boards, we also managed to get out of town and do a mini safari. The lodge, Kiangazi, was rustic and colonial...aka, mom LOVED it. The two weeks flew by, and mom sadly had to head back home.

Kitengela Glass Factory: a little taste of crazy in Nairobi. Mom was really great at helping me find things to buy! And, Matt and Becky joined us since they had BOXES of glass (wine anyone?) to drop off.
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Our room at Kiangazi and there's a honey badger on the list of animals we might spot on safari! No way!
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Posted by BlakeSims 05:44 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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