Ice Sculpting

February 18th, 2014

Ice SculptingAfter tearing Matt away from his new winter obsession (watching Olympic curling), we got to celebrate a little bit of winter and realized what a strange winter it has been. Each year, Helsinki hosts an ice sculpting competition that spans two weekends. We were there on the second weekend and realized that all of the sculptures that were created last weekend had already partially melted.

It’s a fascinating artistic expression and incredibly transitory, but you would think that if you were sculpting in Helsinki mid-winter it would last at least a few months. Maybe they should move the competition to the U.S.!Ice Sculpting

EG: A retrospective

January 31st, 2014

Mardi Gras

As I look back through this blog, I realize I did a disservice to my time in EG. I had a lot of adventures there and very few of them made it to the blog. I’m devoting 2014 to going through old pictures and getting them organized so as I do, I will try to post some of my more interesting memories from my time on Bioko Island. There is never a shortage of reasons to party on a tropical island so here is Matt and I enjoying Mardi Gras.

Trip to Bangkok

January 26th, 2014

For Christmas, Matt and I headed to Thailand and Cambodia to soak up some sun. It was an amazing trip and our first time to Southeast Asia. One of the fun things about going to a totally new place is that there are tons of firsts… So here are a few for you.

First time riding an elephant


Matt eats a silkwork

First time eating a bug – Don’t worry Denise ate one too










Reclining Buddha

First visit to a Buddhist Temple











But even in the most exotic places, you realize that some things never change…Matt is still addicted to technology. Here he is checking his email.

(I’M NOT CHECKING MY EMAIL, just setting up the phone camera to take a picture of my lovely wife.) – mt

Matt checks his email


November 29th, 2012

From Our Animals

A post that was written but never published…

This is the long awaited post about the newest member of the family. She really has a rags to riches tail.

She was living on the mean streets of Malabo and some how ended up being found by the maintenance crew at a local company. A friend of ours took her in and deloused her, but couldn’t keep her. I offered to take her temporarily because she was a tiny puppy. When she first arrived at her house she weighed two pounds and was probably four or five weeks old. She couldn’t walk up a step and she was just skin and bones. It was a complete surprise for us (She arrived at our house about four hours after we said we’d take her) so we were making her own dog food.

Fortunately, some fellow puppy owners took pity on us and gave us a bag of food until we could get some sent to us. Since then, she has grown leaps and bounds. She loves to chew, loves to run around in circles and do all of the fun things that puppies do. She’s completely freaked out by the guards and the pool guy. She’s brought a breath of fresh air to the house.

I like to think of her as Annie. In our version, Matt is Daddy Warbucks, who pretends he doesn’t like her, but secretly loves her. I’m the nice housekeeper who says she is just staying for Christmas, but secretly wants to keep her forever.

What else would you use the dining room table for?

November 25th, 2012

So I live in Equatorial Guinea, on an island off the coast of Cameroon. Certain luxuries haven’t arrived in EG yet like operating facilities for your puppy.

Taking a cue from Bob Barker, we were very much dedicated to spaying our dog, Sophie. Solution: the dining room table.

If you look closely in the picture, you can see that the drip bag is being hung from Matt’s mic stand and that Sophie is actually laying her head on a pillow I made out of an Albanian soccer jersey.

It has to be my most memorable “This is Africa” moment.

South Africa

November 21st, 2012

On to South Africa. I was really fortunate that my parents and Carla and Greg met up with us in Capetown. We spent three days in Capetown and three in Fishoek. The most death-defying thing we did was go in a shark cage. Pretty awesome. One of the sharks passed so close that I could have reached out and touched him if I wanted to. We saw about 13 different sharks on the boat including one seriously large one. On the way back, we saw a humpback whale and about 200 dolphins. Amazing.

The most memorable event was the visit to the ostrich farm. Back in the 20’s ostrich feathers were popular and South Africa built a whole industry around feathers. Now, they are mostly tourist type farms. Matt and I stopped at one and I had the opportunity of riding an ostrich. It’s not like riding a horse and it was a terrifying experience, way scarier than swimming with sharks. There is a video, but believe me it was scarier than it looks. Certainly one for the bucket list.

Check out the pictures… Most of them were taken by Matt, but the lion pictures were Denise.

South Africa

Its always better under water

September 12th, 2012

One of the most surprising things about Equatorial Guinea is the snorkeling. The island is a volcanic and basically surrounded by black basalt rock. I’ve learned where ever there is black rock there are fish. The pictures don’t do it justice, but the seas are full of tropical fish including the “Nemo fish.” Matt just got an underwater camera bag. The water is a bit murky, but this is the best shot we got. Hopefully, when
the rainy season finishes we can get out again and get some better picks.

Enjoying injera

September 9th, 2012

For a bit of time off the island, Matt and I headed to Ethiopia and South Africa. It was an amazing experience. If you get the chance to visit either country… Go!

Ethiopia was definitely not as well set up for tourists, but that being said they have an incredible history and some truly amazing churches. We hit Bahir Dar, Gondar, and Lalibella. The highlight was the rock churches of Lalibella and the most interesting thing about them is that they are almost all interconnected so you end up going through a series of passageways in the tunnels including one which is about 500 feet in pitch darkness. Towards the end of the trip I got a bit sick and have the dubious honor of having thrown up in two Ethiopian airports. It explains why I look a bit green in a few of the pictures.

I think my favorite thing about Ethiopia is that all of the churches are still in use and we were there during a minor festival so all throughout the day we saw priests in and out of the churches and people breaking their fast. People attending church wear all white so it is really quite stunning. PS If you have to pick a religion based solely on fasting Ethiopian Orthodox is the way to go. You can’t eat from the morning until 3 and that after that you can only eat vegetarian. As fasts go, it isn’t too challenging.

Another odd connection is Italian architecture. When we were living in Albania, people always mentioned that the cities were built by the Italians and to be honest I never saw it. Until I visited Bahir Dar. Our guide mentioned the Italian influence and suddenly I flashed back to Albania. I could have been standing at the central square of Kavaje or Durres. An unexpected connection.

Check out the pictures and stay tuned for South Africa!


Madrid and Segovia

July 5th, 2012

Matt and I just got back from a mini-vacation to Madrid. It was Matt’s first trip to Spain and my first time in Madrid. It was absolutely fabulous. Our main goal was to relax and enjoy the benefits of Western society, but we did hit a few touristic hotspots including the Prado and the city of Segovia. The Prado is Madrid’s art museum and Matt showed off his art history knowledge and explained the back story of some of the Spanish masterpieces. He was most interested in a triptych by Heironymous Bosch called the Garden of Earthly Delights. I wasn’t a huge fan, but maybe I’m  just not artistic enough.

We also managed to pry ourselves away from the cervecerias long enough to head to Segovia which is a medieval town famous for a Roman aqueduct, a castle, and roast suckling pig. The suckling pig was delicious, the castle was much more interesting than I thought it would be, and the aqueduct was impressive. Those Romans knew how to build.

But the highlight of the entire trip was a brief visit to ski slopes. Madrid has one of the few indoor ski areas which we happily tried out for an hour. Despite the 90 degree weather outside, the room was chilled to a perfect 32 degrees and they had an expert slope and a bunny slope. Any guesses who spent his time on the bunny slope? It was Matt’s first ski experience and so he spent most of his falling, but he did outstanding and on his last run was flawless! Hopefully, I can convince him to try it again when we head home for home leave in January.

Skiing at the Mall


Sao Tome

February 12th, 2012

We had a great vacation to Sao Tome. We spent much of our four days lounging by the beach. Between my shaky French and our recognizing Spanish cognates, we were able to survive without knowing Portuguese, the official language. We got caught up in a celebration of a soccer victory in the capital. We went snorkeling and kayaking on the ocean. We visited a botanical garden and cocoa plantation. And we drank palm wine, which really isn’t so much wine as it is sap. Sao Tome has got it goin on, too bad it’s so remote…

The LCD display in my camera was broken when we arrived, so I was just sort of aiming the camera and hoping for the best!
Check out the pix:

Sao Tome