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2011 … hell of a year



Everyone is doing their “year in review” thing right now. It was a year of uprisings, villains dying, and financial woe for most.

On my end, 2011 was like… Tale of Two Cities best-and-worst of times. I started the year in Paris, and expected to still be there now, but way leads unto way and now it’s Nairobi.

There have been plenty of shenanigans that I am not going to bother putting on the internet, but I’ve also been able to visit a lot of different places and hang out with some amazing and crazy people. So instead of revealing any damaging details about what’s actually been happening, here are some of my favourite photos from 2011.

Started the year off with a bizarre NYE party in Rennes where, in an instance of epic foreshadowing, the Lion King soundtrack was played on repeat while drunken revelers acted out their favourite animals from the movie. After that it was back to Paris. This is an obligatory Eiffel Tower shot taken during a re-enactment of Flight of the Conchords' "Fou du Fa Fa."

In late January I went to visit my friend Jeremy, who lives in the French mountain village of Quintenas (I might be spelling that wrong.) We explored the Choranche caves, which boast many-a-stalactite/stalagmite, some creepy blind cave lizards, and an enormous projection/audiovisual experience explaining the history of the caves. Apparently dragons once lived here. Feels historically accurate enough.

In February my roommates and I headed to Berlin for the weekend, where we saw the Berlin Wall, the Holocaust Memorial (creepy) and a ton of graffiti. Berlin is super cheap and interesting, and everyone should go there. Just remember, the planes are never late. We missed ours on the way out.

In April I flew to Bologna, Italy to meet up with my friend Nolan, who was studying architecture in a truly beautiful city. There was a lot of really good food (GELATO) and drink (MIMOSAS) involved in this trip, and the photo ops were spectacular. It was also the first time I'd seen real sunlight in about 7 months, which was a bonus.

I spent most of May and June in Canada after grabbing a spot in the AKF Young Professionals in Media fellowship, but for some reason only took a picture of a steak while I was there. They sent me back to Paris to wait for work permits, and I paid a visit to Brighton, England, to visit my old friend Ben. Brighton is a weird British holiday spot, and the gay capital of England/Europe (?) so there were a lot of interesting sights and sounds when the sun went down. Also, the seagulls there are ferocious.

On the other side of the English Channel is St. Remy Aux Bois, which I visited with my friend Liz. The beaches here are made of sand instead of pebbles, and we were hosted by Nick and Judith Gifford, two British expats who now run their own highly-successful jam company. This was the last trip I took in Europe so it was a little bittersweet.

Then I got to Kenya and started writing for the Nation, which has been a thrill ride to say the least. This is a shot I took on Lamu when I was out with the police on pirate patrol. Cpl. Abdi Golompo is an interesting guy who made sure I didn't get kidnapped by anyone while we were out there.

I also got to visit Uganda in September to write on the country's growing tourism industry. This involved a trip with my friends at Kombi Nation, whose driver was keen enough to spot this chameleon on the side of the road near Lake Bunyonyi in the south. Chameleons are the coolest animals.

My last big trip of the year was to Congo to see an exploding volcano. My route there took me through Burundi, Rwanda, back to Kenya after deportation from Rwanda, and then through Uganda for attempt number two. This was without a doubt the hardest trip I ever made, and I think the bus hours to volcano hours ratio was like 48:12 at the end of it. NEVER TAKE KAMPALA COACH ANYWHERE.



The BEST holidays

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