KENYA: stuck in the middle of nowhere

Jambo!

As I am writing this, the rain is pouring. Finally, because the land is so dry here. It suppose to be rain season at the moment in Kenya, but the climate change keeps the rain away.

Two days ago Lara and I arrived in the small Masai village where we are going to do our research. Remember that I wrote about the culture shock I had in Nairobi? Well, that was nothing compared with what I felt when I arrived here. The village, Nkoilale, is nothing more that a primary school and a few shops. There are no ‘Western’ toilets and no showers, just a bucket. Everyone speaks English here, which is comforting, and the people are so friendly. They are so educated here and have so much ambition. But to suddenly end up in a place that has literally nothing, is rather shocking and hard to process. I could tell you that I absolutely love it here at the moment, and that I never want to leave. But I don’t. I do think it is absolutely fasinating here and the Masai culture is amazing. And Lara and I are lucky, we stay in the most fancy house there is here in this small village. But it is hard to adapt to the ‘back to basics’.

Next week we will start with our research, which is about a possible Vocational Training Centre in Nkoilale. We will conduct data about the needs the people here have when it comes to education concerning skills. I am excited to start the research and I will keep my blog updated as much as possible!

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KENYA: a whole new world

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Ironic, ‘city under the sun’ but only clouds today…

So many firsts in only 24 hours. First solo flight, first time in the Middle East, first time in Africa, first time that I crossed the equator…

Did you know that on ships, it is a big deal the first time you cross the equator? In the Navy, it is called the Crossing the Line Ceremony (Neptunus ritueel in Dutch) apparently. The evening before I left, my uncle told me about it.

The moment I stept out of the plane in Nairobi, I did not know if I should be worried or excited or both. So many feels. I have to say, of what I have seen, Kenya is beautiful and the people are really nice. But the streets of Nairobi are chaos, I have never seen anything like it. Most people are driving like maniacs and other are just casually walking through all the car madness. Next to that, roads are not fantastic and buildings around it are sometimes at breaking point. But I also see the development of Kenya: smartphones everywhere and giant banners everywhere (even from Pretty Little Liars, that was so surprising) from brands and other things most of the people cannot even affort. It is such a contrast, I might be a little culture-shocked.

I met up with Lara in the hotel we are staying (you can see the rooftop of the hotel on the picture above; look at that view!). She already made a lot of friends here in the past view days, and already introduced me to a Ugandan gir

Maybe I should get some rest now, because I have been up for a solid 30 hours now and I am so sleepy. Tomorrow the journey continues, to the Masai tribes in the South of Kenya….

BELGIUM: chocolate and waffle paradise

Who does not love Belgian chocolate? A warm waffle? The real Flemish fries? I know I do love me some Belgian foods.

So this Autumn break, my friends and I decided to pay a visit to Antwerp, Belgium. Antwerp is rather close to the Netherlands, it might as well be a part of it. When you cross the border, it is only a train ride of 20 minutes before you arrive at the most beautiful station I have ever seen. People often say that Central Station in New York City is the most beautiful one, but I seriously doubt that now.

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As usual, we booked an apartment via AirBnb. We stayed in the middle of the historic centre, one street away from the Groenplaats square and almost across the Hilton hotel.

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My friends and I did not want to do to much, so we basically only strolled through the streets and enjoyed the historic buildings and the many, many restaurants. We were all so surprised how much restaurants, cafes and bars there were in our neighborhood. And not just Belgian food either. No, no. I think I have never seen so much Italian restaurants next to each other in my life. It almost looked like Little Italy. I am pretty sure from every cuisine in the world, Antwerp had a restaurant. We stayed above a Croatian restaurant, across the street there was a Greek one and so on. The diversity was great, but it almost seemed like Antwerp had a cultural identity crisis. And damn, it was hard to pick were to eat with so many choices.

The first night we eat at Amadeus, which I can definitely recommend. Not because of the food, because although I like spareribs (that is their specialty and they have other than that a very limiting menu), they weren’t exceptionally good. But the atmosphere they created was a-maz-ing. Never seen a restaurant like this, it was almost as if we got taken back in time. The walls were all covert with books. Thousands of books, everywhere you looked. It had a very authentic feel to it.

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Another must see is the Antwerp Zoo. Unfortunately we visited the Zoo when it was under construction, which was a shame. But what I could see of it, was great. They had lots of animals and especially ones that other Zoo’s I have visited did not have. I still find it sad how small the cages of the animals are though, but I have that problem with every Zoo. Now you might ask: if you find it so sad, why do you visit a Zoo? You will only support this concept! That is true, but I do feel like we can learn a lot from animal behavior and it interests me a lot. I guess it is a bit double. Anyways, here are some pictures of the Zoo.

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ITALY: the floating city

City of bridges, city of water, Queen of the Adriatic Sea, La Dominante, La Serenissima and Venezia. All names for one city: Venice.

This summer, I finally got to visit this extraordinary city in Italy. 117 small islands, separated by water but connected by bridges. It was on my bucket list and I am so glad I have crossed this one of my list. Venice is definitely a special one, different that any other city I have ever visited. My family and I only stayed in Venice for one night, but we got to see plenty. We stayed in a hotel a few miles from the city centre, in a district called Mestre. I recommend booking a hotel there, since staying in the city centre is rather expensive. Within 15 minutes you are in the centre of Venice from Mestre and I found the bus ride there so interesting. This because when you drive toward the centre, you see really well how Venice is located: on water. You really get the nickname ‘floating city’ when you arrive.

Since we only were in Venice for a day, we did not plan much. We just wanted to see the highlights and feel the atmosphere. Walking around and getting lost in the small streets will give you a great taste of the city. There are people everywhere. And not just people: tourists. I think about 70 percent of the people strolling on the streets are not even Italian, let alone Venetians. This made me feel like I was in Disney Land or some other amusement park. It was as if no one actually lives in Venice. I’ve never had this in when on a city trip and it was a strange feeling. Don’t get me wrong, people live in Venice. In fact, 60.000 people live in the historic centre along according to Wikipedia. So with this fact in mind, it was rather weird that the locals seems to be hiding. Which now that I think about it, I would do too with that much asian tourists in group of 50.

Venice has some beautiful historic landmarks, such as the San Marco square and the many, many, many bridges. I can tell you all I want about the gorgeous monuments of Venice, but seeing it would be better I’m sure. So here are some pictures I took.
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Overall, Venice is worth visiting. But for some reason, I have a feeling that Venice would bore me after a few days. One day was enough to get an idea of the city and see the main landmarks. I’m sure there are also some nice museums to visit and it is a great shopping-location as far as I could see. Maybe I will go back some day, to explore some more and maybe find some locals…

All images in this post are made and owned by me. 

THOUGHTS: the night is dark and full of terrors

‘As long as you don’t go out at night, you’ll be safe’ ‘It is dangerous to walk the streets after it gets dark’ ‘Stay in after the sun sets and it’ll be fine’

All sentences I’ve heard regarding my upcoming trips abroad. The first destination in Kenya, after Cape Town the most dangerous capital of Africa. This says enough about its safety and since I’m also a ‘mzungu’ (white person), it is not wise to walk the streets in the dark and maybe not even when its light in some neighborhoods. After Kenya, I will spend a school semester abroad in Palermo, Italy. Now you might think ‘Italy, well this is a western country, so this must be a safe place to go’. Well, think again. Apparently, Palermo is quite rough around the edges and getting robbed is as normal there as getting Italian gelato. When mentioning the semester abroad to a local girl there, she told the other students going there and me to at least search for an apartment in the city centre. ‘You cannot go to the campus dorms that are located a few miles outside the city after dark, it is too risky’ she said. The Italian mafia is still going strong in Sicily and while as a normal citizen you won’t notice much, it is giving me a weird, unsafe feeling nonetheless.

When I was walking home from my parents house to the train to get to my place, it occurred to me how underrated safety is in the Netherlands. Sure, you are never safe. Any place you go, whether it is a small town in the Netherlands or New York City, bad things happen and the wrong people walk the streets. And with the current events, terrible things happen close to home. But here, in my home town, no one even thinks about not going out because of the dark.

I guess this post does not have an actual story, punchline or moral message. Maybe just some food for thought: do we take safety for granted in places such as the Netherlands? Or is no place really safe?