Called a Chinese tourist 

My friends mock me for taking so many photos, and truth be told most of them get deleted by the end of the day.

This morning the idea that I might need an intervention hit home when a Djiboutian man pushing a wheelbarrow saw me taking photos in the street and greeted me with a hello in Chinese.

M’s main mission for today was to buy a simm card for his phone so we’d have a local number. After coffee, croissant and bread (yes, we got up before they ran out), we headed to Djibouti Telecomm.

The day started out at 79 degrees and 50% humidity. It honestly gave me a bit of a chill. Quickly, the humidity built. The sun came out and we began to bake and sweat.

M went into the telephone office and I opted to wait outside and watch people. I noticed that I can now distinguish some basic words in Somali, which with my abysmal ear for languages is impressive.

Only one man talked to me and our conversation, in French, went something like this:

Man: How’s it going?

Me: it goes

Man: You live in France
Me: No 

Him: You live here 

Me: No

Him: But you are French

Me: No 

Him: But then…

Me: I am American

At which point he departed. Abruptly, scratching his head.

We walked town a bit and stopped for coffee and juice at Bunna House. We freshened up at the hotel and went to the rotisserie stand in front of City Burger to buy a herbed, spiced roasted chicken.

  
We ripped that chicken apart with our hands, using tissues as our napkins, picking through skin, bones and the paste remaining of chicken guts. It was amazing.

We then went for a walk, knowing full well we were approaching the 1 pm shutdown of town. Let me say that if we attracted attention in the market at other times of day, today we learned that at 1 pm, we’re the only people out there and the locals descend upon us like vultures.

  
We took brief naps and then made our daily visit to Nougaprix where today we bought two “coconut brownies.” Very dry but tasty. The two of them cost, together, about 75 cents.

  

Our region has suffered from an average of two snow storms a week and temperatures below freezing for extended periods of time. My daughter, her friend and I walk to school everyday and today I took my phone. I wanted to snap some casual photos.

While wearing two coats, a scarf, a hat, a hood and gloves, it’s hard to motivate oneself to unveil a hand and take photos.

But I did.

My daughter had positioned this chair under some frozen ivy so she could play with the icicles. Unbeknownst to her, the melting ivy created new icicles on her chair.

20140211-092216.jpg

Icy Chair

Expressing Visions

I had an opportunity at the end of January to explore a position in the fine arts field, using my words to promote their art. That gave me the opportunity to spend some quality time with my scanner. I reconnected with several pieces from Lafayette College magazine.

I wrote this piece on senior art projects and even had a photo featured. (Bottom photo on the second page.)

express vision1 express vision 2

Then there was this feature on Gregory Gillespie working with Lafayette College students.

gillespie

Feature: Keep on Riding (bicycle commuting, 2003)

The part of being a journalist on a regular beat is the relationships you form with people. This feature on bicycle commuting featured a local business owner (Russ Padgett, Cycle Funattic in Phillipsburg, N.J.) and if I remember correctly, because it was a decade ago, the idea came from him.

To put this story together, we followed Russ on his commuting route, a good 15 miles, and our staff photographer literally hung out of my car like we were on The Dukes of Hazzard.

I like the way the story turned out, and I feel like it was a very timely piece for its day. Gas prices then were escalating, but not nearly to the extent we would see a few years later.

This ran in the Phillipsburg Chronicle, August 1, 2003 as a “Community Life” feature. For more information on Cycle Funattic, see their web site: http://www.cyclefunattic.com/.

Feature on bicycle commuting, section 1 of 3

Feature on bicycle commuting, section 1 of 3

Bicycle commuting, section 2 of 3

Bicycle commuting, section 2 of 3

Russ Padgett, bicycle commuting part 3

Russ Padgett, bicycle commuting part 3

Photography: My favorite shots of Paris

Olives at the market in Tunis

Olives at the market in Tunis

We spent days meandering the streets of Tunis. We hopped trains to Sousse and Carthage. We celebrated with the locals on the one year anniversary of the departure of Ben Ali. Olives factored into our lives there with every meal, served in a big bowl beside the olive oil, harissa and bread. A perfect complement to the spicy tomato-based, lamb sausage soup that I can still taste today.

We found the market the day before we left. We could see it from our balcony at the hotel, but we never quite realized what sat under that massive building always boisterous from the first light. That’s where I snapped this photo of olives, in all their rich varieties.

 

Every time I taste a good olive, a real olive, not one that’s been industrialized and reduced to life in a can, I return to Tunisia.

Travel: Olives