Sunday, December 12, 2010

Time flies

Well my time here is almost over. I can't believe it, its gone by so fast. It's weird to think East Africa will be a memory in just a few days. This last week has been pretty relaxed. I got my research paper draft back and I didn't have to make too many changes on it, which was a pleasant surprise. I got my final research paper back and got an 'A' on it (yay!), which made it a good day. A few days ago I went to the Karatu market, which happens once a month. It was a huge market! People mainly sold used clothes from the 90's, which was perfect for finding a costume for the performance later that day. You see, I've recently joined the dance committee and we've been memorizing the dance routine to Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance'. Let me tell you, that's a hard dance to learn! We've been practicing it for over a month and finally got the whole dance down. After getting our costumes at the market, we preformed the dance after dinner. It was quite the entertainment, if I do say so myself. 

On Friday we had our big community presentations where each directed research group presented their findings to the community members. The school invited community members from council chairmen to street vendors. Each group put together a powerpoint and presented their findings. We were told that last year over 100 community members showed up, so I was a little nervous to present to that many people. The turnout was way smaller than I had expected. It was around 50 people, which made me wayyyy less nervous to present. The presentations and Q&A took all afternoon, but it was so nice to be done with directed research and my 20 something page paper and community presentation! During the presentations we had a translator translate everything into Swahili, which made the presentations SO long. After all three groups presented, the dance committee performed the 'Bad Romance' dance. Now, it was suggested by the teachers that we perform afterwards, which we thought was kinda weird but we went along with it. We had to take out a few booty shakes and replace them with less vulgar dance moves haha It was one of the weirdest things i've ever done. Here we were performing our 'Bad Romance' dance right after we gave a serious academic presentation to a crowd full of village council members and community leaders (!). Some people in the audience were recording it and seemed to enjoy it, but they all had looks of confusion of their faces hahaha

Yesterday we had a Christmas party at camp. There was a Charlie Brown like tree with one strand of lights on it, it was really cute! The cooks prepared an amazing dinner, without a doubt the best meal i've had at camp. There was grilled cheese, vegetable samosas, pineapple cobbler, pizza, and sooo much more, it was a true feast. It was so much fun to have a holiday party on our second to last day at camp. Today is our last day in Tanzania, which is super weird to think about. It doesn't seem real. I'm ready to get cleaned up back at home in nice showers and sleep in a bed without a mosquito net, and not be paranoid of bugs every second of the night. The other day one girl here woke up with a mouse in her bed!!!!! So scary! I would have screamed my head off if a mouse was in my sleeping bag.... 

I recently found out about another fun insect here, the Nairobi fly. It's this little ant like bug with a red butt that can give you second degree acid burns! If you kill it or accidentally squish it, its skin lets out toxins that gives your skin second degree burns. A girl here had one in her bed without knowing it and woke up with burns on her legs. I'm ready to go back to Michigan were it's wintertime and all the bugs are dead haha 

My last day at camp was spent packing and eating at the Artz Gallery for lunch. Tomorrow i'll be getting up early and driving to Arusha to catch a plane to Nairobi. It's gonna be weird leaving this camp and the 27 people i've been around for three months. I mean, i've been inside a fence with these people for so long, spending every moment with them, taking every class with them, eating every meal with them, it's gonna be strange not to see them any more. I'll definitely miss a lot of the people here. 

After I fly to Nairobi with some people on the group flight, we'll stay at a camp in Nairobi for the night and than leave for London the next day. From London I'll fly to Newark, New Jersey and spend a night there. Finally i'll catch a plane to DETROIT and be home! It's gonna be a long couple of days filled with plane rides from Arushu to Nairobi to London to Newark to Detroit. I'll be traveling for three days straight but with the time difference I'll gain 8 hours back at home. 

For my last night here I walked up Moyo Hill with a group of people and marveled at the spectacular view of the surrounding areas. I truly am going to miss this place, the people, and the wildlife. Kenya and Tanzania have changed me in ways I can't even begin to describe. I feel so lucky and grateful to have lived in these countries and study the breathtaking wildlife here. I'm only a few plane rides away from being home, which is SO so SO so dang weird to think about! I will miss Kenya and Tanzania, but I am beyond excited to get back to Michigan and be with my family, my dog, my friends, wonderful food, snow, wintertime and Ann Arbor :) 

So I'm not sure if i'll write another blog post after this, maybe, maybe not. I'm pretty awful at this whole blogging thing so we'll see... Thanks to any and all family and friends who read this blog :) Asante sana! (Thank you, in Swahili)

Lala Salama (Goodnight), 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Well fieldwork is officially over and it's been a tiring week of interviewing people and asking our questionnaire. I felt like a broken record asking the same questions over and over again. It was really fun to talk to people, but I'm glad to be done with that questionnaire. On the last few days of fieldwork I got to explore Karatu a lot and eat lunch at the Artz Gallery for three straight days in a row. I've discovered that they have the absolute best oatmeal cookies ever made. On the last day of field work I pretty much just went around to fancy lodges and got to live a day in the life of an extremely wealthy tourist. In the morning I went to interview people at the most amazing lodge I've ever seen. It was like one big garden in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hills and tropical palms and flowers. It wasn't overly fancy, but it was breathtakingly beautiful. If I ever came back to East Africa I would make sure to stay at this lodge. The lodge served us watermelon juice and gave us hot towels when we walked through the door (fancy huh?), I felt like I had entered a dream. We got to tour the entire lodge and see the rooms, which had outdoor private showers that overlooked the gardens and landscape of the area. We also got to sit down and enjoy the complementary coffee and cookies. I felt like such a freeloader haha We went to interview a few people and ended up staying for an hour or so, drinking coffee and enjoying the magnificent views of the lodge. After that, we went and ate lunch at the Artz Gallery and got some of my fav oatmeal cookies which are SO addicting. Then we went to the Lake Manyara Serena lodge, interviewed a couple people, and relaxed of the deck drinking iced cappuccinos. It was a great way to end our fieldwork. 

Backtracking a little to Thanksgiving, I was bummed to be missing all the yummy food, but we had our own African thanksgiving celebration. A lot of students spent the day in the kitchen making mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and other classic thanksgiving dishes. We even got to get lettuce and cheese! It was such a good dinner! Some people even put up decorations. Earlier in the day we went into Mto Wa Mbu and had painting lessons. We got to see some artists do the knife paintings that are sold everywhere here. The artists did a beautiful painting in less than five minutes, it was really interesting to watch. After he showed us how to knife paint we got to paint our own pictures. Mine was, of course, the best. It kind of looked like a three year old painted it in the dark haha. It was really fun though. I also did a little more shopping in the Maasai Market in town. I feel like I know Mto Wa Mbu like the back of my hand and I recognize all the people i've talked to from the street vendors to the duka's owners.

Now a few random occurrences to note: Over the past couple days I have heard the most ungodly screeches, coming from our neighbors pigs. I recently found out that one of our neighbors likes to have pig roasts often, so I can hear death screams coming from pigs on a regular basis and it is so disturbing. The pigs squeal for so long I feel sick to my stomach. Another not so pleasant thing to report- I recently saw a baby black mamba on my porch. The baby snakes look EXACTLY like worms, except they have a very distinct slithering motion unlike worms. A few girls actually picked it up because they thought it was a weird looking worm! Fun fact: baby black mombas are even more dangerous than adult black mombas because they don't know how to properly use their venom, so they often bite and release more venom than adults.

This past week has been full of data analysis, SO BORING. I spent some time making graphs and what not out of the data gathered from our questionnaire. It hasn't been to eventful. I started writing my research paper, which is harder than I expected. It has to be written scientifically, which I am the worst at. Writing scientifically means I can't write with opinions, descriptions, or observations, only the facts (zzzzzzzzzz). I am starting to get tiered of the science world and their silly way of writing and looking at everything, it's got no spice. Yesterday was spent finishing up my research paper draft and turning it in, at the moment it's around 18 pages of pure data analysis and dry facts. This whole week i've been cooped up at camp working on this paper, but I finally got to take a break and leave the fence. We had a shopping day in Mto Wa Mbu and than visited the Watoto Care Orphanage again. Those kids have endless supplies of energy. Being at camp all day long everyday makes the time go by so slow.... however, I can't believe I've already spent 3 months here in East Africa. Only a week left at Moyo Hill camp and three days of plane flights and i'll be home, not like I'm counting or anything. I love it here in Tanzania, but I'm ready to be back in Michigan with cold weather! It's been SO hot these past days, yesterday it got up to 87 degrees, wayyy to hot. I'm a total winter person, I need some snow in my life. It's gonna be really sad to leave though, this experience has shown me a whole other part of the world and a different way of life from my own that is endlessly fascinating and wonderful.