30 October 2009

Wherever I Shall Roam, I Shall Always Return To HOME

Hello Everyone,

Apologies for not writing anything up here ever and a big "Thanks!"
for all the Birthday messages. I just wanted to quickly write that my
homecoming (to Seattle) is set to be:
9th November at 11:20am
And after a quick week to start settling in, I plan to head home to
Spokane for a couple weeks. Southern Thailand is quite beautiful and
sends it's love, but I am So looking forward to seeing everyone in a
little over a week!


02 October 2009

value(pictures) > value(words) RIGHT?

Hey everyone,

First please be advised that my pushing back of my arrival date does not mean I don't want to come home -- quite the contrary. This is officially my last night in Africa, although being at a backpackers with free internet is blowing my mind and really doesn't feel like Africa anyway. We (Kendra and I) are currently in Jo-burg, South Africa and there is no need to worry for our safety in a notoriously crimey city because we've taken every precaution and we are staying in our hostel until the shuttle takes us to the airport tomorrow, and the plane will take us on to Thailand! (by way of Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Anyway, not much time now, here are a few pictures from our last leg in Africa. Thank you to Kendra for being a good photographer (I never takes pictures unless I see a cool bug or a cool cloud):
* The sun sets beautifully off of Chizumulu Island, Malawi. (we got "stuck" there for longer than we expected--hard not to really)
* We spent two nights at the luxurious Nkwichi lodge on the Mozambique side of the Lake Malawi (a.k.a. Niassa). It was expensive for the delicious food, but worth it to pamper ourselves.
* Another picture of the white sand at Nkwichi, which means "It squeaks" in the local language, because that's exactly what the sand does when you walk across it.
* The coolest most disturbingly majestic trees I've ever seen, Baobabs are everywhere. The reason is that their wood is porous so bad for firewood and making things so local peoples haven't chopped them down yet. (Fun cartoon trivia for 10 pts: which movie trapped the villain in a baobab?)
* Me and Kendra enjoying yet another beach.
* A picture of me sneaking around the corner of the fort on Ilha de Mozambique. There was a gorgeous church on the point that you had to climb a bit to get to.
* A cool picture of Tofo/Tofinho in Mozambique. This is where we planned to surf and dive. Unfortunately I got sick so all I could do was a silly Ocean Safari where I went snorkeling with 20 foot Whale Sharks (the biggest fish in the world) and manta rays? I know, big deal right?

Loves and misses you all, will be home before too long.

14 September 2009

Onde esta?

I'm still alive, no worries. Spent a lot more time than we thought around Lake Malawi (beautiful and amazing). Will write more later. Currently in Cuamba, Mozambique.


07 August 2009

> Farwell Jones >> Farwell Kayonza

I don't have a lot of time to write now (I'm hoping to write some new posts on the long bus rides we're expecting on our way South), so here's just a few pictures to tide you over until then.

In the last week before leaving my site I had two major parties. One was a bit more formal and put together by the teachers, PTA, and SMC (School Management Committee). With a number of speeches, some music, and a feast afterwards I felt very filled up by all of the wonderful thanks that I had received.

Official Farwell Party

This looks like the more serious section of my speech which Yeko was nice enough to help me translate.

Arthur (my official counterpart), myself, and student-teacher Everlyne looking smart.

This is me being congratulated by Madame Nampa (the new "principal" at my school). As a going away gift they had bought me a very nice suit and were overjoyed to see me "put on" and looking so smart. As you may notice from mine and a few other suits, Ugandans tend to prefer oversized suits, don't worry that I've gotten smaller over here.

On my very last night in Kayonza I decided to make a smaller, informal party featuring Hamburgers and a big gift exchange. Both were thoroughly enjoyed by myself and Ugandans. It turned out to be an excellent way to distribute the miscellanea of my taken-apart household and also send one last big thank you to a community that has welcomed and "kept" me so well over these last two years.

Informal Going Away/Hamburger/Give Away Everything in Ryan's House Party

Here (right to left) Maama1 Gobi, Maama Joann, Betty, and Annet bite down and enjoy the all-american, hand-held icon of deliciousness that is the hamburger (or as is often echoed "hamburg"). I was really glad I could cook for these ladies, because the two on the right served me quick, cheap, and delicious meals on about every other day at the local restaurant in town. Betty was a similarly amazing (although somewhat procrastinative) tailor who helped me make my two Halloween costumes as well as adjustments and what what.

Wasswa showing off his haul of jerry cans, cups, and bath towel. Afterwards, Yeko and Wasswa said that they enjoyed the idea of a gift exchange so much that they would try to do it again at the end of the year party.

All the smiling children's faces who I'll miss seeing every day.

Hope you are all well and looking forward to seeing you soon. I'll be off on my travelling adventure soon, and with luck will keep you all updated.

Stay Well,
Jones (or Ryan, but sadly no longer Migadde)

1 - An interesting albeit difficult-to-understand-by-Americans custom is that mothers are very often called by their children's names with the prefix of Maama. To translate, you would see my mom on the street and try to get here attention with "Oh, Momma Ryan! Momma Ryan!" Wasswa has even told me a story where he called a parent by her name and she said he had bad manners. When he asked what she would like to be called she responded with "Maama Rechel." People are proud of parenthood, and it's quite the truth that I don't know these ladies' real names. I find that sad, but I don't think they do.

05 June 2009

Quick Update & Travels

Sorry to have been so quiet on the blog. To tell the truth, not too much is going on. The term has started so I've transitioned from digging in the morning and teaching computer classes in the afternoons/evenings, to doing random work in the mornings and teaching computer classes in the afternoons/evenings. Good ol' same ol'. The extra time to give trainings, add resources to the computers, and lock them down as much as possible has been good and we're transitioning towards a time when I won't be here to manage it.

So, things are going well, and there's definitely a sense of my upcoming departure. The computer lab is functioning well and getting lots of use, which is all we can really ask/hope for. I have yet to organize the Thank You DVD of pictures and videos and what, but I hope to have that finished and sent out sometime early next month. Also, some more serious thoughts of the future and job and transitioning back into normal American life are beginning to grumble up into consciousness a bit too.

The only other news I have is that there's an All Volunteer Conference (AVC) coming up at the end of the month. It's really awesome that we're having one this year as this volunteer-work-sharing-get-together had been indefinitley cancelled due to budget concerns by the previous Uganda director. The new director, Dr. J. Larry Brown, however, agreed with volunteers that if it's taken seriously and we share and network, there's a lot that we can learn from each other and different ways that we can work together. As volunteers who come into country in fairly large groups we tend to network very well within our training class, but inter-class communication isn't as good as it could be, and it's always better to tell someone how to make a wheel instead of them having to reinvent it (which seems to happen all too often in "development").

Travel Plans!

Beyond that I wanted to give a heads up and say that I'm planning on travelling around a bit before heading back--I'm already on this side of the world, might as well look around a bit over here before I come back right? Actually, as far as international travelling goes, it seems like I've done a lot less than a lot of my fellow (and now returned PCVs) who have been to Kenya and Tanzania and Malawi and Ethiopia and Rwanda and Egypt and wherever. So far, I've only made it to Kenya for a week. But no longer will I have to be on the listening end of the traveler's story. The plan is for Kendra and me to:

  1. Travel down to Tanzania and hit up Zanzibar for a few days.

  2. Continue down to Mozambique1 and stay there for a week or two

  3. Then keep on truckin' down to South Africa from where...

  4. ...we plane it over to Thailand!

  5. After a few weeks there we'll fly back to home2, possibly stopping in Hawaii on the way (Kendra did her graduate studies there).

#### NEW! ####
I made a guestimation for how long it should take us to do our trip assuming everything goes really fast and then assuming we take our time. Our short ETA to the USA is 25th September 2009 and the longer guestimate is 25th October 2009 (ha ha, my mistake). I know that's a huge range, but I just wanted everyone to have some idea. I'll try to keep everyone updated as we're moving.
As we're planning to nail some of this down a little more clearly this weekend and the vicissitudes of travel demand that plans change, this is just a brief sketch, but the upshot of it is that it looks more like I'll be home at the beginning of October. I sincerely apologize if this throws a wrench into anyone's plans, I really should've mentioned all this a bit sooner--my bad!

That's it for now, loves and misses you all, and looking eagerly forward to the not-too-distant time when I will see you all again.



1 - I'm planning to brush up on my Spanish a little bit and then pronounce it with a Frenchish accent, but that's pretty lame replacement for real Portugues so if anyone wants to send me any resources on studying up that'd be sweet! (**ahem** Jay! Actually, is Fernanda still at times going there? Is there any chance that she would be there in late August?)

2 - That's right! Around the world! Actually, I once figured that the exact other side of the world from Seattle is somewhere in the lower Indian Ocean, so beyond being in Madagascar or some islands off the West Coast of Australia I'm pretty darn close to that right here. Why not go back the other way?

28 March 2009


    Letters & packages
  • [received] from Michelle: A wonderful friend-montage calendar and a "Webale" card expressing just how awesome and supportive a group of friends I have back home.

  • [received] from Brett Bell: Perfect package of goodies and reading materials. I definitely was confused at first by the People magazine until I read that it was for TJ. It was also perfect timing because it came right before I had some PCTs visit, so I didn't have to just feed them local food. You gotta treat the PCTs right, right?

  • >[received] from Allie: Yet another amazing package and utterly delicious. Ditto on the good timing with PCTs.

  • Lastly, a quick apology that I haven't sent out more letters recently. Most of my other PCV friends are in a flurry of packing up and getting ready to head out, so I've been writing a fair number of in-country letters and going to visit (and party) with them on weekends. It'll be very quiet around here after about Mid-May and they will be missed.