Thursday, February 14, 2008

African Health Report

Not much to say today, except that Nichole offically has MALARIA! She caught it early so she is doing alright. The medicine is making her sick though, so everyone say a little prayer. I'm sick with some intestinal problems if you catch my drift, but I'm on medication now so it should be better by tomorrow. Just wanted to share a little health report to you all.

Tiffany, Malaria and I will be home soon! Can't wait to see everyone (and my dog)!


It's almost over...

Hello everyone, sorry I haven't written in a while. Things got a bit hectic the last couple days at CCS saying goodbye to everyone and trying to pack for Zanzibar. I had a wonderful, and very sad, last day of school with my kids. They sang me songs and the teachers did this goodbye ceremony for me and gave me a traditional Tanzanian Kanga (dress). I was full of tears to leave them, I think about them all the time, and miss them all so much. My favorite student ran up to me and tapped me on the leg, I looked down, and she said, "Teacher...I love you" english and all! Of course I cried for about an hour after that, haha. This was by far the most rewarding, amazing experience in my life thus far and hope that I will be able to do something like this again. I wish I could stay so much longer, and my teachers want me to come back next year, I told them I'll try my best, haha.

But after all that...I'm finally in Zanzibar!!! The most beautiful place in the world! The water is all shades of tourquoise and light blue, its wonderful. The sand is so white, I can't even describe in words how beautiful it is here. We started off on the East Coast in a town called Uroa. Since we are "residents" of Tanzania we got a niiiice discount at the places we are staying. So we've been living it up in beachfront bungalows for the past's alright I guess, haha. Then we decided it would be smart to rent a car...we thought. It was definitely an experience that I'll never forget. We drove up to the northern most point in Zanzibar called Nungwi. After getting lost in an African jungle for about 2 hours, we finally made it. With all that aside, our new hotel is absolutely great. A little more expensive than the last, but for 50 bucks a night, we are hooked up with an townhouse style lofted condo, beachfront. We get a pool this time too!! We are so relaxed and happy right now, I don't want to leave. Tomorrow we are going snorkeling and then we are off to stay in Stone Town for the last couple days here.

I hope everything back home is going well. I will be home Tuesday night to see everyone :) Oh yes, Happy Valentines Day everyone! I send my love, I'll see you all soon


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Last Week in Moshi

Mambo everyone,

So it's my last week here in Moshi, I can't believe I'm already leaving for Zanzibar this Saturday! I don't want to leave at all, I'm not ready to say goodbye to my kids. This week is so sad for me at school, just because I've become so close with my kids and I can't begin to imagine not seeing them every morning, or perhaps ever again. Today at school my teacher came up to me, and with her best english, said that she is going to miss me so much and that her and the kids love me. I teared up. She wants me to come back to live in Moshi, I said I'd consider it in a couple years, haha. My kids are just so amazing, with huge hearts and the biggest smiles on their faces. I love getting out of the car every morning and the kids shouting "mwalimu" (teacher) and running to give me hugs. I didn't think I would have become as attached to them as I have, but I only have two more days left with them and it's painful to think about. I'm writing a little going away speech and practicing it in Swahili for friday, and I'm making them all necklaces so they can have something to remember me by when I leave. Anywho, I'm getting sad thinking about it soooo, change of subject...

How bout them Giants...mwhahahahaha. Sorry family, but we totallllllly beat the "perfect" Patriots, I still love you, but the better team won. Hopefully you guys aren't to heartbroken. Anyways, I really wish I was home to see that game, I was praying for the Giants everyday, guess it worked. Don't want to make to many people mad, so I'll stop there :)

This past weekend I went on a little overnight trip to camp and hike Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was so much fun. There was 8 of us that went, so we had an absolute blast. The first day we did alot of walking. We went to a traditional Chaaga house, a coffee plantation where we picked beans and made fresh coffee right off Mt. Kili. I hate coffee, but that was pretty good stuff. Then we went to see how traditional banana beer or "mbege" is made. This is a special beer made by the Chaaga people in this area. It's not what normal beer looks or tastes like, but we tried it, and it wasn't that bad. Not that good, but not that bad...haha. They boil bananas for 4 hours unti they turn a gross shade of brown...then they get mashed up and sit in barrels for a couple days. Then that mixture is combined with millet. So it's a thick, strange consistency. But we all manned up and took a sip of it, and we are still alive, so thats a good sign. We went back to the camp and had dinner and sat by a fire. Saw the most amazing stars of my life. We sat outside looking at them for an hour before we went to sleep. The next morning we started our hike to a waterfall on the mountain. It was about a 6 hour hike, well worth it. Really hard hike, but well worth it. Now I can say I climbed Kilimanjaro...I'll just leave out the part that it wasn't to the top. I looked into hiking the whole mountain, however it costs between $ thanks, I'll just keep staring at it everyday and pretend.

So that was my week thus far, I'll keep everyone updated one last time before I go to Zanzibar. I'm not sure of the internet situation there, so it may be the last time before I come home! It sounds so strange to think I'm coming home so soon. Hope all is well back home. Kwaheri.

Kris xoxo

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Safari Continued...

Mambo everyone! Pole (sorry) about my last blog being cut short.

So to continue on with the story, Alex didn't get better at all the next morning. So we had to figure out what to do with him, since we were 3 hours away from our village in Moshi. We talked to everyone we could to try and get a ride for him back to Moshi if others were heading that way. We used our great bargaining skills to try and get him a ride back (sarcasm). After they said it would be 400 US dollars round trip we decided that was a no go. So Tiffany and I basically started to freak out. We felt so bad for Alex and had no clue what was wrong with him, and we were really upset that we may have had to end our safari and bascially eat the money we spent on it. After a lonnnnng conversation with our guide he offered to bring Alex back to Moshi for the cost of the gas only, and Tiffany and I luckily knew some other volunteers going to Ngorongoro Crater that day so we hitched a ride with them.

So after we got Alex sent off to the hospital in Moshi, we were off to our second national park for safari. It was a pretty long, BUMPY ride, but sooo worth it. The most beautiful place I've ever seen in my life. Absolutely amazing. I tried to take as much video as possible, but I'm sure it wouldn't even do it justice. Ngorongoro used to be the biggest mountain in the world, as our guide told us, until it collapsed (assuming thousands/millions of years ago, I have no idea) and it created this enourmous crater that is home to thousands of animals. We saw everything you could imagine. Tons of zebras, buffalo, flamingo, a couple lions, rhino, elephants, giraffe, impala, many animals. It was the best day I've had here so far! We got to see the Massai tribe who is very populated around that region of Tanzania. It's actually amazing because they live with the animals all around the rim of the crater, and yet they don't seem to have much of a problem with getting eaten...haha. I asked the guide and he said that is the one of the mysteries of these people, he said they have a special relationship with the animals. All I know is that I don't have that special relationship, so I watched safely from the car :) After a long, wonderful day, we headed back to the campsite to spend our last night.

The next morning we went to Tarengire National Park for our last game drive of the weekend. We got there around 11 am or so. The park was beautiful, it was more of the "lion king" look that you would expect from a safari. The crater was gorgeous, but never what I expected a safari to be like. But here there were tons of trees and tall grass...and yet we didn't see many animals unfortunately. We tried all day to see a leopard becuase that was the one animal we didn't see, but it never happened. Hakuna matata thought because right before we left we saw the most amazing family of elephants which was my favorite animal siting of the weekend. There was a mom and dad and 6 babies! They were right in front of our car and we just watched them eat for about 15 minutes, it was so cool.

But that was pretty much our safari weekend. Everyone that is wondering what happened to Alex, well, he has Malaria. Ugh, but he was put on meds and feels much much better now, thank god. Actually about 4 people in our house were treated for Malaria already. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

School is going so well, I'm started to get upset that I have to leave next Friday already. I went to price out a swingset for my school today, so I'll find that out tomorrow, hopefully its not to much money since things are pretty cheap here. Anyways, gotta go now. Love you all.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Safari Weekend

Mambo everyone,

So I went on my very first safari this weekend and it was, well, interesting as well as amazing. We started off Friday afternoon after work, we got picked up by our guide and got everything in the car ready for our 3 hour trip to Lake Manyara. It ended up just being Tiffany, our friend Alex, and I so it was nice that we didn't have to pack a lot of people in the car. We arrived at our campsite around 2pm and set everything up. The camp was really nice, much nicer than I ever expected anyways. So we got into Lake Manyara National Park around 3 pm. Everyone is feeling fine at this point. We drive around for a minute and I saw my first elephant about 5 feet from the car, so cool!! It was amazing to watch him in his natural habitat. We saw some baboons, and giraffe, all amazing!! Then it all started. I look over and Alex is sleeping. I hit him in the arm to wake him up because I couldn't believe he was actually sleeping on a safari. But he didnt really wake up, he passed out for a minute or so. I immediately thought heat exhaustion so we wet a bunch of our clothes and put them on him to cool him down and gave him water to drink. But over the next hour he just wasnt getting any better, so we left Lake Manyara to go back to camp. He slept the rest of the night and the next morning, no better.

Oh no! no more time left on the computer, hate to leave you hanging, more tomorrow!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Week Two

Hamjambo Everyone :)

So I'm just finishing up my second week here in Tanzania, and I love it more and more each day. My students are the most adorable kids I've ever met. I don't try and play favorites, but I can't help it sometimes. One of my girls, Manka, is the sweetest mtoto (child) and always has a smile on her face no matter what, its great. Then there is Belena who is two years old and pretty much just sits and colors all day while I teach, but I have no problem with that because she has the cutest face in the world. You will all understand when I show you the pictures. But really, I couldn't ask for a better class of kids, they try so hard and they are doing really well with their numbers, letters and colors so far. I come home around 1 in the afternoon and am soooo tired after teaching just because there are so many of them (apx 75) and two of us, and although I'm almost fluent in Swahili, I'm not quite there...haha, yeah right.

Yesterday we had the day off from work and went on a little field trip all around the Kilimanjaro region. We went into a bunch of Batik shops which were beautiful and learned how to do Batik art. Then we drove up to the Chagga villages and visited some caves and traditional homes which was so amazing to see. Then my favorite part of the day was the hike to Ndoro waterfalls, it was gorgeous!! Although it may not have been the best choice to go swimming, I jumped in because I couldn't resist (sorry Mom). So that was a very cool day we had with everyone from the house.

Tomorrow I am going on my first Safari!!!! We are leaving work early and going to Lake Manyara, Ngorogoro Crater and Tarengari (spelling?) for the weekend. I am so unbelievably excited I won't be able to sleep tonight. I can't wait to see elephants, zebras, lions, EVERYTHING! I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and footage so everyone can experience it back home! I'll write more on Monday to update everyone with my safari weekend.

Last, but not least, GOOOOO GIANNNNNTTTTSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe I am going to miss this game!!!! But I'm sure I'll be hearing the outcome, just because I'm overseas doesn't mean news doesn't spread. So hopefully there won't be any hard feelings after the Giants win :) And baba, your Swahili is vizuri sana! I'm glad to see your practicing :) I love you all, and miss everyone back home. Until next time...

Kristin xoxo

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Week One

Mambo Everyone :)

So I'm finally all settled in and working at my school now! I absolutely LOVE my kids, they are soooo adorable, I can't wait to show everyone pictures and video. The biggest challenge is getting over the language barrier, but I'm doing the best I can and taking Swahili lessons everyday so I can communicate with them. I'm experiencing such culture shock here, everything is just so incredibly different. The most amazing thing is that although the people don't have much, they are the happiest people I've ever met. Everyone is always smiling and laughing, they come up and talk to us and practice their English while I make a fool out myself trying to speak Swahili...haha. Yesterday and today I taught the class of 2-4 year olds which are my favorites :) We started counting and the alphabet and they seem to be picking it up fairly quickly. It breaks my heart when I go to school everyday and realize how much stuff they need...they have no paper, barely any chalk or pencils, no crayons or markers or anything of the sort. The school looks like what we would call a shack, with two rooms that fit about 40 kids each. They have a couple jump ropes for play time and the only swings they have are both broken so the kids can't use them. I brought some construction paper and arts/crafts stuff and the kids were soooo excited and the teachers thanked us all day long, it was the best feeling I've ever had, like I had helped them so much. I only have one minute left on the internet, so I have to go. I'll write more this weekend!! I miss everyone back home :)

<3 Kristin