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Mickey goes to Africa

Mickey goes to Africa

Mickey goes to Africa!

Go ahead laugh all you want, but how could I not bring my childhood stuffed animal to Africa with me. Come on, have you seen toy story?!? I wouldn’t wanna miss out on this adventure if I was a stuffed animal! Even a mouse!

My friend Mickey has been to animal kingdom and seen the safaris there. But let me tell you something… There is no comparison between the fake Serengeti in Disney World and the real one in Tanzania.

Now let me back up a little bit. You see guys, it’s been a few days since I’ve last had the chance to talk to you, my adoring fans…aka Hi mom!…but I want to tell you all about my adventure last Thursday night…

You have all heard of Thirsty Thursday… So this past Thursday a bunch of volunteers had decided to go out to this night club called via via. Before going out, Jenn and I met our two friends, Julia and Phil (guys, that’s your shout out) for dinner at Mount Meru Hotel. It’s a place where all of the rich people who come on vacation here stay… It was kind of a reverse culture shock walking in there. That’s how nice it was.

After way too much food and some pombe (cough cough alcohol) we took a cab to Via Via. We listened to party in the USA about 6 times on the way there. (Way to go Miley doing good things for USAs reputation in Africa).

Now we had no idea what to expect of this place… The drop off there was a little sketchy, especially since this was our first time out at night. But once we got in, I was in awe. The place was freaking awesome!! There was a projector screen playing the World Cup. There were about three different bars and two dance floors… All outside. And the best part… The bathrooms had toilets!! ( trust me peeling in a hole is not as fun as it sounds.)

The atmosphere was a mix between a middle school dance and a frat basement. There were some locals and a lot of Wazungu. I danced to American club music… I sang a great rendition of Single Ladies on Karaoke with the help of some friends… And I had some Safari Lager! (I’ll try and sneak some through customs for you, Dad!) All in all it was a great night and for a little bit we all got to escape the world.

Now for the next adventure… Safari

This past Friday, Jenn, my friend Agnes and I set off on a three day Safari. I was both anxious and excited as we headed out at 7am.

Why anxious? Well for those of you who don’t know, I get very car sick. When I was little I used to wear these bands around my wrists that apply a pressure point that is supposed to prevent the sick feeling…. It probably is just a mental thing, but I’ve been wearing them since I’ve been here because the roads are so rough. So where were the bands when we were heading off to the Serengeti… On my bed at my home stay of course. Luckily the three days of driving on dirt and rocks going up and down hills actually didn’t bother me. So you can all take a big sigh of relief 🙂

Why excited? … Have you been paying attention?!? I went to the Serengeti!! Guys that’s one of the 8 or is it 7… Wonders of the World! Who wouldn’t be excited?!

I don’t even know how to begin to describe what I saw this weekend… There is no way that my words will do it justice. I don’t even think the 679 pictures that I took fully captivate the beauty that I saw.

The open space: so much of it…. Standing in the safari car I could do a 360 and just see land. Everything was very lion king-y. In fact I still can’t get the Circle of Life song out of my head.

The trees: were few and far between. There would be one and not another for miles.

The Tembo: aka the elephant… Were incredible. Tembo are my favorite animal in the whole world and they most have known that I was coming because we must have seen dozens. First on our way to the Serengeti, one was walking towards us on the road. According to our driver, the elephant was angry and the shaking his head all while walking towards us. Apparently since it saw us first we were it’s locked target and we had to keep backing up until it eventually went into the jungle. I should have been terrified… But I was smiling like a fool.

Simba: He was everywhere… Usually the lions were napping in the grass. We saw one lioness sneaking through the grasses trying to hunt a wildabeast. Another mail lion was posing like a model for JCrew standing about 50 feet from us staring with it’s golden brown eyes.

The Ostriches: were so weird. They creep me out.

The wildabeast: were everywhere! At one point that’s all we could see. They were actually at our campsite. All night they made this weird noise that if you ask me when you see me I will try my best to mimic because why not lol.

The zebra: are apparently bffs with the wildabeast. They were also everywhere especially along the road. I think seeing them was one of the best parts.

The cheetas: were laying in the middle of the road!! We almost hit them! Such beautiful creatures and we were so lucky we got to see them up close!

The Vice President of China: was there! I know random right? But I have a picture to prove it. I think all of the police of Tanzania were with him too.

More Tembo: okay so I’m biased towards elephants but I also have another crazy story… One during which I saw my life flash before my eyes… So Saturday afternoon we arrived at our campsite to set up our tents. (We literally camped in the middle of the park… Not guard, no fence, just us!) but unpacking the car, I saw a Tembo walk up! She was beautiful and huge!! Then her baby walked up behind her! I was in heaven… And then shit hit the fan… I swear she was staring right at me and starting walking towards me and Jenn! Jenn hid behind a tent and I ran to the side as she walked up to my sleeping bag and stepped on it, kicking it away like she was in the World Cup. She past threw and then her baby panicked! She spun around looking for her mom making that elephant noise that I can’t think of a word for! My thoughts: great, my favorite animal is going to kill me. But guess what… I lived. I know shocking. The baby found it’s mother and they continued on their journey…

Those are some of the highlights from this trip… I’d tell you more but then I’ll have nothing to talk about when I get home!! Plus this is getting too long for even me to read… For those of you who have made it this far, I’ll have something special for you when I come back!

For now, Mickey and I will continue our adventures in Tanzania… So stay tuned…

Rafiki means friend

And so far that has been the best part about the trip. I have met locals on the street who have become our rafikis because it talk to them everyday. I have met people within my program who are from all over the world… Sweden, England, Canada, Holland, Germany.. And many more. We have met doctors, nurses, children, and vendors on the street. Every person has a different story, and sometimes a different language.

On Wednesday our program did a medical outreach at a hospital. There doctors gave out information about women’s sexual health to a group of women from different villages. It is amazing how little they know about safe health practices. After the doctor talked to them, mostly in Swahili, we broke into groups and answered their questions. It was hard because a lot of the women didn’t speak English but we did our best to explain different things.

On Friday, we had a dirty day. Literally. A group of volunteers from project abroad got together and we went and painted a school. It was freezing! I know. It may seem crazy to you, but it is actually kind of cold here, especially when it rains. We painted the outside of the building all day and in the end it looked pretty good.

After that was done Jenn and I really had a great Friday the thirteenth… Just wait you’ll see… On our way to the restaurant where our friend was waiting we got completely lost in the city. Not gonna lie I was terrified. I hate getting lost in Philly and I was lost in a foreign country… Hapana Asante! (It means no thank you). Eventually we figured the direction we were going in and made our way to the restaurant. Then when we were finally settled down to eat we noticed that Jenns bag was missing! That’s right missing! What the hell? Some very skilled person had taken it while we were eating. I still can’t believe we didn’t notice it! The good news is Jenn and I don’t actually keep anything valuable in our bags so the person was probably more pissed than anything when they found a map and some hand sanitizer in her bag. After that catastrophe we decided to call it a night and take a cab home. Last night was the first time that our home stay felt like home to me.

Today was another adventurous day. We met some friends, rafikis, at the shoprite and took a dala dala to a snake park! It was really cool… Mom you would have hated it! Haha I even got to hold a snake. It was there that I made friends with the monkey!! We rode camels too!!! It was awesome! And a little scary but still awesome 🙂 after that we went to a museum that had a lot of shops and art. I kind of felt like I was on a vacation today! Don’t worry Ginny, I will post all of the pictures!

Now here I am waiting with Jenn for a can at the Internet cafe. It’s hard to believe it’s been a week here! The time is flying by! In my short time here so far I think I’ve learned a valuable lesson… A smile is universal… When you are in a place where people speak a language other than your own, sometimes all you can do is smile… So do it and I’m sure that you will have a new Rafiki!

We found a shoprite!

We found a Shoprite!!… But it was closed. But hey we take what we can get…it was something close to home. Where In Arusha it is… I can’t tell you. Give me a week.

It has been overwhelming here! I think it took me over a week to figure out Gettysburg’s campus…let’s see how long it takes me to figure out the city of Arusha.

We live in a place called Sakina. It’s a small part of the city of Arusha. On Sunday, Manka took us to this traveling fair called Karibu. (Karibu means welcome in Swahili– see this blog is educational). Karibu was a huge fair that had a lot of different safari companies and such. It was cool to walk around and pretend like we weren’t sticking out like two sore thumbs. Still it was nice to explore.

On Monday we got an orientation of Arusha. In the morning, our manager picked us up and we started to walk to town. Then we got in a dala dala. The terrifying but cheap public transportation system of Tanzania. We were stuffed in there like sardines. We got off at the triple a night club. This means nothin to you but the more that I say landmarks the better I know them so just deal with it. Then we walked to the hospital and got a tour. (I will go in more detail about the hospital at a later date).

After the tour we walked some more and found the shoprite! By the shoprite, there were tons of European and American restaurants… And most importantly we saw Wazungu! Wazungu is the Swahili word for white people… And seeing other Wazungu is a rare occation, but when we do, I feel like I stick out a little less. Jenn and I brought clothes to make us fit in, but what were we kidding. Everywhere we go children point and about, “Wazungu!!” Sometimes I pretend they are pointing because I’m a celebrity. A lot of people try to touch my hair and hand. It’s just something we’ve got to get used to.

It’s all a part of the experience right? So far it has been a great experience though. And I am starting to get a little bit more comfortable with everything! I’m excited to start working and keep meeting more people!

Asante sana!
(Many thanks)