Saturday, July 25, 2009

IAS 2009, Cape Town, SA

Africa was absolutely amazing. I have so much to say and could talk for hours. But I will not do that to you. haha.
Cape Town is such a beautiful city - it is surrounded by mountains and the coast is unreal. So pretty! I unfortunately did not get a chance to tour the city that much because I was working a ton - but I did get a chance to go to the top of Table Mountain with my friend Clare (in the pic). As indicated by the title, the mountain has a giant square top that has many trails to walk on, and you can see the coast of the city and Robben Island.
Robben Island is the prison that Nelson Mandela was held at. I was going to go with my friend Jenny on Thursday because I had heard that it was a really emotional and historical place to visit (clearly). However, after I had bought tickets online they canceled the tours because it was too windy for the ferry boats. We were sad - but went to the Aquarium instead. I LOVE aquariums - like they are probably my favorite places in the world.
Anyway - on to the CONFERENCE!!! It was such an amazing experience to work at a huge International Conference. I am so lucky to have gotten the chance to participate in it. Before I left my boss Emily told me that it was going to be ridiculously busy, and I would at one point have a mental breakdown, and get no sleep, and my feet would hurt really bad - but it would be worth it.
She was right. haha. It was INSANE! We all worked so hard - As I previously mentioned I was in charge of putting on the engagement tours, which proved to be really, really successful! Everyone wanted to go on the tours - with over 6,000 delegates and only 80 slots - I had alot of people mad at me. And people do/say really stupid things when they are mad. Yea- basically I got yelled at alot. In many different languages. It was actually kind of funny.
But those that did go on the tours absolutely loved it! One of the tours went to the Ubuntu ARV Clinic - in the township of Khayelitsha. Khayelitsha is the largest township in South Africa. A township is basically miles upon miles of tin shacks. Within the townships they have all necessities that they need - butcher, barber shop, stores, people selling home grown fruits and veggies and even a small bed and breakfast. haha, not kidding - it is called Vicky's B & B. I really wanted to stay there. The HIV and TB rates in Khayelitsha are through the roof. However, Ubuntu ARV has had so much success with in the past few years in providing treatments.
In South Africa - there is this "rule" that states that HIV and TB treatments should be separate. However, if you know anything about how these diseases work - you would know that is counter productive and unsuccessful. Thus, the doctors at the Ubuntu Clinic do not follow it, and as a result have saved many more lives and had higher rates of success. The head nurse Mpumi, who I became close with through our correspondence in setting up the tours, said jokingly that she is waiting to be arrested for doing this.
During the conference I was also in charge of the International AIDS Society's Community Advisory Group. This is a group of 6 people from all over the world who are in charge of overlooking the community activities at the conference. At IAS 2009 we had a positive lounge (for positive delegates), a community office (for activists to use to print materials for protests and stuff), a community exposition booth (with displays of local community information), we held a community forum (in the governmental chambers in SA), and a community orientation programme (to help first time conference attendees). As I am sure you can tell, these activities kept me really busy. I had crazy blisters on my feet from all of the running around.
To give you another example of how amazing my boss is - on the first day, my feet were bleeding like hard core and she saw them and started to freak out. She took me back to her hotel room and soaked my feet in her bathtub, then she continued to wash my disgusting feet, and towel dry them and apply blister guards. This is not a joke - that actually happened. haha. i love her.
I am really going to miss everyone on my office- this internship truly has been such a wonderful, eye opening, worthwhile experience. It has been really hard, and a TON of work, but as Emily said- it was worth it. It still have two more weeks of work - probably just finishing up projects and working on AIDS 2010 in Vienna.
I do not have work on Monday - so it will be nice to have a relaxing weekend off. I am going to the Red Cross Museum today with my friend Jenny. She is leaving on Monday :( and is then off to Boston to finish up medical school at Harvard. Tomorrow Jenny and I are going to finally see Harry Potter. I am really really excited!! haha.
I hope you are all doing well - I can't wait to come home and see everyone and tell my stories, (in more detail, lol)!
Drop me a line sometime :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I survived flying on an Airbus.


I got back to Geneva this morning from a wonderful weekend in Nice, Eze and Monaco. It was a great relaxing weekend, although I am sad that my Mom is no longer with me. She is on to Spain for a week!

I am going to miss having her to clean my messy room and cook me food and do my laundry. haha. j/k. but not really. I had a wondeful time showing her around Geneva and traveling to Nice!

Did you know that the beaches in Nice are all rock? it was so strange, and it hurt a bit to walk on. The reflection of the rocks under the water give Nice that famous bright blue water. It was beautiful, and now i can say that I have swam in the Mediterranean.

On Saturday we took a bus tour to Monaco and Monte Carlo. It was really nice having someone else drive us on those crazy roads. If we had rented a car I am pretty sure we would be dead, especially if I was driving. bad idea.

On the way to Monaco, we stopped in the little medieval village of Eze. It was really neat, it reminded my of Harry Potter! Speaking of...3 days!!!! Eze actually only has 40 people that still live there, it is so small. It is built on the tip top of a mountain, because back in the day that was the safest place because they could see enemies coming in from the sea and from other mountains. It was sweet.

After Eze we took a tour of a perfumery. It smelt soo good, it was actually the oldest perfumery in the world. perfume was like originated there. It was neat to see how it is actually made, it takes to long and so many flowers to make perfume. I now understand why it is so expensive! We bought some only life once!

Then we were off to Monaco! I was truly beautiful, and it is crazy to think that the country itself is only 2 miles long and had 30,000 people living there. it is really crowded. obviously, and to get the cheapest crappiest apartment it is only a mean 2 million dollars. i do not understand, there are so many more things that i would do with a million dollars. like buy a whole island or something.

We saw the changing of the guard at the Palace which was really cool. The guards had nice outfits. they were white. We found a restaurant that served American Classics like Milkshakes!!! I had a strawberry one and it made my day. After, we walked around the gardens, everything is so lush. I am pretty positive that Monaco is a secret Utopian society. For every 50 people that live there there is one police officer. There is like no crime, or trash......and we did not see one bug! Also, the ducks in the pond had tags to keep them from getting overpopulated.

Monaco was like a little fake, pretend world. like Barbie land. haha. but seriously, it was so pathetic to see these people who only care about silly materialistic possessions. It was certainly a great place to visit for the day....but you would have to kill me before I would ever live there.

It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend, but I am glad to be back in Geneva. I need some time to recoup before i leave for Cape Town on Wednesday. I can't believe the time is almost here! I am going to Africa :)))) I am really excited, if you can't tell. haha.

Next time I update I will be in South Africa!

Now, I am going to take a nap, as I woke up at 5:30 to get to the airport.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Geneva Lake Parade = Not Normal

Hello All.

My mom arrived safely on Friday night! We were lame and went straight to bed. Saturday was the forth of July!!!! YEAH! We had so much fun! We went to the French market in the morning and got some more fruit and CHEESE!
On Saturday there was the Geneva Lake Parade. It is a huge deal with thousands of people. It was not at all what I expected. Coming from a small town the only parades I know have firetrucks and clowns. The Geneva Lake Parade had lots of half naked people and drag queens. It was AWESOME!!!!!
There were tons of floats that just consisted of a truck bed with lots of crazy people dancing with barely any clothes on to very loud techno music. In between every float there was a beer truck. Yes, that is correct. There were beer trucks.
We stayed out late waiting for the fireworks....and they never came. sad. It was my first forth of July without fireworks :( but the crazy parade made up for it.
On Sunday I took my mom to my favourite park (the one with the roses) and we had a picnic. It was really fun and totally lame. I started my first Danielle Steel book. Such a classic author, it is riveting. haha. No really, it is about identical twins so it interesting to me even if it is just brain mush.
After the picnic we tried to go see Angels and Demons at the theatre. But we missed it. So, we walked all around Old Town in Geneva. I have only been there a few times, and I discovered last night that it is alot bigger than I originally thought. It was a wonderful end to a great weekend.
I am so jealous, today my mom went to the Montreux Jazz Festival! I want to go soo bad, but it closes on July 18 (Prince is closing this year -120 CHF a pop. bummer) and I will not have a chance to go. She said that it was amazing and Montreux is a really beautiful city. Chad Smith, the lead drummer for the Red Hott Chili Peppers was there on the Forth - apparently my mom went to school with him. They were in band class together....figures. haha.
Anywhoo, again work is really busy as usual. I am leaving for Africa in one week and two days! I am pumped, it is going to be an amazing trip! I cannot wait to see all of my hard work paid off at the conference.
Right now my mom is going to make me some delicious food for dinner. yumm.
On Thursday we are off to Nice, Eze and Monaco for the weekend! I cannot wait to lay on the beach by the Med. It is going to be awesome. I love the sun.
I hope you are all have a wonderful summer!