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Of Cookies, Expeditions and Other Adventures


Today, I made cookies. They are sugar cookies, but without the fuss of chilling and rolling and cutting and decorating. They are sugar cookies in bar form.


And they are fantastic.

They’re green because James insists that green tastes good. I don’t know if he’s got some kind of synaesthesia thing going on, but I roll with it. Green tastes good. Right. So now my cookies are green.

* * * *

You may have noticed the History Channel is putting on a show called Expedition Africa this summer. Long-time readers may have drawn a line between this expedition, which is retracting the route Henry Morton Stanley took to find Dr. Livingstone (apparantly), and the Stanley Livingstone Expedition 2008, of which I was a proud member. In fact, shortly after our team returned to Dar Es Saalam, the History Channel hired three members of our staff, team leader Jim Owens included. (I doubt said staff will make an appearance on the show, but they were there.)

The previews have already touched on pet peeves I didn’t know I had. For example, the inability of western media to view Africa as anything but a barbaric and wild place with danger around every corner; to depict Africa as a world (and people) absolutely alien and apart, somehow, from the modern world. In reality, modern Africa is… MODERN Africa. Should they actually be following the correct route Stanley took, they would rarely be far from a road or even highway. I don’t think it coincidence that the ONLY locals you see in the previews and commercials are the Maasai, in as traditional a dress as they could be bribed into; completely igoring the legions of Tanzanians in t-shirts and shorts and probably ignorning the cell phone in that Maasai man’s back pocket. Who wants to see what Africa is really like when we could package it to conform to the Western World’s assumptions of superiority? The savage depths and dark continent of lore is just that, lore, and I wish the media would treat us in the western world like adults, rather than fabricate fairy tales.

My other random pet peeve is one I catch myself at far too often, and is apparant in the title: Expedition Africa. Because they saw all of Africa, obviously, even though Stanley’s route is entirely contained in modern Tanzania. Africa is a huge continent, with more diversity in its people genetically (and, I’d argue, culturally) than any other continent. This was not Expedition Africa. This was Expedition Small Part of Tanzania

It’s like this: a while ago I had an appointment with a doctor, and my disease history (which got much more interesting during my time in Tanzania) came up, followed by discussion of my trip. At one point the Doctor, obviously stunned by how much Tanzania impressed me, replied to my hopes to return, “You know, bad things happen there.” There, obviously meaning that big magical “Africa”. That’s like saying I shouldn’t visit Vancouver because people are getting shot by drug cartels in Mexico. Africa is not a country. Africa is not homogenous. You cannot paint all of Africa with one brush.

Still, I’m excited to see the show I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and besides, just because the previews are sensationalistic doesn’t mean the show lacks substance.

And all this rambling about pet peeves and TV is really to explain one other thing: long-term readers may have noticed I never finished my story about the Stanley Livingstone Expedition, and I wanted to explain why. First, I was just busy. Then Jafar (above), who I considered a great friend, grew ill with Tuberculosis. Then Jafar died, and I haven’t known how to sit down and finish the story on a positive note since. Make no mistake, it’s still a positive and great story… I just lack the words.

* * * *

I started on a positive note, so I should end it there too. You all should check out the Sew Mama Sew blog: it’s May Giveaway time, and they’ve got lists of hundreds of blogs doing hundreds of crafty giveaways between now and… well, tomorrow. Punctual blogger, I am not. Anyway, it’s a great way to find some new bloggish friends, and maybe win something while you’re at it.


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