Tuesday, 27 February 2007



MK: This little baby girl is the latest addition to the Kotsopoulos family. Her name is "Nala Shani" and she is part Ethiopian Wolf although she was born in Rwanda. She came into this world around the 15th of January 2007. She is absolutely adorable, even if she cries, whines, howls, and pees a lot!! Any tips on training or raising a puppy would be much appreciated.

For initial photos, please visit my Picasa Web Albums. To see Nala Shani's mother (Shiba) and her siblings, please visit Jared's Flickr set.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

PAB Project Field Missions - 27 and 29 February

MK: I went on 2 field missions to gather information from stakeholders for my Protected Areas Biodiversity project. One week was spent in the Northern province (Volcano National Park) while the following week was spent in the Southern and Western Provinces (Nyungwe National Park). To view photos from these trips, click here.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Rwanda's Angels

JK: Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to work for the UNDP in Rwanda, and they were each assigned very hazardous duties. But I took them away from all that, and now they work for me. My name is John.

I would like to introduce you to Rwanda's Angels: Lindsey Rae, Melanie Jane, and Adriana Ilieva (aka Melanie's house mates). They are taking Kigali by force!

A Merry Time in Greece

JK: Due to the generosity of the European holiday system, I was given the week off between Christmas and New Years (a perk that allows you to temporarily forget about your tax burden :)). Mélanie met me in Belgium on December 23, flying in on the highly relaxing and time-efficient Kigali-Nairobi-Addis Ababa-Paris-Brussels route, only to be forced back on to a plane to Hellas the very next morning. At least we got to indulge in the ever-expanding Brussels' Christmas Market for one day.

Greece provided us with the usual pleasing combination of family-values time, some exploration time and lots of eating time. We indulged in several Christmas dinners and enough Greek desserts (inlcuding my Aunt Dina's world famous "kourambiedes") to satisfy a small platoon. After a few cloudy days at the beginning, we also got our usual dose of Hellenic sunshine. We capitalised on it by renting a car and exploring part of the Peloponnese (specifically the prefecture of Argolida). Before we set off for Nafplio, our hub, we spent a night at the country home of my cousin's fiancé. They (Aggeliki and Evrikos) are amazing company and I must say it was with sadness that we left them the following afternoon!

Nafplio is a sensational Venetian-inspired city -- a must for any visitor to Greece. The fortress Palamidi, which overlooks the town, is also a highlight. From Nafplio we took day trips to the ancient theatre of Epidaurus, hung around the east coast taking in the sea views, and eventually made our way up to Ancient Corinth. We spent New Years in Nafplio too, which was a tad wacky, since things were unexpectedly low key. In fact, it was an uber-bureaucrat (i.e. bland) on a stage in one of the city squares who announced the New Year a good two minutes before it actually occured!!! This was accompanied by initial silence (or disbelief, since we were all looking at our watches), then expectation, as we awaited some sort of rudimentary fireworks show. Alas, no show was forthcoming. Some music was played, some peculiar people danced, we ate some cake, and then it was over!

The next day we decided to honour La Kootchina (aka Bill Mertikas), with a visit to his maternal village, Nestani. I must say I had to eat some humble pie, because I was expecting a backwater and instead found a beautiful village nestled amongst some spectacular cliffs. I even danced a zembekia in Bill's honour. From there we concluded with a short visit to Tripoli -- a city that leaves a lot to be desired.

For Flickr pics from Greece (i.e. our best), click here.
Click on the names for Picasa pics from Athens , Nafplio and the rest of the Peloponnese. Family pics here.

Barcelona or Bust

JK: Since I was not going to see Mélanie for her birthday (Jan 28 .... I'm told she is still accepting belated gifts...), I decided that I would eschew the traditional Christmas and birthday gift exchange and instead surprise Mel with a trip to Barcelona (care of a great off-season deal from Virgin Express)!

The weather could not have been more superb for early January. There was not a cloud in the sky for the duration of our trip. There was a catch to all this however. Both Mel and I were suffering from the flu. And while I got better during the course of the trip, Melanie got worse -- eventually being diagnosed with bronchitis which then turned into an infection in the lungs!

Anyway, it was still a privilege and thrill to be in Catalunya. From Gaudi's endless Art Nouveau-ish masterpieces, to the glorious winding streets of the Gothic quarter and the Olympic installations at Montjuic, Barca is truly one of the world's greatest cities.

For pics click here.