Archive for June, 2012

June 17, 2012

On the Way Home Part One: Greek Isle

by Tabitha Kidwell

In The Odyssey, Odysseus’ last stop on his voyage home was the island of Corfu. It was the first stop on my journey, but I could see pretty easily how the island could earn a cameo in a Greek epic. I met up with my friend Libby and her friend Natalie, both of whom teach at an International School in Rabat, Morrocco, and we basically spent a whole week in Agios Gordios, a tiny little tourist stop on the Ionian Sea.

It was BEAUTIFUL. We didn’t do all that much – basically just ate delicious food…

…and hung out on the beach…

… and one day, we took a hike.

But the real adventures involved a guy named Mikael. The sign outside his restaurant enticed us:

What was so special about the Greek dancing? We would soon find out, and also learn that not only the dancing was special! We walked in, sat down, and Mikael greeted us and invited us to the kitchen to see the specials. He showed us dish after mouthwatering dish, explaining that almost all the ingredients came from his farm. He even invited us to come milk the goats! I assume this a a schtick he does with all the tourists, and it worked – we were charmed. Most people, though, probably don’t agree to actually come milk the goats. But first, the dancing:

Then, the farm:

It was an amazing week in Greece! Next, I spent a couple days with my friend Suzi and her family in Dijon, France. This included my first ever one-on-one babysitting of a toddler. As you can see from this photo, he is still alive:

And next I spent two weeks in the Taizé community in Burgandy… for more on that, see the next post!

June 9, 2012

Western Civ 101

by Tabitha Kidwell

Maybe the best part of traveling is coming home again. Thinks you took for granted before are like miracles now! Currently in the middle of a 10 hour layover in Berlin, I am completely overwhelmed by the wonders of western civilization. For example:

When I was a kid, I used to dream of a water fountain that distributed chocolate milkshake. Now, I am amazed that they dispense potable water. My dreams have gotten so small…

The breakfast served to me on the Air Berlin flight blew me away. No wonder Indonesian people don’t understand why westerners like bread so much… it’s because they have never tasted bread like this! It was warm and crusty and delicious, and it came with real butter and cheese! And the coffee! After a year in a country of sugary sweet instant coffee (ironically, coffee in Java is terrible – the good stuff is all exported), I am now a black coffee drinker. Why would you put anything in there? It’s so amazing already! Of course, then I took a bite of the melon and promtly spat it out. Tasteless! Why bother! I could find better melons than that sitting on the side of the road in Indonesia. So, to tally up: Indonesia, 1; Western civilization, 2.

There are tall, attractive men everywhere. Just walking around. In the wild. It used to be, I would get excited to see just one at the Semarang airport. I’m really trying hard not to leer or look like I’m about to eat a steak around all these European hotties, but it’s really hard.

The air is different here. I left the terminal and am sitting in a patch of grass by the car park. It’s 8:15 AM, and the air has a cool crispness to it. It feels like spring. I guess it still is spring here. Seasons! Brilliant!

In Indonesia, I developed an unhealthy obsession with the red Wall’s ice cream coolers. And what did I find in the Berlin airport but…

And the internet is so fast! I love it here! The only thing that could make me leave the Berlin airport is a dream vacation on a Greek Isle… 😉

June 8, 2012

Sampai Nanti, Salatiga…

by Tabitha Kidwell

I’m here in the Jakarta Airport at Starbucks (or, as I like to think of it, the American Embassy) waiting to leave Indonesia! I can’t believe this day is here already! It seems like just yesterday I was packing and trying to learn Indonesian from my iPod. I’m so excited to be going home, but I’m also excited to be coming back in August. My students and colleagues had a bunch of end-of-year celebrations for me, and I couldn’t imagine having my final goodbye celebrations! The last few weeks since the triathlon were crazy with grading and good-byes (or see-you-laters, I kept saying). I’m totally exhausted, but I better sleep on the plane, because I have an exciting few weeks ahead of me. I’m en route now to Corfu, Greece (via Abu Dhabi and Berlin on a brutal 36-hour itinerary) to meet my lovely and vivacious friend Libby Cox. Libby and I were in the Peace Corps together, and now she is teaching English at an International school in Morocco. The original plan was for me to come visit Lib in Rabat, but she decided she needed a vacation, too, so we’re meeting on a Greek isle for 5 days! Libby and I traveled together on the way home from Madagascar, too – 2 weeks of mayhem in Italy. Now that we’re older and wiser… I predict we will cause the same amount of mayhem but now be able to afford more drinks! I see this going very well…

After Corfu, I will fly to France to meet my friend Suzi (also from the Peace Corps and also privy to the mayhem in Italy) who now lives in Dijon, France with her husband and son. After the Peace Corps, Suzi and I lived in France for a year, so we will reenact the wine-drinking and cheese-eating of that year! And then I will go to Taizé, an ecumenical monastery in Dijon that invites young people to come and sing, pray, and connect to God through silence. I’ll be there two weeks – the second week totally in silence! I think it’ll be a great way to process and cap off this incredible year!

So I have some incredible adventures ahead of me. But the truth is, these travels aren’t the most exciting thing coming up. I’ve traveled so much this year, and have been to so many amazing places, that now exciting and exotic is the new normal. My friends often say things like “I envy you, your life is so exciting.” I do appreciate the sentiment and their support, and I do feel really blessed. I’m certainly not complaining. But in truth, right now I’m envying them! What am I excited about? Getting home to Columbus, Ohio on July 2! Eating hot dogs at baseball games, having Stella Artois at happy hour, going to Panera with my grandma, going on runs with my friends. I can’t wait to have normal, boring life again. Enough adventure for me… at least until next August!

June 7, 2012

Travel List: Year 1 in Indonesia

by Tabitha Kidwell

Places I’ve traveled in Indonesia… so far!

Pulau Weh


If the Island of Sumartra were a sundae, Pulau Weh would be the cherry on top. It’s the most Northwestern point in Indonesia, and it seems a little bit like the end of the world. The two major tourist attractions, Gapang and Ibodeh, aren’t anything more than a sandy cove with a couple of shack restaurants and a dive center. I went to Gapang and did my Advanced Open Water Scuba certification at Lumba Lumba dive center. The dive center was very laid-back and cool, and I really loved Lesley, my instructor. The diving was pretty beautiful, too – I saw turtles, an Eagle Ray, and a lot of other stuff that I should probably learn more about now that I am an Advanced Open Water certified scuba diver. There was great snorkeling right off shore, too, and it was fun just to swim around the quiet cove. On land, Gapang is pretty quiet – there are about 5 restaurants all with the same menu, and one store that served ice cream (thank goodness!) I went on a couple of hilly runs on quiet, peaceful roads – no traffic to be found! A wonderful place for a quiet beach vacation or for underwater delights! Lumba Lumba has nice but pricey rooms. I stayed in a basic accommodation just past the ice cream shop – a mattress on the floor and shared bathroom, but it was clean and only $8 a night!

Aceh

Banda Aceh, at the northwestern tip of Sumatra, was devastated by the tsunami in 2004. Everyone lost someone – family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues. Some lost their entire families. The town is mostly rebuilt, but memories of the tsunami are always just under the surface. Tsunami-related attractions dominate the tourist scene. There are two boats that were carried kilometers inland: one GIANT freighter and one mid-sized wooden fishing boat that is somehow more shocking because it is still sitting on the house it landed on. You can stand on it and look into someone’s former bathroom. You can also visit the tsunami museum, half of which was funded by foreign NGOs and is (apparently) very touching (it was closed when I was there), the other half of which was funded by Indonesian organizations, and resembles a middle school science fair. An impressinve science fair, but it doesn’t really do justice to the victims and their memories.
Aceh’s other big thing is coffee. They drink it strong and they drink it often. In this conservative Muslim area, you’d be hard pressed to find a bar, but coffee joints abound. They’re full all hours of the day and (especially the) night. Also worth a visit is the incredible mosque, which was built by the Dutch to compensate for the one they burnt down in one of the many colonial battles with the fierce Acehnese. At the opening ceremony, the Acehnese killed the Dutch representative. Like I said, fierce !

Jakarta

Jakarta is called the big Durian, and with good reason – like the pungent fruit, Jakarta is stinky and hard to like at first, but once you get used to it, you love it. I didn’t really get Jakarta on my first visit when I first arrived. Why are there so many malls? Who shops there? Why is there so much traffic? After a few more visits, though, I like Jakarta. It’s a pain to get around town with the traffic, but once you get where you want to go, there are some really nice spots. It’s a very cosmopolitan city. I especially like Jakarta because whenever I am there, I get to stay with my friend Jackie and participate in sporting events with her triathlon training group, which is always fun! WE often head out to Pulau Harapan (the 1,000 islands), about an hour away, for open water swims. My favorite restaurants (AKA the only ones I know) are: The Social House, at the Grand Indonesia mall, which is swanky, has delicious food, and makes me feel like a big city socialite; Ya Udah, a hole in the wall who mixed up my order in a big way (served pork instead of steak – Big no-no in a Muslim country), but I love it because it reminds me of the crappy patio bar & grilles from college; and Bluegrass, just across the street from Jackie’s apartment – everything is delicious there!

Bandung

I was in Bandung for orientation last August, and I’m looking forward to going back now that I know my way around Indonesia. It’s supposed to be a really fun city, but I spent most of my 3 weeks there in the Sheraton pool or in language class. W were there during Ramadan, which meant that most of the hot spots were closed, but there was one memorable night (my birthday!) at a bar on a hill that I only remember as “Ron Bar” because my friend Ron recommended it. I’ll get back to you on the name. Otherwise, I ate quite a few times at Dago Tea House, a peaceful Indonesian restaurant up the road from the hotel. More to come after next years training!

Semarang

I’m hoping to get back to Semarang more next year. I visited at the beginning of October to get the lay of the land and didn’t love the place, but I think I was in the wrong area. I stayed in the old Dutch area and it was (as one might expect by the word “old” it it’s title) run down. I stayed there later for the TEFLIN conference and got a better feeling for the place, but then never got back again. I’ve driven through the city en route to the airport quite a few time now, and I get a very different feeling – it reminds me of Cincinnati with it’s hills (but maybe I’ve been out of the states too much). I want to go back and see some of the tourist attractions – the “house of 1000 doors,” a Chinese temple complex, and a jamo (traditional medicine) museum.

Solo
I stopped by Solo on my way to Australia. It’s known for it’s conservative Muslim groups (which, incidentally, also why there is an international airport there – it is a starting point for the Hajj). I only stayed in the center of the city, and really loved the feeling there. There is still a sultan in Solo, though he doesn’t enjoy the special status that the Yogya sultan does. (Yogya’s was instrumental in the independence fight and got special privileges after liberation.) Hey, the dude is still a sultan! You can visit his palace and try to use your 3rd level Javanese (the register used only for royalty). Solo is also known for it’s batik fabrics, so I’d like to go back to shop a little. I’d also like to go back to visit O Solo Mio, the amazingly delicious Italian restaurant there. Pizza, Pasta, wine… worth the hour’s bus ride.

Dieng Plateau

It’s pretty far off the beaten path, but Dieng is definitely worth the trip. It’s basically a giant collapsed volcanic caldera. There is still some volcanic activity – sulfurous lakes and steaming volcanic vents. There are surreally beautiful temples sprinkled across the plateau. The background of rice fields and mountains ringing the area make for a really beautiful scene. One thing – it’s freezing there. I’ve never been so cold in Indonesia. If you want to get out of the sweltering coastal cities, that might be an attraction in and of itself. Accommodations are pretty basic homestays.

Yogya

Yogya is my home away from home. I love the place. It’s home to bunches of universities, so it’s full of young people. It’s also a center for Indonesian art, so it’s ful of cool, open-minded people. The main tourist drag is Malioboro, wihich is worth visiting the first time you are there, but I only go there now to shop at Mirota batik, where the prices are fair and haggle free and the batik is good quality. At the north end of Malioboro is the Tugu train station and the Sosrowijaya area, a touristy spot with hotels and western bars and restaurants. I was only there once, but I had the best fish curry of my life at Bedhot restaurant, so I’d like to go back again. At the south of Malioboro is the Sultans palace and museum – definitely worth a stop if only to imagine what it would be like to be Javanese royalty. I mostly spend my time down in the Prawirotaman area, partly because my friend Katie lived down near there. Prawirotaman is also touristy, but I feel like I’m a regular so it’s okay. The best restaurants are Via Via on Prawirotaman 1, with international foods, and Milas on Prawirotaman 4, which is an amazing vegetarian restaurant. When I get up to the north, Nona Mias is good for pizza and R&B Grille is good for steak. When my friend Katie was out of town (and before she was “my friend Katie”) I stayed at the Prambanan guest house on Prowirotaman 1.
The real attractions of Yogya lie outside of the city. To the north, there is Prambanan, the Hindu temple just outside the city, and Borobudur, the amazing Buddhist temple about an hour north. Both are breathtaking. Go early in the morning so you don’t get mobbed by sweet but annoying students practicing their English. To the south, there are Paringtritis and Depok beaches. The south sea is too strong for swimming, but it’s a beautiful setting. Depok is especially nice because you can buy your own fish in the market, take it to the restaurant, and have them cook for you. Yum!

Surabaya

I went to Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, last November to meet my friends to watch the OSU-Michigan football game. We stayed at the hotel Ibis only because it was the cheapest hotel with wi-fi (which then went out during the game, so we had to go watch it at McDonalds, but that’s another story). If I go back, I might stay somewhere with more character. It did have the benefit of being near the Sampoerna museum and restaurant. Sampoerna makes the clove cigarettes that are poisoning most Indonesian men, but the restaurant is amazingly delicious so we’ll call it even. Otherwise, I saw some beautiful malls. The bridge over to Madura island is one of the longest in Asia and it was impressive to drive across. I definitely liked the city, but I was only there a couple of days. I’ll be there in November for the TEFLIN conference, so hopefully I’ll have more to say then.

Pontianak

Pontianak, in west Kalimantan (Borneo), was my first trip off of Java/Bali, and it was a wake up call. Definitely less developed and crowded. It reminded me a lot of Madagascar. Indonesians populated Madagascar, so they two cultures have a lot in common. The similarities were more apparent in a less developed situation. Pontianak is a big city, but, unlike cities on Java, it has room to breathe and spread out. It has big boulevards lined with colossal government buildings that lend the place a colonial feeling. I was there visiting my friend Anglea, and we also drove 3 hours north to Singkawong for their Chinese New Year celebration, which was something to behold (see my blog entry from February 2012 for more info – if you have a strong stomach).

East Java

The very tip of east Java, extending all the way to Bali, is a bit off the beaten path. Jackie and I had to hire a car for what we had hoped would be an adventurous vacation, but ended up being more of a driving tour. The main attraction is Bromo, a volcano raising above a sea of sand (which is actually a giant collapsed caldera) It’s something to see… but not much of a hike. We headed east, hoping to climb Mt. Ijen… but it was closed due to poisonous gases. We did get to see some beautiful waterfalls, though. We also went to Alas Purwo national park, where we saw monkeys, wild buffalo, and deer, as well as the oldest Hindu temple in Java. East Java is beautiful… but maybe not ideal for mountain climbing.

Bali

Bali is…. not Indonesia. Just kidding, it is an important part of Indonesian culture, but the huge amount of tourism there makes it more like Cancun in some places. Kuta, the biggest party town, is minutes from the airport, and it blends right into Legian, which blends right into Seminyak, each of which is progressively less party-centric. I stayed a night in Seminyak and thought it felt like Florida in the summer. Beach-goers, but not college spring break. Of course, that was a Thursday in November. I think Kuta gets pretty overrun with drunk Australians at some points of the year.
There is a lot more to Bali, though. One alternative is Sanur, on the other side of the island. The beach isn’t as beautiful, but it’s a quieter and calmer destination. My mom and I stayed at a resort there and had an amazing time.
A lot of people skip the beach and just head straight for Ubud. Ubud is more and more touristy now thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert, who lived there for 4 months, then wrote a little book called Eat, Pray, Love. It’s known as the cultural capital of Bali, which means it’s full of art and people who want to sell art to tourists. To be less cynical, there is a very good art museum there, and very good shopping. Also plenty of interesting dance and cultural performances. And, most importantly: lots of delicious food! Ubud is full of hippies, so there is delicious vegetarian/vegan food to be found! My favorite is Sari Organik, which is out in the rice fields. Beautiful view, and a beautiful walk – but hot if you head out there for lunch! Bali Buddha is also great, and for traditional palates (AKA meat), 3 Monkeys can’t be beat. My friend Megan would cry if I forgot to tell you to get the Lime Mint juice at 3 Monkeys – she makes special trips to Bali just for that! In Ubud, my recommended place to stay is Oka Wati. It’s affordable and had a really beautiful setting. Oka Wati herself walks around, glamorous as can be, in a traditional Kebaya. My favorite activity from Ubud is the Bike tour – they take you to the base of nearby Mt. Batur to start, meaning the rest is downhill. You stop by all kinds of interesting places, like a coffee plantation, rice field, family compound, and temples. It’s an easy ride, and delicious breakfast and lunch are included!

Gili Trawangan

I stayed on Trawangan to get my Open Water Scuba certification at Blue Marlin dive centre. It’s a great place to get certified because the diving is pretty easy, but still beautiful. Blue Marlin was buzzing with activity but not intimidating for a newbie. I loved being underwater for the first time – the coral reefs were stunning (otherwise, I had no idea what I was looking at!) Above ground, Gili T is really fun – lots of bars and delicious restaurants and – YUM – a gelato stand! I stayed at Pesona resort, which is attached to an amazing Indian resaurant. The owners were super friendly, and the rooms were nice and affordable. I had a blast on Gili T – it’s a great beach vacation, whether your idea of “beach vacation” is napping in the sand, scuba diving, or binge drinking in the sun!

Lombok

Lombok is billed as the “next Bali” – and with its shiny new airport, it might just catch up soon. The airport is kinda in the middle of nowhere, which puts it closer to the deserted beach towns that are purported to be in development deals with shadowy foreign investors. For now, Kuta (same name as the party town in Bali, but couldn’t be more different) is a sleepy little strip of sand with a few restaurants and hotels. It reminded me of the beaches I went to for Christmases with friends in Madagascar. It’s not so developed that you forget you’re in Indonesia, but it’s beachy enough that you can forget about your work back on Java. I loved Kuta, Lombok for a little beach weekend away, especially given it’s proximity to that fancy new airport!

Makassar

Makassar is the largest city on Suawesi, the funniest shaped island in the world. It is known for it’s radicalism, but I enjoyed it more for it’s fresh fish. I was only in town a day or two, but I got down to the beach to eat pisang ijo (fried banana in something like a caramel sauce) and eat freshly caught fish I also ate Coto Makassar, soup made from unidentifiable beef parts, which is exactly as appetizing as it sounds. Maybe that’s why the students are all up in arms – inferior soup.

Toraja

It’s not easy to get to – you have to take an overnight bus from Makassar – but it is worth the trip. Toraja is amazing! It feels like a pocket of forgotten time. The people of this area are known for their elaborate funerals and unique burial practices. Families will save up for years for a funeral, and the funerals will go on for days. Death is very much a presence in their lives. Consequently, there are bunches of tombs, burial caves, and other variations on that theme. The names of all the places are a bit mixed up for me now, but that doesn’t make the sites any less memorable. There were baby graves, where the villagers put babies who die far too young into a hole in the side of a tree. There was a cliff-side burial site where coffins are unceremoniously piles in corners of caves. There was another rock face where effigies of the deceased are displayed in niches on the rock face, some of them over 100 years old. It is a beautiful region that again made me think of Madagascar – and maybe Madagascar’s famadianas (parties for the exhumed bodies of the deceased) have roots in this culture. The elaborate wooden rice barns are also beautiful. A must-visit. The towns of Rantepao and Makale are both well-equipped for tourists, with a range of hotel and eating options. And those overnight buses- not so bad. The one I rode on had wi-fi (on a bus!) and I could extend my seat to almost flat!

June 5, 2012

Keeping up Appearances

by Tabitha Kidwell

I’ve never been an especially glamorous person. The fanciest look I can pull off successfully is “off-duty ballerina” (think scarves and buns). But I used to at least blow-dry my hair and wear make-up in America. That has all gone out the window here. I already attract a lot of attention as a tall white person here, so it just didn’t seem necessary anymore. Plus, I’m the only woman on campus without her head covered, so I don’t want to freak out everyone by unleashing my beautiful shampoo-commercial hair (ok, by that I mean my too-frizzy-in-this-humidity hair, but still). So I usually pull my hair back and wear long pants and tunic-y shirts. I usually look like this:

Nevertheless, people are pretty easy to please. I wear a ribbon in my hair and people say “Miss Tabitha, you are so beautiful.” If they only knew what they are missing out on!

But I’m worried about my upcoming return to the US of A and civilization as I know it. To fit in again, I’m going to have to really step up my game. I think I may have forgotten how. To help, I’m trying to ease back in. I blow dried my hair the other day and couldn’t stop running my fingers through it. And when I put make-up on to go to the airport for the Triathlon, I caught myself stealing glances in any reflective surface I could find: Hey, good-looking! It’s amazing what changing your outside appearance can do for your mood and your self-image. I had forgotten what it was like to feel good about your appearance. For some reason, wearing make-up or having pretty hair really did put an extra spring in my step. Let’s hope it’ll put enough spring in to let me compete in America. If worse comes to worse, I’ll just pretend I’m an off-duty ballerina. From somewhere where they wear tunics.

June 1, 2012

Race Report: Bintan Triathlon

by Tabitha Kidwell

Well, it’s been a week since the triathlon, and I think I am fully recovered! (Actually, I went for my first post-race run this morning, and now my foot hurts! What gives? I guess it’s okay, I can chill out for the next few weeks and not run, but I wanted to get back into more frequent running to start marathon training in July. Maybe this is a sign that I need to chill out. I’ll try.)

How was the race? In a word – HARD! I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be. I knew I could do each event individually without too many problems, but doing them one right after another proved to be really difficult! I probably should have expected as much, huh? I was surprised at how hard the transitions were – I thought “Hey, no problem, just changing your shoes and putting on a helmet… I could do that when I was, like, 4 years old.” I didn’t know how hard it would be after swimming half a mile, or how tricky it would be to hop off the bike and run into the transition area – my legs felt like jelly, like I was just learning to walk.

Well, to start from the beginning, the swim was pretty rough at first, with the tangle of humanity all charging into the water at the same time. I had never done a running start to a swim, so starting a little out of breath was a challenge right from the beginning, not to mention the 200 other competitors kicking me in the face. It took until I got around the halfway buoy and started heading back that I found a good rhythm, though trying to find myself a spot among the other competitors caused me some trouble with swimming straight. I would try to move a little to the right to get some space, then would look up and see that I was headed almost parallel to the shore rather than perpendicular. Oops. That probably wasted some energy. Direction just isn’t an issue when you’re swimming alone in a pool. So some more open water swimming is definitely called for.

But after only 19:11, the swim was over and I raced out of the water to the transition area. I had a pretty slow transition (2:31), because I forgot to eat my energy gel until the end, and then wasted some time drinking water to choke it down. I should have been doing that while putting on my shoes, helmet, gloves, etc., but I got caught up in the moment and forgot. So, still a bit out of breath, I ran my bike out of the transition area, hopped on, and pedaled up the hill that marked the beginning of the bike course (yes, pretty annoying to start with a hill, but if you are swimming in the ocean, the only way to go is up.). There were rolling hills throughout the 12.4 miles. When I biked part of the course the day before, I thought the hills would be no problem, but I definitely noticed them during the race! All-in-all, though, the bike course was pretty nice. I did the 20k in 51:51, then headed back into the transition area to drop off my bike and get ready for the run.

I haven’t started using clips, so I was already wearing my running shoes, meaning this transition was basically just a matter of dropping the bike and heading out. I think I had drunk too much water on the bike – I was a little sloshy in the tummy to start out. It was an odd sensation, too, to start a run out of breath and tired, so the run that I thought would just be autopilot was much more difficult than your usual Sunday morning 5K. Those rolling hills were back, too, and I have to admit that I walked up the first couple. At least I wasn’t the only one – I was passed while walking by a woman whose race bib listed her name as “Flash,” then she started walking and I passed her, then she passed me, then I passed her, etc., for the first 2K or so. We also passed a bunch of dudes in fancy matching biking jerseys – since the men had started 15 minutes earlier, that meant they were really the back of the pack, and that maybe buying that fancy jersey was maybe the most race prep they had done. But, hey, I still passed them! After a hilly first half, we were headed back to the beach, and it got a little easier as I got into a good rhythm. It felt like I was running really absurdly slow, but my chip says I ran the 5K in 30:11, which is basically just about the speed I run most days. So not too slow at all, especially counting those walking spells.

When the finish line was in sight, I was ready to make a break for it – unfortunately, that meant I accidently ran into the Elephant-riding-area in a delirious attempt to head straight for the finish when the course actually curved around. Oops. So I had to double back to avoid the elephant, but then I headed down the chute to finish at 1:44:51! I was really happy with that time! Actually, upon finishing, I was just happy I didn’t have to move anymore, but once I ate a banana and regained my mental facilities, I was pretty psyched! For a first triathlon, my goal was really just to get through it, but I thought my time might have been closer to 2 hours. I was pretty psyched that nothing had gone wrong with my bike or transitions, and that everything had just gone smoothly. Right afterwards, I told myself I wouldn’t torture myself like that again, but then 3 hours later I was already googling races for this summer. I guess another tri is in my future. It seems that to become a successful triathlete, you have to have selective amnesia and be able to block out the parts of the race where you were thinking things like “This is terrible! Why am I doing this? I hate myself.” If that’s the case, I guess you can consider me a triathlete! Bring it on, swim, bike, run!


Ready to go! (Or I thought so at least!)


After the race


At the end of an amazing day – check out that sky!