A stroll through Mbita town

I really enjoy strolling through Mbita town on the shore of Lake Victoria.  I have visited Mbita, Kenya about a dozen times in as many years.  As you can see from the photos, I am the only muzungu for miles around.  I get many greetings and stop to talk with vendors or pikipiki drivers.  I feel very safe and welcomed.  I love the vibrant color that surrounds me there.  The town also has special signficance for me which I will note at the end of this post.

The photos can speak for themselves.

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Below is one other reminder of my special connection to this town. In the middle of the local hospital grounds, now behind some trees, is a water tank bearing my name.  It was the first infrastructure project that I tackled in Kenya in 2005 and the benefits it gave to this clinic led me to establish the CanAssist African Relief Trust in 2008.  Since that time, CanAssist has provided more than a million dollars of infrastructure support to communities throughout East Africa.  Little did I know, in 2005, what a profound effect that water tank in Mbita town would have on my life for the next several years.

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Ramula Shopping Centre – photo gallery

 

Situated right on the Equator, Ramula is a colorful, little, rural Kenyan trading centre that  I love to wander around and take photos.  So much character. Friendly people living what appears to be simple lives but that are really quite complex given the challenges they face getting from day to day.

Here some photos of some of the shops that operate in this rural Kenyan “shopping centre.

 

This dilapidated van has been sitting here for the last five years, looking like this. In front of the “Palace” kinyozi (barber) hardware and beauty salon.

This fellow makes wooden tables, doors and cabinets using all hand tools. I contracted him to make a crib out of cyoress wood for little Heather Maddie at a cost of 6000KES ( $80 Can)

I asked these guys who were the other nine of the top ten.  There were no others.  Guess that makes this one number one.

The fellow hidden in this kiosk cage also can make deposits and give money from your Equity Bank account.  In his spare time he does construction and cuts hair.

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This is where the fellow above gives haircuts.  The little sticker in the upper corner says “Trust in God”.  Advice for clients who may not feel his skills are up to par?

And for the ladies…

 

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The Place Pub, complete with smoking zone outside.

Will I become a cruisaholic?

The idea of a cruise as a holiday never appealed to me in the past and it was on a bit of a whim that a friend and I took an Alaska cruise in May.  It was such a good holiday that to escape the cold January Canadian winter weather I signed up for a week on the Holland America ship, Rotterdam, sailing to four ports in the Gulf of Mexico.  I now find myself wondering what cruise is next!

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I took the Gulf of Mexico cruise on my own and, although the single supplement is often double the shared twin price with most cruise lines, the holiday is an excellent choice for a solo traveler.  IMG_6165 3I enjoyed having my own cabin with lots of space and privacy but I could also readily immerse myself in the other activities either on ship or at a port, where there was ample opportunity to chat and get to know other travelers, all of whom are in a friendly holiday mood.
I love being able to unpack at the first of the holiday and have my hotel room (and food and transport) move with me throughout the week, avoiding the hassle of checking in to new digs every night. Our Alaska cruise visited three ports during the week, all with the opportunity to explore on land for the day. The Gulf of Mexico cruise had four stops at Key West, Roatan, a little port in Guatemala and Costa Maya Mexico. In all those ports I was able to wander, go to a tropical beach and even snorkel.

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img_6659I was worried before I went on the first cruise that I would feel claustrophobic ( I remember a holiday in Bermuda in 1986 when I thought the island wasn’t big enough for me – more a function of my being able to sit still than the island) but the ship is like a small city with a large theatre, casino, several lounges with live music in the evenings, a gym, two pools and three hot tubs and a sun deck. I was easily able to get in my 10,500 steps, even on days we were at sea. In the week I walked 78 km and climbed 188 flights of stairs!

Then there is the food. Lots of it and good quality. My preference was to eat in the Lido Restaurant – with a huge selection served up cafeteria-style – but there was the opportunity to also to indulge in even more upscale service in the fine dining room. I managed to restrict my weight gain to about 2 pounds on the last cruise by insuring that I was physically active every day and limiting my desserts to one a day. See the quick “cruise” past the dinner offerings in the Lido restaurant on the 8th floor of the ship in the video below.

 

I had less luck limiting my Martini consumption as I ended up meeting a couple from Oklahoma at the Mix Bar every night at 6 when the bartender offered up three different martinis every night for $4 each.

As you can see, I am hooked on this kind of vacation, whether I do it with a friend or on my own. I will append videos with photos of both cruises. Where will I cruise next? Stay tuned, already working on that.

Scotland – September 2017

Apple has conveniently helped in selecting photos of my recent trip to Scotland off my iPad and put them into a nice little 2 minute video.  So here it is – a quick selection of images from my recent 2 week trip to Edinburgh, Skye, the Highlands and the Borders district in September.

A Manic Monday

After waving good day to the grandkids as they headed off to school, I walked  to the nearby conservation area in Whitby, just east of Toronto and spent an hour with nature. Just me and the birds and bunnies and butterflies  and wildflowers.  I felt like Snow White.  I saw no humanoids for at least an hour but did encounter some wild turkeys, two deer, lots of curious chipmunks and a big turtle.  I had my 12,000 steps in by 10 am.

By 12:30 I was in the heart of Toronto. Incredible, really, to go from solitude to the vibrant centre of Canada’s biggest City in what seemed like a heartbeat.

I will be working in Toronto all week.  I always find the core of the city invigorating.

I lucked out when I checked into my hotel to find that I was upgraded to a “club room” with lounge access and a full breakfast.  I headed over to Church Street for a long overdue haircut, figuring that the Gay Village are might be my best bet to get a good haircut from a new barber.  I was right!

And tonight I met a colleague,  Gail Gray,  for dinner.  Gail and I worked in tandem in Bosnia for 10 years.  My friends in BiH will be delighted to know that we get together annually and reminisce.

Here is a Toronto selfie I took today. Can you find me?

Docks Part 3 – closer to home – Ontario

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Winter  – Kingston Harbour

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Dock by the Delta Hotel – Kingston

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Confederation Basin, Kingston – early Spring

 

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Eagle Lake dock

 

 

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Cousins on the dock – Ontario cottage country

 

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Wolfe Island dock

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Three minutes from my home – Kingston harbour

What’s up?   Docks!  – Part 1

A Facebook friend recently posted a visually striking black and white photo of a man on a pier and it reminded me just how drawn I am to photographing docks and piers and breakwaters.   I think it is the idea that the dock leads somewhere and the somewhere is often an expansive body of water.  The boats at the docks are transport for  adventure into the ocean or lake. There is something solitary about many of these images at the same time. Perhaps we are dwarfed by Nature.

It spurred me to look through my photo library for pictures of docks and piers that I have taken in many parts of the world.  I have so many that I have to divide this into three parts.  I hope you enjoy this maritime travelogue.

 

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Fishing Boat in the harbour at Tofino, British Columbia

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The pier near Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia

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On a pier in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

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A sort-of pier in Cinque Terra, Italy.   You would not want to get caught up in the waves near the rocks.

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Dhows in Stone Town, Zanzibar

 

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A dock I have visited many times in Mbita, Kenya – Lake Victoria

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Dubrovnik, Croatia

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San Francisco Bay, California.  Golden Gate Bridge way in the background

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On the pier/breakwater in the photo above – Lima, Peru.  It was amazing how this very natural Pacific Ocean site was in a city of 8.5 million people.

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A memorable fish dinner on a dock on the island of Lopud, Croatia                                           with friends Sue and Jim.