Sunday, September 26, 2010

" All I think about is food and animals!"

Hey everyone!

   I have a bit of spare time in between class right now and I just got caught up on some homework so I figured I would get you all caught up!
   Let’s see… For our Environmental Policy class we got to go on a guided tour of Mto wa Mbu (‘River of Mosquitoes’ I think is the translation there)… We got to see some rice fields, Iraqw wood carvers and painters, banana farms (we all tried banana beer! Pretty mealy, but I still enjoyed the sip I had) and to top it off our guide showed us his scorpions!  It was a really fun day, I enjoyed being able to be in town without feeling pressured by local vendors to buy something every ten seconds.
   We’ve also been playing a lot of soccer around town; it’s awesome but is also showing me how out of shape and how rusty I am… I mean I haven’t played a game since senior year of high school! We went to the town field and played with a bunch of kids, it was a lot of fun to see the game grow bigger and bigger as the town kids realized there was a game going on. They are all so good too! For a while I was the only girl playing (there was one other girl from SFS who played for a bit, no local girls though)… it was funny to see how they reacted to me. I think my shot impressed them as they would frequently comment “good thing you didn’t kill anyone that time” after I shot (and missed, haha). We also went and played at the local Primary School, which is about a two minute walk from our camp. Though I’m not the best of players, I have forgotten how good playing this game makes me feel. I love it!
   On Thursday (our day off) we went on a hike and climbed the Great Rift Valley Escarpment near Mto wa Mbu, about 20 minutes down the road from us. It took an hour to hike up and then another hour and a half to hike back to the road to get picked up. Of course the one day we decided to go hiking, the sun was out all day so we were nice and toasty. Actually the weather the past few days has been warming up, the sun has been out longer and that is really the determining factor if it’s hot or not. For example, yesterday there was a group of us sitting outside the bandas and those who were in the shade were wearing sweatshirts, long pants, and hats and those of us sitting 3 feet away in the sun were stripped down to shorts and rolled up t-shirt sleeves. Needless to say I’ve been wearing my sunblock now. There’s still no real need to wear bugspray though as I’ve seen maybe a total of 3 mosquitoes since I’ve been here.
   But there are plenty of jiggers! What’s a jigger you ask? It’s this nice little creature that lives in the sand here and burrows into your feet to lay it’s eggs. Absolutely disgusting. About half of us have gotten them and it’s now a common occurrence to gather around someone’s foot to watch them dig out their jigger/s. YUCK. Fortunately I haven’t gotten one yet, (don’t worry I’m knocking on wood) but it’s too hot to wear close-toed shoes all the time so I’m just very careful to not tromp around really sandy and dirty patches.
   This week looks like it will be shaping up to be a really fun one. Tomorrow (Monday) we are doing a day long homestay at one of the local houses. We will pair up and head to different houses all over town and pretend that we are one the members of that household for the day to experience and learn about the culture and daily lifestyles of the Iraqw people here. We had a guest speaker yesterday come and talk to us about the gender differences in the Iraqw culture and it looks like us girls will be very busy tomorrow preparing food, cleaning the house, gathering firewood and water, as well as caring for the younger children. It’s interesting to see the gender dynamic here, of course we were prepared and aware that there is not as much equality here as there is back home but it’s still an eye-opener to actually observe and be a part of it. There are movements for more balanced gender roles here but it’s still very skewed in the favor of men. The big thing is that the men have control of all of the finances in the house. Even if a woman owns a chicken (she isn’t allowed to own any large, “valuable” livestock) if she wants to sell it or any product of it, the money goes to her husband. Pretty much the only thing that a women operates AND owns is the stove. So very different from back home, but it is now more common for women to be educated and hold office, which is obviously a big step.
   But back to our exciting week… on Tuesday we have a traveling lecture for our classes (don’t know where yet, we usually don’t find out these things until the night of) and Wednesday we have a day off. Tuesday is one of the girl’s birthday so we are going to Happy Days Pub (in Karatu, we’ve been here twice already… it’s the one bar that we are allowed to drink at and they also sell American food aka CHEESE!) to celebrate. I plan on having a grilled CHEESE! AND splitting mac and CHEESE! with someone and am very excited for CHEESE! Thursday is a normal day, but on Friday we go on expedition again to Ngorongoro Crater National Park. Not sure what our specific assignment will be here but we are all excited to go and see more African wildlife. I want to see lions this time… fingers crossed! I’m also MOD on Friday… which is making me nervous already because I want to get my presentation out of the way but have NO IDEA what to present to everyone. Some teacher I am, huh?! Saturday we have another traveling lecture (also happy birthday Dad!) and then Sunday is another non-scheduled program day! WOOT!
   Here’s a link to the SFS’s website. “News from the Field” is just an easy way for you all to see what we are learning about and read thoughts and interviews from staff and students. There is also a photo gallery (make sure you actually click on the photo gallery icon if you want to view it) of all the people in my program, just in case you want to start matching faces with the names I’ll be talking about the next 2 ½ months. And remember my group is Tanzania-Kenya not to be confused with the Kenya-Tanzania group.
   Hmm… well I think that’s about it. I’ll post some photos below of the hike and other miscellaneous things at a later date and I hope they are better quality then the last photos… not sure why those are so blurry/grainy… maybe the internet was slow when they were uploading? And of course I will let you know how this week turns out soon too!

xoxo Z

PS. I've heard from people that they are enjoying my fellow classmates blogs as well... Here is another...
Catherine's: bowdointoeastafrica.blogspot 
and I've also heard that Hannah's blog link didn't work so here's the (correct?) link for hers:

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