Monthly Archives: August 2010

Wanderings: We’re back from Africa!

Photo: Sunset over the Serengeti.

We’re finally back and fairly jetlagged! Jon fell asleep in the middle of eating his burger last night but we managed to sleep through the night, even though our bodies are about 7 hours ahead. And oh, the things we take for granted here in America. The things we take for granted! It took us about 45 minutes to get back to my sister’s house from Dulles Airport – the same distance the Maasai village was from Nairobi, yet it did not involve super dusty dirt roads with potholes  and giant rocks for miles on end. I absent-mindedly flushed the toilet – flushed the toilet! and brushed my teeth with the tap running  (although I should have turned it off, I know). And pulled food out of the refrigerator  and stood around munching on a variety of items. Then I piled all our clothes into this machine that – imagine this – washes the clothes for you! One of the Kenyan staff of the volunteer organization, who was a city girl herself from Nairobi, commented on how nice it was that we Mzungas (white people, or non-black foreigners) had these machines that washed your clothes while you sat around sipping a cup of coffee.

Our flight home was interesting: in Zanzibar, my luggage was stopped at security for seashells, seashells… not the liter of water Jon was carrying or the nailclippers they tried to find in Ethiopia security… but my seashells. However, for a small tip, I can still remove them out of the country.

Then we flew from Zanzibar Island to Dar es Salaam (a nice 15-minute flight in a Boeing 737) and then to Addis Ababa where we changed planes and wandered the gift shops for Ethiopian treasures that looked suspiciously like Kenyan and Tanzanian and Indian ones, then to Rome for a quick refueling of our jet although I was asleep for all of Rome. Then finally back to Dulles, where my brother-in-law and niece kindly picked us up from the airport and we took hot showers and drank water from the tap.

I’ll post more stories about our adventures, and I’m sure the novelty of electricity and running water and all that will wear off quickly. In the meantime, I have to figure out how to get pictures of my defunct memory card (everyone pray that I am not about to lose all my Africa pictures!) but here are some from Jon’s point-and-shoot, when we wanted to be discreet. People did NOT like having their pictures taken, even if you were just taking a picture of the street.

Jumping around to a Maasai song by the crocodile park in Nairobi

Zebras in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania (they stand this way to keep watch for predators)

Me, trying to appear like a nonchalant shopper at the market in Arusha, Tanzania.




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Wanderings: Wild Things (our Tanzanian safari)

Lions! Tigers! Bears! No, actually no tigers or bears, but lions galore, like a female chomping loudly away at a baby gazelle, bones and all. We just completed our four-day safari through the vast Serengeti (Maasai for “endless plain” which is really was) where we saw elephants, gazelle, giraffe, zebras, wildebeasts, buffalo, impalas, and even two cheetahs perched on a rock. We camped in lion territory and were forewarned not to go out of the tent in the middle of the night. The next day we headed to Ngorongo Crater, which was a former volcano that erupted once and formed a crater and became a lake supporting pelicans and “lesser flamingos” (the pink ones) and “greater flamingos” (the whiter ones), zebras, lions, gazelle, etc. Finally we headed to Lake Manyara, which was more of a jungle-like area which hosted more baboons, monkeys, and over 400 species of birds (plus hippos and elephants and giraffes and all those again). I’ll have more details on the safari when I get back to stateside, accompanied with pictures, of which we took more than 700.

We’re now in Dar es Salaam, staying at our friends Natalia and Brian at their new place by the ocean which is clean, white and sparkling (her apartment, that is). Brian works for a coffee company and Natalia is a nurse at one of the new emergency rooms (a new concept here). We took real showers and slept in their spare bedroom and are learning much about Tanzania. We head out by ferry to Zanzibar tomorrow, land of white sand beaches lining the Indian Ocean. Of course, I don’t need another tan, because after looking in the mirror for the first time in five days I realized I had gotten pretty dark. Dark or dirty, it is unclear.

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Wanderings: I need a shower! (Greetings from Kenya!)

I’m on a terrible keyboard here outside Nairobi, where Jon and I just finished our one-week volunteer stint at a Maasai village  where we lived in a house of mud/tin/sticks with no running water and no electricity. They had to haul their water from the nearby well, so we felt extremely guilty about using a lot of it for something high-maintenanced and cosmetic like having clean hair. The entire land was made of red-rusty-colored dust, so all our clothes and luggage and currently our hair and skin is a new shade of red. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and our host family, and starry starry nights, waking up to mooing cows and bleeping goats,  sighting baboons and giraffes, and contributing to what is now the first library for the Olmararoi Primary School (building tables from scrraatch and painting them with probably leaded paint). Pictures and more details to come later, because we’re off to Tanzania tomorrow!

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