Monday, April 30, 2012

Nairobi- My Closest Thing to America

Travel time: 45 minutes on a pikipiki (motorcycle)to Karatu… 3 hours on a NOAH (small crammed bus) from Karatu to Arusha… then around 6 hours to Nairobi depending on how long they want to made you wait at the border. 

My trip!
  • Met an engineer for Serengeti Beer who told me to drink responsibly…. and write a book.
  • Met Tyler at Silver Springs bus stop/ hotel because we thought it sounded the prettiest.  Too expensive, so stayed in a hostel…but still pretty.
  • Friday- Met Mr. Bob Arnot (Tyler's uncle) at the Fairmont Hotel (fanciful). Had a margarita pizza. white wine, and watched slideshows of Bob in the Congo with AK 47's, and terrorist leaders- crazy guy.
  • Tyler and I followed Bob and his film crew to a village outside Nairobi that is sponorsed by Feed My Starving Children. It is the only food these children recieve- a rice meal- three times a day. At night they sleep in their classrooms and share the few mattresses that they have. 

  • Went out Friday night and ate traditional cheap African food. Ugali, mboga, and wynama choma (burnt animal-didnt eat that). Saw an Ethiopian dance for the first time- their 'go-to' dance move is violently shaking their shoulders. Made friends.
  • Saturday- Wandered around Nairobi is search of a bagel…. and success!! This day I ate a bagel egg sandwich, strawberry smoothie (where the strawberries came from, I have no idea), cafe latte, cafe mocha, spring rolls, and ETHIOPIAN FOOD!! My new favorite food EVER! I will call this eating day.

  • Sunday morning I left from Silver Springs, and Tyler flew to Kampala. I am back home at RVCV without experiencing any terrorist attacks! Wahoo!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Happy Holidays!

So today is a Tanzanian holiday! Yeah! No school! It is called Union Day which commemorates the unification of Zanzibar and Tanganyika with Tanzania.

So what has been happening at RVCV...

RAIN RAIN RAIN! It has rained almost everyday this week. Because I teach gym, life becomes a little more interesting when we have to stay inside. There is no 'rec hall' so we just stay in their classroom. This week I have been playing the highlights of the Champions Cup (soccer) the first few minutes of class on my computer and then indoor games. If anyone knows of any sweet indoor game ideas which don't need supplies, let me know!! (I am starting to exhaust heads up 7 up, 4 corners, limbo etc....)

Last weekend I had a 'sleepover' in Tarengerie House (all boys house where I live.) They always sleep together anyway but for officially sleepovers we bring all their mattresses out in the living room and eat popcorn and watch movies. We watched Happy Feet first. I never realized this but the main penguin's name is Mambo. Mambo means, "Whats up?" in Swahili. He also dances similar to a local dance here called Kiduku. The mamas in house LOVED the movie. Tanzania and Happy Feet...who knew. The second movie was Material Girls...yes the boys wanted to watch a horrible girly movie. They loved it.

So now I am sitting in Arusha waiting for the shuttle to Nairobi. Last night I made a very last minute plan to meet up with a friend. He flew into South Sudan a few days ago, and the day he landed, war was declared by Sudan. So they flew him back out and went to Nairobi. So because it is a holiday today, and I heard you can get bagels in Nairobi...and Tyler is there haha....I will arrive in Nairobi tonight!

Tyler was planning on staying in South Sudan to visit children he sponsors through an NGO he started. Check it out!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Back home!

My Standard 7 class!

 Joshua- in the middle...this is always how happy he is all the time....LOVES LIFE!!

 The sun is bright!! And you are way too close!

 Mwalimu Lucy and the students!

Reggie asked for this picture...

We are so cool we wear jerseys on our heads... 

...or because they are just too big. 

Awali- Kindergarten class 

The twins! 
Jacklina and I rockin' out! 

Kilimanjaro Part 2

Read after post below!!

Day 6: Everything, and I mean everything is wet. I have never slept better in a wet sleeping bag in my life. We woke up with only 3 more hours of hiking! It is amazing how it took us 4 days to get up and 8 hours down! Now that Karen was feeling more alive, I think she filmed the whole day. From ant wars, to monkeys in the jungle. We have it on tape! Karen filmed the whole time she was here so I can't wait to see it all! We did our final sign out for the mountain and walked to the little village. We piled back in the same bus and they sang Kili songs on the way back into Moshi. It was sad to say goodbye to Brian, Bobalu, all the porters. We became such a family on the mountain. I will never ever forget that experience.

We got back to Tengeru (outside Arusha where Peace Matunda is) got a coke, got invited to a wedding (at the same time) and then threw our horrible smelling things all over our room. Excuse me for my language but we smelled like "duck ass" Day 5 and 6 after our down sleeping bags got wet. We showered….oh the glorious shower…had some gin, and then got in a car with Bella and Conelli (he did not have gin-our driver) and headed off for Pangani.

Very African…they told us it takes 3 hours to get to Pangani, 7 hours later we arrived…the same day we got off Kili! We woke up the owner at 1 in the morning and just hope we were next to the ocean, and they had a room. Lucky my sad face got us a room for $30/night. When we woke up we were on the Indian Ocean. We had octopus (hard to get in TZ I guess) in soup. Supposedly it can give you the feeling of having wings…oh boy. So we spent a wonderful 2 days on the beach, got some sunburn, got dry sleep, and then headed back for Peace Matunda. The next day I had to go back to school and Karen had to catch her flight. 

We did it all!! RVCV, Ngorogoro, Kili, Pangani…could't have asked for a better vacation. Thank you so much for coming Karen and experiencing African life!


OK OK, I have been terrible at blogging this month. Blogging is not one of my strong suits but I need to tell you about Kili!!!

So here is what happened:

Karen and I get on a bus to take us to Machame which is the route we choose to climb. Machame is in Moshi, east of Arusha. When we got on the bus it was full of 12 men and 1 white guy. We soon found out 10 of these men were our porters, plus 1 cook, plus 1 of their guides (Bobalu) and the white guy was going to hike with us. His name was Brian and was volunteering as a resident doctor in Moshi for 6 weeks. I think he is in Paris now...lucky duck!

So when we got the the mountain it was me, Karen, Bella (our guide), Bobalu, (the other guide), Brian, and all the porters. Together we were a group of 16, just so three of us could make it to the top!! I felt lazy already. 

Day 1: No signing our lives away. No waivers in Africa! Love it! We starting hiking through what I will call 'jungle zone'. Hiked about 5 hours. It was so green and lush. It rained on us a bit. Unfortunately I speak a bit of Swahili and heard the guides said, "Mvua...kila siku"....that means, "Rain...everyday." Doomed... That night we had fish for dinner!!! They set up a separate dining tent for us every night, with appetizers of nuts or popcorn and hot drinks with dinner and fruit after. I think I gained weight on this trip...really.

**Quick note. Everyday the porters left after us because they had to clean up camp. They then passed us during the day and by the time we reached the next camp, everything was set up again and snacks awaited us. Luxury I tell you!

Day 2: I will call this day, a nice hike in New England. The trail was more rock faces and short shrubs...think top of Mansfield. We only hiked 3.5 hours this day to "The Caves." The Caves were just one little cave but it WAS A CAVE! So it was only day 2 and I woke up that night PUKING! I blame a questionable egg. Karen had similarly problems...because of the egg! I thought my climb was doomed, puking on night of day two. Thank you Momma Theresa (trail name for Karen) who had every medicine possible for the trip to make me feel better.

Day 3: A tiny bit of sun. We passed these girls from Norway I think, without sunscreen so of course Mother Theresa saved them with our extra sunscreen. Brian also received some serious blister thingys from her as well. Brian and I would have been out of luck with Karen!! Day three we traveled to Lava Tower and then descended back down a bit because of the elevation. Lava tower was a large rock (kinda like pride rock from Lion King but straight up.) What I REALLY remember about Lava Rock and all the subsequent camps was PANYA MNENE....this means fat mice. Oh man were they the fattest little mice I have every seen!! Their bellies drug against the ground while waddling to steal your food. I don't like mice, and glutinous mice...ugh, detest even more!! 

Day 4: We awoke to a beautiful view of Mt Meru when the sun rose and we began day 4. We left the lovely bathrooms behind (white tile....fabulous) to start climbing to the top. We climbed up a rock face for about an hour (probably the most technical part of it all.) Once we were finished the rock face we found out one of the porters (not our group's) fell off and broke his face. We saw him later WALKING DOWN with a bandaged face. No healthcare coverage and he probably won't get paid, extremely sad. So we continued walking for 5 more hours. Had dinner at 'base camp to summit" and slept for about 3 woken up at 10 30pm, left camp at 11 30pm and started what I call DEATH WALK.

Day 5: I would say death walk because after 6 hours of hiking that day, and few hours rest, we walked another 7 hours in the dark to the summit. I thought Karen turned into a zombie...dragging her feet like there was lead in them, every step. BUT she didn't stop! We saw one of the coolest things I have ever seen and did not realize even existed...a MOON-BOW!! It was incredible. Too bad we were all too tired, frozen, and mentally drunk to take a picture. We got to the summit just as the sun came up. Karen through ashes of her friend that passed, cried. I cried the second I made it. Ryan was here. Ryan was at that very spot, admiring what I think is one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. The closest thing to what I picture Antarctica to be like. We took pictures, until I couldn't move my finger enough to push the button and twenty minutes later, starting descending. I remember Brian saying he felt like it was the worst hang over of his life. I remember Karen not speaking at all, and I was SOOOOOO excited to see snow I started a serious snowball war mid-hike. On the way down I RAN. Two hours later we returned to base camp. Took a 1 hour nap, ate, and hiked ANOTHER 3 hours hiking in a day and a half... 18 hours. Forgot to mention the last three hours down it POURED and we walked down in a river. The rain soaked through 4 layers!!! I started singing to the guide to stay san.

OK I am late for school but will finish Day 6/ Pangani later!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

18 days of awesome!

So much has happened since Karen arrived in March so here is the breakdown...bullet points might be the easiest way to do this..
  • Karen arrived into Kilimanjaro airport and quickly learned of how people here will rip you off if your white. After $250 went into someone's pocket (not the government's), she was let into Tanzania.
  • I met up with Karen in Karatu the next night and realized I forgot to explain the currency, so when she took out money- 10,000tsh which the driver said was, "A very big bill" I explain that yes it is the largest bill but only worth $7. So to take out $7 she probably spent $5 in fees. Ah!
  • The next day we took a taxi back up into the hills of Rifty Valley. Karen spent three days here playing non-stop with the kids. She even helped teach preschool the very important letters Y and Z.
  • We then left for the Ngorogoro Crater with Dottie for the day. We were so close to a young male lion we could have touched it. It was a beautiful day!
  • That night we drove to Peace Matunda in Tangaru outside of Arusha. Peace Matunda is the orphanage and school that we climbed Kilimanjaro with. So we had one day to spend with the kids there...they are all amazing. The orphanage is TZ owned and much younger. It has a fun spirit. We roasted marshmallows and had a dance party.
Must go to school but more later!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quick Picture Update!

Karen and I at RVCV!
Ngorogoro Crater!
Day 1- Kilimanjaro
Made it!
Why we made it...
Pangani on the Indian Ocean to rest after Kili.