Friday, July 15, 2011

DON'T BOIL YOUR COCONUT...Tanzania Weeks 2-3

I have a LOT of blogging to make up for this past couple weeks so I will do my best. It has been really nice getting into the projects and feeling like I am a part of the team now. I definitely have gotten the hang of Arusha, I feel like I can get around pretty well and hold my own with all the locals hassling me trying to sell stuff. It is a little annoying walking down the street and constantly hearing "Mzungu! Mzungu!" I mean seriously, it's not like I am yelling "African! African!" that would be just rude. 
 I have had some really awesome vacations/exciting times this past couple weekends so I think I will tell about those first.
Excitement #1: Vacation to Moshi!
The weekend of July 2, a group of my team members went to Moshi, which is a town about 2 hours east of Arusha. The most exciting thing about this place is that it is the home of Mt. Kilimanjaro!!! Of course we had to visit it and plot our 5 year Tanzania reunion which would consist of climbing the beast. It was so cool to be able to say I was standing at the trailhead…I could almost call it a fulfillment of a bucket list item…but not quite. We also went on a hike to this beautiful waterfall that comes off the mountain. It was awesome!!! Our guide Ulrich walked us through his village and showed us all sorts of cool things. I would love to live in a place like that that was so green all the time, but I don’t think I would like the bugs…or the reptiles L
See that A-frame behind me? That's the start of the trail!

Tanya, Stacy and I in front of the Kili Booking Office

Our whole group at the trailhead

Me sitting in front of a delightful waterfall near Mt. Kilimanjaro

Goodbye Kilimanjaro National Park :)

Excitement #2: Fourth of July…African Style!
Almost everyone on my team is from America, with the exception of Tanya who’s Canadian, so we definitely wanted to have a Fourth of July party! We had an amazing feast with hamburgers and potato salad included (Brady family must-haves). We also were able to find a few fireworks after a LOT of searching so we lit them in the field down the hill from our house. My little African friends LOVED them! They were so sad that I didn’t have any spare sparklers for them to play with. When we were walking back up the hill, we found a hedgehog in the bushes and I actually HELD it! I know...everyone is shocked right? All in all it was a good day. J
The extent of our firework magic
Our Fourth of July Feast :)
My little friend James and I

Me holding a hedgehog!
Excitement #3: Vacation to Tanga!
So this past weekend we decided to take a trip to Tanga, a coastal paradise here in Tanzania. It was a 9 hour bus ride to get there which was nearly unbearable, but once we actually got to the town it was totally worth it! We stayed in a hotel called Inn by the Sea and we had a breathtaking view of the Indian Ocean from right outside our door.

Check out this view!
Classic jumping picture :)

Us and some random guy in the ocean

On Friday, we hired a boat to take us out to the Sand Banks which is an island in the middle of the ocean that is covered unless the tide is out. When it is uncovered it is supposed to be gorgeous white sand and pristine blue waters that offer gorgeous snorkeling and swimming.
We set out on the water at about 8:30 in the morning in a tiny little motor boat with 5 of us and 4 African men. The boat was going really slow and the further we got out into the ocean, the worse the waves got. Two of the girls were freaking out because they thought the boat was going to tip over. Our two guides were really funny and kept singing the Bob Marley song “Don’t Worry” to us and assuring us that everything would be alright. After about 2 ½ hours we all started to get nervous because we thought we should’ve been to the Sand Banks by then. We asked our captain what was going on and he said that it would take a couple more hours for the tide to go out so we could get to the bank. We weren’t really interested in waiting in the big waves for the tide to recede so we asked them if we could go to a different island.
The waves we were boating on :)

Our crew on our little boat...we had no idea what was coming!
Here is where the fun happened…we turned around and started heading back and we had been going for about 1 hour and the boat RAN OUT OF GAS!!! Naturally we were all in a panic by then because we were stuck in the middle of the Indian Ocean miles from land! Our guides were trying to call people on land to have them send out another boat to rescue us, but they couldn’t get a hold of anyone. We asked them the Swahili word for “help me” which is “Nasaidie!” and we were yelling it at the top of our lungs. Our guides were starting to get nervous too, so they decided we needed to have an American song sing-a-long to keep us all calm. We sang all sorts of songs from Justin Beiber to Celine Dion, and we also learned some new Swahili songs, including my new favorites “Pole Samaki Pole” (Sorry Fish Sorry) and “Malika Na Ku Penda Malika” (I Love You Angel).

The little fishing boat that towed us back to shore

My heroes :)
Finally after what seemed like an eternity, a little fishing boat found us offered to pull us back to shore. We dropped our anchor into their boat and they pulled us for a while, but then the wind started to die down a little bit so they didn’t have enough power to pull our boat and move themselves, so all of us got into their tiny little fishing boat, complete with fish scattered on the bottom and a crab that was scuttling around. Oddly enough I felt safer in that boat than I did in our original boat, and we made it back to shore pretty quickly. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get all the way into the beach so we had to jump out of the boat at wade to the shore. When I was walking to the beach I got my feet stuck in a hole that went to my knees and when I pulled my feet out my sandals were gone! L

My poor sandals :(

Safe and Sound :)
Luckily, we were able to still swim in the Indian Ocean which was divine! Even though we weren’t able to snorkel, we still had a really fun day and it made for an awesome story…right?
On Saturday we went for a bike ride to some caves called Amboni Caves and took a tour. It was really cool even though there were bats EVERYWHERE! It was a little freaky when people would shine their lights at the ceiling of the cave and the bats would fly around our heads. I also showed my superhuman strength and scaled the wall of the cave on a TREE ROOT! You can most definitely call me Xena warrior princess from here on out J

Amboni Caves
Yeah...I totally climbed that wall!

Salim a.k.a. "Mr. Chapati" our guide

I would definitely call this an awesome weekend. AND…to top it off Sunday the 10th was my birthday, which gave our team yet another reason to party. The girls on my team cooked banana pancakes and mashed potatoes and they made me a wonderful chocolate cake! It was delicious!! J They decided to pull a fast one on me and put trick candles on the cake so I didn’t get my birthday wish…but that’s okay because I am here in Africa which has been a dream of mine for a long time! Until next week…Kwa heri!

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