Showing posts from February, 2008


Woops, just got pick pocketed in town and so am feeling stupid, angry, amused and sad all at the same time. Its my first time and just a moments thoughtlessness was all it took. I’ve had the friendly lads around in town a few times and keep my hands on my wallet and cell phone.

Tonight through we were walking between two nightclubs with friends up ahead, other friends dropping behind, lots happening, and my right hand holding onto Elodie just in front of me. Suddenly a very friendly chap is on my right, my hand goes to my phone in one pocket instinctively. There are people all around, pushing, shoving, then we are through it all. 100m on I let go of Elodie’s hand and instantly realise my wallet is gone from my other side pocket.

I feel stupid as the rouse was so obvious, angry because of the theft of my little wallet and credit card, amused as they did it well (and had read all about it in the guidebook), and sad as I will certainly have my guard up even more against the ‘friendly’ loca…

Monkeys as Neighours

We have some monkeys as neighbours it turns out in a little building below where we are living. They are used for medical research, and it’s certainly the closest I’ve been to this field of science. It certainly leaves me feeling very uneasy as I am not at all sure the standards of care insisted upon back in France with the institute have quite made it down to Senegal. The cages are small and the monkeys seem to act pretty deranged.

I’m sure it is a small price to pay for the advance of vaccines and safe treatments, but sad and unsettling when in your own backyard.

Africa Again

I am now in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, in west africa. We arrived here last a week ago and have had fun exploring and settling in. Elodie is working with the Institute Pasteur on a hepatitis B research program (involving the correlation of results for vibroscans and liver biopisis in black people). Her employers have provided a fantastic apartment, three levels up, looking out at the sea, located on the south western tip of the Dakar peninsula, about 20mins walk from the centre of town.

It’s been hard to get a clear impression of Dakar, but few thoughts that have hit me are the busy broken up streets and the very nice temperature range. Cars and buses fly up and down the roads, people parked up everywhere on the footpaths, black and yellow taxis drive past tooting at you every minute, there are broken pavements and potholes. It certainly has the African flavor when it comes to public service maintenance. However the weather is very mild, getting up to maybe 25 during the day and dr…

Paris Wanderings

Another few weeks based with Elodie in Paris before heading to Africa left me with some time to do the things that didn’t quite make the A-list the first time around. Apart from the usual spots of Paris that deserved a second look, I also got to the other suburbs for a look.

Fontainebleau is world famous for its bouldering and I spent two days exploring not only the rock, but also the forest and nearby chateau. It was actually a bit cold to really ‘hang out’, but at least now I know the location and setup so as to return with shoes and chalk bag at the ready in the middle of summer. The rock is great and the place covers a huge area.

I’m a bit of an historic plane follower as well, and so I managed to track down some interesting little aircraft museums in the surroundings of Paris. The best day was undoubtedly getting a good look at an Avro Lancaster aircraft being slowly restored by a group very similar to where I used to volunteer in NZ. They still have a huge job ahead (even 20 years…