26 November 2015

Down unda

So let me tell you how I've been planning for Sydney for a year and it almost didn't happen.   Soooo, on November first my dad goes into the hospital with a heart attack, my sister says she has it handled.  Next think I know I'm being told he's gradually getting worse.  When I call he doesn't want to talk, as short of breath, tired.  If you know my dad that's not like him at all, he's always lively and happy ready to talk your head off. By the 4th I'm being told he needs open heart surgery next week so I tell my boss and start planning to go down there, naturally I want to be with him before and after surgery.  Next thing I know my sister calls crying, he's being sent to ICU he has water on the lungs, his kidneys are shutting down and he can't breathe on his own.  I run out of work crying, check the kids out of school and within and hour I'm on the road driving to get down to him. I made the 5 hour drive in 4 hours and 15 minutes.  After 2 weeks at his bedside. He ends up with 2 stents in his heart he's stabilized and we bring him home. He's still weak and banged up and needs a lot of help.  Once he heard I was cancelling our trip he and my sister insisted that I go.  With her being off work for thanksgiving she would be able to give him full attention and since they live across the street from each other that they'd be fine.  They definitely made me feel comfortable enough to go, so we packed our backpacks and left.  After being away from the kids so long I was looking forward to another adventure with them.  This is truly our special bonding time.  So off to Sydney we went.  Our first flight was Atlanta to Los Angeles.  Since we had a 10 hour lay over my cousin and her kids picked us up from the airport and we spend the day with them.  As always it was hard leaving them but adventure was waiting for us on the other side of the ocean.  You just don't ignore that kind of invitation. 

The flight from Los Angeles to Sydney was 13 1/2 hours and we slept about 10 or 11 of those hours.  All that running, jumping, and laughing with their cousins was perfect for a preflight workout.  Before first meal was served we were all knocked out.  We landed in Syndey well rested and bright eyed.  We left LA 10:30 on a Friday night and arrived in Sydney 9:30 their Sunday morning.  Saturday never existed for us.  How awesome is THAT?!?! 

So the Sydney plan was to arrive at the airport take the train to Circular Quay ( quay is pronounced "key" not "kway" so please don't be an idiot like me and say "kway" because people will give you that "you're a real life dumbass" look when you say it).  Anway, at circular quay we are to take a very to Cockatoo Island were we will camp for a few days.  Sydney was horribly expensive and to be honest camping was the only thing that would fit in our teeny tiny budget.  

Two story subway train

Bus ride.  They were working on the metro tracks for the weekend so we have to take a bus to circular quay. 

Our ferry on the left

Ferry map!

So apparently Sydney's public transportation includes ferries just as much as it includes trains and buses.  So cool!  

14 October 2015

Last morning

Our flight departs at 11:25 but I wanted to get o the airport at 9am.  We woke up at 7:15 and got dressed.  All of us had stomach aches.  I think partly from the malaria pills and partly from eating so much local food that our bodies aren't accustomed to.  Zane had it the worst. Poor kid was running back and forth from the toilet to being balled up on the couch.  He isn't have a fever so I didn't give him any mess and hoped he could just pass whatever was upsetting his stomach.  

At about 8:15 I called Francois to look over the apartment and check us out.  While finishing up everything Zane jets off to the bathroom and is in ther moaning groaning.  I tell him to take his time to make sure he gets it all out before we have to get in a taxi.  He comes out looked beat up, comes over to hug me but before he can even reach me he starts vomiting!!!! 

I do everything I can to NOT go into panic mode.  I too had been feeling sick and we sure that both of our problems were from the malaria medication we'd both been taking. My greatest fear was bringing him to the airport and him throwing up; after visiting west Africa that would be a sure way of being quarenteen mrs for Ebola.  I quickly wiped up the watery vomit while Francois was on the balcony.  I cleaned Zane up and told him that we were going home he'd just have to be sick on the plane.  He said he isn't need to throw up anymore but he was tired.  Francois and Dude were very concerned, Francois offered to take us to the doctor who owned the apartment but I refused I was determined to make it to the airport on time and get my sick baby home. 

Francois hailed us a taxi, I thanked him for all his amazing help, and we were off.  
At the airport things were great Zane had a few woozy moments but never threw up again.  The attendant who helped check us in was named Amadou Ba. I saw this as a positive sign as one of my favorite students of all time is also named Amadoi Bah. Bah with an H.  I thought that was pretty cool and so did the boys since they knew most of my students well, especially Amadou who is a mentor to them.  

After about 30 minutes of checking in we were seated on the plane and Zane fell fast asleep.  Our new friend Deke was also in our flight.  The ride home was a great moment to reflect on yet another amazing adventure, so many things were wonderful.  It's always nice visiting a great city, eating great food, meeting kind people, finding another small piece of the puzzle known as humanity. 

After all my deep reflection and feminine emotional junk I started watching movies to relax.  For the life of me I don't know why I decided to watch "12 years a slave" after just seeing the homeland that tens of millions were stolen from.  My students often fussed at me for never having seeing this movie that I would later find haunting me.  
The Trans- Atlantic slave trade was, is, definitely one of the world's greatest atrocities.  To have witnessed it's "set up" (for lack of a better word), from both sides of the ocean from one of its places of orgin to many of its final destination in the diaspora is truly humbling and an honor to experience with the level of freedom and privilege that these same ancestors have gifted me through their unimaginable pain and suffering.  Each time I think of our time in senegal I remember the beautiful people who seemed to glide on air, gorgeous beaches, the safety of a peaceful community, the sweltering heat of Africa. I remember delicious food and the rythmn of the Kess Kess, glowing black skin, smiles, heads held high, detailed architecture, crazy taxi drivers, and so much more.  These memories will always stay with me.  Always.  And each time I reflect on these memories I will also hear the words of Maya Angelou "we are the dreams and the hopes of the slaves."  

Just as they have passed their blood and DNA to me over the generations I also carry their dreams and their hopes, I felt them with us on this journey.  Because they were, we are... And I am forever thankful for their sacrifice.  It was lovely to bring them all home.  We look forward to visit Dakar again. 

11 October 2015

Pink lake and chill

We woke up bright and early to get ready for our outing to the Pink Lake with Albert.  We all showered, got dressed, I made breakfast, and waited.  And waited, and waited.  But Albert never showed up.  I decided to give him until noon then I would go on with plan A and get to the pink lake by taxi.  

Picture of our buildings tiled exterior.  Beautiful! 

By 12:30 we had cabin fever and figured it was in our bestbjnterrstbtonget out and find that doggone pink lake.  With the help of Francois and a friend we found a taxi willing to travel the distance for $15,000 Senegalese dollars ($30USD).  He trip took us into in of Senegal's main highways and I was utterly shocked at how well paced and beautiful with highways was!!! Definitely smoother than any highway in atlnag and so smooth it rivals Germany's autobahn!! The constructions game is no joke in Senegal.  Here are a few pix of the beautiful toll booth we passed through and the view during our drive.

Moment gas stations

The drive was about 40 minutes! As soon as we pulled in I reassured our driver that we would only be 5-10 minutes we only wanted to see the pink lake and take a few pictures.  Unfortunately the lake wasn't very pink.  The locals explained the due to the sun something or other that then microorganisms in the pink could do something or other.  We could still see a slight pink color in the water.  Snapper our pictures and bounced! 

The top pick is when the lake is super pink during its peak season, the bottom picnics what we saw.

Taxi ride home

Once we got home at about 3:30, we got under the fan and relaxed until dinner time.  We decided to walk a couple of blocks to a nearby restaurant.

There were so many signs that we were where we were supposed to be our building also had a medical office in the ground floor that preformed "Echographies". Not to mention my name being all over the apartment in random places. 

Silly pix while waiting to be served.  We wanted to eat outside but there were ton many flies so we decided to take the food home.  I would have loved watching the joggers go by, people stopping in the street to pray and ladies window shopping at the nearby boutique.  But fighting off the flies would ruin that experience so home bound we went.  

Dude ordered pizza

I ordered chicken and fries. Zane ordered steak and  fries.  It all came with half a baguette and a yummy salad 

After dinner we played dominos and I declare war.  We listened to he local radio and enjoyed each other's company.  For us travel is not just seeing the world hug also spending time with our favorite people.... Each other.