i’m waiting at the airport to get on my first of three flights to nigeria! why? because after months and months of preparations, the juliette low seminar is upon us!
for my non-guiding/girl scouting friends, juliette low started girl scouts in the united states over 100 years ago. in her honor, wagggs (the world association of girl guides and girl scouts) holds a leadership seminar for young women.
this year is even more exciting than a ‘regular’ jls. this year, they transformed 1 seminar into MANY seminars. we are spread around the world where over 700 young women will be attending!
and those 700 young women? they’ll be going home after the seminar and doing leadership activities with at least 100 girls. the effects of this 1 week will be felt for years to come!
i’ll be in nigeria!
i’ve never been, so it will also be a new country and experience for me! and we are delivering our seminar in french! (of which i know none!) we have 33 participants on our list, and hopefully they will all be able to attend!
i’m nervous, excited and will be challenged by not being in charge of logistics (of which i am usually in charge of!). i’m ready to meet young women from all over the world, learn their stories and hopefully motivate and empower them to go home and make a change in their own community.
while in nepal, you must indulge yourself in the local food.
in my case my favorite nepali food was MOMOS! small dumplings with vegetables (or chicken) inside, i think i ate 100 of them. i had a range of different tasting momos, which i rated accordingly. but i definitely didn’t have a bad momo the entire time! yes, i ate some so-so ones. but overall? momos are just plain delicious!
my favorite momos were chicken momos i had on my last morning in nepal. it could have been because it was my last morning. it could have been because i was super hungry since i hadn’t had breakfast. or, they could have just been plain amazing! these were at a little restaurant just outside of our hostel.
and we had these amazing vegetable momos for lunch at a little restaurant when we were visiting the boudhanath stupa in kathmandu. they were juicy and tasty and went perfectly with beer on a hot afternoon!
i even learned how to make momos!!!
at the peace dragon lodge where we stayed in pokhara, they arranged a momo making class for us. momos are a challenge to make when you are first learning. i have giant hands, so working with small things is always a bit of a challenge. but after trying my hand at a dozen, and watching the chef do it SO slowly another dozen times, i finally got the hang of it. momos are pretty fun to make after that!
the filling is simple to make. and the dough is even simpler.
the dough is a simple white flour and water recipe. roughly 1 cup of flour plus 2-3 tablespoons of water is enough to make a dozen momos. you mix and work the dough a tiny bit and then let it sit for about 15 minutes. pinch off a tablespoon sized bit of dough and roll this out into a circle. OR, to make things easier, you can roll all the dough out and use a circle cookie cutter or a glass to cut out circles in your dough. when rolling out the dough, you want the thickness to be approximately the same thickness as a tortilla, maybe a bit thinner.
the filling is also super easy! you use a combination of vegetables, in this case carrots, onions, cabbage and green beans. you chop these up very finely and mix with momo masala, oil and soy sauce. you filling shouldn’t be too wet. and the more oil and soy sauce you add, the juicier your momo will be! if you want to add meat, it’s easier to use minced or mashed chicken and mix that with the vegetable mix. and if you are just learning how to make them? the chef suggested cooking the meat before you add them into the momos, that way you know that it is cooked 100%.
then comes the hard part. actually trying to figure out how to fill and fold the momos!
with a tablespoon of filing, put this into the center of your dough circle. you pinch one end together. then you basically pleat the dough together. we were all doing this differently, but you really just have to figure out how it works best for your fingers and your brain!
finally you can cook your momos! steam or fried, they are delicious and fast to cook!
i was also brainstorming different flavor combinations that you could create inside. taco momos. dessert momos. bbq chicken momos. the combinations are endless! i’ve been so inspired that i even bought 2 momo plates as well!
i tried many local beers too!
beer is expensive in nepal compared to india, the prices seem more in line with what you buy on tap at a bar at home. you can get a cocktail for about 520 nepali rupees. a beer is anywhere from 420 nepali rupees to 545 nepali rupees.
my favorite beer is everest. it’s light and has a good crisp-can drink it on a hot day flavor. i’d recommend it when you visit nepal! they also have nepal ice and nepal ice strong. a few of the others in our group enjoyed the nepal ice. i liked the nepal ice strong better. (but i usually prefer the strong version of any kind of beer in this part of the world!)
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as a girl scout, i have had a variety of entertaining adventures. i camped. i had my own cookie business. i traveled. i learned how to change car tires. i was leader-in-training for a habitat for humanity neighborhood troop. i went to business camp. i was in an association of young women who ran activities and events that developed our leadership. during all of these activities, i enjoyed serving and supporting others the most. and i never expected any recognition.
my most life changing experience happened when i was 15 and got my very first passport. i needed one because i was selected to go to england for international camp and to visit pax lodge! since then i’ve traveled extensively through girl scouting.
in 2003, i went to haiti to complete my gold award project called kites for kids. we built solar ovens, conducted training sessions for local communities and distributed kites and toys that i had previously collected during donation drives. after i finished college, i volunteered for 5 months at sangam world centre in india where my love for international guiding and girl scouting, and traveling, was cemented for life.
girl scouting even introduced me to peace corps! i was in 6th grade when an adult member told me that she had done peace corps. it sounded like the most amazing experience in the world and i knew that i was going to do it one day!
i was a peace corps volunteer in zambia. i lived in a mud brick hut with a grass thatch roof in the middle of the bush. my water came from an open well 50 yards from my front door. the nearest electricity source was 35 kilometers (21 miles) away. i spent 2 years biking around the village: supporting the school, visiting neighbors, spending time at the clinic and chatting with hilarious old ladies.
i learned that no matter where you are in the world, life is tough. clean water, food, housing, medicine and education aren’t guaranteed. despite these hardships, we are all people, trying to survive and make our world better for the next generation.
during my time in zambia, my mind was often in sangam and india. so after i finished peace corps, i applied to be a sangam intern. i was accepted and off to india i went as community relations intern. i was just going for a year. 6 years later, i left as deputy world centre manager: operations.
working and living in india taught me how to work around, and through, any obstacle. kicking a hole through a wall turns into redoing the entire plumbing and sewage system. having to reboot a 5 year old server every other week turns into reconfiguring office space to create a dedicated server room with a brand new server. ordering more and more tankers to fill up a leaky swimming pool turns into building a brand new swimming pool. nothing in life comes easy, and sometimes it takes years to find solutions, but everything is possible.
i understand the importance of ‘using resources wisely’ and have gained the life skills to live that motto. i’ve met girl guiding and girl scouting sisters all around the world, i have places to stay on most continents (just haven’t met someone who lives in antartica – yet!).
i believe that empowering girls and young women will change our world because i’ve seen the changes that happen when you do! my host sister in zambia was pregnant and at risk for dropping out of school. family and friends in the us raised funds, collected baby formula and bottles and sent dozens of boxes to us. the baby could now be bottle feed while jacqueline went to school to complete her final year!
i’ve had numerous adventures and countless challenges, but it turns out that my highest, and toughest, adventure is yet to come…
over the years, i’ve learned a lot about myself. i can bungee jump. i can find a drink anywhere. i can navigate airports, missed connections and lost luggage. but when it comes to physical activity, i take the path of least resistance – which actually means i do nothing. it’s time to present myself with an opportunity to challenge my very sedentary daily habits.
i have an intense obsession with the himalayas, hiking and rock climbing and mount everest. i watch documentaries, follow hiking and climbing blogs and faithfully watch the lucky few who attempt mount everest summits every april and may. yet i have no physical desire to hike or rock climb or summit mount everest or do much of anything that requires shoes… until now!
i’m going hiking. this april. in the himalayas.
because if i’m going to challenge myself, it might as well be in the place that i’ve seen in countless hours of documentaries. and if that just so happens to be in the highest mountain range in the world, i guess that’s what’s going to happen! go big or go home! right?!
this adventure is going to be different. on previous trips, i’ve written letters to friends and family. i’ve written hundreds of pages of journal entries. i’ve even blogged a bit. but nothing has been regular or reached a wide audience. and i’ve never made goals for an adventure. that is about to change!
a few months ago, i was in kenya. we had a 10 year peace corps reunion. it was the first time that we had all been together since we left zambia and was an amazing get-together. over the american thanksgiving weekend, tim found us an airbnb on the beach in mombassa. so off we went!
while we were chilling by our pool (yea, it was an AWWEEESOME airbnb), eating lunch a guy came around to offer us a tour of starfish and snorkeling. he didn’t really give an exciting introduction, and i wasn’t super into it at first. but everyone else was going to go, so i would too! we set everything up so that we would go the next morning at 10am.
the next morning comes around, and we are all ready to go on our adventure. but i’ve already hit a snag. i don’t own shoes. and we needed shoes because there are sea urchins and if you step on them? well, you are in trouble. so our tour guide was going to village-style twine tie my flip flops to my feet. which i was ok with! but then tim offered up his converse so i could wear those instead. (which probably was the much safer option because there were TONS of sea urchins everywhere!)
off we go to see the star fish!
we all had the impression that we were on a leisurely walk to see some starfish in nature. that was half true. we were on a walk. and we would see some starfish, but we would also be taking a MILLION photos along the way.
we get out to where the starfish are and it is really cool! so many colors and different versions. but then we were given a task. we need to collect 50 starfish. ummm, okay?
so after me, kim and kapree picked up a few, we were done (as you can see in the above photo!). we didn’t come on a tour to be given tasks to do. so we just sat down and watched the starfish flip themselves over (which is super interesting and cool!). tim and our tour guide were diligently collecting starfish still. and then out of nowhere, some random fisherman also dumped a bunch of starfish right in my lap. clearly, this is a regular occurrence.
why were we collecting starfish? for a photoshoot. of which none us asked for. but our tour guide was well-prepared with lots of photoshoot options.
after about the 60th photo, tim said we had enough and wanted to go snorkeling. now at this point, i have lost the desire to go snorkeling. the tide had gone out, so we were in anywhere from 2 inches to waist high water. that’s it. that and sea urchins around? sounds like a disaster waiting to happen to me. plus it didn’t appear that there was anything super interesting available to see. we were already playing with starfish.
everyone else geared up for the snorkeling portion of the tour, and i stayed with the bags. tim and kapree were swimming and snorkeling around. and then kim, 3 feet away from them, stood up. the water was knee high.
i burst out laughing. this was just too much!
at this point, kapree was a bit annoyed because the snorkeling wasn’t great. not even good. in kenya’s defense, she had last snorkeled in the great barrier reef (which no where else in the world can really compare). we all just wanted to get back and start drinking. but then something amazing happened.
our tour guide jumped into the very shallow water and started kicking and flailing his arms and legs around. the splashing was comically large for such shallow water. it lasted for about 10 seconds. and we all stopped what we were doing to watch him.
he then stood up and said, ‘i won many awards for freestyle swimming in school.’
freestyle swimming indeed.
we finally made it back and went to the bar next to our airbnb. we thought we had been out for half of the day. it had only been 2 hours since we left and was nothing like we had imagined. but then again…
When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer, I served in Southern Province, Zambia. This usually doesn’t mean much when you tell someone where you served. BUT, if I told you it’s where Victoria Falls is, then you might have an idea of where I was. And if you can’t locate it on a map, you have probably seen pictures.
To get from my house in the village to Victoria Falls was pretty easy, in relative terms. I got a truck into town. This was anywhere from 40 minutes to 4 hours. Then it was a simple 4 hour bus ride down the paved road! Quick and easy! 😉 If any of us needed a get together or a mental health break from the village, we were usually there! And we only paid the local entry rate, so we got to see a natural wonder of the world for about 25 cents.
I’ve seen the full monsoon Zambezi roaring over the edge. I’ve swam in the Devil’s Pool, a terrifying yet amazing experience right at the top of the Falls.I’ve stood across from the Falls and gotten soaked from head to toe from the mist. I’ve hung out at the bottom watching tourists bungee jump and kayak. I even bungee jumped myself! Every time I visited, it was a completely different experience. But every time was completely breathtaking.
31 Aug 08: Hiked down to the Boiling Pot at Vic Falls. It was amazing! Totally worth the hike. It was hot and we didn’t have any water so that was bad but everything else was great. And we (and by ‘we’ I mean me, Deb and Karen) went to the Bridge and watched people bungee jump. Which was really cool. I can’t wait to do it on my b-day. Can’t wait!!
And I didn’t mention before I finally talked to Mom and Dad the other night in Choma. We talked for 3 hours. And it was pretty great. And it sounds like they are coming next year – with Grandma and Grandpa which is going to be AMAZING! I can wait for that either!
I wish I had my iPod – I left it in my hut…I hope! And I’m covered in mosquito bites so I’ll probably be suffering from malaria in 2 weeks. We’ll see if Doxy really works! But I like Jollyboys so much, I’ll gladly keep coming back even if it means malaria!