Argentina

We have officially left Buenos Aires and are now in a more southern and inland part of Argentina.
We left Buenos Aires this morning, just before 10am, and arrived in El Califate around 3 or 4pm.  
After settling into our hostel, we immediately explored the little, now touristy, town.  We found some great souvenir shops, some fantastic ice cream, and beautiful sights!  
I’m not sure what we are doing tomorrow–maybe a hike, maybe a tour, who knows..–but tomorrow is our last full day in El Califate before we continue on.  
I will continue to update you all when I can.

<3

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2014 J-Term

Okay, y’all.  I’m back on the road.
I arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina this morning around 10:30 am after a 5 hour flight to Houston and a 10 hour flight to SA.
We arrived, got settled into our hotel, explored a little on our own, and then went on a walking tour of a small piece of the city.
It was fabulous!
It’s so strange being in a city like this, yet it is absolutely amazing.
I am having so much fun so far, but I am exhausted.
I hardly spoke at dinner because I was so sleepy.
But, the day has been a fantastic start to this wondrous month-long journey–especially because it started out with finding a butterfly and some beautiful rooftop views!
Anywhoo, like I said, I’m falling asleep on my keyboard….but I will post updates and travel logs along the way, when I can, and take you all along this journey with me.
I love and miss you all.

<3

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who Is She?

Who is She?

FOTC3

Who was I?

Image

How did I grow?

perhapsonlythepeoplecapableofrealtogethernesshavethelookofbeingaloneintheworld

How did I transform?

pic2

Who did I become?

IMG_1866

How did I change?

IMG_0672

Who did I become?

IMG_6544

Who was I?

IMG_1904_2

How did that crumble?

305828_10150347568543397_5617013396_7967884_1971822021_n

Or did it, even?

Love Your Body Day 051

Who am I?

IMG_8998

Who am I?

Photo 414

Who am I?

IMG_0119

Who am I?

398755_10150512280358093_524938092_9152217_1375043361_n

And who will I become?

Demonstration of Freedom (Greece)

<3

God only knows.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

To be blunt..

Okay, here it goes…

People have been refusing to talk with me directly about their thoughts or concerns about where I now stand.
People have been refusing to ask me any real questions but instead ask the people around me.
People speak about me as if I am a lost soul that needs redirecting.
People look at me and see whatever it is they THINK they, or I, lost.
People have now decided not to get to know me again but to, instead, decide for me who I am, what I’m doing, where I’m going, and why.

Some people have chosen to see the worst in me, whether or no it’s there.

And let me tell you, it hurts.
It’s disappointing.
It’s infuriating.

And I am done with it.

All I want to make clear here is that you are losing me.

And I will not fight to stay apart of a community that is ashamed of me for things that aren’t real.

I still have faith.
I understand love more than I ever have in my life and I know how to use it now.
I have discovered a passion for humanity that I never knew was in me.
I’ve not given up on God.
I have not given up on myself.
I am moving forward the way I need to.  For me.

And there’s still more to say.

So ask me something.
Talk to me.
I want to talk about this.  I want to share what I’ve learned and what I now understand to be true and why.
I’m still open.

Read 1 Corinthians 13 again.

Learn how to love me for who I am, not for who you Think I am, and not for who I might become.
I am learning to love too.

<3

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Sunflower.

Once upon a time, there was a small girl.
She grew up with flowers in her hair.
She grew up dreaming of Love and God and Change.
She fantasized about her past and she only drifted through thoughts of her future.
She was an odd one.
She ate gourmet cheeses and sipped wine.
She fancied mud pies and hosted dinner parties to serve them.
She wanted to fly and believed that she could.
She danced in her dreams and took flight in her nightmares.
She was an odd one.
The little girl, she was aware of only the world around her–at least at first.
As she grew older, she quickly developed her other senses.
She became aware of more than just her own little world.
She adjusted her eyes to see the light of day in the world she only knew as from a dream.
She opened her eyes in the very darkness of that world to see the glow of something horrifically beautiful.
She found butterflies in the most unexpected places:  Under rocks.  Scattered throughout the clouds.  In His eyes.  In her own heart.
And they were all so unique.  They were black with gold flakes.  They were yellow with blue outlines.  They were grey with the most subtle undertones of the most unspeakable mysticism.
She found life and she embraced it.
She fell in love.  Oh, Lord, did she fall hard.  Sometimes it caused her pain.  And other times it gave her hope or restored her faith.
But, my oh my, did she change.

<3

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This is only the Beginning…

Okay y’all, it’s about time for me to head back to the U.S.

I have spent the last week or so on a crazy safari adventure with my wonderful mama.

We have gone all through Uganda, trekking gorillas, searching for chimpanzees, meeting lions, making friends with elephants, being silly with monkeys, inspecting zebras, analyzing pumbas (warthogs), photographing antelopes, flying with the birds, swimming with hippos, and discovering some beautifully rare sights.

We got attacked by every bug in Southern Uganda.

We made friends with some lovely new people.

We celebrated my 21st Birthday!!!!!  With the lions, the hippos, and the ELEPHANTS!!!!!  And also with the amazing new friends we made–and they all came out singing me “Happy Birthday” and carrying a huge cake, decorated with orange and green icing, saying, “Happy Birth Day Jessica Rae Dexter!!!! 21st!!!!”, and further decorated with delicious pineapple slices and 2 giant, burning candlesticks!  

I had a great discussion about Rwandan society and politics with a stranger I met in a bar.

We finally got our crazy awkward safari guide out of his shell and now he is soooo much fun and we love him dearly :)

We watched the Uganda Cranes win the football match!!!

We bought tons of street food.

We were on both sides of the equator at one time!

I ate the best banana pancake EVER.

And so much more!!!
But it is all wayyy too much to type out so ask me about it!!  I can’t wait to share more details with y’all!!!

Mom, James, and I drive from Kampala to Entebe tomorrow (stopping for rolexes on the way!) and I board a flight to Amsterdam (to then board a flight to Seattle) tomorrow night.
And then, I will finally be back in the states, after 5 months in East Africa, on June 17th at 11:35 am. 
Woah.
Crazy!

But I can’t wait to see you all again and share with you all the mind-blowing adventures I have managed to get myself into!

But until then….

<3

This is the end of one journey.
But.
This is only the beginning of a whole new adventure.
:)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rwanda to Uganda to Tanzania and Back.

Well folks, it’s time for another blog.
Since I last wrote, lots has happened…(I’m starting to see a pattern in my blog posts….)

I got back to Kigali from my Great Lakes Adventure and started living with Jesse and his host family in Kanombe.  Living there was incredible!  I actually felt like I was a part of a family that loved me and I had so much fun getting to know everyone in my new Rwandan family :)  I love them so much!

After a while of living here, some great adventures with Jesse, and some other incredible things, I had to say goodbye..for now.
I took Jesse to the airport and then left for the airport myself the next morning.
I spent 2 days or so in Entebe, Uganda by my lonesome getting myself into some strange predicaments, processing the last 4 months, and making new friends.

Then, I finally got to see my beautiful mother again!!!!!!!!!!
I met my mom on the morning of the 31′s in the airport and after a ton of ridiculous airport drama and tears, we finally made it to Zanzibar.

Now, Zanz was incredible.  We stayed in Stonetown and didn’t really venture too much out of that simply because we lost 2 days in the airport because this airline was so stupid..
But in Stonetown, I made some new friends, bought some awesome Indian hippie pants, found the cultural arts center, met a man named Amour who did stunning carpentry, fell in love with this drink made out of sugar cane, ginger, and lime, ate some crazy nasty fish, learned some Swahili, rediscovered my love of the sea, finally swam in the Atlantic Ocean, got some beautiful hennas, and spent some really good quality time with my mama who I have missed like crazy over the last 4 months.

[Quick Tangent]
Here’s a quick lesson in Swahili:
Jambo – Hello
Asanti (asana) – Thank you (so much)
Mambo – How are you (casual)
Poa – Fine (casual)
Habari yako – How are you (formal)
Mzuri – Fine (formal)
Lala Salama – Safe Sleeping
Karafuu – Clovers
Tembo – Elephant
Habari ya asubuhi – Good morning (how is your morning)
Habari ya jioni – Good afternoon
Habari ya usiku – Good evening
[response] Nzuri – Fine
Twigwa – Giraffe
Dio – Yes
Napana – No

[Okay.  Tangent over.]

Now, mom and I have left Tanzania (at 4 am I might add….) and are back in Kigali.
It was weird coming home here.  It was scary to get on a plane and come back to this place.  It’s always surprisingly hard for me, coming home..
But we;re here and I’m showing my mom around and it’s been incredible.  I’m so glad that she’s finally being able to see everything I’ve been living for the past 4 months!

We leave for Uganda soon and then to fly back to the states.

Friends, it has been the most indescribable adventure so far, and it’s not even over yet!

<3

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Great Lakes Adventure

[Kampala & Nairobi]

Okay.
Y’all know that recently my program ended and I am simply living in Rwanda.
Also, most of y’all know that I took a brief trip outside of Rwanda just after my program finished.
On this brief trip, I visited 2 countries in 4 or 5 days….by bus….

This was quite the Great Lakes Adventure.

So, here’s how it went:

My program with SIT officially ended on May 12, around 9am.
And, because I needed to leave on May 12th for this adventure, I went to the bus depot to buy my bus ticket to Kampala the day before.

I got to Nyabagogo (the crazy huge, main bus park in Kigali) and had 2 options for busses to Kampala for the next day.  I walked into the first office of Kampala Coach and automatically, the guy at the counter looked at me, smiled, and said, “Good morning sweetheart!”  I was a little taken aback and thought I misheard him…but when I asked him what he said, he repeated the same thing and then just continued to tell me how beautiful I am and calling me pet names as I tried to ask him serious logistical questions on what time the bus to Kampala leaves and whether or not I can buy tickets.  Finally, after asking the same question like 48 times, he told me that they had 2 buses going to Kampala—one of which leaves at 5:45am and the other at 7pm…Not the right options for me…
So, I left the creepy Kampala Coach man and went to GaaGaa Coach.
Once I finally found this place, I figured out that I could take a bus to Kampala at 11am.  Perfect!  The only problem was that they wouldn’t let me buy tickets that day (because sometimes the bus gets filled up on the way to Nyabagogo from Butare).  So the guy working at the counter told me to come back in the morning and buy tickets and he would call me around 7am to let me know if there were any available.

So, the next morning, I called the agency and was told that tickets were available so my friend Kalvin went to go pick up our tickets.  Then, about 2 hours later, the guy at the counter called me and scolded me for not coming to pick up the tickets.  When I told him that my friend had come to pick up the tickets for us, he denied it to no end and told me that no one had come into the office and they had sold no tickets and that I wouldn’t be able to get a bus because I never came in to buy the tickets.  After him scolding me for 5 minutes or so, I hung up the phone, confirmed that Kalvin bought our tickets, and said goodbye to my group before heading to the bus.
I met my friends Becky and Kalvin there and then we hopped on our bus to Kampala.

Let  me tell you, this bus ride was pretty terrible…
The three of us were squished in the back row with three other people (a row that probably should have only fir 4 or 5 people) and the roads were crazy bumpy and it was just the most uncomfortable thing ever.

But after 10 hours or so, we made it to Kampala.  Once we got there, we found a hostel to stay the night at and all went to sleep in one bed without dinner.
The next morning, we woke up at 4:30 am to go to the bus station again and buy tickets for a bus to Nairobi that morning.  Well, it turns out that was a complete waste of time because the ticket office didn’t even open until 7—which really meant 7:30.  But after waiting a few hours, we got tickets to the earliest bus to Nairobi—which was the best bus ride I have ever been on—EVER.

There was a total of about 6 other people on this bus that fit at least 25-30 and the seats were really comfortable (and they reclined!!!), and they gave us free water and snacks!

It was beautiful.
The scenery was incredible too.  Absolutely amazing.

After 12 hours on this bus, the three of us made it to Nairobi and got a taxi to our hostel where we met our friends Cleo and Maria.

This hostel was quite surprising and really beautiful.
It was called Wildebeest Eco Camp and we stayed in a huge tent with 7 beds inside – and they had hot water and wi-fi and animals and babies and a trampoline and so much fun stuff  J  It was awesome.
Our first full day in Nairobi, we ate an incredible breakfast at the camp, walked to town, and had quite the debacle at Western Union (where my friend Becky yelled at the teller guy for me, called his manager, called the Kenyan Western Union headquarters, and then called the international Western Union headquarters and yelled at them for a while).  After all the drama cleared, we walked to the animal orphanage in Nairobi where we saw monkeys, warthogs, lions, giraffes, hyenas, cats, dogs, cheetahs, leopards, etc.  That was the best thing ever!  Then we went back to the camp and hung out until bed J

I left for the bus station at 6am the next morning to catch the 8am bus back to Kampala to meet Jesse.
This bus ride, though, was nothing like the amazing bus ride on our way to Nairobi…this bus ride was really not so great.  My seat was stolen by this Muslim man who sat next to me (with his smelly feet) cleaning his teeth with a wooden stick and spitting the wood pieces on the wall next to him and sneezing every 20 minutes.  This went on for the first 10 hours of this bus ride.  The last 2 hours, the man made me move out of the isle seat into the window seat that should’ve been mine in the first place (the seat that he had his smelly feet and spit out wood pieces all over) and wasn’t even nice about it.

I was so annoyed at this man.  Ugghh…

But anyways, after 12 hours, very little sleep, no real meals, and no phone credit, I made it back to Kampala where I found Jesse waiting for me at the bus station.  Oh man, it was the greatest sight ever – to see the guy I love waiting for me in a city I have yet to explore after a really crappy bus ride – so nice.
So Jesse and I dropped my stuff off in our hostel and went out for a lovely dinner of pizza and strange, yet delicious, Indian sandwiches.  The next say, we went and bought our bus tickets back to Kigali, and then spent the day exploring the city.  It was chaotic and dirty and noisy but so much fun.
We found a great little bookstore with some pretty amazingly offensive books, made a new friend named Esther, ate an incredible Indian dinner, had ICE CREAM, and just had fun exploring J

We got on a bus that night around 11pm and arrived back in Kigali around 10am the next morning.

From there, we went back to our place, and slept for the rest of the day, pretty much.
In this Great Lakes Adventure, I spent at least 48 hours on a bus for a full 36 hours in Nairobi and about 24 hours in Kampala…So worth it!

<3

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Post 100 Days

Okay.

I think my last post was simply an update on everything I hadn’t been able to share over the last few weeks.
I’m sure it wasn’t too exciting, and I’m sure you’ll be disappointed to hear that this post will be quite similar.

Since I last wrote, only a few major things have happened…

I finished all of my interviews for my research.
This was a difficult and sometimes extremely frustrating process, but incredible interesting and eye opening.  I learned so many new things that I can’t wait to share with you all!

I went out on a lovely date with my boyfriend :)
After a long day of work, he took me to a great Chinese restaurant and then we watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I’ve been dying to watch since I got here!  It was a really fun night.

I finished my ISP (Independent Study Project) and completed all of my research.
I finished transcribing all of my interviews, compiling and analyzing all of my data, and writing my final paper.  My final product was 66 pages and a presentation.  :)

I have officially been in Rwanda for over 100 days!!!

I took a trip to Kabuye.
After finishing our ISPs, SIT thought our class needed a break–which we really did.  So, they took us on a trip to Kabuye to stay at this little place on Lake Kivu.  It was so incredible!  The lake was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and it was the best ending to such a hard month of work and research.  We immediately hopped in the lake, as soon as we got there, and then found out after we all got to dinner that swimming was not allowed because we’re not covered by insurance…lol   But we all did it anyways.  The day after we got there, the group rented a boat and sailed out to one of the islands, Napoleon Island, on the lake.  This island is home to 5 million bats….
As soon as we started getting close to the island, we could see them all swarming over the trees–it was so cool but kind of creepy at the same time lol
But we landed and then hiked up to the top of this mountain of an island, weaving through rocks, plants and bushes, guava trees, cows, goats, and poop along the way.  Once we got to the top, it was the most incredible view.  We sat on the peak of this mountain to listen to the thunder roar and watched the storms roll in from the Congo.  It was powerful.  One of the greatest experiences of my time in Rwanda.
And we just had the most amazing time while we were there on the lake.  It was awesome!

And now I’m prepping for a trip to Kenya.
But now, we are back in Kigali, at our hotel, getting ready to all go our separate ways.  I will be heading to Nairobi with some friends tomorrow morning and then heading back to Kigali.  But others are heading home.  It will be sad saying goodbye but I’m so excited for the start of this new adventure!
It’s going to be amazing :)

Well…That’s another update.
That’s the super slimmed down and simple version of the last week or so.
Feel free to post questions, comments, or whatever else!
I miss hearing from you all!!!
Also, feel free to email them to me also.

I love and miss you all.

<3

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Update on Life

Okay, so I know that I’ve been kind of A-wall for a while and I’m really sorry about that.
But I’m back to action and ready to fill y’all in on everything that’s going on in life here in the land of 1000 hills.

So first off, let me tell you about Uganda…since I never wrote about it like I said I would…

Uganda is amazing.
Crossing the border was a little bit of a process, as we had to go through at least 4 different border checkpoints, but it was fairly easy.

The very first thing I did when I got into the country of Uganda, too, was break the law….

Haha sounds like me—just getting into trouble..

I was walking over the border of the last checkpoint and, instead of walking all the way around the median dividing the two countries, I just hopped over it.  Immediately afterwords, I was informed by the guard with a very large gun that that was illegal and I had just broken the law…

Hahah

It was great.  My rebellious side is really coming out in every way and in every country.

But anyways, Uganda was great—absolutely beautiful.  But very different from Rwanda.  Uganda is much rockier, flatter, and not as lush with vegetation.  It is also a lot dirtier, in general.
From what I saw of Uganda, it looked much more like the stereotypical view of Africa than Rwanda does.

We went to Mbarara, Kampala, and Gulu.  We stayed the majority of the 2 weeks we were there in Gulu, studying the conflict and resolution of Northern and Southern Uganda along with the LRA, NGOs, refugees, and so much more.  It was fascinating!  I learned sooo much!!!!!
We did a lot of crazy stuff there, and I experienced a lot of new things, like::

A crapton of amazing Indian food
God’s Grace Peanut Butter (cheap and freshly ground)

Nearly dying multiple times from almost being run over by bicycles and motos

Nearly dying but instead watching the car accident that happened 100 feet from where I was standing about 45 seconds earlier

Learning how to be sneaky

Eating the best pizza that exists in all of Northern Uganda

Getting ridiculously sunburned at the pool…but only on the upper half of my legs…

And oh, so much more  :)

On our way back to Rwanda, we stopped for a night in Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we went on 3 different safari trips and stayed right in the middle of a wildlife preserve.

The first safari we went on was a boat safari where we saw hippos, elephants, bucks, buffalo, birds, a type of eagle, storks, crocodiles, and all sorts of fun stuff!  We also saw the DRC ;)

Then, later that day, we went on a driving safari and saw most of the same animals but in a different environment.  And the landscape was gorgeous!!

That night, we stayed in a hotel that was right in the middle of the national park, wildlife preserve.  So basically, we had wild and dangerous animals roaming outside our bedroom windows all night long.

So, as 20 year old college students, what we decide to do after dinner that night is buy some beers and drink them out by the open field where a significant number of wild animals spend their time.  When we first walked out there, I stood on the edge of the field with a friend.  She looked over and said, “I want to run…Lets go!!”  So we just booked it across this field, as fast as we could, running with one arm pumping and the other trying to hold our beers as steady as possible lol.  We got to the other side and stopped.  We looked around and saw that there were a number of animals spread out across the field….so we kind of flipped out and just ran back across even faster than we did before haha

Later, a group of us decided to walk down along the edge of the field and explore a bit.
Now, this was an incredibly stupid decision, but we proceeded anyways—with very little precaution.  After walking down a little ways, we saw a heard of some sort of animal.  And after another few seconds, we realized they were hippos….one of the most dangerous African animals, on land and in water.  We all started flipping out and then even more after one of the hippos started making angry grunting noises…So, some of us got the hell out of there while some others stayed to take a long exposure picture…so stupid….

But we’re all alive and it makes for a great story now! J

The next morning we all got up crazy early to go on another little safari—where we saw lions from about a million feet away lol

But essentially, that was my trip to Uganda.
It was wonderful and so much fun and a much needed break from hectic life in Kigali.

Since being back in Kigali, I’ve had a lot of work to do and a very busy schedule.  I had 3, 5 page essays due, a 9-15 page proposal for my Independent Study Project (ISP), and a bunch of other stuff.
Now, I’m not going to class, I have no real homework, and I have a whole month of my own time—because I’m now doing my ISP and my own independent research.
I have decided to do my research on the root causes of good and evil:  why people chose to become either rescuers or perpetrators during the 1994 genocide and what motivated them to do so.
I am super excited for this project and I’m really interested in the subject.  I think I’m going to come up with some fascinating results.

So, I’ve been in the process of collecting contacts, finding translators, setting up interviews, and conducting my own research.  And it’s been Awesome.

I love it!

Other things for update…
umm well I’m living in my own apartment in Kigali, I’m doing my own thing, I’m thinking and processing a lot, writing a lot, I’ve written a couple new songs, and I’m starting to figure out the beginnings of what I want my life to look like right now and what I believe and what I’m doing, in general.
It’s quite the adventure.

I’d love to share more with y’all but this post is already super long and I’m really hungry…
Ndashaka kujya kurya ariko ndashonje cyane. (I want to go to eat because I’m very hungry)

So murabeho for now, but be free to post any questions or comments and I’ll respond in the next blog :)
I love and miss you all!!!

<3

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment