Saturday, February 5, 2011

I have arrived!

Jambo Rafikis!
Ok so that might not be right, but close enough? At least I am trying! Well I have officially been in Kenya for five days now, and have already fallen in love with every aspect of the beautiful country.

I finally arrived in Kenya exhausted, but overwhelmed with excitement, after two long days of travelling and a dreaded six hour layover at my recently claimed least favorite airport ever, Heathrow. Without delay this time though, I made it into Nairobi ahead of schedule where Ravi met me at the airport. The rest of the day was spent walking around downtown Nairobi to pick up a cell phone, grab some lunch, and to start adjusting a little to Kenyan culture. I was in awe walking around this bustling city. Though not much different in looks from any other major city, it was filled with people walking the streets calling out to each other. After a few hours of just taking in my new surroundings, we headed to the train station to settle in for a fifteen hour train ride.

Views of the train station and of course Italics first train ride!
The train was to take us from Nairobi to Mombasa, on the coast. The overnight train ride was quite the experience on its' own. The train station and train its self transported me back in time to early railroad days, no Amtrak here.
Our luggage over taking our compartment, Ravi and I on the train, the very narrow hallway, and the view as we came in to Mombasa

Our compartment was quite "cozy" and had just enough space for the two of us and our massive amounts of luggage. The train ride took us through the night. We had a nice dinner and watched scary movies until it was time for bed. Sleeping was next to impossible since with every stop and go of the train I was almost hurled from my bed. It worked out well though, since I made sure to wake up with the sun to make sure I got to see as much Kenyan country side as possible before breakfast. I could not have asked for a better first morning in Kenya than watching the sunrise over the Kenyan landscape and waving to all the children from the rural villages that came to watch us pass. By 9:30, we had arrived to Mombasa and ready to start exploring our new home.

Views from the train and the ferry out of Mombasa 

Too tired and already annoyed with our bags, we chose to forgo exploring the hustle and bustle of Mombasa, and we grabbed a cab straight to Diani. The rest of our week was spent exploring the town, grabbing mojitos at Forty Thieves beach bar, swimming in bright teal water, and lounging on a dock off the coast. I must say it is quite the life. : )

This country is beautiful and the people are some of the friendliest I have encountered. You will not pass one person on the street that does not wave, give you a huge smile, and say "Jambo!" These and many other reasons account for my new found love for this place that only seems to grow with every new place I see and new person I meet.
Pictures with my new waterproof camera! The two of us swimming, the gorgeous beach, and our new friend kite boarding 
Sunbathing, watching the boats, and grabbing a drink on the beach
Forty Thieves, just a few camels walking down the beach, the monkey that likes to watch my sleep, and our hut
Well I suppose that is enough pictures for now. We plan on doing a trip somewhere on the coast this week, so I will fill you in on more once we get finished. Until then...!

Love you, (Sorry! I still don't now that one in Swahili)

P.S. I miss all of you like crazy! 

Friday, January 28, 2011

home again

Hey friends,
Sorry to be gone for so long, but don't you worry! I am back now, and hopefully I will be keeping up with it this time around.

The last month has been an amazing and most likely life-changing one. After being stuck in London for five days, I finally made it home to California. This nightmare reiterated the fact that I am not a snow person, now we know why. Thanks to my incredible Mom, I made it back just in time to spend my birthday in California with the people I love and missed dearly.

My month of break included saki bombs for the b-day, a wonderful and relaxing Christmas with the family, wine tasting in Malibu, a fun-filled New Years, two weeks in San Diego to see my besties, a ridiculous weekend at the ranch for James's birthday, and of course, biggest shocker of them all, deciding to pack up again to head to Kenya.

Here are a few pictures of the ridiculousness/ awesomeness of the last month:

James's B-day weekend

Teddy and I took a stroll around the ranch

Drinking games, fires, and family are the ingredients to a great night

San Diego Visit: Complete with sunbathing, new creatures (I can and will explain), many bottles of Pinot Grigio,  and a mexican fiesta

New Years at Mirza's house and Wine Tasting in Malibu
We of course had to spend a night baking, too bad it was an epic FAIL. I might have thought that the oatmeal could replace flour in oatmeal cookies, oops! 

We spent one night downtown at the Hardrock. Downtown always leads to all sorts of shenanigans 

Last night in San Diego= happy hour+ a bottle of wine+ ridiculous photo shoots

Oh and by the way, the animals are an elephant and a stegosaurus. Emily and I made them ourselves and are going to be taking pictures of them and sending them to each other, so they will most likely pop up often on here. It is our own personal way of keeping in touch while I am on the other side of the world.

Now, I am sitting here staring at my life for the next four months, packed into a backpack and duffel wondering if I might have actually gone insane. It is possible, it is just not everyday I decide to put my life on hold and jump on a plane to go explore the world. This could account for the nervous, terrified, and above all else, excited feelings swarming my head right now. I could not be more ready and happy for this adventure though. Bring it on Kenya!

Thank you to all my friends and family that made this past month at home amazing! Between all of the crazy and fun times and all of yalls love and support, I am finding it a lot more sad to leave than I originally thought it would be. I love yall and will miss yall terribly. 

Next time I write I will be half way across the world, stay tuned for what could happen next...

Love always,
                      xo Jenn

Monday, January 10, 2011

Last month in Cyprus

Dear Friends,
I think it is about time for me to try to wrap up the past semester, at least for now. I am sure the ridiculous and amazing memories will find a way to pop up again in future posts since they have already found a way to pop up in my mind every few seconds.

 The last month in Cyprus was a whirlwind of finals, nights out, packing, holiday celebrations, and sadly, saying our goodbyes. I took this time to adventure around the beautiful little island I had called home for the last four months. These island adventures consisted of a GLS group trip to Paphos and Limasol, managing to squeeze in one last trip to the North side to camp on amazing sand dunes, exploring a castle upon a hill, and a trip to the mountains for a quiet weekend away.


Went on a 40ish km mountain bike ride. This resulted in taking the wrong trails, going halfway up Troodos, hunting unsuccessfully for the Muflan, a wipe out that left Ravi's bike broken for half of the ride, and making it back just before dark. 

Found this while exploring old town Nicosia 

Nights out with the faves 

I might kinda love this girl

Serenading each other while camping in Karpas

View from the castle

Thanksgiving! I managed to pull together somewhat of a thanksgiving feast. My cooking skills now include cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, pumpkin cheesecake, apple pie, mulled wine and a chicken (couldn't find a turkey). We had everyone over for the best substitute thanksgiving I could have asked for. 

Birthplace of Aphrodite

Until next time,
                         xo Jenn

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Dear Friends,
Once again, 24 hours back in Cyprus and it is off to Istanbul for the weekend with three of my favorite people. This was going on week three of non-stop traveling, and I couldn't have been more excited or more ready.

So, we packed out bags and headed downtown. Our flight didn't leave until 4 in the morning, so we stopped by a Belgium beer bar our teacher had recommended for a drink before crossing over to the North side.

After a grabbing a few beers, we crossed over the green line and into the Turkish side. After an interesting cab ride to the airport, we found ourselves in an empty building claiming to be the airport (I suppose it was 2am) and waited for our flight to Istanbul with another beer and a lot of awkward pictures. 

Exhausted, the four of us finally arrived in Istanbul early Friday morning. After attempting to take the metro, and failing miserably, we hailed a cab to our hostel for a quick nap before exploring. 

The Bazaar

Universitisi! Actually this was some sort of protest, but Universitisi soon became our favorite word, and eventually a song.

Plenty of SWAT to break up the protest

The aqueduct that we set off to climb, mission failed
My new puppy friends!

Who followed us until we went into the Mosque

After a day of exploring, we watched the sunset over the water and headed back to the hostel. We didn't manage to leave that night except to get dinner, but we did manage to makeup our very own game which was rightfully called Istanbul. It involved lots of wine and a mix of Kings Cup, suits, and our randomness of rules. Saturday, we headed to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, which were absolutely breathtaking.

Hagia Sophia

Blue Mosque

Inside the Hagia Sophia
We then headed to the bridge for lunch, where we ate delicious Turkish food overlooking the water. 

Our last day, we woke up to do some last exploring before having to head back to Cyprus.

Spice Market

Archeological Museum

Tokapi Palace

We then made our way to the Bosphorous for a sunset river cruise. This just left us wanting to explore even more of this amazing city. Too bad it was off to catch the plane with talks of returning to finish what we started. 

Mindy and Kyle <3

Saying goodbye to Istanbul, I boarded the plane ending my last travel experience of the semester and heading back to Cyprus for the last month. Don't worry though, just because we are back in Cyprus, does not mean the adventures end. <3

Love always,
                     xo Jenn