Author: Jett Thomason

Notes from Lamu, Kenya

By Jett Thomason Lamu Travel Lamu was to be the crown jewel of my East African coastal journey. I had read about the town and the imminent construction of a new port. After Mombasa, which is already at capacity, Lamu is the only natural spot for a harbor in Kenya. The construction of a port is a few years away, though some dredging has already started. Roads will be built, rail lines introduced, and an oil pipeline for South Sudan’s crude will likely be in place within ten years.   The article I read described Lamu as an unspoiled Swahili town. Swahil is Arabic for ‘coast’, and the mélange of Arab and African created a hybrid culture along the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya that still feels quite distinct from the interior. This pristine town, preserved in many ways since the 19th century, is about to be overrun by the new port and modernity with all its disposable income, improved standard of living, and destruction of traditional ways of life. Go now, the article implies, because Lamu the living historical fossil is soon to be no more.   The trip started with a bus ride from Malindi, further down the coast. Unfortunately the journey progressed in the opposite way you would hope with the road steadily worsening as we went along. I was in the back and my bus-mates...

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Working Notes from Rwanda

I recently had my first month-long work trip to Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. The trip represented a number of firsts. First time to Africa. First time to be jetting around for quick site visits rather than long-term job assignments. And first time to be representing the US government in the field with the official passport and all. Rwanda was the first country to visit on my tour. In pre-trip reading up on the country, it was impossible to find a travel narrative that doesn’t wax poetic at the sight of small villages nestled in the misty hills and tilled...

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Of Rice and Rams: A Boy’s Circumcision Ceremony in Uzbekistan

My alarm clock goes off at five. It’s been about four hours since I fell asleep. I’ve woken up to go to the early-morning festivities for a neighborhood circumcision ceremony which is locally and collectively referred to as one of several Uzbek “weddings”. I have been a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small provincial town in Uzbekistan for more than a year now. The people of my town are exceedingly friendly and known to be the most festive in the country. If there’s a wedding to go to, it will be a neighbor of mine pouring the vodka and cracking jokes for the table.

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A Swim in Lake Tanganyika

I know I shouldn’t complain about business travel to Africa. It’s always a rewarding experience. But it’s also an exhausting one. For nearly three weeks I had been waking up at 6, cleaning out my work emails, and leaving the hotel by 7. We would be on the road all day seeing projects. With the sun long set, I would return to my hotel room, eat an overpriced and usually mediocre hotel meal, and crash. So when I suddenly found myself with a free afternoon in Burundi, I was thrilled.

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The GoMad Nomad Travel Mag is an online magazine for independent travelers publishing original travel articles on popular and off-the-beaten-track destinations, volunteering and working opportunities abroad, and practical travel advice on long-term, adventure, alternative, and budget travel.

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