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November 2004
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December 2004

26 hours later. .

I'm back in the states and visiting family.  Only trouble I had coming back home was a 30 minute delay in Frankfurt that caused me to miss my last plane in Chicago.  Welcome to a 4 hour layover in O'hare.  The trip can't be all smooth sailing.  Had a few drinks, grabbed some food, mailed some letters for some friends, and made a few phone calls to family to let them know I'd be arriving late.  Total trip was 26 hours and I was constantly wondering what time it was.  Decided it was time to buy a watch again. 

Going through Frankfurt eariler, I was nailed while carrying a leatherman's tool in my backpack.  Spaced it out while I was packing and forgot I had it with me.  After a not to happy exchange with the German x-ray tech I decided to mail it back to myself.  On the way back from the postal office, I ran across a film crew waiting for someone to arrive off a plane.  I hung around for 10 minutes but no one showed up.  Eventually, I had to leave since my plane was going to start boarding in 15 minutes. After rechecking my bags in Chicago, I stepped outside to get some air.  Man, it felt good.  The temps were mild but you could taste the winter air.  Around 9PM I got on my last plane for the trip to Des Moines.  Several sightings of corn fed people later I was in my rental and blazing a midnight trail to my folks. Now the quest begins on what I want to buy before I head back to the 'toum.

xmas dinner aftermath

We had a great Christmas dinner last night thanks to a couple folks at the townhouses. Everyone came together and helped prepare the dinner for the night. I basically helped setting up the lawn furniture, brought some Xmas music mix CDs and snagged a tree and some decorations. But the turnout was good and everyone had a nice night of xmas music, food and conversation. We borrowed one of my neighbors guitars and a coworker, Ron, provided the after dinner entertainment. The weather turned cold as the last folks stayed to chat. We had to break out the fleece pull overs to keep warm. It was the coldest I'd see since coming here. Guess I'll be getting more of that when I go home next week for a little R&R. Several things to line up and remember to take. Along with several things I'm trying to remember to bring back. I kick myself now for not bringing more juggling stuff.

Explored the streets of Khartoum a bit in the Camery. Laughed when I found a couple resturants that I couldn't find in the dark a few nights ago. One place I was looking for the other night had lost power. So that explained why I couldn't see it from the street and drove right by it. There's a lot to be said for remembering landmarks next to places you go to. But on the bright side I found 2 other places to eat that I had been looking for and its hard to give directions to. One of them is called Delicous and the other is named Little Italy. Both are ok pizza joints but neither put tomatoe sauce on their pies.

Still need to get a few things ready for leaving so gonna run.

cold enough for you?

Growing up in the Midwest, I became use to Iowa winters quickly. Stories were common place regarding wind chill warnings and how long you can have skin exposed to the elements. Winter nights involved warming a car up for 15 minutes to make sure the heater was working at its full capacity before you climbed in. Ice scrapers were always in the way until you needed one. Icy roads caused white knuckle driving. Snow drifts turned country drives into school snow day closings. Sledding, snow ball fights and snowmen were replaced by cleaning driveways, calling tow trucks and jumping batteries as I got older. I think of these things as the outside temp has dropped to its regular evening low of 60 degrees. During the day your lucky if you see a cloud formation in the sky. And the biggest problem at night is whether you've just turned and driven down a street that doesn't have any street lights. In Khartoum, the weather will remain like this until early next year. Around April the tempature will start to get warmer again. Climbing steadily the rest of the summer until the rainy season in August arrives again about the time I'm leaving.

I mention this just to give you an idea of being overseas during the Christmas Holiday. It's hard to remember what time of year it is right now. But I've worked on reminding myself with Xmas Cds and movies. I attended a holiday party thrown by the Chargé tonight. The food was excellent, people's spirits were up and Christmas music played in the background. It was a short break from the daily stress you encounter while working with a foreign govt that's not exactly thrilled with U.S. But you make do. Reminders pop up. I saw xmas trees for sale on a dusty store front the other day. I've been trying to stir interest in getting a caroling group together. Guess that probably wouldn't fly in a mostly Muslim country.

Wishing everyone a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year. Now I gotta go find my tape of A Christmas Story and see if Ralphie gets his BB gun again. I'll leave you with this bit of cheer, It's a Wonderful Life in 30 seconds re-inacted by rabbits.

tutti island

This Saturday our Arabic class was invited to travel to Tutti Island for some hiking and sightseeing. It was a small turn out but a couple of the guys joined me for the morning. Some of the instructors met us near the Blue Nile where we took a boat for a quick ride to the island. The island is cresent shaped and we walked it's length and crossed to the other side. The Blue Nile is divided by the island so it's basically surrounded by the river. When you finally reach the end of the island you can see where the Blue Nile comes together again. A short distance later it meets up with the White Nile. The Blue is very quick compared to the White. But the White is deeper. The two join together north of Khartoum and continue north to the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile is the longest river in the world. It also crosses over Victoria falls, the largest curtain of falling water in the world. While I'm at it, Khartoum is said to mean elephant's trunk.