Sunday, October 3, 2010

"j-i-g-u-z, that's how you spell jiggers right?"

View of Ngorongoro Crater. The floor of the crater is 250 sq km, which is only part of the 8,300 sq km Ngorongoro Conservation Area. I took this picture right before we descended into the crater for our expedition; it was so cold and windy at the top - you could almost see your breath!


Sorry I haven't posted sooner, apparently African wireless has something against PCs and only the Mac users have had internet the past three days, thankfully it's working again for everyone! OH MY. I have had the craziest past few days! SOOO much to talk about... I'll try to remember everything.

I guess I'll start with the homestay that we had last Monday. All of us students were broken up into pairs and assigned to go stay with a house for the day. Every person was given a bag of provisions – a bag of corn flour, sugar, chai tea, a head of cabbage, soap, and toilet paper – and each pair was given about 4 gallons of water from camp that we could cook and drink with. I was paired with a girl named Megan and we were placed in a home just a five minute walk from the SFS camp. Thankfully one of our staff members walked with us there and carried our really heavy water jug. When we got to the house, our host Mom and daughter came out and met us. They were really happy and kept saying “Karibu! Karibu!” (Welcome, welcome!) As I said in my photo captions last post, their names were Mama Happi and Happiness. They knew very little English and our Swahili wasn’t that great so it was a struggle to communicate, but we found ways of overcoming the language barrier. Shortly after we got there we made chai tea over the fire in the kitchen which was in a hut separate from their house. After drinking the chai, we swept the driveway with bundles of twigs, washed the breakfast dishes and then started getting ready for lunch. Our lunch consisted of ugali (water and the corn flour mixed together over the very smoky fire) and a cabbage, tomato, onion, and carrot stir fry. It was delicious. After lunch we went a few houses over to where a rally for the upcoming election was occurring, it was fun to watch because they were singing and dancing. Megan and I were the only white people (“mzungu”) there, so we stuck out quite a bit. After the rally we went back to the house did the lunch dishes, made more chai and chilled. By this time the two boys were back from school and an intense game of monkey in the middle took place. Then I broke out my camera and we took a million pictures which was very entertaining for them. By this time it was 5:00 and we had to head back to camp. We left our family making plans to come back another day for a lunch of ugali and kuku (ugali and chicken). So that’s a very brief description of our homestay day. There are many more details about it, so if you have any specific questions about the homestay just ask!

Last Wednesday was also a very eventful day. After having a peaceful morning off to catch up on homework and sleep, we had an afternoon that I won’t be soon to forget. We slaughtered, skinned, roasted and ate not one, but two goats. It was absolutely insane. Obviously growing up on our little farm I’ve been exposed to the killing of our own livestock, but this was the first time in a long time that I have been present during the actually slaughtering of an animal and found it a little disturbing. I think because goats are more a pet in the US and are rarely killed for meat purposes it affected me so; wasn’t like killing cows, pigs, or chickens which are around usually for the sole purpose of eating, goats are more pet-like so it felt like we were killing a dog or something. As we were watching the slaughter (one of the cooks killed the first goat and one of our own students killed the second) I asked myself why was I making myself watch this? But I think this is an important process and realization of where your food comes from, especially any meat you eat. There are a lot of students here that are vegetarian, some are even vegan, and I agree with their point that if you are willing to eat meat then you need to be willing to be a part of this less-than-desirable process that you very often forget about. I think this is an experience that everyone should partake in once in their life, especially if you eat meat, because it is just so eye opening and makes you really think about the chicken, beef, or pork you are eating. This experience didn’t make me want to become a vegetarian, but now more than ever I am glad to say that I know where my meat comes from and that it was raised and slaughtered in humane conditions.

On Friday we went to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Ngorongoro crater is the largest caldera in the world and is also the only protected area in Tanzania that both humans and wildlife reside. Not only was the scenery fantastic, but we saw so many animals up close; it was great! There were so many lions! It was the first time we had seen so many especially so close to the road. It was an absolutely amazing day, maybe one of my favorites since we have been here and I have some great pictures as you can see to prove it.

Our first lion spotting! These were two VERY pregnant females. Our professor, who was driving, spotted them ( I'm not quite sure how, they were so far away and blended in so well!) about 150 meters away and we watched them walk towards, cross the road behind us, and towards a large herd of zebra and wildebeest. We were hoping to catch some hunting action, but they went out of our sight and because of how un-secretive of their position they were we drove away after a few minutes.

Fici! (Hyena) This guy has a wildebeest leg in his mouth, SO COOL! He ran along side our vehicle for a while and then into the road where we chased him for a while. It was actually really hilarious. We joke and say "Hey, remember that time we were in Africa and chased a hyena down the road?" I mean who gets to say that?!

One of my favorite pictures of the day. * Note the MALE lions near the LADIES room. * My professor asked me: "What would you have done if you were in the bathroom and came out to see this?" I responded "I guess I would stay in the bathroom for a while" to which he replied "Mmm - No. You would stay in the bathroom ALL day. And maybe part of the night." It was creepy because though it looks like they are passed out, in all of my pictures you can see that their eyes are open.... just waiting. King of the savanna, eh?
AWW! Cat nap time! We came across 4 lionesses and 4 cubs, lounging and sleeping by a little creek.


Most of the year there are only bull elephants in the crater (basically because it is too hard for calves to enter and exit over the rim) but every once or twice a year when there are 200 gathered here. This wasn't one of these times, and we only saw this bull and one other the whole day.

Papa simba! There were two male lions that stayed in the same spot all day just snoozing. When we came back right before we left, this guy was turned over on his back, sleeping with his paws in the air. He was maybe 4 meters from our vehicle... it was great, but also a traffic jam cause.
I don't know why I like African Buffalo so much. But aren't they great looking? They are actually the number one killers of people in Africa each year. It's because they don't have great eye sight and often charge when they feel threatened. And obviously you don't stand much of a chance against that helmet of horns. Guess what the number one killer of tourists are? Hippos!

Me and my roomies! (Kat on the left and Hannah on the right) We obviously took great care in matching our t-shirts before we left! (FYI. Tusker is a brand of beer here. On the back of the shirts it says "Baada ya kazi" or "After work")

 And now for my health update. I've had my first sick day here. The night after my homestay I woke up at 3:30 to throw up a few times. It was honestly the sickest I have felt in a long time. I had to miss a traveling lecture, but after being able to sleep in until 11:30 (the latest I've slept in here by a long shot) I felt fine. Erica (our SAM thinks I just ate something that didn't agree with me, so it's really nothing to worry about.) Since then I've had two other interrupted nights of sleep due to an upset stomach, but I haven't had to run to the choo (toilet) those times. And to top it off, I think I jinxed myself last blog post, because yesterday I dug TWO jiggers out of my toe. It actually wasn't that bad, my toe had been aching the past few days so I was kind of expecting it. There are maybe only 3 people here who haven't gotten jiggers, so I was anxious as to why I hadn't gotten them yet. One girl has actually gotten ELEVEN jiggers. ELEVEN! But I kind of enjoyed taking them out of my foot. It didn't hurt and it was slightly satisfying to see they squwooze (new word I made up, purely for describing jigger extractions) out. I'm one of the few people who extracted my own jiggers, you need to make sure you get the whole jigger out and it's easier for someone else to do it. But after inspecting my toesies this morning, I think I did a good job and for the time being, I'm jigger free!
Yummm, jigger toe!

Well I should probably cut this blog short. We have exams next week and I have some reading I need to finish by then. But I think I shared most of my past week. I'm really enjoying myself here, especially now that we have found a little art gallery in Karatu that sells ICE CREAM and BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA and SALADS! We are actually headed there in a little bit when people get back from church (apparently mass here goes for 4 hours sometimes! Yeesh!) so I really need to get some reading done before we go. Hope everyone is great back home! I got my first letter the other day, it took 16 days to get here so if you are planning on mailing me in the future (which you SHOULD be!) then keep in mind we head to Kenya on the 26th, so send it to the Kenya address after the 10th. But you are all in my thoughts, especially those of you at Mac's softball tournament... there better be some pictures sent to me! Miss you all!

 xoxo Z

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