Showing posts from February, 2012

Elephant Orphanage

This morning I went to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. It's essentially an orphanage for baby elephants.

*Preamble: I am going to trust in this organization and believe that it is an honest and true organization, and is actually what it set out to be - a place for elephants to come and stay until they are strong enough until they are able to roam with the regular wild elephants. I feel a bit guilty for saying this - but - I'm finding out more and more - that people will say anything for a buck. I hate that. For my sanity - I'm beleiving in these people and this organization.*

Ok, so every day from 11h00 to 12h00, the orphanage brings out two different groups of elephants to be fed in front of the public. There is an area roped off and the elephants generally stay in this roped area.

The first group is the babies of the group - ranging up to 24 months.
The second group is the older group - I can't remember how old they were but no elephant stays here beyond the ag…


My "day at the spa" was cut short. I may be staying at a reputable hotel chain....but I still have to remember where I am....and it's a long way from Kansas Canada.

I waited in the locker room for fifteen minutes or so, then I was escorted by the massage therapist to a room in the hotel with a massage bed. It was sort of going ok, until she started to use her knees and legs to massage my back, all while doing some kind of acrobatic moves. And...she had hairy legs so that added another aspect to the sensory component. And she must have prepared a spicy supper because her hands smelled distinctly like garlic. I had to hold my breath at times. She told me she was going to do a body scrub after - which I nixed. I've had one before and's kind of weird. And not what I signed up for. There wasn't any mention of the pedicure that I had pre-arranged but after seeing the conditions in the locker room/"spa", I was happy to leave early.

I'm stil…

No Pics

For some reason I can't sleep tonight and I was just re-reading the journal I kept while climbing Mt Kenya. Wow, I really sound like a crazy person!! :D

I tried to upload a few pictures (to prove that I'm not such a crazy person?) but the internet here is incredibly brutal and I gave up trying after 20 minutes.

I'm still not able to walk properly....hopefully that will go away soon! Looking forward to tomorrow's spa day!

The Climb Journal

Background info of the Mt Kenya Climb
Day 1: Spend a ridiculous amount of time pissing around getting ready for the climb. Climb to first stop, where we stay in…barracks (?). Climbing to 3300 meters (from 2650 meters)
Day 2: Climb up to second stop, same type of accommodation. Climbing to 4200 meters.
Day 3: Acclimatize at second camp and make a practice climb to 4500m.
Day 4: Climb to Point Lenana at 4985metres, rest for an hour, then back down to camp #1
Day 5: Descend back to Mt Kenya entrance and drive 3.5 hrs back to Nairobi

This was a solo trip and the guide was there to lead me and ensure my safety - not be my "buddy". I also had two other people with me that met us at each camp with our heavier gear and cooked for meals for us.
I have very little brain activity right now so I’m just going to post what I wrote in my journal as I went along. It’s not edited and probably inappropriate at times…
Day 1 – nothing written as I was too busy freaking out for stupidly assumi…

The Story Behind the Surprise Wedding

I’m sitting in Nairobi, trying not to be nervous for the climb tomorrow, and I thought I’d rewind a bit and write about the wedding plans and how we came up with this fantabulous idea to get married in the jungle at the Tiki Bar.

For the last…five or six years, I’ve known that I do not want like a “real” wedding. Like, no white dress, no first dance, no elaborate plans starting six to twelve months in advance. There was some talk that maybe “one day” I’d do a destination wedding, but even that seemed a little farfetched. The decision for a “non wedding wedding” became clearer after I went to a wedding this summer. It was exactly what I “thought” I would have wanted. A backyard wedding, white chairs, flowers all around, a clear sky. It was the perfect setting, but I still could never see myself in that situation. It wasn’t that big of a deal because, although I knew Louis was “the one”, I wasn’t in a rush to have a wedding or anything. And then came this trip to Dubai. For the last year …

I'm a princess and I'm okay with that

Looks like I'll have internet the entire time that I'm here, so I'll be randomly posting whatever in the next 17 hours.

I'm at the hotel where we leave from tomorrow. I was told that there would be a guide, but I guess he just meets us later.

This hotel is like...a hostel. That's fine. I am in for much worse accomodations this week and I've stayed in much worse. But it's +30*C here and my air conditionning unit is a small household fan.

My checkout at the last hotel was painful but ok. I'm getting more and more embarrassed because I get "special attention" because they majorly screwed up and I am getting a couple of free nights. I would have preferred to stay there tonight, but whatevs.

Basically, I am rambling on because I'm super super super super nervous for tomorrow. Ok, I'm excited too, but I'm also nervous. Oh - and just to keep it real - I had a driver take me to the bank, a pharmacy (I could not find ANY bug spray in AUE…

Kenya Trip Day 1

I just lost my entire blog post that I wrote. Oh, well. Here's the recap:
I'm pretty nervous. I've done physically challenging things before (200km bike ride in the mountains, half marathon), but I'm still nervous about this one.I transfer hotels in a couple of hours to the hotel that I'll meet my travel group and leave from tomorrow morning. So far there is just me and the guides going on the tour. I'm hoping more people will have joined since the last time I checked.I don't think that I'll have any internet or phone access until the until's hoping I make it to the top and back!

In Nairobi with lots to say

I was so super excited to start my "wedding" posts yesterday. They'll be a little sporadic and mixed in with everything else, and I haven't had a chance to go through all of the pictures.

I'm sitting in my hotel room in Nairobi right now. I made the mistake and read some "travel advisories" before coming here and now I'm paranoid. Also, I had some problems with this hotel and made some complaints, the complaints got escalated so now I have some free nights on my way back and two managers helped me check in and took me to my room. It's awkward.

Also, last night I got some un-fantabulous news about a friend's family member that is fighting cancer...and as a result I think I slept two hours last night. With that amount of sleep, I'm not a totally functionning person.

I got dropped off at the airport this morning, and I couldn't beleive that Emirates has it's own terminal!! My ticket is business class, and I couldn't get over ho…

Status: Married

So...I've been keeping a REALLY big secret. Louis and I....had a SURPRISE WEDDING in Madagascar last Saturday!!! (um...only our guests were surprised, not us, duh!!!)

Since we are both...unique individuals...and neither of us wanted an elaborate wedding....we thought we'd get married, where we met and fell in love (aawwwwwwww!!!!!!!). The cyclone thing kind changed our plans, but on February 11th, 2012, we got married.

I couldn't have predicted this outcome in a gazillion years. We aren't perfect, our lives aren't always sunshine and rainbows, but we are very, very happy together. And will be for a gazillion years. :)

(More on the details soon, I promise! Also - my blog is now open for comments!)

Gold Logic

I lost one of my cheapo earrings that I wear every day. These earrings cost me possibly forty dollars. I went to one of the infamous Gold Souks today, planning to replace the earrings. I left with a pair of 18k earrings and a 24k bracelet. Which ya know, totally comes in handy when you live in the jungle. But using "Gold Logic", it's impossible to NOT buy something ridiculous like this because it's so cheap. When in Rome, I guess....

Cyclone Giovanna kills 16 in Madagascar, worst over

At least 16 people have been killed this week when a category four cyclone lashed Madagascar's eastern shores, rescue authorities said on Wednesday.Some 65 people were injured and about 11,000 people left homeless after Cyclone Giovanna pummelled the country's eastern seaboard causing power shutdowns in parts of the island's port city of Tamatave, rescue officials said.

The eye of the storm had made landfall south of Tamatave and was now headed towards the Mozambique channel. Rescue officials said the death toll could rise.

"It is still a provisional toll and it may still change," Liva Randrianambinina, a communication officer at the National Bureau of Risk Management and Disaster, told Reuters.

Madagascar is prone to cyclones and tropical storms, especially in the rainy season from February to May.

In 2008, Cyclone Ivan smashed Madagascar, killing more than 80 people and leaving over 200,000 homeless.

Madagascar, the world's biggest producer of vanilla…

Abu Dhabi Day 2

I love it here! It's totally not what I expected it! Today we went to famous mosque, did a little shopping, and went for supper. Louis just left Abu Dhabi to catch his plane in Dubai for Montreal.

About the shopping...the jewelry is amazing and a gazillion times cheaper than in Canada or the US. I tried on a few things...but thankfully walked out of the mall. But tomorrow we are going to the Gold Souk. YIKES!!!!!!

"There is plastic bag in back if you want throw up"

Not what I want to hear before I take off for a couple of hours in an SUV in the middle of the desert.

It's popular for tourists to take a "sand safari day" in Abu Dhabi. This includes having a "proffessional" driver drive us up and down extremely high sand dunes (at one point the SUV becomes more like a tobbagon  at times (that's like a sled for any non-Canadians). After the sand duning, we eat on carpets in the middle of nowhere, after a camel ride or two.

Thankfully, I did "want throw up", but the guy sitting next to me neary did. I started to worry when I saw sweat trickle down his face. We are in an air condionned SUV. He barely made it out and I HAVE NO IDEA how we didn't flip these Land Rovers. The drivers partially deflate the tires, which is supposed to help with traction, but at time we are at like a 80 degree angle. Straight down or straight up. At times we come down the sand dune sideways - with the passenger side door leading the w…

Dubai Day #1

Louis & I are spending the first day and a half with a very good friend. He should possibly take a second job as a tour guide. We have very little time in Dubai before we go to Abu Dhabi and he's made sure we have seen as much as possible.

On agenda tonight: boat tour, supper with a few of Louis' ex-colleagues and a fountain show. We are tired but having a blast!

In Dubai

I'm having a migraine so I can't fully enjoy it yet, but all I can say is Wow, Wow, Wow.

It's obviously a very different culture than what I'm used to. I can' wait to take a gazillion pics tomorrow. We have a jam packed day starting with breakfast at 8am ending very very late.


Next stop: Dubai

Yesterday Louis and I had a cool day in Paris. We couldn't really think of anything to do, so we went to a touristy kind of district recommended by a friend. It's around 0*C, so we were a little chilly (again, YES, this makes me feel less like a Canadian!!). After walking around for five or six hours we went for a nice Valentine's Day dinner (thanks grandma and grandpa! We got to use the gift/supper money you gave us for Christmas!). The food wasn't fantastic, but it was a neat place.

Oh - and Paris - seriously - can you guys quit being so rude? I wanted to slap at least three people working in the shops - they were shockingly rude at times. I'm slow and I walk around my merry way like I'm in Canada - and I'm not. Whatevs.

I'm pretty sure I took some good pictures, but we are just about to get ready to catch our plane. To Dubai!!! We are so excited.

(All but for one thing. We have to take this plane that has two levels. I can't figure out why but t…


Nothing like getting kicked when you're down. "Thirteen" is forming and following the same path as Giovanna. Of course, the trajectory path can change frequently, and it's not classified as a cyclone yet (once it is, it will get a real name). It's predicted to be a tropical storm and then form to a level 2 cyclone. Well, shit.

Cyclone Giovanna pummels Madagascar, kills one

ANTANANARIVO | Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:36pm IST
A category four cyclone pummelled Madagascar's eastern shores on Tuesday, killing at least one person and causing power shutdowns in some major towns, the authorities said.In the eastern port city of Tamatave, schools and offices were closed for a second day as heavy rains and powerful gusts lashed the seaboard after Cyclone Giovanna hit the island.

"One person died in Brickaville after an electricity pole fell on her," Alain Mahavimbina, the top official in Antsinanana, told Reuters.

Madagascar is prone to cyclones and tropical storms, especially in the rainy season from February to May. In 2008, Cyclone Ivan smashed Madagascar, killing more than 80 people and leaving over 200,000 homeless.

"Tamatave is like a ghost town," resident Joel Milamaro told Reuters. "The roads are deserted."

In the capital Antananarivo, the authorities cut off power and ordered drivers to stay off the roads and businesses to shu…

Sunday and Monday

I want to start taking more pictures - hold on, let me rephrase.I want to start taking more better pictures. Yesterday and today is a fail.
Despite the most scenic drive ever, I didn't take one picture. Louis took these two while I was holding on praying that I wouldn't puke. Classy.
Like, seriously, I was NOT doing well. 
I started to feel like a real person by the time we got to the hotel a quick seven hours later. Not such a great shot of the two of us. I still look a little under the weather. Damn you rum, whiskey, champagne, wine, and tequila car sickness!

The Happy Couple. I still look a little green. I could use a shower too... The first picture I took in Paris. First thing I want when I get out of Madagascar is Starbucks and a salad.
A few hours later, Louis and I went for supper. We're staying in the airport so we went to Hippotame. Gross and kind of a rip off. JUST KIND OF. I can't manage to turn this picture the right way, but I was obsessed with the idea that…

Safe in Paris

Click here to follow cyclone Giovanna. It has been upgraded to a Level 4 in Toamasina and will be a Level 3 when it reaches Tana, which is three hundred kilometers away from the ocean.

While I am so very releived to be in Paris, it's a very worrysome feeling to know that so many people will have to fight through this. The storm is set to hit at 3am (not sure what time zone MG is, but it is 10 hours ahead of Alberta and 8 hours ahead of Quebec).

I hope everyone stays as safe as possible.

(also, for some reason my comments are disabled. Send me an email @ until they are fixed.)

Cyclone Giovanna threatens Madagascar, “massive destruction” possible

Extremely dangerous cyclone Giovanna, equivalent to a category 4 hurricane, is set to make landfall on the east coast of Madagascar today. The powerful storm contains maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (125 knots) and may produce extensive damage on this island off the southeastern coast of Africa.

Satellite imagery reveals a storm with a well-defined eye, excellent symmetry and deep convection around its core. Its outer bands are already lashing the coast and the eye should move ashore late today.

Concerns are mounting about the toll the storm may afflict on this relatively poor country, especially as it may target highly populated areas. John Uniack Davis, Madagascar’s director for the humanitarian organization CARE, told the United Nations news agency IRIN that if the storm center moves just south of the coastal port of Toamasina “it has the potential to cause massive destruction.”

AccuWeather’s Jesse Ferrell, reviewing the history of storms to strike Madascar, found that Giovanna’…

In Tana

6.25 hours later, we made it to Tana. This drive, is spectacular. The scenery is incredible. Want pictures? Sorry, I was too busy praying that I wouldn't puke. This road requires Gravol or Dramamine when you've had a good night's sleep. Last time I took Gravol, but for some reason, I thought this time I wouldn't need it. I discounted the fact that I drank a mix of rum, champagne, whiskey, tequila, and win and partied all night long. It was a very, very long drive.

Louis won't shut up about how much he enjoyed the ride. No car sickness or anything!! I'm slowly coming back to normal.

Back in Tamatave, it's still a level 3 cyclone, projected to hit Toamasina directly. It's not clear who is being evacuated and when, but there are plans and actions in progress.

My flight is late (not-cyclone related - it's pretty much a regular thing with Air France), we are set to leave at 2:15am. I'll be happy to be leaving, but worried about people staying behi…

Giovanna Update

Good News:
- The cyclone has been downgraded to a Level 3- We are leaving in 30 minutes

Bad News:
- Level 3 cyclones still have crazy amounts of rain and winds well over 100km/hr.

On our way to Tana.


Tonight I went to one of the best weddings I've been to - in my lifeEveryone is talking about what will happen in the next couple of days...everyone is being evacuated (I'm not sure who "everyone" is).Louis & I are leaving at 9am via driver to Tana.I haven't even started packing my suitcase.It's almost 2am here.I have drank a lot of champagne and a lot of tequilla.I'm waking up at 6am tomorrow to pack. Madagascar is a weird, weird place.I hope & pray that everyone that isn't evacuated is ok.Tonight was one of my most favorite nights in Madagascar - ever.I'll post from Tana or Paris tomorrow. Crossing my fingers to get to Paris!!!

Giovanna's a B*T$CH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The lovely Giovanna has turned into a Level 4 cyclone. This means big problems. Winds of 131-155m/hr or 211-250km/hr.

Louis & I were planning on having a big party on Sunday at the pool, but instead we're having the party tonight. Tomorrow early morning, we'll pack and drive to the capital. We also booked our flights to leave at 1am on the 13th, instead of 1am on the 15th (the eye of the storm will be over Toamasina at midnight on the 15th).  I don't know WHY I'm surprised by all of's very "typical" Madagascar. Anyways....I'll check in tonight or tomorrow night after we've arrived in Tana. GOOD TIMES!!!

Giovanna - can you wait a few more years please? Thanks in advance.

This is what a satellite view of a cyclone looks like.
The big piece outlined in red? That's Madagascar.
Who the hell is responsible for naming these things??!?! GIOVANNA???? (I looked the meaning of the name up and here's what I got: Derived from the Hebrew Yohanan and means "God is gracious". In ancient times the name was given to children born to late-in-life parents. Ok, I admit, I found this last part a little ironic.....)
Even more fantastical??? Click on this link to see the trajectory:
Some background info: February 14th at noon, I'm scheduled to fly to Antananarivo February 15th at 1am, I'm scheduled to fly to Paris and continue on to Dubai.
(here's another article to read:

Happy Anniversary!

Two of my most favorite co-workers celebrated their fifth anniversary today.

Not normally something I would write about, but it was made into an extra special occasion.
The husband is usually quiet, a bit shy (but he certainly knows how to speak up when he needs to!), and very nice. I hired his wife nearly two years ago and I am happy that she is in my life. Not only from the professional side of things, but we've learned a lot from each other.
Life is never static, life is never perfect, and life is never easy. Neither is marriage.
And sometimes, just celebrating the fact that you've made it this far, is worth a little extra effort.
Yesterday the husband went out and bought cakes at the best bakery in town. Then today, he had the Finance Admin Assistant call a Finance meeting. This afternoon nearly our entire team piled into the meeting room and waited. No one knew what the meeting was about and no one knew why there were cakes on the end of the desk!
The quiet, shy husband got …

Hotel Snobbery :P

Yes, there are times where, I AM A COMPLETE PRINCESS. I can also handle dirt and stuff, but when it comes to hotels, I am a bit...ahem...picky. First, having a travel allowance that must be spent on accomodation or transport (we lose any of the balance we don't use) and growing up with a father working in the hotel industry makes me a bit of a...well, like I said, hotel princess.

Given that my next vacation starts in 4.5 days, I have a bit of tunnel vision. I can't stop thinking about it. I looked up pictures of the hotels today. Wow. A fabulous start and then extreme steady decline.

Hotel in Dubai (two nights)

 Hotel in Abu Dhabi (I had to drop down to a 3* hotel. Hotel costs in UAE are PRICEY!)
But still, doesn't look too terrible?
The moving on to Nairobi. A pretty nice hotel.

And then, the hike begins with a night at this hotel:
Ok, a bit understated, but nothing terrible.
And moving on to this "hotel" for two nights. Swanky!I'll be sharing this room with a coo…

Traveling Temperatures

I’m always fascinated with the different temperatures that I put my body through when I go on vacation. It’s rarely under 20*C here, so most of the time, wherever I go, I’m cold.

I’ve been checking out the weather of the different places I’m going next week.

February 7th:
Toamasina: +30*C
Antananarivo: +23*C
Dubai: +22*C
Abu Dhabi: +19*C
Nairobi: +21*C

February 8th :
Toamasina: +27*C
Antananarivo: +21*C
Dubai: +18*C
Abu Dhabi: +16*C
Nairobi: +18*C

February 9th :
Toamasina: +25*C
Antananarivo: +21*C
Dubai: +16*C
Abu Dhabi: +19*C
Nairobi: +14*C

At this time of the year in Madagascar, the humidex adds at least another 10*C.
I feel less like a Canadian when I see +14*C and start to worry that I’ll be too cold….

Fly by post!

This time next week Louis and I will be boarding a plane to Tana. I’ll hopefully have a little nap, eat supper, and then wait at the hotel until it’s time to leave for the airport. Around midnight, we’ll go to the airport and begin the long process of boarding a flight in Tana. Urgh.

Anyway, we leave around 1am (ok…with delays usually 2 or 230am), we’ll get to Paris, shower, get on a big a$$ plane (it has two floors!!!), fly to Dubai.

We’ll hang out with a good friend for a couple of days and then my dad will pick us up and drive us to Abu Dhabi. Louis only spends one night there, he’ll head back to Montreal.

I’ll spend a few more days in Abu Dhabi and then back to Dubai to fly to Nairobi! A couple of nights there and then I’m off to summit Mount Kenya! I’ll be gone for six days, then back for a few nights in a fancy hotel. There will be many spa services and fancy salads ordered. I am so so so so so so excited!

Accounting Error

Well, maybe here's why I never did well whenver I had a exam on Net Present Value.

My last post wasn't reviewing my thirty first year, it was my THIRTY SECOND year. Since as of Friday I am 32 - not 31. :S

Good thing I'm getting out of Finance....

Year #31

I could do a link-festival back to the original posts...but if you read my blog regularly, you’ll know what I’m writing about, and if you don’t, the posts are divided by month on the right hand side.

My thirty first year….has gone by so fast. It seemed like so much has happened. So much HAS happened!!!

Started out cool with a great birthday party for twenty or so at a restaurant and everyone had a good time.
I got addicted to the show Glee.
We nearly had a cyclone in my city, it changed paths and we just had crazy winds and rain, but got to do the ‘cyclone prep’ stuff which for some demented reason, I thought was cool.

I went to Canada!!!
I went to Alberta to see my family, then went on a ski trip with my cousin and his fiancée and Louis and his girls. Didn’t love the skiing, but loved the trip!
I went to Quebec to meet Louis’ brothers and sister and mom! They are all wonderful and were so nice to me.
I came back from vacation to find out that my contract would not b…

Let's All Go For A Run February 11th, at 9am EST

February 11th, at 9am EST (7 pm Madagascar time) I'll be out for a run.

The Run for Sherry

I am an "alone" runner. I don't really want to run with anyone. I like listening to my music. I like having the time alone (even in the camp where everyone sees me). I like that I go for a run in an almost-crazed state and come back feeling calmer about everything in life.

When I lived in Canada, I would never run in an isolated area. I sometimes ran in the dark (there's not much choice in Alberta in the winter!), but I was in a well-trafficed area. As an "alone runner", I realize that this could be me. Or one of the many people that I know that run reguarly. Unfortunately, her story is not unique. But sometimes, the only thing that people can do when this kind of tragedy strikes is make a small gesture, showing that care and concern for the world that we live in.

I'm (very) slowly learning that I can't care about everything and everyone. But when I can do…

Good News But Still Not Official

You know that PERFECT job that I wanted? Yesterday I received the formal job description. I love it. I have a few questions and clarifications, but I think it’s a great fit for me and for them.

It’s been clear for some time that I am not a “Finance” person. I want to get more Project Management experience and get some additional formal education.

This is the job I have been looking for to transition out of Finance and into a role with more exposure to Operations.

I don’t have a signed contract, but right now I feel like that’s a formality. Since I can be a pessimist at times…I’m not going to be fully relieved until I have signed a contract and the ink is dry. And I’ll have the champagne chilling and ready to go.