Kili time!!

August 2, 2009

I made it up to the top of Kilimanjaro at 5986 meters to Uhuru peak but not without severe struggle and minor altitude sickness and fatigue…many stories to come once i can use the internet longer than 5 minutes….so dont stop reading yet!!

 

Heading on sfaris now to Ngorogoro Crater, Serengeti, Manyara, and Terengerie National Parks and then Zanizibar so i’m sure i’ll have plenty more interesting stories.

See everyone the 11th or soon after

xoxo Melinda

kwenye shida na raha – In the good or bad life

July 25, 2009

Okay here are a few more stories from the hospital i forgot to mention and i can’t do that!

A man came in unconcious and was carried from 15 minutes away to the hospital. He’d fallen out of a tree while picking avocados and landed on his head. In morning report in the chapel the head doctor asked us what disease we though he had…. somedays i just want to shake this man severly and ask him where the hell he learned to be a doctor…i politely said well i dont think he had a disease, i think it was the whole falling on his head that caused the problem and said that it was either due to a spinal fracture or the landing on his head caused inter cranial bleeding and that plus lack of oxygen to the brain, would have caused him to be unconcious but also be able to live for a few more hours….but the doctor told me very sternly that a disease had caused this because no one falls out of a tree- he said he though he had a mental disorder….

…yeah just needed to share that with y’all

A patient came in screaming and really aggressive, beating on the men pulling her and tightly gripping any pole she could find in order to not be taken into the ward…. mind you this was a woman over 60 years old but boy did she have a lot of kick left in her. She was screaming the whole way down the path and not words that you normally heard said here like “Toka” which means piss off and you just dont say that here or anything else that isn’t peaceful. When they finally got her in the ward, we put her in a bed as she was lashing out at us and then held her down, the doctor came in and just put her out….and a few hours later when she woke up and started fighting other patients in the ward, he put her out again….this happened multiple times during the day and throughout the night, kind of funny…thios woman had cerebral malaria…or so they said, but the crazyiest part about this whole situation was that she’d been getting treatment and improving, but 3 months ago she went to church and the priest told her she didnt need to continue in her treatment because she was already cured and he knew that Jesus power had cured her…so she stopped. In morning chapel the doctor said that yes Jesus can heal but sometimes it doesnt work…he thought the same thing the priest did

An 8 year old came  in with what all of us thought was clearly TB, but the doctor refused to listen to any of us and said that the boy had malaria and put him on anti-malarias (which can severly lower your immune system more if taken for the incorrect use. Three days later (even after the boys blood test showed positive for TB, the doctor still wouldnt change his diagnosis) but the TB began to spread to the little boys brain and his CD4 count lowered below 20. Doctor wouldnt switch the medication. That same say the boy begain to seize and after we took care of the little boy and told the doctor, he said Oh he’s just yawning…i really just wanted to full out brawl with this guy (dont worrryyy mom i didnt), but this is a little boys life and because he was being stubborn he was basically killing him. After 5 days, another doctor that we told the situation to put the little boy on TB medicine, but i left the hospital before i could know the whole outcome!

 

Wednesday 7-22

Woke up this morning to the sound of pouring rain (really going to miss that) and so much for my clothes being dry today! We went to morning chapel, sung hymns in KiSwahili and then gave an HIV prevention speech to the whole hospital staff, which we followed with  a condom demonstration. Even though this was given to a grown medical ‘professional’ staff, they all acted like 10 year old kids who couldnt not contain their laughter. I really couln’t believe it, and they didnt even try and settle down, even after Tanya said that this was a serious matter. I mean they had asked us to do this presentation, it wasnt like we voluntarily chose to do it on our own, you would at least think that they would give us a little respect if they wanted us to do this. How can we expect them to teach their patients this and proper prevention measures, if they cant even be serious themselves. The worst person was the head doctor who was questioning everything that we said and contradicting thing with false facts. He was a very schovinistic in his comments about using condoms, saying that wman should always have to put them on the male and take them off so they male doesnt have to worry about any transmission of diseases or fluids since they were the ones that did the woman a favor by wearing one…along with many more asshole comments. I really dont like this man and this mornings lessons made me just dislike him more.

After this we listened to morning report and then  i went home to meet with a witchdoctor that agreed to come up and meet with me to show me his medications and treatments. this man was very old, and skiing, alos quite possibly one of the darkest Tanzanians ive ever met. Kind of a creepy old man, but he smiled at me with his toothless mouth and told me i was welcome to ask any questions, which I was told through Baba’s friend that acted as my translator. The witch doctor showed me  all the powderes, ointments, branches, bark, seeds, stones, charms, and more that he used for healing and treating individuals. He also showed me blessings and things he would say over medications or individuals. Definitely reminded me of where i was living and the differnt belief system as he told me how to ban evil spirits and curses placed upon people that come to him, but it was all very interesting to say the least. After over an hour of talking with this 77 year old witch doctor i headed back to the hospital for a few more hours of work. At lunch timei headed over to the dala stop to meet with Christine, who was heading up to Nkoraranga to spend the night with Lucy and I. When she got up i gave her a short tour and then we went to my homestay to hang out for a little while. We went to the only local bar up on this mountain back in the woods and bought a few beers for 1,000 shillings each…mind you this isnt even an american dollar and these beers are twice the size of the ones at home in bottles!! Went back to the house and watched a movie and drank beers before dinner while chatting and reminising about our stays here. For dinner we had chapati again…so delicious. I’m really not kidding when i say that i have not lost any weight here and its due to their starchy, oil coverd foods haha. After dinner out Baba asked Lucy and I to wait before headed to be. Then out Mama brought out kangas, 2 for each of us and wrapped them around us African style and told us they were gifts of their love for us and how a symbol of how much they’ll miss us being in their home for they truly thought of us as daughters :((((( I’m really going to miss them, they were such an incredible host stay family! After dinner the three of us headed to out bug bed infested beds for sleep…can’t wait to not sleep in a itchy bed!!

Thursday 7-23- Woke up at 6 am to the sound of the house man chapping wood in the pouring rain…Lucy woke up and just said “is he kidding me right now and threw her pillow over her head haha

We all got up for breakfast where out Mama had left out more chapati…holy crap my stomach can’t take any more of that, not to mention my bowels!! I cant wait to have a regular bowel movement when i get home, whenever theat may be, dont know many other people besides the ones on this trip that pray for that. WE headed to morning chapel, sang, and then gave a female condom demonstration. The head doctor again gave us problems with everything we said, but we just kept grinning and answering him bakc. After church, Christine and I walked around the hospital some more and then went to change the bed sheet and wound dressings on patients. Around lunch time, we headed to the dala stand with all my Kili luggage and got in a mini car for a ride down the mountain (it took over 30 minutes for this car to fill up before we could go down the mountain..and we had to make a pit stop on the way down where the driver got a make shift gas can and filled the tank a little.) When we got down to Kilala we hopped on a dala that i’m pretty sure couldnt have gone any slower haha it took us over 40 minutes to get to town, that was a trip that took more than an hour and a half to get to Chrisintes stop haha TIA baby TIA. We dropped my stuff off in her room, went to GSC to drop off the 8 books i’ve read in 4 weeks up at Nkoraranga and then walked to McMoody’s to use the internet. (Speaking of books..everyone had to read They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky …quite possibly one of the best books i’ve ever been, so truthful and powerful it can really make you cry.incredible story about the lost boys from Sudan)

When we got to McMoodys only 2 of the 5 computers had working internet at the time and one was in use, so i let Christine hop on the internet, while i read my book and waited til she was finished to just send a message out and then we went to a t-shirt shop, got my Dad a gift and then began to make the long journey to Mama Linda’s to pick up Chrisintes puses then walked to her house where i caught a dala back to home. When i got home i typed up a few more essays on Lucy’s computers for my professors and then had to go wrise my head in a small bucket…its so itchy haha    So yeah not to gross everyone out, but i havent taken a shower in a weeks and 5 days…same for Lucy…there is not water up on the mountian because of a drought haha If i was at home i might have repulsed myself in not going with a shower for that long, but here is dont really care at all to be honest, you do what you got to do, have low standards for everything, and just get through the day only with what you really need…but hopefully i’ll be able to take a shower up at the other volunteers house tomorrow…i really hope haha

The power went off tonight around 6 and didnt turn on until around 9:30 pm and Lucy and I watched ’50 First Dates’ with our host stay family and then headed to bed in our LAST night in beds infested with bug beds!!…that part about the stay here i’m definitely not going to miss

Friday 7-24 – Woke up to the sounds of rain beating off the trees, and large banana leaves again. Its so incredible when it reains here, the whole outdoor environment changes when it rains, fog travels in and hangs low to the ground making it almost impossible to see your feet and everything is covered in mud that is so slick and slippery. We headed to morning chapel and said our goodbyes to the whole staff and thanked them for their hospitality and more then i headee up to the volunteer house for a SHOWER!!!! It was hot or anything, but it was a shower. I’m really not going to know what to do when i get home…to take a shower or not to take a shower… to take a shower in a stream or a bucket or in a real shower… haha  After the shower i headed home and packed all my stuff up and then we waited for Irwin to show up. Around 1 pm Irwin and Daphnie showed up and we went back over to the hospital so Irwin could meet with Dr. Mollel and then we went back to our homestay where our amazing Mama prepared us a Tanzania feast for lunch.We all had lunch together and reminished on all the times we’ve had together and our Baba made jokes about our Swahili and his English and how much we’ve taught him, then sadly began to pack the car. I cant believe the home stay/ my whole program is over I really dsont want to leave now that this day has come, despite certain situations i’ve been in or scary and depressing things i’ve witnessed …this place has truly grown on me and parting with it is something i’m not yet ready for. Right as we were about to leave Baba knocked on my window and while panting from running he handed me a Pnaga, a machete that i wanted to get…such a sweet man, cant beleve he remembered something i mentioned 3 weeks ago. The ride down the mountain was so sad i probably could have cried if i lef\t myslef. When we got to GSC i unloaded my luggage and stored it in Irwins office and then did my exit interview with Jennifer. Still cant believ my program is over, i’ve been wanting this last week to go by because i thought i had enough because of bad things that had happened to me, but now that time is up i want to take the whole week back. After my exit interview, i said goodbye to lucy my roommate of 4 weeks and working partner for 9 and scuffed my feet as i walked away from the GSC office. I walked my way to Kondayo where Christines home stay was abouyt 15 minutes from GSC and when i was walking down the skinny dirt path to her home two little kids between the ages of 3-5 ran out at me screaming ‘mzungu, mzungu, mzungu’ and hugged my legs and jumped up and down until i picked them up, they were so cute and they had the largest smiles on their faces while playing with my face and hair. I really love the little kids here, they make you feel like  a celebrity the way they scream for your attention and always run up to either hug you, give you a high-five, or just hold it and walk with you, it makes me feel so happy everyday. I’m really really going to miss Gertrude my 7 month old dada-sister for the last 4 weeks. I’ve grown so used to playing with her and holding her til she fell asleep in the afternoons as she smile and coo’s at me  and clutches my shirt when i try and put her down. Yeah, i’m really going to miss that gorgeous, wide-eyed baby.

When i was almost at Christine’s house, i met up with Kalvin her brother who helped me carry my things to the house. When i arrived there i was greeted by her two siser who came running to me and gave me hugs (they knew me from the many times i’ve visited Christine before) and then they asked me to play futbol with them so i put my stuff inside and came out to play futbol in the gravel and mud with them for about an hour. After that i sat down for chai with Mama Chaulla (whos really a Bebe- grandma and takes care of all her sons children) she is such a sweet old lady. She stand about 1 2/2 feet below me its so funny. Then i watched Tom & Jerry cartoons with Kalvin and the girls for a while then ate dinner and headed to be. Mama Chaulla is seriously one of the sweetest old ladies i’ve ever met..dont worry G-ma M and V you’ll alwasy be the best ones!! Oh yeah before dinner when i was in Christines room i head what sounded like a goat crying but just thought it was the tv or something, when i went out to investigate i found Kalvin sitting on the floor with a baby goat in his lap. The kid has apparently been attacked by 6 wild dogs from around the neighbor hood and had many puncture wounds all over him and a neep gash on his ear.. poor thing!

Saturday 7-25-

This will probably be last last entry until i come back down from my KILI CLIMB!! So excited but i just wanted to wrap the whole living like a local Tanznian for about 10 weeks up with a little thing.

Life here was spectacular, challenging, and such an adventure. I truly enjoyed every minute showereing with dirty river water, pooping in holes in the ground out outdoors between braches, not bathing for weeks, sleeping with bed bugs, witnessing things i’ve really never want to see again, living with local families and being part of their families, eating the local foods..even if they made me sick 80% of the time, acquiring a worm and living with him for almost a week and a half, being able to see the wildlife and beauty of the country and culture of all the tribes. This was by far a truly amazing experience that has given me a whole new perspective on life, family, values, and time.

I’m really going to miss night time here even though it was unsafe to be outside. The night here is never silent there is an orchestra of sounds of creatures that take over the night. The night is animated with the unknow. With the sounds of crackling twigs, bushbabies that sound like a child that is lost in the night, tree frogs, crickets, the music from mosques in the distance, and foot steps that always sound so near. There are millions of species of bugs that flock to the small lights outside of houses, eyes that peer at you from the balckness of the night, dirt that rustles between your toes from the wind, large banana leaves whipping against each other, branches of trees that follow your movement with the wind as if they know where your heading…just the sensation of loasting harmony and unnerving danger is present and its quite possible one of the most intreging this in Africa!

for almost 10 weeks I’ve lived immeresed in one of the most welcoming cultures in the world with people that know how to live of a dollar a day and sometimes even less. People that live in homes made of mud and dirt and with floors of dirt or cement, a culture that is based off the phrases of hakuna matata and omnashida, that have no worries of time and absolutely no schedule. A culture that invites stangers into their homes, lets their kids walk far away from home with themselves…including letting them play with machetes and fire unattended haha… a culture purely based around the power of Jesus, a culture with over 200 languages and tribes, a country that goes through droughts that leave them with no water and dont allow their crops to go. A country that experiences faminie and poverty, but would still help the hungry even if that mean giving what little they had left to the person.  A country filled with parasites and incurable diseases but with the most astounding positive outlook on life. A country that still has all of its beauty and wildlife untouched, and that strongly believe in tradition and family values. A culture that challenged me as a person, and made me more humble and relaxed, a culture thats made me brave beyond my beleifs, a culture that made me crave more and more adventure, and a culture that made me realize what a person really needs in life and what should really matter to someone. I’m grateful for every second spend here and i hope this is not my last journey!

 

Well i’m off to walk around arusha one more time before my departure out to Moshi for my climb up Kilimanjaro tomorrow! Hope all is well at home with everyone, i miss all of you tremendously… or should i say Seja kuona siku nyingi (i miss you all very much)!!

-Melinda

Sorry Mom I went to Kenya and didnt tell you

July 23, 2009

Sunday 7-12 continued…. Spent the entire day sitting on my butt typing up papers, watching Swahili soap opera dubbed in English and feeling like I was going to throw up all day…nothing exciting Monday

 

7-13 – Went to morning mass at the church for prayer, singing, and the nightly report. Afterwards, Lucy and I headed to the maternity ward where there was a woman who 6 cm dilated. The head Mama asked us to stay with her, so we spent 2 hours rubbing this woman’s back, and repeatedly telling her to ‘hema’ – breathe. But she didn’t want to so we didn’t press the issue haha Lucy and I played games while I was holding a cold cloth to the woman’s neck and she was holding her hand to keep us occupied. When her contractions grew closer together and stronger, we moved her into the delivery room and set a direct rubber mat (they said it was clean) and a scrub gown underneath her…that’s all that was available. When the deliver commenced, the Mama pointed out to us that this woman was circumcised…which is something I’ve obviously never seen before. I can’t even imagine having that done…especially here, I can’t even watch the surgeries due to lack of sterilization, I don’t want to even think what it’s like doing a procedure like that out of a hospital setting. Anyways, since the woman was circumcised, she was not able to pass the baby through her vagina; consequently, we performed a episiotomy. The mid-wife did not use anything to numb the area, but just took a pair of scissors and cut open the woman’s vaginal wall. I really thought I was going to faint…not because of the amount of blood or the baby coming out, but because while she was screaming in pain so was I. All I was imagining was how much that must have hurt and it made my stomach curl. The Mama then got next to the woman’s side, leaning over her stomach and placed her forearm on the top of her stomach. She pushed down with her forearm with great force…I’m assuming in attempts to push the baby out because after a few swift but powerful compressions above this woman’s stomach the baby basically flew out of the woman’s vagina. Definitely not the way I’ve seen any delivery performed before, but here apparently its common and effective :/ After the baby was out I watched the mid-wife do a hack-job of stitching to fix up this woman, slightly barbaric, the mid-wife basically stitched this woman up with thick line that was thicker than fishing line. We didn’t get out of the maternity ward until 1:30! After the woman was all stitched up, cleaned off, and the baby was okay, Lucy and I scrubbed out and headed to the canteen for an overdue lunch. At 3pm I went for a run down the mountain in the scorching African sun, the road down the mountain is so steep that while running I felt like a gazelle due to my extremely extended strides. When I got down to the bottom of Kilala, I could only imagine the color of my face that made all the Tanzania’s ask me if I was okay after running, but I was thinking it had to be like a bright red tomato haha. I decided to walk back up the mountain…pole pole, which was definitely a good choice on my part so I didn’t look so red and to enjoy the gorgeous view of Mt. Meru. When I got back home, I raved the outdoor bathroom…..in the wooden hut….in the dirt and took a freezing cold bucket bath from stream water, but it was either stand in dirt and bath in frigid water or sit in my sweat. Needless to say my feet looked like a local child’s after the bucket bath, black and covered in mud, not sure how effective the bucket bath was for the cleanliness of my feet. Had a massive headache all day that made me feel as if I had been hit by a mac truck and my skull had been cracked open…really wish I knew what was wrong with me, especially with my stomach. Bed early tonight, hopefully to feel better in the morning.

 

Tuesday 7-14- This is about the fifth day with diarrhea. I feel like crap, literally. Went to the lab early in the morning, pricked my finger and made a blood smear to check for malaria and made a stool sample on a slide to check for basically anything else. Left my samples at the lab to be checked later and then went to work. Today I worked in the HIV clinic where on Tuesday each week, all the HIV positive patients come to get their medications and monthly physical examinations. The patient that were on their 6 month visit needed to get their CD4 count checked, so the nurse drew blood and I brought it over to the lab to do a full body picture. Patients had CD4 counts like 664, 356, 221, 134, 61 and so one…..the worse part about HIV in Tanzania is that they’re not allowed to obtain ARV’s until their CD4 count is lower than 200…a.k.a not until they have bull blown AIDS…not so effective. After working in the HIV clinic for the afternoon I went back to the lab to check my results before lunch. Well the good news was that I didn’t have malaria….bad news was that I had a worm, ascaris lumbricosis to be exact. Luckily, I learned about this microscopic helminth in parasitology this past semester and knew what is does, where it lives, and what to take to get rid of the little sucker! This round worm is obtained due to fecal contamination and chance of me contracting this worm through that route was more than highly probable. I was not surprised at all because my Mama and house girl, who I’ve never seen them wash they’re hands once and sit outside and touch dirt all day long and change the babies diaper, prepare all of the food. Good thing that this worm is very easy to dispose of. Took one 400 mg dose of Albendazol and pray to God it does the trick. Will just have to hope for the best and then check my stool sample again in a few days. After lunch, Lucy and I went to the pharmacy to teach our Mama how to use the computer and installed a typing program on all the computers in the hospital to help all the workers learn how to ‘not’ hunt and peck haha maybe I should have my dad use this program haha I can’t even imagine him trying to type on a computer….love you daddy :) Headed home around 3:30 and played with Gertrude. At 4:30 our Baba and his friend came to get Lucy and I to bring us to a witchdoctors home up on the hills of Meru where we could talk to her about treatments for malaria and HIV to help future write my papers for school. Up a thin dirt path on a steep hill, lied a small house surrounded by banana trees and an array of colorful crops. Her home was made of pieces of wooden slabs held together with rusty nails and mud for cement. We were greeted by a stout African woman, wrapped in deep red kangas, a tremendous smile filled with decayed and spaced teeth greeting us warmly into her small home. No such thing as a stranger in this country. She sat us down on a few wooden chairs, disappeared for a few minutes and then returned with a large bag filled with unknown materials. One by one she pulled smaller bags filled with shavings, powders, and seeds from the large black bag and placed them upon the table top. Through Baba’s friend, who acted like a translator, the woman told us that she makes treatments against three illnesses: malaria, amoebas, and typhoid. All of the medications were from shavings of trees, seeds of trees, and crushed plants. She then proceeded to show us how she created the concoctions for treatment of each of these diseases. Very interesting! After meeting with this woman we went to our Baba’s uncle’s house where we met his aunt and 3 younger cousins who gave us bananas and chai. After we finished chai, we went to his mother’s house where we met his youngster sister as well. They fed us nuts and chai…..apparently you can’t visit anyone where without receiving some type of snack and chai, and you not allowed to…well not supposed to leave until your finished with everything they leave out for you. After we finished out chair, we headed back through the thick forest trail to our home. When we got back Lucy and I taught our Mama and Baba how to use the computer, which was really funny because they were taunting each other when the other made a mistake and teasing each other on who was the better operator of a computer than the other haha Oh yeah found out our 7 month old baby sister has malaria, poor thing! Wednesday 7-15 Still don’t feel right this morning, severe cramping pains. Went to work in the laboratory all morning. My Grandma Mahoney would be so impressed with my newly acquired phlebotomy skills! I love working in the lab here because there are so many different test you can perform with blood…yes I love blood, I’m a freak I already know this! Surprisingly, the urine and stool samples don’t bug me at all either, its really incredible to see an assorted selection of microscopic life forms living in front of you in a radius of only a few centimeters. Working in this hospital, as crazy and unethical and it may be, only confirms my love for medicine even more. After the lab, I went up to the dental office to watch 2 Canadian dental students perform extraction on a couple of patients. Apparently, that is the only thing performed on individuals who’s teeth hurt or are decayed to a certain point in Tanzania…the worst part about the extraction with the tools they were using. Covered in rust, the dental students were forced to use the instruments at hand…yuck! When Lucy and I were heading to the canteen for some chakula, we were stopped by Dr. Mollel who informed us that the immigration officers were here and they wanted to see out paper. When he said this is kind of laughed a little, because while it may be apparent that I’m not from here from my unmistakable flamingo skin and bright white hair, but it didn’t really occur to me of my foreign residency until today. I felt like a Mexican without a green card in the U.S…slightly humorous…at least to me this was. Since I didn’t have my passport or resident permit on me I had to plead with the officers to let me go back to the house to retrieve them, but eventually they let me go. When I came back with my papers, they only asked me with organization I was with, what I was doing here, and how long I intended to stay and then let me on my way. After work I finished typing up another paper on Lucy’s computer and when out Mama got home she showed up how to make chapatti!!! Such a tedious process to make this pancake like food, but worth every second for the sweet deliciousness that comes after all the hard work…even though one feels as if they gained a 100 lbs from eating this because it’s covered in oil, which never settles good with my stomach. Headed to bed and continued reading “African Nights.”

 

Thursday 7-16 – Woke up with severe pains again and felt completely drained! Went to the hospital and did another stool and blood sample to see if I was rid of my worm or find out why I still felt so awful. I had the elder man who works in the lab check my samples under the microscope because he’s supposed to be a real laboratory technician, unlike the other two girls who have questionable tactics….even though I’m pretty sure his job is hiding all day from work haha. After being diagnosed as free of worms, I headed back home to get a little rest to see if that would help me. Took a short nap and then headed up to the volunteer house to help Susan and her girls pack for their trip back home today. So sad to see them go, such sweet and amazing people! Went back home at noon to wash some clothes, but the house girl was already doing laundry so I threw in a few of my shirts to be washed. When I walked inside the house, all you could hear was a screaming baby…and the house girl was just outside, not even acting like you could hear the baby screaming. When I lifted the bed net off her crib and picked her up I noticed that she was holding a fork!!!! WHO THE HELL GIVES A BABY A FORK….especially to sleep with I could have killed the house girl for this. I took the fork away from Gertrude and then the house girl appeared in the doorway of the house to take Gertrude, but I said I got her and took her in my room with me. I just don’t get the whole leaving your infant with a house girl, who force feeds your baby until it starts choking, leaves the baby unattended, and give them a friggen fork to play with. Another one of those practices here that I refuse to understand. At 2:30 I headed into Makao mapya with my Baba to get food for the canteen, his shop, and home. First we took a car down the mountain and I sat in the front, pretty much on the center console with a 70 year old man on the left side of me and the driver on my right. In the backseat was my Baba and 4 other people….i mean these cars are literally the size of my Subaru….so to fit 5 people in the back and 3 in the front is just clearly insane, but in a country without any form of safety regulation….any thing goes. We got down to Kilala and hopped on a daladala to our destination. We traveled father then I’ve ever been in Tanzania and when we stepped out of the dala we were on a tightly packed street bustling with Tanzanians, dalas, street sellers and more. First I followed my Baba to an electrical shop where he dropped off a phone to be repaired. This shop was packed with an astounding amount of electrical equipment in such a small space and outside the shop on the stoop was 3 men huddled close to a table covered in an assorted collection of electrical supplies, broken open phone and a computer with its hardware exposed to the world with wires sprouting out of it as if it was a bean stalk. Secondly, we went to a shop 15 minutes away where Baba placed an order for things to sell in his shop back up on the mountain. Then we went to a produce market hidden away by a wall of destroyed shops and covered by dark tarps, only letting in sunlight from small tears and holes in this canopy. We bought an assortment of fruit for home and when we were about to leave, I ran into my last home stay Mama, Mama Ruth…you know the crazy one that left me to fend for myself in the darkness of Africa…yeah that one. She said she was said I have not come back yet to see her old Mama, so I told her I would come there Monday for lunch and she happily went on her way….maybe this time she’ll actually sit down and eat with me, but probably not if I know this woman haha. After the market and picking up packages for his shop, Baba and I dropped all of our purchased items at his friends shop and went to find a person to make a bongoflava, which is just like a illegally ripped CD at home. We walked until we came across a large 5 story building that I thought was surely either under construction or on its way to falling down…but I was wrong. We headed down a short ally and entered a cement doorway and climbed 5 flights of stairs where each flight had people sitting in the hallways and on the steps themselves…slightly sketchy, actually no sketchy is the perfect word for this place haha what the hell am I doing! We got up to the 5th floor where we were greeted by a really nice man who told us to wait on the bench at the end of the hall…mind you this bench was not in a hall but in a crawlspace large enough for the bench and us to sit on it facing the way. After 15 minutes of staring at the pink wall the guy invited us into his “computer room,” and we made a bongoflava of Swahili music. 156 songs of pure good music…definitely worth it. We went back to pick up all of our things afterwards and hoped in a dala with hopes to get home for dark. We left this town a little after 6 which is way to late to be leaving anywhere, especially a place as far away from Kilala as where we were with all the stops we would have to make on the way there to drop off and pick people up. On the way to Kilala as well as stops for people, the dala made a stop for itself at a petrol station, where the driver pulled in to fill up on gas even though there were over 20 people in the dala….priorites??When we finally got to Kilala it was quarter to seven, 15 minutes before the darkness of the night begins to seep in. It was when we were waiting on the dirt hill before a dala, supplies occupying both our hands that a ‘white’ man in a safari car turned up the road and saw a little mzungu girl and stopped. He called over to me and told me to get in the car because it was getting dark and I should not be out this late….this I knew. Baba and I hoped in the car with this gentle man who turned out to be a German missionary who’d lived here for 4 ½ years. Sometimes it pays to be a mzungu here haha. When we got back to the house, we both thanked the German immensely for the ride up the mountain and headed inside the house. We popped in the newly made bongoflava cd, and sang to the songs we’ve all come to love with their recent release onto the radios and television here! Lucy and I drank a 6 pack of Kilimanjaro beer that Susan left to us…I can’t even drink 3 light beers without becoming slightly drunk…going to be beyond a cheap date when I get home haha. Had makande and pineapples for dinner tonight and watched Sleepless in Seattle on TV…

 

Friday 6-17 – 10 days until I climb Kilimanjaro!!! So excited!! Went to the hospital for a few hours this morning and then headed into town since no one was around and there was no work today. Went to Mama Linda’s first to attempt to pick up the purses I was having her make, but she said to come back tomorrow morning for them so I headed to the United Nations building to check out the schedule for the Rwanda Tribunals, but found they were in recession until August 17th…that was a huge bummer, I was really looking forward to going to watch one of those. I went to the craft market to find some Masai sandals and waste some time and then headed to the GSC office to finalize a few things before my departure from the program on Friday. At 5 I headed back on a dala to Kilala where I was forced to stand in the isle of the packed tiny bus for 15 miles…definitely cannot be good for anyone’s back. When I got to Kilala it was getting dark and I didn’t want to wait for a dala to fill up so I hoped on a motorbike for 1,000 shillings up the mountain. Such an incredible ride up the mountain…..i’ve definitely caught an undiagnosable disease here, one that instills a deep and strong love for Africa… Tanzania in my case that makes me know that if given the chance I would follow my heart back here in a minutes notice. Watched Hellboy with my home stay family tonight and am now finishing my journal to create an over due blog. Heading to bed now (12pm) to get some rest before a nice long weekend in Arusha with the other volunteers!

Saturday 7-19 – Headed down the mountain at 8:30 am to Kilala. When I was waiting at the Kilala station down the mountain for a daladala, a few stopped but they were all full so I didn’t get in them. One of the attendants of one of those dala’s grabbed my bag and me pulling me towards the dala even after I said no (they really want your money so they’re willing to pack up to 30 people in these things, but I don’t get on them when they’re that full….or I try not to at least) so I wacked the guys arm off my bag and me and the older woman in the dala scolded him…kinda of funny. Finally got in a dala with a little room, hopped in the front seat next to an army man and the driver and got off at the stop near Christine’s house. Following her directions I ended up down a narrow path where I ended up in front of an opening to a river. Realizing where I was and that I should now be there I immediately turned around and high tailed it in the opposite direction. I ran into a large woman who asked me where I was heading…obviously she also knew that mzungus should not be where I was and pointed me in the direction where the only other mzungu lived in the neighborhood, so I crossed her lawn and knocked on the door to the house hoping it was Christine’s house haha We headed down to Mama Linda’s picked up the bags we had her make and then went to the Patisserie for a well deserved donut haha The Patisserie is an Indian run internet café and small restaurant that always has Tanzanian donuts covered in chocolate glaze or chocolate éclairs….all of which are basically made for the American mzungus because who else would eat that crap. We dropped our bags of at center house hostel and headed to the African Tulip to lie out in the sun!!! When we go to the pool we met up with two safari guides from America, Deb and Chris. We all shared stories of our different lives here during our stay, very interesting to hear about the Kili climb from Chris. Deb and Chris pretty much just travel all over the world serving as guides for people on vacation…can you say what a life! So nice to just lay out in the sun and read and just relax…makes me miss the lakes at home soo much. When the clouds rolled in around 3:30, we went back to center house to change into pants and sweaters since it got colder out and headed to the Patisserie to use internet, grab and ice cream and meet up with Lucy and Nick. All of us headed down to the Arusha backpackers hostel where they were staying and went up to the Rooftop Bar there for a few drinks. It was such a gorgeous clear day that from on top of this hostel you could clearly see all of Meru. I think its funny how I come here and look forward to the view of this gigantic beautiful mountain everyday and all the habitants of Tanzania never think twice about it being there. The 4 of us and Ryan a new volunteer met us and we all headed to Big Bite for dinner, which was up one of the side streets in Arusha…basically where all the building look really run down and sketchy, but we left early enough to get there before dark in this area of the city. The outside of Big Bite is nothing special to look at, but inside the small restaurant there are 4 hand-crafted tables with eccentric table cloths and dishes and utensils. We all ordered a different Indian dish…don’t ask me to remember the names of anything we ordered because first off I couldn’t even pronounce them that night and I had to ask what everything was before we ordered haha All the food was so flavorful and worth every shilling, even though this wasn’t really a mzungu restaurant, it was nice to have something to eat other than pure starch. After dinner Christine, Ryan, and I got a taxi back to Center House Hostel where Chris the guide we met in the afternoon was going to pick us up to head to Masai camp for drinks and dancing. We got to Masai camp at 9pm and all sat around a warm fire and chatted until about 11. While we were waiting for the club to pick up one of Chris’s porters joined up, a local Tanzania from the Chaga tribe, who’s name was Arnold. He was a skinng, dark, Tanzanian with an unknown age because everyone here looks so young, Christine and I guess that he could have been any age between twenty and forty…no idea. We all went out to the dance floor for a solid two hours dancing to western music such as lady gaga, akon, nelly (when is the last night anyones head shake you tail feather…I’m pretty sure the last time I head this song I was 16 haha), kat perry, and so much more and to Tanzanian music in Swahili, including my new favorite song Pii Pii (which means beep beep in Swahili)…so much fun. I love going out here because unlike in the US where guys creep up behind you and try and grind on you and it’s like uhh did I invite you over here to grind on my backside…I don’t think so haha…here they’re really polite and keep distance between themselves and you and you have a semi dance of between a bunch of people. Basically you can dance like an idiot (which is pretty much Christine and I were doing ) because no one here can dance surprisingly….except a select few that I’ve seen, but I’ve found they can either dance or not dance, but the ones who can dance boy can these guys dance. It normally ends with them doing acrobats in the middle of the dance floor with the whole club in a circle around them watching in amazement. We left the club around 1:30 and headed back to the African Tulip for one more drink and to sit out by the pool under the stars. The night sky was so so incredible tonight…words can describe how much I’m in love with it here! We got back to Center House Hostel around 3 am where Christine and I reached our beds and completely passed out.

 

Sunday 7-20 – 1 week til Kili climb!! Christine and I woke up at 8, ate the typical Center House breakfast…toast, plum jam, and an egg and then headed into town to walk around and take a few pictures of the town itself. On our way back a man was following us for a while (mind you on Sunday there is barely anyone in town and on the streets, because they’re all in church for a good 4-5 hours) so needless to say we got a little sketched out by this mans stalking presence. When he came up closer behind us and then right next to me and grabbed my arm, I asked him to leave us alone in Swahili and then he got really mad at me for saying that and told me I’m supposed to be nice and want to talk because I’m from America, but I told him that we didn’t want to talk that we were just going back home and Christine and I started walking faster….apparently this man didn’t like us completely ignoring him and said ‘you’re from America your supposed to be friendly, come here’ and saying ‘you do what I want when you’re here’, so basically our pace was between a walk/run back towards center house hostel as he followed us screaming ‘hey bitches from America come back here’ over and over again. When we got close to Danger Bridge we heard a woman let out an ear piercing scream and then realized 3 mzungus on the other side of danger bride, at the end of the bridges side where people pull you down to the river. We saw dozens of people running over when they heard the woman scream and her friend yell for help. Christine and I stopped and stop next to a Tanzanian family on their way to church (the only reason we stopped was because we realized the crazy man that was following us went to go help in the beating activity…or we would have continued our swift paced walk to the hostel) This family told us that a thief tried to take the woman’s bag and pulled her down on the side of the bridge. Luckily there were lots of people around, which surprises me why this man would even try a stunt like that in the day time with people traveling to church) but tons of me were running after the man and when they finally caught him, they continued to beat the man. I’d already seen this brutal and barbaric act, and while I was curious to see more I don’t think me stomach could have handled a second witnessing of beating and burning a man to death. Christine and I continued to center house to gather our things after this eventful morning and headed to the African Tulip again. We sat down on chairs to read by the pool and had our first real coffees since we’ve been here…boy did I miss the taste of rich strong coffee. We hung out by the pool and met up with Chris and another one of his local Tanzanian guides, Arnold, who proved to be very resourceful when it came to our upcoming spontaneous decision. During the day Christine and I decided that we have not been anywhere except Arusha on weekends and that we wanted to see more of the country and culture. So when Chirstine suggested we take the 6 hour bus ride to Nairobi, Kenya tomorrow I didn’t hesitate in saying yes. A very spontaneous decision, but I was looking forward to every minute of this adventure…tomorrow. The only thing I was worried about was getting the Kenyan visa and then being able to get back into Tanzania, which I’ve heard can be a problem sometimes, but I’m just going to hope things work out fine and go with that. Headed back home to pack for our ‘safari’ tomorrow and get some good sleep.

 

Monday 7- 21 – sorry Mom I left the country without letting you know! Talk about a spontaneous decision with only 1 week left in Tanzania…hope it all works out okay. I got up at 5:30 am, still incredibly dark out…the creatures and animals own the darkness here… left the house at 6 when it was still twilight out…probably something I should have not done, but I needed to make it to Arusha in time to catch a bus. So I ate a little breakfast and headed out at 6, as I was walking up the road to the dala station at Nkoraranga, a man on a motorbike was driving by and I flagged him down for a ride down the mountain. The ride down was soo cold, glad I was wearing a jacket this morning. When I got down to Kilala I hoped on a dala to the Phillips station. This was the most packed dala ride I’ve ever been on in my 9 weeks in Tanzania…they fit 32 people on this dala, kind of impressive. There were kids standing on the edge of seats, sitting on top of the seats with their feet almost kicking you in the faces, and about 4 people with their butts hanging out the door of the dala as the driver drove an average speed of 85 mph, not even slowing down over the road bumps…so crazy. When I got to Phillips I walked down towards the Impala Circle to the bus station. I waited for Christine for a little while when I arrived there and then we decided on a bus company to take after bargaining for a good price. We settled on 15,000 shillings for the 5-6 hour drive and hopped in the bus. The bus was about half the size of a typical school bus in the US, with small seats and collapsible seats in the isle, incase they needed to pack the bus, just like they do with dala’s. About 2 minutes into the ride out of Arusha, we realized that we got on the bus with quite possibly one of the most insane drivers. He was flying….passing cars, trucks, and buses, at lightning speed with no acknowledgement that anyone else was on the road except for him. The drive to Nairobi was the most incredible drive I’ve ever been on, most beautiful than anything. The only bad part about it was the road we were driving on which was construction for 5 hours…aka…dirt and large stones and pot holes everywhere, not to mention that we went between 80-90mph on this skinny dirt road. I felt like I was in one of those Subaru commercials to prove the terrain it can drive on but this was a bus, not an outdoors car haha. You know how in the US when construction is done on the roads and they do a little bit at a time, not here…the whole road from Arusha to Nairobi was torn up with bit and pieces of a foreign black highway that was blocked off. The ride there could have won best award for the best amusement park ride or the most insanely dangerous ride in the world. You know when you go over continuous bumps and open your mouth to say ‘ahhh’ and your voice vibrates….imagine that for over 5 hours…Christine and I laughed hysterically during the whole trip because first off we didn’t know if we would make it there in one piece and secondly because every time we talked to one another you couldn’t understand what we were saying. The drive started through the city of Arusha and then through small towns and eventually to very small villages. As soon as we left the boarder of the city the lands began to change immensely, even the plant life changed. There were round houses about 8 feet high made completely of mud and sticks in the middle of a dry open field, all of which were surrounded by a branches twined together as a fence to keep out any unwanted visitors. Some of the buildings in the small villages resembled housed from ‘Little House on the Prairie’, like pioneer houses, others appeared a very, very old run down Mexican villages that one only sees from movies. At one point in the beginning of our journey the land was so dry and desolate. There was sand for miles and miles, if grass was present it seemed burnt from its dry brown color, there was no plant life. The only life present was left as foot prints from Masai through the white sand of the desert. You could see nothing for miles and miles, only the dark outline of the mountain is the distance. Talk about wide open spaces! After spending 1 ½ hours on the bumping, dry road we reached a point where you were able to drive up on the newly paved road. Christine and I were both so exicted for this because we then felt like we weren’t going to throw up…but our smooth ride only lasted for 15 minutes and then we left the dark black road surrounded by starved plants and sand and ended back up on the sands of the unfinished road again. Throughout the ride, Masai men and woman stuck out like sore thumbs with their plaid patterned draped around their waists and chests in dull shades of blue, red, and purple. But against the white sands of the desert, it was hard not to point them out. The men carried wood or clubs in their hands, and the woman were stunning with their draped cloth and eccentric white beaded jewelry dripping in silver charms that shined in the bright sunlight around their necks, ankles, and wrists. All of their ears hung low, sometimes down to their shoulders and the woman had matching earrings hanging so low from their loose ears. Farther towards Kenya the last became flourished with Masai men and children herding more livestock than I’ve even seem in my life and their small villages composed of the round mud houses with a thick straw roof over head, maybe 5 or 6 in each branched entwined fence. There were hundred and hundred of these small compounds, each constructed differently from the next, such a unique area. As we grew closer to the Kenyan boarder we passed through and area with miles and miles of trees sparsely placed throughout the plains on the left of the bus where we saw antelope, dik-dik, ostriches, and more…I felt like I was on a real safari. On the right there was a thick forest that led all the way up Longido Mountain, but ended up towards it crater peak that was covered in thick clouds that were being chased away by the scorching hot sun. Right before the boarder drove above a valley that was filled with houses made strictly of rippled tin material for the siding and roofs of all the houses. (If anyone has seen Slumdog Millionaire, it looks like the beginning seen when the kids are being chase by the officer) We reached a town called Namanga where we got off the bus and went into the Tanzania immigration center and an officer placed an EXIT stamp in our passports, we then walked through a rusty gate opening to cross the boarder into the Kenya and went to their immigration center where we had to fill out paper work to obtain a Kenyan visa. This whole process took about a half an hour and when we both got a Kenyan visa and stamp into the country we boarded the bus again to continue on our journey to Nairobi. Kenya was full of wide open hills, green trees, livestock and donkeys covering the land and roadsides, red ant hills next to nearly every tree as high as a 10 year old child…some even taller than me, aloe plants as high as a grown Masai man lining the road, homes made of only sticks open to every swirl of dust and creature that would desire to enter, homes made of mud and rocks for structure, and sand that had changed to a deep red after crossing the boarder. The mountains so vast and differently sized looked like the backdrop to a movie, absolutely gorgeous. The sun was incredibly hot on my skin through the bus window that I felt as If I was melting. The Masai in Kenya were even more distinctive than in Tanzania. They still wore the same red, purple, and blue plaid materials for clothing, but in addition the women were additionally wore a florescent of pastel colored large scarf that covered them as if wearing a shawl. There large necklaces that covered from their necks to the beginning of their breast were not limited to white beading, but all the colors of the rainbow and were also dripping in different colored charms. Their earring consisted of a single line of beads that hung a basket like shape on the far end, which pulled their ripped ears farther downward. As we neared Nairobi, the land changed from wide open plains full of plant, wildlife, and culture to fenced off plots for agricultural aspects. However, this land looked as if there was a serious drought. The grass appeared starved and then further sucked of life from the intense heat of the African sun, even the dirt that was rooted upwards that held seeds of unborn crops appeared dry and light in color…not appearing as if any life would penetrate through the soil for food of the famine ridden population of these lands. Ponds were present along the way but only the remains of their shaped was left. Deep and dry, only a small oval of dark mud remained in the bottom of these has beens. Where the roads were being constructed and lands dug downward into the soil for cement tunnels for the unforeseen water, woman and children were gathered with buckets around a small hose that was used by the construction works in hope to gather the drops that came out. When we finally reached the city of Nairobi there was traffic as far as one could see…I couldn’t believe it…traffic jam, especially one as intense as this in Africa…I was definitely not in Tanzania anymore. All around this highway, called Uhuru Highway were factories and power plants surrounded both side and the closer you got to the city of Nairobi the more and more skyscraping building you could see. Where was I? This scenery seemed so foreign, yet so familiar…a mixture of two worlds I’ve lived in. It took over an hour to be released from the traffic trapping us right outside of the city until we were finally able to move again. We got dropped off at a shanty hotel called Parkside and when we asked for a cheap hostel to stay at and were given directions …the driver just told us to hop back in the bus and he would take us…apparently we looked really confused or like we would get lost haha He brought us to the YMCA hostel…who knew there were YMCAs here. The hostel cost 1,800 Kenyan shillings which is about 27,000 Tz or 23 American dollars…she told us to put our passports and money in the safe because of ‘the people’ haha we didn’t ask questions just placed our things in there even though we were a little uneasy about it at first, but we figured they offered this service for a reason. When we got to out room down a skinny hallway that was open to the outdoors, we reached room 21 and there were two locks…one was a pad lock that looked sturdy, the other lock was loose as its nails were falling out of the door haha. There were two beds, a sink and two closets in a very small space, but the bed in this hostel as sketchy as they looked were the most comfortable beds I’ve laid upon since I’ve been here…soo sooo happy. After we dropped off our bags we left the hostel to explore the city of Nairobi. We headed back towards the Uhuru highway that runs through the center of the city and found a hidden Ethiopian restaurant, where we ordered spiced beef with an assortment of whole and mashed vegetables that were spread out on a large circlular try lined by injera, and a basket full of injera on the side (Injera is a really thing Ethiopian break…kind of like a pancake) We thought the dark shriveled things on the injera were chillies and when I got all excited to brave what I thought were steaming hot chilies, they turned out to be beets … go figure. After lunch we headed to the large park in the Nairobi City Center, the park was full of people sleeping in the lawn, tons of people dressed up professionally walking to and from work, kids running around playing futbol, and people riding around in paddleboats in Uhuru pond…..wait a second PADDLEBOATS!! Christine and I couldn’t resist going paddleboats and for only 150 shillings….so American of us, but we had to. After a 20 minute paddleboat ride around the pond we continued traveling around the city and looked at all the government buildings, churches, schools, local shops, hotels, restaurants, bookstores…and even went to check out a movie theater!!….We went to see if Harry Potter was playing but out search was in vain for they were showing movies that came out a year ago in the states like Marley & Me, Transformers, and Valkarye haha. At least we tried. The city was so large there were even fast food restaurant, Mercedes-Benz dealers, more billboards than I’ve seen since I left home, sky scraping hotels buildings, up-scale clothing stores…and a real friggen highway. Nairobi reminded me of a smoggy African style NYC. We went to the Nairobi City Market where we were expecting to see crafts and such but when we walked through the door it turned out to be a fish and meat market, that was filled with pungent unbearable smells and people covered in blood….we bravely, but cautiously walked through the market praying that no one bumped into us or touched us. It was growing dark out after the left the market so we went to the restaurant and bar that Allan had recommended to us on Sunday. The place was called ‘Simmers’ and was an outdoor bar covered by canopies. There was a live band playing, cheap beer, BURGERS…needless to say the two of us hung out there for a few hours before headed back to the hostel at 9pm. We got a taxi ride back to the YMCA for 250 Kenyan shillings and then went to the room to read before bed. So when we first arrived in Tanzania, our Swahili teachers were telling us how rude everyone is in Kenyan and how awful the men are but they were the complete opposite. Here in Tanzania the men hassle you, treat you disgustingly, and are so rude that the men that do this to you almost make you never want to come back again…but in Kenya no one hassled us, they opened doors, moved out of our way on the street, and just greeted with a smile….we were totally not expecting this but it kind of made us not want to go back to Arusha and deal with all the street punks and mean men haha

 

Tuesday 7-22 – Christine and I woke up at 6:30 and headed to the dining hall for breakfast…this is when we realized that this hostel that we thought was small was actually huge. There was a huge restaurant that had an attached outdoor dining area that over looked a pool….who knew. Breakfast was amazing….there was real sausage, eggs not covered in oil, papaya, oranges, watermelon, pineapple, and wheat bread!! After breakfast we checked out of the hostel and 7am and went exploring a little more before heading back to meet with the bus at the Parkside Hotel. The bus ride back was full of people from Germany, France, Belgium, Kenya, and Tanzania….a lot more full than our bus ride to Nairobi that only has 3 other people besides Christine and I. While leaving the city we saw the largest birds I’ve even seen in my life, they were by far way taller than I was and while I didn’t know their name the only thing that I could associate them with were taradactles (sp?) from Jurassic Park haha. The ride back was just as gorgeous as the ride there, even though I slept for a little of it since the bus was so incredibly hot and there was no air conditioning. We left at 7am and didn’t arrive in Arusha until 3pm, talk about a long, bumpy bus ride. When we got in Arusha, Christine and I went to my second home stay Mama’s house for lunch (since I ran into her last week and promised I’d come back and visit) So glad we came for lunch, she made chapatti (my favorite…I mean she may have been MIA everyday and night of my home stay there but at least she remembered my favorite food)…also with beans and kale as usual. After lunch I headed back to home in a daladala, which was the worst dala ride I’ve ever been on everyone in the dala was obviously making fun of me in Swahili (which I understood a litte of what they were saying and it wasn’t nice) and they were being really mean and rude. I was sitting in the on of the seats that faces back towards everyone in the dala where you have to hold onto a pole behind you to prevent yourself from falling into the laps of people facing forward the kept hitting my hand and then saying sorry but laughing and the door operation pushed down on my hair and pulled it. I didn’t understand why they were all so mean, but I couldn’t get off that dala fast enough. When I got off the daladala at Kilala (so happy to get off that dala), I went to get in one of the cars heading up the mountain. When I was next to the car asking the guy the price an old man in the car that I was going to get into hit me in the arm really hard on purpose…I looked at him really confused as he said something in a mean stern voice in Swahili, which I obviously didn’t understand and just turned around to leave….the driver of the car was asking me to come back, but my attitude towards that was F*** that and hopped on a motor bike for 500 more shillings than the car ride would have cost but I didn’t even care at that point. I was super confused as to why the man hit me but I just assumed he didn’t like mzungus but damn did my arm hurt. Seriously, what the hell is up with people today I can’t stand it, just makes me want to go home! When I got home I washed my clothes for the last time until I leave…basically so I have clean socks and underwear until the trips end…I hope at least. And the walked up the mountain farther to Deb and Tanya’s house to say goodbye to Deb who was heading home today! That night Lucy and I watched Burn After Reading on her computer…awful movie haha Then headed to bed after dinner!

 

Lots more to come about the rest of this week but i have no had the chance to use the internet in a really long time, but hopefuklly ill be able to post about the rest of this week before i head to climb Kilimanjaro!!

Tomorrow – Friday- is my last day up at Nkoraranga then i am staying in Arusha for the weekend before i head to Kili on Monday! Wish me luck on the climb!!

Cant wait to see everyone at home!

mgeni rafiki pamoja na mimi – new friend with me!

July 12, 2009

Friday 7-10 continued……….. Deb and I got a ride down the mountain with Baba Juma a driver that Susan has used for all of her rides during both of her trips here. Baba Juma was the best driver in the world and by that I mean that he drove pole pole and safely. They dropped Deb and I off with one of the nurses’ nieces, Jillian, to go out to lunch with us before she left for secondary school again. So we got dropped at Blue Heron for lunch and went to the Masaii market to look at a few crafts and then got picked up around 4 by Baba Juma, susan, and her girls and drove back up to the mountain. That night I grabbed a few snacks and headed to the maternity ward to work for the night. I wrote a paper waiting for something other that giving patient medicine to go on, but no such luck all night long…just froze my butt of all night long. Its really incredible how fast it gets dark here and when it gets dark, the whole world around you changes with it. It becomes such a different atmosphere than during the day and a creepy one at that. I also still cant believe how cold it gets here during the night, nothing I was prepared for when I came here. So glad I brought warm clothes here to climb Kili in or I don’t think that I would have brought more than a sweatshirt here. Chatted with Mama Matero, the mid-wife on duty that night at the hospital, about deliveries while sitting with one of the patients in the wards. The girl in the ward is a month from her due date, but was having false labor pains so she admitted herself to the hospital. I asked her why she was still here since she was so far from her due date and she said that it was because her family didn’t want her at home because she was sick all the time and no one wanted to take care of her and when she was home, she said that her husband put her in the other room. So she said she wanted to stay at the hospital because Deb and the rest of us volunteers take good care of her and come visit her and talk with her all the time. After I was talking to the Mama afterwards about deliveries and the Mama was saying how husbands are never around during births, and the husbands may or may not even know if or when their child was born until their wife comes home with a baby or until they decide to show up and check on her. Even if they do show up for the birth they don’t go in the delivery room and support their wife at all. That would so not fly at home…or maybe that’s just my perspective because if my husband wasn’t present for my delivery, he better have a really damn good excuse or he’d be a dead man haha

 

Saturday 7-11 – Went up to the volunteer house really early in the morning to get some sleep; however, I didn’t actually get that much sleep because my mom decided to call me at 6 am here haha, but my bowel issues from my thought to be parasite and bad reception cut the phone call semi-short and I got another few hours of sleep. Headed into Arusha today to go to Blue Heron to use the Internet and e-mail papers to my professors, and then headed back up the mountain at 3:30. Got back to my home stay at about 5, packed up some snacks and headed up to the Volunteer House to hang out with Susan, her girls and new engineering volunteers for the night, but when I got to the house then night Mama from the maternity told me that I needed to come down and assist in a delivery because no one else was available in the hospital. So I got my scrubs and shoes on and headed down to the maternity ward and went to the delivery room. I spent an hour holding Fatuma- the woman delivering – hand, comforting her, helping her breathing pattern until she started to push. As soon as the babies head started to show the mid-wife stood at the side of the bed of Fatuma and put her elbow at the top of her belly and pushed down really hard and was actually jumping down with all of her body force into this womans stomach to push the baby out. I was not prepared for this, it was so barbaric and rough I was kind of in shock. When the baby was finally out the Mama was slapping the baby waiting for her to cry, during this I was looking at Fatuma and still holding her hand and she looked so sad and upset, also showing no interest in her child. It wasn’t until 2 minutes later when the baby let out a cry that she finally looked relieved and kept say “astante mungu, asante sana” thank you god, thank you so much….about 30 times. I got to clean up the baby and wrap her up, and then bring her to the ward where Fatuma went after she showered off. I started in the ward at 5:30 and left at 7 after the birth and then headed back up to the Volunteer house, made some Ramen for dinner. After dinner, I hung around with Susan, her girls, and the new volunteers and chatted about our experiences since we’ve been here. We were talking about the robberies and killings that have been going on here within the last month and a lot of them that are around where we are living now…including 2 within the last two weeks. Sorry Mom I know you’re not going to sleep after reading this haha but I think its important to share what really goes on here. A week ago at the bottom of the mountain at the Kilala stop, across the street from the daladala stand is a restaurant/shop that was attempted to be robbed and when the owner fought back he was shot and killed. Also up the hill from the hospital, near where Deb and Tanya live a Tanzanian doctor was walking home and a person tried to rob him and machete-ed him in the head and face, two weeks ago (glad I’m hearing about this just now) but he was taken to Nairobi for a hospital and left here…I would too. Also last year at the volunteer house there was a break in and one of the students from America was beaten with a crow bar when they tried to resist and was beaten severely. Last year also a woman and man living up the hill from the hospital, where a break in happened and the man was machete-ed to death but the woman lived by hiding under a bed. Despite the severity of some of these break-ins and murders nothing is thoroughly reported to the police and nothing ever makes it to the news. In Tengeru there has been 2 murders in the past 3 months, and many many incidences where thieves were beaten and burned to death. Another large thing here is killing of albinos. Recently there has actually been government action taken against this because there have been so many killings. Traditional healers and witch doctors believe that the body parts of albinos can heal and cure diseases. Three weeks ago down past the hospital a little ways an albinos head was found in a bucket….this is something I definitely never want to see. Sorry about that Mom, don’t worry I’m done here in two weeks haha

 

Sunday 7-12 – Woke up and headed back to my home stay at 8 am this morning. When I got there, there was a strange man in the living room who just creepily stared at me even after I said hi. When I came out of my room to grab a jelly sandwich for breakfast, there were now two strange men, both of which just sat there on the couches and stared. They were watching religious services on the TV and the one guy asked me what my religion was, I said was raised catholic, but don’t practice a religion at the moment, the guy looked at me like I had eight heads. He asked why and I briefly explained, and then he said “so you don’t believe in Jesus Christ the man who saved us all, who do you pray to then?”…I’m assuming this guy thought I was the devil, but oh well. Luckily this part of the conversation ended when more and more people piled in. But then this guy asked me if I plan to live here, when I said no I was going to live in the United States, he gave me a lecture at how much better Tanzania was than the United States and told me the only good part about the United States was Obama, I just sat there and listened politely and agreed to avoid furthering the conversation, for this was not a conversation I would win haha Apparently, out house is the placed where half the neighborhood comes before they go to church at 9. There were about 15 people hanging out in the living room watching religious videos on TV and a “live” TV show where a guy releases demons from people who are possessed. I was hysterically laughing inside when they were all intently watching this show, which was a woman rolling on the floor making deep noises in her throat and thrashing around….haha so funny…but they’re really believe in witch craft here, so I’m glad I was laughing on the inside so I don’t have someone put a hex on me later. Sat around all day with my amoeba that I named Fredrick…don’t worry mom I’m taking medicine, so hopefully my newly acquired friend will leave me soon, but at this moment it doesn’t feel like he’s going anywhere fast….except making me move very fast to the bathroom haha The only good outcome of Fredrick is making me sit and write all my papers that are due soon. Well…that all the interesting news I have for now, hopefully working in the lab this week will leave me with lots more interesting stories! Two more weeks here!!

Ni siku nzuri sana – what a beautiful day!

July 10, 2009

Tuesday 7-07 continued……….
After the usual rice and vegetables at Green Hut, Christine and I headed to a shop to buy kongas and then headed up to see Mama Linda to drop off our kongas to make bags from. This would be the second time I walked all the way up to Mama Linda’s shop today, so I was really hoping she was there this time. When we finally got there, Mama Linda was there and we left our kongas with her and made an order for purses…I figured these would be a good gift for people at home. I really didn’t feel like walking 40 minutes to Blue Heron, so Christine and I each hoped on a motor bike and had one of the guys drive us.
Here bikes and motor bikes, like daladalas are a huge part of the transportation system. Bikes are at the end of each street and they pick up men and women and ride or drive them to their destination. You can take a bike basically anywhere for 500 shillings and a motor bike for 1000 shillings, either way you’re paying less than a dollar to be transported somewhere. I chose to get a motor bike ride because I had my camping backpack on and was afraid I’d tip over on a bike, especially since on bikes you ride side saddle versus straddling the seat on a motor bike. I was scared at first, mainly because there are no helmets used here let alone any safety device (including car seats….the put the baby up front and tell them to put their hands out in front of them when they’re driving in the car…like that would actually do anything should they crash), but the guy that was driving me was going really fast at first so I asked him to go “pole pole” …slowly slowly haha We made it to Blue Heron in one piece and Christine and I hung out there and wrote papers and read until 4 pm and then we made our way up Impala so I could catch a dala to Kilala and so she could walk home.
On my daladala ride to Kilala I noticed a tons of people throwing objects and running in one general direction…..that’s when the dala stopped and I realized what was going on. A large group of people were beating what I can only assume to be a thief and they were really hitting this guy with their hands and clubs. All the men on the dala jumped off and headed over to help. Luckily I didn’t have to watch this long enough to see the man burned to death because the dala driver didn’t seem to care that much and continued to drive after 5 minutes of watching. This was something I have heard a lot about in my 7 weeks living here, but nothing I thought that I would experience.
When I finally got to Kilala I got in a car to head up the mountain for 500 shillings…they stuffed two people in the front seat and there was 4 of us in the back, 2 boys, one “big” mama and me….there was definitely not enough room for us all but the driver seemed to think so…after all the more people in one ride the more money haha After this ride up the mountain in the car I decided that I’m never getting in one again. The drivers are far crazier than the dala drivers, which was really hard for me to imagine, but given the first hand experience of this ride made any future decision very easy. Luckily I made it up to Nkoraranga. When I got home Lucy had CNN on and was watching the Michael Jackson funeral, so I joined. Our Baba came home and watched with up and when they were showing pictures of him as a kid and seeing all the African Americans come on stage to commemorate his life…our Baba goes “I didn’t know he was black” hahahaha this was quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. So then Lucy and I had to explain all the surgeries and chemicals MJ put himself through to help our Baba understand….so funny

-A note on working in the lab on Monday…. I forgot to mention that they didn’t wear any form of protection when handling the blood, urine, or stool samples and they didn’t know how to work an electric microscope. They were using a broken on and a little mirror to catch the reflection of the sun to catch light, but when a man brought in a working microscope they didn’t know how to work it and when they put slides of blood smears on the microscope table with immersion oil, they didn’t use any cover slide and consequently dipped the lens of the scope into the testing specimen, which ultimately contaminated both things…not so effective when testing malaria…or at least I don’t believe it to be.
Oh yeah and when working in the lab drawing blood, sometimes they don’t even look or feel for a vein but just stick this needle in their arm, I mean I may not be the expert in phlebotomy but I know that’s wrong. Also the nurses in the wards do not know how to put in an IV, it takes them anywhere between 2-4 tries in different places because they either put the IV in and miss the vein, but don’t know that until the patients hand swells up, or until the puncture a vein and also don’t figure that out until the patients hand swells up. When I put IVs in …correctly the first time, the nurses look at me as if I’d just performed a miracle and some even asked me how I knew where to put it. I mean I know its different here and all, but I would image that a nurse would know how to properly put in an IV.

Wednesday 7-08 –
Went to work at 8 am and was greeted by a woman in the waiting room bleeding profusely from the nose and partially from the eyes, we gave the woman tons of gauze and went to go find a doctor, but they were all in church…aka they cant be bothered with anything about patients until the service and morning meeting is over. So this poor woman has to wait 20 minutes for a doctor who had he lay back on a bed (basically making her swallow all the blood) and the only thing he didn’t for her was squirt adrenaline on gauze and stick it up her nose and then walked out.
After that little episode, Lucy and I headed out to the mortuary to work for Zachariah. When we got to the mortuary we put on scrub gowns, masks, and surgical gloves with an extra pair over top just in case haha. The mortuary is composed of two rooms; in the first room there is only a cooler to hold the bodies, which isn’t even cool. This has 3 drawers in it and you would think that in each one there would only be 2 bodies, but ohh do these drawers hold soo much more. The whole cooler has been known to hold up to 25 people that are stacked like shoes, head to toe and where there is room between people children are placed…kind of disturbing. A group of 8 men showed up at the mortuary and identified an elderly man from the cooler and we pulled him out and placed him on a stretcher…well I shouldn’t say placed because Zach and his assistant handled him so roughly I thought his head was going to fall off. We carried him in to the second room on a stretcher and placed him on top of a large cement bath that is chest height and has a 5 inch deep pool in it was a faucet at one end and a drain at the other. The only other thing in the room was a shelf that held a brush, face balm, injecting needles, disinfectant, dirty kongas, rags, cotton, and tweezers. We undressed the elderly man and then bathed him while the assistant was dumping small buckets of soapy water all over him. When we were done washing the body, we dried him with the dirty kongas and then dressed him with the clothes that the men had brought for him to wear when he was to be placed in his casket. After dressing the deceased man we stuffed his mouth and nose with cotton, injected some fluid into his cheeks and under his eyes, super-glued his mouth closed, and rubbed balm all over his face to make him seem life like. All during this process, Zach was in the other room, but let all 8 men in the room where Lucy and I were cleaning the body and they were taking pictures and video taping this process, like it was a birth…..don’t really know what I thought about it, but I didn’t think it was really right to be taping this process. The second person that morning was another elderly man but compared to the last man, this one looked like a Holocaust victim, it was slightly disturbing. We performed the same things for this man and then placed him in the coffin the family had brought and sent them on their way. The bodies were still releasing fluid from their mouth and nose and bleeding…wasn’t really expecting that during this experience.
The third person we cleaned and re-dressed was a woman who must have been in her mid twenties who was pregnant and we couldn’t tell if she died before or after delivery, but she had a large vertical scar on the far right side of her abdomen. Cleaning this woman probably wouldn’t have been so disturbing if she hadn’t been wrapped up with an infant that was far premature and again we couldn’t tell if the infant had died in the womb or outside of it. We performed everything as previously mentioned for both the mother and infant and placed them both in the coffin. The coffins here are not like at home, they are very small and made with only enough room to fit the body very snugly…only some are lined with material, but this material is normally only a sheet and under their heads they placed the clothes that they had died in or kongas.
Over all we spent 5 hours in the mortuary working, which in my opinion was a really good experience. The bodies just looked as if they were sleeping and it wasn’t until you touched their frigid skin that is really hits you that they’re dead. At first I was a little put off, but I got semi used to it after the first person.
After working the in the mortuary, we scrubbed ourselves thoroughly clean and then headed to lunch for a quick snacks and coke and then went to work in the lab until 3. At 3 Lucy and I headed home to change and headed down the mountain for some exercise. It took us a little over 2 hours to walk all the way down the mountain to Kilala and back up to Nkoraranga. The walk was so gorgeous…more up than down because on the way up there was a spectacular view of Mt. Meru.
Tonight for dinner we had chapati, beans, and avocados. This is by far my favorite Tanzanian meal…so delicious. If I learn how to cook one meal while I’m here it will be how to make chaipati so I can make it at home for everyone to try.

Thursday 7-09 –
Went to morning meeting at the chapel after the service was over….the whole hospital staff attends chapel and meetings every morning, which last over an hour. During this hour the whole staff is MIA and doesn’t care what’s going on in the wards with the patients until church and the meeting is over….this never ceases to upset me haha. During the meeting this morning the head doctor was giving the whole staff a lesson on strokes. First he tried to tell us that a stroke is a disease. When he was asking his whole staff questions about stroke none of them knew the answers … the nurses could even answer what the ABC’s of resuscitation were…so he asked us. Then the head doctor tried to tell everyone that depo and HIV cause strokes…this is when he got on my nerves because its for this reason that a majority of the people in this country don’t know the correct facts, and this man who is supposed to be a doctor and head of the hospital is feeding them faulty information, which the staff in turn goes and spreads to others. He was telling the staff that oral contraceptives cause strokes. This is when Tanya spoke up and told him this wasn’t true and that is wasn’t true for HIV either and he tried to rebuttal her argument, but she just threw correct information back in his face…I mean this may seem rude, but it had to be done. Between Tanya, Lucy, Deb, and I we have to listen to a lot of this doctors and other doctors’ bullshit on a daily basis, but sometimes enough is enough!
After the morning meeting Lucy and I worked in the lab and then I went to go change the dressings on all the traction patients and the woman with bed sores, which took a little over 2 hours to clean everyone then we headed to lunch. After lunch we worked in a maternity for a little while and then I headed home around 3:30 to do some laundry since I’m 2 pairs of underwear away from running out of clean ones. I had to go to the neighboring house and fill two buckets of water up and bring them back over to our house to wash my clothes.
After washing and hanging my clothes on the clothes line, which is right next to the livestock pen haha I wrote a few papers for school and watched TV by myself since Lucy headed to Arusha to stay with her boyfriend for the weekend.

-Oh yeah… a little note on Tanzanians…they love picking their noses. I’ve meant to mention this so many times before but kept forgetting, but men, woman, and children pick their noses all the time anywhere they please. This included doctors during rounds, during procedures…basically whenever they want like I said it soo sooo gross….and they barely ever wash they’re hands except before eating and I wouldn’t even call this washing because its with cold water and sometimes not even with soap.

Friday 7-10 – Felt awful all last night, I’m convinced I have an amoeba or some other parasite living in me because my stomach has not been normal for 3 days, feel and look really tired and drained today. Maybe ill go to the lab today or tomorrow and check a stool sample but I don’t really trust the results there haha But lets just hope I don’t have anything
Walked up the mountain farther with Deb this morning to her house to get some medicine. When we walked out of the house and looked down the mountain at the hospital it was covered by thick fog and clouds and had turned dark and dismal in appearance, nothing like ive seen before. A slight mist started blowing up the mountain towards us and the farther we walked down to the hospital the more the rain progressed to a heavy down pour. It was truly a sight to see, especially up here on the mountain surrounded by jungle to see the thick beads of water pounding down on all the banana leaves and be completely submerged in fog that’s so thick you cant see in front of you. So beautiful.

Going home to rest until the afternoon since there is no one at the hospital. Patients only come to the hospital on clear, semi-warm days….after all not one really wants to walk in the cold let alone rain here haha So I’m going to go home and take my cloths off the line…so much for drying them oh well I guess. Heading into town at noon with Deb for a normal lunch to see if that helps my stomach any!

Omnashida – No problems!

July 7, 2009

Sunday 7-05- Woke up and ate Breakfast at Center House Hostel with EMily, Elysse, Selena and Spencer then headed to the Patisserie to use the internet which was unsuccessful as my lastest blog that was in 3 pieces can show…

Went back to center house to pick up our bags and helped Elysse and Emily move into the African Tulip where they’ll be staying until Thursday. After dropping everything off we headed to Green Hut for the usual rice and vegetables then back to the African Tulip hotel for the day. This place was amazing i forgot what a real comfy bed looks like or a real porcelin tolit….not to mention a HOT shower!! We went down to the pool and layed out in the sun in bikini tops…i forgot i had a belly button haha i have not wore a bathing suit of anything less reveling than thick tank tops or t shirts around here…. not that i have to mention this but my stomach is pretty much transparent haha, especially compared to my bloack chest and arms. We didnt lay out in bikini bottoms….mainly because my legs look like a 12 year old girls since i have no shaved them in over 7 weeks so we all just left that all covered up. We hung out in the sun and read for a few hours and then they let me use their shower before i made the hour long journey back to Nkoraranga! I never thought it would be possible to get so excited over a shower until now, this was hot steaming water that i had an infinite amount of..not a 5 gallon bucket ful of mixed hot and cold water that i have to be careful with in order to get all the soap off of me! I took a shower for a good half an hour, well acutally i think i stood there for a good 20 minutes of that and enjoyed my last shower until the end of july!

Headed up Impala Road to catch a daladala to Kikatiti and Kilala and then caught another dala from Kilala to Nkoraranga and headed home. The dala going up the mountian was bursting at the seams with people sitting, standing, squatting, hanging out the door and window…there were many times that i didnt think it was going to make it up the hill and that it was just going to stall and roll back down the mountain. As much as i think dalas are insane and really unsafe, i love the transportation system here. I find it absolutely incredible that i can travel an hours distance for less than 80 cents.

When i got home i played with Gertrude who was jut fed…i was bouncing her up and down and she spit up all over me haha…i really should know better since babies will obviously throw up on you if you throw them in the air right after they ate …whoops

Monday 6-08- Went to the hospital at 8 and worked in the lab all morning until lunch at 1 pm. In the lab i drew blood all day, so i was the phlebotomist and pricked fingers for malaria blood smears and hematocrits. I also got to do an umteen amount of malaria blood smears, HIV tests, and blood type test all morning. Lots of fun

After lunch i worked in maternity with Deb and Lucy, weighing babies, taking vitals, and administering shots. I left work at 3 pm and headed back to Arusha. On the dala ride down the mountain a boy about 12 years old was sitting next to me. I was reading “Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vongete’ and the little boy started sounding out the words on the page out loud, so i asked him if he wanted me to read it too him, This little boy gave me the biggest smile and say nydio nydio -yes yes. So i helped him sound out the words on the page, going very slow sentence by sentence. So i spent the 25 minute ride down the mountiain reading this book to the little boy who seemed to enjoy every second of it as much as i did. I got out at Kilala at the bottom of the mountian and caught another dala to Kiegengejoo and walked to the African Tulip to meet with Emily and Elysse. I came in for a farwell dinner with the two of them and Chirstine joined too and i have a day off tomorrow since its a holiday so the whole plan worked out very nicely to come in for dinner. We hung out in the sun for a while and then went to Cafe Bamboo for dinner. I’ve developed a love for tangawizi -ginger and cinnamon spiced chai, they’re so big here and tamusana- delicious, so thats all i order to drink anywhere besides the occasional coke to kill anything harmful in my stomach…at least i hope it does

After dinner we got a taxi back to the African Tulip and drank a bottle of wine on the porch and then headed to bed. Tonight was the first night i got to sleep in a non-bug infested bed…so sooo happy about that.

Tuesday 6-09 – Headed out to the craft market to get a few more presents for people at home and then walked to McMoodys for the internet, but it didnt work, then i walked about 40 minutes up to Nigero to drop off a konga at Mama Lindas so she could make me purses, but she wasnt there so i walked 40 minutes back to the Patisserie to use their internet, which luckily worked!

A note on the men here…i dispise them and cannot stand them anymore. You walk down the street here and they follow you with their crafts, paintings, newspapers, and sometimes they just follow you. They get to close to you and grab your hand or wrists and pull you in the direction of their friends shop….they drive me insane. I mean ive learned to not say anything to them and just walk really fast, because they only like to walk pole pole -very slowly, but i just cant handle them anymore. they have no shame and hold no concept of personal space, which completely pisses me off. When they say he dada(sister), or mzungu and grab my wrist i normally flail my arm to get my hand back and they dont understand what the problem is. Sometimes if you dont talk to them when they’re following you they’ll start yelling at you or spit near you because they say “american are supposed to want to talk, you have money give me money” and if you tell them where your going to get them off your back they follow you there and say “now you pay me” and i just say im not paying you t follow me when i  told you to leave me alone. I mean dont get me wrong its really safe here in the day, but i just cant handel how rude and obnoxious these guys are….probably my least favorite part about Tanzania

Heading out to Green Hut for lunch with Christine and then going to Blue heron to write papers and read for the afternoon!!

Lots of pictures posted on facebok, more to come!

unbelievable continued twice over….

July 6, 2009

Okay so back to the end of Wednesday….
We went to a celebration outside for the german doctors that were leaving this Friday, so for this celebration the entire hospital staff attended, nurses, doctors, assistants, cook, etc…so that basically there was no one in the hospital looking after the patients for a good 3-4 hours in most places. Apparently the Germans are more important than patients, not that i’m trying to knock down the Germans, but someone should have been looking over the patients.
At about 5 we headed back to our home stay where out Mama handed over Gertrude to us to play with until she fell asleep for a nap. During this time we found out that they have cartoon network, and English movies on TV since they have satellite, this was an over-joyous discovery for Lucy and I who were crazy some type of stimulation that didn’t involve anything but listening and seeing…not reading haha. Dinner last night was rice, spaghetti and beans, tonight it was ugali, spaghetti and beef….so much starch in our diets here.
Thursday 7-02 – Was woken up again chronologically at 3,4,5, and 6 by the dang rooster…I have a feeling that this is something that I’m just going to have to live with until I leave unfortunately. Went to the hospital for rounds, but the morning doctor didn’t feel like doing them yet so we worked in the pharmacy all morning with our Mama. After that we went to the maternity ward and worked with Deb weighing babies and giving them their monthly check up and necessary shots. The nurses here treat us as if we know everything in the world or are medical geniuses. When they were giving shots or putting in IV’s they say okay you do now, I mean it’s a good thing I know how to do both of the aforementioned but Lucy didn’t and was in shock how the task was handed over to her, but she declined. So I ended up drawing blood and administering shots and medications to the mothers and newborns in the maternity ward. At about 2 pm after working, Lucy and I headed back to our homestay to get some rest before surgeries later that night.
At around 6 pm Lucy and I headed back to the hospital and hung out in the major theater surgical room for the doctors until about 7:30, when the doctor brought over the first patient for removal of an ovarian cyst on her right ovary. I scrubbed in with the attending doctor, put on the gown and gloves, Sterilized the patient where an incision would be made and on the surrounding areas and set up the draping over the patient, leaving only a whole where the incision would be made. The doctor handed me the scalpel and talked me through the entire procedure….there was lots of clamps, foresceps, scissors, stitching, scalpels, and more during this….i was so happy about this experience and loved every second of it. When we were in there the right ovary was inflamed but we found no cyst present, but the doctor decided that the woman didn’t need her right ovary anyways since she had her left and had me cut it off…I didn’t feel too goo about doing that, then he had me perform a tubal ligation…just because …also didn’t feel good about doing that either, more so because of ethics…but there isn’t really a system of ethics here or rights in a sense. The doctor said that since we already had the abdomen cavity open that we would also perform and appendectomy …so I searched for the appendix between the large and small intestine, at their meeting and got to remove the appendix, stick up where the organ was removed and make a circle stitch (at least that’s what this doctor called it) around the superficial tissue and burry the knob where the appendix previously was inside of the stitching and then close up the abdomen cavity.
During surgery the woman that was supposedly sedated, but she woke up twice during surgery and her legs flailed so I had to home them down.
The second surgery that night was just an appendectomy, which was performed the same way…and the patient can conscious during this one too….i couldnt believe it.
We ended with the surgeries at 11 pm and then Lucy and I scrubbed out and had dinner which was composed of nuts, a Cadbury chocolate bar, 2 bananas each, and water…nothing exciting. At about 12 we headed to the maternity ward where we waiting for anything exciting to happen and checked on the patients all night long in the OB ward and got to administer hydrocortisone to an infant through the doctors phone orders. It wasn’t until about 3 in the morning that a woman came in who was in labor, so the two of us got to assist in the birth, so exciting….a lot more exciting than watching this in the states, just because everything is done SOO differently here. After the birth, Lucy and I feel asleep on the workers bed, spooning for warmth haha…it is seriously seriously cold here at night and in the morning …it can get down to 40 degress…I am so glad that I came here packed with warm clothes to climb Kili in other wise I don’t think I would have brought more than a sweatshirt, if that….never thought it could get unbearably cold like that haha. Finished “A prayer for Owen Meany”…really good book.
Friday 7-03- At around 6:30 am Lucy and I headed back home to get some breakfast and then headed back to the hospital at 9. We changed dressings on patients with Tanya for a few hours, worked in the maternity ward.
So I have not taken a shower or bucket bath since Saturday…aka I have not bathed in 6 days…the same for Lucy….this is what happens when you live on the top of a mountain, in a really rural area, where your host family has no running water…and when they take a bath its one bucket of cold water and they take the bath outside in that wooden shack where they cook that doesn’t have a door and is just slabs of wood with lots of slits in it, so anyone could really see in….so Lucy and I vetoed that method of bathing. Deb and Tanya live together a little farther up the mountain with one of the nurses at the hospital and they have a shower…no hot water, but it’s a shower, a clean one and a place to bath. So Deb took Lucy and I up there and let us shower in ice water….so overjoyed for this its not even funny…..i would give anything for a hot shower to actually feel clean!!!
After our shower and work we headed back home around 4 after work, and played with Gertrude…Lucy left me to head to Moshi with her boyfriend so I stayed home and waited for dinner, which didn’t come out until 10 pm…I normally wouldn’t really care about this but id spent 39 hours awake and was super tired…I actually fell asleep on the couch before dinner haha. Dinner tonight was chips( aka FF), spaghetti and liver (soo gross) …. Way too much starch 4 days in a row = no bowel movements, severe constipation and pain…not so fun!
Saturday 7-04 – Yay July 4th and I am doing…..Nothing interesting….
Caught a daladala at 8 am down the mountain to head into Arusha and meet Emily. Saturday out in this area is a large market where women sell their fruits, vegetables, other crops, and meat…so the daladala was packed with Tanzanian women in crazy patterned kongas with their products with them, so the dala was stuffed not only with over 25 people, but their buckets, bags, huge banana sleeves, and even meat…not a really fun ride. When I got down to the main road in Kilala, I hoped on another daladala to head from Kilala to Kigengejoo. I got the front seat of this dala, but immediately regretted taking this seat because I was scared for my life…the driver was going anywhere between 80-90 mph in a dala that doesn’t run well, full of over 20 people, and flying over bumps and swerving insanely while almost tipping…I pulled out my book “Slaughter house Five by Kurt Vonegate” and pretended I was somewhere else to live through the ride haha. I got out at Kiegengejoo and walked down Impala Road and up to Center House Hostel, dropped off my bag and headed to the Patisserie to meet Emily. When I got there she handed me a package slip…so I headed down to the Meru post office to pick up a package….i just want everyone to know that my Mom is sent from heaven….she sent me jolly ranchers, blowpops, and 2 packages of 3 packs of orbit gum….i mean I’m not going to lie I thought there would have been oreos or goldfish in there haha, but anything American and sweet is better than here haha… love you lots mom
After I got the package I went to Green hut for some rice and vegetables with Laura, Jamie, and Emily and then Emily and I went to Blue Heron to chat and read in the sun for a good 4 hours. We headed hack to Center House to change for dinner and met up with Spence, Elysse, Jamie, and Selena and headed to Ethiopian Spices and Hebs Restaurant where I had my first real salad in a long long time and a REAL FRIGGEN MED RARE STEAK!!! Caught a taxi back and since there was 6 of us and the taxi only holds 4 people I ended up on Selenas lap in the front seat scrunched over…this always happens to me here.

Sorry this took so long to write i’ll try and keep in touch better :/

Hope all is well at home, miss everyone lots

unbelievable continued…..

July 5, 2009

Wednesday 7-01 – So like I was saying… we started rounds with the doctor and headed to the general ward. During rounds we saw so many astouding and disturbing things. For example if a man or a woman fracture their hip, break their femur…anything along the lines of that they put them in a contraption that they call a “traction”, this device is a 6 inch stainless steel nail..sharp on both ends and i hope its stainless teel…this goes through the leg below the knee and im not sure if theis is through the bone or the muscle because there is not way of knowing…thedoctor didnt even know when i asked he just said “they guess” . Attached to this nails at the bolts on both ends it a horeshoe sharp piece of metal that extends towards ones feet nd attached to this is a thin rope with a 2-3 lb bag of sand attached to the end that is hanging over the edge of the bed….they think htat is this device is placed there on all the batients who have any type of break or fracture that this will pull the muscle and the bone will go back in place…basically what i got out of this was that they think magic is going to happen and that is they pray the bone will magically go back in place and the leg will heal. After we learned about this device from the Belgium nurse..she said that they always come back after they had to stay in the hospital for 10 months in this contraption…but come back from the same problem, because they never healed to begin with. This whole practice kills me because i just dont understand where the logic is. ????? We actually had to move a woman during rounds that was connected to one of these contraptins and she was screaming in pain until we found a position that the rope and bag would lie that didnt leave her in complete discomfort. At the hospital the y diagnose everyone that comes in with one of the following or a few of the following symptoms with “severe malaria”…vomiting, inability to suck for infants, fever, or diarrhea…these are not even symptoms of severe malaria…just normal induced malaria…but without getting bllod smears checked for parasite they go ahead and hive them quinine, which is a ttreatment for malaria here, but the amount that they use this drug is insane…almost everyone in the hospital is given this, reguardless if they have parasite or not. There is going to be a huge resistance within the next few years…guarenteed, and not only for quinine, but for antibiotics they give out too. Reguarless of what you come into the hospital for they put you on ampicillin, the antibiotic. (They think that antibiotics cure everything, and if you go to the hospital or duka la dala they give you antibiotics for anything you have…nothing else) We saew a woman having severe pelvic bleedins and they just left her to sit in her waste, even the doctor just said “pole mama..sorry mama” and perscribed her an antibiotic and went othe next one…he didnt check hre or anything…shes was just left to sit in her bloody sheets. The doctor tried to tell Lucy and i that this one woman was parapeligic…yet she had full motor skill control…i really dont know where they get they’re diagnoses from but i’m pretty sure its out of their butt. We saw severe infectin of the legs, arms, face and lips…really intense, HIV+ patients in stage 4, burn patient (mostly children) that were not really being treated…they just clean the burns with a simple saline soluntion and then put gauze over it…not cream or anything that would aid in healing at all or strong pain killers to alleviate their pain…so hard to watch this being done. Right now at the hospital there are 5 German orthopedic surgeons who were vounteering their time and supplies to help children with growth deformities….so there are many children in the hospital with casts on, but Tanya the Belgium nurse (whos been her 5 months and 6 months last year) said that if they werent here those children would either sit on the sit of the road and beg for money because they are disabled, never walk or be treated properly by their families, or be placed in one of those traction devices and nevr truly heal….they dont use cast here at all nor do they perform any orthopedic sureries anything close to what the Germans are doing or anything like in the US. After the main wards we went ot the private rooms, which are not so private as they have 2-3 beds in there but we went to see one patient and there was a dead body that was covered up in one bed that had been there since the previous night and jut didnt make its way to the mortuary yet, and in the other bed was a woman that was admitted because she’d been severely beaten by her husband…mainly to the head. She lobes and temple were severly swollen. When the doctor went to check on her he continuously hit her on the should to get her attention and when she didnt look at him he picked up and turned her head toward him . Her eyes were comletely glazed over and she appeared completely sedated (even though shed been given no medicatins yet…and when he let go her head just fell back to the ther side…he didnt seem to think there was any problem with her, but between Lucy, Tanya and i we concluded that she had suffered severe brain trama from the blows, or she was experiencing internal bleeding, in which case there is nothing that can be done…not even equiptment to detect that. I’m really interested to see what the outcome of this womans stay is and even if she lives…. After rounds Lucy and I went ot change the dressing of patients with Tanya. Tanya has been here for 5 months and she said theat, if she wasnt here none of this would be being done to help the patients…she’s been the only one changing the dressing on patients wounds since she got here…that none of the nurses really do anything or proactive in taking care of the patients, so since she’d been here they know she’ll do all the work so they just leave it to her which is really a shame. Anyways so went and changed the dressings around the draction devices on patients, on the burns on the kids, and on this one woman in the hospital for beds sores. NOw when i say bed sores you might think of one the size of a quarter maybe a little bit bigger…at least thats what i was thinking when Tanya said she had bed sores but boy was i completely wrong. She had one on her right hip that is about 3 inchaes in diameter and its so deep you can see layers of tisse, all they was down to her muscles, the has 3 one the other side of her hip that are a little smaller in size and not so deep, but the most intense and disturbing one was the one on her back and butt. This once was at least 7 inches by 6 or more, it was insane. It was so large that is covered half her butt and up into her back…and so deep you could not only see all the tissue and muscle, but you could see her organs and bowels. I think that the truly disturbing part about seeing this was, not the fact about seeing it but that there is literally nothing being donw, except the same for the kids with burns…just cleaning it with saline soluntion and putting new gauze and tape over it…thats it.This woman will never heal and will basically lie there until she succumbs to the pain or a severe infectio. So so sadAfter changing dressings on the patients we scrubbed out and headed to the canteen for lunch. Instead of getting lunch at the canteen we were directed over to the big tents they were setting up that morning for a celebratin for the Germans being there and leaving….

 

have to leave again ill finish this later i promise!!!

Unbelievable

July 5, 2009

Sunday 6-28 – Went to Shanga again…love the food there and then headed to my homestay to pack

Monday 6-29 – Went ot ILCT office to get an orientation for the telemedicine training program. After 2 hours of training, Lucy, Christine and I went to the Masaii craft market to get some more souveniers and presents for home…i’ve become a really good bargainer!!

Tuesday 6-30 – Got a taci to GSC, said bye to my crazy Mama and went tio GSC to meet up with Lucy and our director Irwin to be brought out to Nkoraranga. We drove 15 minutes down the main road and up 25 minutes up Mt. Meru to the hospital. The more we headed up the mountain the more rural the area became and the more poverty became apparent. When we got to the hospital we locked up the car and headed down to the ofices where we met Jeremiah who is the secretary of the hospital. He drove with us to our new homestay, when we were pulling up over this large bump we saw a wooden house that was shabbier than something out of Little House on the Prarie and Lucy grabbed my arm in fear that that was going to be out homestay…basically because there were farm animal surrounding it, little children running around with ax’s and machettis, and the windows were slabs of woods with cracks all over…kind of creepy, but there was a house behind that one that was covered by the jungle trees that you could barely see…thank god! I mean i want the rural experiene but just being up there is an experience all in its own. Our new homestay is typical for the Tanzania area, completely made out of cement, very small in size with a rusted tin roof and a wooden barn for the livestock and chickens that we would learn to wake up up every hour of the morning. When we entered there was a man holding a screaming baby who looked no older than 8 months. In the living room there were 2 couches and chairs and a TV blasting music videos (That ALLLL they watch here)…attached to this was a dining room just big enough to fit the sitting table, their room, a “kitchen” which only had table in it and outside the kitchen was a wooden hut with a fire going where they were cooking food. Our room was attached to the other side of the living room and is literally the size of a SUV with 2 beds and maybe a 3 foot radius to stand in haha (so basically the room is the size of my brothers first room in our house aka the size of a prison cell and should not have been a room haha..sorry Josh) The bathroom is scary its all cement with a hole in the floor…everytime i more homestays the bathroom gets significantly worse … but i guess it comes with the territory. The toliet does not flush you have to use a little bucket of water to wash everything down and there is a sink outside the bathroom, that doesnt work though because there is no running water..surprise surprise…so im not sure where we will shower or take bucket baths because the water our new mama gets and boils is from someone elses house…so yeah this is going to be an ecperience i’d say.  Lucy and I unpacked out stuff,each having room to put stuff on and under a chair each and then headed back down to the hospital for an orientation. We met back with Jeremiah and talked about the hospitals history. Oh yeah when we were outside the office waiting for him i saw a Tanzania man with Down Syndrome and i was wondering why this seemed so off to me and i realized it was because i’d never seen a black individual with Downs Syndrome before only white, so that was interesting and there was a man who was paralyzed from the waist down, so here they get contraptions that are bike like with 2 wheels in the back, a seat in the middle, and one wheen the the front and at hand level there are petals and a chair connected to the wheels it was about 10 feet or longer in size…pretty interesting contraption. Jeremiah gave us a tour of the hospital grounds, the hospital itself has 80 beds, but that doesnt mean more than 80 can’t fit, but these beds are in OB ward, pediatric, orthopedic, general male and female wards, and private rooms. There are 67 workers, 1 head doctors, and 4 assistant doctors with about 10 nurses. Out new Mama is head of the pharmacy, but never went to pharmacy school or learned about the drugs at all…hands on learning i guess. When you enter the hospital there is a cement pathway that leads to the main building where there is a room for the medical records, a check in station, a waiting room (which isnt really a room but in an open area outside with a few benches and a barred in TV, and down the hallway from that is a minor surgery room (what they call these room are “theaters” whereas we would call them Or’s) There are 3 rooms that say doctor #1, 2, and 3 on them, 2 rooms for pediatrics and another building attached to the main one has 4 provate rooms that normally hold at least 3 people (private..i think not). Across from the main building are 3 more, one is a very small dental building with one room, the second building is for the lab, xray, and secretary office, and the third is the general ward that is split on two sides, one for males and the other for females. On the far side of the hospital are4 more buildings, one is the hospital canteen for food, another is an HIV clinic, the third is the largest building and is half for surgery or the “major theater” and the other half is the OB ward and delivery rooms, the fourth building is where are the laundry is done. (they wash all the scrubs together and let them soak together which do many different substance on them and these women dont use gloves at all :/ Up the hill a little ways from the hospital is a house for volunteers that was originally created by the german missionaries when they came to the area. this house looks like something our of the Hansel and Grettel story or something out of The Sounds of Music!! Up the hill from the volunteer house is an orphangage that is sponsered by the hospital and this holds about 50 kids from newborn to 5 years old. the orphanage has 3 rooms for the kids to sleep and the rest were bath rooms, or a play room…the whle place smelled like urine but that was because they dont use diapers here just cloth that they change or sometimes, i dont believe they do this there but with pooer families here they leave their kids in these dirty cloths all day long…so sad, and you can really tell who these children are when walkeing around in this area because they’re covered in filth, their faces are covered in left over food and dried snot, they are honestly covered in mud head to tow and they’re clothes dont fit and are more than litely torn, really hard to see this. There are 5 volunteers working in the orphanage all from american 3 from South Carolina, 2 daughter and their mother, and 2 from Georgia a daughter and her mother. And in the hospital there are 2 volunteers, 1 is a woman from Colorado and the other is a young nurse from Belgium.

Mom just to let you know…this hospital isnt NEW like your information that you found said, its been there and expanding since the late 1800’s and is the longest standing faith based hospital in the area haha, but there was a new HIV clinic that was just finished and was donated by the CDC in America so maybe thats what you were reading…but thats not even that new haha

At about 4 we walked home with our new Mama to our homestay. Outside the house are tons and tons of tropical trees, plants, and flowers and banana trees…were basically surrounded by jungle it is soo gorgeous there. Its an incredible area to be spending my last 4 weeks of the program.. a lot different than my last homestay in Kiegengejoo and even Moshono which was a rural area, but nothing compared to the life up here. Being up on Mt.Meru is a whole different world surrounded by  small wooden shacks, small cement shops (well just 3), dirt covered children, women wearing multi-colored kongas and a carring eclectic mixes of objects upon their heads, stray dogs everywhere…but the air is cleaner than in Arusha mainly because there are barely building here with power..so not restuarants for 40 miles haha and there are barely any cars up here, only the dala’s that take people up and down the mountain daily..so theres not a lot of dust which is really good because maybe ill be able to get rid of my cough!!

When we got to our homestay for the night our Mama fed, Gertrude who is 7 months and then pawned her off on me so she could go cook. This was just funny because she’d only know me for maybe a half and hour and just handed her baby girl to me and told me to put her to sleep so i played with he for a while til she got fussy and then walked her around outside and hummed Adelvice to her(…mom you would be proud) until she fell asleep and i set her in her crib. Lucy was laughing at me because i had no choice but to spend over 2 hours walking around with her because there was no where for the baby to go until she fell asleep, its a good thing we didnt have plans (not that we ever do here haha) I’m so excited to have a baby in the house mainly because they’re so amusing, but i can wait for the screaming in the middle of the night that i know is going to come!

Wednesday 7-01 – this morning the chickens woke us up chronologically as 2,3,4,5, and 6 which is when i just gave in and got up to read…i dispise chickens. If i had to vow to not do something ever in my life it would be to NEVER live on or near a farm, very sure about that one. Headed over to the hospital with our Mama and attended a morning prayer session with most of the hospital staff and afterwards, the doctors and nurses stayed for an overnight report. After this all the doctors and male workers were moving a wooden platform around and getting up tents for the festivites in the afternoon for a good half an hour…aka not even thinking that there were patients in the hospital and even if they knew there was they didnt seem to be in any rush to take care of them until they were done with the aestetics of this area….same goes for chai (tea) breaks…during this time even if there is a serious emergency or someone is dying they have to wait until the doctors are done haveing chai until they go and help. Lucy and I headed to round about 9 am with one of the doctors (who really isnt a doctor, but was transferred from a dispernsery here to work as a physician because the main on left and they needed another person to take his place while he was gone…should be interesting) We started in the male and female general wards.

 

…out of time unfortunately…this was a full hour of typing and i have not even gooten to the good stuff yet, ill try to type more up either later of tomorrow, but just be prepared for the worst/best stories you’ve head in your life!

majununi mama – crazy mama

June 28, 2009

Friday (6-26)- Played review games with the kids all day to end of out 2 weeks of teaching with some fun. After playing jeporady all morning, we practiced from graduation and watched all the kids skits again. Each classroom was composed of 40 kids…so 40 that EMily and Charlotte taught and 40 that Christine, Lucy and I taught….out of the two classes we had to pick 5 kids that stoof out the most and that we thought would be good leaders of their class, these 10 kids got to be peer educators for their school and starting next week, will be able to go to the GSC office for the whole week and learn the program and make posters and other materials to bring back to their school so they can start a health club and continue to the knowledge we gave them. I’m so happy all of these kids learned so much over the week and you could tell during the jeporady game how much they all knew as they were fighting for the answer. After work we headed to the Blue Heron and stoped at an ATM before, where i attempted to withdraw money but forgot my pin…stupid i know but that was one thing i forgot to remember before going to Africa haha…texted my Mom to hopefully fix the problem, because she can pretty much fix anything! And she did!

I’ve progressively lost my voice with this cold but am starting to feel better regarless of how atrocious my voice sounds…basically like a lady thats beenchain smoking for 30 years haha. Got home after the Blue Heron and for the 3rd day in a row my Mama was not home, so i asked the girl that helps my Mama around the house during the day for moto maji -hot water for a bucket bath and she showed me where all the things were so i could do it on my own tomorrow. After my bath i had dinner that the house girl prepared (banana stew covered in coconut milk, beans and a lettuce and onion mix). I cannot wait for an American meal when i get back i wouldnt even care if i ended up eating a Big Mac as long as the meal doesnt consist of rice, beans, ugali, even plantation bananas….i really dont want to see rice and beans for a goof 6 months after i return home.

Oh yeah so today at all the schools that all the volunteers taught at over the past 2 weeks (there were 3 total) a mobile HIV testing group came, bt the older lady that was with the group was completely off her rocker! She told the kids that before they could get tested that they needed to have a proper knowledge about HIV/AIDs…and then she proceeded to tell that that you get HIV through blood transfusions the most, that sexual intercourse only transmits its 1% of the time, condoms are bad, saliva can transmit HIv and so much more…so she was basically telling the kids things that we had told them weren’t true and they all got realyl confused and asked why she was lying to them. We had to call Jen and have her come remove the ladt from teh school premises haha it was quite a sceen to say the least!

I’ve also decided that my new Mama is also off her rocker due to the fact that she thinks i’m braveheart….to start this off properly i’m just going to mention that shes been M.I.A. everyday that i come home and donestn show up until dinner time, so i’m basically living by myself at least for the past week. My Mama doesnt show up until 7 pm everyday in time to make dinner and leaves me to eat it myself while she says she’s just going to be outside. ( I really dont even know if this woman eats anything to be honest, i’ve never seen her wat anything or drink anything for that matter) so last night (Thursday) she came back like normal, gave me dinner and then went outside (she tells me this normally and that she’ll be out there and to just call her name if i need her) So around 7:30 Thursday the power just went out in the middle of eating dinner and normally when this happens my Mama comes inside and turns on a lantern for me, but that night she didnt come in either because: A – she didn’t know the power was out of B- because she wasnt even out there…so i sat at the table for 5 minutes in the dark before deciding to get up and trace the walls from the dining room to the kitchen and then to the door with my hands, when i opened the door to outside, it was just as dark outside as it was in the house. I called for Mama Ruth, but she didnt answer so i walked around the house to see if she was anywhere and when i reached where the gate that locked the house off to the rest of the street…was OPEN. this terrified me because, your gate should never be left open at night here, its one of the most unsafe things…so as soon as i realized my Mama was not there and the gate was open i ran into the house and locked the door, basically locking my Mama out of the house for my own safey haha. When i got inside i traced the walls of the still unfamiliar house to my bedroom where i fumbled around to find my headlamp and then just went back to eating dinner but was on full alert. I sat at the dining room table reading until 10 pm when my Mama finally returned (my bed time is at 8 – 8:30 normally) when she got back she pulled on the handled to the door and realized it was locked…so i went over and unlocked it. She asked me why the door was locked and i said calmly” because you left the gate open and i couldnt find you”  when i really was screaming inside “YOU LEFT ME HOME ALONE, IN TANZANIA…WITH THE GATE OPEN AND BAD PEOPLE OUTSIDE” haha…she just said hakuna matata and lalasalama- goodnight haha so that i did.

Anyways today (Friday) she did the same thing except she came home at 7 made dinner and then told me she was leaving and to let the guard in around 8:30.. WTF this lady is nuts, what makes her think that i’m taking my little white self out in the pitch dark to let in a tribal (Masai) watchman by myself, in Africa, with no self defense weapon..or even fluent Swahili….i mean at least give me a machetti or something. So tonight after i cleaned up from dinner i waited and listened for a knock and around 8:30 there was…i didnt answer the first two times, i just sat in the house thinking this whole thing was crazy and the third time i braved the night and went to the gate. When i opened the gate there was a man wrapped in the tribal (plaid pattern) material that was about 6 foot ro taller and scary and ****  …he just said ASANTE- thank you in a deep voice and i said KARIBU- welcome and ran bakc to the house haha and then again locked the door and my Mama out of the house haha. Then had to wait up to let her in the house when she returned late in the night.

Point of all of this is that my Mama is nuts and i’m slightly happy to be moving homestays just so i wont feel like i’m living in Tanzania alone for the next 4 weeks .

Saturday (6-27) – Tylenol PM has been my best friend the past few nights….not only to help my get rid of this cold, but to help me pass out after long nights of waiting up for my insane Mama. Finally feeling a little better minus the flew cough i’ve developed but we’re not going to get into that. Met up with Christine and walked into town to meet with the other volunteers to walk to the school. We arrived at the school and cleaned up the classrooms and set up for graduation which was supposed to start at 9 am, but between the daladala that GSC rented to bring us tables, tablecloths, audio equiptment, food, and soda begin missing in action until 10:30, the guest speaker not showing up until 10:30, and all the kids parents and friends that came to watch the graduation not piling in until quarter of eleven (its oky though because they’re all on Swahili time)…we didnt begin the ceremony until 11 am haha. Once things started rolling the ceremony didnt actually take that long. We did introductions, talked about what GSC was  and the program that all the kids had gone through for the last 2 weeks, talked about the top 10 kids we picked and the club they will start at their school, listened to the guest speaker, watched all the kids skits and songs, and then handed their cetrificated for completing the program. The whole ceremony was done by 1pm and then we all had lunch together that GSC provided and then were attacked by all the kids for picture for a good hour…the whole day was soo much fun!! After graduation, Emily and I went to Arusha Hotel as always..unfortunately the last time well be able to do this since i’m getting moved out to Nkoraranga haha, then we went to Blue Heron to chat and read for a few hours in the sun.

When i got back to my homestay my Mama was gone…not a surprise though…and then i washed my clothes and shoes, boiled half a 5 gallon bucket worth of boiling water since my Mama was not there to only make me an 1/8 of a bucket haha so i got to take a long long HOT bucket bath and enjoyed every minute of it. Mama Ruth returned at 7 as always made dinner and said she was leaving again this time she locked the house up when she left and then the gate..so i felt a little better about being alone that night, even though the power was of again tonight. I really dont know what i would have done if i didn’t have a headlamp with me.

Sunday (6-28)-

Cant believe June is almost over, this month has gone by alot faster than i would have imagained! Today Emily and I met up and walked to the Patisserie to use to internet (where i am now) and are meeting up with all the volunteers that are doing the sustainable agriculture programs to go to The Shanga River House again….i cannot even begin to expalin how excited i am to eat phenomenal food today that is NOT rice and beans!! haha

Well i think this will be my last blog until next weekend, or until i find where an internet cafe is up the mountains where i am moving. Wish me luck with this rural homestay in the jungle of Mt.Meru!!

 

…for those of you with a facebook i uploaded more picture!!


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