Rumble: What I see through the window when I wake up,

Time for something more positive! Time to start a meme!

"meme" n [mëm]: A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. From the Greek mimëma, something imitated, from mimeisthai, to imitate.

In "Blogspeak", a meme is an idea that is shared and passed from blog to blog, like a question posted in one blog and answered in many other blogs.

The meme we will start is:
"On your blog, publish a picture of what you see through the window when you wake up. Forward the meme to five of your favorite blogs."

I am forwarding the meme to Scarlett Lion in Uganda, Worldman in Sudan, Harry Rud who should be on his way back to Afghanistan, Sharing Means Caring currently on mission in Georgia, Lulu's Bay in Cairo. Let's see if they pick up the challenge! ;-)

Here is how the view from the bedroom in the morning (in Fregene -near Rome- in Italy):


What can I see? A piece of my balcony with plants on it, the trees on the side of the road, and loads of palm trees in the gardens of my neighbours across the road.

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Rumble: Even the daily things can be unusual.

You live your daily life, and sometimes forget how unusual those things you see every day can be.
It is only recently I started to notice the streets around the neighbourhood where I live, have trees in the middle of them...

Trees in the middle of the street in Fregene
Trees in the middle of the street in Fregene
Trees in the middle of the street in Fregene

More posts on The Road about Italy.

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Rumble: Africa is THIS big!

how big is Africa?

Glenna at the Scarlett Lion, posted an interesting map, showing how big Africa really is.

Courtesy: The Times Atlas

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Rumble: Blackwater or How War Profiteering Works - Part III


Blackwater Worldwide has played a substantial role during the Iraq War as a contractor for the United States government. In 2003, Blackwater attained its first high-profile contract when it received a $21 million no-bid contract for guarding the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, L. Paul Bremer. Since June 2004, Blackwater has been paid more than $320 million out of a $1 billion, five-year State Department budget for the Worldwide Personal Protective Service, which protects U.S. officials and some foreign officials in conflict zones. In 2006, Blackwater won the renumerative contract to protect the U.S. embassy in Iraq, the largest American embassy in the world.

Blackwater is a privately held company and does not publish much information about internal affairs. Who are the key people?

Blackwater's owner and founder Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL, attended the Naval Academy, graduated from Hillsdale College, and was an intern in George H.W. Bush's White House. Prince is a major financial supporter of Republican Party causes and candidates.
Cofer Black, the company's current vice chairman, was director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center (CTC) at the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was the United States Department of State coordinator for counterterrorism with the rank of ambassador at large from December 2002 to November 2004. After leaving public service, Black became chairman of the privately owned intelligence gathering company Total Intelligence Solutions, Inc., as well as vice chairman for Blackwater.
Joseph E. Schmitz holds an executive position in Blackwater's holding company, Prince Group. He was previously inspector general of the Department of Defense, an appointment of George W. Bush.
Robert Richer was vice president of intelligence until January 2007, when he formed Total Intelligence Solutions. He was formerly the head of the CIA's Near East Division.

Are you surprised Blackwater opened the door to lucrative government contracts through a no-bid contract? Are you surprised they received immunity from prosecution after killing 17 Iraqi civilians a year ago?

More interesting reading on Blackwater: The Whores of War

Source: Wikipedia and others
Cartoon courtesy News Sophisticate

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News: KBR or How War Profiteering Works - Part 2: Human Trafficking

Halliburton war profiteering

KBR, one of America's biggest military contractors is being sued by a Nepali labourer and the families of a dozen other employees who say they were taken against their will to work in Iraq. All but one of the Nepalese workers were subsequently kidnapped and murdered.

According to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, the Nepalese workers were recruited in 2004 in their home country by KBR and its Jordanian contractors, Daoud & Partners, to work as kitchen staff in a luxury hotel in Amman. Once they reached the Jordanian capital, however, their passports were taken from them and they were sent to Iraq. While travelling in an unprotected convoy, the Nepalis were kidnapped and later executed.

KBR (Kellogg, Brown and Root) is a former subsidiary of Halliburton, the company of which the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, was once the chairman. (Full)

Cartoon courtesy Radio Left

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News: Halliburton or How War Profiteering Works - Part 1: The Secret Deal for Iraq's Oil

Halliburton war profiteering

Four months before the United States invaded Iraq, the Department of Defense was secretly working with Vice President Dick Cheney's old company, Halliburton Corp., on a deal that would give the world's second largest oil services company total control over Iraq's oil fields, according to interviews with Halliburton's most senior executives.

Previously undisclosed Halliburton documents obtained by The Public Record confirm that controlling the world's second largest oil reserves was a top priority for the Bush administration. Additionally, the deal between the Department of Defense and Halliburton unit Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR - see this post) to operate Iraq's oil industry saved Halliburton from imminent bankruptcy.

In October of 2002, Halliburton was saddled with a multibillion-dollar asbestos liability as well as a serious slowdown in domestic oil production. The company’s stock plummeted on the news falling to a low of $12.62 in October 2002 from a high of $22 the year before.

A month later, in November 2002, Halliburton’s financial troubles seemingly disappeared. At the urging of unnamed officials in the Office of the Vice President, according to the documents, the Department of Defense recommended The Army Corps of Engineers award a contract to Kellogg, Brown & Root to extinguish Iraqi oil well fires in addition to "assessing the condition of oil-related infrastructure; cleaning up oil spills or other environmental damage at oil facilities; engineering design and repair or reconstruction of damaged infrastructure; assisting in making facilities operational; distribution of petroleum products; and assisting the Iraqis in resuming Iraqi oil company operations."

That was a deal hatched five months before the start of the Iraq war, when the Bush administration said publicly that it had not been working on war plans, and at the time when the UN weapons inspectors had just re-entered Iraq. (Full)

Cartoon courtesy

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News: US soldiers executed handcuffed and blindfolded Iraqis

In March or April 2007, three noncommissioned United States Army officers, including a first sergeant, a platoon sergeant and a senior medic, killed four Iraqi prisoners with pistol shots to the head as the men stood handcuffed and blindfolded beside a Baghdad canal, two of the soldiers said in sworn statements obtained by The New York Times.

After the killings, they removed the men’s bloody blindfolds and plastic handcuffs, shoved the four bodies into the canal, rejoined other members of their unit waiting in nearby vehicles and drove back to their combat outpost in southwest Baghdad. (Full)

Picture courtesy Martin Adler (Panos Pictures)

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News: Monsoon in Asia, Floods in West-Africa and Hurricanes in Central America.

Flooding in NepalThe emergency season has started again.

Floods in India May Displace Millions.
Millions of destitute farmers and their families may be displaced for months after severe floods in northern India wiped out crops and homes, leaving hundreds of villages under several feet of water. (Full)

WFP to feed feed 50,000 flood victims in Nepal
The emergency operation is in response to a Government of Nepal request after monsoon rains caused an embankment of the Saptakoshi River to collapse, flooding thousands of hectares of land and forcing an estimated 50,000 people to flee their homes. (Full)

U.N. fears health crisis from West Africa floods
WHO, the U.N. health agency says severe flooding in West Africa is increasing the risk of deadly cholera and malaria outbreaks in the region. Flooding since July has displaced at least 200,000 people and damaged roads and railway lines across a large area of West Africa, with Benin the hardest-hit. (Full)

Hurricane Gustav floods Haiti, kills 11 and heads toward Cuba
Gustav also dumped torrential rains on southern Haiti, which is prone to devastating floods because its mountainous terrain has been stripped of trees for farming and charcoal. (Full)

Picture courtesy James Giambrone/WFP

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News: Airline removes life vests to save fuel

Airlines are trying to cut the cost of fuel. I mentioned before that Brussels Airlines decided to fly slower and to remove the unused ash trays to save fuel. Now Jazz, Air Canada's regional carrier, has removed inflatable life vests from its planes to save weight.

Canada's transportation regulations stipulate only one means of floatation is required when operating flights 50 nautical miles or more from shore. The airline carried both floatation devices (seat cushions) and life vests, so they scrapped one. And adjusted flight routines to stay further away from any coastline. (Full)

[Ed: At least it is a better (and more comfortable) choice than if they would have scrapped the seat cushions and kept the life vests as sole means of floatation. ;-) ]

Picture courtesy ABC News

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News: Relief agencies criticize US military "humanitarians"

US sailors loading humanitarian cargo on the deck of guided-missile destroyer USS McFaulThe International Rescue Committee (IRC) has felt first hand the heavy toll to be paid when humanitarians are targetted by violence. Just two weeks ago, three IRC female staff working in Afghanistan and traveling in a clearly marked vehicle when they were attacked and killed by Taliban.
A symbolic attack, further prompting humanitarians to distantiate themselves from any military forces in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.

No wonder that Non-governmental relief agencies are now criticizing the US decision to put the Pentagon in a prominent "humanitarian" role in Georgia. They claim the "militarization" of the humanitarian operation puts them, the aid workers, at risk.

"We are concerned about blurring the lines between who is an aid worker and who is a soldier," said Anne Richard, a vice president of the IRC. "If we are mistaken for soldiers, in very dangerous situations we can become targets," said Richard. (Full)

Picture courtesy AP Photo

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News: Georgia - a tit-for-tat game between Russia and the US.

middle finger

The front page of the Russian Tvoi Den ("Your Day") newspaper today makes no secret of what it thinks of the West. "TAK YOU" means "F**K YOU"
The text below the picture reads: "For the first time in many years Russia has clearly shown to the West we are not going to live by its order."

Tensions between Russia and the US has been raising since a while. I wrote about this on The Road a year ago.
It seems after their battle of words on Iraq, Iran, the US missile shield, blabla, the two superpowers are now ready to rattle swords and have picked Georgia as their playing ground.

After the skirmishes between Georgia and its break-away or autonomous (depending who you ask) republics, Russia went in with full military force, knowing the US would take sides.
The US poked Russia by putting the US military in charge of "the humanitarian relief mission in Georgia" (more), and moved US warships with "humanitarian supplies" into the Black Sea.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev deepened the Georgia crisis yesterday by insisting that South Ossetia and Abkhazia should be independent nations, adding: "We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new Cold War."
Russia's NATO envoy then declared that military aid to Georgia for use against South Ossetia and Abkhazia would be seen as a "declaration of war". (Full)


And you know what bugs me? Who will be the victim of this rattle of words or swords? The ordinary people. Some things never change.

Georgian refugee

Source: International Aid Workers Today
Pictures courtesy This Is London and San Francisco Sentinel

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Picture of the day: Child malnutrition - old news in new India

child hunger india Anita Khemka  For The Times

Deep Kumar and Vishal are fed eggs by caretaker Nirmala Devi at the UNICEF-sponsored nutrition rehabilitation center in Saraiya in the impoverished eastern Indian state of Bihar. Half of young Indians are malnourished. In a nation seen as a rising power, combating the problem 'has not been a policy priority . . . for the last 40 years,' a U.N. expert says. (Full)

More Pictures of the Day on The Road.

Picture courtesy Anita Khemka (LA Times)

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News: UN and US, more than one letter of difference?

Warning. This piece is highly opinionated and reflects my personal views.

Picture by Robert Kasca, taken on the rubble after the bombing of the UN HQ in Baghdad

Letter to the Editor of the New York Times (Source)
Re “For Terrorists, a War on Aid Groups” by Samantha Power (Op-Ed, Aug. 19):

As an aid worker who has worked in the Middle East for more than 10 years, I applaud Ms. Power’s call for more protection for nongovernmental organization workers in conflict zones, but she doesn’t mention an important element.

In recent years, the United States government has both contracted out for more aspects of development and humanitarian assistance in conflict zones and connected this foreign aid more closely than ever with strategic and military goals.

By publicly linking these objectives, the United States government has placed aid workers in the position where they may not be seen as neutral development professionals working solely for the benefit of the people in host countries, and has caused some people, especially in places where the United States military is involved, to see aid workers as representatives of an unpopular foreign policy or as part of an occupation administration, making them more vulnerable to attack.

Garrett Dorer, Cairo Aug. 20 2008

This letter represents the view many humanitarian workers have, since 9/11. The US unilaterally invaded two sovereign countries, Afghanistan and Iraq. The humanitarian workers were given all the financial resources needed to provide relief aid during and after these military actions.

And we, the aid workers, were effective: no-one saw children starving on the television. There were no reports of massive deaths due to the outbreak of diseases. Food, medical aid and shelter were flown in and distributed as almost a school example of how humanitarian assistance should be run. Did that directly or indirectly soften the public's opinion about the military actions?

As the humanitarians proved to be effective in their Afghanistan and Iraq aid efforts, how far have they brought down the threshold for any country to take unilateral military action against the other? And even worse: how far have they aligned themselves with military actions? Part of the planning for military actions? How far are aid workers seen as accomplices.
Consequently, up to what level are we, aid workers, now seen as "representatives" of an unpopular foreign policy of one country? And consequently, up to what level are we, aid workers, now targeted by terrorism and other hostilities as much as the US is?

For us, UN aid workers, we always half-jokingly say: "Between the US and the UN, there is more than a one letter difference", but that is not how it looks like to the outside world.

Picture courtesy Robert Kasca

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News: Watch Pakistan

Warning. This piece is opinionated and reflects my personal views.

musharaf's gone

Pakistan has kept up a fragile balancing act between democracy and despotism, between the US and its Muslim roots, between being the Taliban's friend or foe. I lived in Pakistan for a number of years before and during the 9/11 crisis and always found it quite an inflammable country, which could ignite with the slightest spark.

The country's leader after the 1999 coup d'etat, Pervez Musharraf, who resigned as the Commander in Chief of the armed forces a few months ago, just stepped down as the country's president amidst an increased campaign of terrorist attacks and worsening civil unrest.
Musharraf might not have been the school example for democracy but it seems that he was able to keep the fragile balance the country needed in a turbulent region, and neighbouring its arch-rival India.

With the Taliban's power yet again on the raise in Afghanistan and in Pakistan's -almost self ruling- tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, one should worry if this country, a nuclear power, can continue to please the West, its population, and the extremists.

The more a worry because while Pakistan was -officially- an US ally in the war against terror, it is now said its intelligence service, the ISI, always 'tolerated', if not supported and even trained, the Taliban in the recent years.

Matthew Cole wrote an interesting article "Killing ourselves in Afghanistan" which gives a must-read insight in the balancing act Pakistan's military have performed before, during and after the 9/11 crisis. The article features the intriguing story of a defunct Taliban officer.

My prediction: the current ruling frail coalition might find it difficult to fill the power vacuum of the post-Musharraf era. Either extremists will go for the throne or will plunge the country in chaos. If Pakistan tumbles, the whole region might go up in flames again. OR, of course, the country rulers might go for the classical political solution: deviate the public's attention from the real problems, and start a "whag the dog"-war. India? Either way, it makes the events in Pakistan a worrying spot in the spectrum of world politics.

Update (less than a day after writing this post):
Pakistan's ruling coalition split after former premier Nawaz Sharif withdrew over differences on the restoration of judges sacked by ex-president Pervez Musharraf. (Full)
2nd Update (a few hours later):
An estimated 200,000 people from the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan have been displaced since the Pakistani army launched the Bajaur operation early this month in response to growing U.S. pressure to take action against the Taliban in the region, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.(Full)
3rd Update (16-Sept-2008):
Pakistan's military has ordered its forces to open fire if U.S. troops launch another air or ground raid across the Afghan border, an army spokesman said. Pakistani officials warn that stepped-up cross-border raids will accomplish little while fueling violent religious extremism in nuclear-armed Pakistan.(Full)
4th Update (20-Sept-2008):
Suicide bomber blows up a truck full of explosives outside of the Islamabad Marriott hotel, killing at least 40 people (Full)
5th Update (2-Oct-2008):
UN orders staff families to evacuate Islamabad (Full)
6th Update (03-Oct-2008):
War has come to Pakistan, not just as terrorist bombings, but as full-scale battles, leaving Pakistanis angry and dismayed as the dead, wounded and displaced turn up right on their doorstep. (Full)
7th Update (09-Oct-2008):
Bombings killed 10 people and wounded at least four, including an attack on a heavily guarded Islamabad police complex. (Full)
8th Update (Nov-2009):
We are now one year later. Looking at the frequency of suicide bombings, attacks on civilians, the international community and the aid organisations, it seems my prediction was pretty spot on so far... Sadly...

Picture courtesy Khalid Tanveer/AP

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Rumble: The Road's Contents

One of the blogs I read, Dave Pollard's "How to save the world" pointed me to Wordl, an online tool to create a random tag cloud from a website, RSS feed or just a series of words. Call it an artistic impression of the subject's at matter...

This is how The Road to the Horizon content's cloud looks like. Easy to pick out those areas which are tackled the most on this blog (click to enlarge):

The Road's tag cloud according to Wordl

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News: Beauty contest for Italian nuns.

An Italian Catholic priest is launching a beauty contest with a difference - it will be open only to nuns.

Father Antonio Rungi, from Mondragone in the province of Caserta, near Naples, said he expected at least a thousand nuns to enter the "Sister Italia" contest. It would at first run online, but he hoped it would then become a "real pageant" on the lines of the annual Miss Italy contest, complete with a parade and interviews.

Sophia Loren in a model role for nuns?Rungi aims to give them more visibility within the Catholic Church and fight the stereotype that they are all old and dour. The nuns would not wear swimsuits or revealing outfits, as Rungi "values inner beauty the most in a woman". Asked for his feminine ideal however, he replied "Well, I would say Sophia Loren". (Full)

(Ed: Meanwhile, it seems Father Rungi's blog is no longer active. Maybe 'someone up there' did not agree with Father Rungi's initiative.. )

More posts on The Road about Italy.

Picture courtesy Times Online

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Rumble: The most erotic of all plants: Coco de Mer

As soon as we landed in the Seychelles, we saw displays of one of their national symbols: the unique Seychellois coconut: the "Cocofesse" or "Coco de Mer".

Coco de mer seed

For centuries these unique coconuts washed ashore on the beaches of India, Maldives and Sri Lanka. The suggestive shape of the world's largest plant seed - about 40-50 cm diameter, weighing up to 20 kg - made it famous, and they were sold the world over as a symbol of fertility. They were often expensively decorated with gems, gold and silver becoming the prized possession of kings and rulers.

Coco de mer seed

Originally, this coconut was thought to be the fruit of enormous trees that grew underwater in the great whirlpool of the oceans, and were therefor called "Sea Coconuts" - "Coco de mer". It was not until 1768 when the first actual Cocofesse plants were discovered on the Seychelles: A surveyor aboard the French vessel "Marion Dufresne" found the trees on the island of Praslin, and brought them back with him to Mauritius.

Female Coco de Mer plant in Vallee de Mai on Praslin

The Cocofesse has a male and a female plant. They are the largest palm tree in the world: the male goes up to 30m, and the female to 24m high.

Coco de Mer catkin

The male catkin -once again an erotic symbol- can be as thick as a person's arm and grow 50 cm long.

The seed itself grows for 6-7 years in a husk, after which it falls on the ground where it lays dormant for about six months.

Coco de Mer

It takes one year after germination before the first leaf appears from the seed. The young Coco de Mer palms can reach 14 meters and are nothing but massive leaves, as it takes about 15 years before the first signs of a trunk appears. It takes 20 to 40 years before the plant is mature. A tree can grow for 200 to 400 years.

The girls in Vallee de Mai

The haven of the Coco de Mer palms is the Vallee de Mai on Praslin, a nature reserve and one of the smallest UNESCO World Heritage sites.

As the male palm is much taller than the female, it often seems like it protects its 'mate'. Locals legends say that when the moon is full, the male moves over to the female and they make love. No-one has ever reported this first hand, as the story goes, if you witness it you are instantly turned into a black parrot.

Coco de Mer with Frangipani, picture taken by Lana

More posts on the Road about the Seychelles.

First two pictures courtesy and wikipedia

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Rumble: The Girl Effect

• Today, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world.
• More than one-quarter of the population in Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa are girls and young women ages 10 to 24.
• The total global population of girls ages 10 to 24—already the largest in history—is expected to peak in the next decade.
• Approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.
• Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls.
• One girl in seven in developing countries marries before age 15. 38 percent marry before age 18.
• One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.
• 75 percent of 15- to 24-year-olds living with HIV in Africa are female, up from 62 percent in 2001.

And yet:
• When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
• An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
• Research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers.
• When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.

Source: The Girl Effect

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News: An 8 yr old, a pilot and an attorney on the terror watch list.

What do an eight year old, a commercial airline pilot licensed to carry a gun into the cockpit, and a US attorney have in common?

Well for one, they can not check in for a flight like the rest of us.
Why? Well, because they need special screening.
Why? Well, because their name is on the terror watch list.

Their name, they also have in common. And that is the root of all problems: all three people are called James Robinson. And "James Robinson" needs to be watched. Apparently no matter which James Robinson.

So each time James Robinson -the third grader-, James Robinson -the ex U.S. attorney and an assistant attorney general, and James Robinson -the retired National Guard Brigadier General and commercial pilot-, want to fly, they are questioned.

Even though they have learned how to bypass the security screening system by booking tickets as Jim Robinson or J.K.Robinson or J.Pierce Robinson... We can only hope the one and only Jim Robinson, the suspected terrorist, does not find out. (More)

Pictures courtesy CNN

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Rumble: October 15th - Blogger Action Day on Poverty

Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day.

Their aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. The day is October 15th.

This year's topic is "Poverty", a subject taken at heart on The Road to the Horizon. So stay tuned, more to come.

Meanwhile, if you are a blogger, get get involved. Already over 2,000 blogs are registered to participate, gathering over 4 million readers.

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News: Let us not forget - August 19th 2003

canal hotel

Today, five years ago,
the UN headquarters -Canal Hotel- in Baghdad was viciously bombed.

Today, five years ago,
we lost 22 of our colleagues. Over a hundred were wounded.

Today, five years ago.
Let us not forget.

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Rumble: Brussels Airport: "Kiss and Drive!" and a bad luck logo...

I am at Brussels airport, waiting for my flight back to Rome. After six weeks with the family, we are off on our own again. The kids go off to sports camp, Tine starts working in Belgium and I am off to Italy, back to saving the hungry in the world.

kiss and drive-1

Hey, they have new roadsigns at the airport, saying "Kiss and Drive", meant to guide people to a passenger drop off zone.
I am not sure if the combination of kissing and driving is really safe, but I am all for it. However, maybe "Park and Kiss" would have been more appropriate!

So far for the smileys.

At check-in it seems they have changed the system for self check-in: you will need your reservation number. You can't check in via your name, passport scan (as in Rome), or credit card swipe. No, you need your reservation number. Damned if I would take out my computer, boot it up, and check my email for it. Damned if I would print it out on paper before I come. Thought eTicketing was all about paperless and effortless booking and checking in? Not so with Brussels Airlines, it seems. Nope you need your reservation number, sir!.

Ok, so I try to check in at the "Express check-in", thinking "I only have hand luggage, so I guess this is 'express check-in' "? Not so. A young man stopped me asking for my boarding pass. I told him "No, I am checking in, and am following the signs." He said: "No checking in here, you need to follow that line", and pointed to another row of check-in counters.
I told him this was confusing. He just shrugged his shoulders and looked the other way, ignoring my comments. He told a colleague who approached me to explain and said: "Ignore him, difficult customer!"
He then turned to someone else, who wanted to do the same thing as I: check in through the express check-in. And another, and another.. Soon enough we were standing with 4-5 people complaining about the confusing signs. I just stood by and smiled. Ah the sweet taste of a little revenge! Life can be so sweet...

So, I am checking in. They ask to weigh my hand luggage, which is a compact trolley with my computer bag in it. In the bag some small chargers, my laptop and a book: 9.6 kg.
"Sorry sir, you are only allowed 5 kg handluggage, you will have to check it in", she said.
Dah. Checking in a computer bag? To Rome? Rrrrright. *If* it would arrive, i'd have to wait for 90 minutes at the luggage belt.
"Nope", I said, "I can show you one kilo of handluggage and then shop and buy 50 kgs of duty free goods, and you would not even know. So..."
She let me go... I *am" a difficult customer!

Anyways, last thought of the day: Did you know the Brussels Airlines logo originally had 13 balls on it. People said it would bring bad luck, so they added a 14th ball at the last minute. Some planes were already painted with 13 balls, so the 14th came with some expense. You don't believe me? It is true, as it was in the papers!"! ;-)

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Rumble: Seychelles fauna and flora

The Seychelles feature a lush vegetation with a large variety of different plants, flowers and trees, some unique to these islands. Everywhere we went during our trip, we were presented with colours and scents. No wonder earlier settlers described the Seychelles as 'the true Garden of Eden'

A view at the Vallee de Maie on Praslin.
Lusher than this, it does not get.

In the Vallee de Maie on Praslin.

Giant Coco de Mer palmtrees are unique for the Seychelles, and one of their national symbols. More about this tree in a later post.

Mangroove forest on La Curieuse near Praslin

Hannah loved collecting these frangipani flowers.

More frangipani flowers

Lana took this interesting close-up from an orchid we found growing in the forest.

More flowery bushes along the road.
Elizabeth, our resident tropical flower expert, says these are bougainvillae.

Reminded us of Hawaii.
They are called "Heliconia", according to Betty.

Wild Roses. You can almost smell them, can't you?

The name, I don't know, but we surely enjoyed them!
(Betty thinks this might be a Dendobrium orchid.)

Ditto. "Would it be a kind of ginger?", Betty asks.

And more! Another kind of ginger?

And more! A Periwinckle?

And more! - Betty says: "Hibiscus!"

The variety of flowers we found, just did not stop. More Hibiscus

We did not have to go far to step into the "jungle", as the girls called it... A view from the back hotel room...

You wanted more?

Guess I should stop now, hey?

Bamboo too!

More posts on the Road about the Seychelles.

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