This is my annual update which I just emailed out to a bazillion of the coolest people I know, except this version includes pictures and links:
- Canada, England, Scotland, England, Spain, England, Canada, England, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Canada, Netherlands, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan, Canada;
- Worked in 3 countries;
- Took 38 flights on 11 airlines;
- Visited 19 airports;
- Made many new friends;
- Saw a lot of stuff;
- Learned a lot of stuff;
- Sent a few postcards but not enough;
- Updated my websites but not enough;
- Got only one tropical disease;
- Drank a LOT of coffee.
2010 was another busy year for me, but one I enjoyed a lot. The year started off a bit rough: In the early morning of January 1st, 2010 after a long night of partying, I began packing my bags at my parents’ home in Vancouver several minutes after boarding had already begun at the airport for my flight back home to London. I caught the flight without incident, and was back in my flat in Eastend London the next morning, to complete the final two months of my logistics internship there. A week later, a massive earthquake destroyed Port-au-Prince, Haïti, and I spent the next month working long hours to prepare and support the surgical teams we sent. I even got my 15 seconds of fame on CNN!
In February, the 2010 Winter Olympics took place in my home town while I was in London. I watched the gold medal men’s hockey game at my Canadian childhood friend’s house in London, along with other Canadians and Brits, and when Sid the Kid scored the winning overtime goal we went downtown to Trafalgar Square where London’s Canadian expats gathered to celebrate and hand out free Sleeman’s cans. Just four days later, my time in London was over and I was back in Vancouver for a week and a half before heading to Africa.
I returned to London on March 13th and, without wasting any time, caught a southbound train to Sussex to visit my friend Andy and his wife, and revisit Herstmonceux Castle, where I spent my first year of university in 2002-03. After a great day visit to the castle and a couple nights spent with friends in London, I came the closest I’ve ever been to missing a flight, when London’s taxi industry let me down quite badly. I did make it, however, and by March 17th I was in a taxi driving through the mountains from Kigali, Rwanda to Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.
I spent the next three and a half months in Kindu and Lubutu, both in Maniema Province, before catching a series of flights to Vancouver without telling anyone but my immediate family. While I was in transit, my friend and colleague Lloyd Donaldson died unexpectedly in the UK. After landing in Vancouver on June 29th, I rode my motorcycle on July 1st (Canada Day) for five hours into the British Columbia interior with a banana costume in my backpack, to surprise my friends on our annual camping trip. After a legendary camping trip, I spent another week in Vancouver before taking the long journey back to the DR Congo.
After only a couple days back in Kindu, I got a call to join our emergency response team being sent to Beni, in North Kivu Province, after thousands of people were displaced by fighting nearby. Two weeks in Beni were followed by three weeks in Goma, involving a lot of heavy lifting in the medical warehouse which I quite enjoyed.
While in Goma, I was interviewed and chosen for a position as Capital Logistician in Juba, South Sudan and within a week I was on a plane to Nairobi, Kenya. I spent a chilly two days in Nairobi, then flew to Juba to begin my new contract. My blog and other websites suffered during this time, as my free time quickly decreased due to a heavy workload and what remained was allocated to activities not involving computer screens, such as volleyball twice a week, and going for walks at the big UN base.
101 days after landing in Juba, I boarded a plane and, after four flights, landed in Vancouver for a very much needed three week vacation – the first time in five months that I had more than one and a half consecutive days off work. The trip was a great success; I didn’t get much sleep, but I sure had an amazing time with friends and family and pho, and the craziest New Year’s Eve of my life at the 1990s New Years Dance Party.
Having learned from the previous year’s experience of flying on January 1st after a good party, this time I headed to the airport at 7am on January 2nd instead, came the second closest ever to missing a flight, and spent my layover in Chicago O’Hare International Airport typing up most of this annual update. By the morning of the 4th I was back in Juba, South Sudan, just in time for the referendum on independence from the North, with seven weeks left on this contract and no set plans for my next adventures (suggestions always welcome). While boarding the plane in Nairobi, we were told to turn back as the Juba Airport was to be closed for several hours for the arrival of President Omar Bashir. However, a few minutes later, we were allowed to board and take off for Juba as the South Sudan Vice President was on the same plane as us. However, when we arrived in Juba, we had to wait over two hours in the tiny airport arrivals hall while Bashir’s plane landed and he met with Salva Kiir on an airside podium. Once his motorcade left the airport, our bags arrived and we were allowed to leave.
Half an hour later, eating lunch at home watching the news, the very same view as we had seen of Bashir exiting his plane had become the top headline on Al Jazeera’s TV world news. But, now I’ve started talking about 2011…
If you read this entire summary, I’m impressed; if you take the time to send me an update on your life, whether it be short or long, I promise to read it too (and I’ll even reply!).
All the best for 2011,