Day 3: Jan 21, 2008

Other Snippets of Life here…

Here are a few snippets of my thoughts (KTJ) that didn’t make it in to the above journal entry since they are more about me, but some of you might find it… hmmm… well just read it if you want to…

I’m out of chocolate. There are not too many things about myself that I can claim as “typical woman,” but my need for chocolate happens to be one of those. I need my chocolate, and I am not talking about milk chocolate or snickers. I need good, dark, fair trade chocolate. At home, we have a special part of the fridge designated for dark chocolate mixed with various flavors such as mint, lavender, green tea, ginger or espresso nibs (okay I admit I am a chocolate snob). When traveling for Camp Darfur, or any trip for that matter including backpacking, I come with a stash. For this trip, I only brought a small ration thinking that it would be so hot that it would melt, seep through the seams of my bag and make some sort of mess in my clothes or god forbid the tech equipment! Well, it’s not hot, and the last of the ginger chocolate are gone! Alas, I am just now remembering that with the fancy mountain bag/stove we left in Abeche, we can make chocolate cheesecake and brownies (thank you snobby backpackers) when we get to Goz Beda!

Portland’s growing season was rather short this past year, but two things I did grow a lot of were tomatoes and arugula. If you don’t recognize the word, arugula is a crisp salad green that can be tangy and refreshing and it’s good in just about anything – salad, omelets, sandwiches, stir fry and, my personal favorite, arugula hazelnut pesto. One of the great things about Portland is that people that grow their own food, grow the good stuff – not just roma tomatoes and basil but BIG, purple and gold heirlooms or pear tomatoes. We don’t just grow basil but Thai basil and lemon basil and mammoth basil. So today, when I finally made it into a market, the first thing I naturally spotted was the HEIRLOOMS and ARUGULA!!!! Gabriel held me hostage in N’Djamena claiming that the market there had too many “red” flags – I thought to myself, back in America we have been on “orange” alert since Bush got into office and that never stopped me… or in any other country for that matter – specifically remembering a trip that an old friend Amanda and I took to the capital of Morocco super late on train with only an hour to kill – two women wondering around a city that most people avoid when traveling!

For all the gardeners, farmers, roof top herb growers, and in general food lovers the market in a small village on the outskirts of a refugee camp in Eastern Chad had: watermelon, guava, heirloom tomatoes, arugula, shallots, red onions, green onions, garlic, mint, thyme, yellow split peas, black eyed peas, white beans, and big grains of great looking salt! So today, for lunch I ate an heirloom tomato and it was juicy and good! I may get travelers diarrhea from the water it was washed with (knock on wood – in a place that is running low on firewood and trees – this hasn’t happened to me before, in all my travels) but it was worth it.

It seems there are a few things that most places have in common in the developing world. Here are a few questions that I have been thinking about – some more serious than others… Why is coke easier to find in some corners of the world than drinking water?How is it that some people are wearing wool hats when I just want to wear a tank top? Western toilets aside, would you rather use a squat toilet (at ground level) that is ergonomically correct or squat hovering over a western toilet with no seat?Would you rather stand under a steady stream of cold water or use a small bucket to splash water onto yourself? Does it make sense to have a no weapons sign on your car when you are following an armed vehicle? How many kinds of cows are there in this world? And why is it that it is more likely that I will eat a free-range chicken here than in the States? Have you ever eaten tuna out of a bag? If you ever do remember to bring salt, pepper and red chile flakes because it sucks and these condiments make little difference in weight, but would make a huge different in taste.

10 replies on “Other Snippets of Life here…”

Dear KTJ,

Thanks for your snippets of life there. Great questions. I trust the “mountain stove” (mountain oven, if you please) will be of service to you. It is an i-ACT veteran and performed admirably on previous tours.


I am the teacher who met you when you came to Marlborough School to set up Camp Darfur for the girls. Your video and your blog from Darfur right now are truly amazing and the only way many of us can see first hand what life is like in the camps. I want you to know that my classes and I are watching your daily posts and because of you and your team, there is a group of students whose heart is growing exponentially, daily for the kids in Darfur. Thank you!!!!


Please say hello to all of your students. I’ve been there twice, and hanging out with young people that are so willing to take responsibility for something that most adults prefer to turn away from is one of the most inspiring things for me. Thank you for setting up “viewing parties” at your school. I will for sure come back and talk with all and show video when I get back to LA.


I’ve been reading all of your posts and I have really enjoyed yours. You are doing amazing things just connecting all of us out here to the struggles of our brothers and sisters there in Africa. By the way, I am a dark chocolate snob as well and I wish I could get some to you somehow. On the other hand, I did pack 2 sandwich bags (one with salt and one with pepper) with Jeremiah Forest (my husband) who should be meeting up with you soon. It’s in with the utensils (I forgot to tell him that I did that). So, he has some for your tuna! I hope to get the opportunity to meet you and thank you for all that you are doing. Every time you give a hug to our dear friends in Africa, think of us reading your blog wishing we were there with you and squeeze a little tighter for us!
Jessica Forest

Dear Jessica!
Nice to meet you, even if only through the internet! Thanks for the heads up once we meet up I will be sure to “borrow” some as we usually say and repay once back in Orange County! Sometimes its the very small things in life that keep us going and motivated to accomplish the bigger and more important things! Thanks for all your support while the team is out here!

I liked your previous comment, but, I really related to the lack of chocolate and how special it’ll be when you get to have some again…take care and know all you’re doing will make the world a better place for all…Maureen

Thanks Maureen for connecting with me on the chocolate thing! I knew some people would! The work I am doing here is important, but sometimes we have to vent about our personal life as well! ☺

Dear KTJ,
My name is Kelsi Limbach and I am in the Crossler Middle School Peer Helper class. Your journals are very interesting. It must e cook to talk to peoprl who have been there for so long and talk to them about how they are doing.

I do have a question. Looking at all the people who are there trying to survive and take care of their families, how can you not cry? It makes me feel good to know that with the fundraiser we are doing, we will be helping them in some way. If you could, will you please tell a refugee that we DO care about what is going on.

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” Brandi Snyder

Kelsi Limbach
6th Grade
Crossler Middle School
Salem, Oregon

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