Monday, August 12, 2013

Life in Vejle- Week One.

     Hej (meaning and pronounciation the same as "hi")from Vejle, Denmark!  Scott and I are officially settled into our little apartment on Lille Bjerggade street : )  Accomodations are better than expected, but our apartment is still decorated for a 90 year old lady.  All the basic amenities including a washer and dryer which I have NO idea how to use because instructions are all in Danish.  Already had several trips to the grocery store which have been a complicated guessing game of trying to decide what is what.  Perhaps it's a good idea to invest in a pocket Danish-English dictionary!  Living above us in the apartment building are 3 young Dutch guys who are pilots, working at the nearby Billund airport.  

  We have done a little exploring of the town of Vejle- a cute little coastal town (well, actually, pretty much everything in Denmark is considered coastal).  There are approx. 54,000 people living in this little town at the end of the Vejle Fjord, on the Jutland Peninsula.  Lots of cute little shops and restaurants.  Our place is just a 3 minute walk to downtown, which is mostly centered around a pedestrian outdoor walking mall.  Went out to eat on the first night here because we were both tired from long plane rides.  I quickly learned why people don't go out to eat here very often- was ~$70 for 2 burgers and 3 beers.  And Scott said that was a pretty good deal for Denmark!  

   I visited Scott's work last week.  Very large and impressive campus- all dedicated to Siemens wind energy.  Tons of buildings, loads of employees and a pretty sweet cafeteria with a steady supply of free fruit!  Quite secure too- even I had to get a special visitor badge just to eat in the cafeteria!  Some of Scott's coworkers invited us for a trip to the shooting range.  Did not expect to be shooting guns in Denmark, but why not?!?  There were 10 of us in total and we all went out for pizza and beer afterwards.  

Then on the weekend, another Siemen's employee, Carston, invited us sailing.  He is quite a character and has recently moved into a church which he is remodeling (all by himself) into a proper home.  We went sailing in Middlefart (fart means speed in Danish..hehe).  Was a beautiful day and lots of excitement because the International Sailing Finals were going on.  Lots of different countries were participating from all over the world.  I actually met some of the guys on the American team on my flight to Billund- very small world because they are originally from Redondo Beach and Long Beach. Anyways, drinking beer and sailing is very fun!

Oh, and yesterday I had a driving lesson from Scott and his coworker Drew on how to drive a manual car in a local grocery store parking lot.  Went well!  Next lesson will be out on the streets- watch out local Vejle drivers!

Things I have learned about Danish people so far:
-very blonde and very tall
-really like to paint their houses all white
-walk very fast
-love Carlsberg beer and ice cream, not together!

OK now for some pictures:

Arrival night in Vejle- cruising around downtown and came across this strange sculpture.  

Lots of kayaking here.

Delicious (yet surprisingly expensive) burgers and beer at outdoor cafe.

 View of Vejle Fjord from downtown.

Miles and miles of wheat fields around Vejle.  That is why the bread is so good here!  

Small harbor outside of Vejle.  Danish flag!

Small beach outside of Vejle- can see summer cottages in the background.  

Busy pedestrian walkway in downtown Vejle- lots of good shops, even an H&M!

View of Scott's office- 3rd floor.

One of the on-site wind turbines. 

Scott picking me up in our Audi rental car!  

Trap shooting with the Danes (actually there were some Dutchmen and one Greek guy)!  I am really bad at this, but at least I managed to get a few clay pigeons!

Scott, however, is really good at this! 

Pizza, beer and foosball with the coworkers after trap shooting.

Our cute little street!

Balcony above our house.

Me on the balcony, looking down at Scott at the front door.

Made pancakes from scratch.  (thanks to Kayla for the yummy recipe!)  Roger and Anita, not as good as Dakota Maid!  Cannot find measuring cups in this country so baking is a big guessing game!

Middlefart Harbor

Drew, Scott's coworker from Boulder.  He is visiting for 5 months also and lives down the street from us.  We have been hanging out with him lots. He cooked us a  delicious salmon dinner last night!

Carston, the quircky Dane who lives in an old Baptist church.  Very fun guy!

Gents on the sail boat. L-->R Carston, Roland (German who works 
for Siemens in Boulder), Drew and Scott.  

View from the sail boat. 


Beer + sailing= happy Scott : )

Dinner @ Carston's church!  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

First blog post ever.

Bare with the spelling and grammar- I am a science person!

First stop, Liberia.  OK I know this blog is about Scott and I living in Denmark, but... first I must tell you about my trip to Liberia.  For those of you who don't know where Liberia is:

    So I spent the last 2 weeks in Liberia with Veterinarians Without Borders US (VWB) (  We were working under a USAID grant, through EHELD (Excellence for Higher Education in Liberian Development)... mouthful I know!  Our mission was to teach a 2 week course on "Ruminant Health and Management" to animal health workers at Cuttington University outside of Gbarnga.  For those of you who don't know what ruminants are, shame on you- because they are the coolest animals EVER!  Liberia had a horrible, HORRIBLE civil war from about 1989- 2003, which pretty much destroyed everything they had.  Partly because of this, their agricultural systems are kind of in shambles.  For a country full of lush, green land and many hungry people, they are really under utilizing many possible resources.  So, the goal of VWB was to send different teachers to come and teach short courses all dealing with agriculture.   VWB's mission statement by the way is "Healthy Animals Sustain a Healthy World".  : ) We were actually the last group to go this year, following behind 8 other groups (others taught about poultry disease, swine diseases, land management, transboundary diseases, etc).  I went with 4 other people- 2 other veterinarians, 1 veterinary student, and 1 animal science undergraduate student.
    Liberia is beautiful!  The people are so warm and welcoming.  I had a great time teaching this course because I had to understand the material at a whole different level than I had before.  And, I conquered my very strong fear of public speaking!  Our students were so excited about the material and eager to learn.  It is horrible that so many of them were robbed of an education for so long because of the war.  However, it is great that they are here now trying to learn and better themselves AND their country.  Most of the students were from the ministry of agriculture or NGO agriculture related organizations.

Here are some pictures from my journey!

Shopping for drinking water in downtown Gbarnga.

Exploring the creek on campus near our house.

Waterfall hike. 

Monrovia airport

My buddy Christine.

Our teaching goats.  

Cuttington University

Reason why food is so SPICY in Liberia!

Free range pork : )

Only eco-tourism I saw in Liberia.  Consisted of man standing in front of waterfall collecting $3 USD.

Goats and cattle on Cuttington Uni farm.

Lots of rubber tree farms all over Liberia. They take the sap from the tree to make the rubber.

Shopping at "farmers market" in Gbarnga.  Mostly peppers, bananas and cucumbers.  

Guarded entrance to Cuttington University.

Me teaching.

Typical Liberian dish- potato greens stew with fish (lots of bones) and a HEAPING pile of rice.

Adorable Liberian children everywhere!

Christine and I sporting some Lapas- colorful fabric all the women wear there. 

Pig at Cuttington farm.

My bug trapping device.

This is what I caught!  These little guys + extremely large spiders were ALL over our house!

Nothing like spaghetti with spam chunks for breakfast!

Our teaching goats.

Rice fields everywhere. 

Kpatawee waterfall- gorgeous!

Cut up cane plant to make cane sugar alcohol.

Boiling the cane sugar plant.

The end product- 75% cane sugar alcohol.

The happy man who makes cane sugar alcohol.  Full handle sold for <$3.  

Like this sign in downtown Gbarnga.

Liberian restaurant policy.  The other policy is that they really only serve like 2 things on this whole menu.  Goat soup (including goat skin) and chicken.  I think the menu is just for looks!

Cows (Ndama breed from West Africa) at Cuttington Uni farm. 

Liberian cows are very short. 

Getting ready for our  nightly trek back to our house in the dark. 

Liberian countryside.

Crowded streets of downtown Gbarnga.

I agree!

And I agree with this too!

Screened sitting room in Christine and I's house.  Best part of our living situation.  We would sit in here and read when the electricity was off during the day.  

2 "white sisters" with our "black brother"Craig.  He is a Liberian who works as a liaison for VWB.

Woman dancing and singing before a wedding ceremony. 

Another pig at Cuttington farm. 

Baby palm plants at Cuttington farm.  The other thing they grow a lot of besides rubber trees, is palm trees, where palm oil comes from. 

Sunday Funday exploring the waterfall. 

Demonstrating to the students how to determine if a ruminant is being born in the correct position.  Head + front feet first!

Saying goodbye to Joe Ledlum, our favorite driver.  He is to the right of me.  Joe shared some crazy stories with me from the war.  He worked as a photographer for the BBC during the war and took a lot of photos and videos of the rebel soldiers.  Basically he saw a lot of horrific things.  He was a wonderful driver for us and took really good care of our whole team.  

Crop specialist from Cuttington giving a guest lecture to our students on native weeds and grasses in Liberia.  Helping them understand all the delicious foods they have to offer to all their ruminants!

Abacus made from rubber tree seeds.  Our friend Jim, a Peace Corps volunteer in the area, made it and taught some of our students how to use it to do math calculations. 

Some of our students at a Rabies vaccine clinic for dogs that we held in Gbarnga.  They all learned how to safely restrain a dog and administer a vaccine.

I tied up Christine to demonstrate how to "cast" a cow (that means make a cow lay down).  This girl is the best sport!

Christine and I getting pumped for our daily SPICY meal.  As Christine says, "Liberian food is ulcers in your mouth HOT!".  All those white dots in the food are the pepper seeds- yowza!

Lab where I was teaching students how to do full physical exams on our goats.

Students taking their "post" course test.  Happy to say that everyone improved from the pre-test to the post-test!  

  OK, that's my 2 week trip to Liberia in a nut shell!  Next blog will be life in Vejle, Denmark.