2013 Review

Another eventful year has ended, and more memories piled atop old. I’m struggling these days even more to hold them all in my head, and find that some leak out as others enter. I hope this post immortalises some of them, capturing an hint of them to serve as a future prompt, a link to a sight, a story, a smell that still lingers in my brain. Before all that though, here is a little clip of how we ushered in 2014 in Germany!

Pictures and videos for some of these memories to come soon! All links below are to existing blog posts on the topics.

January (Japan)

  • Snowboarding with Arnault, Delphine and friends at Nozawa Onsen on multiple weekends
  • The green shoes with pink laces finally paid off when I met Julia

February (Japan)

  • Completed my first marathon, the Tokyo Marathon in 4 hrs 12 minutes and achieved my goal of running the whole 42kms.
  • A big month for work, with the INPEX, IFC and both JICA BoP projects all  being wrapped up at the same time
  • Off-piste snowboarding with Arnault, Delphine and friends.

March (Japan and Thailand)

  • A weekend trip to the Boso peninsular and the fire festival at Takao-San with Julia
  • 10 day return bike trip to Osaka and surrounds and return via Route 19 with Julia, including a catch-up with Lloyd-san.

April (Thailand)

May (Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda)

June (Africa, Holland and USA)

  • Cederburg bike and hike weekend
  • Amsterdam stop-over and catch-up with Julia
  • New York visit for training
  • Presentation of South African PoC site selection model to NHLS PoC forum in Pretoria

July (Africa, Munich, Austria, Slovakia and Italy)

  • Ethiopian food and cultural night with the team
  • Catch-up with Samir and Julia in Munich
  • Train trip From Munich to Bratislava via Vienna
  • Best man for Bryans wedding in Bratislava
  • Family holiday in Sardinia, Italy
  • Rome weekend with Julia

August (South Africa)

  • Supporting the SA DAT team transition
  • NeighbourGoods and ArtonMain markets
  • Apartheid museum

September (South Africa, Lesotho, Ethiopia)

  • Hiking Cathkin peak and the Cathederal, Drakensburg mountains with Antoinette
  • Raspberry day trip with John and Sameera
  • Lesotho Wine tasting festival

October (South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland)

  • Cape Town to Lesotho via the Garden Route bike journey
  • Cube 10 course degustation dinner for my 30th birthday with Julia, drinks with John, Hanna, Antoinette and Vibhutti.
  • Kruger, Swaziland, Drakensburgs, and outback Lesotho bike tour with Julia

November (Lesotho, South Africa)

  • DAT Access Summit in Pretoria
  • Golf with Nick in Pretoria
  • Hiking Ketane Falls in Lesotho with Emma, Bhavya, Jenna and friends.

December ( South Africa, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Munich)

  • SA team strategy week and Regimen Optimisation workshops
  • Weekend wine tasting in the Stellenbosch with Maria, Micah and Bhavya
  • LST strategy meeting in Camps Bay and SA POC modelling team workshop
  • Ethiopia GeneXpert Workshop and presentation in Adama
  • Julia and friends traditional Christmas eve ‘Werewolf’ game
  • Christmas in Bavaria with Julias’ family
  • Snow shoe hiking in the Alps
  • NYE celebration in Munich

Christmas in Bavaria

A sneak peek into Christmas in Bavaria. After visiting the Christmas markets in Munich We travelled to my girlfriends family farm in Bavaria.

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I didn’t get to capture much of the food, but rest assured the two meals included sausages of various kinds, potato and bread dumplings, saur kraut, brussels, spätzle (home made pasta), and also rolled beef filled with pickled cucumber and boiled eggs. To bring a little bit if Aussie tradition to the party I whipped up a Christmas pudding with assistance from a Country women’s Association recipe and mums skype assistance.

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To top the whole day off we took a short drive into the foothills so that we could claim it was a white Christmas!

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Information, privacy and the public service. A disaster.

The letter below is apparently an actual open letter sent to the DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) Immigration Minister currently doing the rounds on the internet. I wanted to highlight it here for a number of reasons; 1. because its funny; 2. because the language and attitude  reminds me so much of home; and 3. because it highlights some very good issues about information sharing in the public service in general that even prevents us at work from saving lives in Africa.

 

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Dear Mr Minister,

I’m in the process of renewing my passport, and still cannot believe this.

How is it that K-Mart has my address and telephone number, and knows that I bought a television set and golf clubs and condoms from them back in 1997, and yet the Federal Government is still asking me where I was born and on what date ?

For Christ sakes, do you guys do this by hand ?

My birth date you have in my Medicare information, and it is on all the income tax forms I’ve filed for the past 40 years. It is also on my driver’s licence, on the last eight passports I’ve ever had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I’ve had to fill out before being allowed off planes over the past 30 years. It’s also on all those insufferable census forms that I’ve filled out every 5 years since 1966.

Also… would somebody please take note, once and for all, that my mother’s name is Audrey, my father’s name is Jack, and I’d be absolutely bloody astounded if that ever changed between now and when I drop dead !!!

SHIT! What do you people do with all this information we keep having to provide? I apologize, Mr. Minister. But I’m really pissed off this morning. Between you and me, I’ve had enough of all this bullshit!

You send the application to my house, then you ask me for my bloody address!

What the hell is going on with your mob? Have you got a gang of mindless Neanderthal arseholes working there? And another thing, look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? I can’t even grow a beard for God’s sakes. I just want to go to New Zealand and see my new granddaughter.  (Yes, my son interbred with a Kiwi girl).  And would someone please tell me, why would you give a shit whether or not I plan on visiting a farm in the next 15 days? In the unlikely event I ever got the urge to do something weird to a sheep or a horse, believe you me, I’d sure as hell not want to tell anyone!

Well, I have to go now, ’cause I have to go to the other side of Sydney , and get another bloody copy of my birth certificate – and to part with another $80 for the privilege of accessing MY OWN INFORMATION! Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same spot, to assist in the issuance of a new passport on the same day?

No, that’d be too bloody easy and makes far too much sense.

You would much prefer to have us running all over the bloody place like chickens with our heads cut off, and then having to find some ‘high-society’ wanker to confirm that it’s really me in the goddamn photo! You know the photo… the one where we’re not allowed to smile?…you bloody morons.

Signed – An Irate Australian Citizen.

P.S. Remember what I said above about the picture, and getting someone in ‘high-society’ to confirm that it’s me? Well, my family has been in this country since before 1820! In 1856, one of my forefathers took up arms with Peter Lalor (You do remember the Eureka Stockade?!). I have also served in both the CMF and regular Army for something over 30 years (I went to Vietnam in 1967), and still have high security clearances. I’m also a personal friend of the president of the RSL Lt General Peter Cosgrove sends me a Christmas card each year.

However, your rules require that I have to get someone “important” to verify who I am; you know…someone like my doctor – WHO WAS BORN AND RAISED OUTSIDE AUSTRALIA! In a country where they either assassinate or hang their ex-Prime Ministers – and are suspended from the Commonwealth and United Nations for not having the “right sort of government”.

You are all pen-pushing paper-shuffling bloody idiots!

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How does this prevent us from saving lives at work? Complete lack in most countries of a national identity system that can be used by the health care system to identify patients. This makes it very difficult to provide results, maintain patient histories, track patients progress in out-care or community care, and monitor infected peoples. All of which are key elements in treating and preventing the spread of infectious diseases like TB and especially MDR-TB.

Yes, there are privacy concerns, but they are not insurmountable.

Cape Town Open Street festival and neighborhood markets

Cape Town is a beautiful, vibrant city with a large and growing activist community. There is always a buzz about people and places that are trying to make themselves better. I was lucky enough to pop into the Open Street festival in Cape Town at the end of May when all my gear arrived. I was doubly lucky to have the energetic Cecile to show me around and introduce me to many of the exciting and interesting people that are improving the social equality in and around Cape Town.

For more information on the open streets project you should visit: http://openstreets.co.za/

For more information on the Old Mill Neighborhood markets you should visit: http://www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za/

Enjoy the pics.

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Dinner diary: Cresta president caterpillars

Eating caterpillars was a new and enjoyable dining experience for me. Served as part of the dinner buffet they were really the highlight of the evening and all thats worth reporting on.

Apparently they used to form an integral part of the protein diet of southern and eastern africans when times were tough. Deep fried they were a little chewy with a slightly gummy texture and a gamy, smoky flavour with a slight bitterness similar to stewed spinach.

 

Tanzania!

Well, I finally made it to Africa, although not how I originally expected! I have started a new job which will involve a lot of travel around Africa and one which will hopefully have a significant impact on the TB death rate. Although it is not my preferred mode of travel I’m happy that one of my travel goals has been achieved and that I’m here in Africa.

So what to do on my first weekend in Africa? Go on Safari of course! We visited the Ngorogoro crater and nearby lake Manyara. Both are closely situated to the Serengeti National park, which was just a little out of reach this weekend.

The checklist of animals we spotted was impressive, and the Ngorogor crater itself very impressive. I’m struggle to reconcile how green Tanzania is with my expectations. Then again, it is situated just below the equator and has both Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru, towering on the border with Kenya to the north, that drag down the clouds and the rain.

Mind you I still managed to get sunburnt even though I was wearing a rain-coat! Enjoy the pictures, it was a pleasure taking them! Lake Manyana photos will come in a post soon.

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Dinner diary: Palacina Hotel Moonflower restaurant

Dinner diary: Palacina Hotel Moonflower restaurant

The Moonflower provides a wondrerfully relaxing, rustic and pleasant dining experience. It could hold its nose in the air and be irritatingly pretentious, but it doesn’t, it is friendly and down to earth. I think it is the smiley, uber friendly waiters and staff that deserve credit for ensuring those that show up in jeans, tshirt and thongs still feel comfortable amongst the finery of the decore and clientele.

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The veranda
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They also have a live band playing soft jazz tunes

I had the grilled snapper on seasonal veggies.

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Grilled snapper with lime butter sauce
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Spinach side plus complimentary bread!

The grilled options, which also includes lamb chops (also delicious) come with a selection of sides including mashed, roasted or fried potatoes or rice. I asked for extra green vegies and was ingormed I could have spinach, which I received sauteed in a white wine and cream sauce. Perfect.

Best yet, Moonflower does not break the bank. Mains are about 1200 Kenyan shillings, incidentally the same price I paid for a custom smoked salmon sandwich for lunch! I think that is about $15.

Highly recommend.

Chiang Mai and the International cricket 6’s

Chiang Mai and the International cricket 6’s

After leaving Japan I was lucky enough to have some time in Northern Thailand and Laos before starting my new job here in Tanzania. Part of the time in Northern Thailand was taking part in the Chiang Mai international cricket 6’s tournament.

About 26 teams competed this year, represented by over 120 players plus about another ~100 social participants. The competition was held at the Gymkhana ground in Chiang Mai, which was beautifully prepared, and an immense amount of fun was had by all, on and off the ground. Some pics from competition are included for your enjoyment – for t

he record the Tokyo Wombats did pretty well, especially since they were carrying yours truly who seems to have forgotten how to bowl!

In addition to playing cricket, drinking beer and vodka slammer ‘fines’ and gathering collective wisdom about Northern Thailand and Africa, I did manage to have a look around Chiang Mai and the nearby Doi Suthep national Park.

Bigger adventures were to follow and you can look forward to more on that in the future. Following that, yet bigger adventures in Tanzania and Africa! Enjoy for now.

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