A Travellerspoint blog

October 2009

A night in the museum...


If you hear the words 'City Museum', you might think history, or lots of facts, or perhaps, just plain boring. We went to St Louis 'City Museum' tonight with Mike and Shayna and had one of the the most random, fun nights in a long time. Ball pool

Ball pool

When approaching the museum, a tale- tell sign of the place is a yellow school bus dangling over the roof of a tall building. As we entered there was a large ball pool and all ages playing in it. Arty spirals

Arty spirals

The museum was a collection of different climbing apparatus, tubes, tunnels, slides, ropes all set in different 'scenes' like caves, underwater etc.City Museum

City Museum

Mike and David immediately leapt straight up the first tube tunnel thing, leaving me and the pregnant Shayna following slowly behind on our knees. Climbing the spiral tubes

Climbing the spiral tubes

The museum spans over 4 floors of a large 11 storey block and has an outside section of tubes and tunnels which lead to aeroplanes, slides, a bonfire and the ball pool. We had paid extra to go on to the roof and had been given wrist bands which said quite cryptically 'Take the elevator to the 11th floor, do not get out at any other floor'. Strangely though, the lift only went up to 10 floors. We asked a staff member for a map but they didn't produce maps as the whole point of the museum is to stimulate creativity and exploration. On the roof obviously there was a ferris wheel, the said yellow bus dangling half over the edge, several enormous slides, a slippery wall, stepping stones over a pond and a giant... preying mantis. It was one of those evenings that felt like a dream where things and contexts merge together seamlessly. There was a slide on the roof which went all the way to the bottom (11 floors) and a scarier slide which went down into the darkness outside and had been cleverly designed to stop just millimetres before crashing into a concrete wall. We had a great time although think we may feel the effects tomorrow...Us all at the museum

Us all at the museum

We also went to the Science museum this week with Shayna and Bella which now seems a bit lame in comparison, but was interactive and fun (and free) and occupied us for another (unheard of) rainy day. Bella the surgeon

Bella the surgeon

2 headed Emma

2 headed Emma

We head off to New York tomorrow. Will miss hanging out with the Learys, especially Bella!

Posted by africraigs 21:16 Archived in USA Tagged travelling_with_pets Comments (1)

Tony Blair and the Tiger in Wildwood

Pumpkin pie and candy corn

rain 15 °C

It has been the wettest autumn here in St Louis since records began and is the big news that everyone is talking about. Today was dry, though so we were able to see a few sights. St Louis is the 'gateway to the West' - where pioneer settlers would stock up their carriages and water their horses for the journey into the new territories to the west of the Mississippi. I never knew there was so much history in America! (It all happened 20 years ago...). I found it fascinating to think that the modern, massive, automobile-focussed, mall-maniac society of over 300 million people has only been built up so recently and it was only a couple of hundred years ago when all this land was still to be explored! As you can tell, Em and I were at a museum - the museum of Westward Expansion. I find it quite sad to see how the Native Americans lost their lands and how they are now so demoralised and living on reserves. It seems that we as people like to subdue and control others for our own means. In Africa this has been such a pattern over the years as well. Anyway, that wasn't where I was going with this...DSC_2634.jpg

DSC_2638.jpgPosing in St Louis

Posing in St Louis

Em and Shayna pose in St Louis

Em and Shayna pose in St Louis

Mike and Shayna took us downtown St Louis where we went to visit the Gateway Arch, the tallest monument in the US at 630 feet. We were able to go up to the very top, a cramped train/tram/fairground carousel thing takes you within the arch up to the views of the city where you can see the local baseball team's stadium and their red bleachers (the Cardinals) as well as the famed Mississippi river. It is always really cool to see a city from above.
Cardinals Stadium from the Air

Cardinals Stadium from the Air

St Louis

St Louis

This morning, we saw Blair Finnegan for breakfast. We went out to Bob Evans, a chain of restaurants (everything is a chain of something bigger here). Blair volunteered at Bethany Christian Centre for a year last year and loved it there and really had a great impact. It was great to see her again. We had visited her the other night at her parent's massive home in Wildwood where we caught up on her time at Bethany and watched the video that she showed her church. It was full of photos of the guys from Bethany that I recognised and reminded me of all the good times there. Her 'mom' made a 'fall' favourite here - pumpkin pie which is spicey and sweet, though never looks very tasty with its muddy colouring. We met Blair's favourite man - her dog Tiger who is very cute and was running round and round the room in an uncontrolled manner. Blair is going to be working in a hostel for homeless youth in St Louis and will be moving from her mansion house and energetic dog soon. It is great to hear her views as they are counter - cultural, she feels that as a Christian she doesn't need to have a large house etc and is willing to go for a simpler life really trying to make a difference.

Posted by africraigs 19:50 Comments (1)

Ghouls in the Garden

or more boo y'all

semi-overcast 17 °C

Mike and Shayna took us to their church which meets in the Missouri Baptist University campus. It is called 'The Journey' and was welcoming and seemed pretty lively with lots going on and a mainly youthful congregation. There was an open testimony from a couple from the church on-screen which is always an encouragement. The pastor preached on-screen as well - he wasn't live for some reason. Maybe it was the concern that he had for being embarrassed at the front for his own openess and honesty about his youthful lusts, or maybe it was for some other reason. Anyway, I enjoyed the sermon - and especially liked what he had to say about love putting us in tension. We are told to 'not love the world' but we are also told to 'love your neighbour'. He talked about how liberal Christians worry too little about getting involved with the world whereas conservative Christians forget that Jesus dealt with messy people and shun getting involved with peoples' lives. We are to 'be in the world but not of the world'. I find that such a fascinating tension too...
After the service, we met up with some of Mike and Shayna's friends and went out to a Mexican to have burritos and Dr Peppers. Here we are chowing down:

Then Em and I shared in another interesting American pastime:
It is always interesting to be in another country and see how others live. Americans know how to celebrate - and there seems to be a lot of halloween and harvest celebrations. In St Louis, the Missouri botanic gardens organises a special 'Ghouls in the Garden' event. Parents bring their little kids who go around the gardens getting candy like tootsie rolls. The kids have to dress up so Bella was some pink TV character called Foofa and Mike and Shayna's friends kids were dressed up too (I couldn't tell what one kid was supposed to be - he looked like Oscar from Sesame street, but I was told he wasn't).
There were witches and frankenstein with his good friend jekyll and freaky mummys and cobwebs and gravestones. Lots of fun for kids...

In this type of hostile environment, I should have been watching my back, even for tiny enemies at large...

Posted by africraigs 16:06 Comments (0)

Georgia on my mind...


Yesterday, travelling into Georgia on Interstate 85, Ken and I stopped at a service station to use the 'restrooms'. It was in a small place called Lavonia (I don't know why you need to know that). Anyway, Ken showed me a large poster which showed all the famous singers that come from Georgia - Ray Charles (who sang 'Georgia on my mind'), Gladys Knight, James Brown and many others. I was surprise to see Usher right up there with all those classics...

So I left kindly Ken and his wife Amanda behind in Atlanta with invitations to return again- and God willing, I will - with Emma next time. Ken has also got connections with western Kenya very close to where Emma and I will be working - it could work out that we put in a well together one day!

I flew into St Louis in the afternoon on a Delta flight. Emma was looking as lovely as ever...: ) when she met me at the airport with some good friends - Shayna and Mike (who we had met in Edinburgh when they were studying there) - and little cute and extremely energetic Bella!

Emma and I also got the obligatory photo taken with the pumpkins that seem to be everywhere just now. I like them - they add a lot of colour.
We will be staying with Mike's mum and dad in a massive house in the suburbs! It is a pretty impressive place with an automatic garage door and great flatscreen TV that we were watching college 'football' on. The local team Missouri were being whipped by the Texas Longhorns. Mike and Shayna have ideas for what they want to show us around here. I think this is going to be a more relaxing part of the trip...

Posted by africraigs 20:17 Comments (1)

Certified Pumper

rain 19 °C

Boo y'all!
I arrived in Atlanta, GA tonight hitching a lift with Ken Corley - a friend who did the pump class this past week with me. He's an old dude, but young at heart which makes all the difference. So I'm staying over in his house to catch a flight tomorrow from here to St Louis. I'm on his computer and he and his wife are tucked up in bed. They kindly took me out to dinner tonight at a cool old barn - thing which was obviously a very popular place to chow down to on a friday night. They encouraged me to have breakfast (for some reason this is common here - to have all -day breakfast). So I did - grits (ground corn) and hashbrown and a fried egg and some catfish (pretty tasty), sweet cured ham and biscuits (which are really scones).
Like I have said before, halloween seems to be a big issue here - and driving into Atlanta with Ken, I saw a little wooden ghost holding a sign saying 'Boo y'all' - a southern ghost obviously.

Today, our class graduated from the Pumping Water class!! Which means there is another certificate pose...
I decided to wear my kilt for the special occassion and get some extra special attention from the Americans - some of whom hadn't seen such a great pair of legs.
I am sorry to be leaving Providence Farm and Equip and everyone that I have met there. It is incredible to meet a great bunch of people all eager to try to make a difference somehow in this injust world. The trainers and those who set up Equip are a special, committed team. I hope that everyone there knows God's leading and guiding and that maybe we will work together on a project to provide clean water somewhere.
So - it's strange to be moving on following the training I received in water filtration, water well drilling and water pumping and wondering how all these things will fit together one day. I have no idea how I am going to use these new ideas in the future, but God knows...

Tomorrow I see Emma for the first time since October 2nd when I fly to St Louis. We haven't really been able to talk or skype or anything since then, so we will have a lot to catch up on. Hopefully she still recognises me...

Posted by africraigs 20:24 Comments (1)

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