Published: Maasai turn to tourism in face of drought

Freelancing has been slow going. I have several stories finished still with no takers.

But in the April issue of the Caravan, a political and cultural journal in Delhi, you can find my story from Kenya about drought hitting pastoralists near the famous Maasai Mara reserve. It also features one of my best photos from my days down by the Mara.

You can read the whole story here or see the PDF version here. And the audio slideshow of my photos is here.

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A year-in-review

2009 kinda kicked ass

2009 kinda kicked ass

This past year pretty much rocked. And the New Year came in fine manner.  No kisses, but a bonfire amid the palm trees (above), new friends, lobster, a decent cigar (thanks, C!), champagne and even the Harry Connick, Jr., band playing Auld Lang Syne at midnight (never leave home without the iPod).

I meant to post this sooner, but here’s a little look back at my new life (as chronicled on this blog):

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Multimedia re-cut: Tourism, friend or foe to Maasai facing drought?

You haven’t watched this one yet. Re-cut and reposted with new audio, photos and narration to make it better, faster, stronger. Longer, too.

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Kibera: Pictures of destitution

It’s difficult to overstate the depressing scenes of Kibera, one of Africa’s largest and most well-known slums. The shantytown covers two-and-a-half square miles and, depending on who you ask, has as many as 1.3 million residents. (Some NGOs and analysts question this figure, suggesting the population is closer to 300,000 and is simply inflated to draw more donor dollars.)

I’ve been reporting on water issues in light of Nairobi’s ongoing drought. Public water service is scarce in Kibera (and at times in much of the city), leaving the poorest of Nairobi’s citizens to turn to the private market where they face price gouging and less-than-stellar water quality.

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I love the smell of fish guts and fresh vegetables

Kenya’s major cities boast gleaming shopping centers and 24-hour big box marts (detailed previously).

Bush villages however rely on a more traditional option: sprawling open air markets.

I visited Ahero‘s weekly market last week to see and smell and taste. There, I met Tom Odero, a 56-year-old retired Army sergeant major, who is active in politics and now farms rice in his quiet days.

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Train to Kisumu offers brief glimpse of rural Kenya

After three days largely kicking back in Nairobi, I took the overnight train west to Kisumu, which is Kenya’s third largest city. It’s a clean, warm, charming city, with a decent expat community on the shores of Lake Victoria. But it’s hardly a tourist haven (I was one of only three foreigners on the 15-hour train ride.) and feels more laidback, authentic and safe than Nairobi.

I’ve come to Kisumu principally to meet up with Shannon, who has been here for several weeks working on public health projects. It was Shannon who convinced me to include a stop in Africa before heading to India.

The train is a throwback to transportation decades ago — old, worn compartments, vinyl seats, lights and fans that don’t work. Dinner was served on china and 15 minutes into the ride, an attendant came to neatly unfurl bedding and wool blankets in each berth.

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