Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lions and Zebras and Scorpions. Oh my!

June 16

Today we went to the leprosy center to visit some of the victims of the disease. Most of us were a bit concerned with what we were going to see because we, or I at least, thought people would be sick in beds. When we got there, a man greeted us outside the gate with a huge smile and a handshake. He was missing all 10 of his fingers. The nun that was showing us around told us that he was doing very well, so that’s when I got really nervous to see what “bad” meant. We walked through the gates and a lot of old people were sitting outside, all full of smiles. I talked to a lot of the people, or attempted to, in Swahili. They were really sweet people and I took a lot of pictures and a lot of them turned out literally amazing! I’m actually shocked at some of the pictures I took!

After the center, we went to update our blogs about 15 minutes away from “home.” When we got back, we ate lunch really quickly and then went to the dairy farm for half an hour which didn’t really interest me at all. We came back to meet our new friends from a school around here. They are 6 students around our ages that are learning to speak English, and a lot of them speak fairly well for a Swahili speaker. We walked down the road to take pictures of random people once again, which was fun of course just to learn more Swahili, take more pictures, and meet new people. We ate dinner after roaming the streets, where 2 of the guys had a “rap battle” which was pretty cool. Too bad none of us knew what they were saying since it was all Swahili. We then worked on our photos on our computers and I’m about to go to bed just now.

We have an on assignment project where we choose something that interests us about anything here. You can literally choose anything that you can take pictures of and explain what and why you took the photo. I chose to focus my project on teeth. The smiles here are all different. I’ve yet to find out information about why some people have perfect teeth and some people’s teeth are yellow, cracked, or non-existent.

June 17
I saw Mt. Kili yesterday for the first time. Supposedly that’s pretty rare because they clouds usually cover the view.

We walked around the village for 3 hours this morning. I went with Kylee, Travis, and our new friends Nehema and Ernest. We ended up at Mcalla’s (our Swahili teacher) house and his daughter, dada Marsha showed us around; we didn’t realize it was her and Mcalla’s house until we left though (we felt pretty stupid). We then went to the CCF (Children for Children’s Future) orphanage. They had a cute puppy there so I took some pictures of that because most of the children weren’t there because they are allowed to go out during the day to play I assume.

We stopped at a hotel resort on the way to the market in Arusha this afternoon. It made me so happy to be able to go the the bathroom and be able to flush the toilet paper down.

The market reminded me exactly like the market I went to in December in Bolivia. People come up to you with handfuls of random stuff to sell you for at least 3 times the price, especially to mzungus (white people). Some guy was trying to sell me and Cade a painting for a bunch of money, and we kept saying no. So he tried to become our friend so we’d buy it. Me and Cade started making up lies; Cade ended up being my baba (dad) which I thought was incredibly funny. The guy was just really gullible. We then walked to the Maasai market a few blocks down the road where all the good bargains were. After buying a few bracelets, I realized I wasn’t holding my bag that had everything I had bought so far. Turns out Mrs. Bottoms had it because she had taken a picture of me earlier bargaining and held my bag for the picture, but I completely forgot. So that was a waste of worrying.
After all our shopping, we went to eat at a restaurant that had pizza and BBQ type food. It ended up taking over 2 hours- literally the slowest service I’ve ever had. Not to mention the power went out twice because they run off a generator. But while we waited for the food when we got power, we watched the World Cup.
Random facts:
I hate hugging people here that are taller then me because they don’t know what deodorant is. They also don’t have much soap/body wash I assume.

Instead of squirrels, Tanzania has chickens that roam around everywhere. Cows, goats also roam around grazing. Some of them are owned though. Donkeys are used to carry gallons of water from where the water is to where homes are.

June 18

I started the day waking up late because no one heard the alarm. On the way to breakfast, Peter was heating water outside on some coal. Something exploded and a fireball flew to his face and burned some of his eyebrows, eyelashes, and hair. Ouch. When breakfast was over we were told we had an hour to get dressed and ready to go. But then our bus arrived early so we only had like 30 minutes. So I rushed.

We visited the orphanage for a couple hours and played with the children and took a lot of pictures of and with them. A game of soccer was started so I took some pictures of it and then I joined to play for a little while. After bonding with the children, we were told it was time to leave, which was pretty upsetting.
From there, we went to another food market. When we arrived, there were cows, goats, donkeys, and any other edible food with legs. The people there were not nice at all so we had to “steal” our photos. Basically, that just means you hold your camera casually to your side and just take pictures without looking. We also ate at the market; we had beans, rice, beef stew, and soda. Before leaving, Erin and Peter went to buy 2 goats for sacrifice at a dinner in the future. Umm… ew? We all stayed behind at the bus waiting for them to get back. While waiting, at least 40 Africans gathered around us, literally surrounding us in a circle. They were just interested in us Mzungus I guess. But anyways, they kept staring at our bags and cameras so we had to wear our backpacks on the front and be really careful about who was standing next to us. We got the goats and they threw them in the trunk of the bus which was pretty sad and then we left.

On the way to the waterfall, me and 4 other girls had to use the restroom so we went when we stopped for gas. The bathroom was a hole in the ground with a wooden door for “privacy” and it wasn’t a great experience. I would have rather used a tree.

The waterfall trip was probably the most stressful situation of my life. The uphill road was REALLY bumpy. The bus started slowing down while attempting to get up the first big hill. When it slowed to a stop, the driver put it in reverse so he could back up and get more momentum to get up the rest of the hill. It didn’t work. Everyone ended up getting out of the bus and pushing it up the hill. And since there were more hills up ahead, the driver kept going so we had to walk like ¼ mile to get back on the bus. That happened another 3 or 4 times. Ridiculous. A few times, only a few people had to get out and push and I was one of them; we had to jump into the moving vehicle once it got started with momentum. After over an hour of driving, pushing, and walking, the bus got stuck once again. And we just decided to walk from there all uphill. It was probably a mile or so and I lost my breath a few times considering my legs are so short and I was trying to keep up. After the hike up the hill, we reached the waterfall and only stayed there for like 20 minutes taking photos and appreciating the long walk. We hiked back down the mountain and hopped onto the bus that had been waiting for us all that time. We started to drive, slowly as usual due to the bumps, but there was one uphill drive we had to make right away. The driver floored the gas and we started flying up the hill. How did that work out? Well, the bus fell into a ditch and thankfully only tipped like 45 degrees because trees caught the bus’s fall. Thankfully, no one was hurt too badly, but I had flown out of my seat across the isle right into Cade’s lap. We all climbed out the driver’s seat door, along with some people climbing out the windows. We stood back as some of the local men helped push the bus back onto all of its tires. After a lot of pushing, the bus was back onto the road and we started our journey home, again. Every time we hit a rough patch though, I got really nervous. Long day.

June 19

We were all excited to be able to sleep in until 7 today. We were supposed to go on a big hike after breakfast until late afternoon, but since all of the hiking and chaos yesterday, Peter and Erin decided we could just have a chill day and take pictures around the area. So we ate breakfast and then came back to the room to work on our computers, editing pictures and blogging. As my computer started losing battery, almost to the point where it was out, I decided to charge it, but the power went out. Great. We were told that we needed to have everything completely charged by tomorrow when we left the house for safari. So I had a dead computer, 1 dead camera battery, and my other camera battery was half full. Since I couldn’t do anything, I took a nap for like 45 minutes. When I woke up, we were told that the goats were about to be sacrificed so the meal for tonight’s party could be prepared. So everyone who was still at the house went outside with their cameras and we all watched Babu and Mcalla slaughter the 2 goats by slitting their throats. It was the grossest sight of my life. But I ended up taking over 200 pictures throughout the killing process. Supposedly the goats were dead when we all saw them both start twitching, but they said it was just their nerves. It was heartbreaking because it looked like they were alive and suffering with their blood pouring out of their necks. When the goats were actually dead, they started to skin them and after a few minutes of that I decided to leave because it was just too much for me to handle. I took a shower and then we were told we had an hour to pack for safari because everything that we wouldn’t be taking was going to be taken to the place we would stay after the safari. So we packed and cleaned the house. I walked outside to the guys cooking the goats outside on the campfire. They offered me some to eat but I declined even though it was completely disrespectful. I think I’m a vegetarian now.

June 20
We drove 8 hours to the safari area in a World War II Nazi jeep. We had to stop multiple times to “check the tires” behind trees. Simon, our driver, spotted a dead wildabeast being eaten by hawks so we drove over there and got out of the jeep to take pictures. Our guide Killeri decided to take some of the meat so we could have it for dinner. I ended up trying a piece and almost threw up, but everyone else liked it. While driving, we also saw and took many pictures of gazelles, zebras, ostriches, and giraffes. We also stopped when we saw a snake in the road that turned out to be dead. So we all took turns holding it for a photo opp. We got to the campsite around 7:30 where we unloaded the “MAN truck” and then ate dinner which was pretty tasty, minus the wildabeast meat. Falling asleep was really easy that night. I was exhausted.

June 21

We climbed a mountain today. It took around 4 hours, maybe more, but it was pretty cool to get to the top to see the sight. On the way up, we spotted at least 20 baboons running around exactly where our destination was. We kept climbing until we reached a cave that we had to climb through. There was no bottom so we had to use the walls on either side, straddling until we got through. It was really, really scary and hard because of my short legs. Finally we reached the top after hours of climbing and it was a huge relief. After taking pictures, we headed back down to go back to camp for lunch- hotdogs. Then we took a nap. And I wrote this.

June 22

We went on a pointless 4 hour walk today to hopefully spot some animals but only ended up seeing like 2 giraffes and some impalas. I’m really glad we’re done with all of the walking because now it’s all safari.
June 23-24

We saw a lot of animals on the actual driving safaris; elephants, giraffes, zebras, impalas, baboons, monkeys, colorful birds, and a bunch of others. There was a leopard in a tree really far away so it doesn’t count much. We got charged by a baby elephant a couple of times which was really cute.

June 25

Today we went to the Ngorongoro caldera/crater on a safari all day. In my jeep was me, Erin, Sarah, Kevin, Lexie, Killerai, and our driver. The first animal we saw was a jackal and it was carrying a piece of raw meet obviously from a fresh kill. Then we saw every zebra and their brothers on every side of the car as we drove; that happened all day. Wildebeests were everywhere, along with buffalos and gazelles but those didn’t really interest me again since they were so common. After an hour or so of driving, we spotted a line of at least 20 jeeps so we drove over to the spot and saw that a lion had killed a zebra and was eating it. We literally waited an hour until we were close enough to capture the moment for like 15 minutes and the lion enjoyed eating the zebra’s face and neck first. After leaving so others could see, one of our other jeeps called Killerai saying they had spotted cheetahs so we drove over to that location where only 5-7 cars had pulled over to look. As we pulled up, I saw one of the cheetahs run with another following it. We halted to a stop but I had lost vision of the animals because they had gone and laid down behind a lot of brush. The hill they were on was all grass and brush with only a few big noticeable rocks. Erin had the most trouble spotting the animals so we all tried explaining by saying, “Okay, you see that black rock over there? Go like 10 meters at like 5 o’clock angle and the cheetahs are in the bush.” She couldn’t find them. After everyone in the car tried to explain to her where they were, with literally the exact same explanations, we decided to move the car to get a different angle. By only moving like 50 feet, we had a new explanation to giver Erin, “You see those white rocks below the black ones?” She saw them. “Okay, those are the cheetahs.” I guess you really had to be there because the moment was hilarious. For lunch, the group met up at a “picnic area” where many people stopped to relax, eat, and use the restrooms. While there, we spotted a bunch of hippos pretty far out in the pond we were next to. My lens didn’t reach for a good photo. Anyways, we left the spot and kept driving and passed the same old animal species we had spotted so many times before. There was another very small pond that we passed that had 4 hippos and a baby hippo in it. The baby was incredibly small and we were told it was no more then a couple of weeks old. One of the adult hippos was playing and rolling in circles in the water. So we took photos of that and then kept driving. We came up to a hyena that was lying in the sand motionless so we made a noise and it cranked his head up. Sadly, we noticed it had many bite marks and was dying right then. Of course, I wanted to take pictures of it, but everyone else in my car thought it was rude because it was dying which I don’t really understand because we’re on a photo safari. So they refused to take pictures of it while I had about a minute to get a good couple of pictures. I didn’t end up liking any of the pictures I took of it though but oh well. A few jeeps passed us as we were at the dead hyena so we followed them and ended up spotting 4 lions sleeping by a pond. Only 1 was male but it was the only male we had seen on the entire trip so it was definitely exciting. Too bad it was pretty far away though because once again, my lens couldn’t reach it well enough for a good photo. On the way out of the crater, we saw an elephant and a lot of baboons. Of course, baboons being as funny as they are, make great pictures so we stopped to take some. The babies were all playing and chasing each other up and down trees, which was really fun to watch and made really cute pictures. So then we left and drove back to our campsite. When we arrived, we were told that another group of students from an international school in Switzerland would be staying and sharing the campsite and bathrooms with us. I didn’t talk to them though. But what I did do was take my first warm shower of the trip and it was AMAZING. Even though it was on a cement ground with bugs and all.
[[I didn’t write about this earlier because I don’t know when it was, but Massimo, a National Geographic photographer, came to teach us for 2 days on safari. He’s an awesome guy with great tips on photography.]]
So anyways, that night Massimo critiqued us on our top 5 photos of the day and it took over 2 hours to go through every ones and we didn’t even finish until the morning.

June 26

I was woken up by the Swiss students being really loud around 6AM which really made me mad because we were allowed to sleep until 7AM which was like a privilege due to the previous 5AM or 6AM wake up calls by Killerai sounding like a rooster and screaming “Good morning!!!” We ate and packed up and started our 4ish hour drive back to the area where Maji ya Chai is because we’re staying at a school pretty close to there. We stopped in Arusha for about an hour to shop back at the Masai market which was once again really overwhelming. I didn’t buy too much so I still have a lot of money left over and I want to buy some tanzanite but I’m not sure where or how to get it. Oh well.
We got the the house around 6:30 PM and we unloaded the huge truck and played with the children of the school for like an hour while some of us watched Korea play Uruguay in the World Cup. Dinner was amazing; tortillas with beef, beans, cheese, BBQ sauce etc. I believe it was all home made by one of the students and it was so good! We had a really chill night for the first time. By 8:00 we had nothing to do so we could blog or basically do anything else. The school we are staying at is so incredibly nice compared to what we used to have. There are 2 bunk beds per room so I’m sharing with Lindsey and we have so much space for our stuff. We can walk around without bending over (like in our tents) and we only have to share a bathroom that has a shower with 2 Kylee and Camryn. It’s such a good feeling. We can shower and walk from the bathroom to the room in our towels which is nice because we used to have to change in the shower and our clothes would be wet.

June 27

We finally got to sleep in until 8. We then ate and took a tour of the school. A few students taught us an African song and dance that we did for probably an hour which was pretty tiring. So we taught them the Cupid Shuffle. They have a store in the school so all of the girls bought pants or got them custom made. And I think we’re all going to wear them to the airport.
Oh yeah, I woke up without a voice because I’m sick.
The day isn’t over so I’ll post again later.

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