The 3 Day Safari

This post was originally from January 21, 2008

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The African saga continues and the last three days have been totally amazing! On Friday we were picked up by our guide and driven a good 3 hours north or so. We unpacked our camping gear and quickly jetted off to a Masai Village. When we got out of our car the Masai greeted us and we felt truly welcomed. We were ok to take as many photos as we wanted which was nice. Each Masai village consists of one family. One husband with many, many wives and heaps of children! Each hut belongs to the wife and her children and the husband just hops around from hut to hut ‘for a good time’. We are told the husband’s friends are also welcome to come in and ‘test’ his wives out too. Hmmm…sounds a bit fishy to me. We were welcomed into one of the 1934097_22026245433_7425_nhuts…which happen to be made out of cow shit. You literally had to squeeze in because the door frame is so narrow so that animals like hyenas wont get in. Inside there was a cow, a bed and a fire pit. (Now that I think about this…how did the cow fit but they say a hyena won’t??) It was so dark in there that the only way to see was to use our flash from our camera. Let me tell you it wasn’t a pretty smell. Later during our visit the men started out in the field chanting in a line and eventually made their way into the ‘boma’ where they made a circle and danced for us. We got to see the whole jumping thing and chanting and moving their bodies in every which way! I had shivers and I was almost in tears because it was so moving…or was that from the smell?? At the end we bought some of the beaded goods they made and tried to communicate with the ladies as much as we could. It was an amazing experience and one I will never forget!1934097_22026250433_8549_n
Tenting in Africa was amusing. The sounds of the cicadas, frogs, birds and other random insects were out of this world. Of course because I have no trouble sleeping this didn’t bother me. But try having a bit of the squirts while camping out there…not very pleasant!1934097_22026705433_559_n
Saturday morning we woke up early and headed out to Ngorogoro Crater. This is a massive, massive crater that fell millions of years ago and now inside is full of all the typical African animals that you can think of. With our bodies half out of the vehicle it took quite skill to stay upright with all the bouncing around. We saw so much and the view was unreal. Rhinos, zebras, lions, cheetahs, warthogs, hyenas, jackals, water buffalo, gazelles,….oh god-I know I am missing something! Anyway it was so unreal and I cant wait to show everyone my my photos when I get back.

Sunday was just as amazing. This time we went to Lake Manyara. This terrain had more trees so we saw animals like baboons, giraffes, warthogs, impalas, hippos, and let me tell you elephants, elephants and more elephants. At one point this elephant came right up to our Landrover. It was so close that if it had reached out its trunk it would literally have touched the vehicle. Absolutely unreal! Our guide was like ‘don’t move…please be quiet…don’t use a flash’. I think I stopped breathing for a minute!1934097_22027375433_5036_n
With the song from Lion King running through my head I felt like I was totally in the movie. Oh yah, at one point we saw a hyena take off with a zebra leg. yummmmy!1934097_22026880433_9407_n
Let me just give you one piece of advise. If you are ever on malaria pills and you read the label that says these pills make you sensitive to light…they mean it!!!! Dumb ass over here wasn’t quite prepared for that!!

So get this, today at my placement I was talking to a Scottish girl that is volunteering through another organization. She showed me this huge gash in her arm. It actually looked like a bullet hole. What was this you ask? Well the other day she pulled a maggot looking thing out of her arm. Apparently it layed eggs in her and she had to pull it out! Holy sheep shit! This totally freaks my freak, but apparently we are not to be worried where we are staying because they fumigate.hmmmm.

Alrighty, I wont keep you any longer. But I got a half decent keyboard today and it feels like heaven!

Badae,
Dada Heather

I am in AFRICA!

This post was originally from January 14, 2008

Hi there Everyone! I can’t believe that I am actually here in Tanzania.

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Mt Kilimanjaro – the view from my balcony

Not only will I be volunteering with CCS while I am here, but I have planned to meet my World Vision sponsor child as well. Because of this I have spent the last few months collecting and gathering items for the village. I literally have a massive hockey bag full of stuff to donate. In fact, the bag was too heavy to go on without extra charges so before boarding I had to redistribute all the stuff into different bags so that I was basically carrying all the heavy books in my carry on. This made for not-so-fun transfers between flights!  My trip  started by having to sit on the plane while on the runway right in Edmonton for about 2 hours. Now that I am here it is absolutely amazing so far and I have no complaints whatsoever!1934096_22081605433_5548_n

Where do I start? The Home Base where I am staying is awesome! There are about 25 other volunteers that stay here with me. I share a room with three other girls and we even have our own bathroom/shower between us. The shower is not a bucket, which I am so pumped about. The bunk beds are comfortable and I even managed to duck out of staying in the same room as Lolita. When we all first arrived *Lolita had an empty mickey of booze in her hand and was going on about how she had already found the best bar and cheap booze. The ‘Mama’ of the house, Mama Lillian found the bottle and immediately there was a bruhaha going on. Lolita wanted me to stay with her in her room, but she was too busy arguing about the empty bottle that I snuck away and went to my designated room. Phew.

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Mama Thea

We have had two full days of orientation. Learning about the culture and even the basics of Swahili. Yesterday we were taken to town where I was unable to take out any money. The bank machines are a bit on the finicky side so I am currently owning multiple people money. The food is fantastic. The Home Base has a full staff who cook, and take care of the place. I am eating far better than I ever had at home…but I guess it doesn’t take much to do better that Froot Loops and Cornpops! They have amazing vegetarian dishes. The staff are fantastic and I feel like I am right at home!

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Mama Lillian

Today we were divided into pairs and given different challenges. Me and another volunteer had to go into the community and buy sugar cane…remember this is speaking Swahili! While walking along the dirt roads we came across a family of about 6 children. they were all laughing and playing together in the dirt. One little baby sat there with a Santa hat on his head and nothing on his bottom. The kids came up to us and couldn’t stop touching my hands and looking at the photos that I took of them on my camera. They loved my rings and I tried my best to make conversation. The kids would run after us and yell ‘pictya pictya’!!! Anyway, I found a lady who had sugar cane so I spoke to her using my phrase book and trying my hardest to put words together that I had learned earlier that day. It was such a surreal experience.

 

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Teaching my girls

 

From the balcony at the home I can literally see Mt. Kilimanjaro. We are staying in the town of Moshi that is right at the base of this majestic mountain. It is so lush and green, and the temperature is incredibly hot. I love it!

Tomorrow is my first day of placement with the women’s organization called WEECE. I am told that I will be the only volunteer at this placement and I will be working with teenage girls. Wish me luck!

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My girls

Because we get weekends off I have booked my first excursion. I will be spending time with the Masai Tribe and going on a safari. Crazy huh! This is all real and I just want to slap myself silly. Please know that I am totally being taken care of. The staff are like mothers and we even call them Mama. I know that I am missing a ton of stuff, but with the internet minutes ticking away I am running out of time. And this key board is so stiff that I am probably developing carpel tunnel as we speak!

 

 

 

Pre-Africa Jitters

This post was originally from January 7, 2008

As some of you know I am leaving for Tanzania on Friday. I just can’t believe how fast time flies. It seems like yesterday that I was searching for a volunteer organization on line. I will be volunteering with an organization called Cross-Cultural Solutions.Cross-Cultural Solutions It is an American organization that helped match my skills with what the community needs. I have been matched with a Women’s Empowerment Organization where they mainly deal with micro credit loans. I will be staying in house in the community with other volunteers from all over the world. I think that week nights and weekends I will have free time to do some exploring. I have never done anything like this before so I am not too sure what to expect. I hope to write you with all my stories as usual depending on the availability of internet access.
…Let me give you a heads up so you know some background info about one of the other volunteers that I will name * Lolita. I have a feeling that I will have plenty of ‘Lolita stories’ while I am there. A month ago all the volunteers were given the contact info of the fellow volunteers. Lolita somehow felt completely bonded to me immediately and poured out her heart. I have a feeling that she is a tad unstable as she tells me she isn’t an alcoholic…yet… but drinks every day for the sake of others. She is planning to bring a flask to the program even though alcohol is strictly forbidden in the house. She is also a recovering coke addict and has been clean for a year now. She seems nice enough but tells me that she needs to find a third person for ‘our clique’. Hmmm, I didn’t know people my age were part of cliques. This disturbs me because I want to meet as many people as possible. Anyway, now if I mention her you will know exactly who I am talking about.
Anyway, I am totally pumped about this trip and I cant wait to share it with you.
Until next time,
Kwa Heri