Archive for the ‘Russian bears’ Category

a cabin in the woods. a brief update from Africa.

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

ok, so this whirlwind trip has been great. i’m sure i’ll get into the details of it all another time, once the (actual) dust settles. here’s briefly what we have done so far…

December 26th to London with Scott Harrison from charity: water. met up with Chan Marshall from Cat Power at Heathrow and flew to Bangalore, India. spent a couple of days there looking for ways to help with the water crisis in the slums. then we all flew up to Bhubaneswar, India to drive four hours east to Orissa and stay in a place called Gram Vikas. they are an NGO doing amazing work with the poor in India. check them out. can’t wait to go back there. as long as i don’t get eaten by a tiger or chased in the dark by one of those Russian bears that ride bicycles. maybe that only happens at the zoo. actually, zoos probably have prohibitive laws regarding cruelty to animals. no, it’s the circus that will have the biking bears. anything goes at the circus. you can literally tie a scantily clad woman to a big target/wheel, give it a quick spin, and then start flinging knives at her. but after the show, if i just happen to brush my hand across the chest of that same woman, whilst getting her a cup of coffee, she could claim sexual harassment. and rightly so. i was making a sexual move. and you know what? i was thinking about doing it to her even back before i started talking about bears on bicycles and all this nonsense.

so after a few great days at Gram Vikas, including New Year’s Eve where Chan and I got up on a little wood stage in the courtyard of an elementary school and danced with the kids as they put on their neighborhood performance, we left Orissa for Kolkata. spent a few miserable, sleepless hours there, before leaving India for Dhaka, Bangladesh.

in Dhaka, Chan and I bonded over Belgian beers and Apple Photobooth sessions and a really delicious cheeseburger. i know that i had a really stupid song stuck in my head that whole night, but now when i try to remember the song, i can’t. instead, i hear that song from Smashmouth… “hey now, you’re an allstar”. i hate that song.
the following day, we took a seaplane down to Banga, the southernmost point of Bangladesh that was recently devastated by Cyclone Sidr. check out the video we shot here.

after several late night rickshaw rides, the consumption of fish with eyes still intact, and an alleged “snoring fit” for which i was blamed, we once again boarded the seaplane and made our way back up to Dhaka. then from Dhaka to Dubai. Cat Power tour starts on Jan 21st in Paris, so Chan split off to prepare for that. Scott and I used our time in Dubai to consume one last proper dinner before plunging into Africa.

landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and immediately spent two days in the south, looking at water projects in those areas. then back to Addis for a night of “city living” (electricity, food, internet) before we flew north to check out some regions of Ethiopia without access to clean and safe drinking water. flew to a few more villages in the north before regrouping once again in Addis. now, we are back in the south, on a lake called Langano, preparing to film more water projects and communities tomorrow.

if you’re wondering why i’m rambling… i’m trying to fall asleep and it’s way too early to go to sleep but i’m out in the middle of nowhere, 26km off a paved road, on the edge of this lake in southern Ethiopia. it’s also hot. but i’m trying to stay covered up to avoid the bugs. i think a guy with an AK-47 is still outside on the porch, watching over our cabin. he’s the grounds patrolman and is fairly well armed but i expect that he might not be well educated about guardsmanship as it relates to humans getting attacked by big mean baboons when they go outside to pee in the dark woods. so i guess i’ll wait until the sun comes up.

also, the shutters on our windows keep slamming and maybe it’s the breeze or it could be those baboons, just toying with us. these animals scare the hell out of me.
A. they’re smart.
B. they’re strong.
C. they’re mean.
they bark at each other like dogs when they fight and they run around biting each other but not just on the ground like dogs do, they also do it way up in trees.
you know when a ferocious dog is running at you and you think, “well i will just climb up this tree and then i will be safe”? it’s just like that only you climb up the tree and then the baboon climbs up the tree even faster than you did and then he bites you harder than a dog would have. and then he pushes you out of his tree.