November 30, 2009


Sorry for the lack of action in the past few weeks, but it's been quite hectic since shadow, what with all the travelling and getting ready for the swear-in ceremony last Wednesday.  I am now at site, so things are beginning to settle down.  The three days I've spent here at site have been rough.  It's like adjusting to life in a new place all over again, except you don't have a family waiting on you hand and foot.  Luckily, some of the teachers/administration at the school have taken me under their wing as I learn how to live by myself in rural Tanzania, which is certainly not the easiest of tasks.  Getting violently sick from food poisoning on the second day didn't help at all either, but I've recovered after 48 hours with the help and care of my fellow walimu (teachers).  I'll be sure to post again soon, that's all for now!

November 21, 2009

shadow: the trailer

Last week, from Wednesday to Sunday, I shadowed a current volunteer in Tanzania to see what life as an actual PCV is like.  I have been writing up the story of shadow for a few days now, and I'm fairly close to finishing it (it's a 6-part series, or thereabouts).  But because I took lots of video last week, I want to wait to post the story until I can cut together some clips of the journey.  Unfortunately, I'm running low on disk space on my netbook, and the hard drive my parents sent me hasn't arrived yet.  So, it might be a little while until the story shows up on the blog.  But rest assured, I will work feverishly in the first few weeks at site after swear-in to get it all done, considering I won't have anything better to do (at least that's what I hear about the first weeks at site).

In the meantime, I have uploaded pictures from shadow on Flickr.  They probably tell the story better than I can describe it with words.

Sidenote: Swear-in is just 4 short days away!  We head back to Dar on Tuesday, and swear-in is on Wednesday the 25th.  I'm almost an official PCV!!

November 7, 2009

a little tusker loosens the tongue...

I went to a bar north of Kihonda after our CCT day today. I was hoping for a meal, since there was talk the previous day of going to the "American" style bar near the center after our activities. However, since we decided not to go there, we ended up somewhere new (to some of us), but with good friends nonetheless. I was in good spirits, having just received my second care package with plenty of goodies, and gone through a CCT day that included a session on how to maintain a computer lab. Nerd alert!

Since I had just consumed a soda at CCT before we left, I decided to order a Tusker to balance out the sweetness. I don't know if I drank it too fast or what, but that one Tusker made me a little loopier than normal. Loopy enough that I felt the need to consume a bag or two of Goldfish from my handy care package. Thankfully I stabilized before we caught the daladala back to our village.

Still feeling the effects of the alcohol consumed 30 minutes prior, I walked into my house and greeted my mama in fluent Kiswahili. I then proceeded to use sentence structures I had only practiced in class quite flippantly in conversation. An interesting discovery. Tusker makes me better at Kiswahili. No wonder statistics show that PCVs say they drink more than before by COS. That's their secret to better language!

In no way do I really believe this, but I certainly do think the Tusker loosened the nervous grip of my own perfectionism. Just enough for me to let loose a few quick sentences that impressed even myself after they came out. And for the record, I just got through telling my wazazi (parents) about tomorrow's activities, only to find that the Tusker's magical abilities had worn off. I was back to my old crappy speech. Maybe one beer a day isn't such a bad idea, at least for the first few months while I continue to learn the language...

November 2, 2009


This weekend, we celebrated our one month anniversary, and the end of the first half of our training, by going on a safari! We didn't go to the Serengeti, since that's a few days travel from here, but to Mikumi National Park, which was about 2 hours on a daladala from CCT. We left the CCT on Saturday morning at about 9, arriving in Mikumi around 11:30, where we checked into our hotel (The Genesis), the most "luxurious" hotel in the area at a rate of $25 per night ($30 if you want your own room). After checking in, we all went out in search of food. A few of us stopped at a roadside eatery that featured true Tanzanian cuisine, a.k.a. rice, beans, and mchicha (Tanzanian boiled greens). While everyone else went to the Green Park restaurant, where prices soared to 6,000=/ per plate (approx. 6 USD), we spent only 2,000=/ for our authentic lunch (soda included).

We returned to the hotel to rest for a few hours before we hit the park for the first time. Some of us napped, some of us hung out on our little patios, and others got a drink at the in-hotel bar. At 2:45pm, we geared up for our first trip into Mikumi. We went in twice because we had 24 hour passes, which we could use twice...once in the evening on Saturday, and again in the morning on Sunday. This maximized the time we would get to see animals doing their thing, since they usually are not active during the hottest part of the day. We started our Saturday safari with a lion spotting, which we heard were quite rare at Mikumi. It was a male and a female napping in the shade under a tree. About 3 minutes into our rendezvous with the lions, we witnessed an even rarer occurrence, as they began to have sex! Check the pictures, pretty incredible.

Saturday evening was beautiful, featuring blue sky and lots of cumulus clouds, and an illuminated golden landscape. The trees in Mikumi are very sparse, which makes it look very "Africanesque." It's hard to describe the feeling it evokes, but it made me want to live in the wilderness. That's probably the best way to bring it to light. The park was covered in the fingerprints of God's Hands; animals in their natural setting, huge baobab trees twisting into the sky, and sun-drenched mountains in the background with the shadows of clouds crawling over them. Among the animals we saw both days:
  • giraffes
  • wildebeests
  • warthogs
  • zebras
  • hippos
  • crocodiles
  • monkeys (baboons)
  • impala
  • elephants
  • rhinos
After the first session on Saturday, a few of us went out to dinner to a Swiss restaurant near the Genesis to celebrate and splurge most of our accumulated wealth. Below is a short video of our dinner party. Topics of conversation include Claire's obsession with our waiter's conduct on pouring wine, Zach being the nicest person in the world, and Jack wanting his future kids to come to my theoretical youth group. I have been taking lots of video, so even if I don't get to upload much of it while I'm over here, I will certainly share with everyone when I get back. I'm working on a video of our cooking Saturday last week, which will hopefully go up sometime in the coming week. Enjoy a little slice of our lives in Tanzania!