Page 2 of Erika Travel Blog Posts


Europe » Portugal » Lisbon & Tagus Valley » Lisbon May 26th 2011

I just toured Lisbon, Portugal, during an eleven hour layover. As I stood in line to exit the airport, I chatted with fellow passengers, one of whom I discovered is also a fellow classmate for the summer in Fez. She, too, wanted to take advantage of the layover in Lisbon. We joined non-Portuguese speaking forces –my willingness and her preparedness made a pretty good combination. She knew which bus ticket to buy, which allowed us 24 hours’ worth of city bus riding; however, the additional bus tour cost money, and I of course preferred to walk. She decided to join. I had been advised to go uphill once arrived in center-ville, so we did, searching for something about Sao Jorge… Up and up we went, sometimes going down to continue in a direction we believed to ... read more
A Statue
Elephants in Portugal?
Travel Buddy!

North America » United States » Kansas » Lawrence May 26th 2011

I haven’t really thought this trip through as much as I have others. I just don’t feel as if I am fully prepared for the adventure. For example, Sunday night as I began to feel daunted by the errands and packing I had some twelve hours to accomplish, I of course stopped doing what needed to be done and called a friend. His attempt to encourage me demonstrates my state of mind: “Well Erika, all you really need is your passport, right? And you have that.” At which point I had to get up from the bed upon which I had decided to deposit my daunted self and add ‘passport’ to the list. Then I went to bed. I was a bit wound up the next day, complete with timed schedule of things to do, but ... read more


I have re-entered academia. I am with academics- people who like to learn as a profession. I identify well with that description, and am enjoying my time as a student again. (My perpetual mouth does not, however, benefit my reputation as a student…) My brain is nearly constantly engaged with a new concept- primarily adapting to the Arabic language. I am picking up on the right-to-left method, well enough to write my English backwards, fairly adeptly. Once I remember which language flows most fluently from my pen, I admire the ease with which I create strokes that make words using letters from an alphabet in which I naturally recognize the phonetics. (Sometimes I indulge in my attraction to alliteration and otherwise play with words.) When I return to my Arabic homework, I re-start at the right, ... read more


Driving north from Lafayette, Indiana, was uncharted territory for me. I’ve travelled to Chicago before, but that was by bus and for a long weekend. This time, however, I had a Ford Ranger filled with a bike, table, chair, clothes, and fishing pole, destined for East Lansing, Michigan and Michigan State University-Summer Cooperative African Language Institute, or MSU-SCALI. Not a vacation, not a distracted weekend, but a destination with mental as well as physical baggage- I am to study Arabic for two months. Why? Well, that’s an involved question. The best answer may come next summer, when I may have finagled a means to practice the language in a sub-Saharan West African nation. Until then, I’ll just try to learn it as best as possible, and fulfill not only my vague intentions, but also the ... read more

South America » Peru » Loreto » Iquitos » Amazon Rainforest May 21st 2010

Any easy comparison between Kansas and Peru is this: in Kansas, I see worms, I see birds, I see spiders, and I am generally interested. But in the Peruvian Amazon, I see worms! Spiders! Birds! Amazing! I spent a week in the Amazon rainforest in the Loreto department of Peru, along the Tahuayo River, a branch of the Amazon. I was on a biodiversity tour of the region with the best people to do so: the Benedictine College Biology department. We flew from Lima to Iquitos, a town in the middle of the jungle. Iquitos has no incoming or outgoing roads; unless, as any tourist soon realizes, the river is defined as a road. I soon learned by observing the guides that the many waterways were as entirely navigable, landmarks and all, as any gravel road ... read more
Iquitos Market
Iquitos Market
Iquitos Market

North America » United States » Kansas » Scranton August 22nd 2008

Being at home is busy. For the past two months I have been tour guide and tourist in my native land. My friend Mathurin, whom I call Mr. Know-it-All, traveled with me to Kansas. As he left his family, friends, and mother tongue for a month, longer than he has ever left them before, I returned from my version of a similar departure. I ended my Peace Corps Volunteer service and am officially looking for a job. But first I had to visit the most important people and places with Mathurin. Fortunately I was critically needed to translate as we traveled, so I didn’t have time to experience culture shock. Those surprises which I did encounter were more easily absorbed because I would translate the situation to Mathurin and talk about the differences. At the same ... read more

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé May 28th 2008

In the last week of my Peace Corps Volunteer experience in Benin, I realize I have not yet posted these photos. I might even have some more later... I went exploring in the ruins of Athieme. I went the first time randomly, and without the camera. The second time I went, someone warned me that snakes like to hang out in ruins, so the dogs accompanied. I was assuming a snake would find the dogs before me. The other photos are of things dear to me- mangoes and small children.... read more
athieme ruins
athieme ruins
athieme ruins

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé April 8th 2008

I attended my third All-Volunteer conference with Peace Corps in Benin. We were in the big city for two and a half days of meetings. Peace Corps houses us for these wonderful three nights in a nice hotel on the ocean. We slept and met in air-conditioning, bathed in hot water, swam in the full length swimming pool and dived from its platforms, stayed up all night talking and dancing, and drank a lot of coffee to stay awake and warm in the air-conditioning. The first day we brainstormed and criticized the functioning of the Peace Corps office and the demands and expectations of and from the Volunteers. A Peace Corps Volunteer is in a unique position because we must take our work seriously and represent the Peace Corps Mission, all the while not always having ... read more

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé April 8th 2008

With elections approaching I find myself much more often with Beninese friends who have satellite television. Via satellite I can follow the American presidential campaign. Fortunately I don’t have to bribe them with cake to be allowed to watch; even they are interested in the campaign process. Benin is also preparing for elections, so my friends and I profit from the news by discussing political systems in Benin and in America. My friend Mathurin, who I also call Mr. Know-it-All, is a candidate for elections, and is my well-informed resource on the Beninese political system. I am not as qualified of a resource on the American system, but I do my best. As a Peace Corps Volunteer I am apolitical, but I am interested in the comparisons between the two systems. Thus I do a little ... read more
Mango
Same Tree but Closer
Erika at Work

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé April 8th 2008

Athiémé celebrated International Women’s Day on the 8th of March at the secondary school’s playing fields. The basketball and handball teams, the two sports with girls’ included, had prepared the courts for the games, which meant that the courts had actually been drawn in, the lines scratched out with a hoe. We set up a tent at each court for the spectators and hauled the benches and chalkboards from the school. No matter how many times I mentioned it, we were still missing the water buckets by game time. I finally yelled and water appeared in buckets on a couple of people’s heads for the teams. The teams were scheduled to arrive at noon for lunch before the games began at 15h. Two of three teams were on time, the third arriving two hours late. But ... read more
Handball
Basketball
Girls Basketball




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