Sunday, June 27, 2010

poa poa

Ok so after we left the Internet café, we went back to our house and waited for a little over an hour for Mcala, who is basically our coordinator while we’re in Maji ya Chai. After awhile, Dominic (one of the guards) came inside and told us that Mcala had been waiting for us down the road. As we figured out today, Mcala is very prompt and walks very fast down the road when we are late. After waddling after him for awhile, we arrived at the Leprosy Center. Since we were late and Mcala was angry with us, we only had about 5 minutes with the patients. No one in the center still had Leprosy, but they affects are permanent so many of them cannot care for themselves and that’s what the center is for. Victims of Leprosy have severe nerve damage and cannot feel if they are hurt. As a result, the majority of them are missing fingers, toes, or both. But they were all incredibly welcoming and sweet and it was so fun talking to them, if even for the short time we had. We bought a few trinkets at the gift shop that were hand made by the Leprosy victims then speed walked after Mcala back home to eat lunch. After lunch, we went next door to the dairy farm to take pictures of the cows. The actual cows were boring but it was fun to sneak-attack-photograph the people on the farm! Upon our return home, our friends from yesterday (I got the school wrong its UAACC which stands for United African Alliance Community Center) came over again. We went out into Maji ya Chai with them and they helped us with Swahili while we helped them take pictures with their digital cameras. After an hour and a half of walking around and taking a “short-cut” back home, we ate dinner, then the students left and we have been working on pictures ever since. Tomorrow we go to Arusha for the first time and I am a little nervous but really excited to see what it’s like! And I definitely can’t wait to get souvenirs!! I wouldn’t want to come home with useless African money so I better spend it all!

Tanzania Day 6

June 17, 2010

Today we woke up and ate breakfast, then the students from UAACC came over and we went on a 3-hour walk. 3 hours is a long time to walk around a village with population 50. But Lexi and I went with Shams and he took us a little ways outside the village to where he lived. Lets just say it was like the hood of Maji ya Chai. Lexi and I were more or less scared out of our minds, but it was a good experience. We got stared at a lot. Also, we walked right alongside the highway with the crazies driving everywhere. But it was nice to get out of the area we walk around everyday and see new things. After the walk, we ate lunch then went into Arusha to shop. That was another fun experience. At first, we walked around where they were selling food and the most random things you could ever imagine, but after awhile we walked to the Maasai market and that’s where the real fun happened. It was a small area with 3 columns and 2 rows. These shopkeepers are insane and frantic for people to buy from them so they are 10 times worse at pestering people than I have ever seen. Worse than the tattoo and headband people that constantly surrounded us on the beach in Cabo. These people called us “sister” which annoyed me like no other and several of the reached out and tried to physically usher us into their shops. Now that I think about it, it’s sad that they are that desperate for money, but at the time, I was so irritated. Lexi and I walked around together and got the art of haggling down perfectly. We’re so good now!! After the market, we went to a restaurant in Arusha for dinner, and we were there for literally 3 hours. Now I appreciate the service in America! I ordered pizza but it was more like a melted cheese stick on top of pita bread and barbeque sauce. We also got to watch a little bit of the World Cup, which felt really weird because I haven’t thought about technology at all since I’ve been here. After we finally left the restaurant, we came back home and went straight to sleep. The days here are so action packed and super fun but they leave all of us with no energy by the time 10 comes around.

Tanzania Day 7

June 18, 2010

I cooked breakfast again today and it was such a struggle to wake up. After breakfast, we loaded up into a van and went to an orphanage. I am not kidding I will adopt every single kid there. They were PRECIOUS and loved us being there and taking pictures of them. I can’t even put into words how much I loved every single one of them! Everyone was snapping away at them with their cameras but I put mine in my backpack and set my backpack down because I would so much rather play with them! They were all so sweet and I am so obsessed with them. If anyone wants to know more about it or how to help and donate money I have a brochure!!! When they finally dragged us away from the kids, we got back inside the van and drove about an hour to Arusha to go to a different market that’s only open on Tuesdays and Fridays. I have never seen anything like it before. I took lots of pictures but a lot of them aren’t very good because we had to sneak them. People are really weird about pictures here and if you ask if you can take their picture, most of the time they want money for it. So the only way you can get pictures is to “sneak them”. For example, I had my camera resting on my hip and I would aim it as best I could at something I wanted to take a picture of, then I would look the other way and casually snap the shot. It is way harder than it sounds I got a lot of pictures of rooftops and the grass. But the market was definitely an experience and I’m glad we went! We ate lunch there and we all got sodas for the second time this trip but the Sprite I ordered made my stomach hurt so maybe I’ve weaned myself off of diet coke. We’ll see how long that lasts. Also at the market, we bought two goats which we named Appie and Trey, short for Appetizer and Entre. We shoved them in the back of the van to take home. After the market, we got back in the van and drove to see a waterfall. Well, drove is a relative word. It was uphill, and the roads are unpaved. So you can imagine how that went. More times than I can count we had to file out and push the van. I tried to help push once, but the boys like to take on a macho man role so I got shoved out of the way and didn’t try to help again. Not that I minded. Finally, the van got to a point where it just wasn’t going up anymore so we had to walk the rest of the way. We were wildernessing it up out there. It was all uphill and slippery and it was cold, but we were sweating so it was just uncomfortable. Finally we made it to the waterfall and it was all worth it. It wasn’t that wide, but it was beautiful in its own little secluded valley so I’m also glad we made the hike to see it. The hike down took no time at all and we all piled back into the van. Everything was going fine until everyone started screaming and suddenly the left side of the van was stuck completely in the ditch. We all got out again, and about 20 of the villagers that lived close by had to push the van up and back to get it un-stuck. After it was out, we got in and came back home to dinner. Kylee and I took a shower and Ms. Hartman got a lovely voice recording of it. Now we’re all sitting around blogging and uploading pictures, which takes FOREVERRRRR because we have to go through every single one and then pick out our top 10 of the day which always becomes such a big ordeal. But at least I’m done blogging for today!

Tanzania Day 8

June 19, 2010

We finally got to sleep in! …until 7. We’re leaving tomorrow to go on safari so we had a really relaxed day so we could get caught up on blogging and uploading pictures and pack for safari. The stuff I needed for safari I put in my huge backpack and my Northface backpack, and everything else went in my huge duffle bag. Peter drove all our stuff to the O’Neill’s house where we are staying when we get back from safari. After relaxing for a few hours, it was time to slaughter the two goats we bought at the market. I went outside with my camera ready to take pictures, but I ended up covering my eyes and not watching. Kevin filmed it on my point and shoot but I’ve been too scared to watch it. After the goats were killed, we cleaned the house and got ready for dinner. For dinner, we had a “going away party” at our house. The village council came along with a few other people that Mcala invited. For entertainment, we hired two gymnasts around our age to perform. They were good and did some really cool tricks. Then it was time to eat Appie and Trey. Usually I am picky about the type of meat I eat. I don’t even like fish, and I never try new foods. But, I figured it’s Africa so I might as well try some new things. I tried a small piece of goat meat and did not like it at all. But at least I tried it!! When the party was over and the goats went home, we finished cleaning and packing, then went to sleep.

Tanzania Day 9

June 20, 2010

Today, we woke up, ate breakfast, and loaded all our stuff into the huge monster truck that drove us to Safari. When I say huge I mean HUGE. This truck could run an elephant over. We left at 9 a.m. and had a lovely 10 hours in that tank. It was the most miserable car ride I have ever been on. It is a legit army truck, and the sides and front are open, so it was freezing the whole way there. We stopped a few times for lunch and to go to the bathroom, but other than that we were in that thing all day. When we finally started getting closer to our camp, we saw some gazelles, giraffes, zebras, and wildebeests. We also saw a lot of vultures hopping around on the ground, so we went to check it out. There was a dead wildebeest on the ground with most of the meat already eaten out of it. Most of its legs were still there though so naturally, one of our guides, Killerai, cut some meat off to bring to camp. We arrived at about 7, got situated in our tents, and it was time to eat. My tent is me, Lexi, and Kylee. It’s a little crowded but we’re having a LOT of fun in it. Like this morning when Lexi woke up and pulled a tick out of her hip. Dinner was delicious and believe it or not, Killerai and the Maasai warriors guarding our camp cooked the wildebeest. Sticking with my adventurous attitude, I tried it and it was actually really good. But it kind of freaked me out a little bit so I only had 2 bites. After dinner, we went to sleep and all of slept surprisingly well for being out in the open with the wilds. Kylee and I took a trip to the bathroom (a canvas tent thing surrounding a toilet seat over a hole in the ground) and were scared out of our minds that something would attack us, but we didn’t see or hear anything all night.

Tanzania Day 10

June 21, 2010

This morning when we woke up (after Lexi pulled the tick out), we ate breakfast then got all our stuff together to climb a mountain. And this mountain was not kidding around. It was gigantic and we climbed all the way to the very tippy top. It was definitely a struggle, but it was really fun and we saw baboons and a bunch of buffalo. It took us from 8:30 to 1:30 to climb up and back down again but it didn’t seem that long. We all slid and fell on loose pebbles at one point or another but Sarah twisted her ankle and was in pain on the way down, so a truck picked us up at the base of the mountain and drove us back into camp. The truck was probably a little smaller than an F150 and we managed to squeeze all 18 of us in it. Gawwwd love Africa (Katie that’s for you). I’m starting to miss my friends more and more and when someone asked me what I missed most about home all I could think of was how badly I want to hear Kat laugh!! Even though I do miss everyone, I still LOVE it here and I am definitely not ready to come home yet!!! When we got back from the hike, we had a 2 hour “siesta” and I was dead asleep. When I woke up around 6, we drove for about 30 minutes then got out of the man van and walked around for a little bit looking for animals. We didn’t find anything, but we learned a lot about the area from Simon and Killerai. After our walk, we went back to the campsite for dinner, then the Maasai warriors sang and danced for us. One of them, Paolo, got attacked by a lion when he was younger so he told us that story while we were sitting around the campfire. We sang “Deep in the Heart of Texas” for them, then we all went to sleep.

Tanzania Day 11

June 22, 2010

I was so disappointed when I woke up and didn’t hear any animal noises during the night!! This morning, we had to pack up all our stuff because we’re going to a new campsite tonight. When all our stuff was loaded in the man van and we had taken the tents down and eaten breakfast, we all loaded in the car and left. We drove for about 15 minutes, then got out to walk. For 16 miles. The walk itself would have been really refreshing and interesting but carrying the 30 pound backpack on my back while wading through waste high grass made it extremely difficult. We walked from about 9:30 to 1:30 only stopping to go to the bathroom. Bathroom = finding a bush and crouching behind it. We saw no animals of interest, but I can tell you just about anything you would ever need to know and more about wild animal poop. Killerai is very experienced in this area and likes to stop the whole group to identify all the poop we come across. When we finally saw the van through the trees, we piled into it then drove to our next campsite. This time, it was me and Tracy in a tent. Sooo much better with just 2 of us. Also, we got to shower for the first time since Saturday!! I was literally covered in dirt and who knows what else so it was top 3 best showers of my life. Even though the water was ice cold. Tonight was round 2 of goat killings, but this time was way worse but also way more interesting. Instead of slitting the goat’s throat to kill it, the Maasai warriors suffocated it to death. I turned the other way but it was absolutely awful to hear. Not to be graphic, but you could hear the goat gasping for air and kicking around, trying to break free. When it was finally dead, they skinned it, then cut its throat and gathered some of its blood into a bowl. Naturally, this blood is for drinking. Never ever ever in a million years would you think I would be one to drink goat blood. But Kylee and I found our adventurous, wild girl attitudes and tried it together, along with Rachel, Cade, Jacob, Travis, Betty, and Peter. It tasted like water-flavored syrup with salt and wasn’t exactly bad, but I didn’t particularly care for it either. And it ruined it a little when I looked over at Kylee and her teeth are covered in the blood of the goat we just saw being killed. But this trip is all about new experiences so why not!? After dinner (I figured I had enough goat for one day and stuck to eating chicken) we discussed plans for tomorrow, then went to sleep.

Tanzania Day 12

June 23, 2010

Again, no animal noises during the night. I did wake up in the middle of the night having to go to the bathroom, but I was too scared to walk to it by myself in the pitch black, so I just went back to sleep. We’re moving campsites again so our stuff had to be all packed up and loaded back into the truck. When we were finally ready to go, late as usual, we got in the man van and drove for a loooong time. Today was the start of the real safari. First, we had to drive a ways to get to Tarengerie (I think?) so that took us from about 7:45 to 2:30. Once there, we stopped at a rest stop to eat lunch, then we drove around the park until 7:15. We saw around a bajillion elephants, and it was the most at-home I’ve ever felt. I KNOW the elephants recognized me as their kin and that’s why they were making so much noise around us. I also did my elephant call to them and they did it back. Not even kidding. They practically had to tie me to the truck to keep me from going off in the wild to join my true family. We also saw a lot of giraffes and 8,000 zebras. Still no lions, but I have a good feeling about tomorrow. Especially since I am sitting in my tent, with my roommates Rachel and Claire, and I can hear some suspicious noises coming from somewhere a little too close to our tent if you ask me. The professional National Geographic photographer, Massimo, joined our group today and we got to learn a lot about him over dinner. He seems incredibly talented and is super nice and friendly so I can’t wait to work with him and ask his advice while we’re photographing tomorrow! According to Killerai, it will be another long day of driving in the car, but I have nothing to complain about! Each day that goes by I get more and more excited to go home, but the sadness I feel about leaving overpowers the anticipation. I’m not even dreading the 5:45 a.m. wakeup call because I want to spend as much time as I can experiencing Tanzania and all the amazing things that come with it!

Tanzania Day 13

June 24, 2010

When 5:45 a.m. rolled around and the wakeup call came, we packed up all our stuff, ate breakfast, and were finally ready on time! Everyone was completely done with everything by 7 (for the first time), but the kitchen crew didn’t have the dishes washed in time so we didn’t leave until about 7:30. But this time it wasn’t our fault! Once we got going, we drove around Tarengerie National Park and saw a bunch of animals. I really could be okay with never seeing another zebra in my life because we have seen so many here. We also see a lot of elephants, giraffes, and impalas. But still no lions. After riding around in the park for a few hours, we left the park and drove to another one about 2 hours away. We ate lunch once we got there, then drove around the new park for awhile. This park is a little different because it’s a forest instead of just a grassland so there were a lot of monkeys and birds. We also saw a few elephants. The animals are starting to all look the same and I have over 300 pictures of elephants, so safari is getting a little repetitive. But I’m still having so much fun!! When we finally left the park, we drove another 2 hours to a new campsite where we will be staying our last 2 nights on safari. We just got here and it is so nice! Finally we are at a place with no scorpions! Now Kylee can sit by the fire in peace. Tonight, we are getting caught up on our blogs, uploading pictures, and I think we might even get to shower! I’m used to going a few days without showering though, so I wouldn’t mind if we didn’t get around to it.

Tanzania Day 14

June 25, 2010

Today, we had to wake up at 5 and Kylee and I struggled so hard to get up. When we finally got around to it at 5:30, we ate breakfast, then loaded up into 3 stretched land rovers to go to the crater. Actually it’s called a caldera which forms a different way than a crater. They explained it to us multiple times but I still don’t really understand. My land rover was Cade, Betty, Rachel, Travis, Ms. Hartman, Massimo, and I. We drove for 20 minutes to get to the main gate, then another hour and a half to get down into the crater. Our whole car was dead asleep during the drive. Once we got inside at about 8, we drove around until 1:30 when we had lunch. And we finally saw lions! We were literally less than 20 feet away from a beautiful lioness devouring a zebra. The zebra’s face to be exact. Also, we saw 3 lionesses and 1 lion lying down by a lake, but they were far away and didn’t’ make very good pictures. We also saw cheetahs, but they were super far away and it was hard to photograph them too. We did see a hyena laying right on the road with some nasty bites and wounds on its legs. It looked like it was about to die but we still took pictures of it. The only animal we didn’t see was a black rhino, but I couldn’t care less about those so I was satisfied. To be completely honest, I was completely content after we saw elephants on the first day of safari so I’ve just been cruising ever since. After lunch, we drove around for a few more hours, then came back to camp. We downloaded pictures and ate dinner, and right now we’re making friends with some high schoolers from Switzerland that are camping at the same place we are. We’re about to project our top 5 pictures from the day in front of everyone for a “group critic” and I am hella nerv because I am lacking in the photography department. Tomorrow we’re driving back to Maji ya Chai but we’re staying in a different place than before. I can’t believe the trip is almost over!!! It’s too short I want to stay forever!

Tanzania Day 15

June 26, 2010

We woke up today, ate breakfast, and loaded all our stuff into the man van. We left our campsite at about 9 and drove alllllll day. At first when we left, we stopped at a few tourist shops to buy more souvenirs, but we didn’t find anything. We drove some more, and finally stopped for lunch at the Dorobo headquarters at about 2. Dorobo is the company that we went on safari with. We all bought t-shirts, then got back in the van and drove to the Maasai market that we stopped in before to spend the rest of our shillings. We had 30 minutes there, then we got back on the van and drove another hour to the UAACC school where we’re staying for the rest of our trip. I got really carsick because the roads were really narrow and bumpy and I was just exhausted. My stomach hurt and I had a headache and I felt like I couldn’t move so I just went straight to sleep at 6. I woke up for dinner but my stomach was still hurting so I only ate half a tortilla then went back to sleep. Kylee and Rachel came in the room just before 11 and I woke up feeling 95% better. I brushed my teeth, took my contacts out and went back to sleep.

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