November 29, 2009
I have to start off by saying that I really can’t believe this is coming to an end so soon. The weird wonderful pattern of life on the program has actually started to feel normal. Just this afternoon, I spent almost two hours doing my laundry by hand on the front porch of my baanda and then hanging it to dry on nearby trees, all the while belting out Johnny Cash songs while listening to them on my iPod. If you’d told me three months ago I’d be hanging up my socks and underwear and singing “Cocaine Blues” twenty feet from my professor’s house, I’d have looked at you like you were crazy, but such is life on the LC East Africa ’09 Program. Luckily, my roommates (and those in the neighboring baandas), were more amused than irritated by the impromptu concert – Lydia probably put it best by telling me “there’s something both really entertaining and just a little bit scary about your 15 year old looking self singing about ‘taking shots of cocaine’, ‘burning with a wild desire’ and ‘shooting bad bitches down’ in such a sweet little soprano voice.”
The last day on the reef was incredible. We anchored the boat right next to the island/sandbar of Maziwe and spent three wonderful hours snorkeling, just for fun, not research, before having lunch on the island. I saw HUGE parrot fish in all sorts of fantastic colors, found several cool (but empty) crab shells and Peggy and I spent quite a while playing with non-stinging jellyfish like creatures and petting sea anemones. I also very much wished I had an underwater camera because Rachel and I saw lots of fish that looked like the character Dorie from “Finding Nemo” and I very much wanted to take a photo to show it to Brody. Speaking of cameras, I also brought my video camera out on the boat today and got some very funny shots of people snorkeling.
I’m so sad to be leaving the coast tomorrow morning. I love it so much here, and who knows when, or even if, I will ever get back. There have been so many amazing, amusing and simply awesome things that have happened this week. Among them:
1. Heather giving Douglas and Maggie, two of our wonderful Tanzania rafiki (friends), swimming lessons. She was a great teacher and Douglas and Maggie proudly demonstrated how they could swim without life jackets today at the reef!
2. Talking to Mwalimu Ken about how far we (Mara, Rachel, Lydia, Kim, Heather and Lisa) had swum out during the night dive while trying to find the reef and having him reply that he was glad he had no idea where we were as if he’d know we were that far out he would have been back on shore panicking.
3. Kai spearing a sting ray with his homemade wood spear during the night dive, but losing sight of it due to the strong current, after he surfaced and left it pinned to the ocean floor.
4. Kai giving a presentation tonight on fishing tactics used by local fisherman and palm wine. Palm wine is a local liquor made by binding and cutting the coconut buds in a special way which allows fermentation to occur naturally within the plant. He concluded his presentation by producing three nalgene bottles full of palm wine he had purchased earlier in the day and pouring us each a cup. It was delicious – sort of fruity and yeasty and just a bit fizzy. He was even a true gentleman about it and borrowed a strainer from the kitchen to strain out the bugs!
5. Zach swimming the last few days with only one flipper because of a severely infected toe.
6. Lydia being stung by a big jelly fish and sporting the welts all over her face, torso and legs to prove it after attempting to due a hand stand in the ocean during a night time swim.
7. Eating Thanksgiving dinner with all of the wanifunzi and our friends.
8. Awkward showers in the baanda bathroom which is located so that anyone who is anywhere near the vicinity of Rachel’s bed is staring directly into it.
9. Regularly freeing Mara and Lisa Wanifunzi from their baanda after their roommate Kim kept locking the door from the outside while they were still in it.
10. Killarai and Douglas telling distressing tales of the state of the choos (bathrooms) at government sponsored secondary schools in Tanzania.
11. Petting sea anemones and feeling them grab at my hands with their sticky appendages.
12. Waking up each morning to the sights and sounds of the Indian Ocean.
Well, that’s all for now as its late and I’m exhausted and starting to really stress out about Kai and I’s zebra and sand perch presentation that will be occurring in only four days time. But I’m trying not to worry too much and make sure that I enjoy the remainder of my time in East Africa.