Monday, October 25, 2010

"Ahh,water. The lubricant of life!" - Dr. Okello

Kwaheri Tanzania, Jambo Kenya!
(Goodbye Tanzania, Hello Kenya!)

I’m writing my last blog from Tanzania; a bittersweet event. Though I’m really looking forward to our time in Kenya (as when I was looking at study abroad programs last year, this program only consisted of Kenya and it was the campsite and environment I was first expecting) I’m also sad to be leaving the temporary home and family I have made here with the Tanzanian staff. We had a giant feast yesterday, so much good food like stuffed peppers, cheesy mashed potatoes, kabobs, mango tart, hamburgers, scalloped potatoes, salsa, and sour cream. It was so delicious! I’ve been helping out in the kitchen the past few days; whether I’ve been baking cookies for desert or helping Arthur with dinner I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to stay busy and kind of learn how the kitchen works here. On a sad and slightly scary note – while helping prepare the feast yesterday I ate entirely too much cheese (a whole block of it!!) and felt extremely sick afterward, hopefully I’m not lactose intolerant!!

Tomorrow, bright and early we are loading the cars and heading out by 6:30am. We will be stopping in Arusha TZ at a shopping center that has a grocery store, a coffee shop, and a sandwich store! Quite exciting, I’ll personally be stocking up on baby wipes, gum, and cookies but other than that will be trying to stick to my not-buying-any-more-food policy. We’ll hit the border around noon and depending on how long it takes there we will get KBC (Kilimanjaro Base Camp) anywhere from 2-5pm. We will meet the other group of students that are mirroring our experience, and be getting to know them over the next couple of days, until Friday when they leave for Tanzania. Apparently there is a guy from UVM in the other group, so I’m interested in seeing if I know him but so far his name – David Segel – doesn’t ring a bell. Anyone else know him? The other group is kind enough to move out of their bandas and sleep in tents for a few nights so we can move into our bandas as soon as we get there. We will be getting new roommates and the room assignments are a surprise until we get there. We also have new staff to meet! I’m really excited for the professors, Erica said that they have all been working with SFS for the past 10 years and if you google anyone of their names you come up with hundreds of papers and articles they have helped write. I’m happy that we will be with them to do our DR (directed research), as they will be plenty knowledgeable on the topics we will be able to explore and research in depth. We will probably learn more about DR when we get there, but so far I think I’m most interested in the Environmental Policy surrounding Wildlife Management. This is a little surprising as this was the course I was least excited for when this program started, but after the first half of the semester I have really come to appreciate and understand the importance of human cooperation, desire, and motivation to conserve wildlife, because without the local people being onboard to conserve and without the funding from the government or other organizations, conservation has no hope. I’d like to research more about what local people think and feel about the wildlife in the area and a way that conservation can take place that is most economically feasible for them. This of course is entirely way too broad of a topic to research on, but I’m happy to at least narrow my DR down to EP and know this general question of mine to answer.

But back to our transition tomorrow – it’s pretty exciting! KBC is more of a field research camp, more connected to the wildlife opposed to Moyo Hill which is very much connected to the town and culture of the Tanzanian people. Apparently at KBC it’s very common to be running on the trail in camp and see elephants, giraffes, and zebra. If that’s not an incentive to get out and exercise, I don’t know what is. It will be hotter in Kenya; not only because the seasons are changing to the warmer but because we won’t be at such a high altitude as we are here at Moyo Hill. We will also only have a communal bathroom, which I think will be a more sustainable change, which we will all share but our bandas will be larger. Also we will wake up to Mt Kilimanjaro every day the weather is clear, you know, no big deal. But other than these few changes that Erica has told us about, I’m not sure of the differences we will experience and am looking forward to finding out soon!

We DO need to get a Kenyan SIM card for our phones, but that may not be as big of a problem as I initially thought, because we could just switch cards with one of the other students in the other group. Either way I will try to post a blog with my new phone number as soon as I can, but who knows when that will be, so be prepared to not contact me for a few days. Hmm, other than that I’m not sure what else to say. I hope that everyone is good back home! Talk to you all when I’m in Kenyaaaa!!

xoxo Zee

PS. Days in between my two showers… 17. AND I DIDN’T SMELL.

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