Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Tanzania Day 1
June 12, 2010

After over 24 hours of travel, we finally made it to Tanzania! You know how sometimes you go on vacation somewhere but you are walking or driving around and it still kind of seems similar to home? Well this is COMPLETELY different. I have never been even close to this far away from home but it is absolutely amazing!! I love everything about Tanzania so far; especially after we got used to huge, bizarre looking bugs crawling around all over the place. Ok so let me start from the beginning…

The flights here were actually not as bad as I thought. The first one (about 9 hours) didn’t seem that long and was kind of fun. I only slept for 30 minutes or so but I sat next to Kylee and we both watched movies. I watched Valentines Day, Oliver and Company, and 101 Dalmatians. When we arrived in Amsterdam, we had a 3 hour layover, which went by surprisingly fast. The toilet paper in the airport bathrooms was neon orange which was real awkward but naturally, Ms. Hartman and I took a hook ‘em pic holding the toilet paper. I pulled out a deck of cards (one of the four Jeff bought me because I’ll probably need 208 cards on this trip) and we played a few games of heated “Go Fish” until it was time to board the next flight. By this time, my body was sooo confused. It was the middle of the day outside, but my watch was telling me that it was 4:00 AM Houston time. I had no trouble staying awake until we boarded the second flight. Before we even took off I had my head face down on my tray and was passed out. I woke up just as we were landing in Africa! Since we are with National Geographic, we went in a separate check in line and were out of the airport fairly quickly where we boarded a bus driven by Rajibu. He was super friendly and funny (well I laughed at what he said but I’m not real sure what it was…) and taught us a few words in Swahili. 40 minutes later, we arrived at our compound in Maji ya Chai which is a lot nicer than you would think. “Maji” means water in Swahili, “ya” means and, and “Chai” is like a chai tea so the village roughly translates to “water and tea”. There are 2 girl rooms, 1 boy room, and a room for Cathy and Holly. My room is me, Betty, Lexi, and Rachel. As soon as we got here, we set up our mosquito nets and went to eat a meal that the Mamas (ladies that cook and clean and basically take care of us) had prepared. We didn’t get to meet them but the food was delicious. I ate about 5 pieces of pineapple, which is literally the best I have ever had. There is only one bathroom for all of us to share which is going to be realllyyy interesting. Also, there are Masai blankets on all of our beds (made by the Masai warriors) that we get to bring home with us! So far, I love everything about this trip and I cannot wait to explore and take in the culture. Tomorrow morning we are going to church just to integrate ourselves into the village. I am so excited to see what its like! Also we are getting tutored in Swahili so we can communicate better with the people of Maji ya Chai. I wish my family and all of my friends were here but so far I don’t miss anything about home! …yet

Tanzania Day 2
June 13, 2010

We survived the first night!! I crashed as soon as I got into bed last night but woke up at 5 AM thinking it was time to get up and get going. Oops turns out we had 2 more hours to sleep. After finally falling back asleep, it was the real time to wake up. Kylee and I decided to brave the cold shower together and it was a funny experience and not as bad as I expected. After showering, we ate pancakes, eggs, and fruit for breakfast and again it was absolutely delicious. Then, we changed into our skirts and headed to church. Dominic and Munissi (2 of the guards that protect us and our stuff.. the 3rd is Babu which means grandfather) led us there. We were told the church was “just up the road” but since time and distance are both very different here in Maji ya Chai, it was a little farther than we expected. The walk to church was the first time we really interacted with the village. Everyone here is so friendly and everyone makes a point to say hi (Jambo) to everyone else. An hour and 2 miles later, we made it to church, a small one story brick building with dirt floors and wooden pews. They had an electrical keyboard where one of the villagers busted a beat for the singing and tried to play a few notes, which came out as telephone rings. Besides that, the singing was beautiful. Sarah and Claire stood up and sang a song in Swahili that they knew and then we all stood up and sang Amazing Grace for the congregation, about 30 or 40 people. After we finished, the pastor led the church in Amazing Grace in Swahili and we joined them in English. It was a really cool experience and really fun to be united with them in the church.

After church, we walked back to our house and had our first offcial Swahili lesson. Our teacher was funny and patient and we mostly learned a bunch of random words and basic greetings. After Swahili class, we ate lunch and then went off to explore Maji ya Chai. Split into groups of 3s, we walked up and down the main road trying to find a story to share with the group. Rachel, Kylee, and I walked about 20 minutes down the road to the soccer field where we kicked around the soccer ball that Rachel brought with a bunch of local boys. Munissi came with us and with his help, we could carry on broken conversations with the boys. There were also some little nuggets that were walking around and would hold our hands and want to play with us. After an hour and a half of interacting with the village, we walked back and are now sitting typing out our blogs. We will only be able to go into town a couple of times if that to publish our blogs so we have time to type it all out so we can just copy and paste.

Here are some Swahili words we have learned so far!!
Asante (sana)- thank you (very much)
Jambo- hello
Mambo poa- what’s up; more casual form of hello
Jeana longu mimi Camryn- My name is Camryn
Jeana loku nini- What’s your name
Badai- I’ll see you later (today)
Wewe- you
Shikamoo- used to greet someone older than you as a sign of respect; rougly means I place myself below your feet. They respond with “Marahaba” which means they recognize your respect
Kaka- brother
Dada- sister
Nzuri- good/fine
Ndio- yes
Babu- grandfather
Punda- donkey
Pale- sympathy word; for example, if you stub your toe they say “pale” for sympathy instead of “I’m sorry”
Karibu- welcome/your welcome
Habari ya asubuhi- How are you this morning

Tanzania Day 3
June 14, 2010

Today was probably the most exhausting day of my life. I was on the breakfast crew this morning so I was supposed to wake up at 6 but I was wide awake at 5 AM. So me, Betty, and Cade got up and made pancakes and eggs for breakfast. First of all, I am NOT a cook. Second, there are no measuring cups or anything marked with teaspoon or tablespoon so I had to eyeball 2 and ¼ tablespoons of vegetable oil and 5 cups of milk to go into the pancake batter. It took a few tries but finally we got it right and made the most delicious pancakes. After breakfast, we got out our work gloves and grabbed shovels and pick axes and headed up the road to the worksite. Our service project is to repair a broken water pipe that runs through the village. To accomplish this, we have to locate the pipe, use the pick axe the soften up the dirt, and shovel it out all while trying not to bust the existing pipe. Which we did. About 8 times. Oops. 7 or 8 of the villagers helped us dig the trench for the new pipe that a group coming later this summer will lay. Lets just say about every 20 of my shovels was the villagers’ equivalent of 2. We worked from 9:30 to a little over 11:30, then came home for lunch. After lunch we trekked back to the worksite and did some more grueling manual labor from 2:30 to 5. I was absolutely ready for bed at this point and I am still thankful that my feet didn’t fall off on the hike back home. But we did dig out a trench about half a mile long!!! Which is way more than we expected to do in the first day. After the walk home, everyone was collapsed on the porch, literally dead on our feet when Peter and Erin (Nat Geo leaders) round the corner carrying a huge case of “pop”. Orange fanta never tasted so good. After we rested a little, we had the opportunity to walk out in the village (in groups of 3 of course) and take pictures of everything we saw. I got the best pictures of the most precious little nuggets! Everyone here is so photogenic and LOVES getting their picture taken. “Piga picha, piga picha!” they all yell while swarming us as we walk by. I loved this time of the day but by the time we got home at 7 for dinner I was done walking. We ate dinner, and then Kylee and I decided it was time for shower round 2. The freezing cold water is awful but Kylee and I try to have fun with it as much as we can. After scrubbing off the layer of dirt covering my entire body, I uploaded pictures and now I am typing with my eyes closed I am so tired. Tomorrow is the exact same schedule as today so ill probably be dead and won’t be able to blog. Osiku wema ya lala salama!

Tanzania Day 4
June 15, 2010

Well I’m not dead so here I am blogging again. Today we woke up, ate breakfast, and hiked out to our worksite. Who knew that 9-12 could go by so quickly! Working was really fun today! Daddy, you might want to save this because you will never hear me say that again. We got an assembly line going and I was shoveling my heart out trying to get even more ahead of schedule. Before we knew it, lunchtime came and we were almost done! After lunch, we worked again for an hour, then showered and photographed a Maasai women’s drumming group that came and performed for us in our compound. It was really cool to watch and we all got some really great shots of them. After they left about an hour later, some students from a school called UCAA came over for dinner. There were 4 boys and 2 girls and they all knew some English so we really got to know them and had fun talking to them. I showed them my picture collage of home and they loved to look at it and see where I come from. They also had a lot of fun teasing me about still sleeping with a stuffed dog. After dinner, we uploaded pictures and just hung out in the room and it felt like as soon as I sat down it was an hour later and 10 o clock and time to go to sleep. But tomorrow we have a chance to go to an Internet cafĂ© so I can finally upload! It takes too long to upload pictures because the Internet is old school dial up but maybe we’ll have a chance to when we go to Arusha on Thursday. Hopefully some of you have commented on my blog or facebook and I can reply soon!

Tanzania Day 5
June 16, 2010

Today I woke up early and did my laundry by hand. Ha I can’t believe I just said that and it’s the truth. To do laundry, we have to fill two buckets and fill one with soap then scrub our dirty clothes (and when I say dirty, I mean DIRTY) then rinse them in the second bucket then hang them on the line outside to dry. The sky is really cloudy today and its cold outside so it would be just my luck if it rained. Right now, we’re about to eat breakfast and I’m trying to fit in one last blog before we leave for the day! So far, the only thing I miss about home besides the people is using a sink to brush my teeth. I am using a water bottle (wilderness style) and it is such a pain especially in the morning when I have to brush my teeth AND my retainer. It takes a full water bottle to complete this task I just want a sink with drinkable water! But everything else here is great I never want to leave!!!!!

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