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Mali gets into the very fiber of your soul, and it is impossible to shake off anything about West Africa once you get the bug gnawing at your heart.

Well, that about sums it up.

via The Invisible Humanitarian | Canadian Humanitarian NGO & Commercial Fisherman involved In Water & Drip Irrigation Community Development in Mali, West Africa. Raw Stories about Life, Encounters, & Adventures as a Humanitarian NGO. Join an African Adventure.

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On the web: MSF Ebola webinar

Happening now! Looks to be pretty interesting and might help to answer some questions you might have. Join in. 

http://www.msf.ca/en/live-webcast-stopping-ebola-msf%E2%80%99s-experience-front-lines-historic-epidemic

 

Update: Some great insights into the effort to control this outbreak, but still a distinct lack of calls to action, metrics, strategies, etc., as mentioned in my previous post. At least the World Bank has identified a need for 5000 new workers in the fight. Also learned that the MSF has been training the Red Cross, Save the Children, and the Centre for Disease Control out of their mock treatment facility in Brussels, on how to deal with the outbreak and build their own training and treatment centres.

Also had a heartwarming story of Patrick, who survived the Ebola virus. Read it here.

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Back to the drawing board: making a new plan

So, I’ve been home for just over a month. And it already feels like a lifetime.

Day in and day out, in Port Alberni. Cooking, cleaning, and bookkeeping for my dad. Not exactly keeping in pace with the chaos and vibrance of W. Africa life. A very hilly walk to the grocery store a few times a week is about as exciting as it gets.

So I’m working on my escape route. I have been saying all this time that when I returned home, I would reapply with MSF, and that with my newly acquired French skills, plus 10 months living and travelling in the region, there was no way I wouldn’t get in. I was so sure.

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Flying Royal Air Maroc: Ouaga to Casa

I’m on the plane; I want to write, but the app’s not working. So I’ll write a note and transfer it later.

Airplanes have a definite way of signalling the end of one thing and the beginning of another; or at least, one place, and another. And for now, while I’m not yet leaving Africa, I’m leaving the “real” Africa, and it feels like an ending. An ending with a hefty dose of melancholy.

I’m ready to go home, but I have a knot in my stomach, and tears are close at hand. I feel like there’s so much left undone, unseen, and unknown. I’ve explored a lot of places, but I’ve only just scratched the surface. I know this isn’t over yet; I’ll be back. I’ll always come back.

But that offers little consolation as I hurl myself back across the desert, wrapping up 9 months of travel into one little 4-hour flight. Makes short work out of all that effort.

IMG_7902-0.JPGDesert and desert and desert

A couple aisles over, I see a man fighting with himself, to keep from crying. He’s not winning the battle, but it reminds me that I’m not alone in my heartache.

IMG_7905.JPGAt least I have the entire row to myself. Flight was nearly half-empty

Thought to make a quick call to my dad before boarding, and ended up talking for 40 minutes; somehow my $.75 credit stretched itself very thinly. We talked about how so many things are going to take time to sink in, and I won’t realize them until long after I’m home. It’s going to take a lot of adjustment. This is probably very true.

IMG_7906.JPGArrived at the Casablanca airport. Waiting for the train. Time for a selfie

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On the mat: yoga on the road

Oh god, I miss the studio.

I even miss myyogaonline.

Something, anything, with a teacher. For variety, challenge, growth.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve embraced the “home” (aka hotel) practice, ever since I got the trailer, and spent so many months in Calgary, without my Semperviva. I adapted, let go of the classes (though still joined the odd one here or there when I was home), and started building my own practice. It was actually really easy with MYO, because I had so many options for style, length, intensity, etc. (though one could say there might be a little too much choice). As well, I could still practice with some of the same teachers from home (ie. the lovely Cameron Gilley), which helped to give some familiarity and grounding to whatever impersonal space I found myself in.

Sometimes I missed the instant calming effect of the studio; all that energy created by all those mindful yogis has a way of making it so easy to find stillness. But with a teachers’ guidance, the gentle reminders to return to the breath, using MYO it still felt as if I was pretty much getting the real-deal (even if I was still in my pyjamas).

Eventually, though, in this trip, I’ve apparently ventured far enough away from the beaten path to lose a good enough wifi connected to make even the impossibly cheap MYO membership not worth the while. So, I cancelled that, and dove into the world of unguided practice. Just me and the mat*.

And it’s been good, believe it or not. There really is power in sitting down, asking yourself what you need, and allowing yourself to find the answers. The style, the postures, the rhythm; it’s all up to you, and your body will actually tell you if you take the time to listen. And many times, it just comes. Start in with a few rounds of sun salutations, and your body will naturally start flowing towards where it needs to go.

Until you get bored. You’ve gone through your entire library of postures and there’s nothing new left on the shelves.

Which is exactly where I’m at.

I need some inspiration. I wrack my brain trying to remember different poses and sequences I’ve done in class, but I’m so stuck! I can’t comprehend the written explanations when I try to look up different things to try, so I haven’t had anything new to incorporate in what feels like ages, my practice is feeling that stale.

I hope I find some inspiration soon. Or a class that doesn’t blow an entire days’ budget in an hour (I’m looking at you, Accra!).

Until then, I’ll just keep coming back to what I know…

*a note on mats: I have with me the Manduka eKO SuperLite travel mat. I picked it up at the Kits beach Semperviva studio in November 2013 for $45+tax.

It’s a little on the heavy side, relative to other foam-based mats, but it is very grippy, extremely durable, and made from natural, biodegradable, and sustainably-harvested sources.

I met a lady travelling who had a half-moon travel mat, which was much lighter, but not nearly as sticky, so I don’t think I would opt for that one. The Gaiam travel mat looks like it might be worth investigating though, if for some reason I needed to replace the one I have (unlikely, this guy feels built to last!)

My only real complaint (though hardly a complaint at all) would be that because it is so thin and pliable enough to fold up (a definite plus-factor if you’re fitting it inside a suitcase or small bag), it actually does not have enough rigidity to support itself while rolled up. I can’t lean it against the wall, or strap it to the side of my bag on its own, as it just sort of slumps over (and would either unroll or get caught on all sorts of things if left like that).

Related to that, and again, sort of a necessary compromise, is that man, do you really feel the earth (or concrete floor, in many cases) with this mat. It’s barely even there, which is, I guess, the point.

So all in all, I’m pretty happy with my little companion.

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Backpacker turned Hairstylist: Cutting my own hair while travelling

Up until a month or two ago, I was totally rocking a sweet messy/hippy/beachy traveller hair style. But now, the 7 months since my last hair cut have caught up with me, and with all the added sun, sweat, heat, and humidity, I am definitely suffering from the “unruly mop” syndrome described here. The natural volume mentioned is 100% a part of my reality, but it’s in all the wrong ways. So I am starting to seriously consider inflicting my unqualified self upon my locks (read: nest), and am looking for some guidance!

I love this post for the hilarious (and totally resonant), shameless honesty (though I totally resent how good she still looks), but I need more than just a bang trim. I need a serious overhaul, and have no idea where to start. If anybody out there has some experience and suggestions, send them my way!!

much love xo

Hostels and Hot Rollers

After 3.5 months, I came to the point where I could no longer stand the greasy strands, sandy scalp and all around unruly mop I have been sporting on top of my head.

A couple of weeks ago it all came to a head (get it..a head…no pun intended…actually no that is a lie…I thought of that pun way before I even started writing this post)

Anyways, we were back staying in Villas Macondo in Tamarindo, and I knew they had a hair dryer. This meant, for the first time, in a long time, I could check out the status of my bangs and give them a trim.

Now why on earth would I need to trim my bangs when they haven’t seen the light of day for months AND will likely not be seen again for the remainder of the trip?

389585_10151729260228538_2083539611_n See what I’m sayin!

Sanity, pure sanity. As…

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In a tent: Auberge Bab Sahara

I really don’t know what my standards are anymore. Some places I can hardly sleep, I’m so obsessed with the lack of cleanliness. But then I arrived at a campsite in Atar, and instantly loved it.

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Inside my tent at the Auberge Bab Sahara

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My lovely little tent

It’s pretty cool, there seems to be a lot of these “campsites” around, where you can stay in a nomad-style tent thing for fairly cheap. I arrived at this one and crawled in. I’m instantly elated by the presence of clean sheets, a pillowcase, and a blanket. But the lady is apologizing for all the sand and leaves littering the floor, which I had yet to even notice…

So I don’t get it. I guess it’s a different kind of dirty that I’m still making peace with. Like the human kind of dirty, as opposed to the Mother Nature kind of dirty.

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In the loo: the art of squat toilets

This is not a how-to, rather a self-congratulatory pat on the back. Any good yogi will tell you that all bodies are different, so there’s no way I can offer guidance on the personal acrobatics that sometimes must be performed for this feat. But I do feel like I’ve finally graduated into the pro realm.

There’s something extremely satisfying in manuevering myself into an impossibly tiny space, with no light to speak of, knowing only that there’s a hole down there somewhere. I’m wearing both leggings and a skirt, scarf around my neck, and a bag over my shoulder, and manage to find the perfect balance, all without touching the walls, or peeing on my feet.

Awesome.

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Also, I don’t know what is with all the Western toilets without seats on them. It’s actually more difficult to hover over them!