Monthly Archives: February 2011


Hello friends.  Colleen here from Mombasa, the largest port in East Africa.  I arrived yesterday morning after a 15 hour overnight train ride from Nairobi.  It was pretty amazing to wake up at 6:30 in the morning and look out across Tsavo National Park.  Sadly, I saw no wildlife except for a couple of monkeys and baboons when we got closer to Mombasa.

Mombasa is a heavily Islamic city and I thought it would be more of a culture shock coming from Nairobi but it wasn’t too bad.  The heat here is unbelievable.  It’s been about 90 something with unmatched humidity.  And I don’t see anyone sweating nearly as much as me.  I soaked my shirt through with sweat many times yesterday.  Right now I’m looking at three woman in full black gowns and head wraps and I see no sweat on them.  I must be missing a trick to not sweating.

Any ways, I spent yesterday wandering around Mombasa for a bit.  I got to see the Indian Ocean and stand in the shade of some ancient baobab trees.  The presence of baobab trees in Africa usually means there has been a human settlement there for a long time.  No doubt Mombasa is.  It’s actually an island in the middle of an estuary.  I’m not staying on the island.  I’m staying at  huge villa just a bit north in an area called Nyali.  It’s a 10/- ($.08) ride to the beach from my hostel in a Matatu.  Pretty nice.  Last night a bunch of us went to a “full moon” party on the beach.  I don’t believe it was a full moon last night as it didn’t look nearly as big as the moon did on the train.    It didn’t stop me from enjoying a couple Tuskers, dancing like an idiot by myself on the dace floor and enjoying the evening.  It was very enjoyable.

Today I think I will take it easy and stay close to the hostel.  The blister on my right foot is destroying my life.  Well, it’s not even a blister any more.  It’s more of just an open sore.  It is very painful.  Even more painful when an ant decided to start biting it this morning.  It just keeps oozing.    I may finally have to break down and get some serious first aid going on it to get it back to a state where I can deal with it.

Will probably try to visit some ancient Swahili ruins farther up the coast tomorrow and Tuesday.  Pretty sure I’ve decided to focus only on Nairobi for my research, so I will need to go back there and talk to a few more people before I leave next Monday.

Ok, ttyl my friends!

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Kenyan times

Yes, people.  Hello.  Still alive and well in Kenya.  Actually too alive in Kenya.  My friends here and I just polished off the bottle of Pimm’s I bought at the airport.  I’m not usually a fan of duty free, but when you see a litre bottle of Pimm’s at the Nairobi airport for US $12, you take it.  So yes,  I finished half of it on Sunday with Lucy, another camp mate.  Tomorrow I push off for Mombasa via train so I needed to finish off that bottle.

Things in Nairobi are going very well.  I have made quite a bit of headway in my research.  Well, at least I think so.  I feel confident in what I am pursuing.  There is a need for someone to pick up the torch for urban forestry here in Kenya and it well may end up being me in the long run.  I am ok with that.  There are some possibilities of projects for me to pursue once I finish my master’s in August.  Really, I would love to do so, but there are huge financial and feline considerations to be considered.  Feline considerations probably coming first, which means I don’t want to leave the UK anytime soon.
Any ways,  besides boring research stuff, Nairobi has been good.  Really, I haven’t done much but focus on the research stuff.  The matatus has been a very good and cheap way to get around.  That has been my main form of entertainment.  The camp I am staying at is amazing.  Everyone here has a good story to tell.  Many more Americans here than I figured I would encounter here.

Tonight a few of us went out to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant at the Chinese center around the corner.  It was pretty good evening with good finger food.   The manager/owner/rando guy began to play a stringed instrument and sang for us as we ate.  With the Tusker and good dinner, it was a delightful treat.

I’ve seen lots, but most of it is tree related and involves various trips to office buildings around Nairobi.  I haven’t gone out at night as it is not wise to travel at night by yourself, so I just stay here at the camp.   That’s it.  I will update in Mombasa which is the big city on the coast of Kenya.  I hear it’s much different.  The change in pace may be good.  I look forward to seeing some ocean coupled with warm weather.  Woot.

Ok, kids.  TTYL

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Green city in the Sun

Yes, you all know by now I have successfully navigated all airports to arrive in Nairobi safely last night.  I actually could have missed my first flight as I spent the night sleeping in the Manchester airport.  I finally fell asleep around 1:30 or 2 and I had to get up just after 4.  My decision to set the alarm on my clock was cluch because I was well asleep when it went off.

I got into the hostel about 24 hours ago.  I had a good night’s sleep.  The breakfast of eggs toast and tea on the outside patio was very good.  Nothing made me happier than to be sweating in the sun for nice change in atmosphere.  There was also some lovely people I got to chat to while having breakfast as well.

I decided to test out my vibrams on the streets of Nairobi as they seemed the most logical.  They would have been brilliant except I haven’t worn them in a few months and my feet were not happy about it.  The walk into town from the hostel was 3km and by the time I got into town my feet were on fire.  Pretty sure I could have cooked my feet for lunch if I wanted to with the heat coming off the pavement.  It was about 90 degrees and I was not used to that anymore.  My main goal today was to orientate myself with the city and go to the Nairobi National Museum.  I walked to the museum, which was farther out of the city center than I realized.  Having sweated out about a gallon of water, I took a break in the cafe for a bit.  The museum was really interesting and nice and clean.  Plus there was a pleasant little botanic garden as well.

After all this, I hopped in a taxi and went back to the hostel.  The last few days of traveling and getting ready to go had kicked my butt.  Plus my feet could stand no more.  My plan for the afternoon was to read and do a little bit of work for school, but all of that went out the window when I saw the Man U v. Man City game about to start on the tv at the hostel.  The tv “room” is a hut in the middle of the garden at the hostel with lovely day beds and a little pond just next to it.  It’s very nice.   It soon turned into a full day of matches, beer and lots of football talk with a bunch of English kiddies who are staying here.  If  I wasn’t surrounded by tropical plants and the turtles weren’t doing it right outside of the hut, I would have said I was in England.

Tomorrow I hope to spend a bit more time in town and figure out a plan of action for the week.  I’ve spotted a few more groups I would like to contact this week, so that’s good.  That’s all I’ve got for now.  Will try to keep you all updated on my travels and adventures as I go.  Cheers.

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To the Dark Continent

Off to Kenya I go this Friday.  It has just occurred to me that I should be seriously packing instead of writing this blog and conversing to people via facebook posts.  No bother I guess.  I don’t need to get up at any specific time tomorrow.
Ok, so I am going to Nairobi and Mombasa for my research.  #1 and #2 biggest cities in Kenya.  It’s disheartening to only be going to those two places , but I think this will allow me to explore the areas surrounding the two cities in depth and get a better sense of what challenges they face environmentally.
Primarily I’ll be looking to interview some people, look at tree project sites and do some networking.  The networking will be important in another month or two when I produce my questionnaire.  More good terms with people = better chance they’ll fill out questionnaire.  Let’s hope for the best.
I am pretty chuffed to be going to Africa.  Especially Kenya, a country which has stuck out in my head since 1st grade social studies.  Now here I am.   Actually I’m excited to be going anywhere outside of the United States and the UK.  After thinking about it the other day, I realized I haven’t been out of those two countries since 2004.   Well, that’s disregarding the 3 or 4 hours I spent driving through part of Canada when I was trying to cut across from Michigan to Maine on one of my trips back in 2004 or 2005.  The speed limit signs in kilometers weirded me out and I wanted to be back in America.  So yes, it will be nice to see a new country for the first time in a long while.  And another continent to boot.
Besides collecting data,  I hope to get some relaxation time in as well.  Shoot, I’ll be staying just a few blocks from the beach in Mombasa, so I’ll be sure to get a bit of Indian Ocean time in.  I’m also bringing a stack of books with me to read and enjoy.  My plan is to leave them there as an offering to the travel Gods to grant me a safe and wonderful time there .  Should be a remarkable 2 1/2 weeks for me.
I’ll try to get some blog updates in while there, so look forward to that.   That’s all for now.  Best get on with the packing now.  TTYL.
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New Site Design

It’s a little late to mention this, but hey, I changed the site around a bit.  I thought the other theme was really good, but since I can’t edit the color or set up of anything,  I needed to change it.  I was thinking of you, my loyal fan base.  The font was a little bit too obnoxiously green and hard on the eyes.  And I don’t even have to read it that way normally.  I get a nice easy black and white theme when I’m reading and writing my blog as an admin.  So this new set up should be a little bit easier on your eyes, although I’m not as fond of it.  Grass isn’t really my thing anymore, but at least it’s green.

Also I changed the name.  Yes, I’m stating the obvious here.  Thank you.  Colleen’s rants and rambles, although direct and succinct, lacked some imagination.  I needed something a little more idyllic.  After some clever use of my computer’s thesaurus, I came up with Woolgathering.  I’m quite fond of it at the moment.   There’s something quite serene about woolgathering.

That’s all.  Let me know what  you think.   Cheers kids.

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My thoughts lean to the left I guess.

I do like my blog.  It’s fun to share my thoughts and experiences with all 4 of you that read my blog on a regular basis.  If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t have been doing it for the last 15ish years. Woah, 15 years.  Yikes, I’m getting old.  But as fun as blogging is, my favorite writing form is journaling.  And tonight I just finished filling my fifth journal.  No, I will not refer to it as a diary.  A diary sounds as though I’m either 13 writing about a boy I’m crushing on or that I am scheduling an appointment with someone.  It’s a journal, ok?

I love the process of writing a journal entry.  It is healing.  It is relaxing.  It’s the only place most of the time where I can somehow articulate what’s going on in my head.  Although It’s not doing much good since the only person who is reading my journal is myself (I hope).  But it’s a good process for me.  I can feel it in my bones when I haven’t written in my journal in a while.  I get a bit fussy.  My spring gets wound a bit too tight.  Somehow a book of blank paper and a pen makes it all better for me.

So  5 journals in 11 years.  My first written journal entry dates Monday the 10th of April 2000.  I was a Senior in high school.   Height of the tennis season.  And in true Colleen fashion, I was writing in my journal when I had other, more pressing writing to be completed.  I had a paper entitled “Mark Twain and Society” due on that Thursday.   That sounds like a craic of a read.  Wish I could get a copy of that paper.  Most of the first entry is filled about tennis meets, homework and how I’m done with boys at LC.   I say that I will undoubtably find the love of my life at ASU. Yes, that seems to have worked out nicely, hasn’t it?

It’s always entertaining to go back and read journal entries.  There are definite periods and moods throughout.  Some are sad and depressing to read.  And I feel bad for my younger self.  It’s hard to remember feeling like I did.  But then there are some entries I wish I could time travel and go back to because they were so much fucking fun.

My hand written account of personal evolution continues.  I bought my 6th journal today.  I look forward to filling it in the next couple years.

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