Well yes hello! Welcome to the third edition of this little online journal thing I’ve got going on. It really is hard to find time to write these but I’m doing my very bestest!
SO. Major events. Well, Thursday was a non-program day, and some of us decided to go on a bike ride tour of Lake Manyara National Park. The idea was really great…it was…but little did we know, the people here have rumps of steel and actually don’t need bike cushions. So for 4 hours we rode on very bumpy roads and right through the expansive grasslands to the lake…on these horrid seats. The fun was still present though, as we biked past running gazelles, and approached a herd of stampeding wildebeest not 50 meters away. There was also a huge herd of zebra close to us! The trip ended with a stop at the hippo pool, and because the guides were trying to get us killed, we actually got pretty close to the hippos. Apparently they were not very dangerous because they were in the water. I don’t believe it for a second. Hippos are extremely fast and are responsible for many deaths in the nearby town each year because nobody expects them to be such deadly killers. Freakin’ insane. Anyways. We all lived, but literally bruised our tailbones black and blue. Probably not something I’ll be doing again.
Last Friday we went to Tarangire National Park! The place where everyone sees their first lion! Except us. Yep, no lions yet. On the bright (gray?) side, we saw over 300 elephants, and more than 100 impala! Also sighted: a group of giraffe, some warthogs, ostriches, lots of mongooses, dik diks, waterbuck, reedbuck, zebra, and lots of beautiful birds. The tourist lodge there was beautiful and it actually made me a bit uneasy with its striking contrast to the pastoralist lifestyles of the Maasai people not 5 kilometers away. There was a pool with a waterslide, two bars, giant guest rooms for spending the night, luxury couches and chairs, and a truly amazing view of the park where you could stand and watch elephants, giraffe, and impala far below.
Yesterday was the home stay at a local family’s house. We went in pairs and from 8 am to 4 pm did everything that the family told us to. We drank chai (chai means tea in Swahili…now don’t you all feel silly for saying chai tea..tea tea..teehee.), I got to hold the cattle stick that is only given to the man of the house and herded the cattle, then the man, whose name we never quite figured out, took us on a nature hike and we learned a ton about the complexities of their agricultural lifestyle, drought, the rain seasons, and soil erosion. There is also a plant here that makes you go blind if you get it in your eyes! :) Naturally then he waved it all over in the air recklessly.
When we returned we helped make lunch in the traditional fashion over the fire. Ugali (maize flour and water…that’s it), beef, and cabbage were on the menu. Oh, and about 20 bottles of oil. We ate until we were full, and then we ate some more, and then he poured more glasses of milk…and THEN after many “nimeshiba”s (i’m full), we finally finished. I was a bit confused by the rest of the day but we actually did nothing..they sat us down on stools in the shade and we talked to our man for 4 hours. It was a good experience though!
The academics here have been so insane. I never expected to be doing this much work. This week alone I had a Swahili exam on Sunday as well as a paper due that night, and I have a paper due tomorrow as well as another due Thursday. It’s ruthless! I suppose I’ll be a better person because of it, though, and hopefully Madison seems easier next fall.
Ok, well, ‘till next time y’all, thanks for reading!
Best dishes from my kitchen to yers,