Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Arntz-Grays are going to Turkey and Ghana...

It looks like it's time to revive this blog, and perhaps time for a name change, since we're going to Ghana!  While Regan is in Turkey studying next semeseter, Jules and I will be heading to Accra with Uniterra again.  I will be working with Child's Rights International and Jules will be working with the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition.

We'll be leaving in September, but there's a lot to do between then and now...predeparture training, packing, organizing etc.

We'll keep you posted...we're so excited to be heading overseas again!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I have been trying to post something new about our trip and am not even sure where I left off, but internet is expensive in the hotel and during the day we are too busy soaking up the sights of London to stop at a cheaper cafe!
Anyways, to sum up quickly, we are on our last day here in London. We have really enjoyed the stopover here and have really tried to make the most of our five days.
We went to Kensington Gardens, Buckingham Palace, have taken the Jack the Ripper tour, stopped in numerous historic pubs and also eaten a fair amount of curry.
We rented a car on Monday and drove to Stonehenge (though it was FREEZING and rainy) and Bath (though we arrived just after the Roman baths closed). It was a good day for the car as we didn't really bring winter appropriate clothing with us!
Anyways, tomorrow we will be up at 5:30 am on the tube for the last leg of our journey home!!! We are excited to see everyone in Canada and can't wait until our arrival at 12:20pm tomorrow.
See you soon!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Now in London...

But before that, let me bring you up to date on the rest of our trip!
On Feb 1 we journeyed to Vilanculos - the journey wasn't the smoothest and involved a half an hour on the back of a pick up, then a 20 minute 'ferry' ride on a diesel glugging old boat loaded up like a minibus...once we arrived in Maxixe, we boarded the slowest Chapa (minibus in Moz) in the world and the four hour trip ended up taking six hours.
We arranged snorkelling the next day, trying for a speedboad but ending up travelling to the reef by dhow. The company was good and the snorkelling was amazing. We also stopped at a huge sand dune that we climbed up - pictures are cool.
The next day we boarded a bus straight to Maputo (yay) as I wanted to celebrate my birthday there - it was a bit of a trying day though as the bus was over ten hours and had a small cockroach problem!
We remaned Feb 4 as my birthday and I was treated to a lovely breakfast and we went to a fancy restaurant for dinner. We really enjoy Maputos vibe but were unfortunately not able to find a great club to go to.
Friday, we travelled to London where we are cozied up in a little hotel...spent yesteday walking around and plan the same for is COLD!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Whale Sharks

So yesterday we went hunting the elusive whale shark. Mozambique is quite unique to be hosting (i think) the only permanent resident whale shark population. The marine biologist said there are only about 1300 identified whale sharks in the world.
Anyways, it was a great day for it - sunny and clear and the ocean was relatively calm (though the sight of the large swells on a small craft made me wonder what it is like when it isn't!). The boat was refreshingly modern (especially compared to what we took for the dolphin tour in Tanzania).
We found and swam with two whale was pretty amazing (admittedly I only went in the first time).
We are now heading tomorrow to Vilanculos...then back to Maputo for my birthday!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Arntz-Grays have left Malawi...

Well, it has been a while and this will be a short post (sorry!) as internet is crazy expensive here in Tofo, Mozambique.
We left Malawi tearfully on Sunday January 25th. The last three weeks were a blur that I will hopefully capture better a bit later and featured a fabulous goodbye party hosted by Heather, Patrick and Ellene as well as send-offs from CADECOM and FUM on the last Friday in Malawi. Saturday was a blur of visiting and being visited and endless re-packing.

Although we have left Malawi, we will be travelling for a few weeks before arriving in Canada. First we are spending a couple weeks in Mozambique, which has proved amazing so far - Maputo was loads of fun and we are now in Tofo soaking up the sun on the beach - we will be in the water tomorrow looking for whale sharks...wish us luck. After Mozambique we will be stopping over in London for a few days as we have never been there, then will be arriving back home on Feb 12th!!!

See you soon!!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Brian Cardy

I wanted to post my sincere condolences to the Cardys at this time.
Brian was a tremendous person and will be sorely missed by all of his friends and colleagues.

Being so far away from many of my friends and colleagues during this time is very difficult.
I am surrounded by many friends, but none who knew Brian and can share in stories and grieving.

Brian hired me when I was a lowly 16 with a half finished degree. He was willing to give me a chance and saw potential in me when I was perhaps not the strongest candidate on paper. That belief in me continued throughout my career in the Rural Investments Branch and deeply influenced my performance.

Through the chances and opportunities Brian offered, I grew as an employee and a person. He always supported me in my educational, career and personal goals. He was one of the first people to congratulate me when I was offered this opportunity to come to Africa, even though I would be leaving him. He has been such a supporter of Rural Development for so long, it never occurred to me that I could possibly come back to a workplace that did not include him.

Brian, you will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with your family.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Trip to Zanzibar! (finally)

So sorry to keep you waiting so long – I have been wanting really badly to get a blog off about our trip, but since we got back it has been a bit of a whirlwind!
Jules and I both submitted concept papers for an EU call for proposal and were both shortlisted to submit full proposals (with a 50 – 60% chance of full funding). Unfortunately due to the legal status of CADECOM, we were subsequently dis-invited, saving me a lot of work, but unfortunately missing the opportunity for funding. Add ImageJules, however, did get to do his whole proposal, and it took pretty much all of our time to try and finish it for the deadline of 4:30 yesterday (I drove him to hand it in at 4:25 and took him directly out for beer afterwards). CONGRATULATIONS JULES!
So, back to our trip; on December 19, backpacks on, we left our house in Lilongwe and boarded the (bathroomless!) bus to Tanzania. The bus was pretty rough, I’m not gonna lie. It was incredibly bumpy (we had chosen seats in the back so all three of us could sit together – NEVER again!), my seat kept falling apart, we had an inexplicable 2 ½ hour wait at the border and it was way slower than expected. We pulled into a city at 10pm (the time people told me the bus would arrive in Dar despite being scheduled to arrive at 7pm) and grabbed all our stuff, only to have the guy beside us explain that we were in Morogoro, 200km and 3 hours away from Dar…I almost cried. Actually, I did well up. Anyways, at 1am (Dec. 21 by that point) we finally hopped of the bus and into a taxi to our hotel. Our stay was brief as we wanted to get to Stone Town on Zanzibar Island as early as possible, so we ate breakfast at 8 and headed down to the Ferry terminal.
At the Ferry terminal, we were overcome by touts trying to sell tickets – haven’t seen anything that bad since Egypt. Apparently they are also really bad in Arusha. The 1 ½ hour ferry took just over two hours – it was pretty rocky and I was a little uncomfortable as the cabin was sealed in and I felt some of my flight anxiety surfacing…then Regan felt a bit seasick, so we headed to the outside front deck and both of us felt immediately better.
Arriving in Stone Town, again accompanied by several touts, we made our way to Bandari Lodge, where we planned to spend the next three nights. Bandari was nice, the staff were good and there was even a TV with DSTV (shared) on the top floor! Stone town is really nice – narrow little alleys you can wander around in for hours/days. We did a lot of wandering and eventually ended up at the night fish market, where Jules ate spiced lobster on a stick and I had calamari. Regan had Zanzibari pizza, which would become our Stone Town staple from that point forward. Zanzibari pizza is a piece of dough, in which veggies are placed and then an egg is mixed in, along with a bit of mayo and cheese. The whole concoction is then fried. It is like an omelette with bread wrapped around it and it totally delicious (and at about $1.20, VERY affordable).

The next day, we did exactly that – wandered around, drank spiced coffee (delicious!) and met our friend Vi, who we hung out with on and off (our travel plans were slightly different but there were lots of places we crossed paths) for the rest of the trip. The next day we went on a spice tour and saw vanilla beans (and bought some – yum!), pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, and more.
After Stone Town, we headed to Jambiani for Christmas. Jambiani is on the east coast of Zanzibar, about a 1 ½ hour dalla dalla (the Zanzibar equivalent of the minibus) ride away. We arrived at Blue Oyster and our room looked gorgeous for Christmas eve. Swimming is only possible at high tide and isn’t the best, honestly – very seaweedy and a bit mushy on the ground, but the water is beautiful and the breeze comes off the Indian Ocean, so it is an amazing spot for beach reading and strolls.

Our hotel hosted a BBQ on Christmas eve and although it wasn’t exactly ‘Christmassy’, it was pretty magical. There were fires started in holes dug into the beach (so they didn’t blow out in the breeze), seafood on the BBQ as well as potatoes with garlic sour cream. The hotel had invited local villagers to come and sing and dance…tons of children from the village came and they were so excited! It really was an amazing night. After the BBQ, we headed back to our room for the traditional opening of the Christmas eve pyjamas. Regan was surprised to find custom made pyjamas made from Bingu chitenge fabric (Bingu is the current president and whenever he makes an appearance, women dressed in chitenges with his face all over them come out and dance for him).
While in Jambiani, we took a dolphin tour. In retrospect, the tour wasn’t really the most ecologically friendly so we feel a little bad about taking it. We went out into the ocean in a small motor boat to find the dolphins. We joined about four other boats in hot pursuit of a few pods of dolphins, with our captain yelling at us to get out of the boat when we got close (so we could swim with them). If we missed them or they turned unexpectedly, the captain would yell get back in, back in! Then Go! Go! Go! as soon as we were near the dolphins again…hardly relaxing and magical. But it was neat to swim with the dolphins. By the end there were about 9 boats all driving around (Regan got knocked by one and our boat hit another swimmer. We called it quits and headed back to the beach.

After Jambiani, we went back to Stone Town for one night before heading to Nungwi for New Years.
When we arrived in Nungwi, unfortunately our hotel had lost our reservation, but luckily a guy from the dalla dalla took us to a new place (in fact, the place wasn’t finished yet but they told us the beds would be finished by the evening) where we were able to secure a room. The beach was GORGEOUS (especially after we the poor swimming in Jambiani). We met up with a few more friends from Lilongwe and went for drinks at the beach bar that night. The next day we wandered down to Kendwa to hang out with Vi – the beach is just as gorgeous, but also WAY bigger than Nungwi. Great beach day!
(Jules, our friend Christine from Blantyre and Regan on the way to Kendwa)

On New Years eve, unfortunately I ate some bad fish at lunch and was sick. However, everyone else had a great time – we attended a big party at Kendwa Rocks (where Vi was staying). There were tons of people (and by this time we had met up with MORE people from Lilongwe as Patrick and Ellene had arrived) and it was a great party – there were pretty amazing fireworks at midnight also.
January 1 found us back on the ferry (which was fine for me, but a bit rough for all the other people around who had been drinking on New Years eve) back to Dar Es Salaam. We found a Thai restaurant (no Thai food in Lilongwe) so that was pretty exciting, and then we went to an Irish pub. It wasn’t all that Irish-y, but it was a pub and it was on the water so we really enjoyed it.
Rather than taking the bus back, Patrick and Ellene kindly offered to drive us back. Initially we were a bit worried that the back of their Rav4 mini (meant for 2 people) would be uncomfortable, but after the bus experience, we were pretty sure that ANYTHING would be better. And it was. We were squished together, but the bumps were DEFINITELY more comfortable and it was nice to stop where and when we wanted to. We made it all the way to Mbeya (about 2 hours from the Malawi border) on the first day, then back to Lilongwe by 8pm on the second day.
We were exhausted, but also exhilarated by such a great trip. I can’t believe we will be on the road again in two more weeks!