Thursday, March 19, 2009
Max, the male, loved being stroked. His Mustang purr was incredible rising from the depths of his throat to transmit his pleasure at receiving affection from yet another stranger. He was lovely and very cuddly as you can tell in the second photo.
Liz, the female in the next two photos, was very playful. She was a little jealous of the attention Max was getting and reached out with her front paws to swat at my bottom while I was petting him. She was nipped at my hands with very sharp teeth and hooked her claws into my pants. I had orange-brown muddy paw prints on my legs from her. She is definitely a hunter. She stretched out and invited me to scratch her belly and under her neck--such a pretty kitty. The other cheetah wasn't too interested in being touched. She was content to sit in the corner and watch.
Afterwards, I fed and petted a 7-month old giraffe. I was laughing the whole time, thinking to myself, “I can’t believe I’m really doing this.” It was great.
What a beautiful moment!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Okay, Mom, these are for you! Photos of my birthday party as requested. It was a fun night with 10 adults present and discussing the antics of the 5 babies who were also present. Clearly, when you have more couples with young children than singles in the group, the conversation turns to children and the joys of child delivery--all things to look forward to, I suppose. It was a good night and it was especially nice to be home this year. Thanks to all who attended.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Not many "mizungu" (Swahili for white people) go to Kibera, so we attracted a bit of attention. Most people, especially men and children, were eager to show off the little English they knew, so we were greeted many times with shouts of "Hi! How are you?" We would reply to the kids asking the kids, "Sah, sah?" and they would reply "Feet" (fine) or "Poah" (cool). Many kids wanted to shake our hands, so we would make a fist and bump fists with them, thus avoiding the transference of unwelcome germs. Word got around that we were there and on the way out even some of the men were making fists for us to bump.
It was weird, because I wasn't too nervous about walking around Kibera, even though it was probably pretty dangerous for us, as I learned after reading some articles about the place upon my return to the U.S. The only time I got nervous, was on our way out when we got in a bit of a bottleneck where everyone was trying to get out the same way and some water trucks were blocking the way. My counter-IED training kicked in and I started thinking, "Okay, is this on purpose? Are they forcing us in here to try to hurt us or rob us?" But I soon realized that they weren't and quickly found a way around the crowd.
It was a memorable day. On our way out to the main road it was all I could do not to have tears running down my face. My heart literally hurt and as I write this and remember my heart hurts again. Even after seeing the reality here, it's absolutely unimaginable to me how people manage to live like this, but they do and many with hope of something better.
This is a photo of the "river" that runs through the middle of the slum. The homes and businesses are built on a mountain of filth and rubbish with sewage running down the middle of the streets. There is also frequent flooding here. You have to be careful where you step, because you could easily slip and end up stepping into something awful.
Okay, I want to learn to carry things on my head. Look at her perfect posture and gracefulness. It was amazing how the women could walk through a crowd without losing their balance and keep their packages on their heads. I never saw a man carrying anything on his head, only the women. This woman is walking through the main market street of Kibera that lines the train tracks there, and she doesn't miss a beat.
Yeah, I look really out of place here. The buildings behind me are typical of what I saw here.
Wickipedia has some great information about Kibera: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kibera
Monday, March 9, 2009
Unfortunately, the embedding was disabled on YouTube, but here's the link:
Vanity Fair did a follow up interview with him about this clip. I'll give you fair warning, VF doesn't edit out the language.
It's just a different voice saying many of the same things are church leaders have been saying. However, people are paying attention to this guy. I find it all interesting and hope you do too.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Piazza di Spagna with the lights of evening.
Arches, arches everywhere and Via Giulia is one of the most beautiful and leads to a terrace along the Tiber River.
Just a few glimpses of a city that captured me for a few days.
Monday, March 2, 2009
A masterpiece of Baroque architecture, with a dash of Arabian influence and the most pristine waters in the Med, Malta is gorgeous. Here are a few glimpses:
More ceilings which produces a crick in your neck as you stare upwards for several minutes at a time without pausing.
The floor in the Cathedral in Valleta where marble epitaphs in Latin cover the floor and pay homage to a rich and colorful past complete with the Maltese knights.
The walls of this church are covered with this beautiful carving complete with Maltese crosses. I've seen ornamental churches, but this one wins the prize.
They're everywhere! I can't escape them...
But only in Malta would there be a McDonalds in the bottom level of a 17th century Baroque bulding.
Malta has a rich cinematic history, whihc includes the filmings of Troy, and the Count of Monte Cristo. The not so rich history includes the filming of Popeye The Movie, starring Robin Williams. It was filmed in this little village, constructed especially for the film.
Mdina is a beautiful walled city on top of a hill surrounded by the original walls. The streets are cobbled with large flat stones and driving is limited to the residents so as to preserve the city. It's like wandering through a set for the filming of a 16th century movie. I love the red raspberry colored door and windows.
Okay, someday I want a house with an upstairs terrace where I too can grow oranges.
Another reason to look up.
14th Century fresco in the prison where the shipwrecked Saint Paul was imprisoned for several months.
More outdoor art--these particular pieces are everywhere and very beautiful.
The Azure Window one of the natural wonders of the world; maybe not officially, but it is.
One of the beautiful views on the island of Gozo.
Another beautiful glimpse of raspberry red.
My friend Jen and I climbed to the top of the cupola, 551 stairs. Yes, that's right--talk about the ultimate stair stepper workout. Basically, when you travel anywhere in Europe forget about wearing heels or boots, buy the cutest, trendiest pair of walking shoes you can find and wear those, 'cause you're gonna be hiking everywhere you go.
So, here's the photo tour...
Piazza di San Pietro. See, I really am small standing there.
La Pieta', one of Michealangelo's master pieces. It's just inside one of the main doors and it's breath taking in its detail and composition. It's one of my favorites. More info at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piet%C3%A0_(Michelangelo)
Sunday, March 1, 2009
The 3rd Street tunnel was closed to traffic, but not human traffic as you can see. It was amazing to hearing the singing and cheering as people came up out of the tunnel. It's normally about 3-4 lanes of vehicle traffic.
My ring side seat view of the inauguration from inside the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences on 6th and E NW. They had a big screen in the main hall and filled it with as many people as wouldn't violate the fire code. There were people out in the foyer as well. It was so cool.
So, even if you don't agree with the politics of the current administration, it was still very cool. It was a day that set an example of democracy at its finest and truest to the rest of the world. It was a fine day to be in DC.