I’m back!

It’s been a very, very long time since I last updated my blog.  Since my last post, lots of things have happened, and hopefully I can write a more detailed blog post about each major event later.  In short, however, the school year has resumed (and my counterpart at the school quit at the end of last month).  My project, the HIV/AIDS Bike Trek (teaching students about HIV/AIDS across the Gambia), had its “training of trainers” weekend in Sept, and the Bike Trek itself is next week.  I traveled to Europe to see my family and friends in October.  I’m happy to report that I gained 5 lbs during that vacation, but I’m sad to say that I’ve probably lost it already.  But I’m super excited that Thanksgiving is around the corner :O nom nom nom…

In the meantime, here’s a little video that I made using my GoPro camera. It’s of me biking in the bush to my village. The video is a bit shaky because of the bumpy/sandy roads. Enjoy!

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My little European video…

I’ve had my DSLR camera since August 2011, and I’ve been taking thousands of pictures with it ever since.  My hard drive in my Mac was exploding at the seams until I purchased a new 1 TB external drive last March.  The reason I’ve been taking so many pictures is because not too long after getting my DSLR, I discovered time-lapse photography.  I fell in love with the concept and had been learning how to create time-lapses, from how to take the pictures, to how to edit them, to how to create and edit the videos.  I quickly learned you need a lot patience.  Needless to say, taking pictures of an ice cube melting was one of the first time-lapse clips I created, and much patience was learned.

Fast forward to February 2012.  I took a trip to Europe for the first time, visiting Barcelona, London, and Paris.  I decided it would be a great opportunity to take time-lapse pictures on the trip, so I packed 2 tripods with me and off I went.  It was quite a hassle having to stop every now and then for 10-15 minutes to take pictures, and I know I might have annoyed my friends a bit, but it was well worth it in the end.  Since this is my first video, any feedback and comments are welcome.  I’m hoping that I can continue taking time-lapse photos while I’m abroad in Africa, so the more I can learn now, the better prepared I will be later.  Enjoy!

Back home…

During the last couple of weeks, I’ve been traveling throughout Europe, specifically London, Barcelona, and Paris.  The motivation for the trip was a culmination of several reasons.  The first and foremost reason was to visit a good friend that moved to London.  Second, I had never been to Europe, and it was the only continent that I had never been to.  I can now say that I’ve been to all 7 continents on this Earth!  Thirdly, it was a test trip for some of my gear that I would be bringing to Africa in the Peace Corps.  And last, but not least, it was a trip to capture as many pictures as possible to create a time-lapse video (my new hobby).

London was my favorite city of the three I visited.  Though cold and gloomy with some rain, I was lucky enough to catch several days of sunshine and crisp weather.  London was a hustle and bustle city much like New York.  There were lots to things to do, places to go, and sites to see.  Navigating the city and their public transportation (e.g. the Tube) was easy.  Many places were within walking distance once you got to the touristy spots.  One of the downsides to London (as an American traveler) is the British Pound and how expensive many things cost.  Since my friend lived in London, we cooked many of our meals.  Shopping in the supermarkets or at your local grocer was surprisingly cheap.  You could also find very good inexpensive restaurants, coffee shops, and corner cafes without much effort.  Another plus was most of the museums were free!  I took advantage of that fact and visited a few of them, including the National Gallery, the British Museum, and the Tate Modern.  A few things in London, however, were closed down or being renovated.  There was lots of construction going on in preparation for the London 2012 Olympics.  Ads abound throughout the city highlighting the upcoming games.  Oh to be in London during the Olympics; all the excitement, all the national pride, and also, not to forget, all the frustration due to the population surge during the 2 weeks of competition.  Nonetheless, I wish I could be there during the Olympics!

Barcelona was another great city.  Staying at the Hotel Arts Barcelona, we were right by the beach and not too far from many of the touristy locales.  Unlike London where I took the Tube almost everywhere, in Barcelona I walked almost everywhere.  La Rambla, La Sagrada Familia, La Catedral de Barcelona, La Pedrera… there were so many great sites to see.  I would describe this leg of my vacation as an architectural exploration: my friends and I basically went to almost every major Gaudi location in the city (Gaudi was famous Spanish Catalan architect, and his work is visible throughout Barcelona).  By the way, Spanish tapas are delicious!

Bonjour!  Paris was a city where I felt transported to the past.  Throughout the major streets and small alleyways, all the buildings were reminiscent of a world long ago.  One would find tiny shops that sold only breads, which so happened to be right next to the cheese shop on the right, the meat shop on the left, and the wine shop a few storefronts down.  However, eating in restaurants in Paris was quite expensive.  Parisians have an exquisite sense of taste, and I’m assuming they have exquisite wallets to match!  Navigating the city’s public transport was also easy to do.  We visited many sites, including Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Champ-Elysses, and the Arc de Triomphe.  One of the major downsides to Paris, which was rather annoying, was that so many people smoked.  I even spotted and smelled a person smoking in the subway tunnels, which was clearly prohibited.  As a result, cigarette and cigars littered the streets making them filthy.  Car and truck exhausts also reeked of fuel and smog, and many buildings looked like they were covered in a layer of soot.  I definitely felt I was transported to the past… say, the time of the industrial revolution.

I took many MANY photos when I was in Europe.  Barcelona and London alone have taken up about 45 GB.  I have yet to upload my Paris pictures because my external hard drive is almost full, so I need to get a new one very soon.  Needless to say, I have many time-lapse clips of my trip.  Here’s a small taste of what I hope to complete, once I get more space on my computer.  Click here and use the password “europe2012” (without the quotes) when prompted.  (Note: I selected a random song clip from my MP3 playlist for this short vid, but the final version will probably feature a different song.)

See ya later… adios… au revoir!