Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday 9/12


WOWOW. I have seen so much the past two days there is no way that I am going to be able to fit it all in this post because I would be typing for hours and I have a lot of homework to do, but let me just say that it has been awesome! I'm going to upload some photographs this time too, (sorry this is the first time I've done that) so enjoy!!

As I said previously, we went to Manyara National Park which is a park that is about a 20 minute car ride from our base camp and is 1000 square kilometers. We took four different land cruisers with about 6-7 of us in each one. Even before we got in the park there were Blue Monkey's and Yellow-Billed Storks around the gate. As we drove around the rest of the day we saw so many animals!! There were impalas, giraffes, ground hornbills, Vervet monkeys, hippos, zebras, wildebeasts, water buffalo, gazelle, warthogs, olive baboons, pelicans, elephants, ostriches, flamingos, dik dik, and crested guinea fowl (which apparently are rare). There were so many mini-habitats in the park too - ranging from open savanna to cliffs to the salt water lake to ground water spring forests. The plant life was just as fascinating as the animal life - the trees were especially cool. Here is a picture of the general landscape... I took it at the far end of the park near some hot springs, it's looking back towards the entrance gate.

My favorite part was seeing each animal for the first time. It was funny because we would all make a huge commotion each time we saw the first giraffe or zebra but by the end of the day we would just drive by and be like... "oh, there's another baboon..." Kinda crazy to think that by the end of my stay here I will more than likely be immune to all the native animals here, almost like seeing a turkey or a deer back home. Another thing that I observed was how similar this park experience was to a "safari" back in Disney or something. I think it's because we don't see any typical African animals in or around our camp and so far our only observations of them were in this park. This will apparently change when we go to Kenya, as we will be plopped right into a National Park... but as of now, we are kind of isolated from the wildlife here in Tanzania.

One thing that we aren't isolated from here is the Swahili and local African culture. Today was our day off and we went into Karatu, the biggest local town. Whenever we go into town we have to wear long dresses and baggy-ish shirts as that is the custom for women here. The guys in our group just have to wear long pants. Today when we got to town we were immediately bombarded by local town boys who after trying to sell us little necklaces, bracelets, and other trinkets were our tour guides around the market and main street. Some handy things to know how to say when perusing the streets of any East African village are:
  • "Sena pesa" or "hakuna pesa" which both mean "no money"
  • "Mimi mwanafunzi" which means "I am a student" (which justifies to 'I have no money'.... see, the fact that college kids are poor is acknowledged worldwide!)
  • "Toca America/Vermont" which means "I'm from America/Vermont
So for the whole day in town I enjoyed meeting new people, talking to our tour guides about things like welfare in America and the upcoming election here in Tanzania, seeing the market, and warding off a million trinket-sellers with the promise that I would come back with money our next day off. A heartfelt moment I had was giving a little boy who had followed us around all day the packet of peanuts we got on the airplane and making him pinkie promise to share them with his friends (first I had to teach him what a pinkie promise was, cute!). Afterwards we all met up and went to a tourist lodge/restaurant called 'Happy Days Pub' where we all got to order beer with some American food items like pizza, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, and banana bread. I personally split a beer and a cheeseburger with another girl and have to say my stomach STILL feels nasty from this not healthy food! Oh dear, looks like I won't be able to scarf down cheesy bread like it's my job when I get back home, haha!

Okay for the part you've all been waiting for; here are some more pictures of the animals from Manyara... 
Maasai Giraffe with the shore of Lake Manyara in the background.

Common Zebra grazing. (The park here was actually severely overgrazed, making our professors concerned about the future of grazers such as zebras and wildebeast here.)

Olive Baboon walking in the middle of the road.
In Africa we have "hippo-piles" instead of "pig-piles". True fact.
Momma elephant with her baaaaaby.
So yea, those were just a few of my favorites. And I will post some pictures of camp life so you can see what my home for the next 6 weeks looks like next time. 
Later gators!

xoxoxo Z

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