October 10, 2009
Still on the road…though at least it is now somewhat paved. Rachel R., who is sitting next to me reading my Tanzania Lonely Planet Guide (hopefully planning fun adventures for us in Arusha) estimates we are a touch more than halfway through the eight or nine or trip that has already had several diversions, including more than one slightly frightening drive the bus into the ditch incident and a long wait at the gas station first for gas, then for all of us to use the bathroom (several of the guys and some of the girls, myself included simply gave up and went to the nearby field…), then a stop for lunch, which was very much needed. Every one seems to be in a much better mood after a tuna sandwich or two!
I realized now that I’ve neglected to write a post that includes a list of excellent things lately, so here is one to make up for that, of all of the things that I should have mentioned previously that are either funny or interesting or just plain awesome.
1. Rachel R. and Lydia were the best banda-mates ever! They even let me sing along to my iPod as loud as I wanted to and in fact Lydia even joined in on more than one occasion, most notably when I was sitting in the baanda entering data and she was in the nearby outdoor shower and we performed both “Part of Your World” and “A Whole New World”.
2. I have a skinned knee from my run with Laila the other morning. A tree root jumped up out of nowhere, grabbed my ankle and yanked me down into the sand. It happens. Seriously. East African tree roots can be deadly.
3. According to Anton (he saw it on the news with his host family in Riruta), the going rate for a an AK-47 in war torn areas of sub-Saharan Africa is currently two cows.
4. We had lunch at a campsite along the Pangani River. Lisa Clifton told us to go look at the river but beware of crocodiles. We did not see any (it is bad that I’m a little disappointed?).
5. The BAF was definitely a barracuda. I looked it up in several fish books and the pictures were nearly identical. Ken took some pictures of it, so I will try to see if I can post one at some point so you will all understand that I’m not being a total wimp when I say that I found this particular aquatic acquaintance to be more than a bit intimidating. The biggest of the fish books described barracuda as being prized game for sport fisherman because of their incredible viciousness when hooked, though it did say they were not like to be “man eaters” unless “provoked or molested”. Good thing I’m not in the habit of provoking or molesting large, predatory creatures!
6. The L+C wanafunzi bus has probably consumed at least 100 cookies already and the journey is far from over.
7. Anton kindly lent me another book. (My insatiable appetite for the written word has already become concerning to some members of the group). It is all about Ghengis Khan and the Mongolian empire, so I’m currently reading about the most fearsome cavalry that ever lived and lots of people dying by being “axed to death”. Cheery, uplifting stuff, you know a little light reading for the road!
8. Elly was desperate enough for a book that she took one of my sci-fi titles “Clockwork World” by Phillip K Dick, to read. I will convert the rest of the students into spec fic reading nerds by the end of the trip, I swear it!
9. Sadly, #8 does not likely apply to my good friend and frequent roommate Rachel. I think for every book I read, she might read a page. However, I like to talk about books I’ve just read, so she seems to like that I read it and then just tell her everything that happened.
10. Miles kept a little stubble this week and is now being referred to as either “Grizzly” or “Tin Tin” by the rest of the group.
11. Kirsten (the German lady from the diver center), told me all about the turtle project she is currently working on. Maziwe, the protected reef currently has a sandbar, but it used to be an actual island. 30-40 years ago it was the ideal environment for sea turtles to lay their eggs – close to the sea, far from many predators and high enough above sea level that eggs stayed dry. Staying dry is very important for turtle eggs because is they get wet, they rot. Because turtles return to the same place that they were born to raise their eggs, many turtles still lay eggs on Maziwe even though they won’t hatch. Kirsten and the others working on the project find turtle nests on Maziwe and other threatened areas and then bring them back and rebury them in a monitored and protected site by the dive center. Because the turtles will hatch here, when they grow up they themselves will want to return to this safe site to lay their own eggs, hopefully ensuring the survival of future generations. There are two nests she is monitoring right now that should be hatching during the time the bio group is back at Pembe Abwe for independent study projects! I am so excited!
12. Tanzania continues to be the most naturally beautiful place I have ever seen. The pictures and video I’ve taken don’t at all do it justice and I simply don’t have words descriptive enough to convey all that I’m seeing without writing a novel length ode to the beauty of Tanzania which contains way too many adjectives and commas (and would therefore be just about unreadable).
The road is getting awful again, so to finish things off, a question for a select few of my readers. I know a couple of you are friends/family of Rachel R. and her birthday is coming up very soon and I was just wondering if there was something small I could get/do to surprise her. We will be out on safari so it can’t be anything to elaborate, but any tips would be appreciated!