Sunday, August 31, 2008

Home Sweet Home

After a couple of weeks on the road, any place familiar is good. Even Vicksburg with a Hurricane on the horizon.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Long Journey Nears End...

From Jakarta to Bali and back again, this has been a great trip. This picture was taken at a famous Hindu temple area called Ulu Watu on Bali. Impressive. Time to go home now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Birthday 50th birthday, Kelly! Hope you are somewhere fun with a beer in your hand.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Room with a View

Sure it could be better if I was around the corner facing the beach, but I am happy to sit from the balcony and sigh...

Diving in Bali

Wow, I still can't believe it. The whole time I was down there, I kept mentally pinching myself that I was actually there. It was a great day on the water, we traveled to Nusa Penida from the beach. About a 45 minute boat ride and we were in a different world. And then we got in the water and we were in another different world. First dive was the toughest because we were trying to see Mola (ocean sunfish) and they get spooked if a lot of people are around. So we
thought we could get the jump on everyone, but there were already 10-15 boats on site, and a lot of divers in the water. The current was quite strong, and we had to hang on and wait. It was so bad that at one point, I lost a fin! Tim and Hongjoo helped me recover it and keep moving. Alas, no Mola were spotted. Too many people, perhaps. Or maybe it just wasn't our day. We had a drift dive next, easy and crusing with the flow, down a shelf. We saw some cool critters, lots of fish and nuidbranchs, but also moray eel and cuttlefish. I sat out the 3rd dive because my ears were giving me trouble, but I enjoyed my time on the bow of the boat, just relaxing. Life is good. In the second picture, look hard for the outline in the distance. That is Bali.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Finally Friday!

Our site visits wrap up today, and we leave for Bali! We have been working long days and the exhaustion has kept me from blogging properly. Since we have been touring canals filled with trash and raw sewage, I will spare you from those images (unless you make a request). Above are some of the Dutch buildings that were built several hundred years ago here in Jakarta.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Holding out for a hero...

As we toured 5 of our sites, we saw some pretty disturbing images. Unchecked population growth and the resulting solid waste issues can be tough to comprehend. Luckily, we know this country has superheroes ready to help. Meet Batman and Superman. The power rangers were busy playing marbles and were unavailable for this photo.

Selamut pagi (sell-ah-MUTT pah-GEE)

Good morning to you from Jakarta! I arrived Monday afternoon and have been busy ever since. The weather is hot and humid, feels a little like Mississippi, but more intense sunlight. It is definitely a reminder of how close we are to the equator. Just driving from the airport to the hotel, we could see our work being revealed in front of us. This picture was taken from my hotel. First, you may notice the haze, likely from air pollution. Motorcycles are the most effective mode of transportation here, and their emissions are many times that of a car. In the distance you can see a round domed building, this is a mosque. If not for jet lag, the 430 am call to prayer might have been an effective wake up call.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Almost there...

Stopped overnight in the Singapore airport on my way to Jakarta. Felt it was worthwhile to note that I rented a room by the hour under a false name in Singapore. Not sure if this is on a life list of things to do, but it amused me. Nothing exciting to report, though. It was cheaper to rent a room for 7 hrs than for a full day, and the travel agency reserved the room under the last name "Carmenza." I was able to convince them (at 1 am this morning) that I was in fact that person, but I was momentarily worried there was a Ms. Carmenza somewhere without a room. Didn't keep me awake though.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Making the Best of Where You Are

Here is a lesson for us all, as demonstrated by my cat, Annie. In the event you look around and find that you might not be where you wish you were (for her: hiding in the grass, stalking bugs), make the best of where you are! This is a pot of dirt that has a bird feeder in it, the seeds fall down and sprout. Low maintenance gardening at it's best.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sunday Supper

As I continue to combat my jet lag, I thought I would have a few friends over for dinner. This would force me to clean my apartment as well as not go to sleep in the middle of the afternoon. To inspire my dinner plans, I received a new cookbook which arrived while I was Down Under: Foods to Live By , which I learned about from someone I met on a plane to California. From this book, I prepared a Greek Salad and Grilled Tahini Chicken with Eggplant and Mushrooms. Both were a HIT! We even ended up with 2 desserts, which made for a very happy ending.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's 3 AM, I must be jet-lagged

Back to Mississippi for me, and only a mere 27 hrs in travel to get here. I won't go into details about why, as work issues are not particularly bloggable. It does mean I can now attend to certain details like returning my library books, as I do hate to piss off my new friends at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library. How's that for finding the bright side?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Outback Wildlife

Eastern Gray Kangaroo, looking upset for my asking him to pose for a picture.

Cockatoos were EVERYWHERE and louder than I could have imagined. Makes me glad quieter North American birds, at least first thing in the morning.
And the famous Kookaburra, from the song we learned as kids about them sitting in a gum tree.

Thank goodness all the wildlife we encountered was in good health, since I didn't bring any resuce gear.

Australia: Day 3

We taught a course Sunday, so we justified taking Monday off and driving to the Blue Mountains, just outside of Sydney. Kelly volunteered to be the one who had to drive on the wrong side of the road. Mark, Gustavo and I hoped for the best, rented a car--off we go! The clouds were in that morning, but by the time we left the city, it was warm and sunny. We stopped to do some hiking around a set of falls that we never saw because the cliffs were pretty scary. Nice outlooks though.

Then off to see the rock formation, the Three Sisters...and there they are. It was slightly overcast, but never rained.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Australia: Day 1

Arrived here, at 730 AM local time on Saturday (lost a whole day in the plane). Made it through customs, waited in line for a cab, arrived at my hotel to find a room not ready for me. So I stashed my luggage and went in search of friendly faces. Found Kelly, then Mark, then the other Mark. We worked on the course some, caught up, then went for beers. There we ran into Greg, the SETAC director, and Jeff and Matt wandered up to the table. I love how you can be in a completely foreign place, and when SETAC is happening, all you have to do is grab a beer, and friends will find you.

We went on an expedition to find the Sydney Fish Market, and scored big time. We saw lots of new underwater creatures, found a couple of bottles of wine and ate some of our new friends. It was the best meal I could have imagined.

Then on the way back to the hotels, we happened across a pub, went in to make some new friends. Next thing we know, the bar is packed and the people are going crazy. Unknowingly, we had stumbled into a pub just before the start of a huge game: New Zealand v. Australia Rugby! It would be like finding yourself in a bar right before the SuperBowl started in the US. Awesome. We couldn't stick around for all of it, but NZ won. Probably wasn't a happy place to be at the end.