Monday, March 27, 2006

I am supposedly studying for my finals right now or researching netball, but since that is absolutely no fun at all I decided to procrastinate and write a blog entry. Things here are going great still, time is flying by, it feels like just yesterday it was the beginning of March! But now I am done with classes, except for two finals on Friday! I'm not too worried about the finals, despite not having listened for the last two months or so of class (which would be all but about the first week). I probably will start studying soonish, as in Thursday evening after netball practice.
Speaking of netball, it's going pretty well. Still a bit strange, but fun to learn something new. Although I don't think you'll ever hear me ask if anyone wants to throw the netball around back at home. It's probably the least fun sport I've ever played, no contact and all I get to play is defense (maybe this will make me appreciate being a forward more in soccer) But that's okay, at least it's some form of exercise. I guess the team is getting ready for this tournament that we're going too (I still never really know what's going on because nothing is said in english, and my swahili is not getting any better because they speak way too fast and I can't tell the difference between names and words.
In other news, this past weekend I went to a waterpark that was a lot of fun. I haven't been to a waterpark since I was about 5 and got run over by a fat lady in the pool at the bottom of the slide (this would be at Manteca waterslides, a bit of a traumatizing experience). So I found it pretty exciting. It was also a nice role-reversal, instead of me getting run-over by big people, I got to run over little kids (don't worry, it only happened once or twice). I don't really know how they have a water park when there is a huge water shortage in a lot of the surrounding areas, and I probably shouldn't support something like that, but it was a whole lot of fun.
Last Friday night some friends and I went to a really good Ethiopian restaurant called Addis in Dar. It was amazing food, and I had a great time despite it taking 2 hours to get there when it only should have taken 15 min. People here don't seem to like obeying traffic laws. On a two lane road, people were going about 5 different directions and a bunch more people were walking down the middle of the road. The taxi I was in tried to go the wrong direction side of the road, which only got us yelled at and stuck further back. It was a bit exciting though, but the music reminded me of elevator music and it was on repeat the whole time which was not fun. But the restaurant was great, and I am going to go back sometime. After the restaurant a couple of us went to a local bar called Maayda. Jasmine and I showed up and we were supposed to be meeting friends there, but we were the first ones to arrive. Anyway, we sat down at a table and about two minutes later some guy came up and asked us a question, having no idea what he said, we nodded and said nzuri (which is the response to most greetings), he nodded and disappeared only to return with about ten other guys who added three tables to ours and all sat down. They were pretty nice guys, and some were real sketchy. The guy next got off to a good start by telling me he loved Americans and he really liked George Bush. He also hoped we could be friends and wondered where I lived. I of course played stupid, saying I didn't know where my house was and no I wouldn't let him take me home. Luckily one of his friends steered him away at about this point. But during all of this, there were some performers doing cool break dancing and fun tricks. One guy pretended to eat the cigarette he was smoking, and another guy kept doing the splits between two chairs. The performers also liked to dance with the chairs, meaning they would put their legs through the arm holes and gyrate their hips a lot. It was pretty funny to watch, and these guys really thought they were hot shit. All in all it was a pretty good night!
Okay, I think that's enough for one post, next time I write I think will be in a couple weeks after my trip to Arusha and NgoroNgoro crater and possibly the Serengeti! Hope everyone is doing well!

Monday, March 20, 2006

I just wrote a bit of a blog entry and it got deleted, so keep in mind that I wrote something completely fascinating about 10 minutes ago and used up all the energy that would normally go into making stuff interesting.
What I wrote about before was my surprise that quite a few people here have never heard of Brad Pitt or the Beatles. Not only never heard of either of them, but didn’t recognize a picture of Brad Pitt or any of the Beatles music! Maybe that view was a bit euro-centric or whatever, but I still found it a bit shocking. On the other hand EVERYONE is obsessed with 50 Cent. Every Tanzanian male between 10-25 when talking about music brings up 50 cent and goes on about how cool he is. It’s pretty funny to hear them all rave about him. Other hip-hop/rap stars are well known too, but he is by far the favorite.
Friday night I went to dinner at a missionary’s house where we had delicious brownies and pizza! These two missionaries who play Frisbee with a group of us every Monday invited a bunch of us to dinner, and it was great! I really miss some American foods, especially desserts! The chocolate does not really taste like good chocolate, and I miss it a lot! So that was pretty nice. They also offered to introduce us to some of their friends and stuff at their church, so now I might go to church to meet people. Watch out, I might turn all religious and stuff over here! Wouldn’t that be an interesting change? If I really wanted I could go to Bible study groups too… I don’t think I’m ready for that. Speaking of church, my friends host-mom goes to a born again Christian church where people cry uncontrollably, fall down, and speak in tongues. Craziness. Oh and last night, Mama yangu, (my “mother”) was in her room and Jasmine and I heard her crying loudly and then singing which we eventually figured out was just her responding to the preacher on TV. This went on for quite a while, and I gotta say, it was a little freaky. But all seems fine now.
In other news, I have a midterm tomorrow morning which is why I’m writing a blog-entry. I’ve gotten even lazier here, I thought I didn’t do any work at Mac, but it is even easier to do no work here. I mean I’m complaining about a lousy midterm, pretty much the second thing I’ve had to do all semester. Geez, such a hard life! Luckily I was able to go to the beach yesterday to relax! But the beach wasn’t that great because it rained, but it was fun anyhow.
Okay, I think I’m actually going to study now (or fall asleep). Kwa herini!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Well I have now officially joined a netball team, or netiboli as it is called here. This entails going to an hour and a half practice everyday except weekends and wednesdays during which running more than 3 times around the basketball court is considered a really good workout. Most of the women on the team are much older (30's) and look like they honestly never have played sports in their life. Most people show up to practice in their work clothes and a lot just play in their skirts or jeans or whatever. I find it kind of funny that in a place where most people detest the idea of wearing revealing clothes, they do not care at all about stripping in the middle of the sports area to change into sports bras and pants. But it actually has been a lot of fun (so far). The practices aren't bad, and it's been nice to exercise again. so maybe i won't put on that "africa weight" that happens occaionsally (although it could be kind of exciting). The best part of it all is i get to go to a 20 day tournament with these women in Shinyanga. I don't know how a tournament can last that long, but it sounds like a good time. That would mean my swahili would get much much better because only a couple of the women really speak english! I also hope to do my independent study project on women and sports or netball or something like taht.
That's the most exciting news recently. I did go to a concert in Bagamoyo last weekend which was pretty sweet. There were a lot of famous Tanzanian bands such as Wanaume group, pretty cool. It went on all night which was fun, i haven't stayed up that late in ages.
Also this week, Rachel Oman (for those who don't know, she was my roommate last semester and will by my housemate next semester, and she plays on the soccer team at Mac) was in Dar es Salaam. She is studyingon zanzibar doing a coastal ecology program that sounds pretty sweet. But it was real great seeing a familiar face and all. okay i gotta run and let someone else on the computer, hope everyone is doing well!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I wrote this entry yesterday at home and I thought I'd be able to get all my pictures but the power went out so I only got Jasmine's photos on my jump drive. I'll put the link at the beginning so you don't actually have to read stuff. also there are photos on facebook for those who have it, i don't have an album but others have put a bunch up and i think you can access them.

My photos of cool things

photos of elephants and giraffes and stuff (from jasmine)

This past weekend I went on the coolest trip so far. My group went to Mikumi National Park and Udzungwa Mountains near Morogoro, both of which were amazing. We left Friday morning and drove to Mikumi to do a game drive, which we did in our bus. The road to Morogoro goes through part of Mikumi or right next to it so on the way we saw animals grazing on the side of the road. A couple times zebras and impalas ran right in front of the bus. Anyway once inside the park we saw pretty much every animal you think about when someone says “African Safari”, that is: zebras, elephants, impala, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, lions, baboons, wildebeests, mongoose, and jackals, plus a ton of birds. All in all it was pretty impressive. A lot of the times the animals were maybe 20 feet away, minding their own business or just playing around. I won’t bore you with descriptions of all this stuff, instead I’ll put up all my pictures. Everyone took a ton of pictures, and a couple people have really nice cameras with good lenses so eventually I’ll have really professional cool looking pics, but for now, mine will have to do!

Scratch the not boring you all with descriptions, I really can’t help it, I mean it was the so cool to actually see all these things for myself! if you don’t want to read about the animals, skip this next paragraph:

I said I wouldn’t bore you with descriptions, The park itself is really big, and the scenery is beautiful. It’s mostly grassland and some trees and the park has been getting water for a month or two so the animals were not starving (unlike in other parts of east Africa right now. The whole water situation is really bad, Dar es Salaam is getting rain now, but farther north there still isn’t much, especially in Kenya. Pretty grim stuff, and even though I’m much closer to it all now, I’m still extremely sheltered from it because of my family’s wealth). In one part of the park is a hippo pool which sounds pretty exciting but it wasn’t that great, although it was nice to be able to walk around. Hippos sleep a lot and they don’t move too much and the only part of them visible from land is their backs and the tops of their heads. Not that I’m saying I want to see a hippo running after me, they are really dangerous and it would definitely chomp me in half. The other thing of note was the lions, which also did not do anything except sit around, but we saw about eight, 4 females and 4 cubs. They sleep a lot and didn’t even glance at our bus more than once.

Saturday we went hiking on Udzugnwa mountain which was awesome. We took the long, not so steep way up, which was not a very accurate description. It didn’t help that it had rained a bunch so it was pretty muddy and slippery. The weather was rather overcast, and it was pretty misty, but extremely humid. The guide also practically ran up the trail making it even harder and hotter. Every time he stopped we would all be panting and dripping sweat or water, you couldn’t tell what was from the mist and what was sweat. But it was absolutely gorgeous. There weren’t many animals, but the forest was so green and beautiful, I put pictures of that up as well, so have a look and I won’t describe all the cool trees and vines and stuff like that. Although a lot of the pictures didn’t come out that well because it was so misty and dark. Whatever, suffice to say that it was really cool and you all should be extremely jealous, especially of the next part I’m about to write about. That is the waterfalls. There was a series of waterfalls that were awesome and at the top one there was a pool that we could swim in! The water was cool, the first time I’ve actually been cold while outside here! And it was the most relaxing way to spend lunch after hiking all morning. Plus we got cheese on our sandwiches which was great, not too much dairy out here. Anyway, it was beautiful (on a completely random side note, I was watching tv yesterday and the Miss Tourism contest or something was on and it was a video of all the contestants swimming at Udzungwa falls. The video was pretty funny because it would show a couple girls in bikinis splashing water around while looking ridiculous and one of the contestants was an awful swimmer. I mean she was terrible, couldn’t swim in a straight line at all and well, it was funny. The best was when she stood up out of the water to talk to the camera and her swimsuit wasn’t really on very well which she did not notice at all, so for 5 minutes she stood talking to the camera with her nipples popping out of her suit). Back to my experience at Udzungwa… on the way down there were red colobus monkeys and black and white colobus monkeys which are really funny looking. At the bottom of the trail there was a great view of the surrounding farms also gorgeous.

The trail ended in a bunch of farm houses which was really interesting. The houses were made out clay and sticks, and I cannot imagine living in one at all. No running water, no electricity and completely succeptible to flooding and other natural disasters. And villages/homes like this are all over, we could see them the entire drive back, often miles from any store or town. Once again it was apparent how sheltered I am from the many hardships that most people face out here. On Friday night/Saturday morning it poured for quite a while, causing a ton of flooding all over. Houses, markets and cars were all flooded. It’s so strange to think that places close by are still having water shortages and around Morogoro there is more water than they can handle.

Sunday morning we woke up at 4:30 to do another game drive, again very cool, and you all should be jealous.

Okay… enough about the trip, the last two days have also been eventful and I’ll write about them knowing that only about 2 people actually made it this far in the entry (and for those two people, you probably should be doing something productive instead of reading about me in Tanzania). Anyway yesterday I played ultimate frisbee with the Baptist missionaries some Tanzanians and a few people from my program. The missionaries have been playing every Monday and Wednesday for at least a year, everyone else kind of cycles through, but most of them are here for 2-5 years or more. It’s pretty fun, I never played much Frisbee at home and I actually like it a little bit. People don’t take it too seriously which is also nice. After Frisbee I actually play mpira wa miguu a.k.a. soccer with a bunch of Tanzanian guys. It was surprisingly fun and they actually played me the ball which was exciting. I hope I’ll be able to play more often, but who knows. I also came to the realization that I am in awful shape. I eat mostly grease and hardly ever move faster than an extremely slow walk. But it’s not my fault, it’s just too damn hot! Yesterday I got more exercise than I have in about a month, and it didn’t end with the soccer! After that I saw a couple of my friends playing net ball with some Tanzanian women. I’ve never played net ball and I have no idea how to, but I tried yesterday. I still have no idea how to play except there are some lines you’re not supposed to cross and you can’t run with the ball. There weren’t enough people to play a full game, but it was fun just doing something and being able to meet actual Tanzanian women (it’s extremely easy to meet men, usually sketchy guys who ask what house I’m staying in and if they can visit immediately or later, to which I saw no the house has a guard and baba yangu would get angry. women seem to hide and not go out much). The netball team asked me and the other wazungu to go back today (Tuesday) and play. I don’t actually know if I like the game, it seems kind of boring so far, but maybe it will get better.

Okay, now on to the last little bit for those still reading. Today my Kiswahili class went to Tandika market and Kariakoo. Pretty excting, we had to go and speak Swahili to people selling stuff and maybe buy things. At Tandika I bought a couple of kangas, the all purpose cloth which is usally worn as a skirt, headwrap, upperbody wrap, or to carry children on ones back. Kangas are also used as towels, sheets, and picnic blankets. I am probably forgetting many uses, but you get the idea. All the women here wear them, and they are pretty cool. They all have sayings on the bottom, little proverbs often about god. The only saying I remember right now is “All good things come from god”. There was one design that I liked a lot but the saying was “only god can give a man a good wife” or something like that so I didn’t buy it, it was just too weird. But they were pretty cool and cheap too. There are other types of cloth as well, and I bought some kitenge as well (which have no saying on the bottom). Then we headed off to Kariakoo. I talked about that place before so I won’t go into the details now.

Congratulations on making it through the longest entry ever, sorry to bore you. But if it was a good distraction from those who are trying to procrastinate I’m glad. Enjoy the pictures! Hope everyone is doing well.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Okay, so a bunch of people are waiting to use this computer so I'll keep this short. This last week I saw two movies, fun with dick and jane and a hindi movie called Taxi 92812 or something like that. Dick and jane was absolutley terrible and i wanted to walk out of the theatre, but for some reason decided not too. Instead, jasmine and i got out when it was dark and took a daladala back to campus, which drove off road most of the trip because the entire road was filled with cars coming directly at us! fun times! the hindi movie was pretty funny, and an initeresting experience! Afterwards a few of us went out to dinner to celebrate Tibetan new year (one of the girls on the trip is tibetan), we had some chinese and indian food which was pretty good but not amazing. That's about all that's of interest. I tried to write an update the other day but i couldn't get on my blog (or email) for an hour, and i wrote offline, but the power went off so I couldn't save or send it. a bit frustraitng, to say the least. But today the rainy season started, and it poured all day long. So it's actually been pretty cool, a great temperature. This weekend we are going to Morogoro and some mountains near there, yay for cool animals and swimming at the bottom of a waterfall after walking through a really cool forest where a new species of monkey or ape or something was discovered about 3 years ago!

on a side note, I changed the settings in my blog so anyone can comment now! okay, hope everyone's doing well!