Tag Archives: #TIA

Rub a Dub Dub in a Turkish Ice Tub!


So I’m the kind of person that when someone brings up an idea or invites me to go on a trip or to do something I have to reply with “Are you sure? because I WILL take you up on that” and about 95% of the time I actually do…. I invite some people to do things with me or invite them to come visit knowing very well 95% of the time they never will…. Phase 1 of this particular adventure starts with my friend Renee saying “We should go on a girl trip to Istanbul next year” as described above my response was “Are you sure you want to invite me because I will go….” Phase 2 of this adventure begins with me telling my friend Ellen I was going to Istanbul….. followed by “You’re more than welcome to join if you want” followed by “Let me ask my husband” then ending with an email that said “He said yes!” And so it begins…. The story of my trip to Turkey and almost not Greece!

The characters in this story are a wonderfully diverse and awesome group of women, Renee, Ananya, Kasia, Ellen and of course… This crazy girl! The original plan was to stay in Istanbul 4 nights, Renee, Ananya and Kasia were to head back to Kampala while Ellen and I stayed 3 nights in Athens, Greece. When we first checked the weather it seemed it was going to be partly cloudy and a little brisk….

Ellen came in on a later flight from Texas so the ladies spent the day doing a little exploring and trying out some local street food!

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Our second day was spent on an Istanbul city tour, Including the Sultan Ahmed Aka the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. The weather was indeed a bit brisk but nothing we couldn’t handle!

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Our second full day consisted of a trip to Prince’s Island… in my honest opinion I would not suggest this trip, the idea of a horse drawn carriage sounds so majestic…. until you see the horses… If we hadn’t already paid for it I honestly wouldn’t have even gotten in ūüė¶ But was still a nice boat ride and quality time with the girls!

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Now you must be wondering why I chose this particular title for my blog… One of the things that is very famous in Turkey is a traditional Turkish Bath or also known as a Hammam. Being the adventurous young women that we are we figured “When in Rome….” I had no idea what to expect, so imagine my surprise when Ellen went first and I got a phone call to the room 30 minutes earlier than expected telling me it was my turn!

How I was expecting my Turkish bath and massage experience to be……

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What I showed up to…..

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At first I thought…. maybe this short little hairy Turkish man is just showing me where to go…. but then he started pouring water over my head….. and then had me lay down and scrubbed me…. It didn’t get really awkward until his hairy belly started hitting me in the head… I couldn’t possibly fathom why Ellen would have given up the chance at such a magical opportunity!

All was going well, we only had one day left in Istanbul before we were meant to head into Greece…We decided to go on a tour of the Asian side of Istanbul! Apparently in my husband’s eyes this does not count as going to Asia… but i was there! We stopped to see the beautiful view….

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And then within minutes our beautiful day turned into this…..

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Hence the Ice Tub reference…. ha, I’m too witty for my own good sometimes! The snow was really pretty and fun until we got stuck on our bus going down a hill…. but then the real disaster hit…. the snow kept coming, and coming, and coming….. we were still hopeful that our flight would leave the next day but sure enough…. we showed up for a 12:30PM flight only to find out after hours of waiting that it was cancelled…. indefinitely…. so we swallowed our sorrows and booked an airport hotel while trying to keep up our spirits… which was really hard to do considering our flight the next morning got cancelled as well…. in the meantime… we made some new friends and had a snowball fight and made snow angels….

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Eventually, our flight finally left the next night at nearly midnight, meaning we lost almost 2 full days in Greece, we were beyond bummed but we pulled it together and managed to fit Athens into a single day which ironically ended up being a beautiful day! 14 miles of walking later, Our feet were about to fall off but we were in love with Greece!

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Sadly the next day we had to return back to our homes. In more exciting news…. Patrick, me, Ellen and her husband Isaac are going to Italy in May, however Ellen told me if we got another snow storm she would never travel with me again…. so here’s hoping!!!

Uganda be Christmas all Year Round!


Good Morning Everyone! My sincerest apologies for dropping the ball on keeping you updated! As always its been busy in the Scoville home and even though we have been back in Uganda since mid January I’ve had quite a few trips in between. I had a return trip back to my happy place at the end of January to visit some friends and my girls in Swaziland and then turned around on Valentines day for a girls trip to Istanbul and Athens! Finally back in the swing of things here and do not plan on leaving again until May!

So back in December for our Kids Club Christmas party some wonderful friends from back home with the help of an American Girl Scout troop sent us goodie bags and treats to give out to the children. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize what a pain it was going to be to work with the Ugandan Postal Service. Long story short, boxes didn’t show up in time for the Christmas Party and then didn’t even show up before I left to go home for Christmas (actually they did show up…. but were not released because they are being held hostage by the Ugandan Post Office) Anyway… without horrifying you with all the gory details on how the post office made me cry because they told me I was using my diplomatic immunity to sell all the donations for a profit instead of actually giving them away (what a concept right?) All 8 boxes eventually ended up in my possession thanks to all my mail room buddies at the Embassy!

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The next few days were pretty hectic and my living room was taken over by candy and toys!

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Even Charlie helped out!

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After all the goodies were sorted it was time to stuff the bags!

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It took 2 full days and a lot of work but I managed to stuff 500+ bags! The next part made it all worth it because it was time to deliver!!

Our first stop was the Kivulu Classroom (One of Kids Clubs Education Centers) There were about 40 children present and their bags consisted of leftover school supplies from our school supply fundraiser last fall!

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Some of the students even showed off their reading skills!

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The kids at Kivulu are always so sweet and calm… I don’t think any of us were prepared for what was to happen next at good ole Katanga. These kids went NUTS! so much that we had to leave the classroom because we were getting stampeded! But then¬†I always have to think of course they are going to go crazy because it is a rare occasion they are given such a special treat! We had over 200 children show up for this giveaway!

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One of the greatest rewards I have witnessed as a volunteer is seeing a really bright child receive a second chance at a real education and the opportunity to succeed and have a future. There are many of these children who will never see the inside of a real classroom due to the financial costs to receive an education in Uganda and the majority of African countries. I have been watching a young girl named Beatrice for the last 8 months lead her classmates and excel in her school work. She is a talented singer, dancer and artist and very bright when it comes to reading and writing. Thanks to a high school friend of my Mother’s it was with absolute joy I was able to tell Beatrice she was going to be able to attend school this semester and I was honored to deliver this special gift that was sent from Janet and Craig in America.

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Such a beautiful soul and I am so proud of her for what she has overcome in life and what she is going to accomplish in her future! Thank You Janet and Craig for loving this little girl!

I had time for one last delivery before I took off to Swaziland so we packed up and traveled to Nomavundu, the site of our water well and many of our women’s Initiative programs. Here we ended up with 170+ children!

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All in all this has been a very rewarding and humbling experience and proved to be worth the wait and hassle that preceded it. Last week I received word that my clearance came through and I am going to be starting work on Monday the 9th. It is exciting yet difficult at the same time as I am know going to have to cut back on my involvement with this wonderful organization. These kids have touched my heart and soul and I love them all with every ounce. Thank you to everyone who has been making a difference in these children’s lives even without ever meeting them, it means more than you could ever imagine.

Scuba Scuba Doo Where Are You?


Sorry to leave you hanging the last couple of weeks! The last 2 months have been so adventure packed from our chimp tracking and safari adventure here in Uganda, followed by my birthday trip to Swaziland, South Africa and Rwanda and ending this past week with our 6 day trip to beautiful Malawi. Five countries in two months…. What am I possibly going to find to write about now?? Patrick is planning a ¬†trip next month to South Africa with “the guys” and I am sulking a little bit but I think there might be a possible girls trip in the making for February to Istanbul!

So Malawi… Originally we were planning to go through a tour company to help us plan but that ended up in a lot of dead ends and we had a very different understanding of the word “budget” So I took it upon myself to plan our trip and I was a little worried about how everything was going to pan out… You might have heard me use the phrase T.I.A. before, meaning “This is Africa” used basically at any time something really “African” happens. There are 3 different situations I would use this phrase in and here they are…

  1. Positively – When you see something really cool for instance on safari, or a hike or anything you would see here you wouldn’t see in other parts of the world.
  2. To comment on something really funny – for instance when you see a guy on a back of a motor bike wearing 4 tires in order to transport them or just recently Patrick saw a taxi van that was rented out to transport chickens… and not too long ago we witnessed someone walking a camel down the road… for no apparent reason. There is a funny Facebook page I like called “Africa, this is why I live here” with funny pictures and store signs.
  3. When everything that could go wrong goes wrong! – You always factor a little T.I.A into your adventures and most of the time you just make the best of it but every once in awhile you get in these T.I.A. stage 3 moments that are beyond laughing off.
    Our vacation to Malawi included all 3 T.I.A. moments… shall we begin??

I sometimes find it extremely difficult to plan trips to places I have never been before, I am not sure how people ever even used to do it before the internet and the comfort¬†of trip advisor and review sites. So given this was my first trip to a new place I planned completely on my own, I was a little worried. I’m going to get our biggest stage 3 fail out of the way now just so we can get to the fun stuff! If anyone is planning on traveling to Malawi and renting a car DO NOT RENT FROM COUNTRYWIDE CAR HIRE! Long story short, they didn’t have the car we reserved at the airport so instead of giving us an upgrade they drove us 25km out of the way to give us a crappier car… with no discount offered. Car was given to us with an empty tank, the air conditioner and radio caused the car battery to die twice and even though we were promised our refund back in cash at the airport, we almost missed our flight because they were completely unprepared and unprofessional. This was absolutely, hands down the worst experience I’ve had with an African business! ok, got that off my chest lets move on or else I’ll be here all day!

The first portion of our trip was at Lidwone Safari Camp in Lidwone National Park, home to lots of elephants, hippos,¬†various types of antelope, warthogs and wait for it…. one lion, just one. Don’t let Lonely Planet deceive you… there is not a pride of lions here… just one lonely guy living the Hakuna Matata Dream! Lidwone Safari Camp was one of the best places I’ve stayed in Africa. The food was reasonably priced and tasteful, and the atmosphere was very non touristy and welcoming if the combination of those 2 makes any sense to you at all.

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Watching the Sunset from the Observation Deck at Lidwone Safari Camp.

Considering the camp was located within the gates of the park it is not uncommon to see wildlife just a few meters away from your tent. So the first night we got there we saw some warthogs… This is just outside our tent!

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Then on Thursday morning (4:30AM to be exact and my readers know, unless it is something absolutely amazing I can’t be bothered to wake up) Patrick started hearing some noises similar to tree branches breaking… so he gets up and goes outside to check things out… then about 5 minutes later he comes to get me and says there are a bunch of elephants outside. Elephants in my opinion are worth waking up for so I quickly ran outside and watched the maybe 8-10 elephants grazing around. When one of the guards saw me watching he pointed out another elephant in the distance. about 45 seconds later the first group of elephants starting taking off and the second group (of about 20) came running through…. and then a few minutes later another group of 25 or so and then ANOTHER! I have never seen anything¬†like this in my life…. maybe a total of 80-100 elephants running past me… who needs an alarm clock when you have that to wake you up???

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So that definitely ranks high on the T.I.A. Stage 1 scale! That same morning we also went through a game drive in the park. We saw a lot of antelope, wart hogs. some pretty birds and elephants but they were in the distance (Thank goodness for our early morning wake up call!) Oh yea and one really big tree… its old or something… ūüôā

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Later that afternoon Patrick and I took a boat ride on the river where we got to see hippos, crocodiles and even ran into a few elephants. One of my favorite movies as a child was The Adventures of Milo and Otis, if you don’t know it, it is a tale of a dog and a cat and the reason I tell everyone I liked it so much was because of the the unique and unlikely¬†friendship between them. I’m a nerd sorry, but it does make you feel warm and fuzzy inside doesn’t it?? Well, I retreat back to Milo and Otis warm ¬†fuzzies every time I see these combinations…

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Now I get the real life explanation about the egrets picking the bugs off the elephants and hippos but in my mind I still like to think in real life they really are best friends forever because that version of the story makes me happier!

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Now, I have started a new fitness program (I have a support group and everything) It sounds silly but it is actually pretty cool! and I knew I wasn’t going to eat very well but I still told Patrick we had to stick to getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. So in-between the safari drive and boat ride we took a nice walk through the village and instead of doing another drive on our last morning in Liwonde we did a safari walk instead where we ran into some more hippos!

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After our walk we said farewell to Lidwonde and headed on to our next leg of the journey in Cape Maclear on the shores of Lake Malawi. Now, before I traveled with Patrick all of my traveling has always been on a very tight budget. The place I picked to stay was only $6/pp in a beach hut. On paper it sounded really nice… but unfortunately we got what we paid for… maybe even less than what we paid for. I’m pretty sure there was mold in the showers, and I saw 3 very scary big spiders in the toilet while taking a wee… we did stick it out through the night but that hut was more like a sauna than anything else. The mosquito net was one of those ones that basically just lays on top of you and wouldn’t do you any favors if the mosquitos came anyway and when I say sauna I mean dripping sweat. It also didn’t help our little hut was right next to the bar and there is a bouncing local pub near by as well. Ugh… I have developed quite low expectations and high tolerances of accommodations in Africa but this was even too much for me. I wouldn’t rate this as a 3 on the TIA scale because not everything went wrong and the staff at this place was actually extremely nice so lets go ahead and give it a 2.5 ūüôā I admitted defeat and we looked for a new place to stay, which we found! Thumbi View Lodge was amazing! rooms were average but it came with a functional mosquito net, our own shower (with amazing water pressure!), toilet and wait for it… a fan! Oh thank you sweet Jesus for that fan! It is run by a South African family who was very kind and accommodating and for only $40 a night you got all of that plus a free full hot breakfast! Pure heaven after our other experience!

So we made some “friends” upon arrival that took us out on a boat trip to see the sunset. Also included in this adventure was a lesson on catching a tropical fish with my bare hands… it took me awhile but I finally got one!

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The views from the boat of lake Malawi were amazing!

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Our second day at Lake Malawi I had signed Patrick and I up for a Discover Scuba Diving Class. It was for us to learn scuba diving and see if it was something we wanted to do again in the future. One of us had a little bit more fun than the other one and I decided to finish the full course the next day to become certified.

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So I finished eating my full English Breakfast and we headed back to the dive center to begin the rest of the course. I guess I missed the part where they said you had to pass a swim test… now I’m not going to lie, when it comes to swimming I can doggy paddle and swim like a frog underneath the surface but when it comes to actual technical swimming I do not fare so well. Both of my sisters were enrolled in swim class at an early age but I guess once you get to the third child your brain slips a bit and suddenly remember that your 13 year old daughter never took swim lessons and she would probably really enjoy being in class with a bunch of 5 year olds….right (sarcasm was intended there if you couldn’t figure it out!) Being a typical teenage girl I purposely failed the class… and cried and pouted every time they made me go. As a result of not learning how to swim I almost drowned in my early 20s at the ocean. So with that information known… back to the swim test! He says “Swim from this boat to that boat without stopping” and then “tread water for 5 minutes without touching the bottom…. ” ¬†“It’s easy” he says, “you can swim right?? yea ok sure… I can do that…. So thankfully Stembridge (The one responsible for supervising to make sure I completed my tasks) wasn’t the most observant… I will leave it at that because all that matters is that I passed!

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After that and some boring book work It was time to go do the fun stuff!

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Patrick was such a good sport all day hanging out on the boat and cheering me on! Once we returned I took my exam and passed the test! I am officially a certified scuba diver now! woohoo!

Our one last hoorah was spent with our boat friends again who took us to all 3 of the main islands in Cape Maclear and cooked us a nice fish dinner on one of the islands. Now this next picture perfectly describes Stage 2 on the TIA scale. IMG_3904

We were able to see some fish eagles and lizards and yet another beautiful sunset!

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So although we did reach Stage 3 on the T.I.A Scale at certain points we had a good time as always and now have more memorable moments to add to our marriage. Tune in next week to read about  my friend Elizabeth and I and the talented art of painting a chicken coop!

Uganda Be Kidding Me!


For the last 5 months I have had a countdown widget on my phone that said “Uganda be Kidding Me” I watched it dwindle down from triple digits, then to double¬†and then panicked when it hit the single digits! It seemed as if all time had escaped!¬†

Gumbo, now referred to as the tiniest diplomat thanks to our lovely DC neighbor Emily, handled the flight like he would handle any other situation…. he slept. He has also now used the bathroom on 3 different continents, pretty impressive right??¬†

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All 3 of us are enjoying all the extra space in the house as I write this blog from my dining room…. a dining room! what a concept that does not exist in affordable DC housing! Our property is gated with a 24 hour guard and all of them have never seen a dog so small and are very curious!¬†

Every morning I get to wake up to this¬†awful view… life is rough for me I know…¬†

 

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There were quite a few things that needed to be done in the house, so Patrick put in a service request. Maybe it is just because of my property management experience kicking in I assumed there would just be one person to show up to do it all. Over the last 2 days I had 7 different vehicles show up at the house with no less than 2 people in each one to do each specific job. T.I.A. (This is Africa). Unfortunately, the one thing that is driving me crazy is the one thing they have ignored.. warning to my mother this next photo will drive you insane….

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Patrick said it doesn’t bother him…. my response was “That’s because you will never be the one to use it!!!”

Our Sponsors and others from the embassy have been so accommodating and it has been fun making new friendships. I even have a group of ladies to go golfing with on Sunday! I met one of them on Tuesday when I went to the embassy with Patrick and she said they were nervous about the young girl that checked her golf clubs to get here with her and that I would show them all up. I then explained I still keep score in smiley faces instead of actual numbers ūüôā ¬†

Patrick came home with a vehicle yesterday…. I think I will save the details for a later post because I have a lot to say about drivers in Kampala. Everyone can rest assured that I will be staying off the roads!¬†

That is all that I have for now! 

Sincerely Yours, 

Amanda