Jul 30, 2013

Day 11 - Northrise / Cable Company

I can't believe we just completed our last day here at Northrise. This has been an incredible experience. 

The Northrise students are really what made all the difference for us. They were so kind and open about their lives here, and curious about the states as well. We have developed friendships that will hopefully last for a long time. 

Today was our final class day and we covered value stream mapping. Where you follow a product through its manufacturing process and determine what actions are necessary to enhance the product, and what areas might be possible elimination candidates. 

After lunch we left for our final plant tour to a cable manufacturing company. I think this was probably my favorite tour to-date. This was really the first time where you got to see the product in various stages, and there was a lot of visibility into the flow of the product. We got to see the copper that was purchased from the mines (we saw a copper mine last week, so it was need to see the next step), and how it was melted down and turned into wires. The initial wire is quite large, and is taken through a process to compact the copper to make it smaller. From there were followed the copper as it was stretched to various sizes going as small as .5 mm. The wires where then twisted together to form the interior wiring. The twisted wire is then coated and wrapped with a layer of steel wire for additional protection. That steel wire is then coated with the final layer of rubber for protection. This particular wire was quite heavy, so I now have a new respect for power lines/poles and the weight they are holding up. 

After this final tour we went with a few of the Northrise students to dinner. It has been great to get to know these students, and I hope that this will not be the last time we see each other! 

Tomorrow we are meeting to go to the bus station at 5:00. We will drive from Ndola (on the northern border of Zambia) to Lusaka (I think around the middle of the country, but closer to the south) where we will have an hour break or so before catching another bus from Lusaka to Livingstone (on the southern boarder of Zambia). We will be going in to Zimbabwe and Botswana on our safari, so it should be a great time! 

Thanks for reading!


Jul 29, 2013

Day 10 - Northrise/Water Treatment Plant

Today was another class day for us. 

After my 6 am "wake-up call" (aka, the sun), I laid in bed for a while before making myself get up. My group had the meeting with our project company this morning. We had scheduled our meeting for 9:00 am during our visit last week. I think I had my first real experience with the more laid back schedule here in Africa, because our meeting ended up not beginning until 10:00. It was a productive meeting and we were able to come up with a project that we should be able to complete in our remaining 10 weeks.

After the meeting, we got back to the University and were able to work together for a little while before lunch. Lunch was the typical fare of nshema, meat, veggies, and rice. I have really enjoyed nshema, but think I am hitting my limit by eating it every day. 

This afternoon we drove out to one of the water treatment plants. This drive took us through a neighborhood, though I do not know if that would be the appropriate term, maybe community is better.  Where we got to see real poverty, though it was not as bad as a village, so I am told. There were tiny homes built of what seemed to be cinderblocks and clay. Many of them did not have doors, but a few had a cloth draped in the door way. These houses could not have been much bigger than my living room at home and according to one of the students, would house up to 10 people.  I got a short video of the drive, so I will try to post it on here some time. There were what seemed like hundreds of these tiny homes together in this neighborhood. May with patched roofs, or plastic for a roof. Also during this trip, my definition of a dirt road has been entirely redefined.  It is a rather odd sensation to be in a bus while it is driving at a 60 degree angle off the side of the road. 

The water treatment facility was an interesting experience. It was neat to see the process and hear how they clean up the water from their river before distributing it to the community. The treatment facility felt as though it was out in the middle of nowhere, with bush all around. A fire had been started in the bush, and it seemed to be pretty close to the plant. You could hear the fire crackling. It was rather nerve wracking, but apparently fires like that one are not a problem here. Typically they are set on purpose and controlled, but even if they are not intentional, they do not turn into wildfires like we experience in the states. 

Our instructors, and now the two guys, are staying in the apartment at Northrise (the guys moved over there on Saturday). The apartment has been great because it gives us a place to relax and spend time together. It has other benefits like a kitchen and a washer/dryer. We have had a Chinese stir fry, the other girl on the trip, and my roommate, An, is Chinese, and boy was that an awesome meal! We also made Frito Pies (a large group stayed at the apt a few weeks ago and left huge cans of chili and cheese so we wanted to help get rid of some of that food) it actually turned out to be a pretty good Frito Pie. 

Tomorrow is our last class day. It is rather bitter sweet feeling. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Ndola. 

Until tomorrow!


Day 9 - Ndola/Rest!!!

Today was lazy for us. Which is good because I did not realize how tired I was!

We went to Ndola Baptist Church again this morning. It was a good service, and I enjoyed worshiping with the church family here. 

After church we went to the mall  and grabbed some lunch. We went to a place called Mint, and it was fantastic! We were all really tired today and I ended up napping from 2:30 or so to 5:30

Tomorrow my group meets with our project company, Fatmols. 


Jul 27, 2013

Day 8 - Northrise/Ndola

Man. It was another awesome day. 

We had class this morning and continued discussing logic structures, in particular negative branch trees. We also had a few minutes to discuss our projects with our groups in preparation for our meetings next week. 

Dr. Gray gave us the afternoon off, so 2 of the Northrise students, Gift and Brian, showed us around Ndola. They took us to 2 slave trees, where the slave drivers would allow the slaves to sit and rest. That was an extremely difficult experience. I have always been proud to be an american, but today was the first time I was rather ashamed of my nationality. The students who were with us had intentionally taken us to the trees and wanted to get pictures with us there. I think the pictures were a good reminder that though we have cause pain, there is healing and forgiveness. We were able to put our arms around each other  and smile while standing in front of a reminder of our painful past.  The two trees are named Mupapa and Chichele, the students told us that they are the equivalent of our Statue of Liberty. 

After the trees, we ended up going to the memorial for Dag Hammarskjold (pronounced here - Hammer-shot). Dag Hammerskjold was a UN Sargent-General who worked hard to bring peace to Zambias neighbor, the Congo (for more info try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dag_Hammarskjöld) . He was flying into to Zambia for a meeting to discuss a cease-fire when his plane crashed. The reason behind the crash seems to be a bit of a mystery. According to the proprietor of the memorial, the official statement says that a bullet hole the plane received while taking of over the Congo caused the crash, while local villagers recall seeing additional aircrafts in the air and jeeps coming to the crash site and removing an extra body from the rubble (supposedly that of a mercenary who was stowed on the plan to sabotage it). It was a very peaceful and beautiful place in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. 

After the memorial we stopped by some local vendors selling crafts on the side of the road. I picked up a few things to take back home and the students helped me haggle with the sellers. I have had some moral discussions with myself (and others) on this trip about haggling.  The exchange rate of the US Dollar to the Zambian Kwacha is 1 to 5 (roughly). So even when they are asking for 100 Kwacha, it is still only $20 dollars. I do not mind paying a bit of a premium because of my skin color, but a the same time, I do not want to get ripped off. It was pointed out to me by one of our professors that these sellers will not make a deal that does not benefit them. After I accepted that fact, I felt a bit better about haggling for a better price. 

After the market, we ended up grabbing some gelato from the local mall. After gelato we decided we should go ahead and grab some dinner, so we got some pizza from Debonairs (the students told us that this is the best pizza place in Ndola). We ordered 4 personal sized pizzas and split them between the 4 of us. The pizza here is not like in the states but it was awesome, non-the-less. We tried Tika Chicken, Sweet & Sour, Mexican, and Something Meaty.  All of them were really good! 

Once we got back to the university, we spent a few hours hanging out with our instructors. I really do not think this trip would be half the trip it has turned out to be without these 2. They are so wise and insightful. It has been an honor to spend so much time with them and learn from their experience. 

Tomorrow we are going back to Ndola Baptist Church, but I do not know what we will do the rest of the day. 

Thanks for reading! 


Jul 26, 2013

Day 7 - Northrise

Wow. I cannot believe it has been a week since we arrived. This trip is one of those times where time seems to go by slowly, while simultaneously speeding by. 

Today was another class/tour day. We had further discussion about cause and effect logic structures, and then worked in our groups to come up with some the diagrams to explain a few situations. It was an interesting approach and a fun intellectual exercise, once we got the hang of it. 

This afternoon we went on a tour of an oil lubricant plant. It has been interesting to see the oil refining process all the way from the beginning (with the crude oil transportation, refining, distribution, and now other final products of the refining process). This tour was a good one where we had a good guide. The company was interesting in that the shareholders (3 large transportation companies) for the company were also the customers, so the company really had no say in production and is only able to produce what the shareholders/customers require.

Ndola is an interesting city. They do not have a consumer culture, so everything (i.e. all the shops and stores) shut down at 5. It seems like such a foreign concept to me. The city is vibrant and alive, as I can tell by the noise levels from the street outside our hotel room. 

We will have class tomorrow morning and then have the afternoon off. We will have class on Monday and Tuesday (meeting with our project companies on Monday), and then head to our safari on Wednesday morning bright and early. We will be driving down through Lusaka to Livingstone and staying at the Zambezi Sun Hotel near Victoria Falls. Our safari will be on both the river and on the land. We will head back to Ndola on Saturday and then catch our flight back to the states on Sunday. 

Even though we are only half way through the trip, I feel as though the remainder of it will fly by. 

Until tomorrow! 


Jul 25, 2013

Day 6 - Northrise/Oil

Another awesome day here in Africa. 

I woke up with the sun again this morning, which is my personal preferred method of waking. 

We started today with a tour of the Oil Transportation company of Zambia. This is the only company (it is government owned) that brings crude oil into the country. The tour was awesome. They showed us where the oil trucks fill up, the pipeline that comes in from Tanzania, and they took us up to the top of a 9 million ton oil container to see a floating roof (on that moves with the oil to eliminate gases, rather than being stationary at the top of the drum).

After the tour we rushed back to Northrise to grab a 20 minute lunch before heading back to the neighboring oil refinery. The refinery and the transportation group are both government owned, and work very closely together. The transportation group brings in the oil from Tanzania which is then transferred to the refinery, once the crude oil has been processed and turned into end products by the refinery, it it purchased back by the transportation group and sold to shipping companies for distribution. 

The second tour at the refinery did not go as well as the first. Due to the nature of the refinery, they did not let us go on an up-close-and-personal tour. So, the tour consisted of a 1 1/2 hour lecture on the companies history and the refining process (both interesting, but made difficult by the time - by 3:00 everyone has hit the afternoon lag - and the room/instructor - the room was rather large and noisy, and the instructor (who was extremely knowledgeable) was not able to speak to the entire class, and I could not always understand all that he was saying). It was very hard for us to stay awake during his lecture (many of my fellow students nodded in and out, but I think I was able to stay awake). After the lecture we had a brief tour (as in we stood at a distance, and specific things were pointed out to us). 

After the tour we came back and had dinner at the apartment at the university, and then the 3 other students and I hung out for a while at the hotel. 

Though the whole day was great, I think the most interesting part was my discussion with one of the Northrise students on the way to the first tour. Outside of the transportation plant, there is a large cluster of homes that are "illegal" (I could not tell if it was a strictly illegal community, or if they were jut unwanted in the area). The people in those homes have made a living on selling gas from the plant. They get the gas by going to empty trucks waiting in line to re-fill, and seeing if there is any remaining gas in the tank. Or, if a truck that has just been filled is moving slow enough, they will run behind it and take the new gas. Apparently, there was one instance where someone tried to steal gas from a recently loaded truck, but the truck had been filled with tar. When they realized it was tar, they just walked away and did not put the plug back into the tank, so tar spilled out on the road for 20 km! 

There are a lot of things about Africa that match my assumptions about the country (dirt roads, villages, people carrying things around on their heads, etc.), but in other ways, the country (or at least Zambia) is more advanced than I expected (technology, infrastructure, etc.). 

This has been an amazing trip thus far, and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow holds! 

Thanks for reading! 


Day 5 - Northrise/Copper Mine

Today was another great day! I woke with the sun again and read a little in bed before beginning my day. We had class again this morning, and it covered some logic structures/diagrams that you can use to identify root causes and problems within an operation. We talked about Cause and Effect diagrams using logic, as well as necessary requirement diagrams. 

After a standard lunch of nshema, greens, and meat, we got on the bus for our trip to the copper mine. It was about a 45 minute drive to get to the copper mine which is located in a neighboring town. We god to see the quarry where copper is mined, but did not go down into the mine which is about a mile below the surface. I do not know if I could have handled a mile long elevator ride into a mine, so I am actually glad we did not go into the mine. We were able to see the rest of the copper extraction process. I felt like I had stepped back into the 1930's when we were going through the plant. The plant itself had been built in 1927, and some of the equipment (if not all) was the same equipment they used back then. We walked up scaffolding that looked a bit questionable, and got up-close-and-personal with the copper extraction process. Our guide was a great teacher and, when you could hear him, it was fun to hear his explanation of the processes.

Tomorrow we will be touring 2 oil refineries, so it will be neat to have 2 similar operations to compare. 

Thanks for reading! 


Jul 23, 2013

Day 4 - Northrise/Fatmols

Today was another good day. We started the morning in class, where were learned more about operations strategy. We played a wonderful game that replicated a typical manufacturing process and demonstrated the twill killers of the manufacturing process (dependency, or one step in the process relying on another, and variability, variations in output). 

For lunch we had the typical fare of nshema, greens, and chicken (it is still just as good as the first time). We also got to see Malingua (I hope I spelled that correctly!), who came to Baylor this past spring and shared his powerful story with our management class. Malingua married his wife Helen last month and will be moving to Waco in August and will be attending Truett seminary this fall. 

On the way to our tour today, I got a brief lesson in Bemba from one of the Zambian students. So here are a few saying you can try if you are interested: 

- Mulishani - How are you?
- Bwino - Fine/Well
- Natasha/Natotela - Thank you
- Mwabuka Shani - Good Morning
- Shani - Hi
- Menshi - Water
- Mulale Bwino - Good Night

After lunch we went to Fatmols Lodge, a local lodge and conference center. Fatmols is the company that my group has been assigned to, so we will meet with them next Monday morning to discuss how we can best serve them through the project. Fatmols was a very interesting company and I certainly look forward to working with them over the coming weeks. 

We did have an interesting experience today. After discussing the company for a few hours, we went on a tour of the facility. We walked through the conference rooms and got to see a few of the lodges as well. The lodges were all occupied, so they let us peek in briefly. In one of the lodges, there was a large fake penis sitting on the table...   Come to find out, one of the groups using the conference facilities was there for sex education (or something similar), and the penis was a teaching tool. Needless to say that object caused a bit of a stir for our group...

Muale Bwino (Good Night)!


Jul 22, 2013

Day 3 - Northrise

Wow, what a day... 

I woke up this morning with the sun (so around 6:00 am), but did not need to get up until 7:30. We started our class this morning at 9:00. During class we received an introduction to consulting and were given an overview of the course syllabus. We were also broke into our project teams, which consists of 1 Baylor student and 3 to 4 Northrise students.   Each group has been assigned to a project and will work with a company to address an issue they see are experiencing.

The typical class schedule at Northrise is 9:00 am - 12:00 pm, with a 2 hour break for lunch from 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm. There are typically classes from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm and there are evening classes beginning at 5:30 as well. 

During our lunch break, we went to a local grocery store that also has a restaurant with a great coffee shop. (They do not have regular coffee here, it is all instant, so we were feeling the caffein deprivation by noon.) There is a vendor that sets-up outside of the coffee shop with local crafts, so hopefully I can purchase some things from him one day. 

After lunch we went on our first plan tour. Wow, this was a plant tour that you would NEVER be able to go on in the states... 

We toured the Zambezi Portland Cement Company. They are a local producer of cement with their own quarries for Limestone and other materials that go into the cement. We were able to walk under the conveyer belts that carried the rocks to various locations, and walk into the storage areas while front loaders were moving limestone around. We were also taken into the control room where the process is monitored. 

It has been a great day (VERY dusty!). Tomorrow we will tour the boutique hotel, which is the project that my group has been assigned.

Until tomorrow. 

Thanks for reading!


Jul 21, 2013

Day 2 - Ndola

Today has been another great day! We woke up around 8:30 and grabbed breakfast with the group before heading to Ndola Baptist Church. Church was a wonderful experience, the worship was in both English and Bemba (the primary language here in Ndola, even though English is the official language for the country). The English songs were mostly familiar hymns (Blessed Assurance, Holy Words Long Preserved, 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus), and while I could not understand the songs in Bemba, they were beautiful. The congregation really seemed to let loose and freely express themselves during those songs. 

The sermon was great, long by US standards, but wonderful non-the-less. The sermon was based on Hebrews 10 and the 4 points the preacher made were:
1 - The Walk of Faith begins with God, and is anchored in God (We need to trust in God)
2 - The Walk of Faith has plenty of witnesses (imperfect, human witnesses)
3 - The Walk of Faith is not always comfortable
4 - The Walk of Faith ends with death, but looks beyond death

After the service, the church asked us visitors to go into a separate room to allow the congregation time to meet us. They gave us small plates of crackers and offered us sodas and some members of the congregation came to speak with us. We met a young woman who will be attending Baylor this fall to work on her MSW (Master of Social Work), so we hope to see her again once we are all in Waco. We also met a woman named Katherine who runs an organization with her husband that distributes wheelchairs to those who need them around Zambia. The biggest obstacle they face is that they do not have enough wheelchairs.

After the greeting time, we went to the Zimba's home for lunch. They have a lovely home and were so kind to open it up to us. We had a traditional Zambian meal of nshema (made of cornmeal and water, this is the staple food for Zambia), fish, greens, and rice. Nshema is rather stiff, and you eat it with your hands. You roll it into a ball and then pick up other things to eat with it (fish, greens, gravy - the gravy is awesome!). The food was delicious, and the conversation was wonderful. I sat next Baxter, a professor at Northrise, who grew up in a village. It was very interesting and humbling to hear about life in the villages. We have so much to be thankful for and so much that we take for granted, living in the US. 

We are now back from lunch and have a little down time before we are heading to the local grocery store to grab some things for dinner. (I feel like all I am doing is eating!) Tomorrow we begin our class here. It looks as though we will be in the classroom in the mornings and then touring local companies in the afternoon. Now the real work begins! 

Thank you for reading!


Day 1 - Ndola

We have only been on the ground in Ndola for a day, and this has already an incredible trip. We woke up this morning around 7:30 and after getting ready and grabbing a quick bite, we went to a local shop to pick up jerseys for the soccer match this afternoon. 

We then got onto the Northrise bus and drove out to a game preserve about an hour and a half away. The first hour was on a paved road and the final 1/2 hour was on a dirt road. The dirt road was interesting,  I could feel the dirt in the air that I was breathing. The road was bumpy and uneven, and at times it felt as though the bus was at a 60 degree angle. 

The drive was beautiful. The road is lined with tall grass and trees. There are also groups of houses just off the road, typically separated from the road by the tall grass and trees. These houses looked to be made of Cinderblocks, but there were some structures made of wood and grass. These houses were spread out the entire way from Ndola to the game preserve, which makes me wonder how those families function. Where do they go to barter, trade or shop? How do they get their food and other essentials? It really feels as though they are out in the middle of nowhere with no means of transportation apart from walking. 

Once we got to the game preserve, we picked up a guide who directed our driver on where to go. We saw giraffes, zebras, and other antelope type animals (I cannot remember all the names, but I did get some great pictures!). The preserve also had a reptile area, which I could have done without, but it was good to force myself out of my comfort zone to see the snakes (I even touched one, though it was for a millisecond, so that might not count). We ate lunch at the preserve and I had Ox Tail (when in Zambia!). It was really good and reminded me of a tender pot roast. 

After lunch we drove back to Ndola and made it back just in time for the Zambia vs. Zimbabwe soccer match. Now that was an experience. Walking up the the stadium sounded like we were walking up to a HUGE bee hive (because of all the yelling). The energy in the stadium was fantastic, everyone was so excited and people were yelling the entire time. We had wonderful seats, just 8 rows up and right at the center of the field! Zambia  beat Zimbabwe 2 - 0, so the crowd was very excited. We had people coming up to us because they wanted to take pictures with the white people. We also made it on TV apparently, because our waiter at dinner recognized us from the game! I am sure people will be celebrating until late into the night, and we will know because they seem to congregate on the street outside of our hotel (the noises kept me and An - my roommate- up last night). 

After the game, as we were leaving with the crowd there were a few people trying to pick-pocket our group. One guy blatantly tried the whole "on, I need to go the other direction, so I have to bump into you" move on one of the men in our group, but did not get anything. A few minute later, someone else came along side that same man and was walking close and reaching into his pocket, I saw him and grabbed his arm and told him not to take the wallet. He seemed a little upset that I had thwarted his attempt, but someone else in the group stepped in and we kept walking. I found out later that one of our instructors had been cornered as we were going into the stadium and someone had stolen his wallet. Though this is extremely unfortunate, they thankfully chose the wrong pocket and only ended up with his personal items, and not the travel funds and his passport.   

Today has been wonderful, apart from the pick-pocketing. Tomorrow we are going to go to Church with Moffat and Doreen and then have lunch at their house. I think we are going to have some free time tomorrow afternoon/evening, so we may get to do some exploring!

I cannot wait to get into the classroom with the Northrise students on Monday! 

Thanks for reading! 


Jul 19, 2013

Ndola - Just Go With It

I have decided the motto for this trip is "Just Go With It". 

We had no travel issues on the way here, but have had a few interesting experiences along the way. 

We caught a 10 hour flight from London to Johannesburg (or known by our professors as J-burg). We were not in business class like the flight to London, but still had a great flight. I took the regular dose of ZzzzQuil and slept like a baby for a few hours. The interesting part of the trip was that one of the students was sitting behind a little girl  who had an accident on the plane... Lets just say his feet got a little wet and he ended up in business class for the remainder of the flight. He was a great sport about the whole ordeal, but it does make for an interesting story! 

We made it to J-burg and had a little time to kill in the airport before catching the flight to Ndola. The J-burg airport has a number of stores, including the usual high-end suspects (Guess, Burberry, Hugo Boss, etc.) but also had some awesome local shops that I was tempted to go crazy in. I figured I should probably wait until my return trip to get something in the airport, so I forced myself to walk away from the hand carved giraffes. 

To get on our plane to Ndola, they used a bus to shuttle us from the J-burg terminal out to our plane. We had about a 2 hour flight (which is a total guess - by the time we got on the flight I was a bit jet lagged and had given up trying to keep up with the time). Once we arrived in Ndola, we were bussed 100 yards to the immigration terminal building to "officially" get into Ndola. Once we got through immigration we waited for someone from Northrise to pick us up. When no one showed up (and we could not get a hold of anyone because it was lunch hour at the university) we took 2 taxis to the university. It turns out they did not think we were coming in until tomorrow, so they were quite surprised to see us! 

Our hosts here are Moffat and Doreen Zimba, who started Northrise. They were both very welcoming and friendly. Once we sat down for a bit, Moffatt took us out for a late lunch at the local cafe/grocery store. The food was delicious and the store was really neat. I would love to go back ad explore a bit more later.    We then checked into the Savoy hotel across the street from the university (which is different from the one we originally thought be would be staying in, but still nice). 

I have already made one mistake, in that I brushed my teeth in the sink without thinking. They have a kettle in the room for boiling water, but hopefully one brush wont hurt me!

We are going to head out to dinner here in a bit and then catch the championship soccer match between Zambia and Zimbabwe tomorrow. 

I will try to write again sometime tomorrow. 

Thanks for reading! 


Jul 18, 2013

In London

We have made it to London! 

The flight from Dallas to London was pretty long, as expected. I tried to get some sleep but was not very successful, even though I took a ZzzzQuil. I tried taking only tried half a dose because I did not know how long I would actually be able to sleep. Now my goal is to stay awake until our 7:00 flight to Johannesburg. 

We were going to try to go into London for a few hours during our layover but, due to security changes,  decided it was too risky to get out. We would have only had a few minutes on the ground, so we are just going to hang out at the airport. 


Jul 17, 2013

Today is the Day!

Wow, I cannot believe it is already July 17th...

We are leaving this afternoon for Zambia! I have the day off and have spent the morning with my family (Justin and our 2 fur-babies, Darcy and Cooper). I think I am just about packed, though I keep thinking of things to add! I weighed my suitcase yesterday and it was 32 lbs., so I should be good to go. 

We are going to take advantage of our extended layover in London, so this time tomorrow I will be speeding through London to see as much as I can while we are there. 

I will try to keep this blog up-to-date everyday, but I do not know how regularly I will have access to wi-fi, so I may have to posts multiple days at once.  

My next post will be from London or Ndola! 

Thanks for reading! 


Jul 16, 2013

Writing with Dyslexia

For those of you who do not know me as well, writing is my weakness. (If you can’t tell from all the grammatical and spelling errors in these posts!)

I have dyslexia, and when I was younger I used that disability as a crutch and excuse for why I would never be a good writer. To this day, I struggle with writing emails and written assignments for school. I am always worried about typos and getting my point across (or sounding like an idiot).

It does not matter how many times I read over emails or assignments, it almost never fails that I spot an error right after I press “send”. Because of this life-long struggle, this whole blogging thing is a big stretch for me. I am hoping that by forcing myself to blog, I can begin to find my voice and begin feel more comfortable writing.

Though this is not a specific “travel” post, I hope this gives you a bit of insight into my blog. I am working to overcome this struggle, and hope you will stick with me as I force myself to keep writing!

Thanks for reading!


Jul 11, 2013

Malaria Meds again!

Good news y'all! I did not have any crazy/hallucinogenic dreams last night!

Though I felt off yesterday, going through spells of very minor headaches and dizziness  (both common side effects of Malaria medication), the medication did not bother me too much. I did not sleep very well last night (I am guessing due to the meds), but at least the sleep I did get was not filled with crazy dreams!

Thanks for reading,


Jul 10, 2013

Malaria Meds

It's getting real, folks! I took my first round of Malaria medication this morning.

As with any drugs, there are multiple options for Malaria medications. My particular medication is taken once a week with a meal, though there are daily varieties. Apparently, Malaria meds can lead to really crazy dreams. So we will see how tonight goes!

Jul 9, 2013


Wow, I cannot believe the trip is 8 days away! As the trip approaches, I have been thinking  about details of the trip. What type of facilities will we be staying in? What will the university be like? What companies will we meet with? What will the food be like? Will we have time to shop? The list goes on and on... 

I think I am going into this trip with no expectations, but I often find that even when I think I am expectation free, they are there under the surface.

Expectations can make or break a trip. This was driven home just the other day when Justin suggested we go to the Baylor Marina and rent a canoe for a few hours. I thought that sounded like a I great idea, I love being on the water and we had not taken advantage of the marina facilities since we have been here in Waco. Justin mentioned that he would take his fishing rod and do a little fishing while we were out there. In my mind I was thinking, this will be fun! We will paddle around a bit, find a place for Justin to fish for a little while (maybe 10 minutes) and just enjoy some time on the Brazos. 

Little did I know that Justin was viewing me as the motor for his little fishing expedition. Once we got out on the water, all I heard were things like...

"Take us over to the other side of the river"

"Stop the boat"

"We are drifting, make sure you keep us close to the shore"

"No, not that close! 15 feet away"

The expectations Justin and I took into that trip could not have been more opposite. I was expecting a fun canoeing trip with my husband, while he was expecting a fishing trip where he did not have to worry about the boat.

With this recent experience in mind, I am trying to go into this Zambia trip with an open mind. I look forward to the experience of being in Africa, and pray that my subconscious expectations are reasonable.

Thanks for reading!


Jul 5, 2013


For those of you interested in following my travels, here is the general information on my flights to Ndola.

We will catch a flight from Waco to Dallas late Wednesday afternoon, July 17th. From there we will have an evening flight from Dallas to London. We will get into London mid morning on Thursday the18th and have a 7 hour layover. We will have another evening flight from London to Johannesburg, landing in Johannesburg early on Friday the 19th. The final flight is from Johannesburg to Ndola, landing in Ndola around noon.

Our return flight is just the opposite, with a shorter layover in London. We will leave Ndola the afternoon of August 4th, and get back to Waco late afternoon on the 5th.

I have not totaled our travel time yet, but with one 45 minute flight, two 9 hour flights, and  one 2 hour flight, we will be in the air for around 21 hours both ways....

Any suggestions on how to plan for such long flights is much appreciated!

Thanks for reading,


Logistics and Packing

If you missed my last post, which also happened to be my first, I will be leaving for Ndola Zambia in a mere 12 days.

I started trying to figure out the logistics and what to pack for this trip almost as soon as I found out I was going. As the trip approaches, I have my essentials covered (I hope!) and am trying to continue refining my packing list.

This is not your typical trip to Africa. We will be in an educational/business setting, so they typical "travel attire" will not work. We are limited on our luggage to only 40 lbs. While our flights from Dallas to London, and from London to Johannesburg, allow a 50  lb limit, our flight from Johannesburg to Ndola only allows 40... So packing for a 3 week trip (after you add in travel time) with 40 lbs and a carry on will be interesting to say the least.

Based on my research thus far, here are a few things I have picked up for international travel...

The Essentials: 
- Make sure you have your shots (for Zambia I needed Yellow Fever, Typhoid, and updated regular shots)
- Make sure you have your passport with 3 blank Visa pages and that it has at least 6 months until expiration
- Leave all your medications in their original packages and take a doctor’s note on official letterhead

Staying Connected:
- Determine how you will "phone home" (We have AT& T, which offers phone plans, but there are other alternatives. Apps like HeyTell allow you to turn your phone into a walkie-talkie with others who have the app - bonus... It's FREE! I will also take my iPad to (hopefully) keep this blog up-to-date and Facetime with family)
- Figure out where you will have access to the Internet (I should be able to pay for Internet access at the hotel, and should have some access while at the University)
- Make sure you have all the necessities to "power up", a voltage converter and outlet converter (I got both of these off of Amazon)

The Fun Stuff:
- Make sure you have a good Camera (duh... right? - I am taking a nice Cannon SLR)
- Make sure your clothing is versatile so you can mix-and-match
- Ladies, take a Maxi Dress (or two), they are comfortable and yet dressy enough for business
- Choose your shoes wisely, take 1 - 2 pairs of functional/versatile shoes (Shoes are my absolute weakness, you can ask my husband, my suitcase is typically 1/2 full with shoes before the clothes go in...)

I am sure there are plenty of other things to consider, but those are the basics.

Thanks for reading!