Saturday, December 20, 2008

Finally, Italy pictures

Roman cappuccinos ... delicious even at the train depot.
Our first stop after I arrived in Rome (Jeremy had come in the previous evening).

Cool arty shot of nighttime Colosseum.

Jeremy resting in front of the Pantheon.

On the bus in Rome.

We saw more than a dozen churches during our nine days in Italy, but the Church of Santa Maria in Trastavere, Rome, was our favorite, hands down.

We spent an hour inside it, craning our necks at the gorgeous mosaics.

Before the walking wore me out ...

Everyone drives these in Rome, but I don't think Jeremy could fit.

Random Bulgarian Orthodox church in the middle of Rome.

Cool ceilings in the Vatican.

In front of St. Peter's.

Hanging out on the Spanish steps one evening.

The next day we were off to Venice, where this was the view from our B&B.

The Grand Canal.

The Church of San Marco, on the eponymous plaza.

Which flooded the next day ...

Why Venice reminded me so much of Juneau ...

No cars on the archipelago, but the mail has to get there somehow!

While getting lost in Venice, we found this Armenian church! Jeremy was relieved to actually be able to read a sign and understand it.

It was on "Armenian Street," and we just happened to find it at the same time as these Armenians from Kiev.

Munching a prosciutto sandwich while getting lost in Venice = bliss.

Arriving at the terminal in Florence.

Our hostel was literally steps from the Duomo in the center of Florence. We climbed up the bell-tower to get this view of the dome and the city. While up there, we met a musician from NYC who was playing in the band for Liza Minelli's European concert tour.

Awesome Florentine car.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My first project comes to fruition

I recently attended the planting ceremony of the Gulab Kheil Winter Dormant Fruit Tree project. This was my first project that I personally helped do from concept to funding to finish. It's small, but it's a start. 20 families from one village participated in a 2 day training with an additional two day training for hands on practice and tree planting (we were there for the first day of tree planting). Each participant received 35 tree stocks (1 meter tall) of improved fruit tree stock of their choice from apple, almond or apricot. In addition, each participant received a wheelbarrow, shovel, pruning shears, nylon rope (for tree spacing), an axe and manure for fertilizer. They will also receive replacement trees in the spring if some of their trees fail to make it through the winter.

The villagers were extremely excited about this project from day one and there are already several other individuals who wish to sign up for additional trainings. For me, the two important factors of this project was that the village initiated the idea for this project and it has the potential to be sustainable in that the villagers will be able to garner an income from these trees from day one: 1) selling root stock initially and 2) then selling fruit in the future.

Below are several pictures from the day.

This is the valley where the project was taking place. Notice the terracing where the trees will be going.

The trees, labeled and categorized for each individual farmer

Signing or thumbprinting for the trees

The trees aren't light, let me tell you

Photo Op. Yes, cheesy, but it's my good side

Handing out more equipment

Another cheesy photo op, but I wanted to help. Me and my big mouth, later they had me dig a tree hole and plant the first tree. I'll come back later and carve my name in it.

Planting my tree!!

And even without running water or 24 hour power, you have to have your satellite.