Thursday, December 25, 2008

2008 recap/ 2009 resolutions

I've been thinking about the past year - what was good, what was bad, what was joyful, what was sorrowful, and although a lot has happened, I think I have a pretty good handle on how to take things in stride to carry on into 2009. Here is a recap of my year:

January 2008: New Years in DC and Katina & Renzo's wedding in Santiago, Chile! Had a fabulous time but the election violence in Kenya (and the fact that I couldn't get ahold of Simba) were looming. Ended up staying in the US an extra week because flying through Nairobi wasn't deemed completely stable yet, and routing through Ethiopia on my way back to Juba.

February: Went to Zambia for a technical conference on HIV Counseling and Testing, and ended up in the hospital for 3 days with Enterocolitis (bacterial infection in my large intestine) Moved out of my organization's guesthouse (which I shared with my boss and another roomate), and into a house with a new roomate. House was not quite finished, and on the dusty main road, so started my twice-daily sweeping battle with the dust.

March: Started out with a R&R to Pemba, Mozambique with Simba. Lovely, lovely place - motorcycle rides, warm beaches, home-cooked fish, cheap beer, speaking Portuguese - and the trip solidified our relationship. We were a couple before we left, but when we came back we became inseparable. Found out that while I was gone, there was an "alleged" security incident at the house, and therefore I was no longer allowed to live there. Moved into a hotel next to my office while another house was sorted out. Get sick with a stomach bug (3rd time in 6 months). Things REALLY started rolling with my programs at work, massive hiring, trainings, coordination, and fundraising.

April: Had a joint birthday party at Bedouin Bar with a fellow Juba-ite, and it was hailed as one of the best Juba has ever seen - the place was PACKED with hundreds of people, the music was fantastic, and I danced the night away in my Kikoy and Mets t-shirt. Took a boat trip on the Nile with a bunch of friends and a pet monkey, and one of my friends even managed to send me a homemade cake!

May: There started to be a string of armed robberies in Juba, targeting agency compounds. 2 days before I was supposed to move in to my new house, there were 2 attempted robberies on the same block. As a result I was no longer allowed to live in the area because of security concerns. I checked out of the hotel and into a tent at Acacia village, a camp site 9 km from the town center. Longer drive, but it was quiet, and I know I could be there long term until whatever "permanent housing solution" was decided for all the expats working with my organization. Moving 5 times in 8 months was just too much. Climbed up Jebel Kujur for the first time (with a view of the whole county) and celebrated at the top with wine and cheese. It was Gorgeous. Got sick - again. Had a fever of 104 and had to be hooked up to an IV overnight in a clinic. They never really found out what it was - malaria and typhoid tests came back negative, but the antibiotic and malaria treatment helped whatever it was. Go to Nairobi to go to the dentist and also go camping on Lake Naivasha with Simba.

June: The rest of my family came to Africa for the first first time. We met up in Tanzania and went on a very posh safari in the Serengeti and Zanzibar. Amazing time! Super Frenchie and JC come to Juba to work with us, and I am THRILLED to have some more good friends out here. Two more partners in crime in Juba. Adopted a kitten, who promptly divorced me. Boo. :(

July: Remaining tents are finished at Acacia, and the place fills up quickly. Rather than just 3 or 4 of us, there are suddenly 10. More people to kick back with in the evenings, and I feel I have a good, solid, non-judgmental support group at home. Stress at work kicks in at high gear. Targets aren't being met, even with our best efforts, and everyone is feeling the pressure. Nuroticism begins to set in. Am afflicted with Nairobi Eye - the beetle that leaves toxic "acid" behind when squished. This little bugger decides to do so on my face. Takes 10 days to heal.

August: Visit Beatrice and Keir in the UK! Went to London, Stonehenge, Exeter, Cornwall, and had so much Cream Tea that it made me sick. But in a good way :) Simba gets really sick. Turns out it is Hepatitis A and Malaria. He stays at home for 5 weeks.

September: Quiet month. Had a spectacular trip to Mundri. Spectacular as in very very muddy. My colleague delivered her first baby, Patience Samuel. She is very tiny, but beautiful!

October: My friend Jason passed away after a long battle with brain cancer. Heartbreaking but he was still fighting up until the very end. Juba County Commissioner issues an official order banning "Niggerly" behavior in Juba. Women are rounded up and arrested for wearing pants. Working overtime on communications materials, which just refused to go smoothly. Spent a lovely day at an island on the Nile with a bbq, playing cricket and some weird tag game involving a ball and running around. Moved out of the tent and into my brand new pad - air conditioning, hot water, woo hoo!!! Went to Nairobi for a conference and to the border with Uganda and Kenya for a work exchange trip. Got Malaria. Was treated. Got better.

November: Go on R&R on the south coast of Mombasa with Simba. Had an absolutely fabulous time. Had incident on the road with my colleague in which assault and broken headlights and money were involved. Ugh. Things at work were insane. Worked 7 days a week for 4 straight weeks and I was a nervous wreck.

December: World AIDS Day! Went wonderfully, it was a big success. Things went really well at work - we had an all-staff planning meeting, a marketing planning process workshop, and the programs met virtually all of their targets. Ended up the year in Paradise well.

And my resolutions for 2009? Relax more. Try to not take things at work personally (as in do not base my worth as a person on how things go at work) so I am not so manic with my moods based on work. Smile more. Drink less. Instead of stopping to smell the roses, stop to remember what roses smell like (there are no roses in Juba). Any resolutions beyond that would be putting too much pressure on myself. I do that enough as it is :)

Here's to a happy and healthy 2009!


No comments: