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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kwa Heri, Tanzania!

June 28
We learned some new photo techniques today: light tunnel, panning, HDR, panoramic pictures, night photos. And all are tripod activities!

I like the panoramas and night photos the best! I did like five panoramic pictures today, and I looove them.

Night photos didn’t happen until after over On Assignment presentations. Mine was okay--two ladies staying with Pete complimented me--but what I really loved was seeing Hagape again. She had drawn a picture for me with an elephant on it, and each time I picked her up, she would kiss me on the cheek!

We have this game where I say, “Pole sana, dada!” and she says, “I’m soo sorry!” And we just repeat in over dramatized voices. It’s really cute.

She sat with me during the whole presentation, and I gave her an animal rubber band. I let her pick which one she wanted, and she chose a frog! So now she’ll have something to remember me by.

There was a dance party at the same time as night photos. I danced for a few songs, but I liked doing the photos better. I’ll definitely keep doing night shots when I get home.

June 29
It’s our final day in Africa! We spent most of the morning packing and working on our books.

I haven’t really grasped the fact that we’re leaving yet. Even though I’m all packed and we’re leaving in less than thirty minutes, it still hasn’t hit me.

I feel like when I wake up tomorrow morning, I’m going to see the lush scenery, delicious fruits, and wonderful people I’ve seen for the last three weeks. But there’s a little part inside of me--the rational part--that knows differently. I’m not going to see Africa tomorrow, next week, or even in the next year. I hope I will come back sometime, but I know it won’t be soon.

Even though I’m happy to come home, I’m missing Tanzania already. It’s such a different place that it almost seems unreal. Like it doesn’t come from the same place as the United States, even though Western influence is slowly seeping in.

I will miss you so much, Tanzania! Houston, here I come!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

At the Black Panther's House

We slept in yesterday! I think we woke up at 7:30, which was really nice. Today we had dancers come in, who taught us an African dance. Believe it or not, it was actually kind of provocative. There’s a part where the girls are in front of the boys, shaking their behinds when the guys are bent over, waving their hand back and forth. Awkward.
After they taught us a dance, we taught the dancers the Cupid Shuffle, which they found to be super easy.

At three, we performed our new dance to the entire community center! Everyone loved it. And then we performed the Cupid Shuffle.

Later that night, Pete showed us a documentary on himself. He’s a Black Panther (he calls himself an old black panther) who has been exiled from the United States.

We had a discussion later, which wasn’t awkward for me until Pete mentioned that he was a Marxist socialist. I was his guest, so even though I disagreed immensely with his views, I kept my mouth shut.

So, I woke up earlier this morning than anyone else. I woke up at 8:15! That’s sleeping in! And Erin just went around waking the other kids up, and it’s now 8:30. Wow!

Anyway, I decided to finish yesterday’s blog this morning, so hopefully there will be another post later today.

I was thinking, and I don’t know how I feel about leaving Africa! To be honest, the day I arrived here, I hated it. My bag was missing, I was encased in a mosquito net, and I couldn’t sleep because I was jet lagged. I just wanted to go home.

But now that all those problem are gone (except for the mosquito net, which I really don’t mind anymore. It’s like a white canopy for a princess!) I don’t know how I feel. On one hand, I want to stay because I love the kids here--especially Hagape--and it’s so beautiful and the food is great and I love Peter and Erin. But on the other hand, I miss my family, friends, my fantastic bed, my own bathroom, and clean clothes. Ahh!

The good thing is that I can’t really control my situation. I’m leaving tomorrow, and that’s going to happen regardless of how I feel. Happy or sad I am about that, it’s going to happen. And I’m excited to see all of y’all again!

Mambo! Poa!

(Hey, friend! Cool!)

My General Impressions of Tanzania So Far:
In an uneducated village, the denizens will ask for money if you take their pictures.
Tanzanians love Obama. You can get kangas with a picture of Africa and Obama’s face. I even found a bracelet at the Masai market that said “Obam” on it.
Driving is really intense in Africa. There are pretty much three lanes: right, left, and the passing lane. If you drive too slow, you will be passed. There are way too many near-accidents.
The white people (mzungus) are pretty much celebrities. Some will be afraid to come near us, some like to run up really close to us. Everyone stares.
Also, the people here think mzungus just carry a million dollars in their back pockets on a regular day basis.
Peter and Erin are awesome leaders. Erin is so nice and helpful, and Peter is brave and always has amazing stories. I love the one where he has to run from Africans in a van trying to make him pay money, and when his long hair blows in the wind as he’s crossing the border illegally into the US. He speaks Swahili, handles everything, and pretty much saves our lives everyday.
Babu, Munissi, and Dominic--our guards--are fantastic.
All Tanzanian kids are adorable.

Swahili Learned So Far:
mambo--hello, friend
asante--thank you
shikamoo--I respect you
kwa heri--goodbye
habari--how are you
simama--stand up
kaa--sit down

June 16
I finally slept through the whole night! I had to wake up at 6 again today to finish my blog, because we were going to the internet cafe today to update our blogs, possibly for the only time during the trip.

The A and B groups went with Erin, so my group for going to the blogs was Cade, Betty, Camryn, Kevin, and Kylee. Trying to leave in our Jeep was interesting. At first, the car wouldn’t start, so we had to get Dominic to work on the engine a little. But it wasn’t until the car started that it got real fun.

Although she argued differently, Erin cannot really drive a stick shift. She would drive, then it would stall. Drive then stall. Drive. Stalled. Drive. Stalled. At one point Cade commented, “We’re lettin’ the cows pass” in his heavy southern accent. Hilarious.

Well, with a little coaching from Ms Bottoms, Erin finally made it out onto our little dirt road! Yay! The ride went smoothly until we got onto the main road, when Erin tryied to alert a little boy on his bicycle that we were coming up behind him. That little honk of the horn turned into a full out blast when the horn got stuck! She couldn’t turn it off! That little boy must’ve been blasted with sound for a full 30 seconds. What a way to alert everyone that the mzungus are coming!

The blog posting and money gathering were uneventful, but when we got back to the house Peter’s group had been back from the leprosy center for at least 30 minutes. It was only 10:30, but I was starving. Alas, lunch time wasn’t until we all got back from our second trip, and it was our groups turn to go to the leprosy center!

Peter, luckily, is a lot better driver of the stick shift than Erin, so his group was off in a flash. My group had to wait for Mcalla to come get us. So we waited. And waited. About forty-five minutes passed when Erin realized that Mcalla was actually waiting for us back by the soccer field! We rushed over and we walked us over to the leprosy center. No, not walked, that old man was haulin’! We all had to run to keep up with how fast this man could power walk!

We were all out of breath by the time we got to the leprosy center. I made a new friend, Michael. He was sitting in his wheelchair making beads. He had some aviators on his lap, and I pointed to him, saying “Poa, poa!” and he put them on for me! I got some great pictures of Michael with his aviators!

After a quick stop into the gift shop, we hauled with Mkalla, who showed us his house, back to our compound for lunch! Avocados and cheese again!

It was then time for a photo lesson. We all went around in a circle and introduced our cameras as if they were our significant other. My Canon is named Aidan, and we were introduced by my grandmother. :)

Travis’s speech was hilarious. I’m so glad Sarah got it on video! You guys will just have to wait and watch it on facebook.

The UAACC kids came to take pictures with us before dinner. I was in a group with Betty and Babu (not our guard, but a kid). Betty taught me panning and I got some great shots.

We only had until dark to get back, so when the sun started setting, the kids offered to take us on a shortcut back to our compound. We started on the path they put us on, and all of us Americans thought we had gotten lost! Some shortcut.

Just as we thought we were lost for sure, we stumbled out onto the main path...right in front of our house! We made it! And what better way to reward ourselves than with some warm dinner made by the mommas! And it was delicious! We had cheesy pasta and mashed potatoes.

We all even had a bit of after dinner entertainment. Another one of the kids, Champs, told us he would sing for us, and it ended up being rapping again! And if that wasn’t exciting enough, he and Ernest got into a rap off! It was awesome even though I couldn’t understand the Swahili.

June 17
Laundry day! Tracy and I got up early this morning to wash our clothes. We filled up three buckets (which we also use for flushing poop down the toilet, mind you) and got to work with both of our detergents in the bucket--mine in the water, and hers to scrub. When we were finished, we had to hang them outside on lines and then head to breakfast!

Breakfast was quite delicious. We had french toast and cheese eggs. Thank you, cooking crew!

On our walk in the village today I met a donkey named Pablo the Punda, and touched him.

Today was the day for shopping! I had to put my sidebag under my sweatshirt so it wouldn’t get stolen. The markets were kind of scary because we mzungus just got mobbed by people who wanted to sell us random things. One man tailed us, asking if we wanted to buy his necklaces, and eventually Ms. Bottoms bought all the necklaces to give to everyone!!

The Mesai market was the best. Everyone has a tiny shop that had almost the same stuff as the others, and they would do anything to get you to buy something. Sister! Sister! Looking is free!

Bartering and haggling were really fun. I talked down a lion and giraffe from 15,000 shillings each to 20,000 for both of them. I also bought a whole bunch of bracelets and two African spears. Not to mention the real panga I got for 2,500 shillings.

We all went to a Greek Restaurant next, where we ordered pizza. Betty and I were in the bathroom when the power went out (because it ran on a generator) and we just flipped out, trying to get back to our table in the dark.

Not only did it take three hours for everyone to get their food, but they ran out of dough so some people got a beef dish instead of their pizza! Not to mention the power went out about every thirty minutes.

June 18
Finally, we got to go to the orphanage! All the children were adorable; I wanted to take them all home with me! There was this little girl named Lucky who was not only so cute, but also a complete diva. She refused to be held by any of us, and just liked to throw her soccer ball around. If I took the ball from her, she just stared at me, like “I know you’re giving that back!” She was so cute.

Right before we left, we sang a song Jacob taught us, the llama song. Afterwards, the kids showed us songs they knew. One of them was about how an animal was too big, and the but they hands on their face and shook their hips. Man, could these kids dance! One boy could move his hips like a pro.

We had to say goodbye to the kids, which was really difficult. Leaving them almost broke my heart. I wanted to hide some on the bus with me. But we eventually got back on the bus to go to the food market to buy two goats for a party we’ll be hosting tomorrow.

The market was scary! We had to put our backpacks in the front to keep them from getting stolen. We divided up into different groups. Munissi took me, Ms. Bottoms, Betty, and Cade. The people there didn’t want us to take pictures of them, so we had to practice stealing shots. At one point, a man tried to wrestle his bull into our group of people, so we had to jump out of the way! It was chaotic.

Also, a man tried to buy Erin for a cow and Tanzanite.

We stopped at a little area to eat lunch. All of us were seated at one table, and bowls of food were brought out for us to share. We couldn’t really wash our hands. There was only a a container of water and a bar of soap for everyone who wanted to eat there. I only rinsed my hands. I was not using that bar of soap! The food included rice, beans, beef stew, banana stew, and fruit. I only ate the beans and rice because the beef had bones in it and everything else looked sketchy.

All that was left for us to do was wait for Erin and Peter to return with our goats! We all chilled around are bus, and slowly people began to crowd around us. Soon a giant crowd formed of those watching the mzungus. In this crowd was a rapper named Barrack who Rachel, of course, befriended. At one point, Rachel had to get a pencil and a piece of paper out of her backpack, and everyone around us took two steps in to see what she was doing. They thought she was pulling out money to give to them! While this was happening, other people were eying our bags. A few of us got very close to having our stuff stolen. Not all of us would still have our cameras if it weren’t for us guarding each other’s backs.

Finally, Peter and Erin returned with our two goats! They cost 50,000 Tanzanian shillings each, so, together, they cost less than 100 American dollars. Not a bad deal!

The goats couldn’t fit in the bus with us, so Munissi had to put them in the trunk for us. When we got inside, Jacob swore he could here them whining under our seats!

We dropped off Munissi with our goats to take home, then we headed off to see a waterfall! It was about a 20 minute drive on the main road, but significantly longer once we got on the village path.

It was a big drive uphill, so every once in awhile our bus would get stuck. We all had to get out and push! The first time I just stood behind and took pictures until we got the bus going again. I was excited until the bus just wouldn’t stop! Peter told the boys to run and not let the bus get out of their sight. We were honestly scared that the bus driver was just going to leave! Luckily, the boys caught up, and us in the caboose arrived a few minutes later, happy to sit down.

Our happiness didn’t last long. The bus stopped again. And again. And again. The bus got stuck at least seven times. Each time the bus started going, a boy jumped on the back ladder and hitched a ride. It eventually got to the point where just five people got out of the bus at a time to push. Sometimes they had to run alongside the bus and jump in, Little Miss Sunshine style!

Sooner or later our system had to fail. And it did. The bus got stuck in the mud and could only back up. That was our cue to walk! The children following us weren’t used to mzungus like the children in Magi ya Chai, so it was a game to run up to us. Remember in Finding Nemo how the little fish were afraid to touch the boat? That’s exactly what it was like!

It was tough hiking uphill, especially as the oxygen in the air decreased. I also didn’t had tennis shoes on--only my teva sandals. Dominic walked with Tracy and me. In Africa, holding hands is a sign of friendship, so Dominic and I held hands for a part of the way, until I had to stop and wait for Tracy.

Once the trees opened up and we could see all around us, it was breathtaking. We were so high up, we could see hills all around us. There was farming on the sides of the surrounding hills, something I’ve only heard of in World Geography and never seen in person.

But with the open space came a new danger. The kids, who were once to afraid of us, came behind us with poisonous leaves tied to sticks and tried to poke us with them, demanding money.

Once we overcame that obstacle, it was only a few minutes walk to the waterfall. And once we got there, it was definitely worth the trek up there. It was the biggest waterfall I’ve seen in person. Better than the one I saw in Australia.

The walk back to the bus was definitely easier than the walk back up, especially since Peter found a shortcut! The only bad thing was that I kept pounding my feet on the ground, which was uncomfortable in my sandals. But at last! We made it to the bus!

On the bus drive, we were relaxing, drinking our water and eating our snacks. I, personally, ate some on Tracy’s animal crackers, which were so delicious then. As I was eating my animal crackers, the bus tipped over. Although Tracy screamed as she flew into Cade’s lap, I was completely unfazed. One second I was upright, and the next I was sideways! Good news for us: there were trees on our left side, so our fall was cushioned and the bus only tipped over. It didn’t turn completely horizontal.

Well, we waited awhile and a bunch of village men helped Mcalla get the truck upright. What a perfect end to such an eventful day.

June 19
Originally, a hike was scheduled for today, but because we kind of already did one yesterday, we got free time instead!

But at the end of free time, we killed our goats. We named them Appetizer and Entree (Appy and Trey). Mcalla killed Appy first by slitting its throat. Then he killed Trey. There was so much blood, just pouring out of these goats. It was so red; it just looked like paint.

Babu strung Trey up to skin him, with Peter holding up Trey’s front legs to keep him still. Peter had to go check on something though, so I volunteered to hold the goat’s legs in his place. I gripped the legs so hard it felt like my hands were going to fall off. There was also a little stream of blood dripping down the goats skin that got really close to my hands.

However, even though it was pretty gross, I loved it. It’s not everyday that one gets to hold a goat while Babu skins it. I also got to overhear some of Babu and Peter’s conversation about goat anatomy.

Later that day, it was party time! Apparently the guests were told four o’clock instead of six, so there weren’t too many people. Some of our guests were acrobats, so they performed for us, which was cool. But the party was mostly awkward. We didn’t really know Swahili, so we didn’t know how to talk to our guests, so they probably thought we were rude.

Also, the goat was disgusting. One dish had goat organs and bananas, which smelt really funky, like dung.

The actual goat meat was so chewy that I couldn’t even swallow the bite I got. I had to spit it out. I did drink a lot of the coke we got for our special occasion, though!

June 20-24
We travel in our “man truck” through safari, which is like an old Nazi war vehicle. It’s humungous and kind of scary. It makes me feel safe around the animals, though.

One bad thing about our man truck is that the sides are open. That means that when we’re driving through a heavily vegetated area on a trail (not a road), branches hit us. The kids in window seats have to duck to avoid the thorns of the acacia trees.

Safari can’t really be described in words. Just through the pictures I took. Killerai, our guide, is so amazing. I love him. He’s very helpful, knows his stuff, and is fun to joke around with.

The sleeping arrangements are okay. It’s two to three people per little tent, so it can get cramped. Also, it’s hard to do basic things like check the tires (go to the bathroom), brush my teeth, wash my clothes, and take showers. I don’t even know how many animals I’ve mooned crouching behind a bush out in the middle of nowhere.

On the first day of safari, we found some vultures around a wildebeest carcass. It had been killed by cheetahs. It was fresh (killed that morning) and there was still some meat around the legs, so Killerai took it to cook for dinner! I didn’t want to eat it at first, but I bit the bullet and tried it. Who knew wildebeest tasted so good?

We climbed a mountain on the 21st, which was one of the hardest things of my life. Hiking up was so exhausting. The best part was when we had to spider-man walk through a cave. One foot on one wall, one foot on the other, pushing each foot and hand, changing pressure on each side to climb over a hole. Very intense. One wrong step, and down Lindsey goes. Getting to the top was so worth it though,

So far, we’ve seen gazelles, impala, zebras, wildebeests, buffalo, elephants, giraffes, lots of birds, hippos, baboons, other monkeys, warthogs, waterbucks, and a leopard. But alas, no lions.

I’m a little bit afraid to see a lion. Not because I’m afraid it’s going to eat me or anything, but I don’t want to kill the dream. Lions are my favorite animal. I have always wanted to see one, but I’m afraid the reality won’t live up to the dream. For instance, what if I see one, but it’s far away, half hidden by the grass? Is that worth all the hype I’ve built? I don’t know. I just feel like it needs to be special.

Our National Geograhic photographer, Massimo, is really cool. He knows so much, and can speak almost all the Romance languages!

We’re staying at a very nice campsite tonight. It’s in a town called Karatu, which is just gorgeous. It’s probably the most beautiful place I’ve been to, except Australia. Everything is green and lively, but not tropical. It reminds me of what Ireland should look like (I’ve never been to Ireland before, though). Or maybe it looks like Colorado without all the snow.

The bathrooms are not so great. They’re holes in the ground. Literally. Like a ceramic latrine. You have to squat to do your business!

June 25
To go to the caldera, we had to split up into three land rovers. I was assigned to a truck with Kevin (a driver), Ms. Bottoms, Peter, Jacob, Kylee, and Claire. They were a really fun group! Peter gave us a lecture on our way there about metering and white balance, and I feel like I learned a lot.

In the caldera, Kevin was such a great driver. We saw a whole bunch of zebras, a cheetah, wildebeests, buffalo, and guess what? LIONS!

The first two we saw stalking a herd of zebras, the third we saw eating a zebra, and the last few we saw napping by a lake! All of the things I said before about being afraid, I take them back! It was amazing.

Later that night, we all gathered our top five pictures of the day to show Massimo. He called two of mine “strange” (which can be good or bad), one of mine okay, and he really liked my other two!! It was so exciting.

June 26
Today was the day we went back to Magi ya Chai (which I found out means “Water of Tea.” Who knew?). We shopped on the road a bit, and I got a Masai name. I’m Nanyokie, which means “the white one.” I couldn’t stop laughing when Simon (the man truck driver) gave it to me. What name could be more fitting?

A few hours later, we got to Pete and Charlotte O’neal’s house. Pete is sooo funny. And he used to be a black panther! His house is also a school for kids (UAACC), so there are a lot of beds.

I made a new friend! Her name is Hagape. She is so cute. She doesn’t know very much English, though, so communication is a but rough. But we still have fun together!

The O’neal house is beautiful. All the buildings have paintings the children have drawn on them. And guess what? Our beds are actually comfortable! It’s such a big change from our sleeping pads. I’m in a room with just me and Tracy, but we share a bathroom with Camryn, Kylee, and Rachel.

I already started to miss Killerai when he left, taking Simon and his man truck with him. He said that he would be our facebook friends, though, which is exciting! I’m just not sure how much he can check it if he’s giving tours through Tanzania all the time. I know that if I ever come back to Tanzania, I’m calling up Dorobo and getting Killerai again!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jambo, Rafikis!

June 12

After an entire day of traveling, I’m finally in Africa! While the majority of the flights were good, I hit a snag on my way out of Houston. Right before getting on the plane to Amsterdam, I was stopped and forced to check my second carry on bag. After all the flights, I arrived in Kilimanjaro to find that my bag didn’t make it! Because of this, I don’t have a mosquito net, three pairs of pants, pajamas, my journal, long sleeved shirts, and other items of clothes. What a great way to start my trip, right?

Aside from that, Africa is amazing! It’s beautiful and just so full of life. Our two leaders, Peter and Erin, are really cool and fun. Our guards are Dominic, Munissi, and Babu. Munissi is a natural model, and it’s so fun to take pictures of him! The village we’re staying in is full of such beautiful plants and friendly people! You can buy fruit, like pineapples and avocados, that have been picked just a few hours ago! Our first meal, made by our “mommas” consisted of pasta, some sweet tortilla thing I forgot the name of, chicken, a giant avocado, pineapples, mangos and peanut butter.

Bedtime was not as fun as dinner. My room name is mnazi (which means coconut in Swahili). My roomies are Claire, Tracy, Sarah, and Kylee. I got a bottom bunk, which didn’t seem so great until I realized that I don’t have to climb down the stairs We all had to set up mosquito nets around our beds with our sleeping bags on them to make sure no bugs got in. Not only did the bug sounds scare me in the middle of the night, but I thought the clicking sound of my watch was a bug! I was terrified for about ten minutes until I figured out my watch was making the noise. I went to sleep at one o’clock at woke up at three thirty to by burning hot sleeping bag. I was sweating so much but couldn’t get completely out of it because I didn’t want my legs to touch the net! My predicament: get stung, or sweat up a storm? I found some middle ground, taking my legs out halfway and not touching the net, and after taking a sleeping pill at four thirty, slept for another two and a half hours. Yay!

June 13

For breakfast I had some delicious eggs that Sarah and Jacob cooked, and wonderful pancakes that Cade, Ms. Hartman, and Ms. Bottoms cooked. Yum! After breakfast, we walked to the local church (which took about an hour because we stopped to talk to all the adorable children) and I learned some Swahili! Jambo means hello, Mambo means hello (to your friends), Asante means thank you, Asante sana means thank you very much, Nzuri means good, and I can introduce myself with “Jina langu mini Lindsey!”

I also learned a cool phrase that means “cool like a banana in the fridge.” I don’t know how it’s spelled, but it’s pronounced “poa kacheezi comma ndeezi frigi buriti.” Fun, right? Anyway, the church service was really cool. They sang, and one guy laid down funky beats to the church singing. He also added random phone rings and all around sounds that don’t really mix with church. A bunch of women also went up and danced during the church service. Afterwards, our whole group went up and sang “Amazing Grace,” and the denizens of the village returned with a song in Swahili to the same tune.

When we returned to our house, it was already lunch time! We ate leftovers from the night before. After lunch, we had a Swahili lesson. Mkalla, our teacher, taught us so much, but I don’t want to say too much because I want to surprise everyone with my knowledge of Swahili when I get back. :) After the lesson, we all walked around the village and played soccer with the little children. We couldn’t take pictures yet--Peter and Erin wanted the villagers to become familiar with us before we took shots of them--but I still had a lot of fun making friends! Tracy had a huge entourage at the end of the day, and she had trouble getting all the children to let go of her hands when it was time to leave!

At last! Time for some CAMERA ACTION! Ms. Bottoms, Ms. Hartmon, Erin, and Peter rounded all of us in the background of our little compound, then let us loose around the house! Everyone got some really fantastic photos of the giant sunflower patch, and we all stole a few pictures of passing children outside the gate. :) Later, we all chose our top ten pictures to download onto Erin and Peter’s external hard drive along with all the pictures we took for the day. I’m so happy that all my pictures are safe, saved in my computer and the leaders’ hard drive!

Mashed potatoes, rice, and beef stew--yeah, dinner the second night was good! After dinner, we all gathered around the campfire outside and learned about our responsibilities at our house. I was assigned to be in a group with Kylee and Kevin, and we learned we were on the cleaning room for tomorrow and the cooking crew the next day. How fun!

Ah, but what sucked was when I got into my bed, my lower back started hurting really badly. I could barely move, but I tried to do some stretches for my back.

June 14

The whole sleep situation was better last night. I slept well except for a weird dream I had in which I was in my bed, but I had to take pictures of people walking past and say “Asante!” Because I was in my bed during my dream, I couldn’t really tell if I was awake or asleep. Oh, but my back didn’t hurt as much when I woke up. It just felt kind of sore.

Breakfast consisted of eggs and pancakes again, and I was so tired I can’t really remember what happened during breakfast except that I used one of my koolaid packets in my water. Delicious!

Morning cleaning crew was fun. When it comes to depositing waste, “when it’s yellow, let it mellow. When it’s brown, flush it down.” We also can’t put toilet paper in the toilet--we have to put them in trash bags in the stalls. So you can imagine how fun cleaning was. When we dumped our trash in the hole in the backyard, Kevin had a nice surprise in his...tampons!

Today was the day that we started working on the irrigation system! What we pretty much had to do was dig a long, long ditch. The walk up to the starting point was at least a mile, maybe two, and it was tiring in the African heat! I became master of the shovel--the pickaxe doesn’t really do it for me. Honestly, we Americans could not hold a candle to the work the natives did. They could dig! But even with us slowing them down, we accomplished a lot before lunch time. AND all the exercising healed my back!

I found my new favorite sandwich! For lunch, I ate an avocado and cheese sandwich, which was just so good.

After lunch, we had another Swahili lesson, during which we learned a song: Simama kaa! Simama kaa! Rooka Rooka Rooka! Simama Kaa! (Stand up, Sit down. Stand up, sit down. Jump Jump Jump! Stand up, sit down.

Working on the irrigation system after lunch was just tiring, but Erin and Peter brought us a great surprise when we finished--soda! I enjoyed a coke in one of those old fashioned bottles, and the pure cane sugar was perfect.

We took pictures out in the village while the lighting was still good (even though we were all disgustingly dirty from digging all day). But once again, all didn’t turn our well for Lindsey! About halfway through my picture taking, my camera wouldn’t take pictures anymore. I looked down and read “CF Error.” My 16 Gb Cf card wasn’t working! I quickly switched it with my 2 gig, but I could only get about 30 more pictures in the waning light. I showed my camera to Peter, and he established that the problem was that I didn’t format the CF card in my camera after I bought it. Before we could fix it, though, it was time for dinner.

Dinner consisted of pasta; bananas that tasted like potatoes, paired with gravy; and this fried wonton beef pastry that was amazing.

Peter then formatted my Cf card in his camera, and later had me format it in mine, and it started working again! Alas, I lost all my pictures I had taken earlier that day, but I’m happy that I can still use my massive memory card! Picking my top ten was difficult with so little choices, but I managed.

So what could be more complicated than fixing a camera error without the power of Google? Brushing my teeth. We can’t put the tap water into our mouth, so we have to use our water bottles for this activity. In my left hand: toothbrush case, toothbrush, retainer, retainer case. In the other hand: water bottle and toothpaste. I have to somehow juggle brushing my teeth; brushing my retainer; and rinsing my mouth, toothbrush, and retainer while having virtually no counter space. It’s a challenge every time.

June 15

I had the same dream as the night before! Once again, I had to take pictures of people from my bed. Then we all got up and walked around the town. I kept asking, “Should I be asleep?” and Ms. Bottoms kept replying, “Naw.” I didn’t sleep through the whole night--I woke up at 2:30, and then at 3:30--but I slept better than I had the other nights. The sleeping bag and mosquito net aren’t as big a deal now. I’m so happy I’m gettting used to them!

I was a part of the cooking crew today! Kylee and Kevin and I had to wake up at six to start cooking at six thirty. We didn’t want to make eggs and pancakes again, so I came up with the idea of cucumber and tomato omelets, and Kevin came up with the idea of banana pancakes. We worked hard, and even enlisted Cade to help, but we finished and it was delicious!

We worked on the irrigation system today, and the pipe crossed the street into the jungle! So, we ended up taking a short cut. I didn’t really work in the morning, but just ran around with my camera, trying to make up for the pictures I missed yesterday. I got some cool shots of the pants, then I worked a little bit before we left.

For lunch I had the delicious avocado and cheese sandwich again, then it was time for our last Swahili lesson! I was so exhausted from working today that I kept on dozing off during the lesson. (Whoops). Nevertheless, I still learned some more Swahili!

Before we left to go work on our ditch again, Peter and Erin gave us some good news: We only had to work for an hour more! The other National Geographic groups coming after us will finish the irrigation system. It will probably be done in August.

Most of the boys went with Peter and Erin in their Jeep to bring pipe up to put in the ditches.

On our way up the hill to our ditch, a drunk guy started talking to us. We didn’t have Peter to translate, so he kept following us all the way up to where we were working. Once there, he took a shovel himself and started digging. It was scary at first, but once I saw that he just wanted to help, I relaxed. Working was easier when I knew that I only had to work for an hour, so the time flew. Once we were done, we went up to where we started the trench to see our progress (we had dug a lot!). Then we had to walk allll the way home by ourselves (Peter and Erin were taking the Jeep back, and our teachers were going to Mama Rose’s--their new friend’s--house) with the drunk guy behind us. We power walked the entire time, and made it home safely. The drunk guy stopped along the way.

There wqs a fight for the showers, which I didn’t participate in. I just worked on my blog until these drumming women came.

They were outside in the front of our house, dancing in a circle and chanting. One lady had drums, one had a tambourine, and one was in a headdress, jumping around to jingle the bells on her legs. We all took so many pictures, and it was fun.

After the drumming women left, it was dinner time! The boys and girls from the school we’ll be staying at for the last few days arrived to eat with us. Lexi and Camryn did some cheers for them, which majorly broke the ice.

Dinner was fun, and we got the yummy tortilla things from the first night again. Yum! The guy I sat next to, Ernest, told us he was a singer, and we persuaded him to sing for us. When he performed, he rapped! He was a rapper! Sarah got everything on video. I showed Ernest the collage I made, and he loved it.

After they left, it was shower time!! The cold showers were hard to get used to, but Betty in the shower next to mine convinced me to “just give in.” So I did! It feels amazing being clean.

Campfire time was next. I brought my tripod out and got some fly pictures of the fire. Peter and Erin told us that today we’ll be going to Arusha tomorrow to update our blogs and visit a Leprosy hospital.

We then worked on choosing our top ten pictures and blogging for the rest of the night. I wasn’t able to finish my blog, so I’m working on it now, the morning of June 16. I just wanted to say that I had a weird dream last night that aliens invade the United States and I had to show them how computers worked at my beach house. But the good news is that I slept through the whole night! And now I’m done with my blog! I love you guys for reading! :) Mom, Dad, Michael, John, and Sam, hello! I’m having a wonderful time!

P.S. Jambo Rafikis means hello, friends :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Magi ya Chai

I had four pages of blogs on a flash drive, but this internet cafe computer won't take this flash drive. So if you don't hear from the others, its because we're all having computer issues. Fun.

Everything is so beautiful here! I love the leaders, Peter and Erin, and our guards, Dominic, Munissi, and Babu are so fun. Munissi is a natural model!

Everything is so full of life! The soil is dark and rich, which makes all the fruits and veggies delicious. The avocados here are huge and fantastic.

All the children in our village, Magi ya Chai, are so adorable. They see Musangos (white people) and yell out "Picture! Picture!" They love having us here.

I've learned a lot of Swahili so far: Jambo (hello), Asante (thank you), punga (donkey) ntoto (child), wetoto (children), pica picture! (take a picture), paley (I'm sorry), Shikamoo (which is a sign of respect you give to Mamas or Babas (Moms or Dads)) and a lot of other things, including a song!

We all have to sleep on a sleeping bag on the beds, with a mosquito net around us so we don't get bitten during the night. It was hard to sleep at first, getting used to the time zone, and I have gotten up in the middle of the night to pee a lot. The Malaria pills speed up the excretion cycle. :P But last night I actually slept through the whole night, even with my roommates snoring up a storm and the bugs buzzing around my head.

The computer found my blogs! But I'll post this anyway. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Collage!

As our first Photoshop project, our class made a collage with images that represent us. In Africa, if anyone wants to know more about us and our family, we can show them the collage we made! :) Here's a copy of my collage.

Friday is Quickly Approaching!

With Friday coming up almost too quickly, I'd like to say thank you to the people who made this trip possible for me!!

First, I'd like to thank Pops and Uncle Richard for paying for the trip. I've always been jealous of how much my grandfather gets to travel--he's been to both Egypt and Venice in the past year alone! (I think he's in Venice right now). Now I don't have to be jealous because I'm going to Africa! :)

Secondly, I'd like to thank my mom for paying for all the supplies (like the $200 camera lens. Love you!) and helping me get organized. Yes, you were right about the backpack!

Today's the last day of class. We'll be finishing up a photo collage of ourselves to show to anyone who wants to know more about us in Africa. We'll also be finishing up our camera lessons. By today I'll hopefully know everything about shutter speed, aperture, and iso. Or at least I'll know more than when I started.

We're also going on a hike around the neighborhood with our cameras. This is practice for the miles of walking we'll be doing in Africa. I need to get my hiking boots sufficiently broken in before then, or we might have a few problems!

Before I go, I would like to thank my whole family for being so supportive and helpful. I love y'all!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Turtle Power

This is a picture of Tim, my turtle! :) I hope he doesn't miss me too much when I'm gone.

In addition to Tim, my family has a fish named Joey and three hermit crabs--Nemo, Harmony, and Bug.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Before My Africa Trip

I will be documenting my trip to Tanzania that I'm taking through National Geographic and with other students.

Before we leave, we have to learn how to use all the new Adobe software on our computers! I'm really excited--I've always wanted to learn how to use Photoshop.

Hopefully I'll be completely prepared before we leave on Friday!