I recently came across an Instagram account called @nowhitesaviors, run by a collection of people from Uganda, Kenya, USA, and possibly more locales (some are anonymous). I spent the following two hours browsing their content and comments and going down the rabbit holes of articles they referenced, accounts they hope to educate for their wrongdoings, as well as accounts they support for their ethical storytelling and advocacy.Read More
So I read, adrenal fatigue appears to be a 21st century issue, in that the diminishment of real physical danger in our daily lives has manifested itself into a constant stress that treats all threats as equals. If this is the case, take me back to the days of subsistence farming, jumps in the swimming hole, and dinner by candlelight. I guess I want to be Amish! Or better yet, Fijian!
But obviously I've gained a tremendous amount from this active, dynamic life bouncing around the world. I'm trying to take it easy, give myself a break before Botswana amps up, but as my previous list indicates, I treat "breaks" like stolen time. I will fill the time I have, a compulsive little worker pumped with caffeine to complement a puny trickle of cortisol.
Parkinson's Law, they call it. Well, C.N. Parkinson has officially taken over my wet, hot, American summer break. And even if that means more of this compulsive, fight or flight mode, as long as I have a finished book by next February, I'm fine with that.Read More
Aside from decapitation and/or childbirth sans-Epideral, I'm guessing nothing hurts as badly as putting aloe vera on freshly exposed burned skin. I nearly passed out from a woozy rush after an invigorating shower than revealed to me I hadn't just crisped one layer of skin but many. Regardless, I threw on some make-up for the first time in a month and joined Garrett at the bar to commence our celebration of a new decade in the first time zone of the world.
It being Fiji, a place that brings out the friendly in most everyone, we soon joined a group of tourists from Europe who were circumnavigating Viti Levu with the Fiji Experience bus. We met Queenie, an employee of The Uprising whose job it was to entertain tour groups, and latched onto some other friends with whom we could relate our travel highs and woes. Dinner got lost in a sea of beers and traditional Fijian songs before the live band got started by the beach, playing Bob Marley to Black Eyed Peas.
New Year's and No Ball
The moon rose higher, revealing its complete circumference and eerie glow, and the band announced its last song of 2010. They called the five minute warning, played a two minute song, and started counting from ten. The arbitrary count down had me laughing until fireworks exploded from the beach.
We were among the first bunch of world citizens to see the second zero melt from our annual status.
It seemed only proper to mark this remarkable occasion with an act of stupidity, so we stripped down to our underwear and jumped into the Pacific Ocean, which is regularly filled with unhappy creatures ready to snap or sting. Thankfully, the only sting I experienced was when the salt water hit my bright pink skin.
It felt like one of those movie moments, a baptism of sorts.
We made drinks disappear, and Garrett twirled fire-tipped sticks until he nearly singed the label off his jeans. It was the first New Year's I didn't spend watching Dick Clark sprinkle one ton of confetti on Times Square. It was a night I enjoyed presently and knew for sure I would cherish from the future.
Dragging Our Feet
The next morning marked one week away from the village. It seemed about time to return and commence with Phase 2 of The Nakavika Project, one that reflected the observed needs and wants of the village. During our quick layover in Suva before heading to The Uprising, we stopped by a wholesale bookstore to purchase some additional supplies for our classes and the youth library we wanted to create.
Our bodies were slowly returning to normal, and our longing to see the kids set in. If only we could drag ourselves away from the excellent food we found in town at The Water's Edge and toward more weeks of sleeping on the wooden floor. Adventure vs. luxury...we were pulled on both sides.
Looking back in hindsight, it was at this point that we felt most optimistic about our project and its potential for success (in our terms). With loaded lists of supplies to complement our honorable budget and new ideas to satiate the emerging desires of the villagers to learn, it felt as though we were transporting an extra school three hours inland.
We knew our intentions would be appreciated, and the 45 days that stretched ahead of us held an enormous amount of potential for reasonable and universally acknowledged change.
Now if only we could pull ourselves away from the Coral Coast.
Tracking Down Our Host
We booked three more nights in comfort and called Fane to inform her, for the first time since we parted, we were in Pacific Harbour on our way soon to Nakavika. She showed no signs of wanting to be there soon after us. Family time in Vanua Levu was treating her well.
Garrett and I earned the designation of "Man and Woman of the Household" and gained the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, and functioning in a patriarchal society, which we planned to rebel against a wee bit. Packing up two weeks worth of peanut butter and lentils, we met the carrier at the base of the junction and enjoyed the best ride of the trip, one which involved a happy hour/century club feel and immediate camaraderie with the other few passengers.
We returned to a different atmosphere, what would soon become our most thrilling, proud, action-packed portion of the trip. Though, had we known what was ahead of us, I wonder if we would have returned.
Have any questions thus far about vacationing on Viti Levu or about certain aspects of Fijian culture? We certainly have a lot to say on all topics Fiji-related. Leave a comment, and be sure to share this with your friends and readers!
Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).
Frontier Country: Hug Indiana's southern border via river barge to experience the wild, the musical, the historical, the classy and the rowdy. I'm talking about Nashville's music scene, the natural surroundings of former Native American land, and the Kentucky Derby, which takes place during the first week of May!
Cruising Milford Sound: Thank you, Ice Age, for carving out this amazing landscape. Waterfalls cascade from the mountaintops where rain forests cling. Sail, fly, walk, drive - there are seemingly no bad ways to experience this place.
Route 66 Through Arizona: Blare your Bob Dylan and rev your old fart engine. Cruise down America's "Main Street," and you may say some thoughts like: "Gee, that's a big canyon" or "Are these guys gunfighting for real?"
The Riviera Corniches: Rent a car and drive these coastal highways that carve into the famous French Riviera. I've got a feeling, if this is your kind of trip, you'll be doing a lot of chewing and swallowing between each drive. Sounds lovely.
The Bolshoi Express: St. Petersburg to Moscow. The Hermitage, the Kremlin - see everything amazing from both cities, including the amazing scenery in between while aboard Russia's first post-Soviet luxury train. Won't you take me to SWANKY TOWWWN!
The Andean Explorer: From the old capital of the ancient Inca world to the highest navigable lake in the world, enjoy every high altitude chug to the clear skies from your cabin window. Stops are made to increase appreciation for the fresh air and local markets selling soft alpaca wool. I hope they play the Emperor's New Groove on the train!
Everest Base Camp: My friend's grandparents took this legendary journey on foot twice in their last decades, so don't write this off just yet as something you cant handle. Acclimate to the Nepalese world for a few days in Kathmandu, take the 8 day trek up 18,000 feet to base camp, and visit the tea houses and quaint high altitude villages along the way. The photo to the right shows my view of Everest from 107 miles away (it's the little pink dot above the blue mountains. She's a tall sucker.
Samaria Gorge: Herb-scented air wafts through this wildlife-littered cut through western Crete, and you could too, if you only knew it was there. Pass through the Iron Gates in May, and you'll be walking amongst many wildflowers and past very few people. The taverns at the end near the southern coast make for an excellent and compelling finish line!
In Search of Culture
Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park: The May tours fill up quickly for this bike trip through a western suburb of Chicago filled with the highest concentration of FLW architecture. Admire his radical Prairie Style creations with Cubist influences while also burning some cals! And it doesn't hurt that Chicago has quite a lot more to admire.
Renaissance Italy: If I tried, I don't think I could do Italy's Renaissance evidence justice. Florences streets and many, many palaces, museums, and churches; Siena's cathedral, town square, and civic building; Rome's Sistine Chapel and other works scattered across the Vatican...you know you need to go. It's just about finding the time. Well, next May will be your time to explore Italy back in one of its many hey days.
In Gourmet Heaven
Depachika Shopping in Tokyo: A depachika is a basement of a department store in Japan, and these floors are stuffed to the brim with top quality food merchandise, including cured meats and cheeses from Italy, cigar wafers, chocolates, and the most expensive and juicy melon you'll ever taste. Though you don't have to wait until May; this is year-round shopping.
The Baltic Gourmet: I find the cultures between prominent cultures fascinating. So what happens when the culinary traditions of Germany, Poland, Russia, and Sweden collide? You get the palette of meat, fish, root vegetables, sour cream, and dill that is enjoyed across the Baltic countries. Bus between Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia for the full gastronomic experience.
Into the Action
The Trans Canada Trail: Wow, this thing really is TRANS-Canada. Stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and even up to the Arctic Ocean, you can either jump on for an hour of wildlife spotting and nature admiring or you can strap on a backpack and hike a massive chunk. And if you start in May, you've got the whole summer to blaze the trail. Keep in mind that in the Yukon region, summer offers 24 hours of daylight!
ATVs in the Namib Dunes: The ATVs just denote the tip of the adventure sport iceberg in Namibia, while adventure sports only cover some of what's available in this southern African nation. Visit the atmospheric Skeleton Coast, watch for dolphins, eat top notch oysters, stalk animals, and don't forget to motor around the dunes looking for that landscape of the Atlantic on the horizon.
Up and Away
Hoover Dam Air Tour: Take off in the morning to ride smooth air waves over this modern civil engineering wonder of America. Of course, if you take the sunset tour, you return to the neon-happy Las Vegas cityscape. After this trip, you'll finally be able to tell your friends you know what 5 million barrels of cement looks like.
El Teleferico: All other cable cars will feel puny compared to this one in Merida, Venezuela. Ascend the longest and highest of the global litter to sit atop Pico Espejo, an Andean peak. Block off your morning, because the cars only run from 7am until noon.
In Their Footsteps
Captain Cook's Polynesia: Jump on a ten day cruise of some lovely, isolated islands that surely beat your home landscape. Black pearls, underwater kalidescopic wonderlands, and evidence of Gauguin can't top the gorgeous surroundings, but they can certainly top the cake! The South Pacific isn't a place to see in a hurry. Sandwich your cruise with some extra days to be an islander and slow your life down.
Pilgrimage to Santiago: Join the thousands who have blazed this trail before you and become a medieval pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. If you want to be really authentic, nix the shoes, but if you're not crazy, enjoy your hearty soles as your traverse the Iberian peninsula's north. Your first stop could include a bull run in Pamplona, but don't remember...a swift jab of a horn could do your pilgrimage in!
How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in June for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!
Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.
Note on Nomadderwhere's May Schedule: Now that you know my big news for June, I've got some catching up to do with my postings, if I want to stay current with my documentation while abroad. Though this video marks the end of the Fiji footage, I still have a lot to cover from our experience. Expect to see many written posts, many more than usual, in the coming weeks!
Today's post came out a bit late, but that is due to the high quality of work I found this week. I also have lots to share...
How's The List Coming?
Do you have a bucket or life list running? Are most of your goals doable, or are they unattainable? Don't you wish you had that gratifying feeling of accomplishment more often than once a year or so as you near your bucket-kicking age? Allow Jenn to make it easier for you.
101in365 is all about "avoiding mediocrity, one to-do list at a time." And though I know this contradicts a post I've listed below (see Other Discoveries), I love making and completing these mini-goals to reap that sense of accomplishment. Jenn's been expanding on this web concept for a while now, and has recently pumped it up to admirable heights, offering even more awesome!
What a Maroon--ed Novel...
Speaking of my 101in365 list, one of the goals is to read a classic book this year. And from the way I'm feeling these days, I'm thinking that classic novel will either be the Lord of the Flies or Robinson Crusoe, thanks to this lovely list that reminds me of my time in the South Pacific. Any opinions on a good classic novel to read this year?
Big Tony in Chicago
Apparently, Anthony Bourdain spoke in Chicago last week about all topics on which he's verbose: food, travel, TV, and just about anything that could conjure opinions. Prior to the talk, he spoke to the Chicago Tribune to drumroll his performance. The interview was food-centric and classic Big T, with a couple comments I found amusing:
The big takeaway from the first book [Kitchen Confidential] are the rules, like don't order seafood on Mondays. Any new rules in the years since?
"Kitchen Confidential" was about a career that took place mostly in the 70's through 90's. When I wrote "don't eat fish on Mondays," the guy writing it didn't think anyone outside New York City would even read the book.
Things have changed so much in the industry. The behavior in any good kitchen has changed a lot. Certainly the business still attracts the same kind of personality types, but a lot of the behavior I was talking about — snorting cocaine or having sex on the cutting board — would probably be frowned upon, particularly in open kitchens, which is a relatively new development. There's so much genuine hope for a real future in kitchens that didn't exist back in the early part of my career. An Irish pub on Monday, I'm not sure I'd go for a seafood salad. But I wouldn't have a problem at the sushi bar at Le Bernardin.
What would you do if you were given control of the Food Network? Let's say profits were no issue, and you had editorial and creative control of the network.
I'd bring back "Molto Mario" right away. I'd have Mario Batali do a standard instructional show that would be the cornerstone. I would make it more chef-centric, of course. I would make sure Sandra Lee was never allowed near any cooking utensil or food item. Immediately. I'd have a long talk with Rachael Ray. I'd say, "Look, Rachael, you're bigger than food now. You're in Oprah territory. You don't have to cook anymore. Move on."
The Molto Mario comment excited me, as I will actually get to dine in his restaurant in a month! No idea if he will be gracing us with his presence, but since he's on the creative council for ProjectExplorer, the possibility is out there!
Eyes on Cambodia
Nice snap, Gary. Speaking of Cambodia, my friend Cathleen is enjoying her last month in Phnom Penh after five months of developing her Fighting For Futures initiatives. It's truly a place that could suck you in and put you in a trance. Subtly lovely.
Some great ideas on how to develop products for your blog without a massive business plan
Also, a little help making your blog more experiential...a favorite buzz word of mine
And finally...thank you Amar for giving us 7 Steps toward scoring free travel from your blog
Update on Nomadderwhere
If you've made it thus far in this post, you're a trooper. I have a lot to tell you about my future plans for Nomadderwhere and for myself. I'll start by reviewing what went out this week:
This month's Question and Answer post on grooming for the World Traveler Internship - ways to prepare for next year.
The big news on my future plans and how I got the new travel gig...through my blog
A story on SCUBA diving in Fiji over the holidays
The final Nakavika Project video, which took place on the Yasawa Islands in Fiji
As always, plenty of daily photographs to satiate your eye candy needs
Prepare for the Onslaught: As you can tell, I'm all over the place with my postings. My schedule is odd, because it's important to me to publish various forms of content: video, written, photographic, as well as displaying the work of others.
I have roughly one month until I head to Mexico on my new job, and it's been said to read more current accounts from my travels is more thrilling than the flashbacks (like I'm doing with Fiji at the moment). And though I'll be incredibly busy in Mexico, I would like to attempt more real-time postings in my favored various media forms.
Therefore, I'll soon be amping up my written postings from The Nakavika Project, telling the elaborate tales more frequently in the week in order to fit it all in before the bulk of Mexico. I'll also be covering what I'm up to in present day while still offering timeless advice and perspectives on all things travel. The videos will become more current, expansive, and interactive.
This is going to be one ca-razy month!
1 Minute or Less Moments: This week on my Nomadderwhere Facebook Fan Page, I've published raw video clips of Garrett and I enjoying the Coral Coast on New Year's Eve.
Mom, Dad, and long time readers: You've seen me struggle to satiate my passion for movement for over three years. I've blogged about this love of travel and my desire to get paid to live this lifestyle enough to make you and me both sick. It seemed like an impossible task, but I'm here today to tell you...I did it. My blog got me a dreamy travel job. Sincerely, LindsayRead More
Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maarten Troost, which wears a title that simultaneously excites and annoys me. I've heard this Dutch/Canadian/American's books touch on "Look how funny I am," and I've also seen his coverage of the South Pacific make lists like "The Top 50 Travel Narratives."
I read his chapters on Fiji before I traveled there and read the entire book upon landing back in America. I am now fully prepared to go at these pages with a critical eye.Read More
Welcome to Day Four of my Carnival of Blogs, celebrating one year at Nomadderwhere.com!
For those of you who have followed my most recent adventures through the Fijian interior, you know I've been working hard, alongside my project partner Garrett, to self-start a humanitarian effort focused on health and education in the village of Nakavika. I'm happy to report the official launch of The Nakavika Project subdomain!
I invite you to click the image above and peruse this new venue for posting all things Nakavika and project-like. This includes:
Details about our three main objectives: Health, Education, and (our newest addition) Scholarship and how we hope to accomplish our goals remotely
View student profiles from Nakavika looking for school funding
Details on three ways to participate and support The Nakavika Project
Videos and written posts much like that found on Nomadderwhere.com
And more! ...of course, there's always more!
Why a Separate Website?
Nomadderwhere.com is becoming all sorts of things: a source of information on RTW traveling, traveling solo as a woman, World Traveler Internship how-tos and content, in addition to whatever step I take next in my traveling and work pursuits. Soon, people won't know where to look and what to do when they open up my website!
By slowly moving the project from my site to its own, the potential for its expansion is much greater and allows for those simply interested in TNP to weed out that material amidst the rest of my work. Maybe some day soon, we'll have an easier way to donate, a bigger support system online for future volunteers, guides on on-site volunteering and a store to purchase our informational DVDs we send to Nakavika.
In order for that to happen, we need support: readers, commentators, donors, inspiration, and people interested in donating their time and energy making this project better.
To subscribe or follow The Nakavika Project on its own, click on the following feeds to get access to posts and tweets. Simply following my feed and twitter may not fill you in on every notification for the project, so be sure you don't miss a thing!
Garrett and I thank you profusely for your support and encouragement with the project, as it certainly was a true test of our character, tenacity, and knowledge of world cultures and basic human rights. Right now, we're waiting for a response from the village spokesman about our future interests in the village (sent via snail mail) and putting together a scholarship request packet for hopeful students.
I'm very happy to report Nomadderwhere has come a long way since this time last year, when I moved from a simple blogspot to a bonafide domain of my own. Since that time I've changed my writing style and topics, grown a readership of surprisingly many (thanks to you), won the most amazing internship known to man, and turned this online outlet for my travel thoughts and work into something that may one day sustain me. For those of you just stopping by for the first time, this is probably the best post at which to start. According to my stats and Google analytics, these are the top posts for Nomadderwhere.
...I didn’t study telecommunications or video art in college, nor did I have a good operating system while making my application video last year. If you’re new at this, like I was, don’t worry because if you have a computer, some travel footage and a passion to produce, you can make some mean videos...Bottom line is to be aware of the story you are crafting and make sure it gives people a reason to watch beyond 10 seconds and a reason to stick around until the end. The music helps me monumentally with this step of the process.
...I received word from two different people that Cafe Ba-Ba-Reebas! in Lincoln Park had the greatest and most authentic tapas in the city. Since my cousin is a budding foodie and my other friend lived in Spain and learned to cook there, I took their advice as fast as I took down my sangria. Rioja short ribs with manchego mashed potatoes, house meat plate with serrano, salchichon, chorizo, chicken & artichoke paella, crispy spicy potatoes with sun-dried tomato alioli, and warm potato & onion omelette - everything tasted so flavorful, even my friends who had been here before were amazed and raving. The thrill of good food doesn’t get old...
...But he found more appeal in living with 100+ kids in a country he had no ties to. He wanted to move people and make physical and emotional necessities available to anyone. With that desire and an experience such as the one he had at Palm Tree, his life work was destined to be hugely impacting and awe-inspiring, and I'm so sorry we don't get to witness his next steps.But he passed with people who loved him and he loved in return, in his sleep on the beach in Cambodia...
...The Greek and Italian languages are nothing alike There’s no avoiding cigarette smoke in Greece…It’s everywhere In Greece, the party starts well after midnight and can continue into brunch time The water really is that blue...
...For some reason unknown to me and my surrounding web, I've decided it's okay to miss the things that matter most in order to blaze literal and personal trails towards anything from failure to success. This travel path can sound illogical and like a waste, but when I realize the passions I've acquired and the maturity I've obtained, I fear where I would be without all those 50+ flights to global destinations and potential moments of learning...
...Nomadderwhere is a philosophy: it doesn't matter where you are, it matters that you're always learning and flexing with your surroundings, whether you're traveling or stationary. To capture this idea is to capture the art of travel, to know the importance of movement and to become self-aware...because you are the only constant in your world...
...“So I know we agreed on 40 rupees to the Siliguri bus station, but I know you’re going to forget this deal, even though I wrote the fare down on my hand. I’m really hoping you’re an honest and swell guy who claims he has change when he really does.” With this sort of dialogue, it’s all about tone and appearance. Speak kindly and smile the entire time. It doesn’t work any other way. And a word from experience: the more you make them laugh, the better the fare becomes...
...Since I returned from a round-the-world trip on August 17th, I’ve done very little besides sit in front of screens – computer, TV, what-have-you. I seldom leave home or drive my car unless it’s purely necessary. Rarely do I step outside if not to summon my cat in at twilight, and the most exercise I get comes from group fitness classes at the gym down the street. I spent one weekend in northern Indiana with my best friends eating guacamole and floating on one long raft around Lake Tippicanoe, but that certainly can’t be all the excitement I can handle over a two month period. Why do I not carpe the diem when I’m not traveling?...
...What was certainly magnified by Krakauer's text was the reality that we humans harbor primordial desires, and it's on a sliding scale how much we allow these feelings to be heard and acted upon. It is my belief that travelers, adventurers, nomads and those hopeful to detach from the man-made structure of modern civilization are more responsive to those "calls of the wild." Unconventional living forces a constant reevaluation of one's life [and one's mortality], and when we are closer in mindset to our own expiration, it seems we connect closer to the motivations of our primitive ancestors...
...Within the open ocean is a sea of 60-40 couples, incredibly perky cougars on the prowl, families with seven year-old twins and recent divorcees taking back their lives, not to mention a slew of Rascals scooting about. Of course, every cruise liner caters to a different demographic, which accounts for the vast differences among the commercial cruising fleets, but what they all share is the sense of ease that, in the mind of a “bare-bones” traveler, strips the so-called adventure down to physical displacement and cognitive retirement, which is in many cases the whole point...
...I work in an environment where people are stuck in one mindset. The monotony of everyday life can suck you in and but also give you the comfort of stability. I want to stimulate my mind and mix things up. My entire senior year of college I saved for my trip to Europe, and everyday I think back to the crazy things I did and the knowledge that I gathered and feel proud. Being young and having a flexible (and seasonal) job is a plus. So spending my money on travel is why it’s there...
...L: “I found an amazing flight deal I want to look further into. If the price is right, would you consider dropping the road trip idea and heading to Fiji to live in a village? We could do our own thing there, use our skills to start some effort from scratch, and I know we’re already invited and welcome to be there. I talked to them a week ago.” G: “Wow, Linz, you’re turnin’ the tables on me! This could be such a huge opportunity. Let me think it over…(30 minutes later)...I am completely, 100% behind this idea...
...We landed perfectly, a few steps to a complete standing stop, and I yelled my amazement to all the men at the bottom who hear these exclamations every day. And that was it. I jumped out of a plane. Nuts. Simply nuts...
Today is my 1,168th daily anniversary of travel blogging, but Nomadderwhere.com is but an infant still. Since I bought my own domain exactly one year ago, I've evolved my site extensively, far beyond what I was capable of from the get-go.
I'm proud today to display my year's progress and hopefully inspire you to achieve progress in your own passionate plans.
From a simple blogspot to a self-hosted wordpress...
...let's celebrate Nomadderwhere's first birthday!
I keep my MacBook Pro shinier than a baby's bottom. Never do I set my backpack down without taking extra care for my precious laptop. And when my travels brought me to Fiji in December, I needed something special to cover my silver slab of genius through the bumpy rides, sweltering heat, and cyclone weather. May I introduce my Alkr Urban Protection Sleeve; it's Fiji-tested.
The Melon Shock Sleeve
The dudes at Alkr are just like me; they love their technology and love to travel. They pose an interesting question, "Why not put your beloved gadget in something that excites you, much like the gadget itself?" With its cushioned interior and a flamboyant, durable neoprene exterior, it gets the job of protecting and invigorating...done.
The Urban Protection Sleeve offers the following:
Complete notebook protectionPadded at every angle, this sleeve absorbed the shock from multiple bouts of rough transportation, namely the carrier from the coastal highway to the inland valley of Namosi. Namosi means "valley of pain," since the journey to the interior on foot was a difficult one (the journey in the carrier not being that much better). Not only did the sleeve absorb the bone-rattling drive but also kept leaking tuna head juice on the floor from penetrating my laptop. That's some serious protection.
Form-ﬁtting 3mm neoprene construction It certainly was form fitting, and this is one of the two reasons why I had a little difficulty with my sleeve. I have a 15" MacBook Pro, and placing it into the cover was always a tight squeeze, especially when I closed the zipper. I'm guessing it's essential to have the neoprene hug the computer in order to offer optimal protection, but a few millimeters here would have taken the pressure off the zipper and allowed it not to snag.
Heavy-duty zipper with closed-seam construction The closed seam and strong zipper, along with the tension of the tight squeeze, could be why the fabric holding the zipper became thin and unable to handle all the activity. It probably lasted a good month before I couldn't zip it fully anymore, for fear of not being able to take my laptop back out. These days, I simply place my computer in the sleeve and leave it unzipped, which still protects the laptop to a good extent. Sadly, one of the zipper handles also fell off because that which held it in place was bent from the pressure of zipping too strongly.
Cushioned interior with soft fleece lining As I said previously, the cushioning was fantastic, and the soft fleece lining superior. No complaints here!
Compatibility with many laptops The urban protection sleeve can accommodate the 13" MacBook, Air, and Pro, as well as the 15" MacBook Pro and PowerBook. Alkr is a new company, and their product line will grow in the future, possibly accommodating 17" MacBooks.
The Pro/Con Balance
My melon shock sleeve is one tight little case, as the appearance certainly reflects a creative and exciting air. I received my product mere days after the company launched its sales in certain countries, so I assumed I received one from a preliminary litter. Therefore, I was very understanding that it had a fit and zipper issue; it takes a while to perfect the product line. However, I would have preferred to have a fully functional case for my laptop in Fiji and today on my wee intra-state trips.
I didn't pay for this sleeve, but would I purchase my next one? Yes, because my issues with the sleeve's malfunctions would be covered in the warranty and replaced or repaired at no cost to me. I'd rather not go back to something dull and lifeless.
The Real Travel Situations I put my laptop and sleeve in a thin backpack on the floor of the carrier en route to the village. A woman sitting at the front of the bed had recently purchased a frozen fish head that was melting its juices in a stream toward my backpack. I didn't realize what happened until we grabbed the pack and smelt the odor. Thankfully, my laptop didn't smell at all like fish, and the sleeve easily rid itself of the smell in a simple hand wash.
I took at least ten trips on the village carrier, three-hour bumpy rides through rivers, potholes, and hurricane aftermath. My laptop never incurred any damages.
The zippers easily fit together to lock up, keeping unwanted guests from playing games and fiddling with my laptop.
The Bottom Line
Part of the reason why I'm still a fan of Alkr is the person behind it. Juergen found me via twitter after I inquired about laptop cases. His outreach was amazing, and I found him to be a very kind and reliable guy. I'm not interested in doing business with apathetic people, and as I've told many backpackers I've met around the world, I simply love Germans. Win...and win for Alkr.
Next time you consider buying a gadget accessory (a laptop sleeve perhaps), give Alkr a perusal, because if you like any color in your life, you'll be barking up the right tree.
These sleeves are sold in stores in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Netherlands and Switzerland, but they can also be shipped via UPS around the world for a reasonable fee.
Since I embarked on December 1st to develop The Nakavika Project, I've been quite inconsistent with my written postings, even though they've all published as frequently as expected. For those of you waiting to hear so much that we've left uncovered, I've got some 'splaining to do. Starting off with action inspired by Chris Guillebeau's ebook, I moved on to recount the experiences of our first steps in Fiji. Getting up to Nakavika was a full day adventure that ended poetically, while the next days involved village logistics and the acceptance of our mission.
Once we were established in the Highlands, we started getting comfortable, going swimming daily with the kids, watching shocking swine slaughterings, assimilating with our demographic, and becoming members of our host family and community. Within one week of traveling to the interior, Garrett and I journeyed back down to Suva for an internet run and returned one day later to a cyclone experience neither of us will ever let mentally slip away.
But I let my writings slip from that moment on.
I lost track of writing as the cyclone threatened our water source and made showering, drinking water, cooking food, washing clothes and even swimming more difficult and time-consuming. The road washed away at Namando, making it difficult for the diesel to reach Nakavika and power the generator that juiced my laptop's empty battery. Our housing situation became sticky and riddled with unknowns and inconveniences. We planned our escape to recuperate from multiple bacterial infections.
And I let my excuses eat away at my writing muse.
Instead of catching up with an explanation of our trip to Suva and Cyclone Mick, I jumped around to speaking Fijian and matters of global citizenship. I discussed the scattered happenings of our project classes with not only the kids but the youth and adults as well.
So what's the plan?
Chronology be damned, I'm going to tell you the whole scoop eventually, excluding the dirty details, which are for us to know and you to ponder about endlessly. Starting this Friday, I'll fill you in on the occurrences of my mini-vacation in Fiji prior to flying home on Valentine's Day - then I'll tap into the stories of my inland adventure.
After officially leaving the village on the 1st of February and parting ways with homeward bound Garrett and Jackie, I spent some time in a coastal village outside Suva, chatted with Madventurer contact Kimbo, and took a steady, pleasant ride through the Mamanucas to the Yasawa islands. Here at Wayalailai Ecohaven, I am turning my brain off to recover from two months in a different world.
After detailing these lovely happenings, I'll return to the stories of yore…Cyclone Mick, Christmas in the village, our holiday time off and so on. By the end of these tales, you'll know more about Fijian culture and mindsets than you ever wanted to.
And finally, the status of The Nakavika Project - TNP is going underground for a few weeks to undergo some serious plastic surgery. The seemingly obvious flow of progress changed and professed a need for reevaluation. Garrett and I will be working on TNP for the next month or so, crafting it into the most successful project it has the ability of being. As could have been anticipated, our expectations were somewhat off from the project's predestination.
So prepare yourself for many more weeks of tales, starting with the most recent and then whipping back in time like Tarantino. Weekly videos will continue chronologically, somewhat, with the same level of hilarity and other-worldliness.
Please continue to comment as these are the sharpeners to my writing and blogging blade.
Today I'm flying home. I have no other quotes to share but these...not about travel but about education and ignorance.
If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. -Abraham Lincoln
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. -Albert Einstein
A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again. -Alexander Pope
To be ignorant of one's ignorance is the malady of the ignorant. -Amos Bronson Alcott
Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know. -Daniel J. Boorstin
An age is called Dark, not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. -James Michener
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong. -Thomas Jefferson
A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right. -Thomas Paine
Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. -Will Durant
Update on Nomadderwhere
I'm tired, and I've smelled like a bus station bench for over two months.
After months in a highland village, weeks recharging in village beach resorts, and days talking out issues with Fijians and like-minded thinkers, I'm ready to meet my family in Florida for a wee reunion before heading back to the snow of Indiana.
The project will involve a lot of work and a lot of explaining right here on good ol' Nomadderwhere before it can become anything. But we've got tenacity and don't take this project lightly.
Also, it is with sincere apologies that I report there will be no Video of the Week tomorrow, as internet time here is too expensive and I've been too busy doing absolute squat. But check out Alongside the Village to recap the experiences we've had thus far. And be prepared for the onslaught of good stuff come this Wednesday as I lay out the plan for Nakavika Project content. There's still OH-so much we haven't told you.
Wish me luck that this flight is somewhat smooth...and without snakes.
One more week before I head back to America, flying home on the 14th. Get this - I get to enjoy two Valentine's Days this year. Let's take one more look at some travel quotes (since I don't have time to check out my favorite travel blogs) before we bring an end to The Nakavika Project.
If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things. -Henry Miller
As a member of an escorted tour, you don't even have to know that the Matterhorn isn't a tuba. -Temple Fielding
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. -Augustine
Travel doesn't merely broaden the mind. It makes the mind. -Bruce Chatwin
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. -Caskie Stinnett
Travel is the ruin of all happiness! There's no looking at a building after seeing Italy. -Fanny Burney
There is nothing like a comfortable adventure to put people in a good humor. -Peter Mayle
Update on Nomadderwhere
So the fundraiser...we made $171.80 FJD (roughly $90 USD) by selling our donations to the villagers - clothes, purses, backpacks, balloons, rings - and then doubled this amount with our own project funds to use all the profits on supplies for the dispensary. We ended up sending nearly $400 FJD worth of Band-aids, anti-biotic ointment, and more supplies than I can remember. Vita, the dispensary manager and the village first-aid guru, received the box with her ever-present gratitude.
After two months of setting up a volunteer-based project up in the Highlands of Viti Levu, it has come to our attention that changes have to be made in our plan. I'm in the process of detailing the shifts in concept for a future posting. The project will continue on but in a different vehicle, rather than through volunteers. And in a month or so, a new subdomain will be created just for the Nakavika Project. Look forward to that, why dontcha!
Once again, I fall victim to the paucity of internet in the village. I don't know what people are writing about or what's going on in this world. It's kinda nice, I gotta say. I'm instead looking inward while on The Nakavika Project. Let's make like Janet Jackson and go deep in our thinking, facilitated by some travel quotes:
Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way. -Ralph Crawshaw
If you actually look like your passport photo, you aren't well enough to travel. -Sir Vivian Fuchs
They change their climate, not their soul, who rush across the sea. -Horace, Epistles
A traveler without observation is a bird without wings. -Saadi
I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read. -Oscar Wilde
I like terra firma - the more firma, the less terra. -George S. Kaufman
Update on Nomadderwhere
Sunday evening we came down to town via Rivers Fiji truck for some much needed rest and internet work. The three of us (Jackie Knowles has joined the project...have I mentioned that?) promised the village we would create a video in honor of the funeral week and the passing of Elias. Thus far, the video is half-way finished and 30 minutes long. We still have a lot of work to do.
We're also in the process of developing written agreements with the village and with our 0n-site coordinator, Abel. Having our main points written on paper makes things much more official in Fiji but still doesn't save us from any future headaches. Making deals and having understandings has proved to be difficult thus far. We'll see how this project pans out. Although, as much trouble as we've had with all this, the reasons for us to be here have solidified even further. There's a reason why humanitarian projects aren't covering every inch of the communities that need them. It's not easy.
Returning on Wednesday to the village, we will be having an immediate meeting the headmaster, as he has returned from school break for the first week of classes. We're hoping to discuss the needs of the school, identify things in our power we could do to improve the school, and develop the project even further.
On Saturday, we are also having a fundraiser for the project, which will function much like a yard sale. Using donations both Jackie and I brought over from America, we will provide the village mothers a chance to peruse clothing, purses, backpacks and knick-knacks at a very low price (think a $.25 USD or less). Every mother will be allowed one item per child, and the profits of this fundraiser will go toward buying fever reducer for the village dispensary. The project will also double the final earnings in order to enable more medicine to get to those who need it. The idea behind selling our donations is about teaching the mothers to invest in their child's health, not just use what medicine is free and continue to give money to their children only for candy and billiard games. We'll see how this goes.
Sadly, I'm not able to read the blogs I regularly follow, thanks to a lack of internet in the village. Instead I'm looking inward while on The Nakavika Project. Join me in some deep thinking facilitated by some travel quotes:
If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. -James A. Michener
Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God. -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. -Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
If an ass goes traveling, he'll not come home a horse. -Thomas Fuller
When you come to a fork in the road, take it. -Yogi Berra
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. -Izaak Walton
Update on Nomadderwhere
Without a doubt, the most dramatic week in Nakavika yet...
A 45 year-old man died of a heart attack this week in the village, and the stress of the week has caused some interesting, some negative, some unexpected changes in the village. Updates will come very soon in the form of blog posts, as this weekly space isn't sufficient for telling the stories of these surreal and movie-like adventures.
The bottom line for this project: whatever program we create in Nakavika will certainly be an adventure for the strong and the tough-skinned. This is no trip to paradise. This is true work against the odds for the good.
Join us in learning an incredibly useful and global language…Fijian! Remember to roll your R's and note the difference in pronouncing C's and J's.Read More
I've got no clue what other bloggers are up to these days, nor the latest in news or developments in...well, nuthin'. But I'm instead looking inward while on The Nakavika Project, and I am inviting you to join in some deep thinking facilitated by some travel quotes:
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast. -Ernest Hemingway
I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. -Robert Louis Stevenson
Travel is 90% anticipation and 10% recollection. -Edward Streeter
Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart. -Confucius
The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has comes to see. -G.K. Chesterton
There is a ghost that eats handkerchiefs; it keeps you company on all your travels. -Christian Morganstern
The more I see of other countries the more I love my own. -Madame De Stael
Update on Nomadderwhere
Welcome to the weekend update with Lindsay Clark, Garrett Russell and Tina Fey.
The chief of the Namosi province announced this week that all kava drinking must stop by 10pm, in order to improve province health, productivity and family time. Noble plan, chief…I'm on board. However, when no one seems to have watches, it's going to be hard to gauge the cut-off, especially when there's no one in the village interested in ratting people out. Noble plan…ain't gonna happen.
Garrett and I found out this week there is a village "nurse" - someone with basic aid training and a government funded dispensary. She happens to be the coolest women we've met thus far up here, and we've given her all of our medical resources in order to train children and adults to find her for first aid. Throughout this experience, we've expressed the interest in finding Garrett a protege to carry on with first aid help in the village. We found it mildly funny, and a wee bit annoying, we never knew she existed until now. The project's potential has just tripled in the health department.
The Nakavika Project is gaining momentum as many talks have occurred between the village and ourselves. It looks as if, after proper introduction and explanation of the whole concept to the elders, we'll be all set for having our own volunteer program in the highlands. Details are fairly squared away, and a website is in the works. Abel will be our point man in the village and the main coordinator of all things NP locally.
Speaking of the NP, our team is not just two but three! Jackie Knowles has joined the project and is currently enjoying day three up in the village. She will be staying with Vita, the village nurse and our new best friend, along with her very smart and adorable children. They also have a cat I earned the privilege of naming "Lady Snugs" after a long petting session where I gained a friend and also determined the gender of this previously androgynous cat. Don't read that last sentence with a dirty mind…sicko.
We experienced our first fundraiser in the village this week, one dedicated to collecting funds for a village lady headed for teacher's college. The evening involved dancing, kava, Akon, island rhythms, and most likely a little fire rum. Details are to come.
What's going on in the world? I haven't the slightest, but I'm instead looking inward while on The Nakavika Project, and I am inviting you to join in some deep thinking facilitated by some travel quotes:
Twenty years from now you will be mor disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain
The heaviest baggage for a traveler is an empty purse. -English Proverb
Travelers never think that they are foreigners. -Mason Cooley
The Promised Land always lies on the other side of the wilderness. -Havelock Ellis
He who never leaves his country is full of prejudices. -Carlo Goldoni
I have found that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. -Mark Twain
Update on Nomadderwhere
After a very appreciated vacation to Rakiraki and Pacific Harbor, Garrett and I came back to the village in full force, prepared with more resources (adult and children's books, supplies for managing money, instructional tools, sharpeners, etc.). We're making the following changes to our schedules and classes:
Creating weekly schedules for ourselves to feel and be more productive in work as well as cover more ground in our cultural pursuits
Establishing a set time for children's classes every weekday to keep from the kids lingering around all day long
Create and publicize two weekly seminars for the youth members and adults that will cover various topics of their interest (see The Itinerary for details)
Incorporate reading time after classes with the kids, which will include reading to groups of kids and asking questions and promoting individual reading if they're curious
We also came back to the village before our host mother returned from her trip home (Savusavu). I was appointed the woman of the house and had to clean and prepare food for ourselves. Garrett and I wanted to make American dishes with Fijian ingredients, such as:
Mashed cassava (with butter, salt and maybe a little cream?)
Vegetable soup (with beans and veggies)
Whole wheat tortillas with a bean and veggie mixture
Who knows what else...
We'll be back to the internet on the 14th of January! See you then!