Kyle in Lake Assal, Djbouti

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Strain on Retlationships

I’ve been off doing my thing for more than 4 years now. 2 years of AmeriCorps put me in California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, and Texas for different disaster recovery and conservation projects. After that, 2 years in Ethiopia with Peace Corps. I’ve been transient, and often hard to get a hold of. I’ve been bouncing from place to place, friend to friend, job to job. I’ve visited 42 states in the last 8 years.

It’s been an amazing way to spend my mid-twenties. I’ve been meeting a lot of amazing people and have been traveling to places I never imagined. The down side? My family back in New York. I’m so out of touch with things back home, and now I have a girlfriend living in England. My life is all over the globe, and it’s hard to manage with poor internet and phone services, and very little money in my savings.

What is starting to make me nervous is communication during Low2High. For me, it’s very important that I can keep in regular contact with the people I care about. I won’t be bringing my laptop because the MacBook is a bit too heavy, fragile, and expensive for a bike tour. I can get sim cards for different countries as I go, but the phone network will be spotty. Maybe I don’t need to be nervous. Maybe it’ll work out fine, but I need to be prepared to spend some extra time and money keeping in touch with everyone. After putting up with my last 4 years of vagabonding, they deserve it.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

49 Days...

'Low2High: Africa' will start in 49 days, and counting.

The plan as of now is I'll first go from Ethiopia to Djibouti by bus, with my bike on the roof. With 2 friends from Peace Corps, we are going snorkeling with the whale sharks that come into the harbor in the winter. After that, it's off to Lake Assal, the lowest point on the African continent, to start the expedition.

Right now, I'm in Bahir Dar for training and finishing some work. I still have to finish my Peace Corps contract before I can hit the road. I'm already feeling nostalgic for this place that I've called home for the last 21 months. As hard as it's been, there are many things that I will miss. I've made some close friends here, and it'll be sad to walk away from them. But, all things must end, and Peace Corps is another part of my life that I have to finish.

Truthfully, I feel a bit 'off' right now. Everything I do now is preparation for the big ride, so I feel I'm missing out on what's happening around me. I'm being very cautious not to get injured, I'm back to daily exercises, and my mind is on one track. It's hard to think about anything else except Low2High. In a way it's consuming me. Becoming an obsession. I think I need to take the time to enjoy this place for my last 6 weeks so I say some proper goodbyes and end my work on a high note.

If I keep looking to the future, I cannot enjoy the present. I'm lucky enough to live overseas, in Ethiopia of all places. I'll do what I can to not let 'what comes next' get in the way of 'what is happening now'.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Video, photo from Great Ethiopian Run

Video clip of me in the Great Ethiopian Run. I can be seen in the first 3 seconds on the left side of the frame. Not the best video, but the videographer caught me in the frame by accident and I was luckily able to obtain this copy.

Photo from the Great Ethiopian Run, January 21, 2010. A fun day in Addis Ababa that, to quote a friend, was 'more like an obstacle course than a race'. Holes in the road, rogue water bottles, and runners at all different paces made the run harder, but much more fun.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Approaching the end of Peace Corps

This week has been a conference. Peace Corps will end for me in early January, so this whole week has been dedicated to preparing us volunteers for wrapping up our projects, saying our goodbyes, and transitioning back into our lives in America.

I was prepared for a bunch of lame speeches and premature, forced reflection, but was pleasantly surprised at how useful the conference has been. It does seem daunting to go from living in Ethiopia for 2 years, and then to go back to my old life, so I'm glad to have the support that Peace Corps is offering.

Even though I'll be sad to leave this place behind, I'll be excited to start my expedition and raise some money for NDCC. I don't know how I will handle the stress of the next 6 weeks. I always knew this time would come, but now it's actually here.

My training for this week has been a total wash. Other than a quick kayak trip across the lake and a bit of pool time at the conference, I haven't been exercising at all. It's been too tempting to sit and drink with my friends for the last time, and that's exactly what I've been doing. At least I'm stuffing my face with a lot of good food, so I might put some pounds back onto my skinny frame. I'll be sure to start my exercises again when I get back to Bahir Dar in a couple days.

Although there is a bit of sadness, knowing that I'm that much closer to starting the expedition is getting me excited. I'll keep you all posted on my thoughts as my time in the Peace Corps winds down.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

10K run through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Yesterday I ran in the Great Ethiopian Run. It was the 10th anniversary, and 35,000 runners dressed in green, yellow, and red took to the streets of Addis Ababa. 

It was part chaos, part competition, and part fun. What the race lacked in organization, it made up for with excitement. Ethiopia is known for it's world-class runners, so many people were thrilled to run the same course and same race that made their heroes famous. 

I ran the 10K in 59 minutes, and 21 seconds. Not the best time, but the clusters of people and high altitude are my convenient excuses. It was fascinating to see the different attitudes of the participants. Some people took it VERY seriously and were frustrated every time they ran up behind a group of slow stragglers. Some people were just walking and enjoying the event for what it was. Ethiopians were singing national songs and blowing horns, turning the race into an impromptu parade. 

I did try to run it as fast as I could, but I still enjoyed the festivities around me. The other runners and the spectators all seemed to be having a good time. Everyone was civil, and I didn't see any fights.

Some racers were taking shortcuts, and when they would join the crowd, people would cheer "Leiba! Leiba! (Thief! Thief!)" It was all in good fun, and I enjoyed the morning of culture and racing with my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers.

I felt good after the race, but now, the day after, my knees are a bit sore. It's to be expected since I've been cycling more and running less lately. 

I'll post a photo of the race as soon as I can get a copy from my friend as I did not bring my camera.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Great Ethiopian Run

I will be running in the Great Ethiopian Run in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this weekend. With more than 35,000 runners, the GER is one of the biggest races in the world. Since Addis Ababa is at an altitude of 2,300 meters, it's also one of the hardest.

The GER is going to have so many participants that it might be hard to spread out and actually run for the entire 10k. I've been training for the run, but the run itself seems like it will be just a fun way to spend a Sunday morning, enjoy the opportunity to run through the otherwise crowded city streets, and meet other athletes. I'll try to post pictures of the race next week.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Feature on ExWeb

I'm being featured on !!

You can follow me here on my blog, but spread the word about ExWeb, because it's a badass site!


It's officially a fundraiser!

This expedition is a fundraiser for the New Day Children's Centre in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. All donations go directly to the organization to help them raise funds for a new compound. I have been teaching Life Skills classes to the young adults at NDCC for the last 2 years. They are some of my greatest inspiration in life.

NDCC is a registered charity working to support young people living in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. The Centre provides everyday essentials like food, clothes and access to accommodation for its students, helping them to put and end to their life on the streets, and to finish their education in a safe environment.

Founded in 2006, NDCC has grown from caring for 12 children to supporting over 50, and now employs nine local staff. One hundred per cent of the money we raise goes straight into the project, making sure that all of our students get the care they deserve and that every donation really does make a difference.
Donations at:

Training in East Africa

I've been training for months, and it's not getting any easier. The reality is that Ethiopia is a hard place for a 'ferenji' cyclist. Extreme weather changes, dangerous truck drivers, and rock-throwing children are all very real dangers here. I feel that this is a good taste of what the real expedition might throw at me. All the blogs I've read other people's tours sum it up as 'if you can survive Ethiopia as a cyclist, you can survive anything'.

I'm feeling strong, and confident. With 57 days until the expedition begins, I feel that I have the chops to do what I need to do. East Africa isn't just about getting by, it's about thriving against all odds.